BreakPoint

By Colson Center

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 Sep 3, 2020

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Join John Stonestreet for a daily dose of sanity—applying a Christian worldview to culture, politics, movies, and more. And be a part of God's work restoring all things.

Episode Date
BreakPoint: China Limits Abortions For Dangerous Wrong Reasons
05:28

After more than 35 years of various versions of what has come to be called “the one-child policy,” which experts estimate cost the country between 200 and 400 million lives, China is attempting an about-face. In 2015, the government officially ended the one-child policy and allowed couples to have up to two children in some circumstances. In May of this year, that number was increased to three. Now, as of September, Chinese leaders have officially started discouraging “non-medical” abortions. 

Make no mistake: abortion is wrong. Preborn lives are human lives - and they’re always worth protecting. However, that’s not why China cares or is changing its policy. 

Instead, this seems to be about China’s looming demographic crisis. The 2020 census revealed that China’s fertility rate is the lowest since they started recording it in the 1950s. An aging population means fewer workers and more retirees. Decades of sex-selective abortions mean China is facing a disproportionate shortage of young women. The question is whether the country has entered an irreversible population decline.

It’s a serious crisis - but it’s also one that the Chinese Communist Party created. In the late 1970s, reacting to fears of overpopulation and its impact on the state-planned economy, China went to extreme - often Orwellian - lengths to limit the number of children each woman could have. Now Chinese officials need to increase the fertility rate by any means necessary, or face the real possibility of economic disaster. 

This kind of policy whiplash creates its own cruel ironies. One is that a state which has forced hundreds of millions of abortions is now advising women about its negative health impacts. Chinese state media describes abortion as "very harmful" and argues it could cause "serious psychological disorders" for unmarried women. Given how recently the state was forcing Chinese women into abortions, it’s hard to feel like the state’s concern is genuine. 

After all, there’s a human cost to these policies. One Chinese mother told the story of having to choose between aborting her second child or paying a 200,000 yuan fine - $31,250 in US dollars. She and her husband couldn’t raise the money, and their preborn child was aborted. Two months later, Beijing rescinded the 0ne- child Policy. Their baby would have been born the following Spring. 

The ironies extend to China’s Uyghur Muslims. A core element of China’s genocide of this ethnic group is the practices of forced abortion and sterilization. Even as China seeks to boost fertility in some regions, there is little hope that forced abortions among Uyghur Muslim women will be stopped. 

The Chinese vision of a disposable population runs deep. In 1957, Chinese dictator Mao Zedong was asked whether he feared a nuclear attack on his country. “What if they killed 300 million of us?” he replied. “We would still have many people left.”

Chairman Mao’s answer to that question may be different today, but the worldview underlying his answer wouldn’t be. One commentator on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter, put it this way: "The female body has become a tool. When (the state) wants you to bear a child, you must do it at all cost. When (the state) doesn't want it, you're not allowed to give birth even at the risk of death."

It’s not just the female body that’s become a tool in China, it’s every single person who’s reduced to a tool of the state. Within such a system, there is neither respect for human life nor for the autonomy of Chinese women. In June, my colleague Roberto Rivera and I wondered if forced procreation might be China’s logical next step. That doesn’t seem nearly as far-fetched now as it did then.

The bottom line is that no matter what the Chinese Communist Party does, whatever policies they enact, people are people. They aren’t a means to an end that is the state; they are the end, and the state should be thought of as the means. That goes for unborn children, that goes for mothers, that goes for everyone. Human lives should not be contingent on the whims of the state, either to end them or to “spare” them. It is the purpose of a truly just government to protect people’s God-given rights. 

America’s founders, for all their flaws, enshrined this principle into law.  They believed that people weren’t products of the state but were endowed with “inalienable rights” by their Creator, rights that pre-existed the state.  Of course, that should make Westerners ask whether we’re living up to that belief. China might be sacrificing - or saving - preborn children for the good of the state, but we often do the same thing on the altar of individual preference.

Nevertheless, China’s attempt to restrict abortion does save lives, even if for all the wrong reasons. A worldview that elevates the state’s role at all costs will inevitably bulldoze sound economic principles, the sanctity of life, and the fundamental rights of people again and again. The pendulum may swing, but the abuses will continue.

Oct 22, 2021
The Point: No Female Is In this Picture
01:01

Admiral Rachel Levine, a man who identifies as a transgender woman, was commissioned into the U.S. Public Health Service’s Commissioned Corps. Officials called Levine’s promotion “historic” because, they assured everyone, Levine was the first female four-star admiral in the Commissioned Corps.

When something like this is announced the way it was - surrounded by fanfare and reporters constantly reminding us that this is a woman - it’s not cynical to wonder whether the job was earned by qualification or just a PR campaign. But it is unsettling to consider that the administration might promote someone more for the photo op than their abilities. And it’s frankly condescending to the Admiral, though he didn’t seem to see it that way.

This feels a lot less like a culture that’s soberly “following the science” and a lot more like a culture heading “through the looking glass.”

Oct 21, 2021
BreakPoint: Sports Gambling Is a Bad Bet
05:20

Today is what some call “the professional sports equinox,” the one night of the year where the NBA, NHL, MLB, and the NFL all have games. For sports fans, it’s like Christmas, Easter, Labor Day, and the Fourth of July all rolled into one. And, because of the new culture-wide push for sports gambling, Friday morning may bring quite the hangover.

Between the non-stop commercials for DraftKings and FanDuel, and news segments on ESPN like Scott Van Pelt’s “Winners” (where the SportsCenter host not only discusses who he thinks will win but also what’s known as “the points spread”), we’ve clearly entered a new era in athletics. Sports gambling is now a national pastime that rivals the games themselves.

Betting on sports is, of course, nothing new, but the story of its growth and acceptance is a perfect example of how culture changes. More than two dozen states have legalized sports betting in recent years, and more are lining up. What once was relegated to physical establishments in seedier parts of town is now available, via technology, on everyone’s personal screens. No one has to place a bet, but the more it’s normalized, the more people will. 

The growth of sports betting has already changed how we talk about sports. Just a few years ago, ESPN prohibited any mention of gambling on any of its shows. Now, entire segments are devoted to it, and no one is mad at Pete Rose anymore.  

It’s changing the way we watch sports, too. A survey in 2018 found that 43 percent of all men ages 25 to 34 who watch sports on TV place at least one bet every week. That number is probably higher now since 2020 was a record-breaking year for sports betting. And online, gamblers can quickly bet on almost any aspect of the game, from final scores to individual plays to how long the National Anthem will last at the Super Bowl.

Even before it was made digitally omnipresent, sports gambling proved damaging to the integrity of sports. A few years ago, 15 percent of professional tennis players reported knowledge of tennis matches being fixed. Earlier this month, an investigation into the 2016 summer Olympics found that nearly a dozen boxing matches had been fixed during the games. In 2007, a now-infamous NBA referee went to prison after the FBI found him deliberately influencing the outcomes of games on which he, a compulsive gambler, had placed bets. Now that so much of our culture is saturated by sports gambling, it’s not difficult to imagine more players, more coaches, and more referees altering their performance to change outcomes, if only ever-so-slightly.

To be clear, though sports betting will likely ruin plenty of bank accounts, lives, and locker rooms, it isn’t significant enough to ruin America. It is, however, an expression of cultural undercurrents that can and will -- in particular, our growing inability to delay gratification in order to live for the future.

Sociologist Pitirim Sorokin, among others, distinguished between those societies that were sensate, or living for the immediate gratification of the senses, and those that were ideational, those that lived for higher ideals. Ideational societies had a future. Sensate societies would eventually exhaust themselves in the constant pursuit of immediate gratification. 

Sports betting companies entice with the constant promise of a low-quality dopamine rush, whether from taking a financial risk or securing an elusive financial win. The possibility of the rush is available on every play. You don’t have to wait three hours to see which team wins, because you can be invested in every individual play. And, all of this is happening within a culture largely devoid of big ideas about the meaning or purpose of life. What truths are there anymore that we collectively find to be “self-evident,” other than our living from impulse and desire? What is there to point us to a narrative bigger than the immediate moment?

Instead, the lie implied and perpetuated as sports gambling expands is that those who bet on sports could win big. But, of course, gambling empires aren’t built on winners. You know the old adage: “The house always wins”? The internet hasn’t changed that.

Ubiquitous sports betting only complicates already dangerous dilemmas of modern society like smartphone addictions and rampant consumerism. Together, they all reflect that we are a culture trapped in the moment, unwilling and unable to delay gratification. This isn’t just a recipe for more gambling addiction, it’s a recipe for normalizing prolonged adolescence and self-indulgence, and that’s not a recipe for a sustainable future.

Oct 21, 2021
Should Christians Withdraw from Culture Over Mask Mandates? - BreakPoint Q&A
49:22

John and Shane answer a concerned mother's question on how to engage her children who are questioning their faith. She notes that they have all sought counseling, specifically asking John for clarity on the practice of Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

John and Shane then field two questions regarding Christians in the public square. Specifically, one listener asks if Christian men should pull back from their church involvement to be more involved in local politics. Another listener asks how Christians should respond to mandates being issued from the government.  

Oct 20, 2021
Should Christians Withdraw from Culture Over Mask Mandates? - BreakPoint Q&A

John and Shane answer a concerned mother's question on how to engage her children who are questioning their faith. She notes that they have all sought counseling, specifically asking John for clarity on the practice of Cognitive Behavior Therapy.

John and Shane then field two questions regarding Christians in the public square. Specifically, one listener asks if Christian men should pull back from their church involvement to be more involved in local politics. Another listener asks how Christians should respond to mandates being issued from the government.  

Oct 20, 2021
The Point: 17 Missionaries Abducted in Haiti
01:01

Last Sunday, kidnappers abducted 17 Christian missionaries, including five children, in Haiti. The American missionaries are part of a Mennonite group called Christian Aid Ministries, which has been working in Haiti for years. This time, they were building an orphanage in a town east of Port-au-Prince.

Haiti has been ensnared in near-total political and social chaos for decades, as the country’s people suffer under inept and corrupt governments, crushing poverty, natural disasters, and increasingly brazen and violent gangs. When news breaks of a shocking abduction like this, it prompts an honest question: why would a group of Mennonite missionaries from rural Ohio - why would anyone - keep going back to a place like Haiti?

There’s only one answer compelling enough to make sense: because Jesus rose from the dead, the Gospel is real, and Christ has called us to be His hands and feet to even the most vulnerable. Please join us in praying for the safe return of these courageous brothers and sisters, and for the suffering people of Haiti.

Oct 20, 2021
BreakPoint: Meeting Christ in Aslan
04:44

Over the next five years, the seven installments of C.S. Lewis's “The Chronicles of Narnia” will turn seventy. Generations of children have found delight in stepping through the wardrobe door to this mythical world, filled with magic, meaning, and a whole cast of fantastic characters.

Still, in the end, the appeal of the Chronicles comes back to a single character. Aslan, the Great Lion, who calls the children into Narnia, plays the central role in each adventure. It’s not exactly correct to call Aslan an “allegory” of Jesus, since Lewis disliked allegory. He thought it was poor writing, in fact. Lewis might prefer that we instead think of Aslan as Christ transposed into a Narnian key, a Creator and Lord fit for a world primarily inhabited by talking animals. 

 

 

Throughout The Chronicles, Aslan often emphasizes that he really is a lion and not an illusion or symbol. “Touch me,” he tells one character in The Horse and His Boy. “Smell me. Here are my paws, here is my tail, these are my whiskers. I am a true Beast.”

 

True to Lewis’ genius and his love of myth, Aslan’s purpose in calling children from our world into Narnia is the same as Lewis’ purpose in writing the Chronicles. Through the Great Lion, Lewis gives us a glimpse of the character of the Savior and King he called “myth become fact,” and whom Scripture calls “the Lion of Judah.” 

 

 

Two moments in the Narnia series are particular favorites of my colleague Shane Morris, and illustrate Aslan’s mission with particular clarity. One takes place during the third Chronicle (the fifth in publication order), The Horse and His Boy.

 

 

Shasta, the main character, has ridden through the night and is lost in the mountains. Having grown up in a foreign country and just returned to Narnia, he doesn’t realize he is royalty. After running and riding for his life for so long, he’s tired and discouraged, and concludes that he must be the unluckiest boy alive. 

 

 

Suddenly, a great Voice confronts him out of the darkness, and asks to know his sorrows. A very frightened Shasta, not knowing what else to do, relays how he and his companions fled from their captors across the desert, how fear and danger have stalked them at every turn, and how he’s been threatened by at least four lions.

“There was only one lion,” replies the Voice. “But he was swift of foot.” Aslan reveals that he was the lion, and that his intervention at these crucial moments saved the boy’s life, as well as the lives of his fellow travelers and his native kingdom.

What Shasta saw as bad luck was Aslan’s providential paw guiding him through danger toward his rightful throne, and even introducing him to his future wife.

 

 

The second scene takes place at the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace have just come to the edge of the world after months at sea. The rest of the characters have gone home or paddled into Aslan’s Country, and the three children are left alone. 

 

 

They encounter Aslan on a grassy shore, who’s taken the form of a lamb and invites them to breakfast. There, he tells the children that it’s time for them to go home and, for Edmund and Lucy, there will be no returning to Narnia. They don’t take the news well.

 

 

“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” cries Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how are we to live, never meeting you?” 

 

 

"But you shall meet me, dear one,” Aslan replies. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”

 

 

Like Jesus revealing Himself to His disciples at the breaking of bread, here Lewis has Aslan shed the disguise to allow readers to fully recognize him. When Aslan reveals his role in Shasta’s story, it brings to mind how Jesus, on the road to Emmaus, revealed to His disciples everything concerning Himself in the Law and Prophets.

 

 

It's no wonder that, like those disciples, many who have met Aslan in The Chronicles of Narnia have also felt their hearts burning within them. Seventy years on, C.S. Lewis’s stories deserve every bit of their status as classics, filled as they are with spiritual treasures for young and old alike. 

 

But the lion’s share of the credit goes to Aslan. In him we meet a character too good to be just a story. And, like Lucy, we long to know his true name—not in spite of the mane and tail, but because of them.

Oct 20, 2021
The Point: Remember the Signs
01:02

“Remember the signs.” In C. S. Lewis’ Narnian chronicle “The Silver Chair,” Aslan tasks Eustace and Jill with finding a lost prince. To guide them he gives them a list of instructions—or signs—for them to commit to memory. Their success depends on it.

Lewis made all of his tales from Narnia, including this quest, an allegory about the Christian life. Christ-followers are to seek the lost as part of joining God’s great story to restore all things. But we’re useless in this task if we don’t remember the guidance God gives us in His Word.

This story from “The Silver Chair” should encourage us all to encourage our kids to memorize Scripture. But how about you? Colossians 3:16 talks about the Word of Christ dwelling in us richly. Well, is it? Is it more and more? As we learn from Jill Pole, it’s not too late to remember the signs, and to obey them.

Oct 19, 2021
BreakPoint: There’s No Such Thing as Values-Free Education
06:34

A few weeks ago, Gabriel Gipe, a high school AP Government teacher in Sacramento, was suspended for encouraging his students to take up far Left activism. When students complained about the Antifa flag he’d hung up in his classroom, he dismissed their concerns and suggested that only fascists would be bothered by it. He also offered extra credit to students who attended radical political rallies.

And, in an ironic and a-historical twist, this avowed anti-fascist also posted a photo online of himself with a Communist “hammer and sickle” emblem tattooed across his chest. According to one report, he often used “stamps with images of Josef Stalin, Fidel Castro and Kim Jung Un” to grade papers, and a poster of Mao Zedong was hung on his classroom wall. Apparently, this wasn’t just his way of being edgy or provocative. In a video published by Project Veritas, Mr. Gipe was recorded saying, “I have 180 days to turn them into revolutionaries.”

Local parents were understandably enraged that their child’s teacher praised history’s worst villains, but while calling out his flawed thinking, some of his critics missed something essential about education. One mother said,: “I'm all for freedom of speech. I'm not going to deny that, but when you are a teacher, your job is academics. You are not here for morals, values, political views—anything like that is not welcome in the school unless it's a private school.”

Of course, no parent should tolerate such a historically devastating worldview being foisted on students, but it is a mistake to think that education without “morals, values, (and) political views” is possible. Or, for that matter, even desirable. It’s not.

Stripping morals from education—or, more accurately, attempting to strip morals from education—is a dangerous idea with dangerous consequences. Chuck Colson repeatedly highlighted this, especially in light of the financial scandals of the late 1980s and early 2000s. He spoke often of “a crisis of character” and the “inescapable consequence of neglecting moral training.” 

This is also the central focus of the essay “Men Without Chests,” the opening essay in one of C.S. Lewis’s most important books, The Abolition of Man. Lewis clearly saw that years of attempts to de-moralize education would not give us a world without vice, but a world without virtue. And, he closed, we would wonder how it could ever have happened in our enlightened age:

In a sort of ghastly simplicity, we remove the organ and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.

Fast forward a few decades and here we are. When communism-loving and Critical-Race-Theory-advancing teachers work to indoctrinate children (even while denying it), they are simply stepping into a vacuum left long ago by those trying to make education amoral. They may be wrong to promote those particular values and moral framework, but they’re right that education as inescapably an act of moral formation. 

  1. S. Elliot reflected on this years ago in an essay about the purpose of education:

If we see a new and mysterious machine, I think that the first question we ask is, ‘What is that machine for?’ … If we define education, we are led to ask, ‘What is Man?’ and if we define the purpose of education, we are committed to the question, ‘What is Man for?’ Every definition of the purpose of education, therefore, implies some concealed, or rather implicit philosophy or theology.

Assuming that kids go to school only to acquire data is to assume that kids are mere computers made of flesh. With all due respect to this very concerned mother and Winnie the Pooh, education is about more than how to make “Twy-stymes” and “ABCs,” or knowing where Brazil is. Here’s how Neil Postman put it: 

Modern secular education is failing not because it doesn’t teach who Ginger Rogers, Norman Mailer and a thousand other people are but because it has no moral, social, or intellectual center. The curriculum is not, in fact, a “course of study” at all but a meaningless hodgepodge of subjects. It does not even put forward a clear vision of what constitutes an educated person, unless it is a person who possesses “skills.”  In other words, a person with no commitment and no point of view but with plenty of marketable skills.

So, to summarize: Elliot taught us that a values-free education is impossible. Lewis predicted that the attempt at a values-free education would produce people not able to make moral decisions. Postman pointed out that education needs a moral center, or it’s not an education at all. Educating for “skill acquisition” doesn’t actually prepare students for life. And now, into the morals void, sundried progressive causes are promoting the ideologies that gave fascism to the world, in the name of being anti-fascists. We should’ve seen it coming.

But, we didn’t, and here we are, facing incredible challenges but also an incredible opportunity to show a better way for education and moral formation. You can start by studying The Abolition of Man with the Colson Center and Dr. Michael Ward this month. For a gift of any amount to the Colson Center this month, we will send you two books and access to special online content.

Oct 19, 2021
The Elephant in the Room
01:02

You may have heard that Eastern story about the six blind men who encounter an elephant. The first touches its side and says, “An elephant is like a wall.” Another one touches the trunk and says, “No, an elephant is like a snake.” The third touches its tusk and says, “An elephant is like a spear.” Another one touches the leg and says, “An elephant is like a tree.” Another one touches an ear. “No, an elephant,” he says, “is like a fan.” And then touching the tail, the sixth one says, “You’re all wrong. An elephant is like a rope.”

And who was right? Everyone, we’re told. Just like everyone is right in their own view about God. But in reality, none of the men were right about the elephant. And as Trevin Wax at the Gospel Coalition points out, the parable contradicts the very point it’s trying to make, by assuming that the one telling the parable sees the whole elephant.

This story is just another claim to be right and everyone else being wrong.

Oct 18, 2021
BreakPoint: How C.S. Lewis Helps Us Understand this Cultural Moment
04:43

If you've followed Breakpoint over the last month you've heard me say more than once that I think The Abolition of Man by C. S. Lewis could be the most important book for our cultural moment. It's one of those remarkably prophetic works that is increasingly applicable to the cultural moment in which we live. 

When The Abolition of Man was written, Lewis was uncovering the ways the modern world was logically inconsistent: ideas planted were not bearing the fruit that many moderns hoped they would. I believe the same is true in this generation, as well. For that reason, I think it’s important to understand the observations Lewis was making when he wrote The Abolition of Man. We are so excited to provide an opportunity to study Lewis’ book in-depth.

This month we want to send you a copy of The Abolition of Man, as well as a copy of the brand new book After Humanity: A Guide to C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, written by one of the world's top C. S. Lewis scholars, Dr. Michael Ward. 

Dr. Ward is a senior research fellow at Blackfriars Hall at the University of Oxford, and also a professor of Apologetics at Houston Baptist University, in Texas. He's authored several books on C. S. Lewis, but this is his first in-depth study guide. For a gift of any amount to the Colson Center this month, we'll send you a copy of both The Abolition of Man and Ward’s guide, After Humanity

Earlier this week, Dr. Ward spoke with my colleague, Shane Morris, about the inconsistencies of modern culture and the similar realities Lewis observed. They talked about the sorts of ideas the world is planting in the cultural soil and what the harvest now looks like. Here's a segment of that conversation: 

However much we may wish to be surgeons, chopping up nature to suit our own desires, we must stop at some point. That is to say, we must stop before we chop ourselves up. And that's why, you know, you reach this position of logical incoherence. 

He (C.S. Lewis) talks about the famous case of the Irishman who discovered that a certain kind of stove would heat his house with only half the amount of fuel. And he concluded that if he got two stoves of the same kind, he could heat his house with no fuel at all. It's that kind of logical incoherence: ...because we have such a linear imagination, we think that if we keep taking the same series of steps over and onwards, into the broad, sunlit uplands of the future, that we can go on indefinitely. But there is one step which is incommensurate with all the previous steps. We begin to treat ourselves as raw material, mere nature to be chopped up to suit our own desires. 

Science is a good thing, but science pushed to dehumanizing extremes is obviously not a good thing; and likewise, seeing through things, penetrating the veil of falsity, seeing through propaganda, understanding false peace, false consciousness, all that kind of penetration is good. But you see through things in order to see something through them. You see through the window in order to see the garden. But if the garden was transparent, like the window, what would you see through the garden? 

The world will become invisible. But a world in which everything is invisible is a world where effectively you are all blind. That's why he [C.S. Lewis] finishes with that famously negative statement, “To see through all things is the same as not to see.” In other words, humility is really the answer. We mustn't think that we can master ourselves in the same way that we might rightly choose to master almost everything else. 

To get a copy of Dr. Ward's After Humanity: A Guide to C. S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man, as well as a copy of C.S. Lewis’s classic book, The Abolition of Man, visit www.breakpoint.org/october. Also, Dr. Ward has graciously provided exclusive video introductions of each chapter of The Abolition of Man as well as a live webinar in November, which will be accessible to every person who gives to the Colson Center during the month of October. Join us in this study by making a donation of any amount to the Colson Center at www.breakpoint.org/october.

Oct 18, 2021
BreakPoint This Week: Chuck Colson's Birthday, Loudon County's School Board Abuses, and Euthanasia Denied
59:01

John and Maria reflect on Chuck Colson's legacy that endures at the Colson Center, and is also powerfully visible in Prison Fellowship and the Angel Tree ministry.

Maria then asks John for clarity on the situation unfolding in Loudon County. There are allegations that the school board in Loudon County failed to act in responding to abuse by a student identifying as a transgender girl. 

To close, John unpacks the inner workings of the euthanasia movement through the story of a woman in Columbia who is battling ALS. Columbia recently provided provision for terminally ill people to receive euthanasia, but this woman's disease doesn't qualify her for the procedure. John also discusses the faithfulness of her grandmother and how aging and dying with dignity is more whole in a Christian worldview. 

Oct 15, 2021
The Point: When Solzhenitsyn Stunned Harvard
01:02

A little over forty years ago, Soviet dissident and literary giant Aleksander Solzhenitsyn delivered a thunderbolt of a commencement address at Harvard University.

Survivor of the Soviet GULAG, a fierce opponent of communism, Solzhenitsyn stunned his elite audience as he took aim at the disastrous social and worldview trends happening in the West.

He bemoaned that Western societies had given “destructive and irresponsible freedom . . . boundless space.” By which he meant license, what Chuck Colson called freedom without virtue. Then he went after the Western appetite for “decadent art.” Finally, he argued, no healthy society or culture lacks great statesmen.

Solzhenitsyn was prophetic. But sad to say, the West has largely ignored his voice. Irresponsible freedom? Check. Decadence? Check. Now go through your mental checklist and see how many great statesmen or stateswomen you can name these days.

Come to BreakPoint.org for more on Solzhenitsyn’s stunning address, including a BreakPoint commentary.

Oct 15, 2021
BreakPoint: Happy Birthday Chuck
03:55

The world is a better place because of what Jesus did in the life of Chuck Colson, the founder and namesake of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Though many in younger generations aren’t as familiar with Chuck’s Born Again story, his legacy is one we are proud of and committed to stewarding for the glory of God. 

Tomorrow, October 16, would have been Chuck Colson’s 90th birthday. His legacy continues, not only in the ongoing work of the Colson Center, but also the continuation of Prison Fellowship, especially the Angel Tree ministry. Here’s why that ministry is so important, direct from our founder, Chuck Colson:

 

There are few things that thrill me more at Christmas time than Angel Tree! When I went to prison [in 1974], my greatest concern was not for myself, but for my family. I and other inmates anguished over ways to show our families we still loved them.

 

That’s why, when Prison Fellowship staffer and ex-bank-robber Mary Kay Beard began Angel Tree [in 1982], I knew immediately that we could reach those families who suffer so much at Christmas. Since that beginning, Angel Tree has brought the message of Christ’s love to millions of prisoners’ children through volunteers who deliver gifts to them on behalf of their incarcerated parents.

 

Every year, Patty and I bring gifts to one or two of these children. For me, it just wouldn't seem like Christmas without Angel Tree. 

 

The same is true for a young man named Robert. At 10, Robert watched his dad handcuffed and driven away to prison. To keep the family afloat, Robert’s mom packed up and moved them from their comfortable home in the country to a gang-ridden urban neighborhood. As she struggled to put bread on the table, she warned her children that Christmas might not look like much that first year without their dad.

 

On Christmas morning, Robert woke up to find a bare room and his mother crying on the couch. He went over to her and wrapped his arms around her. He told her that he did not mind that they didn’t have any gifts; that they were not all that important.

But her tears were tears of joy. She told Robert to go look out on their front porch. There he saw gifts piled high, some with labels with his dad’s name on them. They were Angel Tree gifts, given by volunteers from a local church. But Robert did not know that at the time. All he knew was that his dad loved him and remembered him.

 

Robert and his family began attending the church that had been so generous. And when Robert’s father was released from prison, he began attending the church as well. Over the next few years, Robert dabbled in gang activity and even dropped out of high school, but through it all, the church was there supporting his family and reminding him of Christ’s love.

 

Robert became a committed believer and eventually signed on as the youth pastor of that same church. And every year, he and his wife sign up to purchase gifts for Angel Tree children.

 

Doesn’t that give you a marvelous picture of what the Advent season is really all about? God entered into our darkness with light in the form of His Son, Jesus Christ. And that light, the Light of the world, changes us and enables us to spread the light to others.

 

That was Chuck Colson, sharing about Angel Tree, a ministry dear to his heart.  In remembrance of Chuck’s 90th birthday tomorrow, would you consider participating in the ministry of Angel Tree? To learn more, please visit www.angeltree.org.

Oct 15, 2021
The Point: Olympic Medalist was Competing for Two
01:01

Last week, Olympic silver medalist Elinor Barker revealed she’s expecting a baby and was, in fact, pregnant while cycling on the British women’s team in Tokyo.

Barker’s happy announcement comes in the wake of an amicus brief signed by 500 female athletes, asking the Supreme Court to keep abortion legal because without it, they argue, women athletes wouldn’t be able to reach their full potential.

Barker joins a growing group of women with winning records who make the claims in the amicus brief seem, well, false. In announcing her pregnancy on social media, Barker thanked other athletes who are also moms. “Because of these women and many others,” she wrote, “I didn’t doubt the future of my career for one second.”

Whose testimony seems more compelling: 500 women claiming it can’t be done, or a woman who’s not only tried, but succeeded?

The deeper question is what takes more courage: earning a silver medal in cycling while pregnant, or signing an amicus brief?

Oct 14, 2021
BreakPoint: Gratitude Is Good for You…
04:44

Remember the three weeks of lockdown in order to “flatten the curve?” A year-and-a-half later, after life put on hold— delayed graduations, conferences, wedding celebrations, and even funerals—coming out of this society-wide limbo has many feeling downright giddy.

Writing recently in the New York Times, Soumya Karlamangla described how, when the pandemic rules began to loosen, she experienced “a small burst of joy.” Every return to some old, familiar activity, from hugging people to getting haircuts to wandering the aisles of grocery stores, became “almost wondrous” to her. At least for a while... But then, she admits, the feelings began to fade. 

Now, Karlamangla has some advice for people looking to preserve that “post-lockdown feeling”: practicing the lost art of gratitude.

“Once a day, stop and appreciate what you’re able to do now that you weren’t last year. You can make a mental note, tell your partner, text your friend or write it down in a journal. The method doesn’t matter, as long as you’re making a deliberate effort to acknowledge that things have improved.”

She cites scientific evidence of the physical and mental health benefits of cultivating gratitude, including better sleep and higher levels of happiness. “Feeling thankful for the little pleasures in our lives,” she concludes, “can add up to make us happier people overall.” Precisely because the pandemic was so disruptive to normal life, our emergence from it provides incredible opportunities for embracing this kind of gratitude. 

Reading this helpful and encouraging piece reminded me of a particular phase in the history of business books when authors were telling employers and employees they could find meaning in their work by thinking of it as a calling, rather than mere employment. The problem with that advice was if we truly are called to work (and I think we are) who is calling us? Many of these books failed to address that important detail.

In the same way, if we are to be grateful (and we are), to whom should we be grateful, exactly? Karlamangla never specifies, but with Thanksgiving on the horizon, along with all of the seasonal talk of counting blessings and being thankful for friends, family, and good health, it’s worth thinking about. After all, we are years into the trend of spending the day after “giving thanks,” trampling security guards for iPhones, toys, and flat-screen TVs. Maybe thanking no one in particular isn’t really gratitude.

Scripture is clear about who deserves our gratitude. In the first chapter of his epistle, James writes, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

God deserves our final gratitude... not the universe or the government or our “inner light.” Even the good gifts of other people’s time and help and love point, ultimately, to God. And, of course, God doesn’t owe us any of these good gifts, nor could we ever deserve them. As Paul told the men of Athens at the Areopagus, God “is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything. Rather, He himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else.”

Paul’s statement might have come as a surprise to Greek ears. In his book, Gratitude: An Intellectual History, Peter Leithart describes how, in the ancient mind, gratitude was like a circle. If you received a gift, you had an obligation to return the favor. For much of the Greek world, this was how politics worked—a system of favors and repayments we today might describe as “bribery.” By introducing the idea of gratitude to a Giver so generous that no one could ever repay their debt, argues Leithart, Christianity radically altered this cycle. Gratitude, it turns out, really can change the world.

Yes, practicing gratitude is extremely good for humans, even those who don’t believe in God. For that reason alone, we can hope that Times readers take Karlamangla’s advice seriously. But for Christians, gratitude is no mere mental health strategy. It’s a profound way of telling the truth: to ourselves, to others, and to the whole world.

Oct 14, 2021
How do you Respond to Ed Oxford's Idea on Homosexuality? | BreakPoint Q&A
53:03

A mother writes in saying, "to my daughter, (Ed Oxford's ideas) is a perfect example of how to have it both ways," looking at the modern issue of homosexuality for Christians. Oxford's idea is that homosexuality was translated as "child-abuser" and other things prior to the 1980s. After the 1980s the translation changed because the issue became more prevalent in culture. A mother writes in to have an understanding of how to respond.

Following that, another listener asks if we should use plural pronouns to define God. John and Shane expound on a recent BreakPoint commentary, providing a foundation to not only refer to God but to also speak confidently in our current cultural moment.

To close, a writer shares an experience she had in a Bible study. The leader mentioned a "mixed-orientation" marriage. The Listener knew the term was problematic, but struggled to identify what it was about the term that made it untrue. John and Shane explore the definition and explain the worldview underpinnings that highlight the image of God and the details surrounding gender and identity terminology that shouldn't be compromised.

-- Resources --

The Moral Vision of the New Testament
Richard B. Hayes | Harperone | 1996

The Bible and Homosexual Practice
Robert A.J. Gagnon | Abingdon Press | 2002

Does the Bible Say Gays are an "Abomination"?
Sean McDowell | Youtube | September 27, 2021

God's not "They": Divine Pronouns Matter
John Stonestreet & Tim Padgett | BreakPoint | October 4, 2021

 

Oct 13, 2021
The Point: Why a New Malaria Vaccine is Such a Big Deal
01:01

According to the Associated Press, African scientists have developed the first malaria vaccine, and the World Health Organization has approved it. This is huge. Malaria is one of the deadliest scourges of tropical environments; it still takes the lives of more than 400,000 people each year, many of whom are children living in Africa’s poorest regions. 

Our very ability to achieve medical breakthroughs like this points to our God-given design and role in the created world. God didn’t place Adam in the Garden of Eden to lounge about, but to work. Human beings were to “tend the Garden.” Since the fall, our calling has included using our God-given abilities to push back against death and disease, frustration and toil. 

In an atheistic worldview, a disease like malaria isn’t something wrong, just something that is. And if humans are mere animals, not image-bearers, we are basically victims of the natural world, not stewards. It turns out atheism just isn’t big enough to explain all that humans can do.

Oct 13, 2021
BreakPoint: Is Religion the Opium of the People, or the Ladder?
05:35

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature,” wrote Karl Marx, “...the opium of the people.” Decades of often painful historical experience has proven his observation both right and wrong. Believing in God does ease pain and suffering of faithful followers, but he was wrong in thinking that religion, especially Christianity, leaves them with nowhere else to go from there. 

A recent article in The Economist put it this way: “Religious belief really does seem to draw the sting of poverty.” Although there is a correlation between poverty and decreased mental health, the article highlighted German sociologist Dr. Jana Berkessel’s recent findings that religion significantly mitigates this effect. 

A variety of similar studies confirm this. Regular attendance at religious services consistently correlates with longer life spans, stronger immune systems, and lower blood pressure, as well as decreased anxiety, depression, and suicide. Kids raised in religious households have a lower incidence of drug addiction, delinquency, and incarceration. They’re more likely to graduate high school. In short, the nearly unanimous scientific consensus is that religious belief is good for you. 

Of course, Marx’s point was that these benefits only serve to keep people content in their chains, and to keep them distracted so much by the next world that they do nothing to change this one. Many critics today take the critique even further. Religion, especially Christianity, has not only been used to pacify people in their oppression, but is the very source of it.

Of course, the charge that Christianity has been co-opted, corrupted, and weaponized to justify all kinds of abuse, conquest, and enslavement, is undeniable. At the same time, it’s also undeniable that Christianity has been a global force for the kinds of goods now so pervasive, it’s hard to even imagine the world without them. Many of the rights and principles we consider to be naturally occurring features of the world only came to be by the influence of Christianity.

In the ancient pagan world, violence, rape, infant exposure, and prostitution were rules, not exceptions. Almost immediately, Christianity began to revolutionize pagan ethics, particularly in its view of the poor and the outcast. Roman Emperor Julian famously wrote that when the “impious Galileans support not only their poor, but ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us.” 

To a world with no reason to believe in the equality of all people, Christianity taught that “there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.” This belief was grounded in the Christian view of the human person, which had no parallel in the ancient world and which created an explosion of literacy, social mobility, and human rights that we now take for granted in the modern world. 

Christianity’s unique contributions in humanizing the modern world is yet another reason to not simply lump all “religious beliefs” into the one blanket category. All religions are simply not the same, not in substance nor impact. 

Economist Robin Grier, for example, conducted a cross-national survey of 63 formerly European colonies. She found that, across the board, Protestant Christianity, in particular, was “positively and significantly correlated with real GDP growth,” and that “the level of Protestantism is significantly related to real per capita income levels.” A National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) paper found that only certain religious beliefs—notably beliefs about heaven, hell, and an afterlife—are linked with economic growth. In other words, it’s not just about having a “religion,” but about what your religion teaches

Consider Africa. A recent paper from NBER analyzed educational outcomes among religious children. Though Africa is becoming increasingly religious across the board, the paper found that in many countries, “primary school completion for Christians was more than double that of Muslims or Africans adhering to local religions.”  Christian communities far outpace others when it comes to  intergenerational educational growth. 

Writing in 1843, Karl Marx couldn’t have anticipated how thoroughly science would analyze his claims about religion. He’d likely have been among the modern theorists surprised that the world is becoming more religious, not less. As one writer with The Brookings Institute put it, While weak state structures collapse and aid agencies switch priorities, one group of actors persist against all odds: religious institutions.” 

Of course, this isn’t why anyone should believe the truth claims of Christianity. They should be believed if they are true. At the same time, the fact that Christian belief has been an educational, social, and economic ladder for millions suggests these beliefs ought to be taken seriously.

Oct 13, 2021
The Point: UK Targets Children with Down syndrome
01:07

Last month, 26-year-old Heidi Crowter lost a legal case against the British government, in which she claimed that UK abortion laws unjustly discriminate against people with Down syndrome. 

Most abortions are legal in the UK only before 24 weeks, with an exception in cases of “physical or mental abnormalities” that would leave the baby “seriously handicapped.” This includes children with Down Syndrome, who can be terminated right up to the moment of birth. 

Heidi and 40,000 other UK citizens with Down syndrome, object. And they should. In some European nations, as many as 96 percent of children with the condition are aborted. Last week, an article in the UK Telegraph asked, “Could this be the last generation of Down's syndrome children?

As Heidi put it after the court’s decision, “We face discrimination every day at schools, in the workplace, and in society. Thanks to the verdict, the judges have upheld discrimination in the womb, too.” 

For all the talk of equality these days, entire classes of people are being eliminated. Followers of Christ need to defend these image-bearers.

Oct 12, 2021
BreakPoint: Fewer Children… Because of “Climate Anxiety”?
05:33

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Emma Green writes that “a third or more of Americans younger than 45 either don’t have children or expect to have fewer [children].” This is, of course, not really new news. Birth rates have been falling for years, for various reasons. What’s notable in Green’s article is the somewhat new reason younger Americans claim they are choosing childlessness: because they are “worried about climate change.” 

Well-known figures including politician Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, entertainer Miley Cyrus, and royal family member turned Hollywood celebrity Prince Harry have all publicly expressed their so-called “climate anxiety” and concluded that fewer kids is better. In Britain, a new movement of women has launched a “birth strike,” refusing to have children until the climate crisis ends. 

"Climate anxiety" assumes three things. First, it assumes that climate change is happening, which seems to be clear enough. Second, it assumes that the way the climate is changing is not only remarkable, but also catastrophic. This is far less certain, given the limits of what we know about the history of past climate changes. Third, and even less clear, is the assumption that climate change in our time is human-caused.

Even if each of these assumptions is granted, refusing to have children in response raises the obvious question of whether fewer kids would actually solve the problem. Many experts say, “Don’t buy it.” While it’s true that each new human being brings a certain amount of carbon emissions into the world, even some scientists concerned about catastrophic climate change think that “reducing population is not the way that we’re going to solve the climate crisis.” 

On the contrary, dramatic social and economic consequences result once the fertility rate drops below replacement levels, as has happened across most of the Western world. Far from having too many kids, most Western nations have been in a population decline for so long, they’ve reached crisis levels where, among other things, there won’t be enough working adults to support an aging population. 

Many of our wrong-headed reactions to “climate anxiety” are rooted, it seems, in Paul Ehrlich’s infamous and disastrous predictions in The Population Bomb. Back in 1968, Ehrlich declared that, due to overpopulation, “”the battle to feed all of humanity is over,” and humanity lost. Hundreds of millions of people, he wrongly predicted, would starve to death in the next few decades. 

Ehrilch was not only wrong, he was dead wrong. In the words of Smithsonian Magazine’s Charles C. Mann, the book created “an anti-population-growth crusade that led to human rights abuses around the world,” including China’s one-child policy and forced sterilizations in countries like Mexico, Bolivia, and Indonesia. Like all bad ideas, Ehrlich’s had victims.

Ehrlich’s worst idea is that people were the problem to be solved. Instead, since his predictions were made, even as the population continued to grow, rates of starvation-level poverty around the world plummeted. As it turned out, people were the solution. Scientists, farmers, and policymakers did what people do: they innovated, created, imagined, and solved problems. So, instead of an apocalypse, the late 20th century saw a revolution in agriculture and the most significant decline in world hunger in human history. 

Perhaps, we should apply that historical knowledge to today’s crises. What if the kids and their carbon outputs aren’t the problem to be solved, but instead the very ones to solve whatever climate change problems we face? 

This is already happening in some ways. Though far less than in 1600, there are billions more trees today than 100 years ago. The North American Forest Commission reports that annual tree forest growth in 2020 was 380 percent greater than in 1920, with no signs of slowing down. Imagine if the generation of 1920 had simply stopped having children! 

This is not to say that trees are the answer to climate change, or that humanity can solve every problem. Among the effects of sin is the human ability to harm the world, even on a dramatic scale. At the same time, God created humans with an incredible capacity to steward the world, and adapt as necessary to survive and thrive. 

Christianity offers something climate-anxious secularism doesn’t and, in fact, can’t. The Christian worldview tells us what human beings are, and what they are for. We’re not random products of a cosmic lottery with margins so thin that we put our own future existence at risk simply by existing.  We have purpose and capacity that a secularist framework cannot explain.

Any philosophy that treats children like consumer goods must be rejected. Children are not just something we order when we feel like it, and cancel if we don’t. Every child is a brand new portrait of the God Who created and continues to oversee this world. 

God hasn’t given up on the world, and neither should we. In fact, especially in uncertain times, Christians should follow His lead and continue to create, innovate, and even have babies.

Oct 12, 2021
The Point: “Magic Mushrooms” and Depression
01:07

A new treatment for depression is undergoing clinical trials at Johns Hopkins. Early results suggest that the two doses of the active ingredient psilocybin, a main ingredient of the hallucinogenic drug known as “magic mushrooms,” significantly reduced symptoms of major depression in adults. 

Some of our most effective treatments come from unorthodox sources. The heart drug Wayfarin, for example, was originally derived from rat poison. Aspirin is taken from willow trees. So, we shouldn’t rule out psilocybin’s valid medical uses too quickly. 

On the other hand, covering up symptoms of depression isn’t really treating it, much less curing it. Mental illness can have chemical, psychologicalphysiological, relational, and spiritual causes, or even all of the above. Manipulating brain chemistry is a shortcut that can miss the bigger picture of who we are and what healing looks like. 

We cannot medicate away our need for purpose, belonging, love, or forgiveness. The best treatments will always see people in the fullness of who they are, made in the image and likeness of God.

Oct 11, 2021
Experts are Challenging the Transgender Craze
05:05

Increasingly, when confronted with a person who experiences gender dysphoria, doctors and psychologists are allowed to offer only one diagnosis: the patient is transgender. As recently as a few years ago, this was a mental disorder diagnosis, and steps would be taken to align the mind with the body. Today, it’s just the opposite. Gender dysphoria means being born in the wrong body, and treatment is to align the body with the mind. 

This is the expected diagnosis and path of treatment even when the patient is a child. All voices, even the most qualified voices, that dare to be critical of this way of treating gender dysphoria are silenced. No dissent is allowed. 

Dr. Allan Josephson is the former head of child and adolescent psychology at the University of Louisville. In 2019, he was effectively fired for participating on a Heritage Foundation panel where he questioned gender transition for minors. With the help of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Dr. Josephson is suing the university, but his situation highlights the experience of other scientists who reject current transgender medicine as premature and irresponsible.

One critic, who served as an expert witness in Josephson’s case is Dr. James Cantor, a Canadian clinical psychologist with a history of taking unpopular stands. Following a new “policy statement” by the American Academy of Pediatrics regarding gender transition in minors, Dr. Cantor published a “fact check” calling out what he saw as the Academy’s “systematic misrepresentation” of the medical literature. “Not only did AAP fail to provide compelling evidence” for claiming that gender-dysphoric minors should be immediately and unquestioningly transitioned, Dr. Cantor argued, but “AAP’s recommendations are despite the existing evidence.”

To be clear, Dr. Cantor is no religious fundamentalist. He describes himself as a gay atheist who isn’t afraid “to barbecue sacred cows.” Like Josephson, he too has faced backlash for challenging the dominant transgender narrative, specifically from a scientific perspective.

Last year, Cantor was booted from an online forum of the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality for questioning the case for gender transition of minors. He resigned in protest, concluding that the Society had “ceased to be a scientific organization.”

Dr. Cantor is reacting to what he thinks is a breakdown of the scientific process and a substitution of ideology for evidence. He described this breakdown recently in an interview on the Upstream podcast with my colleague Shane Morris: “We’re no longer allowed to discuss the issue itself. And in this case, [it is] the solid science that over and over again is getting silenced because it’s not matching up with what makes people feel good.”

Cantor understands that, after puberty, around 80 percent of gender dysphoric children spontaneously revert to identifying with their biological sex. He also notes that despite all of the false certainty proclaimed about the condition, transgender identity itself is still poorly understood. In many cases, Cantor believes, it is almost certainly the result of other mental health issues not being treated, like borderline personality disorder. Because of this, he especially opposes the common practice of threatening parents of gender dysphoric children with the possibility of suicide, calling it “essentially emotional manipulation.”

In the conversation with Shane, Dr. Cantor compared the way gender dysphoria is dominating the mental health conversation, particularly when it comes to children, with the 1980s and 90s, when a craze over repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse swept the field. It was eventually rejected as pseudoscience, but not before it wrecked countless lives and families.

In fact, Cantor thinks that the demographics of people who thought they had been abused as children are “very similar” to patients now being held up in support of childhood gender transition. “That era,” warns Cantor, “did not end well…And here we go again. We didn’t learn a thing.”

Because science advances based on self-correction, criticism, and dissent are vital for fixing bad theories and identifying mistaken assumptions. On the transgender issue, more than any other right now, dissenting voices are silenced. Though such scientific malpractice is reversible, for those whose identities, lives, and very bodies are now being experimented on, much of the damage will be permanent.

Oct 11, 2021
BreakPoint This Week: Living Forever, The Role of Grandparents, and The National Budget and School Board Meetings
58:08

John and Maria begin their discussion reflecting on Facebook. They share their experience and the heightened fear around the Facebook outage of 2021. 

Maria then asks John to reflect on two BreakPoints that he offered this week. The first BreakPoint John revisits was on Jeff Bezos's work to manipulate cells in an effort to live longer, and potentially forever. 

Maria and John then revisit a piece on Grandparents, both sharing special stories of their relationships with their grandparents. John highlights the special role grandparents have in culture, and offers a unique opportunity for inspiration and training through The Legacy Coalition.

Maria then asks John's insight on the federal government's budget deliberations. John provides a worldview framework for why we struggle to understand the rise in national debt and the conflict surrounding the budget. Then Maria asks John to offer a Christian perspective on the issues the federal government is engaging in local school boards and why our mitigating institutions seem dull and fragile right now.

 

-- Stories Referenced in the Show --

Everyone Wants to Live Forever

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is among a group of billionaires looking for the secret to immortality. Bezos funds Altos Labs, a startup pursuing breakthroughs in biological reprogramming technology. The ambitious new field has already seen some promising, not to mention terrifying, results in animal testing. Biological reprogramming technology attempts to revert cells to an embryonic state. If successful, this could unlock the potential to “rejuvenate” organs, perhaps entire bodies.”
BreakPoint>>

The Unique and Crucial Calling to Grandparents

Grandparents are among the most recent group of people to be labeled “toxic” in our culture. Even before the pandemic, more and more parents of adult children are victims of what has been called “relational minimalism.” It’s a brutal reality for many.
BreakPoint>>

Congress passed a bill to fund the government into December. But questions remain over the debt ceiling and Biden’s agenda

The US government went into Thursday embroiled in a game of three-dimensional chess with time running out and trillions of dollars at stake.

The first dimension was a must-do: fund the government by midnight to avoid it shutting down. In a typical shutdown, hundreds of thousands of federal employees stop getting paid and many stop working; some services are suspended and numerous national attractions and national parks temporarily close.

The second dimension is an even bigger must-do: raise the national debt ceiling, an artificially imposed borrowing limit, before an estimated deadline of 18 October. Failure to pay its bills would see the US default for the first time in history. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, has warned that the effects would be “cataclysmic” and cost 6m jobs.

The third dimension is not quite a must but it feels that way to Joe Biden and Democrats: pass a $1tn bipartisan infrastructure bill and a $3.5tn partisan package that expands social services and tackles the climate crisis. Both are stalled by divisions between Democratic centrists and progressives, along with Republican eagerness to deny Biden a win

The Guardian>>

Plan would give every Ohio K-12 student a voucher to attend private school

It's called the backpack scholarship program, and it would direct the state treasurer to create "education savings accounts" for any student who wanted one starting in the summer of 2023. The accounts would be filled with either $5,500 (K-8 grade) or $7,500 (9-12 grade) in state dollars annually and could be used to pay for things like private school tuition, homeschool supplies, after-school care, advanced placement testing fees or educational therapies.

MSN>>

FBI and Justice Department will help protect school employees amid uptick in violence over COVID-19 policies and critical race theory'


The Justice Department and FBI were ordered Monday to help protect school employees across the U.S. following an uptick in violence against them. Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the FBI and other agencies "to discuss strategies for addressing this disturbing trend." 

The order comes after the National School Boards Association sent a letter to President Joe Biden about the "immediate threat" local schools and boards are facing.

CBS>>

-- Recommendations --

Lancaster, PA

The Legacy Coalition - Grandparent Summit

My Reading Life - Ann Bogel

The Culture of Narcissism - Christopher Lasch

Oct 08, 2021
The Point: The Rise to Erase Women
01:01
Oct 08, 2021
BreakPoint: Krishna Banjeree and Christianity’s Influence on Education in India
05:06

In the 19th century, India was coming to grips with the modern world. While British companies, like the East India Company, helped modernize India through trade, British missionaries, like William Carey, helped modernize India through culture formation. One of the more creative interactions with the west happened in Bengal through the work of Christian missionaries.

For example, when Krishna Mohan Bannerjee was a child, he attended the School Society Institution started by David Hare, a watchmaker from Scotland. Though Hare’s faith commitments are unknown, he was concerned about social welfare in Bengal and started several noteworthy schools in the area. Hare recognized Bannerjee’s potential and pushed him to continue his education, first in Pataldanga, and eventually at the newly founded Hindu College (now Presidency University) in Kolkata. 

Bannerjee thrived at Hindu College, where the atheist headmaster, Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, advocated for free discussion and debate on any and every issue and profoundly influenced Bannerjee. 

When his father died of cholera in 1828, Bannerjee was forced to support himself through manual labor, and yet, still excelled in his studies. After graduating from Hindu College in 1829, Bannerjee got a job teaching at David Hare’s school. 

In 1829, Scottish missionary Dr. Alexander Duff noticed that Christian missions in India had only reached the lower castes. Duff proposed a new mission strategy of offering education in English in the sciences and biblical studies, in order to help upper-caste Hindu students see the contradictions in their own beliefs and move toward Christianity. Like so many others, Duff connected Western learning and success with Christianity. He believed that making Western learning and the Bible available would inevitably lead to conversions. 

Bannerjee began to attend Duff’s lectures and even visited Duff’s house for serious discussions about religion and philosophy. In 1832, Bannerjee converted to Christianity. His conversion came at great cost: Hare fired Bannerjee from the school, Bannerjee’s wife was forced to return to her father’s home, and a firestorm erupted in the local press about Hindu College. Ironically, Bannerjee’s conversion was blamed on the atheist, Derozio, and the popular headmaster was forced out.

Bannerjee moved to the Church Missionary Society School, where he served as headmaster. He studied theology at Bishop’s College and became the first Indian to be ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church in Bengal. Before long, Bannerjee became the foremost Indian apologist of his day.

Prior to 1865, Bannerjee followed the lead of Duff and other missionaries in seeing Hinduism as nothing but superstition and idolatry that needed to be destroyed. However, his entire approach to apologetics eventually changed, and he began to argue that Christianity was actually the fulfillment of Hinduism. He noted how sacrifice was the most important ritual in the earliest forms of Hinduism. Further, he showed from the Vedas, the Upanishads, and other Hindu writings that Prajapati, the Lord and Supporter of Creation, sacrificed himself to save humanity, and did so by taking on a mortal body. This, Bannerjee argued, prefigured Jesus’ incarnation and sacrifice on the cross.

Bannerjee’s efforts to find a doorway from Hinduism to Christianity grew out of his love for his country and his culture. He wanted to reconcile Christianity and modern education with Indian culture. In keeping with this goal, he became heavily involved in a wide range of social organizations in Bengal and worked for social reform. He opposed the caste system, polygamy, idolatry, the sale of girls into marriage, and sati, the practice of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. He also supported the education of women, seeing it as a yardstick for measuring the social progress of a country.

Beyond his work as an evangelist and apologist, Bannerjee was a critically important figure in the Bengal Renaissance, bringing modern ideas of scholarship and social justice to India and developing an approach to Christianity that honored Indian culture while remaining firmly anchored in the British evangelical tradition. He was a remarkable example of contextualizing the Gospel to India, and applying the biblical worldview to all areas of life. For Bannerjee, this started in school, inspired by a teacher who taught students to desire wisdom, seek truth, and follow honest inquiry. Eventually, this pointed Krishna Mohan Bannerjee to love God with all his mind, and to love his neighbors as himself.

Oct 08, 2021
The Point: There’s No Quota for Meaningful Relationships
01:08
Oct 07, 2021
BreakPoint: The Unique and Crucial Calling to Grandparents
05:06
Oct 07, 2021
Ask the Colson Center: Is "Agree to Disagree" the Best Tactic in Worldview Conversations?
45:52

John and Shane field a question from one listener for resources to support a Biblical practice of marriage. Another listener asks for resources for a child who enjoys art, but is trying to understand artistic expression from a Christian worldview.

In the latter part of the show, a listener asks if secular is a term Christians should use if "every square inch" belongs to God? To close, John and Shane discuss if "agree to disagree" is a good tactic to have in worldview conversations, if it is loving or actually harmful.

Oct 06, 2021
The Point: Gen-Z's Rising Need for Constructive Feedback
01:01

Business experts are noticing an increase in Gen Z-ers’ need to know they’re doing things well. “Sixty-six percent of Gen Z say they need feedback from their supervisor at least every few weeks in order to stay at their job,” writes Ryan Jennings, a generation expert, “Considering Gen Z grew up in digital environments full of real-time feedback (likes, comments, shares, etc.), it's not surprising [they have] an elevated appetite for feedback at work.” 

On the other hand, many believe Gen Z is the most narcissistic generation. It’s not hard to see why, when young people are constantly taught to live “their” truth and cut out "toxic people" - which is mostly anyone who makes them feel bad.

Incredibly, the latest peer-reviewed data shows that Gen Z-ers know they have this tendency, and don’t really like that about themselves. 

So, there’s hope after all. Growth of any kind requires being willing to listen to others, even when they tell us things we don’t want to hear. 

Oct 06, 2021
BreakPoint: Everyone Wants to Live Forever
04:20

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is among a group of billionaires looking for the secret to immortality. Bezos funds Altos Labs, a startup pursuing breakthroughs in biological reprogramming technology. The ambitious new field has already seen some promising, not to mention terrifying, results in animal testing. Biological reprogramming technology attempts to revert cells to an embryonic state. If successful, this could unlock the potential to “rejuvenate” organs, perhaps entire bodies.

On the one hand, there’s nothing unusual or controversial about the human desire to go on living. Christianity affirms that death is not a natural part of life in the strictest sense. It’s a result of the fall. Death is, to borrow a phrase from theologian Neil Plantinga, “not the way it’s supposed to be.” Scripture calls death “an enemy.” When Jesus arrived at the tomb of Lazarus, He wept at the death of his friend and the pain it caused, even though He clearly planned on turning that funeral into a party.  

At the same time, the desperate race for immortality is not an attempt to reverse the effects of sin. Rather, it reflects how desperate man without God is to exert complete control over the cosmos, and to have life on our own terms. 

Jeff Bezos is certainly not the first person in history willing to go to such extreme lengths to stave off the inevitable, only the latest and most resourced. Some speculate that this is nothing more than a mid-life crisis for the 56-year-old tech mogul. After all, Bezos’s 25-year marriage ended in 2019, and, in July, he stepped down as CEO of one of the biggest and most powerful companies in the history of the world.  Perhaps he’s just looking for ways to spend his $200 billion. It would take a lot of trips to outer space to spend that fortune.

Perhaps he’s reacting to the age-old truth, that even all the wealth in the world cannot ultimately satisfy a hole in the heart that is God-shaped. Another, more ancient billionaire once lamented, “When I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” Of course, if life truly is meaningless in the first place, more of it won’t fix the problem. 

The Bible teaches that we can never be satisfied until we are reconciled with the God who made us. Until then, we remain enemies, selfish rebels at war with life itself. Living forever in this state wouldn’t be an accomplishment. It would be a nightmare.

Genesis tells us that, after the fall, God kept Adam and Eve from the Garden in order to prevent them from eating of the Tree of Life

Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. 

God’s actions were as much of mercy here as of judgment.  

Later, King Solomon would describe how God “set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what [He] has done from beginning to end.” We are created beings created for eternity. C.S. Lewis famously put it this way, “If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” 

The desire for immortality ultimately points us to, and can only be satisfied by, God Himself. He made us to live forever. He is life itself. The eternal life we seek, both the why and the how, is only found in Him.

Oct 06, 2021
China and Hollywood
01:17

In 2020, Chinese box office revenue officially surpassed that of North America. Shirli Li writes in the Atlantic, “Filmmakers and actors have always been subject to bosses who decide which movies get to soar at the box office….Now, more than ever before, that boss is Beijing.” 

Fast and Furious star John Cena demonstrated this deference in May when he posted a back-bending apology to China, in Mandarin, for calling Taiwan a country. Another example is the potential ban facing Marvel’s The Eternals because its director, Chloé Zhao, criticized the Chinese Communist Party … eight years ago. 

Repeatedly, U.S. film companies posture as courageous defenders of human rights when they vocally oppose laws in states like Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. But then they’re deafeningly silent about doing business in China, a country actively imprisoning more than one million Uyghur Muslims, hiding the presence of massive slave labor camps and no freedom of any kind when it comes to journalism. Hollywood, it seems, mostly just listens to the money. 

The hope has always been that Western values would somehow infiltrate China and change it from the inside. But the opposite is happening. There’s nothing like the allure of massive profit to drown out our collective conscience.

Oct 05, 2021
BreakPoint: A Guided Journey into One of C.S. Lewis’ Most Important Books
05:30

Whenever I struggle to understand C.S. Lewis’s nonfiction work, I find it helpful to go to Narnia. 

For example, so many of the concepts Lewis introduced in Mere Christianity are found in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Throughout each of the Narnia books, Aslan, the Pevensie children, and other characters embody many of the ideas he explored in his nonfiction. 

Another example is The Abolition of Man, a book critically important for our cultural moment. In the book’s opening essay, “Men without Chests,” Lewis thoroughly critiques modern education which, Lewis says, fills students’ heads with knowledge and their bellies with passion, but does nothing to cultivate the chest. 

This idea from Lewis is based on something Aristotle taught, that the head is the seat of human reason and the belly is the seat of passion. Good citizens, Aristotle believed, are those whose heads govern their bellies. When someone is ruled by their passions, they are unstable. 

Aristotle thought that humans could govern their bellies through the formation of good habits. There's certainly a lot of truth to that. But anyone who has ever been in a real conflict between head and gut knows that, typically, the gut wins. Even more, our reason becomes merely instrumental to justify whatever it is we want.

My friend Michael Miller, a senior fellow at the Acton Institute, once described the belly as an 800-pound gorilla constantly demanding, “Feed me, feed me, I want. I want, feed me, feed me.” The head, on the other hand, is more like an 80-pound professor with a bowtie. Who's going to win the conflict between a massive gorilla and a tiny professor? The gorilla…every time.

This is what C.S. Lewis was critiquing in his essay “Men Without Chests.” A person will only function well if they are bolstered by a strong “chest,” or virtue. Only a well-formed moral will, which cares for virtuous things, can overrule and ultimately govern the belly.

For a story version of this opening essay of The Abolition of Man, see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This book has one of the best opening lines: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.” Eustace is the boy without a chest, as readers soon discover. He's a spoiled brat; as Lewis goes on to describe, he attended schools that filled his head with knowledge and his belly with passion, but did nothing to cultivate his chest. 

A thematic undercurrent in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is how Eustace developed a chest. Spoiler alert: it had a lot to do with his relationship with Reepicheep, one of Narnia’s smallest characters. The mouse, a perennial favorite character in all of Narnia, had much moral courage. He had, to borrow Lewis’ phrase, a chest. 

“Men Without Chests” is just one reason that The Abolition of Man is such an important book for understanding our current cultural moment. Lewis's analysis of culture in this book is more relevant now than ever. It is a must-read for any and every Christian.

Recently, Dr. Michael Ward, one of the foremost C.S. Lewis scholars on the planet, a researcher from the University of Oxford, and a visiting professor at Houston Baptist University, has written a companion guide to the Abolition of Man. The guide is called After Humanity: A Guide to C.S. Lewis’s The Abolition of Man. 

In this book, Dr. Ward takes readers on a chapter by chapter, essay by essay journey through the most important ideas in The Abolition of Man. Because the analysis in this book is so critical to understanding our cultural moment, the Colson Center will send a copy of both The Abolition of Man and After Humanity: A Guide to the Abolition of Man as our thank you for a gift of any amount to the Colson Center this month. 

In fact, anyone who gives this month will also be able to join an exclusive set of video introductions from Dr. Ward and a live webinar to discuss the key concepts in the book. This special opportunity to study one of Lewis’s most important books, guided by one of the world’s top Lewis scholars, is only for friends of the Colson Center.

Visit us at BreakPoint to give a gift to the Colson Center and get your copies, along with access to the live webinar and prerecorded introductory videos.

Oct 05, 2021
The Point: Homeschooling Spikes Thanks to the Pandemic
01:01

Recently, the US Census bureau reported, somewhat diplomatically, “It’s clear that in an unprecedented environment, families are seeking solutions that will reliably meet [the needs] of their children.” That’s an understatement.

The New York Times reports that just last year, more than 1 million children did not enroll in kindergarten. The impact of learning loss from missed school time has parents worried across every grade. After years of the nationwide percentage of homeschool families hovering around 3.3 percent, that number jumped to 11.1 percent in the fall of 2020.

If all of this means a renewed emphasis on parental involvement, that’s a good thing. Whether homeschooled or otherwise, involved parents consistently predict far better educational outcomes for kids. Which makes sense, because parents are the primary, God-given guardians of their children’s future. 

Education begins in the home. Or, as Tina Windebank put it over at Citizenlink, “Relax! Your kids are already homeschooled.”

Oct 04, 2021
BreakPoint: Pronouns Matter with God: “He” not “They”
05:10

Last week, professor of religion Mark Silk suggested that we should use the pronoun “they” when referring to God, instead of “He.” Writing over at Religion News Service, Silk offered a couple of “textual” arguments to support his admonition, but his primary aim was to update our God-talk with what he called "the imperative of gender-inclusive language.”

Silk isn’t the first to suggest something like this. And, it's not strictly accurate to say his ideas promote gender inclusivity. Calling God “she” or “her” or “Mother” was a way to dismantle the patriarchy not so long ago, but, in this cultural moment, the call is to de-gender God altogether, along with everything else, including us.

Silk’s best theological argument is that Elohim, a common Old Testament word for God, is plural. However, while Elohim is technically plural, so are the Hebrew words for face, panim, and Egypt, Mizraim. No one suggests that plural pronouns are required for these words. This grammatical quirk of Hebrew isn’t as significant as Silk makes it. 

The more significant problem with Silk's idea is that by abandoning biblically gendered language, we abandon the words God chose to describe Himself, and this alters our understanding of God. While God doesn’t reveal himself as “male” in an embodied gendered sense (like humans), God does uniformly use masculine terms to reveal Who He is. He acts like a mother, according to a few passages in Holy Scripture, but He reveals Himself as the Father throughout Holy Scripture.  

This may not seem like a big deal. Some will argue that God is a big boy and can handle being called “her” or “zhe” or “they.” Plus, others add, God is infinite, beyond our comprehension. He can't be bothered by pronouns. To that, I reply, No way. 

Call your spouse by the wrong name, and see if it matters. Describe your wife as you want her to be, not the way she is... what will she say? Tell her you love her for characteristics that she does not have, and see how that goes over. Our experience tells us that language matters, especially descriptive language that someone uses to define oneself.

As a person, who God reveals Himself to be matters… a lot. Things that do not matter to objects do matter to persons. Rocks and trees and books don’t care how they’re addressed - they don’t care about anything! Animals will get used to whatever you call them most often, especially if you have food. But persons care how they’re addressed. This isn’t a weakness; this is the glory of being a person. What’s more, without the personness of God as the foundation of our own personness, the things we most value about being human would be lost to the cold calculus of cause and effect. 

God isn’t a force or an energy with no opinion of what we think about Him. God is a person, with specific characteristics. God is not a nebulous blob to be molded according to our wishes. God is infinite, but He is not indefinite. He makes Himself known as a God of justice, holiness, compassion, and love. These are defined realities of his character. It is not for us to decide which parts of His self-revelation are passé.

We call God “Him,” because God calls Himself “Him.” We can wrestle with why, but the reality is that He calls Himself “Him” in a language in which He could've easily called Himself "it" or "her" or “they." Our perceptions of God should be shaped by what God has revealed about Himself, not by our cultural “imperative of gender-inclusivity.” 

Ironically, when we say things like “let’s not limit God with our categories,” especially when dealing with categories He Himself introduced to the world, we do what we claim we are trying to avoid: we limit God with our own culturally constructed limits. When we take away the boundaries He has revealed, we bind Him within our limited imaginations. As a result, we are left with a god created in our own image, who always agrees with us, and never challenges the idols of our hearts.

Christianity is fundamentally a revealed religion. If God exists, our knowledge of Him is wholly dependent on the knowledge provided by Him. To refrain from calling Him “Him” because of some kind of culturally conditioned mood we’re in is to speak of Him in a way other than what He has revealed.  

The Bible’s gendered language is no accident of history. Rather, it tells us significant things about God and His attitude toward His Bride, the Church. It is not coincidental that our lives are given to us as gendered beings; rather, it reveals aspects of the greatest love story in human history. God is the Father, Christ is the Groom, and the Church is His beloved Bride, for whom He conquered death itself.

Oct 04, 2021
BreakPoint This Week: The Myth in Eradicating Down Syndrome, Britney Spears, and Popularizing Relational Minimalism
01:07:53

John and Maria discuss a popular movement that's gaining momentum in how young people build community. Relational minimalism cuts out people who are viewed as toxic, and it's problematic for our sense of unity.

Maria shares her thoughts on the media and culture frenzy surrounding Britney Spears. She shares some insight from Neil Postman regarding how we worship pop-culture and lose our bearings in the process.

John then introduces a false report that the world is being cured of Down Syndrome. New reports mask the fact that the world's way of resolving it is through abortion, which is misleading about what is actually happening.

 

-- Story Mentions in Show --

Relationship Minimalism? Why Downsizing Other People Won’t Make You Happy

In the article, Logan documents a growing group of young people practicing “relationship minimalism.” Inspired by home organizing coaches like Marie Kondo, these mostly urban, single adults are not only clearing their lives of excess stuff; they’re tossing out excess people.  For example, 20-something YouTube star Ronald Banks says that living a minimalist lifestyle with only a few sets of clothes, simple furniture, and bare minimum electronics prompted him to go the next step and ditch meaningless relationships, too. Or, as he called them, “emotional clutter.”

BreakPoint>>

 

Crowd Gathers Ahead of Britney Spears Conservatorship Hearing


A group of Britney Spears supporters gathers near the courthouse where her conservatorship hearing is scheduled. Patrick Healy reports for the NBC4 News at 11 a.m. on Wednesday Sept. 29, 2021.

NBC LA>>

 

Britney Spears' conservatorship judge is facing death threats; Los Angeles Sheriff says they are 'monitoring'

Britney Spears' conservatorship judge has been hit with a wave of death threats on social media as the singer's battle to remove her father from the 13-year-long order rages on in court.

Fox News>>

Could this be the last generation of Down's syndrome children?


‘I had this vision of someone with a pudding-basin haircut following me round the supermarket. I thought I’d never go on holiday or have any sort of life ever again.’ So says 42-year-old actor Rebecca Hulbert of her initial reaction when her angelic-looking two-year-old

The Telegraph>>

 

Oct 01, 2021
The Point: A Majority of Christians Don't Believe in The Holy Spirit
01:01

Arizona Christian University created a stir last week when it released its annual American Worldview Inventory, conducted by George Barna. The results were disappointing. Out of 176 million Americans who identify as Christians, just six percent hold a recognizably Christian worldview. 

The most troubling finding was that a majority of self-identified born-again Christians don’t believe in the Holy Spirit as a “real, living being.” Instead, they identify Him as “a symbol of God’s power, presence or purity.”

This, of course, directly contradicts the fundamental creeds of the faith, which identify the Holy Spirit as a Person - “the Lord and giver of life,” Who “with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified.”

Scripture, too, is clear that the Holy Spirit is a “Who,” not a “What,” the “helper” and “comforter” promised by Christ before His ascension. 

The fact that so many Christians don’t understand this shows how much work we have ahead of us. We’re going to need some help from the very God too many of us have forgotten.

Oct 01, 2021
BreakPoint: Lorie Smith's Appeal Defends Every American's Freedom of Conscience
06:00

In the 19th century, India was coming to grips with the modern world. British companies, like the East India Company, aided in modernizing India through trade, and British missionaries like William Carey helped modernize India through culture formation. Arguably the most creative interaction with the west happened in Bengal through the work of Christian missionaries. 

 

For example, when Krishna Mohan Bannerjee was a child, he attended the School Society Institution started by David Hare, a watchmaker from Scotland. Though Hare’s faith commitments are unknown, he was concerned about social welfare in Bengal and started several noteworthy schools in the area. Hare recognized Bannerjee’s potential and pushed him to continue his education, first in Pataldanga, and eventually 

at the newly founded Hindu College (now Presidency University) in Kolkata. 

Bannerjee thrived at Hindu College, where the atheist headmaster, Henry Louis Vivian Derozio, advocated for free discussion and debate on any and every issue and profoundly influenced Bannerjee. 

 

When his father died of cholera in 1828, Bannerjee was forced to support himself through manual labor, and yet, still excelled in his studies. After graduating from Hindu College in 1829, Bannerjee got a job teaching at David Hare’s school. 

In 1829, Scottish missionary Dr. Alexander Duff noticed that Christian missions in India had only reached the lower castes. Duff proposed a new mission strategy of offering education in English in the sciences and biblical studies to help upper-caste Hindu students see the contradictions in their own beliefs and move toward Christianity. Like so many others, Duff connected Western learning and success with Christianity. He believed that making Western learning and the Bible available would inevitably lead to conversions.

Bannerjee not only began to attend Duff’s lectures, he even visited Duff’s house for serious discussions about religion and philosophy. In 1832, Bannerjee converted to Christianity. The conversion came at great cost: Hare fired Bannerjee from the school, Bannerjee’s wife was forced to return to her father’s home, and a firestorm erupted in the local press about Hindu College. Ironically, Bannerjee’s conversion was blamed on the atheist, Derozio, and the popular headmaster was forced out.

Bannerjee moved to the Church Missionary Society School, where he served as headmaster. He studied theology at Bishop’s College and became the first Indian ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church in Bengal.
Before long, Bannerjee became the foremost Indian apologist of his day. 

Prior to 1865, Bannerjee followed the lead of Duff and other missionaries in seeing Hinduism as nothing but superstition and idolatry that needed to be destroyed. However, his entire approach to apologetics eventually changed, and he began to argue that Christianity was actually the fulfillment of Hinduism. He noted how sacrifice was the most important ritual in the earliest forms of Hinduism. Further, he showed from the Vedas, the Upanishads, and other Hindu writings that Prajapati, the Lord and Supporter of Creation, sacrificed himself to save humanity, and did so by taking on a mortal body. This, Bannerjee argued, prefigured Jesus’ incarnation and sacrifice on the cross.

Bannerjee’s efforts to find a doorway from Hinduism to Christianity grew out of his love for his country and his culture. He wanted to reconcile Christianity and modern education with Indian culture. In keeping with this goal, he became heavily involved in a wide range of social organizations in Bengal and worked for social reform. He opposed the caste system, polygamy, idolatry, the sale of girls into marriage, and sati, the practice of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. He also supported the education of women, seeing it as a yardstick for measuring the social progress of a country.

Beyond his work as an evangelist and apologist, Bannerjee was a critically important figure in the Bengal Renaissance, bringing modern ideas of scholarship and social justice to India, and developing an approach to Christianity that honored Indian culture while remaining firmly anchored in the British evangelical tradition. He was a remarkable example of contextualizing the Gospel to India, and applying the biblical worldview to all areas of life. For Bannerjee, this started in school, inspired by a teacher who taught students to desire wisdom, seek truth, and follow honest inquiry. Eventually, this pointed Krishna Mohan Bannerjee to love God with all his mind, and to love his neighbors as himself.

Oct 01, 2021
The Point: Will Minneapolis Replace Its Police?
01:08

A Minneapolis ballot initiative would replace one of the city’s largest police departments with a new “Department of Public Safety.” While not doing away with police officers entirely, the initiative would reduce the number on patrol and outsource many police duties to unarmed community safety officials. 

Not everyone is on board. Minnesota Public Radio reports that, while the majority of voters are in favor of some reforms, few want fewer police officers. This is especially true for African-American voters, “75 percent [of whom] said the city should not cut the police force compared to 51 percent of white voters.” 

The average Minneapolis resident sees the obvious: violent crime is spiking. The number of homicides in Minneapolis doubled from 2019 to 2020, and 2021 is on track for another record-breaking year.

James Madison said that “if men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Justice and respect of citizens require an accurate understanding of human nature. Without it, we either swing toward severity or fall toward foolishness.

Sep 30, 2021
BreakPoint: How the Irish (Christians) Saved Education
06:27

The Christian commitment to advancing education is part of the historical record. While not wholly consistent in every time and place, the Christian view of life and the world (especially its view of a created, ordered reality and the divine imprint on every human person) has been history’s most fertile ground for advancing learning and knowledge. 

In a Christian worldview, the value of education isn’t merely utilitarian. Instead, it grows from the rich soil of Christian beliefs: in a God who wants to be known, Who created an ordered and knowable universe to be stewarded by humans, to whom He gave the ability to learn and the capacity to use knowledge in His service. 

That worldview framework has been uniquely fruitful for advancing education, even (and perhaps especially) at times of civilizational crisis. For example, during the decline of the Roman Empire’s authority in Western Europe, education went into sharp decline. Centuries worth of accumulated knowledge and learning were at risk of being lost forever, except In Ireland, where monks preserved learning that they’d later reintroduce to Europe. 

Irish monks viewed the preservation of literature and knowledge as part of their task as Christian scholars and clergy. More than merely preserving learning, they innovated in the methodology of education. Up to this point, the Greek, Latin, and Hebrew languages were written in an unbroken stream of letters with no capitalization, punctuation, or word spacing. The Irish changed that and, in doing so, made writing a primary method of learning. 

The Irish also had a hand in the recovery of education on the European continent in the late 8th and early 9th centuries. Having built an empire, Charlemagne realized that he desperately needed educated officials to govern it. So, he searched for the best scholar in all of Europe to head his educational reform program and found the Irish-trained Alcuin of York.

Alcuin reintroduced liberal arts as the foundation for education in Europe. He started schools in monasteries, cathedrals, and even the palace itself. Alcuin also oversaw the systematic copying and preservation of any and all ancient texts that he could find. In fact, many of the oldest copies of classical works still in existence today date from copies produced under his direction.

Within a generation or two after Charlemagne, however, all but the monastic schools had collapsed. Then, around the year 1000, Europe experienced a significant turnaround. As the population grew, cities were founded, and government became more centralized, there was a greater demand for education.

Because rural monasteries were more concerned with the training of monks than educational needs in the cities, urban cathedral schools were reestablished. This led to a tremendous expansion of education, and a great deal of new, creative scholarship. The result is what medieval historians call the Renaissance of the 12th Century.

As cities grew and bishops took on more administrative duties, they could not devote the resources necessary to continue the cathedral schools, so these schools spun off into universities. The first was the University of Bologna, founded around 1150 and focused primarily on law. The University of Paris was founded around 1200, with other universities following. 

The liberal arts continued to be the foundation of the curriculum, with advanced study available in theology, law, and medicine. Because logic was the foundation of the scholastic methodology used in these schools, the works of Aristotle, translated from Arabic texts in Muslim Spain, were particularly important during this period. Along with great scholastic theologians like Thomas Aquinas, medieval thinkers like Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon helped lay the intellectual foundations for the Scientific Revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Christian advancement of education also happened elsewhere. In the late 14th through 16th centuries, the Brethren of the Common Life provided basic education for students in the Low Countries and most of Germany. Their goal was to equip the population to read the sources of the Christian faith. By training students such as Erasmus, Gutenberg, and Luther, the Brethren of the Common Life helped lay the foundation for the Protestant Reformation.

History is replete with these stories of the impact Christianity had in advancing education. The question for us in our civilizational crisis is, will we follow suit? There’s never been a greater opportunity for Christians to take the lead in education than in our current cultural moment. We’ve seen a dramatic shift in public confidence in the existing systems over the last several years. Parents are looking for new educational solutions for their children. 

The Colson Center is heavily invested in training educators, especially in this current cultural crisis, by equipping homeschool parents as well as Christian school leaders and other leaders in educational innovation. 

If you would like to join us, every gift given to the Colson Center this month will go to support the Colson Center’s work in supporting educators with a Christian worldview. To learn more, visit us at BreakPoint.org.

Sep 30, 2021
BreakPoint Q&A: Adoption, Kids, and How Do We Support God's Family Structure?
01:00:03

This week John and Shane discuss adoption, ranging from embryo adoption to same-sex adoption. A listener asks how adoption supports God's family structure and what the role of it is in God's redemption.

Another listener writes in noticing a movement to single-parenthood in their region. The listener asks how to move forward with friends, when those friends are offended by Scripture.

Later, John and Shane consider how and when to use modern quotes in BreakPoint and when to use Scripture. John gives a listener perspective on why we use quotes so often, and how we consider using Scripture in specific situations.

To close, John and Shane explore a question asking for clarity on marijuana. John provides good context into the difference in medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. 

Sep 29, 2021
The Point: The New Face of Exploitation
01:01

In mid-September, an organization called “TwoDadsUK” held an exhibition called The Modern Family Show in London. It was a trade show to sell fertility services for LGBTQ people. One vendor’s floor-to-ceiling banner announced,, “The New Face of Surrogacy!” next to a photo of two men embracing. No woman.

This is an example of marketing being more about the audience than the product. . The audience are those who’ve intentionally chosen a sterile union, but who now demand the product, which is a child. The development and birth of a child requires a woman’s womb, hired out as a means. Because no one wants to think about that side of this industry, all we see is the happy audience, as if the woman doesn’t exist. She does.

Women aren’t machines, babies aren’t products, and no one is entitled to a child at the expense of a woman whose physical labor and emotional pain are left out of the glossy photographs used for the sales pitch.

Sep 29, 2021
Investigating Jesus Christ: A Person of Interest
04:45
Sep 29, 2021
The Opportunity for Christian Education
01:01

According to the U.S. Department of Education, since the start of the pandemic, more than 1.5 million students have left traditional public schooling.

Many parents are realizing, some for the first time, that students aren't learning what their parents thought they were learning. As one former college professor noted, if you haven’t been in education in the past three years, it’s almost unrecognizable to what you experienced growing up.

This has led to incredible growth in the number of home schooling families and record enrollments for nearly every Christian school that I know of. 

Part of the Colson Center’s calling as a worldview-equipping institution is to serve Christian educators by equipping them to think and teach from a Christian worldview.

We invite you to partner with us as we serve Christian education in this strategic moment by training Christian educators. To learn more about our work in Christian education, and to support it, visit www.breakpoint.org/september.

Sep 28, 2021
Relationship Minimalism? Why Downsizing Other People Won't Make You Happy
04:38

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, were chosen to grace the cover of the 2021 edition of “Time100: The Most Influential People of 2021.” After publicly cutting ties with the British royal family several months ago and moving to America, the couple described the whole ordeal in a televised interview and, as a result, made this year’s list. 

Many people have strong opinions about Harry and Meghan’s decision to leave Buckingham Palace; I don’t. My knowledge of British royalty is limited to the few seasons of “The Crown” I watched with Sarah before we canceled our Netflix subscription. What does interest me, however, is how their decision, which has been widely hailed as “brave” and “authentic,” mirrors something increasingly popular among modern young adults: cutting so-called “toxic people” out of their lives. 

It’s also notable how quickly friends, relatives, and neighbors can be labeled “toxic” simply by holding different political, moral, or religious beliefs. Recently, a psychologist specializing in family therapy told the Atlantic that his practice is flooded with older parents mourning estrangement from their grown children, and with grown children angry and hurt by conflicts with their parents. Apparently, when it comes to family fractures, the royal family is far from exceptional. 

In fact, according to a recent piece by Sarah Logan in The Guardian, you don’t even have to be “toxic” to find yourself cut out of a loved one’s life. It’s enough that you don’t “spark joy.”

In the article, Logan documents a growing group of young people practicing “relationship minimalism.” Inspired by home organizing coaches like Marie Kondo, these mostly urban, single adults are not only clearing their lives of excess stuff; they’re tossing out excess people.  For example, 20-something YouTube star Ronald Banks says that living a minimalist lifestyle with only a few sets of clothes, simple furniture, and bare minimum electronics prompted him to go the next step and ditch meaningless relationships, too. Or, as he called them, “emotional clutter.” 

Young adults like Banks are all about cutting ties. As Logan put it: “If the city they live in no longer sparks joy, they move.” Some keep apartments so sparsely furnished that guests can’t even sit down or have tea. One YouTube minimalist quoted in the article refuses to have a mirror in her apartment because, in her words, “Why would I try to impress people that I don’t even like?...I’d rather be alone than with people who make me feel alone.” Not to be too “judgy,” but that doesn’t sound much like joy.

This kind of utilitarian attitude toward other human beings is not only sad, it’s also darkly ironic given our culture’s epidemics of loneliness and suicides. Behind these cultural crises are a growing group of young people who think of relationships as dispensable and people as furniture. As the Director of Research and Public Education at the Council on Contemporary Families put it, “Never before have family relationships been seen so interwoven with the search for personal growth, the pursuit of happiness, and the need to confront and overcome psychological obstacles.” 

Anyone willing to walk away from parents, friends, or even an entire city, just because they don’t “spark joy,” fundamentally misunderstands the purpose and functioning of relationships. People are not consumer goods to be rummaged through, tried on, and returned if they no longer fit.

If anything, we need to be around people who rub us the wrong way or who demand something from us instead of serving our therapeutic goals. That’s part of what the Church is for! It’s a redeemed community united not by hobbies, career goals, or personality traits, but by allegiance to a Lord whose love transcends all of this.

In the context of such relationships, the Bible says that “iron sharpens iron.” Anyone who’s ever banged two pieces of metal together knows that sparks will fly—and not always sparks of joy! But in God’s eyes, and in the eyes of the author of Proverbs, the results are worth the friction.

No, we’re not called to put up with just anything, without limit. Sometimes there are situations in which cutting people out of our lives is necessary and wise. Contrary to what these relationship minimalists believe, our personal happiness is bound to our relationships but is not bound by them. In an age marked by historic loneliness, “relationship minimalism” sounds like a poor way to love both our neighbors and ourselves.

Sep 28, 2021
Abortion Is Not Necessary For Female Athletes to Succeed
05:39

More than 500 female athletes signed an Amicus brief last week asking the U.S. Supreme Court to rule against a Mississippi law that bans abortions after about 15 weeks of pregnancy.

Signed by female Olympians, soccer and basketball and swimming stars, the brief failed address the critical questions of the humanity and moral status of children in the womb. Instead, the athletes focused on how abortion restrictions “harm” them.

Their approach is typical of the kind of arguments being made against the Texas law, and abortion restrictions in general. These arguments depend upon a number of faulty assumptions which, like the humanity of babies in the womb, are left unsaid.

First, the brief claims that without abortion, female athletes would be “compelled” by the state to “carry pregnancies to term and to give birth.” Implied here is that abstinence is too preposterous a proposition to even be considered as an option. Even if ideological and moral considerations are left aside, that’s simply illogical. The U.S. government doesn’t force anyone to make children, or to engage in the kinds of sexual activity that leads to pregnancy. 

Also, according to the attorney who filed the brief on behalf of the athletes, the right to kill unborn babies is absolutely necessary in order for women to be able to “realize their full athletic potential.” Even if we set aside the degrading tyranny of low expectations assumed in that statement, implied here is that it’s impossible for women who become mothers to also be successful athletes. That’s simply not true.

Allyson Felix is the most decorated American track star in history. In 2018, she was effectively dropped by her sponsor, Nike, after refusing to terminate her pregnancy. She was picked up by another sponsor and, despite a challenging pregnancy, went on to win both gold and bronze medals in Tokyo, while her two-year-old watched from home. 

Pregnancy and parenting does, of course, disrupt life in many profound ways. Still, scores of women have been successful as athletes and, for that matter, in business, education, science, finance, politics, and countless other areas, while also being mothers. 

Even so, abortion advocates often pit a woman’s body as an obstacle to her success as a woman. This makes it all the more strange that so many of the athletes who signed this brief, claiming to support women’s sports, publicly advocate for allowing men to participate in women’s sports. A few months before signing this brief, U.S. soccer player Megan Rapinoe wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post in which she opposed restrictions on males competing against females. Unlike abortion restrictions, allowing men in women’s sports is unfair and unsafe for women. In fact, it eliminates any logical ground for gendered sports leagues in the first place.

Perhaps the most problematic part of this brief is its subtext that competing in sports is as important for human flourishing as creating and bearing children. For athletes to assert that they must have the right to kill their unborn children in order to compete is to suggest that competing in a sport is of greater value than the life of another human being. While courageous and talented athletes like Allyson Felix disprove this point practically, Scripture counters it ontologically. Men and women were made to image God and, as the Westminster Catechism puts it, to glorify and enjoy Him forever.

Competing in sports is one way humans can enjoy and glorify God, but that’s only because enjoying and glorifying God is what humans are for. Watching Michael Jordan play basketball in the 90s, Serena Williams serve a tennis ball in the 2000s, or Simone Biles tumble across a balance beam today unfailingly elicits awe and wonder. These various physical talents reflect and portray the deep value that humans have, but they are not the source of that value. 

Human value is God-given and therefore intrinsic to who we are. This brief implies that something we do, competing in sports, carries more value than who we are, valuable image bearers of God. If that is true, what of the rest of us with more, shall we say, limited athletic abilities?

Simply put, this Amicus brief gets everything exactly wrong. It’s wrong to suggest that the ability to bear children is somehow a bug, not a feature, of the female body. It’s wrong to suggest that children are a hindrance to athletic success, as if they were a sprained ankle or broken hockey stick. And it’s wrong about who women’s sports are for, what they are for, and what they portray about human value. 

When a sports league pressures women to violently inhibit their body’s natural functioning, it ceases to be a women’s league at all. Instead it becomes a pretend-men’s sports league which encourages women to compete as long as they aren’t too much like women. It disregards those women who do compete - and win - while being and becoming mothers. And it belittles the beauty and design of women’s bodies, which are strong enough to do more than one thing, like jump a two-meter high bar or run 400 meters in 53 seconds and also carry, bear, and raise children.

Sep 27, 2021
Education, Technology, and 500 Women's War on Women - BreakPoint This Week
59:27

John and Maria visit on changes in the education landscape. They discuss the power of technology to not only inform our understanding of the world, especially in education, but how technology forms us. They consider the addictive nature of technology and how it can be associated with increasing numbers in things ranging from facial tics to gender dysphoria.

Maria then asks John's perspective on China's crackdown on technology, especially for adolescents. China is limiting video game access for young people, and Maria asks if this is right, knowing the impact of technology on teens, or if this is an infringement on the family sphere.

To close, Maria shares an amicus brief filed by hundreds of women who are opposing the Mississippi abortion law. The brief states that limiting access to abortion will infringe on the rights and progress of women in society. Maria pulls the veil back on the brief, showing the way the arguments fail to recognize the strength and opportunity women have.

-- Stories Mentioned In-Show --

The Cost of Digital Addictions?

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, psychiatrist Anna Lembke offered a stark warning: our favorite technologies are “drowning us in dopamine.” Dopamine is the brain’s natural feel-good chemical. It rewards us when we do enjoyable things like connect with friends, laugh at a joke, or eat a taco. Today, that powerful reward cycle is being hijacked by digital technology.
BreakPoint>>

 

You Are What You Binge

Pediatricians are growing increasingly concerned about an explosion in facial and vocal tics in teenagers, especially teenage girls. According to the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, case numbers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Australia have skyrocketed over the last year. They’ve even called it a “parallel pandemic” alongside COVID-19. A UK journal has reported similar findings.
BreakPoint>>

College and the Decline of American Men

In yet another indicator that they are not ok, men in America are abandoning higher education in record numbers. According to the Wall Street Journal, at the end of the 2020 academic year, the percentage of male college students dropped to just over 40 percent. Soon, if current trend lines continue, one expert predicts, for every man who earns a college degree, two women will earn a degree.

BreakPoint>>

Leaving Church

The pandemic policies, social unrest, and political division that’s left so much of our culture on edge have created quite a bit of tumult for churches, too. A few weeks ago, in a blog at Mere Orthodoxy, Pastor Michael Graham offered a new way to categorize how Christians are reorganizing amidst the chaos.

The Point>>

Learning Loss From Covid-19

Like most of the damage from this pandemic, the key factors for education were pre-existing conditions. Students already accustomed to facing challenges can grow more resilient in adversity. Students whose education was already more than information transfer were able to build curiosity in new ways. Parents who accepted that their kids’ education was primarily their responsibility made necessary pivots.

BreakPoint>>

China’s New Video Game Restrictions Are About Far More Than Kids’ Habits

China has twice as many gamers as the U.S. has people—some 700 million of them. That ubiquity, especially among young people, has worried China’s central government. So at the start of this month, it banned people under 18 from playing video games for more than three hours a week. They could only play from 8 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights.

But it’s not just video games. The government has gone after tutoring companies and big tech players in this “season of crackdowns,” in an attempt to bring these sectors more in line with what they perceive as socialist values and to strengthen control over Chinese society and the Chinese economy.

Slate>>

 

More than 500 female athletes file amicus brief against Mississippi abortion law

More than 500 of the U.S.’s most prominent professional female athletes filed an amicus brief on Monday that voices their opposition to a Mississippi law that prohibits abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

The Hill>>

 

-- Recommendations --

Louise Penny>>

 

The Third Education Revolution with Vishal Mangalwadi

Most recently, Vishal has written The Third Education Revolution, in which he traces both the history of the Christian promotion of education around the world and the opportunity we have in front of us right now. Here’s a segment of that interview with Vishal Magalwhaldi

BreakPoint Podcast Special>>

 

Sep 25, 2021
How Christianity Elevated Women Through Education
03:55

Most likely, Tsuda Umkea’s father regarded her as expendable. He was so angry when his second child was a second daughter, he stormed out of the house. 

Still, during Japan’s rapid modernization campaign in the late 19th century, he had become interested in the education of girls, and especially the possibility of girls studying in Western countries as exchange students. So, when that opportunity arose for his six-year-old daughter, he volunteered Umkea, known as Ume, to go.

Ume ended up in Washington, DC, in the family of Charles Lanham, the secretary of the Japanese legation to the United States. Lanham and his wife had no children of their own, but treated Ume as if she were their own child. After about a year in their home, she asked to be baptized. 

When she returned to Japan in 1882, she had nearly forgotten the language and was shocked by the inferior status of women in Japanese culture. At the time, Japan was experiencing a backlash against Western influence, and a resurgence of very traditional Neo-Confucian ideals. Seeing this, she decided that she would never enter a traditional Japanese marriage, but only one built on mutual love and respect like she’d seen in America.

Ume was soon hired as a tutor to the children of Itō Hirobumi, soon to be prime minister of Japan. In 1885, she began teaching at a school established by the Imperial Household to educate its daughters in traditional manners and customs, to prepare them to be wives and mothers. Troubled, Ume began to think that her own “unique destiny” was to improve educational opportunities for Japanese women. In order to do that, she needed more education. And so, she returned to the United States.

Ume attended Bryn Mawr College from 1889-1892. There, she studied English literature, German, philosophy, and biology. She also attended St. Hilda’s College, Oxford University. She did so well that Bryn Mawr offered her a fellowship to pursue an advanced degree. She refused, intent on returning to the royal family and Japan in order to improve women’s education. 

The only school at that time that provided higher education for women in Japan was the Tokyo Women’s Normal School. Ume decided that others needed the same opportunity she’d had abroad. She began giving public speeches about the subject and, with the help of some Quaker friends, raised $8,000 to provide scholarships for Japanese women.

In Japan, Ume resumed teaching, while writing and lecturing about the status of women. In 1900, realizing that girls would never be given the same opportunities as boys in existing schools, she resigned from her post and established Joshi Eigaku Juku, or The Women's Institute for English Studies.

Following the example of Bryn Mawr, which insisted that students meet the same standards demanded by Harvard, she determined that her school would follow the standards of the very rigorous and prestigious Tokyo University. The school focused on liberal arts and discussion of contemporary topics, with the goal of developing students’ personalities and encouraging creativity.

Ume had to work very hard to support herself and fund the new school. In addition to teaching at her own school, she took jobs at other schools, tutored daughters of friends, and engaged in fundraising. Her efforts paid off when, in 1903, the school was approved as a vocational school by the Ministry of Education. Under Ume’s leadership, the school’s standards were so rigorous that, in 1905, it became the first school in Japan whose graduates did not need to take government examinations in order to obtain a teaching license.

Ume’s unrelenting efforts to support her school and promote women’s education took its toll on her health. She suffered a stroke in 1919, and retired to a cottage in Kamakura. She died in 1929. After her death, the Women's Institute for English Studies was renamed in her honor, eventually becoming Tsuda College in 1948. It is the oldest and most prestigious private women’s college in Japan, with over 27,500 graduates now active in all walks of life.

Like other educational reformers of the period, Tsuda Umeka recognized the central connection between Western learning and Christianity. Her concern for women’s education was born from her childhood experience in America, and the influence of the Quakers. Her sense of personal calling was born out of a recognition of the inherent connection between Christianity, education, and the value and potential of women, a potential that the dominant worldview of her native culture lacked. 

Hers is one more example of how the Christian view of life, the world, and the human person has inspired, informed, and energized education across the globe.

Sep 24, 2021
You Are What You Binge
05:20

Pediatricians are growing increasingly concerned about an explosion in facial and vocal tics in teenagers, especially teenage girls. According to the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society, case numbers in Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Germany, and Australia have skyrocketed over the last year. They’ve even called it a “parallel pandemic” alongside COVID-19. A UK journal has reported similar findings.

A significant majority of these young patients report spending a lot of time on social media; particularly a corner of TikTok where influencers with, who themselves have tics, share their stories and show their tics on the platform. According to researchers in the UK, the TikTok videos bearing the hashtagchannel #tourettes boastedhad 2.5 -billion views as of last February.

Doctors say that neurological scans of teenage girls with what they called “functional tic-like behaviors”  don’t show the same signs common withas Tourette’s Syndrome. While Tthe tics are real and uncontrollable, they are but not neurological, but . Rrather, they are learned over a screen. 

These types of phenomenaon, known as “social contagions” or  “mass socio-genic illnesses," have baffled psychologists for decades. A few years ago, jJournalist Lee Daniel Kravetz published a book called Strange Contagion. Inin this book,which he told the story of a phenomenon atdescribed a Palo Alto high school where, inover the span of just six months, five students committed suicide, all on separate occasions, all by jumping in front of a train. School shootings can follow a similar pattern: the first is widely reported, and within weeks there’s another, and then another.  Wall Street Journal reporter Abigail Shrier described a similar phenomenon in her book, Irreversible Damage, about teenage girls with “sudden-onset gender dysphoria.” One girl identifies as trans, and suddenly, severalmany others have joined hertoo. 

Like the “functional tic-like behaviors” currently alarming researchers now, social media has playedplays a big role in each of these examples. Whether it manifests as gender dysphoria, violent behaviors, or facial tics, there’s something about us - especially our younger selves - that is so vulnerable to suggestion and pressure, even to the point of causing hurting ourselves harm. The reality of social contagions reveals something about how God made us.

To put it as simply as possible, we’re impressionable people. Proverbs, especially Cchapter 4, repeatedly alludes to this. Chapter 4 We are warnsed against following “the path of the wicked.” We are told, “Above all else, (to) guard your heart” because everything about us “flows from it.” 

Though we like to think of ourselves as primarily rational creatures, making decisions by carefully and objectively considering all sides, we are far more driven by what we desire than by what we think. angle of an issue. God gave us hearts that are often shaped in ways and by forces beyond our awareness.of which we aren’t always aware of.

Marketers know this. We want to wear what others are wearing, and economic considerations go right out the window. Influencers know this. Popular cultural idioms become part of our vocabulary because of them. The fact that there even is a category of people in our culture called “influencers” pretty much says about all we need to know.

Before the Fall, Scripture describes how God “walked” with Adam and Eve in the Garden. The idea of “walking” emerges again in Proverbs. Out of the Garden, we are warned against “walking” with the wicked.  Apparently the problem is not that we are impressionable. The problem is not that our hearts were made to be formed and shaped by others. We were, in fact, made to become like God, by walking with Him. We were to be formed by Him. In a fallen world, that very good way God made us can instead allow us to be twisted us into the image of something corrupt, foolish, or sinful. 

Anxiety-induced behaviors like the tics inflicting teen girls aren’t sinful, but they do illustrate the power of suggestion and the way we were made. The most obvious strategy in light of that would be to dramatically limit social media exposure.

In healthy communities, there is support and sharing ofabout struggles, but social media doesn’t come with any safeguards, especially for teens. Digital community is not real; . Iit’s more of a performance art in front of strangers. Physical community is real, or at least should be, especially in the context of families and churches.

If we are potentially impressionable to the point of harm, then we’re also impressionable to the point of health. Opposite of the wicked man, Psalm 1 says, is the one who “meditates on the law of the Lord day and night.” This is because the Word of God is living and active. And it’s also because our hearts are shaped by what we binge.

Sep 23, 2021
The Great Education Revolution - A Conversation with Vishal Magalwhaldi | The BreakPoint Podcast
47:40

John visits with Vishal Magalwhaldi, author of several books, including The Book That Changed Your World, and most recently The Third Education Revolution, in which he traces both the history of the Christian promotion of education around the world and the opportunity we have in front of us right now.

Sep 22, 2021
Why the Church Has Such a Long History of Leading in Education
05:02

Some people think that Christian interest in education is only instrumental. In other words, we start schools so that we can tell our kids about Jesus Christ and how to become Christians. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that, but the Christian understanding of education goes much deeper. 

Throughout human history, wherever the Church has gone, education has followed. This is because of how Christianity understands life and the world, particularly the nature of reality itself and the human person. Education doesn't make sense in a worldview that is only about survival. In a worldview that is only about survival, education is only utilitarian.

But with a worldview that says that the world itself came from a first cause that is intelligent, reasonable, knowable, and - this is important - wants to be known, there is solid grounding for actual knowledge, and therefore education. 

Christianity says that God has made us in his own image. In other words, not only is God knowable, but humans are knowers. So, the act of learning is nothing less than, as Johannes Kepler put it, thinking God's thoughts after him. Knowing God's world leads to knowing God, and knowing God is what life is all about. 

This week, on a very special edition of the Breakpoint Podcast, I spoke with one of the most outstanding leaders in education in the Christian world, Vishal Magalwhaldi. He's the author of several books, including The Book That Changed Your World, and most recently The Third Education Revolution, in which he traces both the history of the Christian promotion of education around the world and the opportunity we have in front of us right now. Here's a segment of that interview with Vishal Magalwhaldi 

In a biblical worldview, Satan is out to deceive the nations, that's Revelation 20. The church is out to disciple the nations. God says to Abraham, “if you follow me, I will bless you. I will make you a great nation.” But how would Abraham become a great nation? 

 

God says in Genesis 18: 18-19 that Abraham would become a great nation because he would instruct, he would teach, he would command, he would disciple his children. And his household is a blessing and is non-ethnic. 

 

So, it was by teaching them to walk in God's ways that Israel would become a great nation and Israel would become a light to the nations. Nations would flock to the love of God to learn to bring peace. So from the very beginning of the calling of Abraham to follow Him is a teaching of education. 

In India, 100 years ago, a carpenter, or a fisherman, or a shepherd did not go to school. But what you find in the New Testament is a tentmaker writing, a shepherd writing, a fisherman writing. Where did they learn to read and write? They'd entered the synagogue. The priest, on the sabbath, was the teacher. He was a master educating others during the five days of the week, or whatever. 

 

Every child has to be educated. God has given his law, and is saying, "You make copies of them." They complained, “We don't have pen and paper.” God says, “Don't complain, don't make excuses. You write it on your doorpost, you write it on your walls. You teach your women to learn to write as they're stitching their clothes. They must write them in your clothes.” The objective is, if you're meditating upon the law of God, day and night, you're not just memorizing, but meditating. It is written on your heart. 

You can't reform a nation if there is no objective written text with which you can critique your teachers. Martin Luther critiqued universities, he critiqued the church, and said this is what God says: the church needs to reform. So, the written Word is people becoming people of the book. And this was key to the opening of the Western mind.

That was a portion of my conversation with Vishal Magalwhaldi, one of the great education leaders of our day. To hear the entire conversation, go to www.breakpoint.org and click on the Breakpoint Podcast, or search for the Breakpoint Podcast wherever you listen to your podcasts from the Colson Center.

Sep 22, 2021
Leaving Church
05:25

The pandemic policies, social unrest, and political division that’s left so much of our culture on edge have created quite a bit of tumult for churches, too. A few weeks ago, in a blog at Mere Orthodoxy, Pastor Michael Graham offered a new way to categorize how Christians are reorganizing amidst the chaos. 

Long gone are the days when believers automatically joined the church down the street. Even denominational loyalties, theological convictions, and worship styles are not as important as they used to be. More and more often, suggests Graham, church shoppers are prioritizing political and social convictions. And the shopping process itself involves a kind of spy-craft, with phrases like “social justice” or “the sanctity of marriage” seen as stealth signs of belonging to one side of the aisle or the other. 

Of course, the risk of judging an entire congregation or denomination wrongly via this process is dangerously high. Not only does the “aisle” metaphor fail to acknowledge that a spectrum of views exists on many issues, especially the most controversial, but the so-called “aisle” itself is too often being drawn with only political concerns in mind. Not to mention most buzzwords are left undefined, and therefore unhelpful. In short, the “fracturing of evangelicalism” currently happening is mostly not good. 

As the wider culture fractures in a million ways, the Church should look different. When it doesn’t, our witness suffers. Leaving churches over politically charged disagreements, without taking the time to explore the motive, practices, and beliefs behind them is just not biblically permissible. Leaving a church should be a last resort, like the choice to break up a family, not a knee-jerk response, as if we’re disgruntled shoppers.

Of course, even a quick look at the motives, practices, and beliefs of some church leaders, congregations, and denominations will reveal problems that must be addressed. If Samuel John Stone were writing his great hymn today, there’s more than enough consumerism, celebrity-ism, Christian Nationalism, and cultural Marxism afflicting the church to inspire these same mournful words: 

Tho' with a scornful wonder,
men see her sore oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping,
their cry goes up, "How long?"
And soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.

Driving past six churches, some big and shiny, to find one faithful to the Gospel is a tragic reality for many.

Christians will find help in the various metaphors Christ gives for His Church: the “Household of God," a husband and his bride, a “body” with many members and functions, a flock of sheep guarded and shepherded by Christ, and even brothers and sisters. Though living into these Biblical metaphors is incredibly difficult, especially at a time when political and ideological divisions are breaking even the bonds of family, it’s not difficult to see that a different metaphor is dominating our approach to church.

In short, Christians today approach churches primarily as consumers. We’re too picky when it comes to where we worship and why. We want the songs we like, and the preacher that “speaks to us.” 

However, consumerism is a problem for church-goers, because it is first a problem for churches. Pastors face enormous pressure to fill pews and minimize conflict. Often, they are hired for their fidelity to the Scriptures and tasked with discipling a congregation, but are evaluated by completely different metrics. If you “give the people what they want,” it will rarely be the hard truth of the Gospel. 

In this, “evangelical fracturing” is not new, but it is saddening. In the past, God has used “fracturing” to accomplish a “pruning.” It is His church. He will protect it, even from itself. May it be so today, too. 

For as much time and effort we spend evaluating a church we plan to leave or join, we should spend at least that much on evaluating the motives and the criteria we employ in leaving or joining a church. Churches that misuse or rewrite the Bible, that choose the approval of men over God, or that serve temporal power more than the Kingdom of God should be left. At the same time, the biblical metaphors matter. We are family, not isolated gatherings of consumers. Issues matter because truth matters and morality matters, not because they are political hot buttons. We are employed by Christ for His Kingdom, not for protests, extra-biblical theories, or deconstruction.

More important than finding a church we like is that we are the Church He leads, seeking first His Kingdom and righteousness. With that in place, we can trust that anything else will be added, as God is willing.

Sep 21, 2021
What's the Cost of Digital Addictions?
04:54

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, psychiatrist Anna Lembke offered a stark warning about our favorite technologies.  Dopamine is the brain’s natural feel-good chemical. It rewards us when we do enjoyable things: connect with friends, laugh at a joke, eat a taco. Today, that powerful reward cycle is being hijacked by digital technology. 

Technology is designed to be addictive. With every tap, click, and like, our brain chemistry, which is supposed to spur us on to action, is instead keeping us on our phones. As Lembke writes, “The quantity, variety, and potency of [these highly addicting] behaviors has never been greater.”

We’ve been warned, but it’s not clear that a society in which the average adult spends around eight hours a day interacting with a screen of some kind will actually listen. I’m as guilty as the next guy, but the consequences aren’t just personal. As Lembke reports, the self-reported happiness of nations in which these digital technologies are most widespread is declining

A few years ago, an article in The Economist described the rising numbers of young men who were opting out of the workforce in order to play video games. While there’s something sad about young men choosing to invest so heavily in a fantasy world while ignoring the real one, the question is why? At least part of the answer is that their hearts and minds had been cultivated to pursue immediate gratification.  Though such short-sighted decisions will inevitably reduce their long-term happiness, if Dr. Lembke is correct, they’re not capable of thinking that way. Not only has a generation of young men not been cultivated toward long-term, cause-and-effect thinking, they’ve actually been cultivated for short-term dopamine fixes.

In Brave New World, one of the most haunting books of the last 100 years, Aldous Huxley describes a dystopian world where pleasure, rather than pain, has finally enslaved humanity. Drugged into perpetual bliss, most people live lives of cheap hedonism. In the process, they lose those things that make life meaningful, like real connection, perspective on suffering and purpose that is bigger than physical desires.

Years later, in the Introduction to Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman summarized what Huxley got right. People, he said, would “love their oppression, (and) adore the technologies that undo their capacities to think.” Contrasting Huxley with George Orwell’s dystopian vision of state oppression, Postman wrote:

“Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture… In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.” 

How can it be that in a society with more income, resources, and leisure time than ever, people are less happy? How is it that the most connected generation in human history is ravaged by loneliness? Why can’t a generation that (Covid aside) has seen the greatest medical advances and reduction of diseases of any era ever stop the pandemic of so-called “deaths of despair.”

Secularism offers very little that can counter the consequences of unchecked hedonism. After all, if we’re not hurting anyone, why shouldn’t we spend our time in digital fantasies? If there’s no bigger purpose to life, why shouldn’t young men pursue video games instead of jobs, a wife and a family? If there’s nothing more to God than what He can do for me, what purpose is greater than our own immediate fulfillment?  A secular culture lacks any incentive to break out of our digital cages and into the real world.

The real world is more vibrant, more painful, and more meaningful than any digital counterfeit. It’s filled with image-bearers, not mere images. Our actions have consequences, without an easy restart button. We are able to love and serve a God who is actually there, in a world that actually exists, by following the beautiful, paradoxical call of discipleship: “Come, take up your cross, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for Me will find it.” This way of the kingdom, this joy of the real world, is far better than a dopamine fix.

Sep 20, 2021
The Uniqueness of Christian Education and The Importance of Words in Language - BreakPoint this Week
01:02:10

John and Maria revisit a piece from this week that highlights the beauty of God in the Cosmos. John provides a reflection that we are not simply our bodies or simply a spirit. He gives a worldview lesson, reflecting on another piece that highlights how the Greeks viewed the unborn.

Maria then asks John for insight on a recent court case in North Carolina. She focuses her question on the point that the ruling judge ruled against the Catholic school because the school didn’t have a strong enough presentation of their Catholic convictions in their hiring practices. John shares how the Colson Center is coming alongside Christian schools to support the Christian worldview and its influence in every academic discipline and the overall mission and vision of Christian education.

To close, Maria revisits a piece she wrote for BreakPoint that highlights the importance of words in language. John explains the necessity of a Christian worldview in understanding the role and function of definitions.

— Stories Mentioned In Show —

What the Greeks Knew About the Unborn

Hippocrates, the Greek physician whose followers gave us the Hippocratic oath, recognized six-week-old pre-born babies as… babies. Through studying miscarriages, he concluded that a baby’s limbs and organs are complete by 40 days after conception. That’s part of why the Hippocratic oath states: “I will give no sort of medicine to any pregnant woman, with a view to destroy the child.”
The Point>>

 

For God So Loved the Cosmos

We’ve been sending people past Earth’s atmosphere for just over 60 years now. Every single time, the reaction has been awe. Astronauts call this sensation the “overview effect.” Something within the human heart reacts to the beauty, size, and overall scope of Creation with a sense of awe. The fact that God made us to respond that way ought to tell us something profound.

The Point>>

 

Christian Schools Should Be Thoroughly Christian (and not just for legal reasons)

Last week, a U.S. District judge ruled against a Catholic school that had fired a male teacher for announcing that he planned to marry his male partner. Coming from a judge notably progressive on sex and marriage issues, who cited last year’s consequential Bostock decision, this wasn’t much of a surprise. However, a significant part of his reasoning was: the Catholic school was not Catholic enough.

BreakPoint>>

 

Gay and trans teachers in Christian schools will keep jobs under new law

“Unless a person’s religion is actually relevant to their role or their needs, faith-based organisations should treat all their employees and the people who rely on their services fairly and without discrimination”, Ms Brown said.“

The Age>>

 

Our Way with Words

In a recent and unintentionally poignant episode of National Public Radio’s “On the Media” podcast, an entire conversation debating free speech hinged on the definition of a word that was never established. “Free speech absolutism,” reporters claimed, is an old-fashioned concept because some speech causes harm. Never defined in the conversation (and rarely defined in decades of debate about free speech and first amendment rights) was the word “harm.

Surrendering words and their meanings to cultural whims will only lead us, as writer David Foster Wallace once put it, to the tower of Babel. Surrendering reality to these whims leads to death.

BreakPoint>>

— Recommendations —

The Gospel According to Norm
Erick Sorensen | 1517 | September 15, 2021

Amusing Ourselves to Death
Neil Postman | Penquin Books | 2005

Sep 17, 2021
College and the Decline of American Men
05:41

In yet another indicator that they are not ok, men in America are abandoning higher education in record numbers. According to the Wall Street Journal, at the end of the 2020 academic year, the percentage of male college students dropped to just over 40 percent. Soon, if current trend lines continue, one expert predicts, for every man who earns a college degree, two women will earn a degree.

On one hand, this says as much about the state of higher education as it does young men. Simply put, the ROI of higher education is just not what it used to be. Not only are students bombarded by narrow, progressive ideologies with little real-world application, they often graduate with no marketable skill set, high levels of debt, and no compelling vision for how to spend their lives. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that there are 1.5 million fewer college students today than there were five years ago.

Still, for men, who represent 71% of those abandoning higher education, return on investment is extra low. Not only are they overpaying for college, but at many schools they can expect to be consistently berated for things they have no control over, like for their ethnicity, or for simply being men. 

“No college wants to tackle the issue under the glare of gender politics,” says enrollment expert Jennifer Delahunty. “The conventional view on campuses is that men make more money [and] hold higher positions. Why should we give them a little shove from high school to college?” In other words, it’s politically incorrect to help men succeed.   

All of this is set against an even larger backdrop: “perpetual adolescence.” While at other times and in other places, teenaged young men would be fighting battles or managing farms or embarking on grand adventures, today we punish them with low expectations. Teenagers, especially young men, are expected to care for nothing, have no job, and spend most of their time playing video games. 

Even worse, adolescence now extends to young people, especially young men, in their 20s and 30s. Young men in their 20s and 30s are aimless: refusing to grow up, addicted to pornography, and spending their time and money in digital fantasy worlds. By excusing their so-called “Peter Pan Syndrome,” we’ve subjected them to a tyranny of low expectations.  

Unsurprisingly, these low expectations don’t stop the worst elements of fallen masculinity; rather, they fuel them. As one fraternity president at the University of Vermont put it, “… a lot of guys are here for four years to drink beer, smoke weed, hang out and get a degree.” 

Despite millions spent on training and awareness, college campuses are still haunted by the specter of sexual assault. Tragically, that makes sense in a world where all that’s left to sexual morality is a blurry line of consent. That will never be enough to temper the bad behavior of young men trapped in extended adolescence. 

All of this points to a central problem. Having abandoned moral and creational norms, we’ve no idea what to do with human beings, especially men. Fallen masculinity has always been a dangerous thing. Men account for the vast majority of domestic abuse, rape and violent crime, not to mention historically aggressive behavior in war. When men give in to aggression and violence, they leave a trail of cultural devastation in their wake, particularly for women and children.  

Margaret Mead observed that a central question any society has to answer is how to make a proper place for men. Of course, she thought their proper place was somewhere on the moon, but her basic observation is correct. Missing in our current cultural equation for men is purpose. Low expectations, combined with a dearth of purpose, make for a dangerous concoction. 

To paraphrase T.S. Eliot, before we know what to do with something, we need to know what that something is for. We’ll never know what to do with men, especially young men, if we don’t know what men are for.

The answer is not to reject masculinity as inherently evil, as many tend to do, including Christians. Instead, the answer is to define masculinity from a Christian worldview. Embedded in the Creation story is a unique grounding for the dignity of both men and women. We also find definitions for their purpose as male and female. In fact, Jesus pointed to God’s creational intent for creating humans as male and female when asked about male responsibility in marriage. In that answer and throughout His ministry,  Jesus confronted men, even young men, with higher expectations: action instead of passivity, protection instead of abuse, faithfulness instead of abandonment. 

Many men today get each of these exactly wrong, and culture enables it. Without a corrective, we can expect it to only get worse. Fortunately, we have just such a corrective. A Christian worldview gives us this corrective, and in Scripture, we have the portrayal of a man perfect in gentleness, humility, and strength: Jesus Christ.

Sep 17, 2021
Our Way with Words
06:23

In a recent and unintentionally poignant episode of National Public Radio’s “On the Media” podcast, an entire conversation debating free speech hinged on the definition of a word that was never really established. “Free speech absolutism,” reporters claimed, is an old-fashioned concept because some speech causes harm. Never defined in the conversation (and rarely defined in decades of debate about free speech and first amendment rights) was the word “harm.” 

Most English language dictionaries are updated every quarter. The latest update to the Oxford English Dictionary, released in June, contained 700 new words added since the previous March. One thousand existing definitions were revised. 

The process is neither straightforward nor worldview-neutral.  In the ongoing debate in academic circles about the process, two sides have emerged. The descriptivists argue language has no “rules.”  If enough people use a certain word in a certain way, that is its definition. The prescriptivists argue that certain immovable rules are necessary for language to work. For example, “book” has to mean a collection of pages bound between two covers. It will never mean a four-legged animal with fur. Communication, prescriptivists argue, requires these kinds of rules.

This debate has consequences for areas like law and public policy and medicine, and also for the way we organize our lives together. If the meaning of the word “harm” evolves from ‘something that causes or demonstrates real pain or damage,’ to mere discomfort such as, “I must not hear a perspective I don’t like,” then the role and purpose of law fundamentally changes. And the meaning of the doctor’s oath to “do no harm” changes as well.  

The whole thing brings to mind the conversation between Humpty Dumpty and Alice in Lewis Carroll’s 1871 novel Through the Looking Glass.

“‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less.’ 

‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’” 

That fanciful conversation, set by Lewis Carroll in a bizarre and absurd upside-down world, is taking place in our own world. At the time the book was published, Humpty Dumpty’s descriptivism would have been understood as illogical and unsustainable. But around the same time there were some,  most notably Friedrich Nietzsche, who began to suggest, in different words, that maybe Humpty was right and language is malleable. From there it was a very short step for others, such as Jacques Derrida and Ludwig Wittgenstein, to suggest that not just language, but reality itself, is malleable. If everything is a text, as Derrida suggested, then nothing is left but interpretation.

This shift in our understanding of language and meaning can also be traced through art. When Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, he was portraying reality. Assumed in the style and delivered in the final image was the idea that there was, indeed, a real-world and that the real world could be, in fact, communicated. Later, impressionists such as Vincent Van Gogh reflected a different view. Starry nights existed in reality,, but Van Gogh’s  abstract piece offered only his interpretation of it. In contrast, much of postmodern art looks nothing like reality at all. In fact, rather than even attempt communication, many postmodern artists see their task as creating endlessly interpretive experiences for viewers, as if access to the objective world were impossible. 

Without God, there is no meaning. This is true in language, art, worldview, and reality itself. Christians, because our worldview begins not only with God but with a God who communicates, are far more in the prescriptivist camp when it comes to words. While words obviously change over time as custom and culture ebb and flow, words point beyond other words and random interpretation to true realities. The basis of the world itself is words… God’s words, to be precise.

The Apostle John not only introduces this God as “the Word,” but tells us that He took on flesh and invaded this world. And He has given us His Word which, Jesus said, “cannot be broken.” Surrendering words and their meaning to cultural whims will only lead us, as writer David Foster Wallace once put it, to the tower of Babel. Surrendering reality to these whims leads to death.

Sep 16, 2021
Has the Church Missed the Lessons of 9/11? - BreakPoint Q&A
01:00:22

John and Shane are asked a host of questions surrounding recent BreakPoint commentaries. 

To start off, John fields a question asking if the church completely missed the lessons we should've learned from 9/11. Additionally, another listener asks if the shift in worldview attention from Islam after 9/11 to critical theory today is one that is honest or if we're missing something in culture.

Later in the show a listener asks for definition on where the American idea of inalienable rights is housed, especially as the church finds itself with less of a voice in society.

Sep 15, 2021
The Incredible Opportunity for Christian Education
06:09

 According to the U.S. Department of Education, since the start of the pandemic, more than 1.5 million students have left traditional public schooling. Parents and students, it seems, are looking for something different. 

Many parents and students are looking elsewhere because students struggled to learn online, and some have even fallen behind. Others feel helpless to respond to how school districts and states have handled, and sometimes mishandled, the pandemic. Others are worried about their students learning bad habits with technology, or suffering from loneliness and despair

Other parents have finally seen what their students are being taught. During the pandemic, various forms of anti-Americanism, sexual indoctrinations, and critical theory that pass in the name of education have streamed into homes through online Zoom classrooms. Many parents realized, some for the first time, that their students weren’t learning what the parents thought they were learning. As one former college professor noted, if you haven’t been in education in the past three years, it’s almost unrecognizable to what you experienced growing up.

All of which has led to incredible growth in the number of homeschooling families, and record enrollments for virtually every Christian school I know. I’ve talked to dozens of leaders of schools who didn’t have waiting lists before, but have them now.

One Christian school administrator told me that, even early on in the pandemic, his teachers were begging him to do what they could to reopen their school. “They need us,” the teachers would say, even while the public school teachers unions in that state were asking officials to keep schools closed. Their attitude was unique in their community, but not among Christian schools around the nation. 

And, apparently, parents noticed.

At the same time, Christian schools face incredible challenges, especially internally. Too often, for example, Christian education takes the form of regular education with Bible verses added on as illustrations, or as the same school only with chapel, a “spiritual formation” week, more rules, longer skirts, and shorter hair. 

In reality, truly Christian education is a fundamentally different enterprise. Christian education rests on the assumption that every person is made in the image of God, created by God for a purpose, called by God to live in the world He created, and specifically called to live for Christ in this cultural moment. Christian education equips and prepares people to understand reality and to live with the clarity, confidence, and courage they need to face the challenges of this cultural moment. To paraphrase T.S. Elliot, Christian education is not just teaching Christian students to behave or how to be safe in a dangerous world. It’s about training them to think and live as Christians for such a time as this.

This means that in this particular moment of incredible opportunity, we can do Christian education right or we can do it wrong. Done right, Christian education begins with Christian assumptions about life, truth, and humans. It aims at Christian goals. It’s measured by Christian outcomes. It’s guided by Christian methodology. 

Christian education also relies heavily on the home and the church to provide essential support.  Part of the Colson Center’s calling as a worldview-equipping institution is to serve Christian educators by equipping them to think and teach from a Christian worldview. Hundreds of Christian educators have been commissioned in our Colson Fellows program. Tens of thousands have been trained in worldview and cultural issues through our online courses. Many now serve as Christian worldview experts in their homes, schools, and churches. Each and every day, in classrooms and around dinner tables, BreakPoint commentaries are used to teach Christian worldview to the next generation. Together with our What Would You Say? videos, educators have the resources they need to connect Christian worldview to the most important and challenging issues of our culture.  

And, we invite you to partner with us, as we serve Christian education in this strategic moment by training Christian educators. To learn more about our work in Christian education, and to support it, visit www.breakpoint.org/september.

Sep 15, 2021
Charlotte Catholic Not Catholic Enough in Legal Loss
05:57

Last week, a U.S. District judge ruled against a Catholic school that fired a male teacher who had announced he was marrying his male partner. Coming from a judge notably progressive on sex and marriage issues who cited last year’s consequential Bostock decision, the decision wasn’t much of a surprise. However, a significant part of his reasoning was: the Catholic School was not Catholic enough

Here’s the story. In 2014, a male substitute drama teacher at  Charlotte Catholic School announced on Facebook that he planned to marry his male partner. The school argued that his post showed open disregard for the teachings of the Catholic Church and amounted to activism, which the school prohibits. So, they fired him. At roughly the same time, a female teacher announced on Facebook that she was engaged to her male partner. She was not fired, because her post did not violate the teachings of the Catholic Church. 

This is where the 2020 Supreme Court decision in Bostock vs. Clayton County comes in. In a bit of rhetorical jiu-jitsu, Justice Neil Gorsuch determined that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 protects sexual orientation and gender identity along with biological sex. Though, wrote Gorsuch, “homosexuality and transgender status are distinct concepts from sex… discrimination based on homosexuality or transgender status necessarily entails discrimination based on sex.” 

In other words, rather than saying that the word sex in Title VII includes sexual orientation and gender identity, Gorsuch argued it’s impossible to make employment decisions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity except on the basis if sex. So, if a man wouldn’t have been fired for sleeping with a woman, a woman shouldn’t be fired for sleeping with a woman. If a woman is allowed to dress like a woman, a man shouldn’t be fired for dressing like a woman. Effectively, any employment decision made in which sex is a factor amounts to sex discrimination.

Though it was clear that Gorsuch’s sleight-of-hand was bad news, it wasn’t exactly clear how bad. Now, we have a better idea after U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn applied Gorsuch’s principle from Bostock in his decision in the Charlotte Catholic case. According to the judge, because the school objected to the drama teacher’s announcement that he was marrying a man but did not object to the female teacher who announced she was marrying a man, the school therefore discriminated on the basis of sex.    

With this kind of legal precedent in place, employers that believe biological sex is a distinct category, but sexual orientation or gender identity are not, have only one protection: a religious exemption. So, why wasn’t Charlotte Catholic protected in this case by a religious exemption? 

This is where this decision gets very interesting. According to Judge Cogburn,

With a slightly different set of facts, the Court may have been compelled to protect the church’s employment decision...Importantly, Charlotte Catholic discourages teachers of secular subjects from instructing students on any sort of religious subject. [emphasis added] The school asks that teachers who teach secular subjects refrain from instructing students on Catholic Doctrine. (Doc. No. 28-5 at 28). Secular teachers do not have to undergo religious training, do not have to be Catholic, and do not have to be Christian. (Doc. No. 28-3 at 58). The administration at Charlotte Catholic does not know the percentage of teachers at the school who are Catholic and does not ask if candidates are Catholic during job interviews.

In other words, Charlotte Catholic failed to be Catholic enough. By dividing subject areas into “secular” and “religious” categories, the school effectively divided educators into “secular” and “religious” categories. This was, especially in the wake of Bostock, a serious tactical mistake. 

Even worse, to divide subject areas and educators into “religious” and “secular” is a serious worldview mistake. Father Richard John Neuhaus once said, “If what Christians say about Good Friday is true, then it is, quite simply, the truth about everything.” For any institution committed to forming students in a Christian worldview, there is simply no such thing as a “secular subject.” Every subject—from science to geometry, dance to drama, religious studies to social studies—is part of God’s Creation, informed by God’s revelation, and within the scope of Christ’s work of redemption. This also means, there’s no such thing as a “secular” educator in a Christian school, either. 

Simply put, any school wishing to be Christian must be thoroughly Christian: in purpose, content, curriculum, aim, and personnel. This is no easy task. In fact, to be a Christian educator is, to paraphrase Dr. John Stackhouse, “more than twice as hard.” After all, A Christian educator must be Christian. And they must be educators. And they must be Christian educators.

That’s always been a theological imperative for those God’s called to educate. It just so happens, it’s now a legal imperative too.

Sep 14, 2021
The Forgotten Lessons of 9/11
05:00

September 11, 2001. For those who were alive and old enough to remember, it is a day indelibly seared into our memories. Puzzlement at the first plane, shock at the second, and terror at the third and fourth. Throughout, there was a slowly emerging realization that this was no accident, that America was at war, and that our world had dramatically, irreversibly, changed. 

That night, America went to sleep thinking that 10,000 people could be lying crushed in the burning rubble of New York City, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania. When that number was eventually reduced to just under 3,000, the day felt no less evil. At the same time, we gave thanks for everyone that made it home and marveled at miraculous stories of survival and heroism. We feared that more attacks were inevitable.

Over the coming days and weeks, a new spirit was in the air. America found its moral clarity, national unity, and a deeper respect for the firemen, police officers, and first responders who had courageously run into the danger. We were more gracious to strangers and flew more American flags. In the days after 9/11, the lines between “us” and “them” were shifted, though not always in good ways. Even in Congress, at least for a short time, national divisions seemed far less important than our shared national identity.

There was something deeper to all of this than a shared experience of pain. In the end, for a time, our national conversations were reframed by a shared witness of evil. Destroyed with the Twin Towers were postmodern pretensions about the malleability of truth and ethics. Gone, for a time, was any talk of “your truth” vs. “my truth.” We had witnessed it with our own eyes: Good was good and evil was not. There were heroes, and there were villains. There were New York’s Finest rushing into the danger, and there were the vile assassins that brought destruction. 

It was as if we’d been awakened from an ideologically-formed dreamworld to the real one. For a while, long-suppressed truths about the human condition and the reality of evil were undeniable, having breached the surface of our hearts, minds, and culture. Pain, wrote C.S. Lewis, is God’s megaphone. And, for a moment, our collective pain allowed us to see more clearly than we had without it. Sadly, it was only for a moment.

In the months after 9/11, a well-known Christian apologist confidently announced that postmodernism was dead. After witnessing the evil of that day, no one, he suggested, would embrace a worldview that denied absolute truth or morality. He was wrong.

Eventually, a postmodern culture made sense of the day by retreating to its postmodernism. Rather than conclude that the evil of 9/11 required that moral absolutes must exist, the narrative became that the evil of 9/11 was because of those who embraced moral absolutes. Once the obvious contradiction is set aside, it’s a short step to a different kind of absolutism, in which evil is called good and good is called evil. Of course, any of the collective spirit and national identity from those pain-filled days is long gone as well. 

To be clear, reality is not gone. Our ability to see it is. God willing, we’ll never see another day like 9/11. God willing, we’ll find ways to recapture the awareness of what is true and good without another day like that. 

The very least we can do is to remember, not just what happened that day and what it meant to us, and not even just the pain we felt. We must remember what the pain taught us. We must remember that categories of good and evil are far more than culturally conditioned preferences. We must remember that virtue consists of more than silly slogans of tolerance or plays for power. 

We must remember how the trendy philosophies about reality and morality that were so popular on September 10 simply weren’t big enough for September 11,  that our ideas about God and truth and morality have consequences, and that our bad ideas have consequences. We must remember that God is real, truth is real, morality is real, and human dignity is worth fighting for.

Sep 13, 2021
Remembering 9/11 - BreakPoint This Week
01:06:07

John and Maria discuss the impact of 9/11 on our current cultural moment. They revisit the historical significance of the timeframe surrounding the terrorist attacks, also explaining the worldview and ideological challenges we've faced following the 9/11 attacks.

-- Bonus Episode | BreakPoint Podcast Special --

Reflecting on 9/11: Timeless Wisdom from Chuck Colson
John Stonestreet & Chuck Colson | BreakPoint Podcast | September 10, 2021

 

-- In Show Mentions --

Teaching 9/11 to the Emerging Generation

Instead, for them, it’s distant history. Of course, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, the assassination of JFK, and the moon landing are all history for my generation as well. But they weren’t nearly as distant. These events were essential parts of our cultural memories.

We were still among those citizens who actually had a shared national memory. That’s something that many in the emerging generation simply do not have.
BreakPoint>>

Remembering 9/11 from a Christian Worldview

In the days after 9-11, Chuck Colson offered an incredible gift to God’s people: A Christian worldview framework for understanding what had happened and a roadmap for Christians to both speak truth and love to their neighbors. Colson warned against out-of-control anger and against seeking revenge instead of justice, in both our personal and national responses.

BreakPoint>>

Chuck Colson Commentary from September 13

Many neighbors lost friends or loved ones in airplanes and buildings beyond that most americans spent all of Tuesday and the bulk of yesterday glued to the television, as did most of our Children in schools, people are traumatized, confused. They need to talk and we can listen and give a reason for our hope. We can listen and we can be an influence on those around us.

BreakPoint>>

For example, we can love our muslim and Middle Eastern neighbors. Our instinct for self preservation will cause us to see someone in traditional muslim dress or with Arabic features and wonder if he or she represents a threat. At the same time, we know that most Arabs living in America are christians, christians who have fled from the kind of militant Islamic leaders, fanatical extremists who are suspected of Tuesday's terror. Beyond that. The vast majority of Muslims living in the United States are peaceful law abiding people. Christians should be the first to recognize this and befriend those who will find themselves shunned by many.

BreakPoint>>

Chuck Commentary September 14 - Overcoming Evil with Good

One of the reasons I believe the Christian gospel couldn't be a made up religion, as some people think, is that it tells us to do those things which are contrary to our human nature when evil is done to us. The human instinct is to respond with evil. The result is that evil triumphs in this case, if we respond to the terrorist attacks with evil, the terrorists win. But the Gospel tells us to act exactly contrary to our own nature, to respond to evil with good.

BreakPoint>>

Chuck Commentary September 17 - Responding to Terror

Of course, as christians, we are the community of scatological hope. We live in the constant expectation of jesus return. That will be the most glorious day in all of human history, but it's our hope, and though we may talk about it among ourselves, this is not the time to inject it into secular discourse.

BreakPoint>>

Chuck Commentary September 18 - Where was God?

If we would be prophetic, we need to speak out for the right reasons not to find scapegoats or condemn or denounced, but out of our love for our neighbors, rather than demonizing others. We offer an alternative to destructive worldviews that have left many victims, including the victims of last Tuesday in their wake, comments that sound self righteous and point the finger at others, make it hard for ordinary people to see how the christian message differs from the condemning message of the hijackers.

BreakPoint>>

-- In Show Recommendations --

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order
Samuel P. Huntington | Simon & Schuster | August 2, 2011 (Orig. Pub. 1996)

20 years on, ‘The Falling Man’ is still you and me
Richard Drew | The Associated Press | September 9, 2021

-- Recommendations -- 

I Was There When
Maria Baer | I Was There When Podcast

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Jonathan Safran Foer | Mariner Books | April 1, 2006

The Rising
Bruce Springsteen | Sony Legacy | July 27, 2006

The Only Plan in the Sky: An Oral History of September 11, 2001
Garrett M. Graff | Simon & Schuster | September 8, 2020

September 11 | Drive Thru History Special
Dave Stotts | Coldwater Media | September 9, 2021

Sep 11, 2021
Remembering 9/11 with Chuck Colson | A BreakPoint Podcast Special
33:00

Welcome to a special edition of the BreakPoint podcast. In view of the 20th anniversary of the 9-11 terrorist attack on the United States, our team went back and revisited commentaries from our founder Chuck Colson.  

I was blown away by the gracious and truthful framing that Chuck offered to the events of that day. In a series of BreakPoint commentaries, Chuck Colson offered a Christian worldview that was, as we often say at the Colson Center, “big enough.” I was also struck by how relevant this wisdom still is.  

So, over the course of the next hour or so, as a way of recounting the events of September 11th, we’d like for you to hear directly from Chuck Colson. 

I’m John Stonestreet, President of The Colson Center and the voice of BreakPoint. Thank you for joining us. 

Like most Americans that were old enough on that day, I remember exactly where I was on September 11th, 2001. 

  • At 7:59am American Airlines Flight 11 left Boston, bound for Los Angeles.  
  • At 8:14am the plane was hijacked. At 8:46am Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center between the 93rd and 99th floors. 
  • At the same time, United Airlines flight 175 took off from Boston, also bound for Los Angeles. Flight 175 was hijacked between 8:42 and 8:46am.  
  • Seventeen minutes later, at 9:03am, Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower of the World Trade Center, between the 77th and 85th floors. 
  • As New York City was sent into disbelief, American Airlines Flight 77, which took off from Washington Dulles International enroute for Los Angeles, was hijacked, between 8:50 and 8:54am. Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon at 9:37am. 
  • At 8:42 am, before any of the hijackings or terrorist activity was realized, United Airlines Flight 93 left Newark International Airport bound for San Francisco.  
  • Flight 93 was hijacked at 9:28am, and because of the heroic action of the passengers on the flight, at 10:03am, the plane crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania rather than the destination intended by the terrorists, the White House.  
  • At 9:59am the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed, and twenty-nine minutes later, at 10:28am the North Tower collapsed. The world long remembers the lives lost in that fateful attack on our country.  

The day after the attack, Sept 12, 2001, Chuck Colson delivered the following commentary.  

 

I cannot describe how I felt when I heard the news of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.  

We are partly and appropriately struck silent with the enormous loss of life in the collapse of Twin towers. The explosion at the pentagon and the hijacked airliners that were crashed.  

If your loved ones perished yesterday as a result of these acts, Please know you have my deepest sympathy and our heartfelt prayers go out to all involved as the bible says when one suffers, we all suffer as I listened to the reports, I felt the same way I did when President Kennedy was assassinated when President Reagan was shot or Pearl Harbor for that matter, which I'm old enough to remember.  

Such acts caused grief not just for the loss of life, but for the assault. They are upon our deepest beliefs. They assault the very soul of America terrorism. The warfare of the new century is engaged in for the specific purpose of destabilizing free societies. The terrorists succeed if free people cower in fear and begin to restrict their treasured freedoms and liberties.  

We should never succumb to terrorist inspired fear. We can never allow such people to win. Instead, we must renew our commitment to the most fundamental liberties and the rule of law and we must support our government in its response, God established government to preserve order by punishing evil and seeking justice without this restraint on human sinfulness.  

The strong will prey on the weak and seek to impose their will on others. What is true in relations between individuals is also true in relations between nations As ST Augustine wrote 1600 years ago. Loving God and our neighbor will require using force against aggression. And this brings me back to yesterday's events.  

For the Christian, we believe government has a special duty to punish those who in effect invaded our soil and committed these dastardly X. But we must do so in a just manner. As Augustine's just war theory teaches any military action must have a reasonable chance of success in our context.  

That means being fairly certain as to the identity of the perpetrators. We can't simply strike out for the sake of doing something or in a blind rage. We need to also make sure that our targets are military ones, civilians, even those who applaud the terrorist actions should never be targeted.  

Finally, our response should be proportionate after an event like yesterday's. We are understandably tempted to lash out with every weapon in our arsenal. But we must be careful and not let our response to the harm we have suffered. Lead us to commit even greater harm, something that our technological superiority makes possible. But respond we must and quickly less the world and more importantly would be terrorists view us as a paper tiger.  

We are the respond appropriately with a sword or invite more of the same. I am sure President Bush is weighing right now, all of the intelligence available to him to find out who's responsible. If any governments are involved and how quickly the U. S. Can retaliate. I have confidence in the President and secretaries Rumsfeld and Powell. They and those who serve with them are competent leaders who find themselves in a time of tremendous crisis.  

I urge you to pray with me not only for those who grieve and not only for our enemies, but especially for our leaders as they fulfill the awesome responsibility in this dark hour. May God help us for break point. This is chuck colson in Washington.  

--  

 That was Chuck Colson’s BreakPoint commentary for September 12th, 2001.  

The day after the attacks, the world watched as survivors were pulled from the rubble. Miraculous stories of survival and heroism began to emerge. Other stories, of postponed meetings, traffic problems, and other providential ways in which plans were changed, therefore saving the lives of those who would’ve otherwise been in harm’s way, also began to emerge.  

The final survivor pulled from the rubble was Genelle Gusman McMillan, she was rescued out of the debris of the North Tower 12:30pm.  

Chuck Colson believed that Christians should always be prepared to think, to speak, and to act – even in the midst of calamity and devastation. And he called Christians to all of these things, in his BreakPoint commentary for September 13th. Let’s listen: 

The terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in new york and damage the pentagon were not just about buildings and airplanes. They are about people, people who survived and people who died. The country grieves.  

 

In the midst of this christians are called as Augustine put it to be the best of citizens. But what should we be doing? Well, let me begin with some practical suggestions. Hospitals in new york and Washington desperately need blood and whether you're in new york or California, if you give blood, it will get to the victims who need it. Christians ought to be the first ones in line.  

Second, we can volunteer yesterday has exhausted emotionally spent office workers walked across the Williamsburg bridge to Brooklyn. They were met by workers handing out cups of water. They had hauled five gallon water bottles from all over to offer the proverbial cup of cold water to those suffering. I don't know about the workers motivation. But what a touching example of community spirit and love.  

Third we can listen. The magnitude of this terrorist attack cuts to the heart and soul of many american communities. Many neighbors lost friends or loved ones in airplanes and buildings beyond that most americans spent all of Tuesday and the bulk of yesterday glued to the television, as did most of our Children in schools, people are traumatized, confused. They need to talk and we can listen and give a reason for our hope. We can listen and we can be an influence on those around us.  

For example, we can love our muslim and Middle Eastern neighbors. Our instinct for self preservation will cause us to see someone in traditional muslim dress or with Arabic features and wonder if he or she represents a threat. At the same time, we know that most Arabs living in America are christians, christians who have fled from the kind of militant Islamic leaders, fanatical extremists who are suspected of Tuesday's terror. Beyond that. The vast majority of Muslims living in the United States are peaceful law abiding people. Christians should be the first to recognize this and befriend those who will find themselves shunned by many.  

Finally, and most important, we need to pray. Pray fervently for our leaders. President George Bush is a devout evangelical faith in Christ. I know from our conversations national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice and speechwriter Michael Gerson and others in the administration are strong believers as well. These brothers and sisters need God's wisdom and our prayers. 

Tim Russert pointed out what a difficult decision the president faces. If his responses to week, he invites more terrorism. If he orders an all out assault on the terrorists and those who harbor them, it could provoke extreme elements in moderate muslim countries to topple those governments. This would have the net result of turning our allies into rogue nations who are willing to aid and export terrorism. Enormous wisdom. Nothing less than God's wisdom is required.  

 

We can also pray that the quiet, unyielding anger of the American people of which Bush spoke, an anger that is both natural and appropriate does not spill over into rash demands. The president knows he must act swiftly. But for the rest of us this is a time when our anger must be tempered with patience and restraint. God have mercy on us. 

For break point. This is chuck colson in Washington.   

--  

A theme that Chuck Colson kept returning to in the days after 9-11, was how we must respond as a nation and, specifically, how Christians should respond by speaking truth and loving neighbor. He consistently warned against responding from out-of-control anger, merely seeking revenge instead of justice.  

So, three days after the worst terrorist attack ever on American soil, he directly addressed the many stories, that were emerging at the time, of Muslims, Sikh and others being attacked on American streets.  

I was particulary struck by this line: “Evil in this world begets more evil.”  

Even in addressing the incredible evil of 9-11, Chuck Colson taught that after the fall, the world doesn’t divide easily into “good guys and bad guys.” And that only by grouding our thoughts and actions in the truth of the Gospel, can we actually avoid the temptations of rage, revenge, and and a response without appropriate restraint.  

Here’s Chuck: 

Sher Singh was born in India and has lived in the United States for two years. On Wednesday when his train from boston to Washington D. C stopped in providence Rhode island. He was arrested, suspected of involvement in the terrorism that rocked the country. On Tuesday, alerted by television reports, a crowd gathered outside the train station as police led Mr Singh from the station. The crowd whooped and jeered, “kill him” yelled one man, “you killed my brother,” shrieked another. Mr Singh who had absolutely no connection with the terrorism is a seek and wears a turban, a long beard and a ceremonial dagger strapped to his shoulder.  

 Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In Chicago, A crowd marched on a local mosque shouting Usa usa, someone threw a firebomb at an Arab american community center in texas. Arab Americans have been assaulted and harassed across the country.  

A 19 year old Chicago commented, “I'm proud to be an american and I hate Arabs and I always have.” Evil in this world begets more evil. It's self perpetuating and we're already seeing that in the rage against Mr Singh and people like him.  

By sharp contrast, Paul wrote to the Romans, overcome evil with good. One of the reasons I believe the Christian gospel couldn't be a made up religion, as some people think, is that it tells us to do those things which are contrary to our human nature when evil is done to us. The human instinct is to respond with evil. The result is that evil triumphs in this case, if we respond to the terrorist attacks with evil, the terrorists win. But the Gospel tells us to act exactly contrary to our own nature, to respond to evil with good. The most powerful example of this principle I know is farther Yourpam Holosko catholic priest in Poland.  

 

In the early 1980s, the pale gaunt priest had a twofold message, defend the truth and overcome evil with good. People responded and overflowed his church. The secret police followed him everywhere. He began to receive threats. And finally, one night after celebrating mass and preaching, the Father disappeared. About 10 days later as 50,000 people came to mass to listen to a tape of his last sermon, they heard that his body had been found in the Vistula River badly mutilated by torture.  

 

The secret police braced for an uprising. But on the day of the Father’s funeral, the huge crowd that walked past their headquarters bore a banner and shouted, what it said. “We forgive, we forgive” He taught them well.  

 

Only Christians, men and women who are touched by and understand the present reality of the cross can possibly overcome evil with good and if we don't, rage and anger will carry the day and the terrorists will have won.  

 

This doesn't obviate the government's use of the sword or a military force to swiftly and proportionately respond to those terrorist attacks. We must do that. Our government will. But as the nation's anger rises, there is a great test for American christians. Can we live by the gospel? Will we love our neighbors, even those who look or sound or seem like those who so ruthlessly attacked us? for break point. This is chuck colson in Washington 

 

 

-- 

 

As Chuck notes, it is only the Christian worldview that allows the proper pursuit of justice at a national level while instructing all of us to “overcome evil with good.”  Later, on the morning of September 14th, a memorial service for the victims of 9-11 was held at the National Cathedral, It was led by Billy Graham, President Bush and others addressed the grief of the nation. Later that afternoon, President Bush delivered his famous “Bullhorn Address” from the rubble of the Twin Towers.  

 

The following Monday, Chuck Colson addressed another aspect of 9-11 from a Christian worldview. He warned Christians against the dangerous and fruitless end-times speculation that was popping up, contrasting that with the true eschatological hope only found in Christ. This hope, Chuck said, is not an invitation to disengage while waiting for the Lord’s return. True Christian hope is, instead, an invitation to engage. An example of this at a national level is Just War Theory – a way that theologians have addressed the rights and responsibilities of governments to serve and protect citizens. With this historic resource, Chuck Colson called Christians to provide accountability and a conscience to America’s response. 

 

This weekend, my wife was in the drugstore. The pharmacist was the first to confront her. “This is obviously the end times” he intoned, “things are going to get much worse, and then the Lord will come. Tell Mr Colson to keep an eye on the king of Spain, Juan Carlos.”  

 

Well, I don't know what Juan Carlos has to do with it. The only thing I know about him is that he read Born Again and loved it, but I guess he's a candidate for the Antichrist.  

 

I might dismiss the pharmacist's response except that in one hour of shopping for groceries, Patty was confronted by two other Christians who told her the end is near. It's finally come, this is it, get ready for the Lord's return. If this is how Christians are thinking about the terrorist attacks on NewYork and Washington, it confirms my worst fears.  

 

During the gulf war, the world was concerned about the proper use of military power. Christians have been vitally concerned with this issue and have advanced the just war doctrine which has shaped the understanding of Western society. Christians in America. However, during the gulf war said nothing choosing instead to speculate about the end Times one book about prophecy on the gulf war shot to the top of the bestseller list only to be forgotten weeks later when it's dramatic speculations proved utterly false.  

 

Meanwhile, we left questions of power, justice and international relations to secular thinkers and in the process gave the impression that we don't know and we don't care. It was a bad witness and must not happen again. Now make no mistake, Jesus is going to return obviously, I believe that, but like C. S. Lewis, I refuse to speculate as to when. Rather than speculate, I want to concentrate on the great and unique contribution christians can make. In this hour, christians need to focus attention on the issues surrounding just war.  

 

The president must respond to the terrorist attacks forcefully and quickly. The bible teaches that the government has the power of the sword to preserve order and do justice. At the same time, the power of the sword has to be tempered by the restraints of the Just war doctrine, beginning with St. Augustine some 1600 years ago.  

 

Christians have thought and written about the appropriate use of military force today. We need to be the ones who insist that the response to the terrorist attacks be proportionate, that they do not create a greater evil and that civilians are not targeted. I've been watching the television and I have yet to hear the question of just war raised. If we don't bring these issues into public discourse, no one will now don't get me wrong.  

 

Of course, as christians, we are the community of scatological hope. We live in the constant expectation of jesus return. That will be the most glorious day in all of human history, but it's our hope, and though we may talk about it among ourselves, this is not the time to inject it into secular discourse. People will simply dismiss us as a fringe group. The fact is, this country is hurting and grieving, perplexed, frustrated, confused about what needs to be done next.  

 

This is the time for us to come alongside. Offer compassion, mercy, understanding good instead of evil and we can contribute to the public debate that will inform our nation's actions in a way that reflects God's standard of justice for break point. This is chuck colson in Washington 

 

 

-- 

 

On September 18, a week after 9/11, Chuck Colson addressed one of the great obstacles Christian faith, a perennial challenge Christians have had to answer in most cultural moments, but which always is a front and central question in the wake of calamity, evil, or disaster.  It’s known as the problem of evil.  

 

This weekend, I received a frantic call from a christian friend, deeply troubled the husband of the woman to whom she had been witnessing had been killed in the World Trade Center attack. The woman called my friend and demanded bitterly. Where was your God that you've been telling me about this week everywhere, people are raising the same question, How could a good God have allowed such massive evil and no question poses the greatest stumbling block to the christian faith?  

 

No question more difficult for christians to answer. Yet the biblical worldview does give us a good answer. The simple answer to why bad things happen to so called good people is that God loved us so much that he made us free moral agents in his image.  

 

He designed creatures with the ability to make choices to choose either good or evil. The original humans Adam and Eve exercised that choice and chose to disobey God in doing so. They rejected God's good, thus creating sin and opening the door to death and evil. What happened last week was raw naked evil committed by men who had made evil choices. But it was something else as well. It was merely a consequence of the fact that there is sin in the world. God could erase the consequences of sin immediately. But then we'd no longer be free moral agents. We'd be robots without consequences. There is no real choice.  

 

God cannot simultaneously offer us free choice and then compel one choice over another. Which is what would happen if he stopped all evil, Jesus himself was asked why bad things happen to good people. In Luke 13, we read that people asked him if the galleons who were killed while worshipping at the older were worse sinners than anyone else know, Jesus answered, and then he added, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  

 

Jesus then reinforced his point recently, a tower in the nearby city had fallen, 18 people have been crushed to death, Jesus said, do you think they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. This is one of the hard sayings of Jesus, but there's great truth in it. We are in no position to ask God why terrible things happen. We're only to seek forgiveness ourselves.  

 

What happened last week was one of the worst tragedies in American history. But God can bring good out of evil. And he often works through adversity. Since the terrorist attacks, we have seen the nation come together with greater unity that I've witnessed since Pearl Harbor and this sunday my church was filled to capacity for all services, very unusual in Florida at this time of year. Churches all over the country were packed out as they were in England as well.  

 

People may be angry at God, but they're also asking questions about the meaning of life and God's role in it. You and I need to be prepared to answer the questions of people in pain. Where was God last week? He was with us just as he always is, He gave us everything we need to cope with this or any other evil. He gave us himself at the cross at calvary for break point. This is chuck colson in Washington.  

 

 

-- 

 

There was one more aspect of 9-11 that Chuck Colson would address, the week after 9-11. A couple of evangelical leaders, attempting to offer a prophetic response to the attack, famously blamed the terrorist attacks on, as Chuck diplomatically put it, “people and groups who have had a secularizing effect on American society.”  

 

Of course, Chuck spoke about these groups, their bad ideas, and the consequences of those ideas, all the time. What he refused to do was to use this national tragedy inappropriately. He refused to abandon a Biblical understanding of sin and the fall, and what we offered was a brilliant, Biblical understanding of judgment. 

 

Since the terrorist attacks in new york and Washington last week, breakpoint commentaries have focused on the christian worldview response and we've ignored are scheduled commentaries correctly. So the attacks were of such magnitude that no one could think of anything else. But barring additional developments, we will resume our regular breakpoint scheduled tomorrow with a three part commentary on the program evolution that will be presented next week on PBS you need to know what PBS is up to but before we leave the topic of the terrorist attacks.  
 

I want to comment on the meaning of a prophetic response to this national disaster. Christians are called to speak prophetically to the world calling for repentance. The reaction of some evangelicals, however, was unfortunately to put the blame for the attacks on people and groups who have had a secularizing effect on American society. I don't associate myself with those comments, nor do I believe most American christians do. These remarks were ill timed and inappropriate as those who made them to their credit have acknowledged and they've apologized for them.  

 

While I obviously believe that the forces of secularism have done a miserable harm, it's unfair to associate this tragedy with those groups. Nor can we lay the blame at the feet of Arabs or Muslims in general as some want to do.  

 

The hijackers who crashed airplanes into the World trade center and the pentagon were muslim in name only, several of them were involved in drunk driving and visiting strip bars, things no religious muslim would ever do. In reality, they were anarchists seeking to destroy, destabilize and make us slaves to fear, but you ask, aren't christians supposed to be prophetic within the culture and point out sin of course, but there are Biblical guidelines first remember the words of the Apostle Peter, it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God, the sins of christians and of the church.  

 

Our our first order of business is materialism. Pride, disunity, gossip and lack of love are as much a cause for judgment as anyone else's behavior to single out the transgressions of others while ignoring our own is to turn biblical teaching on its head.  

 

Second, the biblical prophets who pronounced God's judgment upon the people were careful to count themselves among those being judged, and when judgment came, they shared in the suffering of the people. Jeremiah wept and wrote laments. When Jerusalem fell, Ezekiel went into exile moses through his light in with the people. When God told him of his intention to wipe out Israel and begin again with him, we always speak as fellow sinners, and are the first to repent.  

 

Third. If we would be prophetic, we need to speak out for the right reasons not to find scapegoats or condemn or denounced, but out of our love for our neighbors, rather than demonizing others. We offer an alternative to destructive worldviews that have left many victims, including the victims of last Tuesday in their wake, comments that sound self righteous and point the finger at others, make it hard for ordinary people to see how the christian message differs from the condemning message of the hijackers.  

 

Christians should be measured and balanced in all. We say a word of caution for all of us for break point, this is chuck Colson in Washington.  

 

 

-- 

 

Here’s one last commentary from Chuck Colson, from a year after the attacks, in which he reflects on national memory. Why is it important to remember, not only to honor those who served well in the past but in order to motivate our own ongoing, faithful service.  

 

September 11 is and will remain a day of solemn mourning and remembrance that much is clear. But why should we memorialize the event. Find out next on break point  

 

No one who is old enough to take it in will ever forget september 11th 2001. We see passenger jets flying out of a clear September morning. The flashes of flame, the destruction, the death and the valiant acts of heroism. It's well to remember and to mourn the victims on this day. But let me raise the question of why we memorialize those who have sacrificed for us. What's our object in doing so, the answer is gratitude as we mourn and remember the sacrifices of those who went before us.  

 

We ourselves out of gratitude for what they did, commit ourselves to defend those values for which they died. Principles we hold so dear, freedom, human dignity, and gratitude. John Calvin said gratitude was at the center of the christian life and G. K. Chesterton called it the mother of all virtues. It was gratitude for living in a free country that caused me to put on the uniform of the United States Marine officer during the korean war. We do our duty to our country out of gratitude for those who went before us to defend the liberties we hold so precious.  

 

I love the scene at the end of the movie Saving Private Ryan. Ryan, who is now 70 years old returns to Normandy and he's looking at the grave marker of Captain Miller, the man who died to save him during World war two. Ryan's on his knees. The grave marker is a stark white cross. He addresses Miller now Long dead. I've tried every day to live up to what you did for me. I hope I've lived a life worthy of your sacrifice.  

 

On this anniversary of the attacks. We ought to be looking at the sacrifices people made for us and asking ourselves whether we are living lives worthy of their sacrifice is in addition to gratitude and duty, we remember because good can come out of those vicious terrorist attacks.  

 

It's of course a biblical principle that God works through human suffering tragedies and defeats sometimes to do his greatest work. These acts of war served as a wake up call. There was a lot of utopian discussion going on in the nineties about how western liberal democracy had won the great ideological contest of the 20th century. 

 

We forget that this is a dangerous world, that evil is real now we know better and even the postmodernist has to agree there is evil. And just as the great World War two generation saved the world from Hitler's evil. So this generation must become great for this moment. It's our calling to be great in defense of liberty and freedom and human rights to defend good against evil.  

 

Today, the war on terrorism is by its nature slow and treacherous. We must not allow ourselves to become discouraged or fatigued On this September 11 after looking back with gratitude, we need to look ahead. Our hope lies in our resolve to do our duty, that our gratitude inspires. Our hope lies in the lessons we've learned for the future and our hope lies in our confidence in a sovereign God. That in the end right will prevail, that civilization can be preserved and that America and her allies in defense of freedom and an opposition to evil will triumph. And just like that scene in saving private Ryan. Let us also this day, look at the cross as Ryan did may we live lives worthy of the supreme sacrifice christ made for us for break point. This is chuck colson in Washington.  

Sep 10, 2021
Chuck Colson Offered a Worldview Framework to Hold 9/11
04:53

Tomorrow, as we mark the 20th anniversary of arguably the most devastating day in America’s history, we should also remember how Christians are to confront evil.

In the days after 9/11, Chuck Colson offered an incredibly good gift: a Christian worldview framework for understanding what had happened, and a roadmap for Christians to both speak truth and love their neighbor. He warned against out-of-control anger and against seeking revenge instead of justice, in both our personal responses and the national response.

In fact, three days after 9/11, Chuck directly addressed the many stories emerging of Muslims, Sikhs, and others being attacked on American streets. He offered a prophetic warning that “evil in this world begets more evil.”

The commentary is a model of applying Christian truth to a most chaotic moment. It’s just as helpful today as it was 20 years ago. Here’s Chuck:

Sher Singh was born in India and has lived in the United States for two years. On Wednesday, when his train from Boston to Washington, D.C., stopped in Providence, RI, he was arrested, suspected of involvement in the terrorism that rocked the country on Tuesday. Alerted by television reports, a crowd gathered outside the train station as police led Mr. Singh from the station. The crowd whooped and jeered. “Kill him!” yelled one man. “You killed my brother!” shrieked another. Mr. Singh, who had absolutely no connection with terrorism, is a Sikh and wears a turban, a long beard, and a ceremonial dagger strapped to his shoulder.

Sadly, this is not an isolated incident. In Chicago, a crowd marched on a local mosque shouting, “USA! USA!” Someone threw a firebomb at an Arab American community center in Texas. Arab Americans have been assaulted and harassed across the country.

A 19-year-old from Chicago commented, “I'm proud to be an American and I hate Arabs and I always have.” Evil in this world begets more evil. It's self-perpetuating and we're already seeing that in the rage against Mr. Singh and people like him.

By sharp contrast, Paul wrote to the Romans, “Overcome evil with good.” One of the reasons I believe the Christian Gospel couldn't be a made-up religion, as some people think, is that it tells us to do those things which are contrary to our human nature when evil is done to us. The human instinct is to respond with evil. The result is that evil triumphs. In this case, if we respond to the terrorist attacks with evil, the terrorists win. But the Gospel tells us to act exactly contrary to our own nature: to respond to evil with good. The most powerful example of this principle I know is Father Popieluszko, a Catholic priest in Poland.

In the early 1980s, the pale, gaunt priest had a twofold message: defend the truth and overcome evil with good. People responded and overflowed his church. The secret police followed him everywhere. He began to receive threats. And finally, one night after

celebrating mass and preaching, the Father disappeared. About 10 days later, as 50,000 people came to mass to listen to a tape of his last sermon, they heard that his body had been found in the Vistula River, badly mutilated by torture.

The secret police braced for an uprising. But on the day of the Father’s funeral, the huge crowd that walked past their headquarters bore a banner and shouted what it said: “We forgive, we forgive!” He taught them well.

Only Christians, men, and women who are touched by and understand the present reality of the Cross, can possibly overcome evil with good. And if we don't, rage and anger will carry the day and the terrorists will have won.

This doesn't obviate the government's use of the sword or a military force to swiftly and proportionately respond to those terrorist attacks. We must do that. Our government will. But as the nation's anger rises, there is a great test for American Christians. Can we live by the Gospel? Will we love our neighbors, even those who look or sound or seem like those who so ruthlessly attacked us? 

That was Chuck Colson from September 14, 2001. It’s an example of the sort of Christian worldview wisdom that God used Chuck Colson to provide to His people in the days after 9/11. Tomorrow, we are releasing a very special program on the BreakPoint podcast. We’ve put together all of the BreakPoint commentaries from September 12 to September 19, 2001. Together, they provide an incredible retelling of 9/11, within a Christian worldview framework. Come to breakpoint.org to listen, or look for the BreakPoint podcast wherever you listen to podcasts.

Sep 10, 2021
Teaching 9/11 to the Emerging Generation
06:32

Like many of you, I remember exactly where I was on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. I was preparing to teach a class of college freshmen on the topic of Christian worldview. Obviously, my teaching plans for that day changed, but I also had a very real example of how significant worldview is to understanding the world around us. 

I remember the chaos, I remember the confusion, I remember thinking this had changed our world forever, and it did. Those of us who were alive and old enough realized that this was an event of national significance - as serious as the attack on Pearl Harbor or the assassination of JFK. Yet I've talked to so many parents and grandparents over the last several months who have realized that 9/11 is not a part of the story of this emerging generation. 

It's a distant memory. It's distant history now. Of course, the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Holocaust, the assassination of JFK,  and the moon landing are all distant history for my generation as well. But we were a different type of citizenry. We were citizens who had a shared national memory. That's something that many in the emerging generation simply do not have. 

I've been looking for resources to help teach the younger generation about 9/11. That's why I'm so excited for my friends at Drive Thru History. This week they will be releasing their special called 9/11: A Drive Thru History Special. You can watch it today at 9 p.m. Eastern time on the Drive Thru History YouTube channel, or you can see it Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern on the Breakpoint Facebook page. 

Many of you are familiar with Drive Thru History and the tremendous job that they do making history come to life. The 9/11 special is also hosted by Dave Stotts and provides a historical overview of that eventful day.

Through incredible video footage and narration, you’ll walk through the events of 9/11 with highlights on the stories of terrorism and the face of such great evil. The team over at Drive Thru History was kind enough to give us a sample of the premiere special that they will be airing for the public later today and this weekend. Here's a transcript of a segment of the video. 

--

The September 11 strikes against America, often referred to as 9/11, were a series of four coordinated terrorist attacks by the Islamic group al-Qaeda. Four passenger airliners that had departed from airports in the northeastern United States were hijacked by 19 Islamic terrorists. Two of the planes were crashed into the north and south towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. A third plane was crashed into the US Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia. A fourth plane, heading towards Washington D. C., crashed into a Pennsylvania field after the passengers fought back against their hijackers. 

According to scholars, 9/11 ended up being the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history. There were 2,977 killed, over 25,000 injured, and more than $10 billion dollars in property damage. It was also the single deadliest incident for U.S. emergency personnel, with 343 firefighters and 72 police officers killed that day in the tragic aftermath of 9/11. 

It took 99 days for the New York City Fire Department to finally extinguish the smoldering fires at the World Trade Center complex. Then, it took another 160 days to finally declare the cleanup and recovery operation over. In the end, about two million tons of tangled steel and rubble were removed from the site. 

Next came the process of healing and restoration through designing and building an appropriate structure to memorialize the event while functioning as meaningful office space for economic renewal in lower Manhattan. The iconic replacement was finally approved and constructed on the 16-acre site. One World Trade Center. 

In the months after 9/11, we came together as Americans like I've never seen in my lifetime. First responders were applauded. Churches were packed. Radio stations played patriotic music. Sports stadiums honored the fallen. The military was revered. American flags flew on homes, schools, and businesses everywhere. 

Indeed, 9/11 was tragic, but I've never seen such American patriotism, unity, and resolve. While the country processed its grief, it also came together across religious, political, and ethnic divides. We were all just Americans. 

Yeah, September 11 is a day to remember an attack on our homeland, an attack on our freedom, an attack on our very worldview. It's also a day to remember our fallen Americans and our selfless heroes. It's a day to remind the new generation to stay vigilant in defending our country, our liberty, and our way of life. 

Once a year on the anniversary of 9/11, a special tribute in light fills the Manhattan skyline. Two massive beams of light stretch toward the heavens symbolizing the fallen twin towers. It's a profound way to remember the day we will never forget. 

--

That was just a small taste of 9/11: A Drive Thru History Special. It's being released today at 9 p.m. Eastern on the Drive Thru History YouTube channel. It will also premiere on the Breakpoint Facebook page this Saturday at 1 p.m. Eastern. Just come to www.breakpoint.org where you can find a link to view the video.

Sep 09, 2021
Christian Schools and Gender Identity + How to Reason in the Pro-Choice/Heartbeat Bill Debate
01:03:23

John and Shane talk through the challenges in reasoning through the pro-choice stance in the face of Texas' new heartbeat bill. John also answers a question on a recent commentary dealing with Millennials. The listeners asks how to communicate the goodness of the Gospel to those who might have a taste for it.

To close, John and Shane go point-by-point through a series of statements a Christian school administrator is fielding in Australia. The listener's school is considering how to process sexual orientation and gender identity at their non-denominational school. The listener notes that many teachers haven't been able to process all of the points before the conversation rose. John and Shane provide resources and a step-by-step response to the points listed below:

  • The Bible’s authors only wrote to their particular context and knew nothing of what us contemporaries now understand about human sexuality,
  • The word ‘homosexuality’ is a recent, Victorian-era invention inserted into scripture to condemn all same-sex sexual activity when that was not the original intent,
  • The word/s used in scripture to denote homosexuality actually only condemn exploitative sexual practices, not same-sex sexuality between consenting adults,
  • The story of Sodom and Gomorrah denotes God’s judgment on the people of those cities due to their lack of hospitality rather than the practice of homosexuality, and
  • Jesus said very little about sexuality anyway.

-- Resources -- 

Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God's Design for Marriage
Sean McDowell & John Stonestreet | Baker Books | 2014

The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation, A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics
Richard Hayes | Harper | August, 1996

Holy Sexuality and the Gospel: Sex, Desire, and Relationships Shaped by God's Grand Story
Christopher Yuan | Multnomah | 2018

The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics
Robert Gagnon | Abingdon Press | 2002

Sep 09, 2021
Is Nation Building Moral?
03:55

How did things in Afghanistan change so dramatically, seemingly overnight? How did a decades-long, frustrating stalemate become the greatest American foreign policy debacle in 50 years? A nation is left asking, “What went wrong?” 

The most immediate explanation is the way the withdrawal was handled, from pulling out troops before evacuating citizens and allies, to abandoning the Bagram Air Base. These details and others are hard to explain. 

A common, longer-view explanation is that the War in Afghanistan ultimately failed because the United States shifted focus from fighting terrorism to nation-building. Nation-building can be formally defined as “the process through which the boundaries of the modern state and those of the national community become congruent.” In practice, nation-building is far more complicated. Attempting to rebuild essential cultural and institutional elements of another country rarely goes well.

America’s view of nation-building tends to change. In defending his recent decisions, President Biden has spoken derisively of nation-building, even saying that it “never made sense” to him. Yet, that claim was fact-checked by the Washington Post: apparently, he was for it until he was against it. 

Many condemn nation-building, not so much because it’s wrong as because it’s impossible. Cultures run too deep, they say, to change from the outside. No weapon or army is stronger than a people’s will to resist. Just consider Afghanistan (twice), Vietnam, or the collapse of European empires.

On the other hand, it’s also true that national borders can change, languages do shift, religions reform, and whole civilizations rise and fall. In recent years, powerhouses like Germany and Japan each went from global menace to responsible neighbor. India, Korea, Taiwan, Dubai, and Singapore have changed dramatically in just a few generations. Cultures do change. Not always and not easily, but they can and do change.

Others see nation-building as necessary and good policy. A century ago, energized by victory in the first World War, President Wilson predicted a new dawn, made possible by good ol’ American can-do spirit, in which democracy would break out over the globe and the world would be transformed into our own image. Instead, the world descended into totalitarianisms, Left and Right

Despite these historical realities, the temptation to engage in nation-building has proved hard to resist. In the wake of the Cold War, the first President Bush talked of a New World Order. President Clinton intervened everywhere from Haiti to Somalia to the Balkans. And, most famously, moved by the horrors of 9/11 from quasi-isolationist to interventionist, the second President Bush worked to remake the Middle East along Western, democratic lines. 

None of these actions, to put it mildly, went as planned. The historic, tribal, ethnic, sectarian, and religious realities of Middle Eastern life held far more power than Western notions of human rights and economic progress.

If non-interventionists see cultural traits as immovable, always-interventionists see them as merely cosmetic, about as enduring as a new coat of paint. Every society, however, is built on and around ideas, many of which are so deeply ingrained, either by history or religion or both, that they go unspoken. Changing them is not impossible, but it is also not easy.

In fact, the faltering state of freedom in the Middle East is as much a failure to know our own history and ideas as it is a failure to know theirs. The blessings we enjoy, like free elections and free markets and free speech, didn’t come from nowhere. They came from a thousand years or more of cultural development, from kings and battles, revolutions and rebellions, ideas and new ideas, power struggles and false starts.

In other words, politics alone cannot nation-build. In western culture, certain ideas about human nature, derived from Christianity, have played an essential role. Biblical concepts about the image of God and original sin enabled thinkers (who were also influenced by the Enlightenment) to craft a style of government that saw both citizens and the state as dignified and liable to corruption. Though Voltaire and even Jefferson may have ignored the source of these principles, and though, in practice, the inconsistent application of these principles led to grave evils and injustice, neither the Declaration of Independence or Declaration of the Rights of Man would have come to pass without Christianity and the Bible. 

Without them, in fact, the democratic project simply cannot endure, as demonstrated by our failed attempts at nation-building around the world.

Sep 08, 2021
The Church's Answer to Suicide
05:15

There is a pandemic that has lasted far longer than COVID. It’s also been more deadly. It’s more difficult to treat, and there’s no vaccine for it. Masks are ineffective in stopping it and may actually make it worse. 

America’s pandemic of despair shows up most obviously in the mounting number of suicide and suicide attempts. According to the Centers for Disease Control, suicide rates are higher today than at any other time since the Great Depression. Unless one takes into account just how different our world is today, it’s impossible to grasp what that data point really means. Today, we have emergency rooms, a much better knowledge of poison and poison control, better technologies, and emergency medications like NARCAN. These incredible, life-saving medical interventions mean that a large percentage of patients who attempt suicide survive. But adjusting for these medical advances, we are likely living through the worst suicide crisis in our nation’s history.

This is a crisis that is, at its root, fueled by despair. Hopelessness afflicts individuals and entire communities. Deeper than economic hardship or access to firearms and opioids, we have created, to borrow words from my friend Matthew Sleeth, “an unlivable society.” Loneliness and isolation are the norm, and they pre-existed this Coronavirus. 

Matthew’s latest book is the most direct, helpful, and clarifying book for Christians on this topic of suicide. It’s called Hope Always: How to Be a Force for Life in a Culture of Suicide. In it, he combines his first-hand knowledge of America’s suicide crisis as an emergency room doctor with statistical insights, a biblical overview of the topic, and an incredible amount of wisdom. His conclusion is nothing less than a calling. When it comes to addressing this culture-wide pandemic, if not the church stepping up, who will? 

Scripture, as Dr. Sleeth points out, says a great deal about suicide, and therefore has a huge role to play in preventing it. From the beginning, Satan tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden to, in effect, kill themselves. Ever since, demons, both literal and figurative, have been whispering lies and words of despair into human ears.

Throughout the book, Sleeth threads an important needle. On the one hand, he argues against a materialistic view of suicide. Humans are, he argues, the only creatures that knowingly take our own lives. Thus, this terrible decision has an irreducible spiritual component. On the other hand, Sleeth warns Christians not to ignore the very real medical and mental health factors that drive people to self-harm.

By holding together the material and moral sides of suicide, Sleeth addresses the issue from the best foundation available: who humans are as image-bearers of God. Thus, Sleeth makes clear why Christianity has proved to be the most powerful and effective response to those whispering demons that call us into the darkness. 

Near the beginning of Hope Always, Sleeth tells an especially touching story of two patients from his time as an emergency room physician. The first was an able-bodied young man, full of promise, who chose to shoot himself in the temple. The other was a joyful, wheelchair-bound man, slightly older with a permanent neurological injury, who had come in for a minor infection.

A nurse asked Dr. Sleeth if he recognized the patient. “It’s the man you saw last spring who shot himself.” The two patients, as it turns out, were the same person. As the young man’s parents later told Dr. Sleeth, after surviving his suicide attempt, their son had found a reason to live. In their words, “He got his faith back,” and his faith had given him fresh hope. (This kind of powerful storytelling, born in his wealth of experience, is just one example of Matthew Sleeth’s compelling writing style.)

To be clear, having a Christian faith is no guarantee that, ultimately, the demonic voices will go away, or won’t steal, kill, and destroy a life. Still, especially in this area, only the Church is properly grounded in both Scripture and science. Only the biblical vision of the imago Dei, of our creation and fall, can address the fullness of the human condition. In light of this, I say with Matthew Sleeth, if not the church on this issue, then who?

Come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll tell you how you can get a copy of “Hope Always.” And be sure to check out Matthew Sleeth’s outstanding interview with Shane Morris on our Upstream podcast, and his incredible talk at the 2021 Wilberforce Weekend

Sep 07, 2021
On Labor Day: Christianity’s Unique Vision of Work
04:46

One of Christianity's greatest strengths is its explanatory power. Christianity can explain the human experience and the human condition far better than any other worldview.

This is true when it comes to humanity's created goodness, as made in the image of God. It's also true of its explanation of what's wrong with the world and the human heart. It's especially true when it comes to explaining human activity and ability, such as artistry, athleticism, and work.

Today, on a special Labor Day edition of BreakPoint, I was reminded of how Chuck Colson described Christianity's unique perspective on the human reality of work.

--

Fashion magazines are aghast over the latest fashion craze: work clothes. Carharrt hunting jackets are the rage on the streets of London and New York. Blundstone boots, until recently worn only by sheep farmers and miners, are now counted as hip footwear.

The workwear craze actually has a long tradition in America. Back in 1946, a magazine called The American Weekly celebrated Labor Day with a cover photo of a worker standing astride the world in overalls and boots. That's actually not a bad image to take with us from Labor Day—a tribute to the fundamental dignity of the worker.

Christians have a special reason to celebrate Labor Day. We worship a God who labored to make the world—and who created human beings in His image to be workers. When God made Adam and Eve, He gave them work to do: cultivating and caring for the earth. In the ancient world, the Greeks and Romans looked upon manual work as a curse, something for lower classes and slaves. But Christianity changed all that. Christians viewed work as a high calling—a calling to be co-workers with God in unfolding the rich potential of His creation.

This high view of work can be traced throughout the history of the church. In the middle ages, the guild movement grew out of the church. They set standards for good workmanship and encouraged members to take satisfaction in the results of their labor. The guilds became the forerunners of the modern labor movement.

Later, during the Reformation, Martin Luther preached that all work can be done to the glory of God. Whether ministering the Gospel or scrubbing floors, any honest work is pleasing to the Lord. Out of this conviction grew the Protestant work ethic. Christians were also active on behalf of workers in the early days of the industrial revolution, when the factories were "dark satanic mills," to borrow a phrase from Sir William Blake. Work in factories and coal mines in those days was hard and dangerous.

Children were practically slaves and were sometimes even chained to the machines. Then John Wesley came preaching and teaching the Gospel throughout England. He came not to the upper classes but to the laboring classes—to men whose faces were black with coal dust, women whose dresses were patched and faded. John Wesley preached to them—and in the process, he pierced the conscience of the whole nation.

Two of Wesley's disciples, William Wilberforce and Lord Shaftesbury, were inspired to work for legislation that would clean up abuses in the workplace. The British parliament passed child labor laws, safety laws, and minimum-wage laws. Here in America, we've lost the Christian connection with the labor movement. But in many countries—from Canada to Poland—that tradition still remains.

So go ahead, let your kids wear hunting jackets and Blundstone boots, as long as workwear is the fashion. But this Labor Day, remember that labor derives its true dignity as a reflection of the Creator. And that whatever we do, in word or deed, we should do all to the glory of God.

--

That was Chuck Colson talking about the Christian vision of work. It is an appropriate topic, especially today. For all of us at the Colson Center, as you gather with friends and family, and maybe and fire up the grill for the last time this summer, happy Labor Day.

Sep 06, 2021
The Supreme Court,Texas' Heartbeat Bill, and Millennials in Church - BreakPoint This Week
58:47

John and Maria start the show discussing the disillusionment of millennial evangelicals. They ask if the way we've done church has led to the rise in Evangelical evacuation in young people. John asks if this is because we have a bigotry in low expectations.

Maria then asks John for further explanation in his recent commentary on Isaiah 6. The commentary was sparked from President Biden's speech last week where he took Isaiah 6 out of context.

John then offers an explanation on the new heartbeat bill in Texas that significantly restricts abortion. The law faced last minute challenges from pro-choice advocates, but the courts didn't vote to pause the law. Maria asks John for further context on what this specific law means and if its framework is extrapolated how that could impact religious freedom with other laws.

To close, Maria asks John to comment on litigation many states have taken up against the Biden administration. The concern is how LGBTQ and sex discrimination protections that are expanding and having an impact into schools. Maria then brings up a recent piece done by ESPN that highlights gradeschool and junior high athletes who identify as transgender in states that have restricted policies to protect sports from blurring lines in who an can compete based on gender identity.

-- Story References -- 

BreakPoint Recap

The Disillusion of Millennial Evangelicals

Though Gen Z-ers have all but replaced Millennials as the dazzling object of scrutiny and cultural analysis, it’s not because Millennials are no longer struggling. Rates of addiction, depression, burnout, and loneliness are all disproportionately high among the demographic born between 1981 and 1996. Since 2013, in fact, Millennials have seen a 47 percent increase in major depression diagnoses.

BreakPoint>>

 

President Biden and Isaiah 6: It’s Not Really About ‘Here Am I, Send Me’

President Biden certainly isn’t the first President to misquote Scripture for political ends, only the most recent. Last week, in a speech responding to the terrorist attack on the airport in Kabul, Biden quoted from Isaiah 6:8, when the prophet answered the Lord’s call by saying, ‘Here am I send me!”


It was odd. It was out of place. And, it was inappropriate. Even worse than blurring the line between America and the Kingdom of God, the President used Holy Scripture to deflect from his own responsibility for this disaster.

BreakPoint>>

Supreme Court Hears Texas Heartbeat Bill Case and Let’s it Stand

Supreme Court Upholds New Texas Abortion Law, For Now

The U.S. Supreme Court late Wednesday night refused to block a Texas law that amounts to a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The vote was 5-4, with three Trump-appointed justices joining two other conservative justices. Dissenting were conservative Chief Justice John Roberts and the court's three liberal justices.

NPR>>

 

Media fear the worst after Texas abortion law: 'Who is gonna invade Texas to liberate women and girls'

The media meltdown over a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks stretched into its second day with no end in sight Thursday, with analysts comparing the measure to slavery, terrorism, and the end times.

FoxNews>>

Psaki shuts down male reporter's abortion questions: 'You've never faced those choices'

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Thursday responded to a male reporter who pressed her on President Biden’s support for abortion by saying the reporter has “never faced those choices.”

The Hill>>

Transgender Athletes Debate Hits New Level

20 states, including Tennessee, sue over Biden administration school, work LGBTQ protections.

Attorneys general from 20 states sued President Joe Biden’s administration Monday seeking to halt directives that extend federal sex discrimination protections to LGBTQ people, ranging from transgender girls participating in school sports to the use of school and workplace bathrooms that align with a person’s gender identity.

The Tennessean>

ESPN Makes Claim That Young transgender athletes are caught in middle of states' debates


Julie has been to legislators' offices. She sat across from elected officials, arguing on behalf of her daughter. Stephanie usually wants to come, but Julie thinks she's too young. In one official's office, Julie noticed a photo on his wall of his kids playing soccer at a park where she has often watched Stephanie play. "You know, there's a good chance your daughter has played against my daughter in soccer," she said to him. "You would have no idea. She's just like any other little girl."

ESPN>>

-- In Show Recommendations --

The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill Podcast
Christianity Today | 2021

Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and What Justice Gorsuch Hath Wrought
John Stonestreet & Shane Morris | BreakPoint This Week | June 19, 2020

Why Asking Kids to Announce Their Pronouns is a Big Deal
John Stonestreet & Maria Baer | The Point | August 30, 2021

Rescuing the Victims of the Sexual Revolution
John Stonestreet | BreakPoint | March 8, 2021

-- Recommendations --

Adventures in Odyssey>>

Sep 04, 2021
The Dangerous “Science” Behind Gender Transitioning
04:34

From the beginning, proponents of the sexual revolution have wrapped themselves in the mantle of science, especially social science. For example, in the 1950s, the “Kinsey Reports” helped normalize a range of sexual behaviors. They were also the source of the still-often-quoted “statistic” that 10 percent of people are same-sex oriented. Both that figure and the methodology behind Kinsey’s “research” has long ago been discredited. Still, that 10 percent number has stuck in many people’s heads.

A new wave of studies in recent years paints a rosy picture about the benefits of medical transitions for people with gender dysphoria. So much so that, as Paul Dirks recently wrote at Public Discourse, “lifelong experimental medicalization, sterilization, and complete removal of healthy body parts . . . is no longer a rarity. It is the recommended treatment for gender dysphoria.”

But what if these studies are like the Kinsey Reports? What if they reflect the bias and agendas of the authors rather than reality? Given what is at stake, this a vitally important question, especially since social science itself is in the midst of what’s called a “replication crisis.” In other words, when other researchers try to replicate the findings of studies in the social sciences, they often cannot. This failure of replication even includes studies that are regarded as canonical in some fields.

So how can we distinguish between solid research and what won’t withstand further scrutiny when it comes to the so-called “settled science” of gender transitioning? Paul Dirks' Public Discourse article, “Transition as Treatment: The Best Studies Show the Worst Outcomes,” sums up the results of his deep-dive into the research.

Dirks defines “best studies” as those that have followed people who underwent medical transition for the longest period of time. “It is well recognized in the literature,” Dirks states, “that the year after medical [gender] transition is a ‘honeymoon period, which ‘does not represent a realistic picture of long-term sexual and psychological status.’”

Yet most of the popular gender transition studies are limited to just a few years following medical transitioning. Other studies that support medical transitions fail to follow up with as much as half of the original participants. That’s well beyond the threshold of reliability.

Many of the studies, Dirks states, are “fraught with . . . design problems,” such as “small sample sizes, short study lengths, and enormously high drop-out rates,” to name just three. The problem is so bad that one systematic review of the literature, “rated only two out of twenty-nine studies as high-quality.”

In contrast, the best-designed and most rigorous studies, whose results are most likely to stand up over time, found that medical transition was not the solution to the patients’ problems, especially in the case of male-to-female transitions. They reveal much higher mortality rates due to increased rates of suicide, AIDS, drug abuse, and even cardiovascular disease.

Another high-quality study found a 7-fold increase in suicide attempts and a nineteen-fold increase in completed suicides after transitions. Even when the findings are adjusted for pre-existing psychiatric problems, which are often treated as unrelated to the gender dysphoria, there was still a three-fold increase in psychiatric hospital admissions.

In other words, when it comes to medical gender transitioning, “the best studies show the worst outcomes,” and the current use of shoddy social science to support medical transitioning is not only misleading but dangerous.

In this case, as is common in the social sciences, especially throughout the history of the sexual revolution, ideology is overwhelming truth-finding. Too many researchers think they know what the data should tell us, so they, at times unconsciously and at times consciously, design their studies to make sure that it does.

Sadly, the consequences of their failure are far worse than professional embarrassment or tarnished reputations. In this case, the consequences can be permanent and even deadly.

Sep 03, 2021
The Disillusion of Millennial Evangelicals
05:03

Though Gen Z-ers have all but replaced Millennials as the dazzling object of scrutiny and cultural analysis, it’s not because Millennials are no longer struggling. Rates of addiction, depression, burnout, and loneliness are all disproportionately high among the demographic born between 1981 and 1996. Since 2013, in fact, Millennials have seen a 47 percent increase in major depression diagnoses.

For their part, evangelical Millennials are in a season of deconstruction and deconversion, or reeling from the many influential and high profile leaders that have recently either left the faith or fallen from grace. Disillusionment is now a dominant feature of this group that was once convinced it could change the world.

In his influential book The Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt uses a rider and an elephant to illustrate moral psychology. The rider represents intellectual reasoning. The elephant represents immediate perceptions, intuitions and instincts. Most modern people, Haidt argues, think that their own moral frameworks are derived from objective, rational reasoning. In other words, it’s the rider who tells the elephant where to go and what to eat. In reality, however, moral decisions primarily come from our gut instincts, and we use intellectual reasoning to justify those decisions. Or, back to our metaphor, the elephant wants bananas, and the rider explains why bananas are good after the decision to get bananas has already been made. 

If Haidt is right, we can better understand the beauty and power of Christianity. To borrow his metaphor, Christ speaks to both the rider and the elephant. “Like newborn babies,” the Apostle Peter tells us, “crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Christianity is not only ultimately true, it is also ultimately satisfying. It is satisfying, in fact, because it is true.

This provides a helpful lens by which to understand Millennial deconstruction, deconversion, and disillusionment. What if a generation of Christians have been taught to crave the wrong thing? 

Recently, my friend Sean McDowell described a conversation he had with a deconverted evangelical. He was surprised to learn that this skeptic first started to doubt his faith at a Coldplay concert. Though there are plenty of anti-Christian bands, Coldplay isn’t one of them. 

The lead singer didn’t challenge anyone’s faith or any particular truth claims from the stage. However, the concert produced in the skeptic so many of the feelings he had always associated with worship. The stadium of people singing in unison, the strong emotion elicited by lyrics and melody, and the unifying cultural grandeur of it all felt a lot like, well, church

But then, what had this former believer been experiencing all those years? It suddenly seemed possible that Christianity was just another man-made phenomenon, enjoyable and moving but not really true.  You know, like a Coldplay concert. 

What if we are seeing the fruit of a generation that was sold endless attempts to make Christ cool and likable, worship relevant and hyper-emotional, and Christian morality more about politics and cultural influence than obedience to God? And what if this generation has now found those experiences elsewhere? What if all of the trendy marketing, political capital, and massive concert experiences inadvertently taught a generation to love the glamour and the feelings, but not Christ? 

If there’s any truth to this analysis, there is also consolation. Many Millennials are discovering that there are no better answers “out there,” either. Yet, like all human beings, they still crave the truth, depth, and beauty found only in the Gospel. 

Chuck Colson kept a plaque on his desk that read: “Faithfulness, not success.” Having climbed the heights of worldly success, he knew that nothing in this life could ultimately satisfy. Forced to reckon with how empty it all was, he encountered Jesus. As he wrote in Loving God

God doesn't want our success; He wants us. He doesn't demand our achievements; He demands our obedience. The kingdom of God is a kingdom of paradox, where through the ugly defeat of a cross, a holy God is utterly glorified. Victory comes through defeat; healing through brokenness; finding self through losing self.

Culture - even Christian culture - comes and goes. The eternal truths of Christ are forever. And they are enough to satisfy a drifting generation.

Sep 02, 2021
How do we define persecution? How can I share Christ as a public counselor? BreakPoint Q&A
59:57

John and Shane answer questions from listeners ranging from how Christians should define persecution in a desire to fulfill a Biblical call to encourage the saints to how a public counselor can represent Jesus while honoring her call as healthcare provider.

Shane also asks John to comment on the history of the United States of America and how it bodes for those who have been mistreated during it's history. 

Sep 01, 2021
President Misquotes Isaiah 6, Fails to Give Message We Need
06:23

President Biden isn’t the first president to misquote Scripture, only the most recent. He did it by quoting Isaiah 6:8, when the prophet answered the Lord’s call with, "Here am I. Send me!" This reference was made in a speech responding to last week’s terrorist attack at the Kabul airport. It was odd. It was out of place. It was inappropriate. In doing so, the President not only blurred the line between America and the Kingdom of God, he deflected his own responsibility for this disaster onto “God’s will.”

Of course, the service and self-sacrifice of our military should always be recognized and honored. And it’s completely appropriate, as many members of our armed forces surely do, to see military service as one’s service to the Lord. For believers, every calling, if legitimate and done as to the Lord, is sacred. But how we carry out those callings - or as in this case how we order others to carry out theirs - is on us, not God.

Still, in his misuse of Scripture, President Biden joined not only a long line of presidents (especially the previous two), but plenty of pastors and other Christians, as well. I’ve lost count of the number of mission conferences I’ve attended in which the words, “Here am I, send me,” were plucked from the middle of Isaiah 6, printed on banners, and hung around the church. The intent of encouraging people to respond to God’s call on their lives is noble. However, to miss the full context of the story is not only to miss the significance of Isaiah’s famous words, but to miss details that are particularly relevant for our cultural moment.

First, the recent death of King Uzziah puts it in the context of a national crisis. Not only had Uzziah reigned over the kingdom of Judah for 52 years, but he had been, at least for the most part, one of the few good kings. When God allows Isaiah (who may have been a cousin of Uzziah) to see Him, He is showing Isaiah that even though the earthly king is dead, the True King of the universe is not. God’s status remains unchanged. Even the most chaotic cultural moment does not alter the rule and reign of Christ Jesus. We would do well to remember that, too.

Second, Isaiah’s answer was not so much courageous or heroic as it was grateful. The key point of this passage is not what Isaiah said at all. It’s what God did.

Immediately after Isaiah saw the Lord, he said, “Woe is me!” This could be very roughly translated as, “uh-oh… I’m dead meat.” After all, the central feature of God’s presence described here is God’s holiness. Isaiah is not special. He’s a sinner like the rest of us and, as such, cannot survive in the presence of God’s perfection.

The whole scene is reminiscent of C.S. Lewis’s, The Last Battle, where the soldier who had spent his life serving the false god Tash sees Aslan and, sure of his impending death, thinks to himself, “Nevertheless, it is better to see the Lion and die than to be Tisroc of the world and live and not to have seen him.” Isaiah has something of the same response. But when Isaiah predicts his ruin owing to his unclean lips, God spares him: He orders coals from the altar to touch his lips, cleansing him from his impurity. I suppose even a prophet can have a dirty mouth, but only mercy from God Himself can make any of us presentable to Him.

Having thought that his life was over only to have it spared by God, what else will Isaiah say when the question is asked, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” What’s too often missed, especially when we fail to read beyond Isaiah’s response to the rest of the passage, is what God is calling Isaiah to do.

“Go, and say to this people:

‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
10 Make the heart of this people dull,
and their ears heavy,
and blind their eyes;
lest they see with their eyes,
and hear with their ears,
and understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

In a word, God is sending Isaiah to fail. Isaiah the prophet, whose job it was to speak for God, is told that the more he speaks for God, the less the people will listen. The more he speaks, the more their hearts would grow harder and harder. To which Isaiah asks a question of his own (a good one, in fact): “How long, O Lord?” I think it’s safe to assume Isaiah may have been asking for some degree of assurance that, eventually, they would listen. Like any committed communicator, he wants to know he is being heard.

God’s reply?

“Until cities lie waste
without inhabitant,
and houses without people,
and the land is a desolate waste,
12 and the Lord removes people far away,
and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.”

In other words, Isaiah, you’re going to speak, and they aren’t going to listen. And this is going to go on and on until it’s all over. The next chapter isn’t repentance for Judah. It’s captivity.

“For us there is only the trying,” said T.S. Eliot. “The rest is none of our business.” Any result of our work, when done for the Lord, is up to God. In a Biblical framework, success is defined by faithfulness. Nothing more, nothing less.

In Hebrews 11, the “hall of faith” passage, Isaiah makes a cameo appearance. It's near the end, when the author admits to running out of time. In his list that starts with miracles and victories and, without breaking stride, shifts to sufferings and defeats, the author includes “they [who] were sawn in two.” According to Jewish tradition, Isaiah spoke as commanded. The people, as predicted, eventually became so enraged with him, so tired of what he was saying, that they stuffed him into a hollow log and sawed him in half. But, the author of Hebrews continues, he was one “of whom the world was not worthy.”

I can’t imagine any more important truths to sustain Christians in this cultural moment, than to know that the King of the universe is still on His throne, and that God in his mercy forgives our guilt that is before him. And any results or successes we might achieve come from His strength, not our own. This is why the context of Isaiah’s words is absolutely essential, whether quoted by pastors or by presidents.

Sep 01, 2021
How a Holocaust Survivor Thanked the Courageous Christians of Le Chambon
04:54

Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is a small village in south-central France. Back in 1940, the total population of this area, including the surrounding villages, was only about 5,000. Still, under the leadership of their Protestant pastor André Trocmé and his wife, Magda, the residents of these villages were responsible for saving up to 5,000 Jews from deportation to Nazi concentration camps during World War II.

In late January, Holocaust survivor Eric Schwam passed away at age 90. According to a BBC article, Schwam, a native of Vienna, arrived in Le Chambon in 1943, a refugee along with his mother, father, and grandfather. After the war, Schwam eventually returned to Austria to live a quiet life. However, he never forgot the people of Le Chambon for saving his life. In fact, he left the town more than $2 million in a bequest. 

As Dr. Glenn Sunshine described in a BreakPoint article from a few years ago, in the winter of 1940, after the defeat of France, a Jewish woman fleeing the Nazis knocked at the Trocmé’s door, seeking help. Magda attempted to secure false papers for her, but the mayor refused to help. He feared that if the Germans found out anyone in Le Chambon was helping Jews, the entire village would suffer.

This did not dissuade Magda and André. In fact, according to Sunshine, “Pastor Trocmé began to exhort his congregation to shelter any ‘People of the Book’ that were fleeing Nazi persecution, telling them, ‘We shall resist whenever our adversaries demand of us obedience contrary to the orders of the gospel.’” The members of his church responded, volunteering to hide Jews. 

When more Jews arrived in Le Chambon, André would announce the arrival of “Old Testaments” and ask if any in his congregation would be willing to take them. There was never a lack of volunteers. Eventually, the townspeople created an underground network to help Jews travel safely across the Swiss border.

Local officials caught on and tipped off the Germans. They searched Le Chambon but found nothing. Finally, the officials demanded that Trocmé stop any and all activities that provided help for the Jews. His response was blunt. “These people came here for help and shelter. I am their shepherd. A shepherd does not forsake his flock. I do not know what a Jew is. I only know human beings.”

Eventually, André was arrested and sent to a detention camp. He was released after ten days and spent the rest of the war underground. Le Chambon’s rescue operation continued, even without him.

What the people of Le Chambon did was, as Dr. Sunshine called it, “a conspiracy of goodness.” An untold number of lives were saved by their courageous actions. In fact, not a single Jew was caught in Le Chambon during the entire war.

Why did these French Christians risk so much? In a post-war documentary, one villager said, “We didn’t protect the Jews because we were a moral or heroic people. We helped them because it was the human thing to do.” 

But of course, we have to ask ourselves, why did so many others refuse to help?

André Trocmé died in 1971. His wife Magda died in 1996. Both were named as Righteous among the Nations by the Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Memorial Authority in Jerusalem.

A final, fascinating element of this story is that the residents of Le Chambon were descendants of French Protestants known as Huguenots, who were themselves victims of savage persecution at the hands of the French Catholic monarchy during the 16th and 17th centuries. A method of survival used back then played a major role in the 20th century work to protect Jews. Dr. Sunshine describes it this way: 

“In the area around Le Chambon, the Huguenots made secret rooms similar to the priest holes in England, and secret paths through the mountains to Switzerland to smuggle pastors and Bibles into France. Even after Protestantism was legalized, the people of the area kept the locations of these rooms and paths secret since they never knew when they would need them again. Providentially still available, the rooms and paths were put back into service to save the Jews from the Nazis.”

Aug 31, 2021
Darwinian Evolution is Running out of Time
04:41

The theory of intelligent design is often dismissed as religion pretending to be science. Critics argue that the theory doesn’t make any predictions or contribute to our knowledge of the natural world, and plus, it’s not taken seriously in any peer-reviewed scientific journals. However, a new paper published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Theoretical Biology makes a strong case for the need for intelligent design.

The paper is called “On the waiting time until coordinated mutations get fixed in regulatory sequences.” If that title is all Greek to you, don’t worry; you’re in good company. This technical, math-intensive paper was written by intelligent design researchers Ola Hössjer, Günter Bechly, and Ann Gauger. As Casey Luskin explains at Evolution News, the project came out of the Discovery Institute’s ID 3.0 research initiative, which aims, in part, to test how plausible Darwinian evolution is on a mathematical level. And though it’s just a beginning, this paper’s conclusions should make die-hard Darwinists nervous. 

Here's the background. The fossil record has been a perpetual problem for Darwin’s theory ever since it was first published in 1859. Put simply, the fossil record doesn’t look like the theory predicts it should. 

If, as Darwin proposed, all the diversity of life on earth developed through natural selection, sorting random variations over untold eons, living things should change very gradually. This means the record of evolution we find in rocks should look gradual, too. Invertebrates should turn slowly into fish, which should turn slowly into amphibians, which should turn slowly into reptiles and mammals, and so on. 

What we actually find is the basis of what philosopher of science Stephen Meyer calls “Darwin’s doubt”: the fossil record consists of numerous “bursts” of biological diversity, such as the famous “Cambrian explosion,” in which new body plans and animal phyla appear in the fossil record seemingly without ancestors. 

Evolutionary biologists have come up with several ways to explain away these sudden leaps in the history of life to reassure us of evolution’s power. The problem is that it’s difficult to test these explanations to determine whether evolution is up to the job of generating new life forms suddenly, rather than gradually. How fast is too fast for evolution? 

This is the so-called “waiting time” problem. Traits like gills, wings, functional legs, and eyes don’t just appear as the result of one mutation. They require many mutations, often in regulatory regions of DNA before an organism gets any fitter. But as the necessary mutations pile up, the time required for evolution to occur increases, and does so exponentially. 

Summarizing the paper, Luskin uses an example of marbles. Imagine you have a bag of red and blue marbles. You want only blue marbles, but you need to select at random. Let’s say it will take two seconds on average to pull out a blue marble. However, because the search is random, it will take four seconds to pull out two blue marbles. For three, it’s eight seconds. And so on. The time required with each additional marble increases exponentially. 

Now imagine those marbles are random mutations—the alleged raw material of evolution. As the authors of the paper note, many traits that confer a survival advantage—such as those activated by regulatory regions in DNA—involve sequences hundreds or thousands of nucleotides long. And when you realize that “blue marble” mutations may each take centuries to happen, and that none of them give a survival advantage until they change the expression of actual genes—well, the problem for evolution becomes a simple matter of math. 

Okay, maybe “simple” is the wrong word. This paper’s model is dense, and these authors merely develop that method and suggest how it could possibly be applied to the fossil record. They haven't yet taken that next step.

What they have done is offer a plausible way to calculate just how much time evolution requires, and show whether the theory can make good on its promises and actually explain the fossil record that caused Darwin so much doubt. 

Maybe more importantly, this is the latest in a series of papers by intelligent design (ID) researchers to sustain peer review. It demonstrates, once again, that despite the protests of die-hard Darwinists, ID theory is capable of scientific predictions and insights, and may in fact be better at explaining the wonders of the living world than Neo-Darwinism. Perhaps it’s even a theory that could eventually replace Darwin’s. As this paper hints, the answer may only be a matter of time.

Aug 30, 2021
Kabul Suicide Bombing, Just War Theory, and Radical Gratitude
01:07:49

-- Story Resources --

Suicide Bomber Attacks Citizens at Kabul Airport

At least two explosions took place near the Kabul airport on Thursday as the US and other countries try to evacuate their citizens and Afghans at risk from the Taliban.

Three US officials and a source familiar with the situation said that, according to initial reports, there were some US personnel among the casualties.

CNN>>

The Crisis in Afghanistan And Humanity’s Capacity for Evil

The desperate scenes at the Kabul airport are hard to take in. To describe America’s exit strategy as “negligence” is charitable. More accurately, it’s somewhere between folly and abandonment. It’s the latest chapter in a war with, as Mindy Belz put it, “a history of political ambivalence.” Even back in 2006, one frustrated soldier described it this way: “We’re at war; America’s at the mall.” It may have been our culture of self-absorption that sowed such a catastrophic exit, but it’s the Afghan people who are reaping the whirlwind

BreakPoint>> 

Prayer is Doing Something

I saw a tweet recently from a mom that described this well. “Sometimes,” she said, “I’m mad at God that all he lets me do is pray about a situation that is out of my hands. I suppose that says more about me, and my frustration with prayer, than it says about God.”

BreakPoint>>

 

Chuck Colson on “Radical Gratitude”

A friend reminded me of a commentary by Chuck Colson from all the way back in 2005. It’s safe to say that it has aged well. Despite how much has changed and how much more chaotic the headlines might be today, the core truth underlying his commentary is the same. A posture of gratitude is one that recognizes Whose world this actually is, and how we fit in God’s overarching plan to make all things new.

BreakPoint>>

The Myth of Family-Friendly Abortion

Planned Parenthood’s website says that “Deciding to have an abortion doesn’t mean you don’t want or love children. In fact, 6 out of 10 people who get abortions already have kids—and many of them decide to end their pregnancies so they can focus on the children they already have.”

Less than six percent of Medicaid-enrolled women had both births and abortions. As study lead, Dr. James Studnicki remarked: “…abortion is in no way typical of motherhood…the overwhelming number of children are born to mothers who never have an abortion.

The Point>>

 

The Pronoun Revolution

Chicago public school teacher sent forms to Abigail Shrier that show teachers are explicitly required to keep kids' newly declared gender identities from parents.

Twitter>>

 

Spike in Transgender Surgeries Show Medical Priorities

It’s so strange that despite all the rationing we’ve been hearing about, there was a notable rise in so-called “gender confirmation surgeries” for women. These are procedures in which otherwise healthy body parts are removed from female patients suffering with gender dysphoria.

BreakPoint>>

 

-- In-show Mentions --

How Does the Women’s March Define What a Woman Is?
Joseph Backholm | What Would You Say? | January 22, 2020

Transgenderism Depends on Stereotypes
Joseph Backholm | What Would You Say? | January 15, 2020

The Last Christian on Earth
Os Guinness | Baker Books | 2010

The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self
Carl Trueman | Crossway | 2020 

-- Recommendations -- 

GI Joe on Youtube

The Fellowship of the Performing Arts

Bethany Bernard - All My Questions

Aug 27, 2021
How Should We Respond to the Kabul Suicide Bombing?
06:30

Yesterday a suicide bomber from an ISIS-related group attacked crowds outside the Kabul airport. How will the U.S. respond?

 

Given how poorly President Biden has handled the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan up to this point, it's impossible to predict just how the U.S. will respond to an attack by an ISIS-related suicide bomber. The tragedy resulted in the killing of at least 12 U.S. service members and more than 60 others hoping to flee the country. 

 

If yesterday's press conference by the President was meant to inspire confidence or provide clarity, it failed. Carl von Clausewitz, the famous German student of war, once argued that war is just politics by other means. That, if it's true to any degree, puts us in an absolutely terrifying position. Now, the question: how should the U.S. respond to a horrific attack like this one? That's another matter.

 

Thankfully, there's a long history of theological reflection that's known as Just War Theory. It's helpful, especially at times like these, when anger, hurt, and desire for retaliation overwhelm our senses. Acts of war should always be thought of only as extraordinary means, like surgery or chemo. War is only justified by a situation so bad that acts ordinarily unthinkable become morally obligated.

Still, even justified violence will involve horrors that would never happen in a sinless world. Think of even the best possible situations, where all involved are adult males in uniform, under arms, with a clear objective: it's still image-bearers of God, using their God-given abilities to attack, to harm, to kill other image-bearers. And I'm not sure there's been a war that clean in all of human history. 

 

Because of the awful realities of life after the Fall, Christian thinkers throughout the ages - from Augustine, to Aquinas, to Luther, to others today - have struggled to articulate acts of war within a Christian moral framework, so that believers could figure out ways to actively oppose grave injustice while not becoming part of the injustice themselves. 

 

Some believers have, of course, held that this sort of thing is impossible, and they've embraced various degrees of pacifism. However, the majority of the church settled on a set of criteria that, if met, would justify acts of war. 

 

Though different groups have categorized these criteria in different ways, they can generally be grouped into whether or not to go to war and how war should be waged. 

 

The first set of criteria has to do with the right to war. It demands that leaders and nations never go to war without fully counting the cost. Not only must there be good reason, but all other options must have been exhausted. Extraordinary injustice has to be present or imminent acts of war must be waged by legitimate authorities, not just by vigilante individuals. There has to be a likely chance of success and the act of retaliation cannot exceed the evil that it opposes. Even a just cause is not sufficient justification in and of itself, if it's mixed with unjust goals, or an overly devastating response, or an unlikely chance of success. 

 

The second set of criteria has to do with governing right behavior once a war has been waged. Even when fighting and killing is justified, not all means of fighting and killing are justified. 

 

Whenever noncombatants are caught in crossfire, it's tragic. But noncombatants should never ever be targeted. Nor should military personnel be targeted if wounded, captured, or incapacitated in some way. Only the force necessary to accomplish a mission as quickly as possible is justified force. 

 

Now, of course, there's a vast difference between a nice and neat theory like this and how it's applied on the ground. Rarely will both sides, or even anyone on one side for that matter, agree that each and every criteria has been sufficiently met. Both sides tend to assume that they're the ones justified in taking action against their enemy.

 

All of which brings us back to the very non-theoretical question of the moment: How should President Biden respond to the murderous bombing of innocent Afghans and American service members yesterday? 

 

First, it's essential to remember the larger context of this bombing. It's a decades-long war that has, especially recently, been badly bungled. The more immediate context is that nothing in the President's handling of Afghanistan, especially in the last two weeks, does anything to inspire confidence that he can do the right thing here and now. This is where applying Just War criteria to yesterday's attack becomes all the more complicated. 

 

On one hand, of course, American forces were attacked while not engaging in any sort of hostile action, even as they were trying to help innocent civilians. And this attack was maybe sponsored, but was at least allowed, by the ruling Taliban, the so-called government. Above and beyond our own losses, there were noncombatants killed. Going by all of these principles alone, there's ample justification for swift and serious retaliation, as well as proactive measures to prevent any further attacks. 

 

On the other hand, it's just not clear - given our dramatically reduced forces, our self-imposed, foolish limitations, and the overall foolish strategy in Afghanistan - that there's a reasonable chance of success in any retaliation. Our President does not seem willing to end this threat, and his seeming desperation to leave Afghanistan as quickly as possible, without thinking it through, just makes the situation worse. 

 

Clearly, the Taliban and other interested parties don't think that America will have the ability to follow through. The tragedy here is far beyond national embarrassment, and it's even in addition to yesterday's tragic loss of life. It’s that the good that desperately needs to be done in Afghanistan right now, won’t be done, and the evil that desperately needs to end there, won't end. 

This is one of those times that swift and strong action is required for peace and protection. Tragically, given the determination of the President to exit Afghanistan - no matter the cost to its people or our allies - and the foolish way that this withdrawal has been carried out, such an act of retaliation is unlikely to succeed. Even if it's possible with the troops we still have on the ground, any American retaliation has to be more than a symbolic act. Otherwise, it's not a step towards justice at all.

Aug 27, 2021
Will Working from Home Continue?
04:19

The next edition of Webster’s Dictionary will probably include a new definition for “zoom.” For most people, life during the pandemic included Zoom meetings, Zoom classes, Zoom calls, Zoom church services, etc. Nearly everything now consists of a virtual option.

The shift has been culture-wide, especially in the area of work. Earlier this month, the Institute for Family Studies released findings from a new survey of 2500 American adults. More than 50 percent of working moms and dads said that the COVID-19 pandemic had changed their preferences. They’d now prefer to work from home than at the office at least part of the time. 

The pandemic has also changed other work preferences of parents. Though economic realities leave many parents without the choice of whether to work or not, the study found that working, college-educated moms, in particular, are now more likely to want to work only part-time. And the most significant percentage of both moms and dads of children under five described their ideal arrangement as sharing childcare duties with a spouse instead of hiring a nanny or using daycare.

This study was only about preferences, and preferences don’t always coincide with reality. Not every parent gets to choose whether or not to work or the job arrangement they prefer. And not every job can be done from home. However, because logistical realities so often shape our lives, whether we’re aware of it or not, we should be aware of them and how they are changing us, and we should be intentional about them. 

Not everyone is aware of their worldview, though everyone has a set of assumptions about the world that informs everything they do. Likewise, not everyone is aware of how much a changing cultural landscape can shape their worldview. By understanding how modern life and outside forces, like a pandemic or new work arrangements, affect the ways we order our lives, we can better align our choices with a Christian worldview instead of being blown around by cultural winds.

In the Psalms, David implored God to “teach him to number his days.” Elsewhere, he asked that God would “search him and know him.” It is a Biblical mandate to think about why we do what we do and align with how God calls us to live. 

It’s one thing to know that in principle, it’s far more complicated to practice it. Does God want us to work? Does he want us to work that job? Do we justify our work’s type, intensity, or location merely by the lifestyle we prefer, or based on other factors: what’s best for the family? What’s best for mental health? What is most conducive to church life or Christian service?

For the Christian, there are immovable Biblical principles that should mark and form the structures of our lives. These should not be moved, edited, or altered by cultural shifts. For example, the reality of marriage is a real thing, like gravity, ordained by God within the created order and reclaimed by Christ for the health and growth of His kingdom. Marriage is not made something else by changing cultural norms. In the same way, the obligations of parents to their children are fixed. Despite how they are so often treated in our cultural moment, they are image-bearers who belong to God, not ornaments to decorate our lives or pieces of clay to mold into our images. 

A song by Christian singer Sara Groves called “Scientist in Japan” questions the pride humans have in the technological advances we’ve made or wished we’ve made, such as artificial heart muscles and front-load washing machines. “We set machines in motion just to set machines in motion,” she sings, but “Who’s going to stay to think about it? Everybody’s left the room… there’s no one here to talk it through.”

Christians, of all people, should be the ones to stay and think about the ways our culture is changing and how these changes influence and dictate our decisions. God’s truth is unchanging. How we live out of that truth in a changing culture must always be considered. No cultural wind should blow us around without us at least noticing. And no circumstantial change should stop us from living as God has called us.

Aug 26, 2021
Can You Define Evangelical, Protestant, and Exvangelical? - BreakPoint Q&A
54:42

John and Shane help a listener understand the difference between an evangelical, a protestant, and evangelical. They use the Bebbington quadrilateral to provide context and give a full explanation on the unique worldview understanding in evangelical, protestant, and evangelical approaches.

 

 

-- Resources --

Religion and American Culture: A Brief History 
George Marsden | Eerdmans | September 6, 2018

God in the Wasteland
David F. Wells | Eerdma ns | July 1, 1994

 

Aug 25, 2021
The Crisis in Afghanistan Has Us Face Human Weakness
05:19

The American withdrawal from Afghanistan is forcing us to look, again, into the face of humanity’s capacity for evil. President Biden’s rationalizations aside, painful questions remain about Afghanistan: what will Taliban rule mean for Afghan women and children, for Christians, dissidents, and journalists? What will happen to those Afghan citizens who served and stood with the U.S. for the last two decades? Has this extremist regime really evolved as they claim and as many hope?

The desperate scenes at the Kabul airport are hard to take in. To describe America’s exit strategy as “negligence” is charitable. More accurately, it’s somewhere between folly and abandonment. It’s the latest chapter in a war with, as Mindy Belz put it, “a history of political ambivalence.” Even back in 2006, one frustrated soldier described it this way: "We're at war; America's at the mall." It may have been our culture of self-absorption that sowed such a catastrophic exit, but it's the Afghan people who are reaping the whirlwind. 

In his book A Free People’s Suicide, Os Guinness observed an historical reality being played out in Afghanistan. Winning freedom is not rare in history; maintaining freedom is. As James Monroe lamented, “How prone all human institutions have been to decay. How difficult it has been for mankind, in all ages and countries, to preserve their dearest rights and best privileges, impelled as it were by an irresistible fate of despotism.” 

Again and again throughout history, human frailty, foolishness, and fallenness corrupt even our best endeavors. Israel thought it had a righteous king in David, but his sin wrought personal, familial, and national havoc. Emerging from Roman persecution, some Christian leaders persecuted their pagan neighbors. St. Augustine of Hippo finished City of God, then watched from his deathbed as Vandals destroyed what was left of the Roman world. Even U.S. President James Monroe was a painful contradiction: a President who advocated for abolition but stubbornly refused to free his own slaves.

Every story of human failure reminds us, again, just how desperate our world is for re-creation. A quick paint job won’t do. We are not capable of cleaning up our messes, or putting back together what we’ve broken. Even the best human rulers, institutions, and heroes of history cannot save us. Only the God of the Cosmos can. If He isn’t on the throne, ruling and redeeming, all is lost. 

Jesus’ mission to Earth must be properly understood. This is more than merely an inspiring story of sacrifice, service, and humility. It’s even more than the story of how we can find forgiveness and avoid eternal punishment. Let me be clear: the story of Jesus certainly isn’t about less than these things, but it is about so much more. It is, rather, the story of the Cosmos. The story that best describes reality, particularly in its brokenness. 

Os Guinness observed that “Christianity is the only religion whose God bears the scars of evil.” In the context of the Fall, this is significant. By suffering within His creation and with His image bearers, being despised and abandoned, tasting the bitterness of human failure and corrupt institutions, feeling anger at injustice and sadness at human frailty, Jesus experienced evil in its fullness. In His death, He became the only fully innocent victim of evil. And, by resurrecting from the dead, Jesus became the only secure source of hope - hope that evil will indeed be overcome and ultimately defeated. Though all human institutions should fail, Christ will make all things new.

Everything truly Christian flows from these bedrock truths: our ethics, any strength we have to continue to push back against evil and brokenness, any good that is within us. It’s only because the Judge of the universe is perfect that our earthly justice has any meaning. It’s only because of what Christ has done for us that we can truly love and care for our neighbors. 

America has some serious soul-searching to do in light of this failure in Afghanistan. Even more, we have some serious course-correcting to do. Specifically, we’ll need to reckon with the humanitarian crisis we helped create, and we’ll need to find ways to support the tiny, embattled Christian remnant there.

At the same time, the only way to bear the overwhelming weight of human evil in this world is to embrace the long Christian view of history, and to fix our eyes on the Christ Who is at its center. All other ways lead to either judgmental cynicism or self-centered hedonism. Only the story of Christ is big enough to make sense of the evil in our world. Only His nail-scarred hands are strong enough to hold the course of humanity. As Edward Shillito wrote in his masterful poem Jesus of the Scars, “to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak. And not a God has wounds but (Christ) alone.”

Aug 25, 2021
A Changing Climate is a Calling, Not an Alarm
05:56

Last week, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change panicked. Or, at least, they officially announced to the world they were panicking. In its new official Assessment Report, the panel concluded we won’t be able to stop the earth from warming at least 1.5 degrees. That change, scientists said, will melt arctic ice, cause a rise in sea levels and an increase in dangerous weather, and send millions into poverty. And if industrialized nations don’t dramatically cut their carbon emissions, they said, those consequences will be even more devastating.

Sometimes Christians hear apocalyptic news about climate change and feel a distinct urge to change the channel. I empathize with that instinct - the people releasing these reports are not always unbiased or even trustworthy. 

But it’s not controversial to say that Christians should care about the planet. The book of Genesis says that God “breathed life into the dust” of the earth to create us. The earth feeds, clothes and shelters humans, but the Bible also talks about the world as an intrinsic good in and of itself. Just considering the incredible variety, intricacy and beauty of the animals, plants and topography across the globe is a study in God’s intentional creativity. God doesn’t breathe on what he doesn’t love. 

If the latest research seems to show the climate is changing in ways that could harm both humans and the planet, we should listen. However, there are worldview assumptions built into a report like the IPCC’s that too often go unspoken. One such assumption is that the earth’s climate is changing now in a way it was not supposed to.

A sense of existential instability is warranted within a naturalistic worldview. If one believes human beings only came into existence on razor-thin margins - that is, that the chance we evolved from single-cell organisms into the unfathomably complex, billion-cell organisms we are today was astronomically astronomical - then our survival here dances on razor-thin margins, too. In that case, a report suggesting “it’s getting dicey out there” would be the least shocking news we could get.

Christians need not share that existential dread. The Bible tells us God both created and sustains His creation. “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together,” Paul writes in Colossians.

But the consequences of the fall can wreak havoc on God’s creation. Things aren’t perfect here; we are capable of harming ourselves and the earth. But that doesn’t mean our climate is hopelessly out of control. Isaiah 40 sounds at first like a warning: “The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it.” But there’s great comfort here: nothing withers or fades without His breath

That comfort isn’t available in a God-less worldview, and that’s evident in many reports about climate change. For example, there’s an emphasis in this IPCC report on what humans should do to prevent the globe from warming further. Notice the implication that we can control this problem. Certainly as humans we have agency, and a responsibility to make good decisions. But it’s far easier on an emotional level to believe that the big, scary problems like climate change — or a pandemic — are humans’ fault, and therefore can be fixed by humans, than to believe we can’t control everything. Vulnerability is very uncomfortable. 

But to believe we can either make or break the climate is to view humans as blunt instruments - as if we’re a problem that needs solving rather than potential agents of a solution.

In fact, as the world has changed over centuries, including a warming period in the Middle Ages, humans have often displayed incredible adaptability. Even the things we blame now for harming the climate - like the industrialization that increases carbon emissions - have improved the lives of humans more than our ancestors could have imagined. - arguably, more than their side-effects have harmed humanity.

We should beware reports about the changing climate that come as an alarm and not a calling. Christians are to “hold fast to the hope that we confess without wavering, because the One who has promised is faithful.” We are like the servants in Jesus’ parable about the Kingdom of Heaven in Matthew 25: God has put us in charge of His home while we wait for His return. With the power entrusted to us, we should solve the problems that arise, reminding each other all the while that He’s coming back, and that the foundations of the house don’t rest on our shoulders.

Aug 24, 2021
Chuck Colson on Radical Gratitude
05:08

A friend wrote to me and reminded me of a commentary from Chuck Colson on Breakpoint from all the way back in 2005. It has aged well. That's because, despite how much things have changed, despite how much more chaotic the headlines might be today, the core truth is the same. A posture of gratitude is one that recognizes whose world it actually is, and where we fit in to God's overarching plan to make all things new.

Here is the transcript from Chuck Colson's commentary from 2005, talking about gratitude:
 

The notion of gratitude is hot these days. Search the Internet, and you'll find more than a million sites about thankfulness.

For example, university psychologists recently conducted a research project on gratitude and thanksgiving. They divided participants into three groups. People in the first group practiced daily exercises like writing in a gratitude journal. They reported higher levels of alertness, determination, optimism, energy, and less depression and stress than the control group. Unsurprisingly, they were also a lot happier than the participants who were told to keep an account of all the bad things that happened each day.

One of the psychologists concluded that though a practice of gratitude is a key to most religions, its benefits extend to the general population, regardless of faith or no faith. He suggested that anyone can increase his sense of well-being just from counting his blessings.

As my colleague Ellen Vaughn writes in her new book, RADICAL GRATITUDE, no one is going to disagree that gratitude is a virtue. But, Ellen says, counting our blessings and conjuring an attitude of to-whom-it-may-concern gratitude, Pollyanna-style is not enough.

What do we do when cancer strikes -- I have two children battling it right now-- or when loved ones die, when we find ourselves in the midst of brokenness and real suffering? That, she says, is where gratitude gets radical.

While they often mingle together in the life of a follower of Christ, there are actually two types of thankfulness. One is secondary, the other primary.

The secondary sort is thankfulness for blessings received. Life, health, home, family, freedom, a tall, cold lemonade on a summer day -- it's a mindset of active appreciation for all good gifts.

The great preacher and once president of Princeton University, Jonathan Edwards, called thanks for such blessings "natural gratitude." It's a good thing, but this gratitude doesn't come naturally -- if at all -- when things go badly. It can't buoy us in difficult times. Nor, by itself, does it truly please God. And, to paraphrase Jesus, even pagans can give thanks when things are going well. 

Edwards calls the deeper, primary form of thankfulness "gracious gratitude." It gives thanks not for goods received, but for who God is: for His character -- His goodness, love, power, excellencies -- regardless of favors received. And it's real evidence of the Holy Spirit working in a person's life. 

This gracious gratitude for who God is also goes to the heart of who we are in Christ. It is relational, rather than conditional. Though our world may shatter, we are secure in Him. We can have peace in times of pain. The fount of our joy, the love of the God who made us and saved us, cannot be quenched by any power that exists (Romans 8:28-39). People who are filled with such radical gratitude are unstoppable, irrepressible, overflowing with wha C. s. Lewis called "the good infection" -- the supernatural, refreshing love of God that draws others to Him.

That was Chuck Colson in a Breakpoint commentary from May 17th, 2005. It's aged well because it's a truth that transcends cultural moments and the challenges of one age to the next. That in and all were to be grateful to God for the fact that he is our creator, the fact that he has sent christ as our redeemer and he is overseeing the scope of history and allows us to be part of what he's doing in the world. It's always a good habit to take some time day by day to be grateful for the Colson Center.

 

Aug 23, 2021
Understanding Afghanistan, Vaccine Morality, and Pandemic Drives to Work from Home
01:18:15

John and Maria unpack the recent happenings surrounding Afghanistan. They discuss the history of the situation in Afghanistan and President Biden's responses to the U.S. force pull-out. They also discuss the worldview of the Taliban and the concerns for women and Christians.

Maria then asks John for insight on responding to claims that actions around the vaccine show morality. She asks for clarity in how to respond to intentions whether a person does or doesn't vaccinate.

To close, John gives Maria insight on a new report showing employees are preferring to work from home to have a better family life. Maria notes that the report shows how opinions and habits have changed in recent times due to Covid closures.

Aug 20, 2021
Christians who Changed their World: Benjamin Rush
05:07

Today, historically horrific diseases like polio and leprosy have been all but eradicated. Most people consider past moral failures, such as slavery, despicable. Famines are increasingly few and far between, and abject poverty around the world has been dramatically reduced. 

Among the reasons that our normal is so different from much of history is the work of Christians who saw their lives as a means by which God could accomplish restoration. In living out a Christian worldview within their own time and place, they laid foundations for this current world, which is better in so many ways.

Dr. Benjamin Rush is a prime example of someone who had this sense of vocation. Rush was born one of seven children in 1746 just outside of Philadelphia. He studied at the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), completing his degree in 1760 at age 15.

He received his medical degree in Britain, and then practiced medicine there before returning to the colonies in 1769. At the age of 24, he opened a medical practice in Philadelphia. He was also a chemistry professor, writing the first chemistry textbook published in America. He also wrote treatises on medical education. 

A significant area of study for Rush was the treatment of mental illness. He argued that people with mental illness shouldn’t be treated as criminals but brought into normal hospital settings. He also believed that giving them productive work could aid in their recovery. His ideas proved to be successful strategies in treating many of his patients.

Rush was also active in social reform. He was a founding member of the Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons (the Pennsylvania Prison Society today), and an ardent abolitionist, joining abolitionist societies and writing pamphlets against the institution of slavery. He specifically argued, on scientific grounds, that blacks were in no way inferior to whites. 

All of the activities on Rush’s very impressive resume were informed by his faith. His stands on mental health, prisons, and slavery came from his understanding that each person is made in the image of God and is, therefore, worthy of dignity and respect. His observations on the importance of work for well-being reflected ideas contained within the biblical worldview.

His stand on abolition had been the historical position of the Church and, in his day, was being advanced by evangelicals (among others) in Britain and America. His concern for the well-being of the black population led him to act as an advisor to Richard Allen in the founding of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. He lent the church and Allen his public support.

His faith grounded his political beliefs as well. Rush’s focus on inalienable rights can be traced through John Locke to medieval scholastic theologians. He wrote numerous patriotic essays. Thomas Paine even consulted with Rush as he wrote Common Sense. Not only was Rush appointed to the Continental Congress, he was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.

Rush also championed education on all levels. Along with his work in higher education, Rush is considered the father of American public education, and he was a major supporter of the American Sunday School Union. Rush believed Christianity to be essential for the proper functioning of society and, therefore, integral at the heart of education.

 “Without religion,” Rush said, “I believe that learning does real mischief to the morals and principles of mankind.” This argument is key to Rush’s views of the Bible and education. Rush believed education was vitally important to produce a virtuous society, but it needed to be grounded. Though he considered any religion better than none, he advocated for the superiority of Christianity and the specific importance of the Bible. For Rush, teaching the Bible was not just about personal salvation, but also about personal and societal well-being. 

Stories from history, like that of Benjamin Rush, demonstrate what it means to live as if the Christian worldview is, indeed, true. Thus, aligning with it is good, not only in the hereafter but for individuals and societies here and now. In other words, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer would say much later, Christianity is not an otherworldly religion. It describes the world as it actually is, which allows us to be part of God’s work not just to prepare for Heaven, but to repair what is wrong.

Aug 20, 2021
Barronelle Stutzman Testifies That God's Promises Can Be Trusted
04:28

The Supreme Court had declined to pick up the case of Barronelle Stutzman in the Arlene’s Flowers lawsuit. As a result, she now faces the full consequences of the decisions of the lower court in the State of Washington. It has been an eight year legal battle for Barronelle since she took a stance against gay marriage as a business owner. She stood for what she believed about marriage and was not vindicated by the courts. 

The case, now in its latest development, has shown a significant nuance in legal culture in America.  The court has shown a repeated willingness to defend Christian institutions, pastors, and religious organizations who hold to their deeply held beliefs. But Barronelle’s case demonstrates that religious freedom is being lost, not by organizations and people in pastoral roles, but in the rights of parishioners and individuals to order their public lives according to their beliefs, especially in the world of commerce. 

It is clear we Christians owe Barronelle a debt of gratitude as she has demonstrated that it is possible to stand for truth and goodness, and how to do it. On this week’s Strong Women podcast, Barronelle spoke with co-hosts Sarah Stonestreet and Erin Kunkle about her case. She offered her perspective not only on what it has meant for her to stand for truth, but to do it right: by loving her persecutors, and ultimately relinquishing all to God. Below is an excerpt of Barronelle Stutzman’s interview on the Strong Women podcast: 

 

I absolutely love Rob and I would wait on him for another 10 years if he came in [to the store]. He has a great sense of humor and he loves artistic things, and he would come in and say, “This [arrangement] is for Kurt’s birthday, and this is what I'm thinking ... Now just do your thing, just create.”

 And I absolutely love that because I do a lot of “bread and butter” work, as they call it in the floral business. But he let me use my artistic ability to make something different and unique. And we had a great time. We got along awesome until the government stepped in. And I miss him. 

Rob came in to talk to me about getting married [to Kurt] and before he got too far, I told him that I could not serve his wedding because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. Weddings symbolize the relationship between Christ and his Church. And weddings are very involved. You spend months with the bride and groom; you get to know them, you get to know how they argue, how they met, and what their favorite color is. Those things are so personal, and for me, it is such a sacred ceremony. To create something for Rob and Kurt’s wedding was just something I could not do. 

Our faith, our freedoms, and our constitution are slowly being taken away piece by piece. And because we're Christians, we want to be loving, we want to be kind. But no, Jesus was spit upon, He was kicked out of town, He was called names, He wasn't politically correct. Yet He still loved and He still stood, and He is our example to stand on. I just pray that God gives us the strength and the obedience to stand strong. Pray for our churches, and that our churches would begin to rise up and realize that we need to be obedient to Christ's word. Pray for Kurt and Rob through this also. 

Barronelle Stutzman’s entire interview with Sarah Stonestreet and Erin Kunkle is on the Strong Women podcast. Visit breakpoint.org for a link to the Strong Women podcast interview with Barronelle. Consider subscribing to Strong Women, and never miss an episode.

Aug 19, 2021
Is there a Theology of Getting Vaccinated? - BreakPoint Q&A
48:29

John is joined by Colson Fellows Director Michael Craven in this week's BreakPoint Q&A. 

Michael asks John a question about vaccines, where a listener is likely facing a mandate for a vaccine by her employer. She asks John if there is a "theology of being vaccinated". She inquires about a possible habit being formed in going against a mandate for compliance.

Aug 18, 2021
The Worldview of the Taliban
06:27

After seeing the images out of Kabul in recent days, Maajid Nawaz, a former radical Muslim, said, “Barefoot Taliban conquered a palace. They believed in something and fought for nothing. I have lived with men like this in prison. It is difficult to describe just how seriously they take their cause. There is a lesson here for us in the West, if we are humble enough to see it.”


We hear the terror from Afghan women who now wonder what the lives of their daughters will be like, worried that 20 years of progress in women’s rights have disappeared overnight. We see the desperation of citizens so afraid of what might come next that they’re literally clinging to the wheels of American aircraft as they depart. Yet, we struggle to have a category for what they actually fear. Many Westerners don’t have the categories to understand the realities of Islamic fundamentalism.

Much of the world has long struggled to understand the worldview that is driving the Taliban conquerors today, or the ISIS fanatics from a few years ago, or the al Qaeda terrorists that struck on 9/11. These groups are driven by their own internal logic, their own worldview.

I’m not going to try to explain the entirety of Radical Islam. However, there are a few key points about this worldview that can give us clarity in understanding what’s happening in Afghanistan and what we might expect in the days ahead. 

First, for Radical Islam, this isn’t about this particular American president or the last American president or any particular foreign policy decision. This is seen as part of a war that’s been going on for over 1,000 years. 

In the wake of 9/11, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, the second in command of Al Qaeda, and in many ways the strategic planner for Osama bin Laden, spoke about his group’s goals for this war with the West. In repeated statements to the press, he referred to waging war until all Muslim lands were restored, connecting the conflict in Afghanistan and the battle for Palestine to a worldwide conflict that spans from Iraq to Spain. Yes, Spain. 

To American ears, it doesn’t make any sense. Iraq, Israel, we can follow. Palestine, sure. Spain? You see, what he knew and what many Westerners have forgotten is that the mostly Catholic country of Spain was once the heartland of the Muslim world. Centuries before the Turks or Indonesians followed Islam, Spain was the base of operations for a potential invasion of Europe. It wasn’t until 1492 that Spain was retaken for the Cross.

For Radical Islam, once lands have come under the sway of Islam, it is vital that good Muslims do whatever it takes to return those regions to the House of Islam – places where Islamic law and teaching is practiced. Whether we’re talking about Catholics in Spain or Israelis in Palestine, these people are merely occupying what’s rightfully a Muslim land.

This connects to another element of this worldview that we often miss. For Islamists, the West is not the primary enemy. We’re merely in the way of where history’s headed. What they seek is the overthrow of false Muslim rulers who have been corrupted by the wiles of Western influence. These are, as Al-Zawahiri put it, the near enemy and they must be cast down. Only then can true Muslims take control and implement the fullness of Sharia. 

In other words, what we’ve seen on the ground in Afghanistan and what we’ve seen in the Middle East for a long time is the working out of a worldview. None of the happenings of the last 20 years, or the last 20 days, can be understood without understanding the worldview. 

Now, every worldview answers questions. Among these questions are those that ask, what is wrong with the world, and what must be done to make it right? For Christians, the problem is sin and all of its myriad manifestations. The solution is conversion: the conversions of individuals, as well as the restoration of culture through the grace and work of Christ, and through His Church, the restoration of the goodness of His creation. 

For secularists and much of contemporary Western culture, the problem is ignorance. Through education and science, and by becoming aware of the perspectives of others, we can hope to improve the structural failings that have plagued our world. 

But the problem is seen differently in Radical Islam. The problem is seen as the internal corruption of the Islamic states and the unwillingness of the rest of the world to bow to what is ultimately true. 

Here’s how Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis described it:

“For Osama bin Laden and those who share in his views, and there are many of them, the object of the struggle is the elimination of the intrusive Western power and corrupting Western influence from all the lands of Islam, and the restoration of Islamic authority in these lands. When this has been accomplished, the stage will be set for the final struggle to bring God’s message to all mankind in all the world.”

Now, I hope one of the things that you notice is that for a true Muslim, Islam is not a point of personal and private belief. Islam describes the actual condition of the world. It describes what’s happening and where history is going. And for radicals, whatever needs to be done to accomplish that mission is justified. Whatever atrocities are committed along the way will find their purpose in this overriding goal. 

For this goal, they are willing to sacrifice themselves by the thousands. Radical Islamic leaders are willing to be incredibly patient to see this goal accomplished, because they are fully assured that one day their work will indeed bear fruit. The brutality, the absolutism, and the unyielding determination that we see in radical Islam are driven by a worldview. Without a true and accurate understanding of the world, they’ll continue to pursue their ends by any means necessary. 

We are right to oppose these ideals because lives are at stake. Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas, like the bad ideas of radical Islam, have victims. How we push back on these forces will take many different forms, sometimes even force, but here’s what’s clear. We will never make headway if we fail to understand the worldview that animates the whole thing in the first place.

Aug 18, 2021
The Church in Afghanistan: What the Taliban Takeover Means for Believers There
05:17

As the world watches the disaster unfold in Afghanistan, there’s another chapter of the story we’re not hearing nearly as much about. The Afghan church, a growing body of believers that’s experienced incredible growth, now faces life under the Taliban.

Early indications are not encouraging. Almost as quickly as the Islamic fundamentalists is taking control of cities, Christians are being notified that they are being watched.

Yesterday, I spoke at length with World Magazine Senior Editor Mindy Belz, who explained what is happening in Afghanistan. As part of the interview, she described what the Taliban takeover means for the Christian church in Afghanistan. Here is an excerpt from our interview.

Here is a transcript of a portion of my conversation with Mindy Belz:

[The Afghan church] is a unique community, mostly aged 40 and younger. They are all Muslim converts. It’s one of the fastest growing churches in the world. Since they are a tiny church, now doubled in size, they are considered very fast-growing. There are perhaps only 2,000 people. But they are an important force in Afghanistan, simply because of the force that the Gospel is. Because of the love of Jesus, the reach they have is a real thing in a dark, Taliban-shadowed country.

About two years ago, a number of these church community leaders did something amazing and brave: they decided to change their identity, their religious affiliation in particular, on their national identification cards.

All Afghan citizens have a national ID card. They are used all the time for many reasons. They often show religious affiliation. That affiliation tends to be handed down by the father of the family.

The new Christian church elders wanted to change their identification for the sake of their future generations. Not all Christians agreed that this was a good idea, but several dozens of them have changed their official identification to Christian. Now the government records show Christian affiliation. These are the Christians that have been targeted over the past few days.

At least one Christian that I know of has received a letter from the Taliban stating: “We know where you are, and we know what you’re doing.” This implies that the Taliban has access to this government record.

The Taliban then showed up to this Christian’s house the day before the full city takeover. They have also visited other Christian homes. You might argue these are small, isolated incidents, but they play against the backdrop of nearby atrocities: Afghan military who have been hauled out of their homes and shot, and in one case beheaded.

Afghan Christians are totally vulnerable with no political power. They have no-one to appeal to. They don’t even generally qualify for special immigrant visas to the United States or other Western countries because they have avoided working for American organizations or working for the Afghan military. To do so potentially exposes them to attention and danger.

Belz is the most experienced, trustworthy source I know of when it comes to the Middle East, especially on Christians and the Christian movement there. In yesterday’s interview, she covered in detail not only the history of Afghanistan and how the past 20 years is understood differently by Islamic fundamentalists, but the failure of U.S. policy under various presidents. This is a disaster of America’s own making.

Visit breakpoint.org to listen to the entire conversation. And please pray for our brothers and sisters in Afghanistan.

Aug 17, 2021
What Is Happening in Afghanistan - A Conversation with Mindy Belz on the BreakPoint Podcast
39:36
Mindy Belz provides some insight and perspective on how we got to this place, what past administrations have done, and how the current administration is doing that isn't adding up.
 
Mindy also gives perspective on the state of the Church in Afghanistan and what Christians were doing prior to the recent unrest. She bemoans the progress that was made in the country in a variety of rights and privileges that are now likely lost under Sharia law.
Aug 16, 2021
America's Great Crisis and a Constructive Way Forward
05:19

At the Colson Center we're always trying to point you to resources, not only from us but from our friends who offer a Christian worldview perspective and hope for living in our cultural moment. 

There's a reason that a lot of these resources are written by my friend Os Guinness. Os is a gift to the Christian community. He helps us think deeply about things that matter and presents them in a way that is understandable. 

Os’s latest book, “The Magna Carta of Humanity: Sinai's Revolutionary Faith and the Future of Freedom” is another must-read. Christians today are increasingly feeling the pressure of living in a cultural moment that champions freedom, but means something completely different by the word. It's always a freedom from any sort of restraint; not a freedom for who we are, who we were made to be, and what it means to live together. 

Os Guinness’s book describes a choice that's in front of humanity right now. Below is an excerpt of a Os’s presentation on his new book:

For anyone who's thinking deeply, we're in an extraordinary civilizational moment. The West, which has dominated the world for 500 years, is in evident decline. The United States, which is the world's lead society, is suffering the greatest crisis in its history since the Civil War. The Christian church, which has been the single strongest influence in the West, is plagued with scandals and divisions and confusion and lack of confidence. There's no question that America is as deeply divided at any moment since the Civil War, but why? 

Some blame the social media. Some the former president. To some, it’s the coastals against the heartlanders; some, the nationalists and populists over against the globalists. But what I'm arguing, and I think the deepest way of looking at it, is there's a difference between those who understand the republican freedom from the perspective of the American Revolution, and those who understand it from the perspective of the French Revolution and its heirs. 

Things like postmodernism, political correctness, tribal politics, identity politics, the sexual revolution, cancel culture, neo-Marxism, all of these have come down from the heirs of the French Revolution, and they are an entirely different revolution and a type of revolution that has never succeeded and that has always ended in oppression.

So, my book shows the differences between, say, their sources: one, the Bible, the other, the French Enlightenment. Their views of humanity: The Bible’s, very realistic with notions like checks and balances, and separation of powers; and the other’s, utopian and very dangerous. And you can see the differences right down to those that are roiling America this year, like critical race theory and different notions of justice. Both sides agree there is injustice, sometimes terrible injustice, but the differences come in how we address them.

As I said, the radical left only leads to oppression and failure and always has. Whereas the Gospel, in addressing these things, puts wrongs right, and after repentance and reconciliation and forgiveness, really leads to restoration so that enemies can be made friends again.

What I've tried to write is the deepest analysis of what's gone wrong today. I have written this book to provide a constructive way forward. Because Sinai, the exodus roots of the American revolution, are what I argue is a magna carta for humanity. It's time for Christians to get off the back foot and stop being defensive. Our views of freedom, justice, human dignity, words, truth, and many other issues are not only good news,  They are the best news ever. 

I want you to have this book. I think it's incredibly important. And so, for a donation of any amount this month to the Colson Center, I will send you a copy of “The Magna Carta of Humanity,” Os Guinness's latest book. 

This book is important because it drives us towards a deeper understanding of how we got to this time and this place in human history. At the same time, it offers a hopeful way forward, showing us how the Christian worldview is not only true, but good. And it's good, not only for Christians, but it's good for the cultural moment. 

Go to breakpoint.org/august to make a donation of any amount to the Colson Center, and receive a copy of the book, “The Magna Carta of Humanity,” by the brilliant Os Guinness.

Aug 16, 2021
Climate Change and The Christian Worldview + Finding Understanding in a Confusing World
55:18

John and Maria revisit a host of BreakPoint commentaries that highlight bright spots from the Olympics. They also explore how Christians can live well in a confusing world.

The main story of the week is a new IPCC report on climate change that is raising the alarm. John provides a way to think well and live with responsibility in light of these types of reports.

Aug 13, 2021
Seeking Understanding in a Confusing World
05:46

We live in a confused and confusing age. Things once considered obviously true are now rejected. Things once considered unthinkable are now thought to be unquestionable. How should a Christian think?   

In the state of Oregon, high school graduates will now no longer have to demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, or arithmetic. The logic behind the suspension of the state standards, according to the governor, has to do with equity. Somehow, she missed that “helping” racial minorities by not giving them even the most basic tools for life is a different kind of bigotry altogether, one which Andrew Sullivan has called a bigotry of low expectations.  

Then, there's the story of Michaela Kennedy Cuomo announcing to the world that she's moved beyond identifying as a homosexual and bisexual, and even beyond pan-sexual, to now demi-sexual, meaning that she's only attracted to those with whom she shares an emotional bond.  The need to publicize each and every stop on a journey of identity tourism is an odd feature of our day. The idea that every feeling, attraction, or preference is in and of itself an identity, is a tragic feature of our day.  

And, in case anyone thinks we've reached the bottom of this slippery slope, a TikTok video has now resurfaced from last fall in which a young woman passionately explains what may be next. Instead of identifying as “he” or “she,” many now claim the words “kitty-,” “pup-,” or “bunny-self” as pronouns. All this means that we may soon see chosen identities that transcend species, not just gender.  

As my friend Dr. Kathy Koch said at a recent event, “Our first response in all of this should be tears, not anger.” It's true, of course, that many are the victims of self-inflicted bad ideas. But it's also true that we live in a cultural moment in which even medical schools deny the basics of biology. How sad for young people to feel so distant from their own bodies that they'd rather be called rabbits than humans. 

But to be clear, our crisis is not merely a moral one, it's a cosmological one and an epistemological one. We've not just lost the ability to know right from wrong, we've lost the ability to know what's real, what's true, and what's false.  

In the ancient world, it was much simpler. There were authorities, civic and religious, that would announce what was good and true. You were told these berries are good. The water from that spring will make you sick. Your people came from this place and therefore you worship these gods. People came to know the world primarily by trusting the accumulated wisdom of those who had lived before.  

A major shift emerged a few hundred years ago, first in the West and then elsewhere. People discovered that their ancestors weren’t always right. As society began to question the knowledge it had been given, the growing distrust in revealed wisdom grew alongside a greater confidence in what could be learned through reason and science. Reason offered not only a critique of revelation and tradition, but a compelling replacement for it. However, along with material comforts, this human-centered approach to knowledge brought along new and oppressive ideologies.  

On a societal level, we saw state-sponsored evils unleashed under the banners of “progress” for “the common good.” On a personal level, these coldly clinical beliefs of the Enlightenment made life easier, but they also left it emptier. Beauty and truth lost their meaning, and the arts and social sciences in particular took a hedonistic turn. Truth claims built on human reason alone proved inadequate for human needs and human nature. 

With the postmodern shift, in whose waters we now swim, suspicion and doubt are just the only things we can trust. There’s now a skepticism, not only of authority but also the objectivity of human reason, and this underlies and permeates our relationships to ourselves, to one another, and to the outside world. This habitual doubt now dominates the search for knowledge. 

This leaves truth as subjective, found within, and created by and for each of us individually. We imagine ourselves to be free thinkers. We’re “free” from the constraints of governing authorities, “free” from the tyranny of tradition, and “free” from anyone else's expectations. We’re “free” to imagine that reality conforms to our imaginations and fantasies, even though it doesn't.  

Underlying this brief history of Western civilization is a very basic reality. Without God, true knowledge is impossible. Without God, certainty loses to skepticism. Truth claims devolve into power plays, and objectivity can never escape subjectivism.  

Philosopher Richard Rorty put it this way, saying, “I came to realize that the search of the philosophers for a grand scheme that would encompass everything was an illusion, because only atheism that combined a God with equal measures of truth, love and justice could do the trick.”   

I know what you're thinking: I know that “Who” that God is. But Rorty had already dismissed the possibility of God. And so that made any real attempt at discovering truth a dead end. But 1,000 years ago, Anselm of Canterbury offered a way forward, suggesting that the pursuit of truth could best be understood as, fides quaerens intellectum, or “faith seeking understanding.”  

The Christian worldview acknowledges the frailty of the human mind, but still grounds knowledge in the eternal, unchanging nature of a God outside of us. And, even better, a God who communicates to us. In this vision, our limitations are best understood not as dead ends, but as invitations to ask questions, and to seek answers from the One who has them.   

Christianity offers something far better than the fallible traditions of ancient days, better than the arrogant ideology of the modern era, and better than the socially constructed tales of our postmodern time. What it offers is the true description of the world true as it really is, true as the self-revelation of an omniscient God who not only loves us, but He wants us to know Him.

Aug 13, 2021
Olympic Stories More Lovely than Silver and Costly than Gold
03:55

The Olympics ended Sunday night, though many of us hardly noticed they were on. It’s hard to cheer for athletes representing our country who don’t seem to actually like our country. That, plus the insufferable push to sexualize these games have turned many of us off. 

This is a shame, because there were a number of inspiring athletes competing in Tokyo this year whose performances and stories are worth knowing and celebrating.

Sydney McLaughlin is certainly one of them. After winning the gold medal in the 400m hurdles last week, she said, “What I have in Christ is far greater than what I have or don’t have in life.” She then went on to say, “I pray my journey may be a clear depiction of submission and obedience to God.” 

Another female runner who shocked the world is only a teenager. Athing Mu won Olympic gold in the 800m as a 19-year-old. She’s the first U.S. woman to win the event since 1968. In an interview in June Mu said, “As a follower of Christ, our main goal is to live in the image of Jesus in order to connect to God.” 

And then there is Tamyra Mensah-Stock, the first African American to win gold for the U.S. in wrestling. Her interview after the Olympics will bring a smile to the face of any American, and her testimony of God’s faithfulness put it all in perspective. Before the Olympics, she told Faithwire that “It’s by the grace of God I'm even able to move my feet … I just leave it in His hands, and I pray that all the practice … my coaches put me through pays off and, every single time, it does."

Mensah-Stock also noted that her dad would have been the loudest one cheering in the room. Tragically, he died in a car crash after one of Tamyra’s wrestling meets in high school. He likely would have approved of the way his daughter responded after winning the gold, she said in an interview that has gone viral. In it she stated, “I love representing the U.S. … I love living here. I love it. And I’m so happy I get to represent the USA.” 

Another U.S. Olympian who set a record despite incredible challenges is 400m sprinter Allyson Felix. In Tokyo, she earned the distinction of becoming the most decorated U.S. track star in history, with ten medals over five Olympics. However, she almost didn’t live to see this one.

She’d already won six gold medals and three silvers before becoming pregnant in 2018. Faced with a choice between her career and her child, Allyson endured a challenging pregnancy that nearly took her life and that of her unborn baby, who was delivered at 32 weeks by emergency C-section. 

Felix lost 70 percent of her endorsement pay with Nike after becoming pregnant. The sports brand wanted her to get an abortion to preserve her career. Instead, Felix chose life, and the stress of juggling motherhood and being an Olympic sprinter over an abortion.

There are other stories, too, including those of athletes from other countries. After defeating New Zealand for the gold in men’s rugby, the Fiji national team sang a hymn: “We have overcome, by the blood of the lamb, and the word of the Lord, we have overcome.” It was a wonderful moment, and a wonderful reminder that whether we win in rugby or anything else, the most certain thing in the world is what Jesus Christ has done for us, not what we will ever do.

U.S. wrestler Kyle Snyder faced his familiar Russian foe for the gold, but came up short. “I’m a competitor so I hate to lose,” said Snyder, but winning doesn’t define him. As he told an interviewer back in June, “God alone defines me. I’m always consistent with my Scripture study and prayer, and during the pandemic I was able to continue to grow and focus on God and hear what He wanted to teach me.”

These stories offer a more complete picture of the Olympics than what has been portrayed in so many media reports. These are athletes who have found in Christ that which is “more lovely than silver, and most costly than gold.”

Aug 12, 2021
With Culture Push Back, What Aspects of the Faith are Worth Fighting for?
50:52

John and Shane discuss challenges to the faith and when a Christian should do battle with culture. They then discuss a critique on a recent BreakPoint that outlined demisexuality. Another listener says their friend's child now identifies as bisexual. The listener is looking for ways to support the family, knowing the suicide rates for gender dysphoria are high. To close, John fields a question from a listener considering the best way forward when culture calls her to apologize for sins in history.

Aug 11, 2021
What's "Good Art," Anyway?
05:52

Earlier this year, France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced that his government would give 300 euros to every 18-year-old in the country to spend on “the arts.” Officials call it the “Culture Pass” and said the purpose is to revive museums, the ballet, and other cultural institutions that struggled during the pandemic shutdowns. The other purpose of the pass is to expose more young people to the arts.

Of course handing someone — particularly a teenager — a large sum of money doesn’t guarantee they’ll do what you’d prefer with it; and while the Culture Pass has a few stipulations, like prohibiting the purchase of violent video games, it turns out French teens aren’t as “high-art” minded as their benefactors had hoped. As of last month, almost half of all the money spent with the Culture Pass has gone toward a Japanese genre of comic books called manga.

The Culture Pass initiative raises questions, even beyond the challenge of trying to steer teens toward something more “high-brow” than graphic novels. It’s not clear how the Culture Pass handles religious materials, for example. But it is hard to imagine that France, the birthplace of postmodernism, would approve of its teens buying the Bible with government money, despite that as the best-selling book of all time, the Bible has made a bigger impact on global culture than any other work in history.

Maybe it is allowed; we are not sure. The biggest problem with the Culture Pass isn’t the potential for censorship. Or that it’s asking French citizens to subsidize their nation’s teenagers’ questionable taste in art.

The pass has put France in an odd position. French officials keep telling the media that its purpose is to expose French youth to “the arts.” These officials have defined “arts” as things like the ballet, the theater, and museum exhibits. But that narrow definition doesn’t take into account the radical way technology has changed how culture is both made and consumed over the last century. 

Say what you will about the mind-numbing effect of video games on young minds, for example, which is real and troublesome, but there’s more money in video games today than an award-winning Broadway play - and far more people have access to video games. As a result, you’ll find some of the most advanced, meticulously designed and beautiful “art” (if you’re willing to call it that) inside these games rather than on the stage.

This begs the bigger unanswered question. Why put in the effort to “expose kids to the arts” at all? Is there such a paradigm as “good art” and “bad art”? To put a finer point on it, is there “useful art” and “regressive art”? Christianity says the answer is a clear yes

Sometimes Christians think of “culture” as all the “bad” stuff “out there.” But culture is simply what humans do with the world. When God told Adam and Eve to fill the earth and subdue it, He was telling them to make good culture. The result is that there are stories, art, music, and technological inventions that glorify God and build His Kingdom. Christian believers’ contributions to culture and the arts have been historically some of the most beautiful and influential in the world.

But evil corrupts culture-making, too. That’s why humanity also makes art that spreads bad ideas, lifts up false idols, and hurts people. People have committed great evil, exploited one another and degraded themselves all throughout human history in the name of “art.”

Is it “bad” that French teens want comic books more than a ticket to the Louvre? To answer that with logical consistency, France needs more than its dominant worldview of postmodernism, which offers no moral grounding to determine what kind of “art” is beneficial and which is not. Christians should agree the arts can do great good for humankind. A good government will incentivize good culture, but it must define “good” first.

Even if the Culture Pass is not the most coherent strategy, it is still an opportunity for Christians in France, and a reminder for Christians everywhere, to continue carrying out Adam and Eve’s mandate.

If kids are struggling to get along in the world, which today’s kids definitely are, then good, true and beautiful things like art and inventions and scientific discovery can build culture that sets their imaginations towards redemption. And especially if France is going to foot the bill for a while, Christian culture-makers might as well flood the market.

Aug 10, 2021
Decorated Mom Gives Life to Olympic Athletes
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Faithful watchers of the Olympics experience a letdown after the games are over. This year, with viewership in a freefall, there was likely not enough enthusiasm for there even to be a letdown on Monday morning. Many have tired of the politicization of this year’s games, which started before the opening ceremonies. Patriotism, courage, and even “historic performance” were redefined in Tokyo, and for the worse.

However, there is one protest, a quiet one, that demands our respect from the 2021 Olympics.  Female athletes who are mothers earned well-deserved attention. Not merely with social media statements or corporate endorsements, but for winning medals and advocating for life. This Olympic narrative is not only heroic but counter-cultural in women’s sports.

In 2008, gold medal favorite Sanya Richards-Ross boarded a plane for the Beijing Olympics games after visiting an abortion clinic. Her husband, Aaron Ross, was in practice with the New York Giants, so Richards-Ross terminated her pregnancy alone. She came home with a bronze medal, writing later, “I made a decision that broke me.” Richards-Ross went on to say that every female athlete she knows has had an abortion

This year, the U.S. Women’s Olympic Track & Field team replaced a star runner in the 200 meters hurdles after she was slapped with a five-year ban on competition. The runner failed to follow anti-doping procedures because she was “traumatized after having an abortion”. Her trauma lingers now even as she is facing repercussions for responding as she did to the anti-doping process. McNeal now speaks out against the pressure female athletes face in choosing career over motherhood.

Now a truly historic performance in the 2021 Olympics games may change this narrative in profound ways. Allyson Felix is the most decorated track star in U.S. history. Tokyo was her fifth and final Olympics games, and she has left with two more Olympic medals. Perhaps she will display them beside a picture of her two-year-old daughter whom she carried and gave birth to despite pressures to abort her. The decision to carry her child nearly cost Felix her life.

Felix had already won six gold medals and three silver medals before becoming pregnant in 2018. She chose to carry her child, even when her pregnancy was found to be high risk. At 32 weeks Felix underwent an emergency C-section. 

Throughout the pregnancy, faced intense pressure from her sponsor. After she opted to keep her baby, Nike, her corporate sponsor, pushed a new deal that included a 70 percent pay cut to her previous contract, with no maternity exceptions. The sports brand wagered that Felix’s performance would falter as she bounced back and forth from competing to pregnancy to juggling motherhood. Felix spoke out, challenging the double-standard that exists in women’s athletics for moms. Nike has since restructured how it works with mothers after Felix challenged the double standard.

Following her Olympic successes, Felix is refocusing her attention on a new endeavor called “The Power of She Fund.” The new organization is designed to support mom athletes in practical ways. The Power of She Fund will provide childcare for mothers who compete at high levels, offering them the support and encouragement they need. At least nine athletes who competed in Tokyo participated in Felix’s program this year. These athletes received childcare grants that opened opportunities for greater training. Felix’s work is also inspiring women’s athletic brands to get behind mom athletes. Athleta and the Women’s Sports Foundation are both corporate sponsors for The Power of She Fund. 

Felix's story is a tremendous example of what it takes to change culture. The ideas that are evil must be challenged; the imagination of what is possible must be expanded; new and better ideas must be offered. Also, very importantly, the direction of corporate pressure must be changed. In this case, it was from pro-abortion to pro-child. Hopefully, the important work of Allyson Felix will undo the abortion-minded atmosphere that currently surrounds women’s athletics.

Aug 10, 2021
Mainline Church Decline and Evangelical Exile
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Dotting many U.S. main streets are the steeples and towers of beautiful and historic buildings, originally built as houses of worship. From its founding, mainline denominations gave America a kind of Protestant consensus, embracing much of our nation’s charity, many of its most prestigious schools, and a significant number of congressional leaders and even presidents. Today, many of these buildings, especially those draped with rainbow flags, lie empty. On Sundays, only a small number of worshipers, mostly white and grey-haired, sit in the pews. 

Back in 2017, missiologist Ed Stetzer made a dramatic prediction in the Washington Post. “If it doesn’t stem its decline,” he wrote, “Mainline Protestantism has just 23 Easters left.” Stetzer blamed the Mainline church’s impending extinction on abysmally low birth rates, and the fact that many of them long ago “abandoned central doctrines that were deemed ‘offensive’ to the surrounding culture.” 

However, last month a new survey from the Public Religion Institute challenged Stetzer’s prediction. Called “The 2020 Census of American Religion, the report claimed that Mainline churches in America have experienced a dramatic recovery. According to this survey of 50,000 Americans, Mainline Protestants grew from 13 percent of the population five years ago to over 16 percent in 2020. Meanwhile, evangelicals seem to have entered rapid decline, tumbling from 23 percent of the U.S. population in 2006 to just 14 percent in 2020.

Over at The New Yorker, Bill McKibben celebrated the “unlikely rebound” of Mainline Protestantism, and made conclusions that a political shift had happened in American Christianity. 

Others joined the celebration. Progressive church historian Diana Bass Butler declared, “A really important moment is here. The story of an old religious tradition hasn’t ended the way critics once thought.” Paraphrasing Monty Python she joked, “We’re ‘not dead yet,’ we’ve just been awaiting resurrection.”

However, as Lyman Stone of the American Enterprise Institute, pointed out, the methodology used by the PRRI survey suffers from serious flaws. For example, all self-identifying white Christians who did not use the labels “evangelical” or “born again” were categorized as “white mainline Protestants.” Stone called this categorization “bonkers,” a little like assuming that anyone who doesn’t identify as a New York Yankees fan must prefer hockey. More importantly, the terms “evangelical” and “born again” are “generationally-coded” as Stone puts it, not reliable indicators of beliefs or denominational affiliation. In fact, Stone points out, around 40 percent of members in evangelical churches would not describe themselves as “born again,” while 20 percent of those in Mainline bodies would. A conservative resurgence in a handful of the mainline denominations would also be a problem for PRRI’s methodology.

A better measure of evangelical affiliation, suggest Stone and Stetzer, is what’s known as the Bebbington Quadrilateral. David Bebbington, a British historian, distinguished evangelical identity by four essential beliefs: Biblicism, crucicentrism (a focus on Christ’s atoning work on the cross), conversionism (believing that human beings need to be saved), and activism.

Any announcement of a resurgence of Mainline liberalism is premature and probably exaggerated. These aging, shrinking communions will probably become irrelevant within our lifetimes, but it’s not because evangelical Christianity is “winning” in any real sense. Liberal churches are shrinking because they are impossible to distinguish from the larger culture. Why get up and go to church on the weekend when the same teaching is available on NPR every day of the week? At the same time, evangelicalism is suffering an identity crisis featuring high-profile deconversions, scandals, and theological anemia. How many evangelical churches today could be described by Bebbington’s four essentials? In some ways evangelicalism may be repeating the mistakes of mainline liberalism.

Recently, on the Colson Center’s Upstream podcast, my colleague Shane Morris spoke with Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, about the so-called “rebound” of Mainline churches. As a longtime member and observer of United Methodism, Mark gave a spirited defense of the good Mainline Protestant churches did in American history, and explained why permanent cultural exile isn’t something evangelicals should be celebrating.

Aug 09, 2021
Allegations Confirmed Against Andrew Cuomo, Responding to Covid Mandates, and Central Park Karen
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This week on BreakPoint This Week John and Maria discuss a recent report that verified the sexual harassment claims surrounding New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Then, Maria shares a recent podcast by Bari Weiss regarding Central Park Karen and how we respond to media outrage. To close Maria asks John for a worldview perspective of the new calls for masking in public places as the Delta variant of Covid-19 continues to spread across America.

 

Aug 07, 2021
Woke or Awakened with Os Guinness
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Two features of our modern society are distrust and fear. First, we distrust the institutions that have long been the pillars of our society, and we distrust them for a reason. Many of them are broken. Many of them have fallen into disrepute. Many of them are simply untrustworthy. 

We are also fearful. Who knows what the next cultural land mine will be. We hesitate to align ourselves with any person, any leader, any church, any business, anything that might prove to fall apart under our feet. 

The only way forward is to go back to the basics. The basics found in Scripture. To the basics of the grand story that God is writing in the creation, fall, redemption, and restoration of the cosmos and his image bears. 

Recently, my friend Os Guiness gave a tremendous talk called Woke or Awakened. It was the first of a three week short course the Colson Center is offering this month. Os provides an alternative vision for addressing society's ills.

Here's a portion of that talk by Os Guinness:

What's affecting America? It's called revolutionary liberation. It isn’t classical Marxism, but cultural Marxism. It goes back to a gentleman named Antonio Gramsci, who's a Marxist. 

Gramsci sat in jail under Mussolini in the 1920s. In fact, he died there. He was trying to figure out why revolution, as Marx predicted, never happened, and probably wouldn't. He shifted the thinking from economic determinism to what he called cultural dominance, in Germany. You probably know their tactics. 

They look at what they call discourse. In other words, how we speak. They're looking for who's the majority and who is the minority, who's the oppressor and who's the victim. When they find the victim, whoever it is, they're not really interested in the individual, say George Floyd. Instead, they want to weaponize a group and use that weaponized victim group in a struggle to overthrow the status quo. The revolutions on the radical left are not just classical Marxism, but also cultural Marxism. The revolutions have never succeeded and the oppression has never ended. That’s different than the Biblical way we know. 

The Biblical way addresses truth to power, calling for repentance that leads to confession, leading to forgiveness, which leads to reconciliation and restoration. It’s an incredible difference from cultural marxism. 

This is a tailor made kairos moment for Christians, who with confidence, step out and show how the answers of the Gospel address freedom, justice, and much more. This is far deeper, more profound, and more rich than anything on the radical left, which as I said, always fails and always leads to oppression. 

That was Os Guinness, presenting the first of a three week short course at the Colston Center. This month you can hear the full presentation and be registered for two additional upcoming presentations with pastor Chris brooks and Dr. Angela Franks. 

 

Visit breakpoint.org/july2021 and make a gift of any amount to the Colson Center to register for this important course.

Aug 06, 2021
The Theory of Everything in Critical Theory
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To a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and to a critical theorist everything looks like oppression. But what if that's not a big enough answer?

I often paraphrase one of my favorite lines from G. K. Chesterton. He observed that there are a lot of ways to fall down but only one way to stand up straight. It's a lesson that many of us who want to better understand the world and to have a better world should learn. One of the commonest defenses of critical race theory (CRT) from its advocates is that people have misunderstood it. It's just not what people think it is; CRT is just a tool to understand the American legal system, they say. It's just an academic analysis of cultural trends. It's just an attempt to look at our nation's morally fraught racial history.

But to say that CRT is just any of those things is like saying Disney is just a cartoon company. It certainly started that way. And it's kind of true. But today it's rather a meaningless way to describe this behemoth of a company. You can't travel anywhere in the world without encountering the power of the Mouse and his minions. In the same way, CRT has now extended beyond the academic realm into education, into corporate HR departments, into the Church, and, more influentially, into the cultural imagination.

This framework of seeing all of life in terms of oppressor and oppressed is a deep part of the cultural mood. Racial identity and power dynamics — these are seen as the issues of the day. Whatever the formal source of CRT was, now functions practically as a theory of everything. It demands conformity in many areas of our life to the very specific political ends that it advocates.

To many minds there is simply no way to ask questions about injustice, much less to offer answers unless they are aligned with critical race theory. And strangely enough, this seems to be the place where both critical theorists and their critics agree: that it's either all or nothing. The CRT crowd is quick to identify their favorite philosophy with any quest for racial justice. On the other hand, many of the foes of CRT write off any discussion of race at all, including that of America's history, as CRT nonsense.

To be clear, racism is not the defining characteristic of American identity that CRT folks often make it out to be. At the same time, racism has been the defining wound of our past and its residue continues today. For 250 years in America, human beings were sold like cattle but with far less care. Sure, slavery was a feature in almost all cultures, but in American history, it took a more diabolical turn. Along with the sheer fact of enslavement, beatings, sexual abuse, and the intentional severing of families were all part of this American nightmare.

For a century after slavery, Americans of African descent continued to be treated as inherently less than. Their political rights were denied, their businesses destroyed, their education hamstrung. On top of all this was the ever-present threat of lynchings.

In fact, in the decades after the Civil War, over 3,000 African Americans were lynched for the so-called crime of refusing to act inferior. These are the well-known details. And then there were the Tulsa race riots, the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, and the redlining of African Americans housing opportunities.

Of course, today real improvements have been made. Yet at the same time, there are disparities in incarceration rates, in poverty rates, and in health and mortality rates. Something is clearly not right in our land. While racism is certainly not enough to explain all of those disparities, it's also not true that tens of millions of people are coincidentally of a particular people group, making the same choices that lead to these outcomes.

That’s one of the problems with critical race theory. The reasons for these enduring problems are complicated, more complicated than the simplistic solutions that CRT offers. All the same, that these theories are wrong about the sources of poverty and oppression doesn't mean that poverty and oppression don't exist. We should do what we can to deal with them.

To put it another way, just because someone is asking good questions doesn't mean that they are providing good answers. And, just because they are offering bad answers doesn't mean that the questions themselves are bad. What we don't want to do, like Chesterton's quote suggests, is to fall down in another wrong direction.

The only way for us not to fall in the wrong direction is to join in the story of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Restoration. This is the grand narrative of Christ redeeming His creation, using His people throughout the ages to work for the well-being of others and to change society. Until Christ comes again, the hurting will always be with us. But that doesn't mean we should tolerate it.

Until Christ comes again, we are called to work with Him to restore all things in whatever time and whatever place He has put us. Our job is to work with Him to restore all things and whatever times and whatever places He has put us, offering better answers to better questions than the world and other worldviews can never provide.

Aug 05, 2021