Today we are doing something different, but we feel this is an area of apologetics that needs attention. In this day and time, Christians getting involved in prison work is an excellent evidence of the existence of God. Atheists are not going to spend time and money helping prisoners restore their lives.
We have over 4,000 students in our “Does God Exist?” correspondence course, and a vast percentage of them are in prison. They tell of losing their faith in God and immersing themselves in activities that landed them in prison. They take our courses in the hope that their faith can be rekindled, and they can rebuild what is left of their lives.
One of the programs that has assisted us is the Kings Crossings Prison Ministries in Corpus Christi, Texas, directed by Buck Griffith. They have a program called “NewLife Behavior Ministries” and a study called Christians Against Substance Abuse (CASA). Substance abuse is a major issue in America today, and many of our students have had substance abuse problems.
Buck Griffith has written a manual titled Loosed and Forgiven which describes how to start and grow a jail ministry. The manual has 151 pages, and it is the best resource we have seen on the mechanics of prison work. Helping prisoners restore their lives, and faith is a great way to demonstrate the love of Christ.
If you are interested in prison work, I recommend that you purchase Buck’s book. The cost is $14.95 plus shipping. For more information, contact NewLife Behavior Ministries, PO Box 270720, Corpus Christi, Texas 78427-0720. Their phone number is 361-855-3372, and their email is firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find more information on their website www.nlbm.org.
In March, the state of Idaho enacted a law called the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act.” The purpose was to protect women from having to compete in sports against males who identify themselves as females. Gender issues in women’s sports have created unfairness.
This was an international problem in the last Olympics as Russian men posed as women and became a factor in the Olympic competition. In Connecticut, two males who claimed to be females dominated high school track when they captured over a dozen championships and broke 17 long-standing female track records.
The question of gender identity has become an issue far beyond the rights of individuals who wish to identify with a different gender. When men decide to be women and compete in women’s athletic events, they affect the rights of all the women in that field. Chelsea Mitchell, a Connecticut high school senior, was the fastest female runner in four different state championships. She watched the gold medal and state title go to males who claimed to be females. Her statement was, “No girl should have to set out onto her starting blocks knowing that no matter how hard you work, you don’t have a fair shot at victory. Female athletes are only looking for a fair playing field. All we’re asking for is a fair chance.“
There is a biological difference between males and females. The biblical position is that God created males and females as individual entities, and all the evidence supports that fact. In America today, a person can legally express their sexuality any way they wish. Denying others the right to compete equally with those having the same biological makeup is a violation of the evidence and a violation of gender rights. Gender issues in women’s sports will continue to be a problem as long as people fail to accept the undeniable fact that men and women are different.
In June of 2016, Canada approved a law called MAID, which stands for “Medical Assistance In Dying.” It became the sixth country in the world to allow the practice, and there are nine states in the United States plus Washington D.C that have followed the Canadian model. Those who work in the field of medical assistance in dying tell us that there are three words they use in dealing with MAID. They are ACCEPT, ADAPT, and be at PEACE.
ACCEPTING the fact that you are going to die very soon is something that most people manage, but for some, it is accomplished more quickly than for others. One’s religious convictions or the lack of them can have a significant impact on when and how we accept death.
ADAPTING takes many forms and is frequently a function of how much pain we are in and how much our impending death affects those we love financially. Using MAID to avoid pain or to stop the loss of family finances is a growing adaption many people are choosing to make. A person’s medical and mental condition can affect how they adapt.
For a significant number of people, being able to donate organs to others is part of being at PEACE with one’s approaching death. An ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) victim named Fred Gillis said it this way: “ALS, you can’t take this away. We’re going to give life to other people.”
There are a wide variety of problems associated with MAID. The laws in Canada and the U.S. make it very difficult to give organs away if you are terminal yourself. If you have active cancer, you are ineligible to donate organs. If you die too slowly, you are not eligible. Even if you are on life support and you decide to pull the plug, about 30% of the time, the organs become nonviable. If donating an organ hastens your death, there is a “The Dead Donor Rule” that makes it impossible for you to donate organs. Fred Gillis was able to donate two kidneys, his lungs, and his liver when he died in April of 2018. The first 30 MAID donors in Canada gave 74 organs, which meant many lives were spared.
Medical assistance in dying is a tough issue for Christians. God gives life, and God makes it clear that the Holy Spirit lives in us. (See 1 Corinthians 3:16.) The need for organ donors is enormous, and allowing people to find peace as death approaches is also huge. It is hard to be rational when we or someone we love is facing death. It is essential to understand that a person’s death is when their soul departs, not necessarily when the physical organs stop working. As Christians, we must study and intelligently discuss this subject.
One of the challenges atheists frequently raise to belief in God is the question of evil. The argument is that if God exists and if God is good and all-powerful, why does evil exist? If there is evil, according to the atheist view, then that God does not exist. The truth is that the existence of evil challenges atheism.
The presence of evil is a bigger problem for atheists than it is for Christians. From a Christian perspective, evil is a product of the rejection of God. The Bible portrays human existence is as a battleground between good and evil, between God and the forces of Satan. The book of Job is the clearest example, but the Bible covers this theme again and again.
The existence of evil challenges atheism as the famous philosopher Alan Plantinga describes:
“Could there really be any such thing as horrifying wickedness if there were no God and we just evolved? I don’t see how. There can be such a thing only if there is a way that rational creatures are supposed to live, obliged to live… A secular way of looking at the world has no place for genuine moral obligation of any sort … and thus no way there is such a thing as genuine and appalling wickedness. Accordingly, if you think there really is such a thing as horrifying wickedness and not just an illusion of some sort, then you have a powerful argument for the reality of God.” (From Timothy Keller’s book The Reason for God pages 26-27)
Atheism has no way of giving a purpose for human existence. That leads atheists like Richard Dawkins to maintain that there is no such thing as good or evil (see Dawkin’s book River Out of Eden, page 133). If an atheist rationally believes that evil does not exist, they negate their challenge to belief in God. Therefore, the existence of evil challenges atheism.
Our friend Owen Olbricht sent us the following article titled “Perspective.” We want to share it with you during this time when we are facing the pandemic of COVID-19.
Imagine you were born in 1900.
*On your 14th birthday, World War I starts, and ends on your 18th birthday. 22 million people perish in that war.
*Later in the year, a Spanish Flu epidemic hits the planet and runs until your 20th birthday. 50 million people die from it in those two years.
*On your 29th birthday, the Great Depression begins. Unemployment hits 25%, the World GDP drops 27%.
*That runs until you are 33. The country nearly collapses along with the world economy.
*When you turn 39, World War II starts. You aren’t even over the hill yet. And don’t try to catch your breath.
*On your 41st birthday, the United States is fully pulled into WWII.
*Between your 39th and 45th birthday, 75 million people perish in the war.
*At 50, the Korean War starts. 5 million perish.
*At 55 the Vietnam War begins and doesn’t end for 20 years. 4 million people perish in that conflict.
*On your 62nd birthday, the Cuban Missile Crisis is a tipping point in the Cold War. Life on our planet, as we know it, could have ended.
*When you turn 75, the Vietnam War finally ends.
Think of everyone on the planet born in 1900. How do you survive all of that? When you were a kid in 1985, you didn’t think your 85-year-old grandparents understood how hard school was or how mean that kid in your class was. Yet, they survived through everything listed above.
Perspective is an amazing art, refined as time goes on, and enlightening like you wouldn’t believe. Let’s try to keep things in perspective.
We hear a lot about the current virus struggle and references to the idea that this is a first-time event. That may be true for those of us living in America, but plagues have been the scourge of humankind throughout recorded history. We recently saw a writing by the early Christian historian Eusebius that tells us about how early Christians confronted plagues. He referred to a report from an elder in the Church named Dionysius around A.D. 260. Dionysius was writing about the plague in Alexandria. Here is a quote from part of his letter to Eusebius:
“Most of our brethren showed love and loyalty not sparing themselves while helping one another, tending to the sick with no thought of danger and gladly departing this life with them after becoming infected with their disease. Many who nursed others to health died themselves. The best of our own brothers lost their lives in this way – some elders, deacons and laymen – a form of death based on strong faith and piety that seems in every way equal to martyrdom.
“All things are filled with tears, all are mourning, and on account of the multitudes already dead and still dying, groans are heard throughout the city… There is not a house in which there is not one dead. Despite afflictions we Christians rejoiced in the peace of Christ which He gave to us alone… Most of our brethren by their exceeding great love and affection, not sparing themselves and adhering to one another, were constantly superintending the sick, ministering to their wants without fear and cessation, and healing them in Christ.”
This quote appeared in Action! magazine, May 2020, page 2. John Reese, the president of World Bible School which publishes Action!added a comment. He said that the existence of hospitals was an early Christian innovation to improve the ability to serve those struck down by the pandemic of their day. We can learn much from how early Christians confronted plagues.
To remain politically correct in the United States, Disney has gone to great lengths to include LGBT content in their productions, including those designed for children. However, Disney removes LGBT content in the Russian version of children’s movies to meet the government’s demands. They have also done the same for Muslim countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Singapore, where a very brief lesbian kiss was edited out of “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.”
The new children’s film “Onward” contains a scene where a female cyclops police officer named Specter says, “My girlfriend’s daughter got me pulling my hair out.” In the Russian version” girlfriend” was changed to “partner.” Russia also required editing out LGBT content in” Rocketman” and “Avengers: Endgame.”
Interestingly, Disney removes LGBT content for Russia and Muslim countries. They have the legal right to adapt their material to different cultures. Still, it seems strange that family values are emphasized by the entertainment industry for children in other countries and ignored in the United States.
It was bound to happen. With the legalization of medical marijuana and substances made from marijuana, people are making claims about what cannabis can cure. It goes beyond arthritis to include every ailment that is common to man. We must beware of medical miracle cure claims. Entrepreneurs are going beyond legitimate testimonies of over-the-counter supplements, with advertisements like this one:
“Washington, D.C.) – After suffering for years from arthritis, Christie Brinkley set out to find the safest, most potent form of legal medicinal cannabis oil for treating a wide range of diseases, mental disorders, and conditions like she suffers from, arthritis. After treating her arthritis with CBD, Christie Brinkley had a mission to make this miracle oil available to the masses. The supermodel, actress, and entrepreneur teamed up with longtime friend, Doctor Oz, who has been dealing with back pain for years and says CBD oil is the only thing that has improved his condition. Together, the power duo was determined to create something that would not only work effectively but would also be affordable for everyday Americans.”
This very public duo is being trumped by religious figures who are claiming that miracle oils have come from God, and that they have special powers to cure things that the medical establishment deems hopeless. In our January 12 post, we talked about witches and the problems with the translation of biblical words. What your translation of the Bible may call witches or witchcraft were actually people who claimed to have magic miraculous cures for every ailment possible. In Acts 8:9-11, we read about a man named Simon, who had quite a business going with this type of activity, and there are examples in the Old Testament.
It is a wonderful thing if some natural substance or diet can help a person with their ailments. There is certainly no problem with people making a business out of selling these products, but beware of medical miracle cure claims for “a wide range of diseases, mental disorders and conditions.”
As I write this, I have a family member who is dying of cancer.Hospice is caring for him, and he has only a few more days to live. What started as prostate cancer has gone to bone cancer and a massive brain tumor. When the bone cancer was detected, the family member was taken to a marijuana clinic where he was placed on a treatment of marijuana compounds and a strict diet endorsed by some religious leaders. This treatment went on for many weeks.
Standard medical treatment did not have a cure for the bone cancer, but it could be controlled, and the life expectancy would be for many years. My family member was told that marijuana treatment could eradicate the bone cancer. There were even a few “testimonies” given by people who claimed they had been cured. Eventually, it became evident that the cancer was growing, not shrinking, and by the time they stopped the marijuana treatment, a baseball-sized tumor had developed in the brain. Because the marijuana treatments had replaced standard medical procedures, there was nothing that could be done.
We should examine medical miracle cure claims of any kind with skepticism. We are not talking about cosmetic issues or supplements for simple aches and pains. We are talking about major issues like cancer, mental disorders, and diabetes. God warned ancient Israel about miraculous enchantments and potions, and we must heed that warning today (Galatians 5:20).
On April 20 of 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began. By the time technicians could bring it under control, it had dumped 134,000,000 gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico over 87 days. Ten years after this disaster, we still see the effects in ways that no one would have expected. The entire issue of National Wildlife for February-March 2020 was devoted to new data on the long-range damage.
There is far more involved in this disaster than the removal of the obvious symptoms of the spill. Even on a commercial level, the damage is more than most people realize. Oyster production from Apalachicola to Galveston has collapsed. Louisiana has lost well over 50 million dollars in oyster harvest revenue. Scientists studying the oyster beds tell us that 8.3 billion oysters died as a result of the spill. A single oyster can filter up to 50 gallons of water a day. When explorers came to the Gulf of Mexico between 1600 and 1800, they described the oyster beds as “the Great Barrier Reef of the Americas,” nearly 100 miles long and several miles deep. Oyster shells are used to make mortar, build roadbeds, and to supplement chicken feed. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill has changed all of that.
The massive killing of wildlife has been well-publicized with pathetic pictures still showing up on the web. Does the killing of 30,000 loggerhead turtles, 17% of the Bryde’s whales, 800,000 coastal birds, a vast number of dolphins who are still having lung problems, and 20% of all corals in the area have any significance for those of us living far from the Gulf of Mexico? Most of us eat shrimp, crabs, lobsters, and fish. Much of the fishing industry in the Gulf has gone out of business, and those still existing are hard-pressed to find enough seafood to make a living. That results in higher prices and the risk of pollution effects on what we eat.
So why are we reminding our readers of the consequences of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill? Skeptics criticize any notion of God creating the Earth by saying that if there is a God, He didn’t do a very good job. Humans are threatened with shortages of food and water. In my mail yesterday, I received 16 different requests from organizations wanting financial help in feeding and helping hungry children and starving families. (By the way, all of them were faith-based). Why are there shortages? Human greed, selfishness, ignorance, desire for power, and refusal to live as God told us to has resulted in destructive wars, mismanagement of resources, waste of incredible proportions, and foolish and irresponsible management of resources.
When God created the Earth, He provided for an abundance of food and water. God also told us how to live. Read Matthew 25:34-40 and see how Christ portrayed Christian living. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is just one human failure, but look at what it has done to innocent humans. We are just beginning to understand the biological damage and effects. We cannot blame God for what humans have done. God has given us all we need and the means of taking care of it. Christians must lead the way in the responsible use of God’s gifts.
What are you doing during this time of being forced to stay in your dwelling alone, maintaining social distancing? Do you feel like we are pandemic refugees?
Thanks to technology, there are many options available. We all have time to talk on the phone to family and friends. There are books to read, puzzles to do, clean up projects to take care of, and time to check on people we can help. Checking on folks by phone is easy and available to all of us. We can even send needed items using our credit card and the shipping that most suppliers provide. As the weather gets warmer, we can do outside projects that we have long neglected.
It is disturbing that a large percentage of our population has used this time to immerse themselves in various kinds of drugs. According to The Week (April 17, 2020, page 16) alcohol sales are up 55% with online sales up 243%. Cannabis stores report their sales are up 130%. Our culture has moved away from faith and belief in God and turned to “Survival of the fittest.” From that perspective, this whole experience is a disaster and the only answer is to use drugs to numb your mind to what you can’t control. For those with faith in God and a belief in the teachings of Jesus Christ, this is a time full of unique opportunities to serve others. It is an opportunity to become part of a solution to a global problem.
For Christians, instead of feeling like pandemic refugees, we have the assurance of God’s word. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth be moved and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea … the Lord of hosts is with us, the God of Jacob is our refuge.” (Psalms 46:1-2, 7).