Censorship on American College Campuses

Censorship on American College Campuses

We have conducted seminars on university and college campuses since 1968. But, unfortunately, in recent years, we have experienced and seen in the media increased censorship on American college campuses. 

In 1968, we could go onto virtually any university campus, rent an auditorium or classroom, and give a presentation of evidence for the existence of God. We could prepare and distribute posters on the campus and advertise in the student newspaper. Workers could pass out brochures and invite students and faculty to attend. 

Our sessions always included a question/answer session. We did this on hundreds of university campuses, including major state and private schools like Stanford, Princeton, University of California, Virginia Tech, University of Colorado, Arizona, Florida, Purdue, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State. These sessions were associated with a local Church of Christ or campus group and brought in a sizeable audience.

In the past ten years, we have seen a militant attempt by these schools and others to stop presentations like ours. An organization called the “Foundation for Individual Rights In Education” (FIRE) has released a report about the state of free speech on college campuses that is very critical of American education. They evaluated 481 colleges and universities on a scale with 100 meaning a totally free-speech campus. The colleges studied were all under 73 on that scale. That says a lot about censorship on American college campuses.

One of the highest-ranking schools was Texas A & M. President Michael Young of A & M said, “A free exchange of ideas is not only the cornerstone of our democracy, it is the surest path to truth, discovery, and scholarly advancement.” How can a young person grow and expand their understandings of others if the university only promotes what The Atlantic magazine calls a “New Puritanism.” 

The Dallas Morning News” summarized this situation by saying, “…we should prepare our students to enter a world where they are unafraid to consider and discuss ideas from many perspectives. That is simply not the case on too many college campuses, where an orthodoxy of thought, usually but not exclusively progressive, has led students to silence themselves, each other, and their professors and administrators.” 

Jesus Christ challenged his listeners with questions. See, for example, Matthew 17:25, 18:12, 21:28, and 22:42. Censorship on American college campuses does not allow the free exchange of ideas, especially when someone tries to present a Christian view.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

References: FIRE website and South Bend Tribune, 12/22/21, page 5A.

What Christianity Is Not

What Christianity Is Not and What It Is

It is interesting to read atheist websites and realize the basis for their atheism. In many cases, atheists say the reasons they don’t believe in God are the same reasons I had when I was an atheist. If those reasons were valid, I would still be an atheist today. Let’s consider what Christianity is not:

JUDAIZED CHRISTIANITY: Many of us do not care for ritual or ceremony. We also have little or no use for those who claim their position in life makes them of greater importance than others. The biblical concept of Christianity also rejects those things. In Acts 15:5, some wanted to force religious rituals on the gentile Christians. Verse 10 tells us the leaders rejected that idea. In Matthew 15:1-9, Christ soundly rejected human caste systems and traditions. In 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, we read that God takes us wherever we are in life. Galatians 3:26-28 makes it clear that in authentic Christianity, everyone is equal no matter what their race, sex, or ethnicity.

LEGALIZED CHRISTIANITY: As an atheist, I saw Christianity as a long list of “don’ts.” Everything I wanted to do was a “no no,” and if you engaged in it, you had massive piles of guilt heaped upon you. It took me a long time to understand that you don’t earn salvation in the Christian system. It is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). In 1 Corinthians 13, we find that there are three things a Christian should have – “faith, hope, and love but the greatest of these is love.” Legalism is what Christianity is not.

LAWLESS CHRISTIANITY: Closely related to legalized Christianity is “lawless Christianity,” in which a person or a group of persons spell out what is okay and what is not okay. There is no written authority in lawless Christianity. Instead, the rules are laid down and interpreted by a religious leader. The “clergy/laity” system is not logical or biblical. Humans are not only selfish and ignorant, but they are prone to power struggles. In many cases, lawless Christianity has turned the Christian system into an entertainment business. I can get better entertainment in the secular world than any human or group of humans can produce in a church building.

Don’t reject God because of what Christianity is not. Read James 1:27, Matthew 25:31-40 ,and Acts 2:38-47. There you will see that Christianity changes people, makes the world a better place to live, and fulfills one of the most important needs we all have. That is the need for a reliable and functional spiritual experience, because we are created in the spiritual image of God.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Lies and Deception Outweigh the Truth

Lies and Deception Outweigh the Truth

In our world today, it seems that lies and deception outweigh the truth. How many wars have been fought as a result of a lie? The political picture of America has degenerated to the point where you can’t believe what any politician says. Deception is common in the business and economic realm. When I was a child, people settled business transactions with a handshake, and you could be over 90% sure it would happen. Who among us today has not lost money because someone lied to us?

When Jesus told Pilate that He came to bear witness to the truth, Pilate responded by saying, “What is Truth?” (John 18:37-38). In the secular world, “truth” cannot even be defined, much less believed. Romans 1:25 tells us there will be those who exchange “the truth of God for a lie.” In 2 Corinthians 11:14, we find a warning that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”

So what can we believe? In 1 Timothy 4:1-5, Paul writes that there will be those who have a connection to the Church who will “speak lies in hypocrisy.” Then he identifies who those might be, and we see some of them today. In the prayer of Jesus for his disciples, He said, “Sanctify (set apart) them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” We CAN trust God’s Word. Titus 1:2 and Hebrews 6:18 tell us that God cannot lie.

The reason for this website is to encourage everyone to go to the Bible and read and think for themselves. We deal with evidence. If someone offers an opinion they can’t back up in the Bible, don’t believe it. Can fake “evidence trick us?” Yes, but the nature of science is that counterfeit evidence is eventually exposed for what it is. The word “science” means knowledge. False science is an opinion stated as knowledge but not supported by factual evidence (1 Timothy 6:20).

When it seems that lies and deception outweigh the truth, trust God by looking at His Word. Don’t let someone tell you what His Word says or what His creation proves. Instead, “Seek and you will find” – “for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made…” (Matthew 7:7 and Romans 1:20).

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Seven Wonders of the World and the Greatest

Seven Wonders of the World according to a young girl

What would you select as the seven wonders of the world? Writer Damien Thomas has a website called “Your Positive Oasis,” where he posts motivational articles and quotes. Several years ago, he published an article about the seven wonders of the world chosen by children. Since then, it has been repeated on social media.

The story tells of a teacher who asked her students to name the current seven wonders of the world. Compiling their lists into the most popular wonders they selected: 

1. Egypt’s Great Pyramids

2. Taj Mahal

3. Grand Canyon

4. Panama Canal

5. Empire State Building

6. St. Peter’s Basilica

7. China’s Great Wall

According to the story, one girl had not completed her list because there were so many she could not select only seven. When the teacher asked what she had written, her list was:

1. To See

2. To Hear

3. To Touch

4. To Taste

5. To Feel

6. To Laugh

7. To Love

The point of the story was that the most precious seven wonders of the world are not the ones we must travel to see or things that we can make or buy. The most incredible wonders of the world are those we often overlook and take for granted. They are the ones for which we should be thanking God every day that we live. 

I would add another that I think is the greatest wonder of all. It is that God loves us and gave His Son to redeem us to Himself so that we might enjoy the wonders of His presence forever. 

“Now the dwelling of God is with His people, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

— Roland Earnst © 2022

You can read this story on Damien Thomas’s website, “Your Positive Oasis.”

The Biblical Message of Newness

The Biblical Message of Newness

As we start a new year, let’s consider the biblical message of newness. Human religions call people to focus on maintaining the traditions and practices of the past. Some Christian denominations have done the same, but the Bible calls for newness.

Kainos,” the Greek word for “new,” is used extensively in the New Testament. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says this about “kainos”:

…denotes new, of that which is unaccustomed or unused, not new in time, recent, but new in form or quality, of different nature from what is contrasted as old … new covenant, new commandment … new character … new name … new life of the quickened spirit of the believer … impossible to dissociate this from the operation of the Holy Spirit by whose power the service is rendered.”

The biblical message of newness carries throughout the New Testament. In Luke 5:36, Jesus says, “No one tears a patch from a new garment and sews it on an old one. If he does, he will have a torn garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old.” Likewise, you can’t take old lifestyles and patch them into being a Christian. Colossians 3:10 tells us to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its creator.” Hebrews 10:19-20 talks about a “new and living way” opened to us by the blood of Christ. Galatians 6:15 calls Christians “a new creation.”

Ephesians 4:22-24 talks about “being made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, we read, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old is gone, the new has come. All of this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”
The biblical message of newness continues to the end of the New Testament.
Revelation 21:1-4 describes a new heaven and new earth where God says, “I am making everything new.”

We don’t change by our own power, and New Year’s Resolutions don’t work because they depend on us. However, becoming a Christian and opening yourself to God does work. God isn’t going to force people to accept Jesus Christ, but for those who do, He offers newness. If you haven’t opened yourself to being made “kainos,” isn’t it time to do so?

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Is There Any Hope for America?

Is There Any Hope for America?

It is difficult to be optimistic about the future of America. The danger to this country is not coming from a superior military, and aliens from some other planet do not threaten us. A shortage of natural resources or the threat of natural disasters cannot destroy us. The danger to America is from within. The amazing thing is that it is fed by the ignorance of our people, including our leaders. Is there any hope for America?

In the Old Testament, we read of the rise and fall of the nation of Israel. Hebrew has different words that we translate as “nation.” One is “goi,” used to describe the corporate body. God promised to make Israel a great nation (goi) in Genesis 12:2 and 17:4. That promise was repeated throughout the history of Israel.

The other Hebrew words are “leom” and “ummah,” both translated “nation” in most English versions. It refers to the people, not the political system under which they lived. In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “nations” is “ethnos,” from which we get our word “ethnic.” Jesus used it in Matthew 24:1-13. His disciples pointed to the temple’s greatness, and He told them of its destruction. He said that nation would rise against nation, natural disasters would happen, and people would hate His followers.

So is there any hope for America? Nothing will ever destroy the Christian nation or “ethnos,” but America is not a Christian nation. It is a corporate nation that is badly divided, has rejected God and the ethics that Jesus taught. The iniquity that Jesus described in Matthew 24:12 is before us all. We not only have a dysfunctional government, but the opponents of God have succeeded in eliminating God from discussions at the national and state level.

In our military, any discussion of Christianity is now forbidden. Marriage has been denigrated to the point that an all-time low percentage of our population engages in it. On the other hand, our culture now embraces any kind of “marriage” one wishes. Our government not only allows recreational drug use but, in some places, encourages it by providing places where people can “safely” use them. Abortion, euthanasia, prostitution, and pornography are freely allowed in many states.

So is there any hope for America, or will we go the same route as ancient Israel and Rome and all other cultures that have died due to their alienation from God? My response is that America CAN survive, but it will not come from the government or our religious or entertainment leaders. It will come from the ordinary folks who “have not bowed down to Baal and those whose mouths have not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18). If America survives, it will be because we refuse to embrace the teachings of political or religious leaders who don’t know or obey God.

As we start the new year of 2022, let us learn from history rather than repeating it. Join hands with us “little people” and do what God calls us to do and not be swayed by leaders who lie to promote their personal agendas.

— John N. Clayton © 2022

Santa Claus and Jesus Christ

Santa Claus and Jesus Christ

In my radio debate with Jon Murray, he said that he didn’t believe in God for the same reason he didn’t believe in Santa Claus. I understand where he is coming from because many folks equate Santa Claus and Jesus Christ. The sad commentary is that many who claim to be Christians cannot tell you why they believe what they believe because they have only a shallow, inherited faith.

The Santa character originated from a 4th century Greek Catholic bishop in Lycia. He came into the western culture in 1823, and a 1930 Coca-Cola ad popularized him as a man in a red suit. Here are some contrasts between Santa Claus and Jesus Christ:

1) Santa lives at the North pole and Christ is omnipresent (Acts 17:24-28)
2) Santa rides in a sleigh, and Jesus walks on water.
3) Santa is oblivious to our problems, and Christ has lived them (Hebrews 4:15).
4) Santa comes once a year while Christ is with us 24/7/365 (Matthew 28:20).
5) Santa gives us stuff we don’t need. Christ gives us everything we really need (Matthew 7:7).
6) Santa invades while Jesus stands at the door and knocks (Revelation 3:20).
7) You stand in line to see Santa. Jesus is always accessible (Acts 17:28).
8) Santa asks your name while Jesus knows your past (Psalms 139:15).
9) Santa chastises (better not cry) while Jesus offers help (Matthew 11:29).
10) Santa makes toys while Jesus makes new life (Romans 6).

This is not just a cute comparison. It is where we all live. Do we want new toys (a boat, car, TV, etc.), or do we need healing, an easier burden, and freedom from the problems our toys bring us? If you want an inflatable 15-foot Santa in your front yard, have at it, but remember, those are just toys.

The evidence for Jesus being the Son of God is massive, and you can see it especially in the effect it has had on the lives of men and women for many centuries. Santa is about physical things in a material universe. Jesus is about spiritual things in an eternal universe. Equating Santa Claus and Jesus Christ causes us to deny reality and miss a great answer to the real issues of life.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Christmas Trivia and Customs

Christmas Trivia and Customs

The Old Farmer’s Almanac for 2021 had some Christmas trivia listing the origins of some customs of Christmas. Here are a few of them:

XMAS – The New Testament was originally written in Greek. The Greek letter for “C” is “Chi,” written like our letter “X” and pronounced “kye.” The equivalent of our letter “R” was written like our lower case “p.” The Greeks represented the name Christ (Christos) using the first two letters, “X” and “p” superimposed. Many have assumed that writing Christmas as “X-mas” is a nod to universalism – that all faiths are equal. Actually, it was just the opposite.

CHRISTMAS TREES – Plants that stayed green all year had a special significance for people who lived in cold winter climates of northern Europe. They put evergreen boughs over windows and doors, believing that living plants would repel illness and evil. The Romans decorated evergreen trees with trinkets and topped the tree with an image of their sun god at the festival of Saturnalia. About 400 years ago, people in Germany used the evergreen as a sign of everlasting life with God.

GIFTS – Some cultures celebrated the winter solstice around December 21, which has the shortest daylight hours. Winter can be a depressing time, and the Romans brightened the worst of winter by giving each other gifts on what they called “calends,” the first day of January. Some early Christians began giving gifts to copy the actions of the “magi” (a Greek word referring to the “wise men” of the Bible).

In Europe, every country had traditions of gift-giving, usually involving children during December. For example, people thought of Santa Claus or Father Christmas on Saint Nicholas Day, December 6. In the Netherlands, children left clogs or shoes out on December 5 (Saint Nicholas Eve) to be filled with presents. In Germany, people thought an angel called the Christkind came on Christmas Eve. In Italy, it was an old witch named Befana who brought gifts. In Spain, children celebrated “Three Kings Day” on January 6.

Since America was a melting pot of various cultures
, these practices and many others came together. As we consider this Christmas trivia in today’s world of conflict, we need a time of peace and harmony to enjoy our friends and neighbors and share God’s love with them. Have a joyous holiday, however you celebrate it.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Joseph is the Unsung Hero of the Birth of Jesus

Joseph is the Unsung Hero of the Birth of Jesus

Mary receives most of the attention as the mother, but Joseph is the unsung hero of the birth of Jesus. Of course, the virgin birth was a miracle, but how would most men have responded to the situation in which Joseph found himself?

Mary and Joseph were Jews following Jewish complex and time-consuming protocol for marriage. In the presence of two witnesses, the groom would make a verbal declaration to the bride accompanied by a gift. The couple was then legally married, and to void the marriage required a divorce. However, the couple did not live together for a year as the bride continued living in her father’s house. When the year ended, the groom would take the bride to his family home, and the couple would live together as husband and wife. A rabbi told me the purpose of this procedure was to make sure the woman was not pregnant. Matthew 25:1-6 describes this wedding custom.

The problem, in this case, is that Mary fails the test. She was showing a baby bump and “found to be with child.” As a result, Jesus would be considered an illegitimate child, and that stigma would be used against him. In John 8:39-41, we see the enemies of Jesus protesting that they were not illegitimate. Joseph is between a rock and a hard place. He loves Mary, but Jewish law urges him to divorce her. Furthermore, the public disclosure of this situation could mean that she could be stoned.

At this point, Joseph has a dream (Matthew 1:20-25) in which an angel tells him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife. Afraid of what? Afraid of breaking the Jewish law. I think most men would have assumed it was something they ate and would not have been willing to subject themselves to the ridicule and abuse that would undoubtedly come from the situation. Interestingly, the angel addresses Joseph as “Joseph, son of David.” This is the only time that title is given to anyone in the New Testament except Jesus himself. Joseph is the unsung hero of the birth of Jesus.

After the birth of Jesus, Joseph has another dream in which an angel tells him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt. He immediately does it in the middle of the night (Matthew 2:13-14). This poor carpenter is told to go to a foreign country with no support. (Perhaps this is where the gift of gold from the magi came in handy.) Joseph is a man of incredible faith and courage. He ends up in Nazareth because of another dream and fades into the background as Jesus and Mary take over the historical narrative.

Joseph is the unsung hero of the birth of Jesus because he sets an example for us all. His love for Mary, his obedience to God’s commands and leadership, and his willingness to serve sacrificially are frequently overlooked. He teaches us that we can serve God in many ways. Joseph’s humility, servant attitude, and obedience set a standard for us to follow.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Women Had to Wear a Head Covering

Women Had to Wear a Head Covering

We recently heard from a female skeptic who said that no woman could accept the biblical teaching that women had to wear a head covering or a veil that hid their face. She was referring to 1 Corinthians 11:5-6 where Paul writes, “Every woman that prays or prophesies with her head unveiled brings shame on her head, for that is to make herself like one of the shameless women who shave their heads. For if a woman will not veil herself, then she should cut off her hair, but since to cut her hair short, or shave it off, marks her as one of the shameless women let her be covered.”

This is an excellent example of what any reader of ancient documents needs to understand. You must look at who wrote the document, to whom they wrote it, why they wrote it, and how the people to whom it was written would have understood it. For example, the Greek culture of that day demanded that women had to wear a head covering when out of their home. Otherwise, she was advertising that she was a prostitute.

Paul wrote the Corinthian letters to a particular group in a specific culture. Even today, when we visit a culture that attaches a particular understanding to what a person wears, Christians need to be sensitive to what their clothing conveys. In 1 Timothy 2:9, Paul also cautions Christian women to avoid “pearls or costly dresses.” He says he would not eat food that would offend someone if doing so would cause a person to be misled by his example (1 Corinthians 8:8-13).

In those same verses, he points out that Christians have the freedom to eat anything. However, being concerned about how our dress and actions affect others must have a higher priority than expressing our freedom. That is a lesson the American culture needs to learn today.

— John N. Clayton © 2021