Virtual Church and Real Church

Virtual Church or Real ChurchToday we have a choice between virtual church and real church. D.J.Soto quit his job at a megachurch in Reading, Pennsylvania, in 2016 to start a virtual congregation, a “fully computer-generated religious institution.” Members of Soto’s church use virtual reality headsets and tap into Altspace VR’s social media platform that provides digital meeting spaces for avatars. The worship service includes a lecture with computer-driven graphics and pictures. The Easter service included walking into Jesus’ tomb and taking a tour of the cross. There is even a baptismal service in which avatars, which are icons that represent people, are baptized.

Other ministers are using variants of Soto’s methods. Jay Kranda of the Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, uses livestream services and apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook. Some of the people using these electronic church services call themselves “bedside Baptists” and “pillow Presbyterians.” Churchhome Global is another electronic church with Judah and Chelsea Smith using prayer emojis to engage congregational members.

For those whose concept of a worship service is to be a spectator with only a minimal personal involvement, virtual churche may be attractive. Not getting out of the house on Sunday is attractive, especially in bad weather. The problem with all of this, however, is that it misses the purpose of worship.

The biblical concept of the Church has never been that people come as spectators. Worship is not just one dimensional. We praise God and encourage one another. The communion we share is not only vertical as we thank God for the sacrifice of Christ and the cleansing nature of His blood. It’s also horizontal as we share our unity and love for one another as we participate together. The Church is not a social club. It is a gathering of people who share their resources, their lives, and their desire to serve. When you read Acts 2:41-47, you see activities that are not to entertain, but to serve people and God.

The virtual church may enable people to escape the problems of American denominational worship. However, it doesn’t begin to approach the biblical concept of the purpose and conduct of worship and living out the faith together. See James 1:27 and 5:13-20.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Data from USA TODAY, May 7, 2019, page 1B.

Virtual Reality Church

Virtual Reality ChurchThis past Easter Sunday, some church members walked into Jesus’ tomb, peered at the rock that sealed the entrance, and toured a replica of the cross where Jesus was crucified. They did this by using an internet connection and a VR (Virtual Reality) headset. They are members of VR Church, a virtual reality church.

The VR Church claims to be one of the first fully computer-generated religious institutions. Having roughly 150 members at present, the church uses the social media platform Altspace VR and is the product of D.J. Sota. The VR Church not only conducts worship services but also has special events, including comedy nights and cyber open-mic nights.

Another virtual reality church is Churchhome Global run by Judah and Chelsea Smith. Members on their site can pray for fellow members by pressing their thumbs against prayer emojis. Small groups are also associated with the Churchhome Global site.

All of this is intended to attract unchurched people, which is a fast-growing percentage of the American population. We would suggest that using a virtual church enables people to stay uninvolved. Lauren Hunter, who is the founder of ChurchTechToday, said: “In parts of the country, people are expected to attend Wednesday, Sunday morning and Sunday evening services. That’s a lot of commitment.” That is exactly right. Personal contact with other believers, having communion, getting involved in the struggles of brothers and sisters is all a part of the Church that Jesus established. Many people don’t want that kind of commitment.

If you want to feel like you are “going to church” and not have to be involved in the Lord’s work, virtual reality church is a great idea. We would suggest that it misses the whole point of what the Church is supposed to be about and what the Church is. Technology can help us communicate and can facilitate teaching, but it cannot be a substitute for meeting together as a body as the first century Church did. Read Acts 2:41-47.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Reference: USA Today, May 7, 2019, page B:1-2.

Gallup Poll on Religious Belief

Gallup Poll on religious beliefe Associated Press reported on April 19, 2019, that the percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has dropped by 20% over the past two decades to a low of 50% in 2018. The latest Gallup Poll on religious belief shows a disturbing trend. The Associated Press reported on April 19, 2019, that the percentage of U.S. adults who belong to a church or other religious institution has dropped by 20% over the past two decades to a low of 50% in 2018. In their demographic listing, the most significant drops were among Hispanics and politically among Democrats.

Atheists will say that all of this is just a sign that as people become informed and involved in change, they turn away from God. We would suggest that the problem is with the way Gallup has posed the questions. Most Hispanics have come from cultures where Catholicism in its most conservative form has been forced upon people. Catholic teachings on birth control and the problems produced by church support of unpopular politicians have contributed to many Hispanics not continuing allegiance to the Catholic Church, especially when people immigrate to new cultures. In the same way, many Democrats have found themselves at odds with traditional religious practices and requirements.

This ministry has never supported any denomination or any religious leader other than Christ. We provide evidence for the existence of God and the inspiration of the Bible as His word. What the Gallup Poll on religious belief does not address is that many people who have stopped belonging to a particular church or religion are still firm believers in God.

While organized religion is in decline in America, many people still have a firm conviction about the Bible as God’s Word and Jesus Christ as the son of God. Our ministry does not support any organized religion. We encourage and educate people who are searching for evidence and understanding. Read Matthew chapters 5-7 and 25:31-46.

— John N. Clayton © 2019

Celebrate the Resurrection Every Sunday

Celebrate the Resurrection Every SundayPalm Sunday, Good Friday and Easter are all valid historically. All of the events surrounding the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ are factual, so should we celebrate Easter? We suggest that we should celebrate the resurrection every Sunday.

The communion was established to assist us in doing that (1 Corinthians 11:23-30). The first century Church worshiped every Sunday. Giving (1 Corinthians 16:2) and celebrating the Lord’s Supper to remember the death and resurrection of Christ were part of that worship (Acts 20:7). We should copy their example. It is good that at least once a year the whole world recognizes the activity of God in sending His son to die as a sacrifice for the sins of all. We would urge everyone to look into the significance of the resurrection and the witnesses that give credence to the story.

Another aspect of the Easter season is that many human inventions have sprung up around the historical event. Lent was instituted as a way to focus on the Easter event. It was a reminder of the forty days Jesus fasted in the desert as He began His ministry. Abstaining from eating eggs to celebrate Lent resulted in people preserving eggs by boiling them. German Lutherans began decorating the eggs and invented the Easter Hare as a judge of children allowing gifts to be given to good children. Eastern Orthodox believers dyed the eggs red remembering the blood of Christ. The special days of Palm Sunday and Holy Friday were added to aid believers in focusing on the season.

Like Christmas and Santa Claus, these Easter additions to the simple biblical message have a long history, but the Bible message is clear. Passages like 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 and Matthew 26:26-28 give us a guide that we can follow no matter what the local traditions. While we may enjoy the human inventions, let us worship as God has called us to worship, and let us do so with understanding and reverence. Celebrate the resurrection every Sunday.
— John N. Clayton ©2019

Should God Have Protected Notre Dame Cathedral?

Should God Have Protected Notre Dame Cathedral?We have all seen the tragedy of the huge fire that destroyed much of the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. In the days after the fire, we have witnessed theological discussions about why the fire happened, and whether it is a demonstration that there is no God. Should God have protected Notre Dame Cathedral?

We want to point out a few things about the fire, Notre Dame Cathedral, and what the Bible says about the Church and church buildings. Of course, the fire was a tragedy. Anti-Catholic writers and atheists have denied it was a tragedy. Those critics maintain that it was good that this religious symbol was destroyed. We would point out that Notre Dame Cathedral has great historical significance and was a testimony to the artistic expression and skill of ancient human engineers and artisans. The building was a museum and had great tourism value. A destructive event in the Louvre or the Smithsonian would be comparable to what happened at Notre Dame.

From a theological standpoint, the fire is of little or no significance. Nowhere in the New Testament was there a command or instruction to build any kind of building. The name Notre Dame means “Our Lady.” Mary was blessed to be a tool of God to bring His Son into the world, but nowhere does the Bible command us to worship her. The Bible does not portray her as an intermediary between God and man.

The word “Church” in the original Greek is “ekklesia,” meaning “that which is called out.” The Bible never uses the term in reference to a building. Passages like 1 Corinthians 3:16 tell us what the Church is. From a religious standpoint, church buildings have often been a bane to faith, consuming money that should have gone to provide for the needs of the poor and disenfranchised. Frequently buildings becoming objects of worship themselves — an idol instead of a tool.

We are sad about what has happened. It is interesting to see the French government talking about using national funds to restore the building. Should God have protected Notre Dame Cathedral? The question is meaningless because the fire has nothing to do with God’s actions in the world today.
— John N. Clayton © 2019

Conquering Worry

Conquering Worry that Keeps You Awake

One of the significant differences between Christianity and all other religious choices is that Christianity offers practical help for conquering worry.

Worry is very destructive. One study has shown that worry is a major cause of 50% of l patient hospitalization. Our wealth as a country has not produced less worry among us. Worry is one of the main ways we hurt those who love us. Worry can paralyze us, and it is contagious. Here are some principles in the teachings of Christ that help us with conquering worry:

2 Timothy 1:7- Worry and fear paralyze us.
1 Peter 5:7- Fear is a fault. God cares and wants us to rely on Him. (See Psalms 46:10.)
John 14:27- Slow down and worry slips away – be still and know.
Matthew 6:33- Make heaven your main goal, and worry becomes secondary.


Listen to the advice of Jesus for conquering worry:


“You cannot serve two masters, for you will hate the one and love the other…
That is why I say to you to stop worrying about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink or wondering what you will wear. Isn’t life itself a greater gift than food or drink or clothes. Observe the wild birds, they don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, but your heavenly father keeps on feeding them. Aren’t you more valuable than they? Which of you with all your worry can add a foot to his height?”

“And why are you anxious about clothing. Consider the lilies of the field, and how they grow. They don’t toil or spin and yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his spender was arrayed like they are. If God so beautifully dresses the wild grass which is green today but tomorrow is dry and thrown into the flames is He not more likely to clothe you? O how little we trust Him. So don’t worry and say what shall we eat or drink or wear. Your Father knows you need these things. Seek the kingdom of God first, and all these things will be added to you. So don’t fret about tomorrow for tomorrow will bring its own set of trouble.”


Matthew 6:24-34 (See Also Matthew 7:7-8)

We have a God who cares about our worries. Other belief systems just encourage bearing with whatever misfortune comes our way. Christianity offers real help and hope for conquering worry. The Church is a vehicle God created to give us a support system to deal with life. Read James 5:13-20. Remember – Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.

–John N. Clayton © 2019

Future of Faith in America

Future of Faith in America
If you read any survey of what Americans believe, you have to understand that faith in God and the validity of New Testament Christianity is in decline. We have pointed out before, that when pollsters ask people about their religious faith, almost one-fourth of all Americans respond with “none.” When we separate those numbers by age group, the picture is even more dismal with young adults largely rejecting Jesus as the son of God. We should be concerned about the future of faith in America.

The two primary sources of the decline in church membership are pluralism and the complete rejection of the Bible as God’s one authoritative guide. Most churches have not taught the evidence for God and the validity of the Bible. Most young people have not seen an example of Christian living in the lives of their parents or religious leaders. We can either sit back and watch congregations die with the older people of faith, or we can roll up our sleeves and do something.

This situation is not new. When the people of Jesus day saw that following Jesus required some commitment, most of them left. In John 6:35-69 people rejected Jesus as having come down from heaven. Later in the Temple, they wondered at the wisdom of Christ’s teaching. In John 7:16-18 Jesus told the people, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.” He then referred to the evidence seen in what people do: “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” We must find some method of answering people’s doubts about God and showing them that Jesus is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6). That is what the future of faith in America must be about.

We can no longer rely on inherited faith to build faith-filled adults. Young people being dragged to church three times a week is not going to do the job. There has been too much hypocrisy, bickering, and inconsistency in churches for young people to blindly accept what their parents and grandparents believed. We can no longer rely on talented speakers and youth leaders to emotionally stampede young people into becoming active, dynamic Christians. There are too many speakers with conflicting views for modern adults to respond to emotional pleas at worship services, youth rallies, camps, or lectureships.

The war for the minds of 21st-century adults is going to be won or lost on the battlefield of evidence. That was true in the days of Jesus and the church in the first century. We have a tremendous advantage over those who lived in the first century. Quantum mechanics has opened the door for us to understand how gravity, electric charge, and matter/energy were created. The complexity, wisdom, and design of the formation of electric charge and the wave nature of gravity show that the cause of these things must be outside the realm of the physical world. Quantum mechanics leads us to dimensions beyond our own, which is the concept the Bible has always given us about God.

In today’s world, we see the results of following systems other than the biblical pattern. When people follow other guidelines as to how to live their lives, the result is inevitably disastrous. When people who call themselves Christians fail to follow what Jesus taught, the result is also disastrous. If we study the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 and compare it to all other ways of life, we see the truthfulness of Jesus statement, “By their fruit ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:16). The future of America depends on the future of faith in America.

Scientific knowledge of the world around us continues to amaze us. Rather than presenting God as a magician who zaps things into existence by tricks and illusions beyond our understanding, we must show people that what God does make sense and many of God’s methods are within our ability to understand. People have had enough of mystic explanations and magic tricks. If they are going to commit themselves to discipleship, it must be clear and logical both in purpose and in methodology.

The church has the capacity to present this message. Young people respond to evidence that doesn’t depend on tradition or blind, mystic faith. When 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to “be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks for the reason of the faith that is within you” it includes not just the ancient shepherd in the hills of Judea, but also the educated engineer living in 2018. Today, the fields are ripe unto harvest (John 4:35), but our outreach must change with changing needs. The future of faith in America depends on it.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Belief in God

Belief in God
This ministry has existed for 50 years with the fundamental purpose of showing those willing to look at the scientific evidence, that God does exist and that the Bible is His Word. Various religious people have frequently told us that what we are doing is useless because everyone really has a belief in God. Data that shows that 40% of Americans say “none” when asked about their religious affiliation. But the critics argue that even people with no church connection still have a belief in God.

One of the more reliable organizations that gathers demographic data on religious issues is the Pew Research Center. The June 2018 issue of Christianity Today published a report from Pew Research in which 4700 adults were asked if they “believe in God as described in the Bible.” Almost half, 44% of the respondents, said they did not. The obvious devil in the details is whether what they think the Bible describes is actually the way the Bible describes God. (If you think the Bible describes God shown in the picture above, you are mistaken. We have a video that deals with that point and you can watch it HERE.) It is evident that a growing population in this country have faith issues with belief in God as the essential starting point.

We maintain that there is a tremendous need to educate people on the evidence for God’s existence, and what the Bible actually says about God. We have a free correspondence course available on our doesgodexist.org website. There is absolutely no charge or obligation of any kind. The course is written at a college level and is graded by John Clayton, the director of the Does God Exist? Ministry. We also have other written courses available through the mail with postage paid envelopes provided. Join us in learning and growing.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

Patron Saint of Drug Traffickers

Patron Saint of Drug Traffickers?
Time magazine and Time.com published a picture of a shrine to Jesus Malverde considered the patron saint of drug traffickers in Culiacan, Sinaloa, northwest Mexico. In attempting to contact the managers of the shrine we were told that it was under the auspices of the local bishop and that he would answer any questions we had. We have not been able to get a response from anyone connected with that area of Mexico.

I inquired about this from a good friend of mine who is a Roman Catholic priest (and wishes to stay anonymous for obvious reasons). He told me that clergy in the Catholic church throughout the ages have chosen to serve the spiritual needs of people they were ministering to even if that person was engaged in behavior the priest didn’t accept or sanction.

It is interesting that in some wars there have been clergy on opposing sides of the conflict, both ministering to the people in their area. The difference in this case is that there is no political ideology involved in the question of drugs. I know of no religious person who would maintain that drugs are a good thing or that the Church should be supporting people who traffic drugs.

Those who wish to charge believers in God with being ineffective in stopping evil in all cultures have a good point. That is why this program we call “Does God Exist?” is not a part of any denomination or cult. The fact that religious people make mistakes, and may even stand up for something that is wrong and sinful does not make it right. When believers try to defend immoral behavior, it is a human making a human mistake.

We cannot defend what humans have done in the past, or what they continue to do today. God’s existence is not related to human inadequacy. The credibility of the Bible is not dependent on any theologian or scholar. The New Testament makes it clear that the human body is the temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16 and 6:19), and that it must be cared for and not abused (1 Corinthians 3:17). There is no defense for anyone who would protect or promote drug trafficking be they atheists or religious leaders. The idea of a patron saint of drug traffickers is indefensible because Christians have a special reason for opposing the use of recreational drugs.
–John N. Clayton © 2018

#MeToo Impacting Society

#MeToo Impacting Society
One of the most powerful secular movements in America today is the #MeToo movement. For many people, this movement is merely a response to sexual predation, harassment, and bias. It that were all, it would be positive. We need to consider, “How is #MeToo impacting society in other areas?”

The #MeToo movement demands that gender and race quotas should be enforced in all areas of culture and economic endeavor. The impact on fashion design, the Oscars, the Golden Globe awards, the Grammys, and a wide range of industrial and journalism corporations has filled the news media in recent months. Stanford and UCLA have “diversity deans” to make sure that gender and racial compositions are balanced. Google fired James Damore for suggesting that a lack of balance between groups was due to career predilections. They accused Damore of “using harmful gender stereotypes that put Google’s female employees at risk of unspecified trauma.”

The truth is that there are roles that favor one gender or the other. To suggest that everyone is of equal ability in every discipline and subject is just not true, and anyone who has worked with the general public knows it. Most men do poorly working in a daycare. That’s not true of all men, but to force a daycare to have equal numbers of males and females is ludicrous.

Religious groups that follow the Bible carefully are going to be impacted by #MeToo. The Bible assigns the role of leadership of the church to the male gender. Not everyone agrees with the passages that talk about this such as 1 Timothy 2:11-3:5 and Titus 1 & 2. However, requiring churches to have women fill the role of 50% of their pulpit ministers would force many churches to close their doors and meet clandestinely.

There is an excellent article on #MeToo impacting society by Heather McDonald in the April issue of Imprimis magazine published by Hillsdale College. You can read it HERE.
–John N. Clayton © 2018