France Moves to Ban Homeschooling: “Protect Children From Religion”

Although the President said he intends to end the system that allows Imams to train overseas, some have suggested he may be using “radical Islam” to garner public support for the move which would simultaneously undermine the freedoms and rights of Christian parents.

French President Emmanuel Macron has announced on Friday his intention to outlaw homeschooling in 2021 for all children unless they have a medical exemption that forces them to stay away from schools, Life Site News reports.
According to the report, the President said the government would also step up control of self-funded, private and independent schools, through inspections of curricula and by strong enforcement of a new law that requires private schools to teach a “common core” defined by the state.

The announcement comes as part of Macron’s plan to combat “Islamic separatism” and to “free Islam in France from foreign influences.”

“The goal of training and promoting in France a generation of Imams and intellectuals who defend an Islam fully compatible with the values of the Republic is a necessity,” Macron told an audience in Les Mureaux, Paris.
Although the President said he intends to end the system that allows Imams to train overseas, some have suggested he may be using “radical Islam” to garner public support for the move which would simultaneously undermine the freedoms and rights of Christian parents.
According to Macron, his aim is to “protect children from religion,” and that includes Christianity.
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A Seeker-Driven Church Would Fire Jesus

The seeker-driven church movement may have a formula for drawing a crowd but don’t for a second think it means they’re drawing people to Christ. Countless people are attracted to programs, entertainment, and even the casual nature of anything deemed “worship.”

I recently met a pastor in passing who offered me encouragement regarding our upcoming church plant. He pastors a massive church (several thousand) so he took the opportunity to overflow some of his wisdom in our direction.
After the brief conversation, I quickly realized that his methods weren’t exactly going to help me grow a church spiritually, but they would certainly help me launch a social club. Here are 4 of his heavy-hitting growth tactics:

Drop all churchy language. The Bible is old and dated. Try to use slang whenever you can.
Play golf with influencers more than you study. Preaching doesn’t matter, just use sermons from other preachers and focus on hanging out with people. Playing golf with influencers grows the church. Preaching isn’t that important.
Put sports on all the TVs around the church campus if you have one. Men will come to church and hang out for that.
Make children’s ministry a party. If the kids have fun everyone comes back.

In that list (which is not exaggerated), there are a few ideas that aren’t bad. Golf is a great chance to bond with brothers, we all want children to enjoy church, and some pastors would do well to explain things in simpler language. But, that’s not the driving motive behind advice like this. The goal of this advice is church growth. It’s pragmatism; the idea that if it works it must be good. Or in the church world: if it works it must be God. In this sphere of thinking the Bible is a footnote, Jesus is a good luck charm, and the church is a social gathering for suburb folks who dabble in soft moralism.
Is that what Jesus died for? Is that what discipleship is? Did He call His Church to turn on the playoffs to make His house more attractive?
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Netflix’s “Pray Away” Seethes with Contempt for Christianity

Misunderstanding and mischaracterizing the Christian life is a favorite pastime of Hollywood…Faithful Christians are consistently portrayed as buffoons while, in this particular film, the ex-ex-gays are beacons of enlightenment.

Netflix’s latest original documentary, Pray Away—about the reparative therapy organization Exodus International—is yet another thinly veiled attack on Christianity by Hollywood. It’s not surprising that Netflix would seize on a false gospel to surreptitiously proffer a hit piece on Christianity in a lopsided tale of woe. Much of the media can hardly resist glomming on to extremes to further an agenda that denigrates Christians. What is surprising is how poorly made this doc is. Not only does it lack a cohesive and compelling narrative, but it attempts to throw any sort of anti-Christian spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.
As someone who worked in Hollywood for decades, I’ve seen firsthand the contempt the entertainment industry has for Christianity. But only after I left my gay identity—in exchange for a new identity in Christ—did I realize the special resentment Hollywood reserves for converts like me. Pray Away is a case in point.
Celebrating Ex-Ex-Gay
The film opens on Jeffrey McCall, a former transsexual who had a powerful encounter with God and is now transformed by the gospel. The camera follows him on the streets of Georgia offering prayer to strangers. It’s clear the director capitalized on McCall’s lilting and effeminate Southern accent in an attempt to discredit him. Oh, those Bible-belt rubes and their quaint coming-to-Christ stories! But the focus on McCall is an odd choice and, as we see later, seems like a story from another film that somehow got mixed up in the editing room and mistakenly attached to this one.
The narrative inexplicably segues to former key leaders of Exodus International who have since come out as ex-ex-gay. Exodus was born in 1976 at a large conference in Anaheim, California, seeking to help homosexuals who wanted to rid themselves of unwanted same-sex attractions through a series of ad hoc and unscientific therapeutic methods. It’s no surprise these dubious methods failed. Attempts to “pray away the gay” all too often fail, leaving struggling folks not only mad at God or personally scarred but, far worse, in a state of apostasy. Tragically, the baby (the possibility of any change of affections) is usually thrown out with the bathwater (the problematic brand of “change” aimed at in conversion therapy). 
Producer/director Kristine Stolakis seizes on the faulty science—and unbiblical theology—of conversion therapy to castigate anyone who would dare leave, or desire to leave, the LGBTQ community. The message is clear: if you are denying your sexual desires in order to follow Christ, you are just fooling yourself. Those desires are what define your identity, and to tamper with who you really are is dangerous and delusional.
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Repenting of Our Agnosticism

Written by R. Scott Clark |
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
How often do we all conduct our lives as if we lived in some sort of closed universe not actively upheld and sustained by the God who is, who spoke everything into being?

For a few months I have been thinking about a phrase I first encountered in 1995 when I was teaching an introductory course in theology at Wheaton. We were using Alister McGrath’s reader as the primary text for the class and he quoted Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906–45) as saying that, in Modernity, we must learn to live “etsi Deus non daretur” (as if God is not a given).
Bonhoeffer was trying to figure out how to be a Modern person and affirm Christianity in some sense.
Contra at least one recent evangelical rendering of Bonhoeffer, which follows a trend that has existed for some time of treating him as though he were educated in Moody Bible College rather than in the Universities of Tübingen and Berlin, Bonhoeffer did not hold the historic Christian faith. He was a Modernist, i.e., he accepted as a given the Enlightenment critique of the historic Christian faith and understanding of the world. What does that mean? It means, as one of my undergraduate profs said in 1979: “In the 18th century God went to the corner for a beer and never came back.”
Bonhoeffer, like Karl Barth and others, was trying to figure out how to be a Modern (Enlightened) person and affirm Christianity in some sense. As I understand him, Bonhoeffer was a dialectical theologian. He was proposing a kind of “death of God” theology and affirming a kind of belief in God simultaneously. This is the sort of thing dialectical theologians do.
Are Christians living “Etsi Deus Non Daretur” (As if God is Not a Given)?
The phrase etsi Deus non daretur comes to us from Hugo Grotius (1583–1645). He was a great Dutch polymath. He made contributions in biblical studies, legal theory, theology, and politics. He was one of the major figures in Dutch cultural and political life in the 17th century. His treatise, On The Law of War and Peace is still a basic text in international relations. He was also a Remonstrant and suspected of being a Socinian, i.e., a rationalist who rejected the essential Christian doctrines of the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, and the substitutionary atonement. This was perhaps because a number of Remonstrants did become Socinians so that the line between the two movements was blurred. It is also true, however, that Grotius wrote a treatise on the satisfaction of Christ to which the Socinian Crell responded. As I understand it, Grotius used the phrase etsi Deus non daretur to say that natural law would be in effect even if God were not assumed. Bonhoeffer took the phrase, mediated to him by German scholars such as Wilhelm Dilthey (1833–1911) and put it to use in a rather different context (WWII and the Holocaust) and to a rather different end.
What has been troubling me about this phrase is the way it seems to describe so much of Modern and Late Modern life. How often do we Christians go about life as if we were practical agnostics, as if God were not a given? A major impetus of Modernity, i.e., the Enlightenment movements that swept across Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, was to reject the historic Christian understanding of the world, to assert the autonomy of the human intellect and will, and to relegate God to an unnecessary hypothesis. Evangelicals have adapted to Modernity (and Late Modernity) by adopting a God-of-the-gaps approach: whatever cannot be explained naturally they explain with the God hypothesis: the supposition that God exists.
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Randomness is Not a Scientific Explanation

Randomness can never be a scientific explanation, since we can never know that something is random. At best, saying something is random is shorthand for “we don’t know.” So, when scientists state the origin of something in our universe is random, they do not know the origin.

It is common in the sciences to claim aspects of our universe are random:

In evolution, mutations are random.
In quantum physics, the wave collapse is random.
In biology, much of the genome is random.
In business theory, organizational ecologists state new ideas are random.

There is a general idea that everything new has its origins in randomness. This is because within our current philosophy of science, the two fundamental causes in our universe boil down to randomness and necessity. Since necessity never creates anything new, then by process of elimination the source of newness must be randomness. Similar to how the ancient Greeks believed the universe originated from chaos.
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Is All Work Equal? Yes and No

Paul says every gift is essential for the church to be healthy. Thus, every gift has value. And that implies that every skill and every worker is valuable too. But Paul also says we differ in our functions. Yet there are “higher gifts” and believers rightly “desire” them (12:31). If God grants them, he expects us to use them. If the gift is service, we serve. If it is leadership, we lead “with zeal” (Rom. 12:6-8).

At this moment, two contradictory ideas about work compete for our attention. On one hand, economists say the desire to work is waning. People aren’t rushing to return to work after the disruptions of Covid. Specifically, employers can’t obtain laborers for entry level jobs. People would rather be unemployed than accept a job with low pay, poor benefits, and no prospects. Meanwhile, the church, and especially the faith and work movement, enthusiastically promotes the dignity and value of all labor. We cite Paul, who says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23). In particular, Protestants refuse to call church work “sacred” and ordinary work “secular.” The faith and work movement cheers workers on saying, “All work is holy. Your work matters to God!”
Like all slogans, “All work is holy” must be refined. The idea that all work is holy doesn’t cover dishonest or illegal work. Pushing opioids is work, but it isn’t good work. Further, work can be lawful, yet almost meaningless. There is work that neither lasts long nor matters much. How important is it to sell lottery tickets? Cotton candy? Promotional T-shirts that can’t survive two journeys through a washing machine? It is unpopular but necessary to say it, but all work is not equal in every way.
First, let’s agree that all honest work has dignity. Second, every worker has equal value, whether they sweep floors or run major corporations. Third, both CEOs and cleaners can and should please God at work. In fact, the cleaner may well please God more, since a CEO can easily become impatient or selfish.
Nonetheless, certain positions have more strategic weight than others. The CEO has more impact on a corporation than the cleaning crew. A restaurant chain in my area recently declared bankruptcy due to a series of errors by corporate leadership. A little later, a Christian camping ministry escaped bankruptcy through a series of wise and sacrificial decisions. The labor force at both places was skillful and faithful. The restaurant enjoyed good food, loyal customers, and prices that were low enough to be acceptable but high enough to be profitable. The camp also had good food and programs, but the camp had better leaders in a time of crisis. Situations like these show how leaders have strategic influence. In short, all work can please God and every honest job has worth, but executives exert greater influence than security guards do – I say this as a former security guard.
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Does the Bible Give Preferential Treatment to Men?

Episode 777 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions. Show Notes

What Is Wrong With Gay Christianity? What Is Side A and Side B Anyway?

We must maintain that we who repent and believe stand in robes of righteousness as beloved sons and daughters of God, even as we do daily battle with any and all sexual lust and unbiblical desire that claims our affections.  We are not our sin, and we ought never to let it define us.

Gay Christianity was born out of desperation. People like me—people who have had in the past or who currently have deep, abiding and/or long-lasting sexual desires for members of our own gender—had found no place in the broad evangelical church. Instead, these churches typically say homosexuality is a behavior to be modified through parachurch ex-gay ministries. The church condemned such feelings as bad choices and condemned the people (like me) who experienced these feelings as abominations, falsely calling homosexual desires a willful choice.
I have never met a person who has chosen same-sex attraction. In the early 2000s, people with abiding and lasting same-sex attraction gathered together under the umbrella term gay Christian. They are supported by the Gay Christian Network, or Side A (which sanctions same-sex marriage and believes that homosexuality is just one of many forms of diverse sexuality that the church should welcome), and the Spiritual Friendship internet community, or Side B (which believes that homosexuality is not a morally culpable issue, although it is a consequence of the brokenness from the Fall; Side B teaches against homosexual sexual practice, but only for the sake of Christian tradition). While Side B seeks to uphold biblical sexual standards, because it sees sexual orientation as an accurate category of personhood (i.e., there is such a thing as a gay person—that gayness describes who someone essentially is), their theology in no way allows for an understanding of why homosexuality, even at the level of desire, is sinful and needing the grace of repentance. To the Side B Christian, homosexuality is a sexuality—one of many.
Over the years, we have seen many Side B Christians defect for Side A, declaring that God sanctions gay unions. And I predict that we will see many more defectors, since the theology behind Side B is biblically untenable. How can any of us fight a sin that we don’t hate? Hating our own sin is a key component to doing battle with it. At the same time, we need to separate ourselves from the sin we hate.  This can be a very challenging issue for a Christian who experiences SSA, an issue that becomes exceedingly more challenging if one assumes the social identity of “gay Christian.”
We must maintain that we who repent and believe stand in robes of righteousness as beloved sons and daughters of God, even as we do daily battle with any and all sexual lust and unbiblical desire that claims our affections.  We are not our sin, and we ought never to let it define us.
Side A and Side B both support the idea that sexual orientation is an accurate category of personhood, and therefore they both are outside the bounds of biblical teaching.

What Will Happen to the All-White Church in America? Ten Trends in the Next Ten Years

Will a massive wave of multi-ethnic churches form in the next decade? It’s possible, but there are headwinds. Many cities are diverse, but the individual neighborhoods within them are still segregated. As mentioned previously, demographic trends change slowly. By the time Gen Z starts having grandchildren, however, I believe the all-white church will be more the exception than the rule in the United States.

Demographics tend to change slowly. You can see the patterns emerging, and, for the most part, you can know what is coming years in advance. Most people do not pay attention to these gradual shifts because it does not have an immediate impact on their lives.
Then we hit an inflection point, and everyone seems to notice.
We’re now at an inflection point demographically in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau recently confirmed two noteworthy milestones.

The white population declined for the first time since 1790. Allthe nation’s growth is attributable to people of color. Almost every countyin the United States grew in diversity the last ten years. In other words, this trend is occurring in your community whether you choose to see it or not.
The youngest generation is now minority white, meaning white children under 18 make up less than 50% of their respective age group. Around 2040 the entire nation will become minority white.

As you can see in the above chart, this demographic trend has been in place for some time, but the inflection point is now. I started writing about this reality over ten years ago. We’ve arrived at the place demographers predicted.
Why does this trend matter to the church?
As the demographics change in the community, the same demographics must be reflected in the local church. You should reach your neighbors! While it may seem like common sense, unfortunately, it is not common practice. Many all-white churches are not ready to be ethnically diverse. My focus is on the all-white church in this article because two generations prior the United States was 87% white. The sheer number of all-white churches means this shift will have a profound impact in the coming decade.
Is a day of reckoning coming for the all-white church? It’s less about a specific point in time and more about a gradual fading. What do the next ten years look like? Here are ten trends to consider.

Growth in most all-white churches will not occur because the parents are having more children. Biological growth will continue to slow in all-white churches. Not only did the absolute number of white people decline in the United States, but there were also significant declines in the number of white children born here. The birth rates among white families are significantly lower.
All-white churches will become less attractive to the youngest generation. Gen Z will gravitate toward churches that look like their schools. While segregation may be normative for older generations, the opposite is true of the youngest generation.

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Can I Be Sure I’m Saved If I Haven’t Killed My Sin?

Episode 776 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions. Show Notes

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