Featured Issues

A Call for Compassion, Empathy and Forgiveness in America

Nov 12th, 2016 | By

Most Americans are rejoicing that the presidential election is finally over. America has endured eighteen months of innuendo, vindictiveness, conspiracy theories, and the abandonment of reason, mixed with racial and ethnic discord. Tragically, there was little, substantive discussion about the significant issues facing the nation over the next four years. However, as a Christian, I can affirm several bedrock truths:

The ISIS Apocalypse Delayed

Nov 5th, 2016 | By

During the weekend of 8-9 October 2016, ISIS fighters lost control of the village of Dabiq, not far from the city of Aleppo. The village of Dabiq has been central to the identity of ISIS. The group’s online magazine is called Dabiq, and its news agency, Amaq, is named after the surrounding area of Dabiq. Dabiq had been lauded by ISIS as the center of the final apocalyptic battle between the self-styled caliphate of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the Western crusaders. ISIS deduced the importance of Dabiq for its eschatology from an obscure Hadith, or saying of the Prophet Muhammad concerning the end times.

Abraham: The Patriarch of Three Faiths

Oct 29th, 2016 | By

Judaism, Christianity and Islam each claim Abraham as central to their heritage: For the Jews, Abraham is their ethnic progenitor and a model of trust in Yahweh. For Christians, Abraham models justification by faith (see Romans 4). For Muslims, Abraham is a key prophet in a prophetic line extending from Adam to Muhammad. He is mentioned in 35 of the 114 chapters of the Qur’an, and is proclaimed as a prophet who early on modeled the singular belief in Allah and who declared allegiance and faith in Allah. To Muslims, his importance is as a prophet, not as the father of the Jews. But the Bible pronounces Abraham a watershed figure in God’s redemptive plan. Before him, God dealt with all of humanity, making no covenant distinctions. But God chose Abraham. . .

The Curse of Anti-Semitism

Oct 22nd, 2016 | By

In 2005, historian Paul Johnson published an important article on anti-Semitism in the journal Commentary. He defined anti-Semitism as “an intellectual disease, a disease of the mind, extremely infectious and massively destructive. It is a disease to which both human individuals and entire human societies are prone.” After the destruction of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 722 BC and the Southern Kingdom of Judah in 586 BC, the Jews were dispersed throughout the eastern Mediterranean. After Rome’s brutal destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, the final, great diaspora unfolded with Diaspora Judaism becoming the norm. Jews were now dispersed on every major continent and yet were able to maintain a distinct social and religious identity. Over the last 2,000 years, anti-Semitism has continually raised its ugly head virtually everywhere.

Sound Doctrine in a Secular Age

Oct 15th, 2016 | By

Ligonier Ministries recently released a study entitled its “2016 State of American Theology Study” conducted by LifeWay Research. Among other things, the study focused on six key doctrinal areas and where Americans differ on each theologically. The results evidence confusion, inconsistency and a superficial understanding of basic doctrinal truths. From the “Executive Summary” part of the report, here is a brief summary of several salient results of the study:

Limited Government and President Obama’s Health Care Law

Oct 8th, 2016 | By

We live in a world where one of the few constants in life is change. As we contemplate the future for our children and grandchildren, this can trouble us and often cause significant anxiety. The Founders of this nation were very aware of change and perhaps their greatest fear was how government’s power would change over time. They were birthing a republic unlike any that had ever existed. James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson that “Wherever the real power in a Government lies, there is the danger of oppression.” Benjamin Franklin supposedly explained that “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.” They were fearful of the tyranny of the majority and of the power of the central government they were creating.

Note to Evangelicals: “Let’s Start Talking About Our Theology, Not Politics”

Oct 1st, 2016 | By

Although American civilization manifests a radical pluralism when it comes to worldview choices, secularism is the preferred face of this culture. As a culture, we respect the right of a person to choose, but we do not like to discuss the nature of those religious choices. Instead of engaging in the implications and the consistency of a worldview choice, our culture prefers silence. When worldview choices are discussed, it quickly drifts to politics, not theology. The end result is that the public square in indeed naked (to use the late John Neuhaus’s words.) As a Christian, I find all of this especially disturbing.

Islam, Christianity and Jerusalem

Sep 24th, 2016 | By

Without question, Jerusalem remains the most controversial city in the world. It has played a decisive role in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. . . Jerusalem was the center of Jesus’ final days for it was there He was crucified, buried and resurrected in AD 33. But it was not until Caesar Constantine in AD 313 and the subsequent developments under him and his mother, Helena, that the sites associated with Jesus’ life became major points of Christian pilgrimage. The Church of the Holy Sepulchere and other churches were built over key places associated with Jesus; thus Jerusalem became a critical center of organized Christianity until Islam conquered it. It is to that block of history we now turn.

The Ethics of Human-Animal Stem Cell Research

Sep 17th, 2016 | By

In early August 2016, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced that it was planning to lift its ban on funding some research that injects human stem cells into animal embryos. This rather remarkable decision involves growing human tissues or organs in animals to better understand human diseases and develop therapies to treat them. That scientists are placing human cells into animals is not new; this has been a common practice for years. What is new here is that such implantations involve human stem cells being placed in animals. Human stem cells are placed into developing animal embryos where they can become any type of cell—for organs, blood or bones. The larger goal of such a practice could be, for example, growing a human kidney in a pig for a transplant back into a human.

Human Depravity and 21st Century Horrors

Sep 10th, 2016 | By

Genuine biblical Christianity rejects the proposition that humans are basically good. The Bible affirms that every human being is born with the guilt and sin of Adam (see Romans 5). The Bible also affirms that humans are capable of the most egregious evil and despicable violence. Theologian Wayne Grudem writes: “. . . every part of our being is affected by sin—our intellects, our emotions and desires, our hearts (the center of our desires and decision-making processes), our goals and motives, and even our physical bodies” (see Romans 7:18, Titus 1:15, Jeremiah 17:9). Ephesians 4:19 declares that humans “are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in [us], due to the hardness of [our] hearts.” Apart from the work of Jesus Christ in our lives, there is no hope and no purpose, and can do no spiritual good.