secularism

A Lesson in Power

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By Jojo Ruba

When we were younger, my parents only let us watch one show on school nights, the nightly news. Back then, it was only half an hour long and it aired at the right time—just after dinner and before we had to do our homework. Though I first resented the rule, I quickly began to enjoy knowing about what was happening in the world. I particularly loved the back-and-forth of political news. I enjoyed watching the debates and following the candidates and on rare occasions, I would be allowed to stay up late to watch the election results roll in.

That is probably one of the reasons why I went to our nation's capital to study journalism and politics in university. What I found in Ottawa was a great political community. Everyone was either working for the government or was related to someone who was, and so they deeply cared about how our country runs.

CanadianFederalElection2015PollingStationI also found Christians who were passionate about making government work. Whether they were civil servants or partisans on Parliament Hill, they truly wanted to bring our values as Christians to the marketplace of ideas. They strongly believed Christians had something positive to contribute to the country. There were days where I even imagined running for office and gaining political power.

Yet as I watched the most recent election results roll in, I couldn't help but feel personally rejected, as if Christians like me would never be part of the political world again. This had nothing to do, of course, with which party won the election—Christians have been involved in all the major parties, and we at Faith Beyond Belief take no partisan stance. But it has everything to do with what was said during the election—that Christians who didn't take a pro-choice view on abortion or pro-same-sex marriage stance were not even allowed to run for office on behalf of some parties. And when Canadians chose one of these parties to govern us, they wholeheartedly said they had no problem with this view. For the first time in Canadian history, then, no practising Christian with a Christian worldview will sit on the government benches on Parliament Hill.

When I point this out, I get pushback. Some Christians argue that there are practicing believers in government, like the health minister who apparently attends a Mennonite church.[1] But the point I am making is not that there aren't people who call themselves Christian on the government side of the House. It's that there is no one who holds a Christian worldview on that side of the house. Columnist Rex Murphy said it this way:

As things now are, a truly religious person must actually stay out of politics—must forgo an active role in democratic government—because in our brazen and new age, he or she will be faced with irreconcilable moral choices. If elected, he or she will be required to betray their faith and themselves, and on those very issues that matter most: issues of life, family, autonomy and the dignity of persons.[2]

When a political leader insists that those who run for his party must be willing to put that party's beliefs ahead of their faith's teachings, then its clear their faith is compromised. Abortion particularly is a tricky issue to enforce such a rigid morality. Given that Christians, and frankly many people of many faiths and no faith, believe that abortion takes the life of a human being like us, it is impossible to be "pro-choice" on taking those lives. It would be akin to saying I personally oppose killing gay people but it's okay if others choose to kill gay people. From a Christian perspective, killing innocent people is not something you can just be "pro-choice" about and still be a faithful Christian.

It's ironic that so many Canadians argued that requiring a Muslim to temporarily uncover her face while voting was prejudiced and anti-Muslim, but requiring a Christian to compromise her faith's teaching to value all human life before she could be part of the government, was not.

Of course it isn't just practising Christians who are excluded. Muslims, Hindus and even many atheists take the same life-saving position. I met a Sikh representative at my door of one of the parties who takes the radical pro-abortion stance that abortions even at the ninth month of pregnancy should be legal and publicly funded for any or no reason at all (the current law in Canada). He was trying to get me to put up a lawn sign for them. But as I quizzed him about his faith, it was obvious he didn't agree with his party's extreme stance. I asked him, "How can you support a party that won't let you run for them unless you compromise your faith?" I was expecting an argument but instead, he glumly agreed saying I was right and walked off visibly shaken.

Unfortunately, the lack of Christian representation also gets another response: sheer happiness. Many Canadians are glad to get rid of any religious, particularly Christian, influence from the public sphere. One Canadian I debated in an on-line forum insisted that religious people could only participate in politics if they first swear allegiance to the government. I told him that's exactly what the Communists in China and North Korea insist on doing and the comparison didn't bother him.

In fact, it's an ongoing story in Canada: BC's Trinity Western University has a biblical moral code for its staff and students, and because of that code, is in courts across Canada just to ensure their law students can actually practice law. In Quebec, all schools except for a handful must teach that religious views can't be right or wrong—they are all equal. In Ontario, an African church is banned from using public property in downtown Toronto because city officials think singing "There is no God like Jehovah" is proselytizing.

When I debated a top Canadian atheist at the University of Calgary, she insisted that all religious influence be removed from political life. Christians and other religious people can practice their faith, but that faith should have no influence on public policy.

I responded by saying that religious people, particularly Christians, have positively influenced politics too. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a Baptist pastor when he fought for civil rights for African-Americans, and one of the founding fathers of the NDP was a Baptist pastor named Tommy Douglas who fought for nationalized healthcare because of his Christian views of taking care of others. Interestingly enough, she conceded this point but said only values that can benefit everyone should be allowed to influence government.

And that's why the move to exclude faith from the public sphere is so heartbreaking. These arguments come from people who don't realize that Christ did come to earth to benefit everyone. That's not an invitation to force people to become Christians through the government (as I pointed out during another debate with that atheist, Christians don't consider people who are forced to convert to our faith as actual Christians, so we have no incentive to do so), but it is a reminder of what Christians ought to do in a culture that is increasingly hostile to us.

Rather than lamenting about being excluded from political power, I realized that the power Christians have isn't found in Ottawa or in politics. It is found in what Jesus said about who is greatest in His kingdom. In Mark 9, in response to His disciples arguing about who was the greatest, Jesus said, "If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all." Jesus' life showed that real power didn't come through the one who wielded the biggest sword or who made the most brilliant campaign ad. Instead, His message transformed the world because His power was accepting how much others hated Him and His views and then choosing to serve them anyway, even at the cost of His life.

And this is our commitment at Faith Beyond Belief too. Regardless of who is in government and how much they want to exclude us, we will continue to speak from God's word; we will continue to share how much He cares both for the preborn and the poor; we will continue to offer as an alternative to this culture's insistence that any sexual act will do, His plan for real wholeness for the sexually broken and confused; and no matter how many times we are told that we are no longer welcome in the public arena, we will continue to go those public places so we can proclaim that there is no God like Jehovah as we wash our enemies' feet. And in doing so we pray many understand that power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive today in a church that still chooses to be a servant of all.


[1] Dick Benner, "Philpott Named New Health Minister," Canadian Mennonite, November 4, 2015, accessed November 12, 2015, http://www.canadianmennonite.org/stories/philpott-named-new-health-minister.

[2] Rex Murphy, "In Justin Trudeau's World, Christians Need Not Apply," National Post, June 21, 2014, accessed November 12, 2015, http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/rex-murphy-in-justin-trudeaus-world-christians-need-not-apply.

I'm Sorry! But the Church Needs Apologetics

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By Scott McClare and Jojo Ruba

An elderly Christian woman once told me that she didn't need to learn apologetics. She said she knew enough to be convinced that Christianity was correct, and didn't need any more information. In response, I asked her a question (something we at Faith Beyond Belief train a lot on). I asked her, "I'm glad you know enough to be convinced of Christianity. But do you have non-Christian friends who might need to know a little more in order to be convinced to become Christians? Couldn't you learn more for their sake?"

She said I made a good point.

Unfortunately, her initial resistance to apologetics is something too many Christians adopt when we share what we do at Faith Beyond Belief. Christians raise all kinds of objections to why they shouldn't have to learn about how to defend their faith in an increasingly hostile culture.

francis-schaefferThat's why we created this series. We want to examine some of the top arguments from Christians who think apologetics is unnecessary or, worse, damaging to the cause of Christ. Many of these arguments are ones we've heard from friends or family or Christian critics. Many of these arguments are also left unspoken—they are lingering doubts we hear between the lines when we introduce FBB to Bible college professors or pastors or Christian students at Christian schools.

Interestingly enough, simply defining apologetics helps dispel many of the critics' arguments. It's important to start here because there is so much confusion and ungrounded prejudice against apologetics because of how it is defined. And of course, if we want a biblically-minded Christian to listen to the case for apologetics, we should look for a definition in Scripture.

The word apologetics comes from a Greek word, apologia, which means "to give a verbal defense." This is the word Peter uses when he writes, "in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15, emphasis added).[1] Christian apologetics, then, is the defense of the Christian faith. Generally, apologetics focuses on answering objections from non-Christians. Hence we can contrast apologetics with polemics, which is the refutation of false ideas within the Christian faith.

When the apostle Paul writes about fighting spiritual battles, one of the two "weapons of our warfare" he tells Christians to use is effective apologetics: "We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). The other weapon is practical holiness, and as Peter writes, that in itself can also be an apologetic: "even if some [husbands] do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct" (1 Peter 3:1).

One of my pastors used to be fond of saying that everyone is a theologian; it was just a matter of how good a theologian you were. Similarly, everyone is an apologist. Muslims and Mormons begin their training as youth; Jehovah's Witnesses practice how to have conversations with people at the door. And every atheist I've met seeks to get Christians to adopt their worldview. We all have a belief system we believe is true. As Christians in particular, we want to persuade others that our beliefs are true, as well. Hence, the goal of Christian apologetics is to persuasively answer honest objections that keep people from faith in Jesus.

Why do apologetics? Again, scripture has the answer. We do apologetics because God commands it (1 Peter 3:15; Jude 3-4). We live in a society whose institutions, such as schools, media, popular culture, and government, are increasingly hostile to faith. That's nothing new, of course. The first generation of the church fathers, such as Justin Martyr and Tertullian, were largely apologists who saw a need to appeal to the authorities who were persecuting the church, and tell them not to believe the false rumours that circulated about what Christians believed and how they behaved.

We do apologetics because we want to persuade non-Christians to repent and believe in Jesus. Skeptics have many barriers to faith: the reliability of the Bible, the historicity of the Resurrection, the reality of miracles, and others. Reasoned apologetics can remove those barriers.

We do apologetics because we want to help other Christians strengthen their faith. Unfortunately, many Christians are not well-informed about Christianity and cannot clearly define even its core tenets: for example, the Trinity, the relationship of Christ's two natures, the meaning of the Atonement, or the difference between justification and sanctification. This is increasingly worsening as the Internet steadily provides false information that causes further confusion. It's no wonder Christian teachers and youth pastors agree that the average age for a young person to face a crisis of faith is now 13. They don't have to go to university to hear all kinds of false ideas about Christianity—they can just hear them on YouTube.

Apologetics helps define the truth of the Gospel. Other Christians may also hear the answers given to the objections of skeptics, and be encouraged and emboldened themselves. We then become role-models for how we can engage and teach the truth of the gospel of believers who may have no one else to help them.

We do apologetics to protect the church from harmful influences. There are many cults and new religious movements that call themselves "Christian," but they promote false doctrines. These need to be answered and refuted so that they do not lead the church astray. John warned his readers not to even invite false teachers into their homes, because it gave the appearance of approving their message and giving them a base from which to spread it (2 John 10-11). In addition to false religious influences, the church also needs to be protected from secular influences, such as immorality and worldly thinking. We need to clearly articulate God's will that God's people be holy, in both their bodies and their minds. As apologist Matt Slick has written:

The fact is that Christianity is under attack in the world, and we need to fight the good fight of the faith without shrinking back. We need apologetics to give rational, intelligent, and relevant explanations of Christian viability to the critics and the prejudiced who would seek to undermine the teachings of our Lord Jesus.[2]

With all the clear biblical commands, why, then, does it seem like many Christians and churches are indifferent, or even hostile, to apologetics? In this series, we'll examine some of these arguments and excuses to reject making the case for Christ. We've asked our FBB writers to take the most vocal Christian critics of apologetics head-on and provide some solid responses to their concerns.

Ironically, many people not familiar with the term apologetics thinks it refers to apologizing or having to say we are sorry for doing something. Through this series, we want Christians to realize that when they engage in Christian apologetics and defend the faith with "gentleness and respect," they have nothing to apologize for.


[1] Scripture citations are taken from the English Standard Version (ESV).

[2] Matt Slick, "Eight Reasons Why We Need Apologetics," CARM, accessed September 1, 2015, https://carm.org/eight-reasons-why-we-need-apologetics.

Scrubbing the Sin List

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By Scott McClare

Do you believe that Christians should be compelled to stop regarding homosexuality as a sin? According to his op-ed article published on Good Friday, New York Times columnist and gay activist Frank Bruni does.

Last month, the state of Indiana passed SB 101, a state version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which has been part of U.S. federal law since 1993. In short, RFRA prohibits the government from burdening a person's free exercise of religion, unless it is to further a compelling state interest and does so in the least restrictive manner. RFRA is not absolute protection of religious practice, but it does provide one avenue of recourse for those who feel that their religious rights are being unduly restricted.[1]

After Indiana SB 101 was passed, prominent politicians, corporations, celebrities, and the media immediately piled on the state and threatened boycotts. The backlash was so intense that governor Mike Pence promised swift revisions to the law. One media outlet found a Christian-owned pizzeria whose proprietors said they would not cater a gay wedding; the restaurant received threats that caused them to close for several days.

Photo by Justin Eagan, via Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Justin Eagan, via Wikimedia Commons

The shaming of Indiana might lead you to believe that SB 101 was an anti-gay bill targeting homosexuals for discrimination. For Christian florists, bakers, restaurateurs, and photographers, the issue has not been refusing to serve a certain class of clientele. The pizzeria might decline to cater a gay wedding, but they also stated that they would not refuse to serve LGBT customers who patronized their business. Barronelle Stutzman, a Washington florist who was sued and fined for discrimination after declining to supply flowers for a same-sex wedding in 2013, had been happily selling flowers for a decade to the couple who sued her. Rather, the issue has been participating against their consciences in a religious ceremony.

With his column, "Bigotry, the Bible, and Lessons from Indiana,"[2] Frank Bruni joins the anti-Indiana dogpile, asserting that SB 101 was intended to target gays. However, he sets a poor intellectual tone right from the start by employing the bandwagon fallacy. Homosexuality and Christianity need not be in opposition, he writes, because "several prominent denominations . . . have come to a new understanding of what the Bible does and doesn't decree." In other words, several liberal denominations have decided that homosexual behaviour is compatible with authentic Christianity, and so should you. However, the three largest Christian denominations in the U.S.—the Roman Catholic Church, Southern Baptist Convention, and United Methodist Church—currently all officially declare homosexual behaviour to be incompatible with Christian belief and practice, though each denomination has varying degrees of internal dissent.[3] Bruni wants us to get on the bandwagon, but can't explain why we should get on his bandwagon.

Bruni's next fallacy is the one C. S. Lewis called "chronological snobbery": assuming that old ideas are intrinsically inferior to new ones. He writes that viewing LGBT people as sinners "prioritizes scattered passages of ancient texts over all that has been learned since—as if time had stood still, as if the advances of science and knowledge meant nothing." By contrast, he recommends the views of "gay Christian" authors and supporters such as David Gushee, Jeff Chu, James Brownson, and Matthew Vines. The Christian church has declared unambiguously that homosexual activity is sinful for nearly 2,000 years, but everything that really needed to be said about LGBT issues and Christianity was published in the last two?

(Bruni argues that scriptural opposition to homosexuality is sparse and obsolescent, whereas Vines, whom he cites favourably, claims that the Bible is authoritative but its teaching on sexuality is misunderstood. I wonder whether Bruni recognizes his contradiction?)

The biblical teaching on homosexuality is "scattered" and "sparse," we are told. What of it? A truth told infrequently is nonetheless the truth, and the scattered pronunciations on homosexuality in the Bible are uniformly negative. (For more details, refer to my earlier post, "God Hates Shrimp?")

Bruni also approvingly cites Matthew Vines' argument that people in the apostles' day didn't know about homosexual orientation or loving, committed same-sex relationships. However, Vines was simply wrong. In 2000, James B. DeYoung's examination of ancient Greek literature, such as Plato's Symposium, clearly shows that their understanding of homosexuality was very much like ours. They discussed homosexual orientation and desire as well as behaviour, committed and promiscuous relationships, obsession with the body and physical attractiveness, even a form of "gay pride."[4] Paul may or may not have read Plato specifically, but we can be reasonably sure that as an educated and well-traveled man, he was aware of these issues.

Bruni's secular worldview clashes sharply with the Christian worldview in two significant ways in this article. First, he sees morality as fluid and evolving, based on the march of progress and the winds of public opinion. If right and wrong are malleable, then of course we can add or subtract sins from the catalogue as we please. Hence he closes his op-ed in agreement with gay activist Mitchell God, who says the church must "take homosexuality off the sin list." However, for Christians, morality reflects the character of a perfectly just and righteous God, "with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (James 1:17).[5] The church can't take homosexuality off the sin list. It's not our list to edit.

Second, Bruni agrees with Gold's assertion that "church leaders must be made" to stop thinking of homosexuality as sinful. He advocates a statist worldview in which government must correct the moral positions of organized religion and its practitioners if they fail to comply with the spirit of the age. He fails to recognize that government itself is subject to the laws of God. "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29), said the apostles to the authorities, because they were told not to do the work the Lord Jesus had given them. The civil government's authority comes from God (Rom. 13:1), and hence it has a duty to promote godliness and to let the church be the church. This is why Paul instructed Timothy to pray "for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way" (1 Timothy 2:1-2). The church must be free to carry out its divine mandate of proclaiming the gospel of repentance and forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ. RFRA laws like SB 101 provide one avenue of recourse for Christians and others who religious exercise has been unjustly restricted by an overreaching government.

It is somewhat surprising to see one of the world's most influential newspapers give voice to such a radical screed. Frank Bruni's op-ed is long on assertion and opinion, but short on arguments supported by evidence. It is little more than an ultimatum: "Join the 21st century with the mainline Protestant denominations, 'gay Christian' authors, and myself, or else." Or else what? I'm not an alarmist. We don't need to fear the guillotines or lions, but advocates of sexual liberty are becoming more vocal in their call to restrict religious liberty. We need to remember that we are in an ongoing spiritual battle, and the tools of spiritual warfare are the same as always: practical holiness and effective apologetics. "[T]he weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

[1] For examples of successful and unsuccessful RFRA challenges, see Mollie Hemingway, "Meet 10 Americans Helped by Religious Freedom Bills Like Indiana's," The Federalist, March 30, 2015, accessed April 12, 2015, http://thefederalist.com/2015/03/30/meet-10-americans-helped-by-religious-freedom-bills-like-indianas/.

[2] Frank Bruni, "Bigotry, the Bible, and Lessons from Indiana," New York Times, April 3, 2015, accessed April 12, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-same-sex-sinners.html.

[3] For the sake of argument, if Christianity is defined broadly enough to include the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, then the five largest denominations (the fifth being the Church of God in Christ) officially oppose homosexual practice and same-sex marriage.

[4] James B. DeYoung, Homosexuality: Contemporary Claims Examined in Light of the Bible and Other Ancient Literature and Law (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2000). See especially Excursus 3, "Homosexual Behavior and Discussion in Plato," 205-13.

[5] Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (ESV).

The Bible and Human Worth

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The Preservation and Value of the Human Self in the Judeo-Christian Scriptures

By Dr. Ron Galloway

The Bible has two parts: the Old Testament, put together over a period of approximately eleven hundred years,[1] and the New Testament, composed over a period of about fifty years. But both parts of the Bible make wonderfully clear, when rightly understood, that all human beings are made in the image of God and are therefore infinitely precious to their Creator. The New Testament makes this human worth even clearer by making clear to us that God so loved us that He became one of us, and that Jesus who was God incarnate died for us all and rose for us all so that we could all become a member of His eternal family. That is really what we mean by the church as the body of Christ.

This is not a claim about human worth that we can ever afford to take for granted, even though most people appear to do so. For it is not merely a unique idea, but a declaration alien and against the grain of normal historical human patterns of thinking or believing, until people and civilizations come into contact with the Bible itself or its message.

Canadian Tribute to Human Rights, Ottawa: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."What we find when we view ancient cultures and civilizations, and many existing ones, is that they never rise to the concept that all human beings are equally precious and equally loved by a sovereign Creator with no rival. This very concept of human worth is far too high to be simply a product of human reasoning or understanding. Yet once the idea of equal human worth is believed in, its appeal to human beings is unparalleled.

It is part and parcel of every contemporary protest against oppression that we hear in the media today: the cruelty imposed on Muslim women, or our rage against people evil enough to enslave little children into prostitution. We see it in the sanctions imposed upon tyrannical rulers and every other form of claimed injustice that comes before the Supreme Court. Fragmented versions, cut off from its biblical source, exist around the earth. Many people now believe that all human life is precious, but they no longer connect it to the love of God, supposing that this concept can somehow hang in mid-air. The reality is that this mid-air stance makes no logical sense and has no support whatever apart from the belief in a deity that created us and loves us. As soon as the love of the Creator is rejected as the cause of this worth, there remains no way to support its reality. So, at the risk of repetition, allow it to be said again: the Bible presents a view of human beings and human worth that human beings could never come to on their own. The proof of this is the fact that before the Judeo-Christian tradition spread its influence, every pattern of human religion, civilization, and culture was devoid of such a wondrous non-preferential view of human worth and value.[2]

Once it is revealed, even religious humanists normally consent to the idea that human beings are precious, even though they cannot intellectually sustain this belief, and despite the fact that it is utterly contrary to their doctrine of human beings as purposeless accidental beings whose self-perception is wholly determined by data bombarding their senses. Still, many of these secular humanists would pit themselves against atheists such as B. F. Skinner, who was much more consistent with the presuppositions of an atheist. Skinner viewed humanity as an organism with no intrinsic inner self that was better off without freedom or human dignity. This is why his most popular work was called Beyond Freedom and Dignity.[3] Indeed, there would be little or no appeal to atheism if it did not ride piggyback on the biblical teaching of human worth. Take out human worth and what does atheism of the Darwinian variety or any other leave you? It bequeaths you with accidental organisms having no intrinsic purpose and no greater worth than any other living organism.

But to be fair, we must start far enough back that one does not mistake finding this idea of equal human worth originating in religion and culture itself, when in fact it is only found because of the widespread influence of the Bible.

Since the advent of the Christian faith, many cultures contain this wonderful and elevated understanding of humanity. When other cultures and religions come into contact with the Bible, there are often marked and pervasive changes in those religions and in the culture itself. For example, it is well known that Mahatma Gandhi deplored the doctrine of re-incarnation and replaced it with his belief in the equal value of every human being. This was a not a traditional Hindu idea, but a biblical view of human worth and justice. The rejection of the doctrine of reincarnation and the caste system implied by it was more than a minor change in the nature of his Hindu belief. As a consequence, the prime ground for the struggle for India's independence was grounded in a teaching alien to Hinduism itself. It was motivated by the truly transcendent idea that every human life is precious, but Gandhi cut this off from its real source, the Bible and its teachings.

This wondrous Biblical view of human individual and collective human worth was foreshadowed in many of the writings of the Old Testament. But it was only after the death and resurrection of Christ that even the first century Christian Jews began to understand God's love for all human beings. Not even the closest followers of Jesus even remotely understood the central purpose of the Old Testament, till they began to understand what Jesus did for us all by dying on the cross for all humanity. Only then did they come to understand that God so loved every human being in the world that he gave His only son, so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.

Whenever we lose sight of this and revert back to the idea that human beings are not loved of God, and not of equal value, we simply move back to a typical pattern of fragmented human thinking with respect to God and the universe. That pattern of fragmented thinking, of low-level thought, is as prevalent in the world today as it was before the time of Christ. You see its presence every time one human being, for whatever reason, considers himself superior to another.

This low-level view of humanity is particularly evident in secular humanism, the prevailing belief system in most of the West and much of the rest of the world. According to religious humanism, God does nothing for us.[4] He simply does not exist, and it is all up to us to form our own futures. In most versions of religious humanism, these self-created futures are done in an intrinsically purposeless universe.

We ought also to remember that whenever we are prepared to dump this whole idea that human beings are of equal value because they are all equally loved by God, we are then reverting back to the normal preferential human pattern of viewing human beings. For example, the Romans preferred the Romans and the Greeks the Greeks, and other nations could then be enslaved and conquered. As soon as we say that human beings are simply a physical species different only in degree from other animals, we then lose any basis for viewing human beings as of more value than anything else in the animal kingdom. If we are consistent with this cold and impersonal belief, we can use human beings as guinea pigs with no sense of conscience, since there no longer remains any basis for viewing human beings as of more value. As soon as our definition of human beings allows for the idea of superior and inferior human beings, then we too, like the ancient Romans or Greeks, can treat other human beings as inferior to ourselves without any pangs of conscience.

It is not difficult to find views of human beings in history in which some segment of humanity is considered superior to another. The reason it is not difficult is simply because it is the norm. Not only is it the norm, it is the very constant of human culture and civilization. Outside of the influence of the Bible, this fragmented preferential understanding of human value ever prevails.[5] This is essentially due to the fact that human beings are finite. Consequently they can never know enough about humanity or its origins to ever arrive at the wondrous idea that all human beings are equally loved and equally precious, and equally able to choose to come to their Saviour, Jesus Christ. Outside of Jesus Christ they can never find a logically consistent way to justify the equal value of all human beings. The only way this can be done is precisely by saying that the Creator loves them all equally and died for them all equally.

I invite any of my readers to try to come up with any other consistent idea that establishes equal human worth. I would advise against appealing to the New Age notion that all life forms are equally precious, since this makes human beings no more precious than the AIDS virus. Indeed, I also extend to all the invitation to even find any other basis for believing that human beings are of greater value than cancer cells. We might for example argue that because we are more intelligent, we are therefore superior. This might sound solid, but who has ever established that degrees of intelligence have anything to do with the idea of worth?

There are of course some very damaging implications in seeking to establish worth on the basis of intelligence. If this is true, it means that any person who is smarter than another person is automatically of more value and worth. Therefore those of superior intelligence can treat those of inferior intelligence as creatures of lesser worth and value. Just imagine how barbaric the world would become if this were the basis we all used for human worth. The Nazis suggested something similar to this when they maintain that a special white breed possessed superior minds than that of the Semitic, Oriental and African races.

There is a reason immigrants from oppressed parts of the world come to Canada and the US. It is because despite the betrayal of our heritage, which is precisely a Christian heritage at its richest, we still treat human beings as creatures of equal value and worth in our laws and in our protests, even though many have spurned the very origins of why we fight such battles to preserve the rights of every human being. That source is the Bible and the accounts within it that speak of God's love for all of us. Everyone is invited to receive this love shown to us by a dying and resurrected Saviour. There is no favoritism; every one us can become a member of his eternal family. Each member is equally precious. Even those outside of the family are no less precious. Jesus loves them as well. "The Bible tells me so."


[1] See Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (New York: Oxford, 1987); also F. F. Bruce, The Books and the Parchments (London: Pickering & Inglis, 1950).

[2] It is well known that reincarnation requires a hierarchy of privilege and superiority for the Brahmans.

[3]< B. F. Skinner, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (New York: Knopf, 1971).

[4] See the following sources: Humanist Manifesto I, American Humanist Association, accessed March 19, 2015, http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_I; Alvin J. Schmidt, How Christianity Changed the World (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004); and D. James Kennedy and Jerry Newcombe, What if the Bible had Never Been Written? (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1998).

[5] To show how alien the idea of equal worth is to history until the time of the writings of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, see Ravi Zacharias, Jesus Among Other Gods (Nashville: Word, 2000) and Peter Marshal and David Manuel, The Light and The Glory (Grand Rapids: Revell, 1980).