Mormons to Study Paul, but Will They “Get” Grace?

By Shafer Parker

I know we’ve said a lot about Mormonism in recent podcasts and blogs, but right now the Mormon world is a boiling soup in which new changes in the religion founded by Joseph Smith bubble to the surface almost faster than they can be recorded. Take the following headline: 3 reasons Mormons don’t know what to do with the Apostle Paul. Mormons believe that families and individuals should study all their holy books, including the Bible, and to that end last year they put forward a new curriculum for adults entitled Come, Follow Me. The problem is, for the first time Paul’s writings will be given more than a passing glance. Over the next three months (August, September, October), the curriculum asks faithful Mormons to follow their leaders through each of Paul’s epistles (Romans through Philemon), and that means they will have to confront Paul’s un-Mormon-like eccentricities, as well as his emphasis on salvation by grace, an aspect of the Christian faith that earlier Mormon leaders have denounced in no uncertain terms.

The 3 reasons article by Religion News Service columnist Jana Riess is a good indicator that while Mormons may approach the New Testament as Scripture, they don’t read it closely enough to understand it. Riess, herself a Mormon, notes that Paul’s ascension to the position of apostle was entirely outside the church’s (read her church’s) usual channels. In other words, he wasn’t part of any form of apostolic succession, and could at first glance seem to be self-appointed. Or as Riess puts it, “Step One: Have a vision of Jesus. Step Two: Stop persecuting Christians and become one. Step Three: Put yourself in charge of the movement you just joined five minutes ago.”

It’s that third step where Riess goes wrong. If you read the first two chapters of Galatians and the book of Acts, you will see that Paul’s rise to prominence in the church took decades, and it did not happen without the support of the most important Christian leaders of the first century, including Barnabas, Peter, James and John. Thanks to these four leaders Paul was explicitly recognized as the one “entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised” (Gentiles), just as Peter was entrusted with the gospel for the Jews (Gal. 2:7). In that same passage Paul mentions something else Mormons don’t understand, that the apostolic call was always dependent upon the energizing authority of the Holy Spirit, recognized by the other apostles as working the same way in both Peter and Paul (Gal. 2:8).  And, lest you think it awfully convenient of Paul to argue this way in his own epistle, don’t forget that in Peter’s second epistle he openly acknowledges Paul’s writings as Scripture (II Peter 3:16). 

For the first time Mormons will give Paul’s writings more than a passing glance. … and that means they will have to confront his un-Mormon-like eccentricities, as well as his emphasis on salvation by grace, an aspect of the Christian faith that earlier Mormon leaders have denounced in no uncertain terms.

Riess also believes Mormons will have a problem with Paul because “he had a knock-down fight with Peter and then wrote about it.” Peter had slipped into an old Jewish habit of separating from Gentile Christians at meals, but Paul saw his behaviour as an open repudiation of the oneness in Christ brought about by the gospel (Gal. 2:14). That’s why Paul rebuked him publicly, and in Mormonism that just isn’t done. Mormon leaders place an extraordinarily high premium on public respect for church leaders, especially at the level of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency. Respect for these men is a necessity, considering that each of them is individually accepted as a "prophet, seer, and revelator" for the church. From time to time these men receive new revelations that carry the force of Scripture, the very word of God. Like the law of the Medes and the Persians, because these revelations supposedly come from God “no edict or ordinance can be changed” (Dan. 6:15). But because Mormon scripture is a man-made thing, it would be devastating to the well being of the church for a Mormon leader to be publicly charged with being wrong about fundamentals of the faith and practice. From the Mormon perspective it is unthinkable that one apostle would publicly rebuke another.

But Christianity is different from Mormonism, and Paul and Peter were nothing like Mormon leaders. In the “faith that was delivered to the saints once for all” (Jude 1:3), Christ alone is Lord of the church, and His Word alone is infallible and unchanging. Peter and Paul may have been empowered from time to time to serve as Christ’s secretaries to put Scripture in manuscript form, but it was never their word. It was always His. That’s why once the New Testament was completed, no further word has been added. Why not? Because no further word will ever be needed.  The Bible is already perfect. Mormonism is exactly the opposite. Because their scriptures (Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, Doctrine and Covenants) are the creations of men almost every generation has had to come up with a new “revelation” to deal with issues Joseph Smith and succeeding generations of prophets failed to foresee. Instead of seeing themselves as gods-in-the-making as Mormons do, Peter and Paul saw themselves as servants of Christ in the most literal sense possible, and were quite prepared to be corrected, publicly or privately, like any other sinner who is saved only by grace.

Speaking of grace, that’s the third thing about Paul that Mormons will find difficult to digest. As Spiess puts it, Paul “was really adamant about the grace thing.” But Mormons are all about salvation by works. In a sermon preached in 1984 Apostle Bruce McConkie declared that salvation is essentially all works. It begins, he said, with faith and repentance, but these two human acts (graces in Christian theology) only “prepare” a person for spiritual rebirth. Mormon salvation is dependent upon continuing with such necessary works as “baptism under the hands of a legal administrator who has power to bind on earth and seal in heaven” followed by “Enduring to the end in righteousness, keeping the commandments, and living by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.” McConkie’s grand finale is a quote from the Mormon Scripture known as the Doctrine and Covenants (59:23): “He who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.” Lest you think doing “the works of righteousness” is anything like Jesus’ definition—“Believe in the one [the Father] has sent (John 6:29)”—here are two further quotes from the same sermon by McConkie. Once read, it should be evident that Mormon salvation is really and truly by works and not by faith. First this: “Grace is granted to men proportionately as they conform to the standards of personal righteousness that are part of the gospel plan.” And now this: “The blood of Christ was shed as a free gift of wondrous grace, but the Saints are cleansed by the blood after they keep the commandments.” (Italics added for emphasis)

Even Spiess recognizes that, “This conditional approach to grace runs headlong into Paul.” And then she suggests that perhaps modern Mormonism has moved away from McConkie’s full-on works approach. But her last quote from the new curriculum gives the game away. “Through faithful obedience to the commandments we help to open our hearts to receive grace as ‘an enabling power.’” Did you catch the order in which Mormon salvation is accomplished? First comes “faithful obedience” (works) that will “open our hearts” (self-opened hearts through faithful obedience) to—finally—receive grace as “an enabling power.” The question begs to be asked, “An enabling power for what? The work of faithful obedience has already been done!

Compare this with Paul’s description of grace in Ephesians 2:4-9. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. (Ask yourself, how would a spiritually dead person accomplish “faithful obedience” or “open” their hearts?) You are saved by grace! . . . . For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.” (Italics added for emphasis) 

Please join me in praying that as today’s followers of Joseph Smith study Paul’s epistles over these next three months, God will grant them the power to see that Mormon doctrine contradicts Bible doctrine. Pray that God will cause many to be born again into a living faith.


How Daily Life Challenges the Faith Life

By Ian McKerracher

I am doing a little renovating in the basement of my house. It isn’t a big affair, mostly just moving existing stuff around. The idea is to create space for a multi-generational family home. After the reno is finished, there should be enough living space for my wife and I to live in the basement, while the main part of the house will be given to my daughter, her husband and their two boys.

The development includes moving a couple of walls, changing the bathroom to include a tub instead of a shower, shifting other fixtures around to accommodate a set of cabinets and a stove to make a kitchen, and cutting out a new bedroom window large enough for emergency egress. After a lifetime in the trades, none of this is too difficult.

It’s the paperwork that’s hard. To begin with, I knew I needed a development permit ($152.00), a plumbing permit ($100.00), an electrical permit ($100.00), and a heating permit ($100.00), all of which I was perfectly willing to purchase. I fully understand that permits are necessary to ensure a safe environment for me and my family. This is important stuff, and I was prepared to keep everything legal and safe.

When you think about it, it’s shocking how many people must exert authority over our lives so that we can live in freedom!

There was only one problem, the stove! When city bureaucrats saw we were installing a stove, they automatically assumed we were building a secondary rental suite. That’s when I got a phone call from the city to tell me their version of the “real story”, along with their insistence that I spend thousands of dollars on upgrades, including a separate heating system, separate service meters, separate entrances, and fire-stopping insulation between the floors. All that, plus an extra $350.00 for a different kind of permit. (heavy sigh …)

For the record, I am not complaining, however much I may have something to complain about. The negotiations with the city are not yet done and it is yet to be seen whether the little guy can prevail against City Hall. I’m also aware that out of the vastness of life on planet earth, my story is relatively inconsequential. But an interesting question does arise. What is my Christian duty in the face of the government’s overwhelming might as represented by its omnipotent bureaucratic machine? Seriously, it’s in response to these daily aggravations of life that heroes, martyrs, and legends are made (of course, a lot of these heroes won’t be recognized until after the Resurrection). You see, Christians are supposed to respond to “all things” with a godly response base on a Christian Worldview! We need to remember that we can’t compartmentalize our faith; we’re not allowed to apply sub-Christ-like standards of behaviour when interacting with the world.

Worldwide, we are living in an age that is producing the greatest number of Christian martyrs in history. That means the question of how we behave before authority is becoming more and more important. Too many bad actors are using state power to murder believers, destroy churches, and oppose the gospel any way they can. Here in North America, it certainly isn’t as bad as all that, but there are enough whispers and hints about what’s coming to make people like me more than a little nervous. It is now assumed as fact that we are living in a “post-Christian Culture.” Does that mean the terrifying and deeply saddening circumstances seen elsewhere can come here? We are soothed by voices that tell us that it is impossible for persecution to arise in the open democracy under which we live! We’re further told that to fear a future Christian holocaust in Canada means we must be delusional, suffering from a kind of Martyr Syndrome, or some other such unfounded phobia or neurosis. But there is one obvious problem; the voices mouthing such soothing messages belong to the very people advocating for the incremental take down of the Church in North America.

Most Christians with a Biblical Worldview recognize that we have a duty to support those who have a God-given authority over our lives (Romans 13:1-7). Moreover, I suspect that most of us would agree that legitimate authorities would include police, doctors, teachers, bosses, etc., as well as politicians and the bureaucratic machinery that represents the extension of their power into daily life. When you think about it, it’s shocking how many people must exert authority over our lives so that we can live in freedom.

It is disturbing to realize how little information the Bible gives concerning how to live in a social democracy (fwiw, we’re aware that Canada is technically a federal, constitutional monarchy, but in practice it’s more like a social democracy). Thankfully, however, the Bible gives ample descriptions of the nature of man and the nature of God. Thus, as we seek to plumb the depths of Scripture, we discover the over-arching properties of reality and apply them to specific situations. By the way, this procedure is how you take first steps toward developing a Biblical or Christian Worldview.

One thing you learn as you develop a Biblical Worldview is that for most people, a position of authority becomes a doorway to absolute control. Moreover, this progression is almost impossible to avoid, as  Lord Acton put it so brilliantly some 150 years ago. “Power corrupts,” he said, “and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This statement immediately commends itself because it is rooted in truth—the truth of experience and the truth of Scripture. It should not surprise us, then, that when dealing with people in a position of authority we discover that they have confused themselves with the position and are totally prepared to exercise their personal power on you!  This confusion can come to a Prime Minister, a Supreme Court Justice, the triage nurse at a hospital emergency room, the person behind the return desk at a big-box store, and, yes, even a bureaucrat in my city’s development office.

Okay…Now let’s talk about my duty as a Christians when faced with this kind of bureaucratic obstinacy. First, we should remain aware that we, too, are sinners and that under the same circumstances we would run the same risk of corruption. Second, we should never lose sight of the Christian’s first order of business, to love the person in power! Losing our self-control, yelling and heaping abuse on a civil servant would simply ruin any future opportunity to share my faith with anyone who might witness my oh-so satisfying tirade. 

But that should not mean giving up all opportunity to speak truth to power. That, too, is our mandate. When faced with unjust laws and regulations, we should not hesitate to try to change things for the better. And where appropriate, we must speak up for the ones who cannot speak for themselves. We must use this amazing freedom of ours for the common good. We need to pay our taxes to ensure that the government can do its job, but with the caveat that we hold them to account for the money we give them. We need to be involved in the political process, in the economics of life, and in the social sphere. 

Christianity is neither for cowards nor the lazy. It never was. Our Lord’s mandate to “Occupy until I come” (Luke 19:13), includes speaking truth (and Truth) regardless of consequences. We have a mandate to seek freedom for everyone, not just Christians! So, when I have a face-to-face conversation with that woman in the Development office of my city hall, I have to bring my A-game. But then, I should bring my A-game to everyone’s office. Nevertheless, I don’t have to knuckle under to an administrator’s whims. I can pursue my desired ends with the same legal and political pathways open to everyone. But most importantly, I can approach this whole affair like a Christian! From the very bones of my Biblical Worldview, I can LOVE HER!



The Faith of Michael Coren

by Tom Bartlett

Winston Churchill once described Russia as a “riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.” The same could be said of Toronto Star columnist Michael Coren. He is a mystery in part because he might also be considered the male counterpart to poet Ogden Nash’s famous character Mrs. Marmaduke Moore, the woman who changed her religion seven times. Coren may not have changed his religion seven times yet, but he’s catching up. In a July 10 review of Unplanned, a ground-breaking movie that exposes Planned Parenthood’s greed and ethical misconduct, the former Catholic pro-lifer is now writing as a pro-abortion Anglican. 

Coren’s critique of Unplanned and the pro-life movement lacks originality and is rife with leftist tropes. If his brain had been taken over by a pro-abortion meme generator, his review would hardly have read any differently. Worse, his caricatures of the pro-life movement could be expected from an outsider. But part of the enigma of Coren’s sneers is that it wasn’t so long ago he was on the side of the unborn—indeed, one of their most eloquent defenders.

Planned Parenthood’s massive efforts to stifle and block Unplanned only make sense if it truly reveals secrets America’s premier abortion provider doesn’t want exposed.

Coren’s faith journey could hardly be more different than mine. I grew up in a milquetoast church tradition which doubtless mirrored his newfound Anglicanism. Not being a Catholic, my stance on abortion was largely one of indifference. The issue was never raised in my church, so I accepted it as an ideological matter. But based on an auspicious meeting with a pro-life Catholic, I determined to engage in an exhaustive investigation into the ethics of abortion. I decided that if the Catholics were right then there is no greater socially sanctioned evil to be exposed and defeated than abortion (ironically, Why Catholics are Right is a pre-reconversion book penned by Coren). Incidentally, I did not become convinced of Catholicism, but became unabashedly pro-life. The same level of investigation applied to theology has made me a committed evangelical Christian.

Before Coren’s review, I had not followed him for a while and was unaware that he now favoured abortion. But with a little further investigation, it seems to me he has found a home in a professing “Christian” church while holding no views obviously contrary to the cultural zeitgeist. He claims his conversion to the Anglican church was borne of a deepening faith. I can’t help but ask, faith in what? 

Coren’s embrace of the animating spirit of the secular left is a strong “tell” that he is reacting against his own history. Nowhere does the term “pro-life” appear in his article – only “anti-abortion.” Using this negative designation allows him to fulminate over how Unplanned will cause a groundswell of violent attacks against abortion doctors and clinics. Here it should be noted that attacks on abortionists have always been roundly condemned by leading pastors and pro-lifers, with almost none occurring over the last decade. Coren ignores the truth that “pro-life” has come to mean valuing all lives, not just those of the unborn. 

He was apparently unnerved by the Unplanned audience who, in his words were so “engaged” they, “cried, screamed and prayed,” during the film. This became the basis for his ominous intimations that moviegoers were “enraged” and feeling a “palpable anger.” He apparently wants his readers to think the crowds spilling out of the theatres had been transformed into angry mobs ready to tear into the nearest abortionist. Meanwhile, he ignores the possibility that the film is simply very moving. His pernicious attributions are contemptable, and exactly opposite from the pacifism of the pro-lifers as actually portrayed in the film. His implication that the film was throwing rhetorical chum to anti-abortion sharks is even more bizarre, since it come from the man who in the same review denounces the film as sleep inducing and anodyne. It’s amazing he could leave himself so vulnerable as to be on the brink of sleep when surrounded by such a bloodthirsty ravenous crowd of “anti-choicers.” 

What doesn’t find its way into Coren’s critique is the fact that despite determined opposition and a very limited release, “Unplanned” had a highly successful run in the U.S.– achieving fourth place in ticket sales on its opening weekend. Absent were any calls to violence from pro-lifers in the American experience. The only “palpable” incidents of the violence at which Coren hints has come from “pro-choicers” who feel that allowing the film a short run in theatres puts their beloved industry in a poor light. Due to death threats made by pro-abortion activists to theatre owners and staff in our tolerant nation, two Canadian theatres felt compelled to back out.

And what has been the backlash from the so-called angry pro-lifers after the success in the U.S.? Abby Johnson’s organization, “And Then There Were None” received roughly 100 calls from abortion clinic workers seeking to leave their jobs, and many others have indicated they have transitioned from being pro-abortion to being pro-life. This brings us to the crux of the matter. I’ll admit up front that I am not a journalist, nor have I played one on TV like Michael Coren. That said, I do have an interest in truth and an abiding love for others which springs from my deepened faith. This leads me to present the following statements.

  • Once you’ve seen the movie, you will never again doubt that Planned Parenthood is selling abortion, not promoting women’s health. 

  • Planned Parenthood’s massive efforts to stifle and block Unplanned only make sense if it truly reveals secrets that America’s premier abortion provider doesn’t want exposed.

  • There is nothing “pro-woman” about excoriating a female whistle-blower who left her career to go up against an extremely powerful organization with vast political clout.

  • There is no reason to doubt the veracity of Abby Johnson’s story once you learn that despite the financial resources behind Planned Parenthood, its attempt to stifle her legally failed miserably.

Here’s the quandary Planned Parenthood faces. This little film has received widespread media attention precisely because of its strong-arm efforts to keep Abby’s story out of the public consciousness. Planned Parenthood claims the movie’s depictions of abortion are inaccurate, but they can’t be. The man who plays the abortion doctor is a former abortionist who offers public tutorials to show exactly how abortions are carried out. He knows how they are done and certainly would never have allowed himself to be tied to fake propaganda. In fact, hubris is what turned Abby into a pro-life activist. She intended to leave her clinic and go peacefully into obscurity, but PP’s lawsuit (depicted in the film) pushed her into the fray.

To my mind, if a journalist had real doubts about the veracity of Unplanned, he would seek information directly from the source. Planned Parenthood does thousands of abortions every day. Who better to debunk any inaccuracies that may have shown up in the film? On the other hand, if the movie’s graphic photos are indeed accurate, I expect I would try to discredit and silence my opponents using the very strategies we have seen PP employ. 

Coren bemoans the fact that as a pro-abortionist he has lost a number of writing opportunities. Imagine that! A man who has reversed his positions on pretty much every social issue is no longer being hired by those who employed the former version of himself. On the other hand, by changing his positions on Christianity and social issues Coren has opened up for himself a vast array of employment options. If you need proof, just note that the man who now writes for Toronto’s flagship newspaper could only write for the tabloids when he was a conservative pro-lifer. It strikes me as tone-deaf for him to embrace his victimhood while reviewing a movie of a woman who made herself unemployable out of principle.

Coren’s misrepresentation of pro-lifers was bad enough, but his most offensive remark by far came when he mocked the pain a fetus feels during an abortion by comparing it to the “pain” he felt by being forced to sit through the film. Such callousness reveals an attitude of contempt for the unborn beyond comprehension. That an editor would let him get away with such crudities is beyond insensitive. I cannot fathom what the current faith of Michael Coren is, but I know I want nothing to do with it.


A Call for Secular Rights

by Tom Bartlett

Note from our Editor: Tom Bartlett is a great writer and we’re glad he’s part of the FBB writing family. But before you read him you should be warned that he has a wicked sense of humour and he’s not afraid to use it. With Tom you can assume that whatever he says, he means the exact opposite. Which seems appropriate to us. In this crazy upside-down world, his skewed perspective may be exactly what’s needed to enable us to see things right-side up. So, having been forewarned, we encourage you to put on your reverse-vision goggles and enjoy a refreshing blast of Bartlett satire.

As a Christ-follower, I’ve been guilt-tripping over the privileges afforded me simply because of my religious faith. After all, having a two-tiered system of protection for Christianity seems unchristian, and doubly so since it’s a known fact that secularism enjoys no Charter protections. I say it’s high time my tribe relinquished our privileged status and began to lobby for rights redistribution. In other words, our oppressive religious patriarchy should move to the back of the bus and finally learn something about the oppressive conditions in which unbelievers have been forced to live. You can read the following suggestions as my olive branch to the secular community.

Courts and human rights tribunals will act in the secularist’s interests by punishing any who stray from the sacred right to keep their opinions to themselves.

1. Our education system should be flipped immediately. The evidence clearly shows that Christian private schools are cheaper, and students come out better educated. And that’s a problem. Somehow the Christians are receiving an unfair advantage. To guard against Christian privilege, the curriculum should be transformed so that STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) will no longer be mired in social justice propaganda, and arts courses will be conducted with a semblance of coherence. Rather than face the soft prejudice of diminishing academic standards and expectations, atheists will be treated to the same level of respect for their intellect by teaching them how to think instead of what to think. Atheists will be taught that their lives have purpose and meaning and should be lived in the light of ultimate truth. There will be no more “just so” stories of a world creating itself and all life coming into being through multiple miracles made possible by nothing more than time and chance. 

Change is always difficult and therefore should be introduced gradually. Initially slut walks will be reduced to no more than two a month, and there will be budget cuts for such extra-curricular activities as Che Guevara Day festivities. Attendance at Gay Pride events will no longer be mandatory. Eventually, English assignments will not be required to fit on the wokeness spectrum, and cogency and logic will again be permitted even where such traditional thinking violates state-approved standards. Also, the teaching of character and morals will be introduced in place of feminist and gender study courses.

Admittedly, this will be difficult for many students’ parents to accept. So, in order to honour their pro-choice convictions, atheists will be permitted to go to private schools if they can afford it after being forced to fund the public Christian school option. Long-term, the goal is for the private and public programs to become largely indistinguishable, except the free public Christian schools will offer Bible studies, chapel services, and apologetics programs. 

2. Secularists will participate in the fight against man-made moral climate change. Since we know secularists believe that paying taxes fixes all ills, in future they will see their taxes raised to address the declining moral state of our country. Monies collected will go into the coffers of the churches who will then choose the best way to spread the wealth to address the apocalyptic moral collapse that will subsume us in a few years if we don’t act now. Efforts to reduce the hedonism footprint will encourage self-restraint and promote altruism. Men will be taught healthy masculinity, to respect women, and to act toward others with honour and integrity. Women will be advised on how to respect themselves, withstand social pressure, and to recognise their true worth and value their femininity. 

3. Abortion businesses will be freed to expand choice even further. Knowing that choice is central to the hearts of all secularists, the barriers Christians unjustly threw up to restrict women’s freedoms will be removed. Moreover, it will be the government’s policy to make certain that every choice is an informed choice. Teens will have access to parental consent, whether they want it or not, and access to ultrasounds and waiting periods will be introduced to ensure that women undergoing crisis pregnancies never endure the indignities of deceptive presentations and high-pressure sales pitches. Maternity homes and adoption will be actively promoted, and not selfishly restricted by Christian gatekeepers. All abortuaries will post signs that read, “Babies killed here. For non-lethal alternatives, please contact your local Crisis Pregnancy Centre at the number listed below.” No longer will the opponents of choice carry the day.

4. Sex-education, marriage and parenting courses. Common sense and numerous longitudinal studies have proven beyond doubt that having an absentee father is the greatest predictor of childhood poverty, sexual and physical abuse, gang involvement, criminal activity, school dropouts, drug and alcohol addiction, and early sexual activity. Therefore, in the hope of gradually eliminating conservative households, a patriarchical lifestyle will be forbidden to Christians, while male and female non-believers will be required by law to live together in complete family units. Children as young as Kindergarten will be shown ultrasound images of babies in utero. Over time, they will be told about the abortion epidemic impacting Canada, quickly moving on to images of abortions, and eventually being granted opportunity to directly observe abortions firsthand. This is necessary since current sex-ed programs have demonstrated so well that graphic content is the best way to protect children’s innocence and virtue. Young men and women will be treated like adults and taught that they have a duty to ensure that all children feel wanted.

5. The right to private expression of non-faith. Knowing that the best way to protect individual rights and freedoms is to keep them private, atheists will experience the liberating euphoria of living out their ideology within the confines and safety of their homes. To safeguard these important privileges, public support for secular values will be forbidden. This includes social media, which will help secularists in their pursuit of personal freedom by blocking, shadow banning, public shaming, doxing (exposing an individual’s private information to the public such as addresses and phone numbers) and shutting down their accounts should their social justice beliefs be aired on media platforms. As Christians have learned by bitter experience, this out-of-the-box thinking is actually a blessing in disguise and in no way violates personal freedoms. The teaching of Christian doctrine will be mandatory and partaking in the sacraments of the Christian faith will also be made available to help guard secularists from having their rights violated. Courts and human rights tribunals will act in the secularist’s interests by punishing any who stray from the sacred right to keep their opinions to themselves.

6. Control of entertainment and media. Given how uniting and empowering it has been for Christians to be locked out of Hollywood, as well as the brown-listing of Christian and conservative actors, writers, etc., Hollywood will be placed in the hands of the Christian community. Secularists will enjoy the bracing experience of engaging in an uphill battle to bring a film into the public by raising funds in the face of hostile opposition. Similarly, the CBC will lose its government funding so that it will no longer be a lapdog for “the man.” Mother Corp will be forced to generate income through advertising, private donors, car washes, etc. as this is known to be the fast-track to genuine empowerment. 

This is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to expanded secular rights and freedoms. I have other ideas such as designated secular free-speech zones, university student body policies that permit Christian-only campus groups, and Christian hiring quotas of 90 percent (give of take) for teachers, professors, college administrators and newsrooms. Once again, Christians will need to assume responsibility for the organisations and schools they started, and coercive initiatives will demand that Christians infiltrate and re-imagine secular organisations to conform with biblical values and principles. Fines and criminal charges for profanity, blasphemy, and taking the Lord’s name in vain could be established, and those holding values in contravention of church doctrine should be subject to public ridicule or firing.

When it comes to protecting secular rights, non-believers deserve all the same privileges Christians have enjoyed for so long.


Norman Geisler: FBB Celebrates the Homegoing of a Spiritual Father

By Shafer Parker, Jr.

Some of you will have heard by now of the death of theologian and apologist Dr. Norman Leo Geisler on July 1, 2019. When he died, Dr. Geisler was just three weeks short of his 87th birthday.

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He was amazing. Thanks to his evangelistic zeal and philosophical defence of the faith, he has been described as “a cross between Thomas Aquinas and Billy Graham.” At the time of his death he was credited with having written or contributed to 127 books, as well as numerous papers on theology, ethics and philosophy. Moreover, his publisher has announced there are new works still in the pipeline. He may be in heaven, but he will continue to speak. Geisler also co-founded two seminaries, including Southern Evangelical Seminary (easily among the top five apologetics schools in the world) and Veritas International University in California.

But for readers of the FBB blog, Geisler’s greatness lies in the fact that he almost single-handedly invented the apologetics approach that forms the foundation of our Worldview course. The rest of this blog will discuss his approach, but if you want to read more about Dr. Geisler and his impact on the world start here.

Geisler was driven to apologetics because he sought to win souls to Christ. In this short YouTube video Geisler explains that as an older teenager trying to win converts on the street, he found himself “tied in knots” by a Mormon, a Jehovah’s witness and a drunk. Faced with two choices, either to stop sharing his faith or seek answers, he chose the latter, and the answers he found changed all our lives. His comprehensive proof of the Faith was published in 1990 in his book When Skeptics Ask. The book is great, but, as you will see, perhaps its most lasting contribution is found in an appendix where he boiled down his approach to 14 points. What you are about to discover is a logically sound, comprehensive “proof” of all the essential claims of the Christian faith, developed in the crucible of real-life witnessing experience. (My comments will be in italics)

1. There are self-evident truths (e.g., "I exist," "Logic applies to reality").

This statement cannot be denied. Even postmodernists, who officially reject logic, apply it ruthlessly when it comes to getting something they want from others.

2. Truth corresponds to reality.

This is the perfect response to those who argue that there is no such thing as truth, or that truth is entirely subjective. The objective reality of life may be held at bay for a season, but eventually it forcefully inserts itself into every person’s awareness. If you don’t believe me, just ask the skeptic who ate the poisoned jellybean. Oh, wait. You can’t!

3. Truth is knowable (all other views are self-defeating).

Obviously, if you say truth is unknowable, even that statement must be doubted, thus the truth rejector is defeated. On a more practical level, the person who claims that truth is unknowable is usually desperately trying to avoid it (think of Pilate as he raises the question of truth with Jesus in John 18:38).

4. One can proceed from self-evident truths to the existence of God. 

  1. The argument from Creation (proceeds from "I exist")
    Not only is a Creator logically necessary (nothing can come from nothing), but the Creator has to be greater than every aspect of creation. The Creator of the universe must have more power than all the energy found in the universe, and if there are personal beings in that universe, their Creator must also be a greater person than the greatest of the created persons. 

  2. The argument from morals (proceeds from "Values are undeniable")

  3. The argument from design (proceeds from "Design implies a designer")

Don’t buy into the lie that the universe only appears to be designed. It turns out that merely forming the necessary proteins for life and placing them in their proper order is naturally impossible, and not just impossible in 14 billion years, it would be just as impossible if you had 14 billion universes, each 14 billion years old. Bottom line: if a thing is impossible, then it is impossible no matter how much time you give it.

5. God is a necessary Being (argument from being).

6. My existence is not necessary (evident from the definition of a necessary Being).

You and I are contingent beings. That means we are not necessary for the universe to exist. It existed long before we were born, and it will likely exist long after we are gone. But whatever begins to exist must have a cause. Thus (and I’m shortening the argument considerably) God the Creator is the necessary being who caused the universe.

7. Therefore, theism is true (there is a necessary Being beyond the world who has created the contingent things in the world and intervenes in the world)

  1. The objection from the problem of evil can be solved.
    As we teach in our Worldview course (quoting Alvin Plantinga): “It is possible that God, even being omnipotent, could not create a world with free creatures who never choose evil. Furthermore, it is possible that God, even being omnibenevolent, would desire to create a world which contains evil if moral goodness requires free moral creatures.” Thus, evil is a corollary to goodness if God’s creatures are to be faced with real choices.

  2. The objection to miracles can be solved.

If God exists, miracles are always possible, especially if those miracles are an outgrowth of what C. S. Lewis called “deeper magic,” spiritual and material principles that govern the universe, but that can only be known by revelation. This deeper magic will forever be unknown to such as Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking.

8. The Bible is a historically reliable document. 

  1. History is an objective study of the past.

  2. There is great historical, archaeological, and scientific evidence to confirm the reliability of the Bible. (Corollary: The Bible gives a reliable record of the teaching of Jesus Christ.)

Referring to archaeology’s impact on the historicity and accuracy of the Bible, someone has said, “Every time a shovelful of dirt is turned over in the Middle East, another skeptic bites the dust.”

9. Jesus claimed to be both fully human and fully God.

You have only to read the four gospels to realize this claim cannot be denied.

10. He gave evidence to support this claim (that He was both God and man).

  1. The fulfillment of prophecy

  2. His miraculous and sinless life

  3. His resurrection

Jesus’ claim to divinity is proven by these three sub-points. For truly, no one could know the future or perform the kind of miracles Jesus did, including the resurrection, unless God be with Him. But to those who knew Him in the days of his flesh, Jesus was just as obviously a man, who grew weary and hungry, who expressed happiness and sorrow, and who could experience love, loss, anger and bewilderment exactly as any other man.

11. Therefore, Jesus is both fully human and fully God.

If you accept all that has been stated so far, what follows is inevitable.

12. Whatever God teaches is true.

13. Jesus (God) taught that the Old Testament was the inspired Word of God and He promised the New Testament.

14. Therefore, both the Old and New Testaments are the inspired Word of God.

Notice where Geisler’s logic ends up. He proves that Jesus is God (in flesh), who must be worshipped as God and obeyed as Lord. And how do we know what Jesus, requires of us? By reading and rightly interpreting the Bible that He affirmed as “[His] words that will never pass away” (Matt. 24:35). 

Believing in Jesus as Lord is the end goal of the philosophy that undergirds the worldview we teach at Faith Beyond Belief. Dr. Geisler’s life verse was I Peter 3:15, which says we’re to “always be ready to give an answer to those who ask for a reason for our hope (in Christ),” and, for what it’s worth, that is also the key verse at Faith Beyond Belief. Please pray for us as we seek to take the truths first expressed by scholars like Dr. Geisler and show how to use them in everyday conversations. Now that Dr. Geisler has gone to His reward, may God continue to raise up others like him to make Truth relevant and powerful for the saving of souls in every generation.


An Itsy Bitsy Spider Inspires Cosmic Musings

By Ian McKerracher

I have a spider living in my truck. I noticed it the other day when I went out to run the kind of random errand that seems to occupy a major portion of my life. As I got comfortable in the saddle, there it was, walking across the inside of my windshield at eye level, hanging three-quarters of the way upside down!

I like to think of myself as an amateur scientist, approaching the things I see around me with intense focus and an enquiring mind. So, I looked at this spider, whom I called Boris (if you know who, then you know why) and tried to figure out how he could walk upside down across a sheet of near-vertical glass. Boris didn’t seem to have suction cups on his legs like an octopus, although he did share the same number of legs. My second idea was that spiders have claw-feet and can hook their claws on the minute particles of dust clinging to the inside of my windshield. But not wanting to believe that my lack of good housekeeping contributed to Boris’ climbing abilities, I went to the font of all knowledge, Dr. Google. He told me that spiders can spin a small amount of sticky silk out of their feet! WOW! (You can find the article here) That astounded me and I was once again awestruck by the world in which we live.

But this led me to ponder another puzzle. Many, if not most scientists believe in what they call the natural world, and they continually affirm that despite its complexity our universe came about by nothing more than natural means. No divine assistance was needed or wanted. This all started in the 19th century with Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, Thomas Huxley, and a few others, but thanks to the wide acceptance of their ideas, naturalism has dominated the world of science to the point that today it has become a Shibboleth.

The easily observable truth is that there are things in this world, like spiders producing web material with their feet, that defy all attempts at naturalistic explanation.

For Big Science the matter is settled. No proof is needed, and no argument is allowed. If you are a naturalist…you’re IN! But if you express the slightest deviation from strict naturalistic orthodoxy or appear to give the slightest credence to intelligent design theory…you’re OUT! In the world’s major universities scientists have lost tenure or been denied tenure over this business! No matter how knowledgeable or skilled in research these men and women may be, they are not allowed to pursue their calling unless they confess their faith in materialism and naturalism. Naturalistic scientists might as well compose a confession of faith in the power of the material world and call it a religion.

If they did it would be a false religion. The easily observable truth is that there are things in this world, like spiders producing web material with their feet, that defy all attempts at naturalistic explanation. Sure, a scientist can suggest possible pathways by which a lesser bug might develop the amazing ability to exude sticky web juice from its feet, but all you would have is a story, a narrative based on nothing more than the empty premise “it could have happened like this.” No matter how blindingly white the scientist’s lab coat, nor how thick the lenses of his spectacles, whatever he says is still a fictional account; fictional because it’s made up. His explanation will never be observable or testable. It can only be made up, and its only plausibility is derived from the supposed authority of the speaker and the desire of the listener to believe. Materialistic, naturalistic scientists have studied the fruit fly for more than a century, and over many thousands of generations, yet they cannot say a word about how those flies came to be. Nor can they explain the origins of anything else.

Our world is too complex to be explained bit-by-bit and item-by-item. That’s the problem with naturalist fiction. The real world is complexity piled on complexity! Look at your hand. The intricacies of functionality through the manipulation of joints and bones is a miracle of engineering. Moreover, for motion to take place those bones and joints need to be supplied with nerves, muscles and flexible connective tendons that allow the fingers and thumb to bend a certain way, but to not bend in other ways. The hand needs to be supplied with blood carrying necessary fuel to the muscles and the whole thing needs a flexible glove of skin to protect it from outside forces. That skin has to be tougher on the palm than the back, and to maintain a workable temperature it needs the ability to sweat while remaining watertight to protect the body from invading viruses and bacteria. And don’t forget, the fingers need nails to help you scratch where it itches. All of this is at least as amazing as a spider’s ability to spin webs with its feet, and none of it can be explained by natural means.

Of course, the hand is just one tiny part in a vast operating theatre of machines and systems, and systems of systems in the human body. Moving from there, we have inconceivable intricacies in ever-widening ripples extending beyond our selves to the outer edge of the universe, each with systems, and systems of systems within themselves, including the symbiotic relationships found throughout the animal and plant kingdoms. We also have the physics of existence, including earth’s perfectly balanced atmosphere, temperature, pressure and chemical make-up.  Ultimately, a naturalistic explanation of life, the universe and everything else must account for the existence of the great wells of gravity in the four planets known as the gas giants that protect earth from space junk bombing us from everywhere. And there’s the fine-tuning of the universe (124 constants, and counting) to account for the manifold precise settings that are necessary for the physics of existence.

To the naturalist mind, all of this was accomplished by the random collisions of electrons, protons, and neutrons following the Big Bang. But even these sub-atomic particles are subject to the same mystery. Why do they even exist? And why do they exist as they do? The advances of chemistry and micro-biology bode ill for the naturalist’s fictions, it seems to me.

But that is supposed to be how science works, right? Aren’t we supposed to examine things and rely on what we see and let go of premises that, with added information become increasingly improbable? Properly and honestly pursued, science is supposed to be suspicious of things that don’t add up, isn’t it? Presuppositions are supposed to be lightly held. Right? –Right?

All this from a little spider named Boris, who lives in my truck.


Who Knows What Lurks Behind a Friendly Face?

By Shafer Parker

Most people seem kind and friendly when you first meet them. But then I’m reminded of the refrain you always hear when a man, or occasionally a woman, is revealed as a serial killer or a rapist—or serial killer-rapist. “He was so nice,” the neighbours invariably say. And they tell how he shovelled an old lady’s sidewalk just last winter, or how much fun he seemed to have playing with his kids in the back yard. The murderer’s surface friendliness often leaves such a strong impression in people’s minds that they refuse to believe the police are telling the truth.


O. J. Simpson’s nice-guy persona was so strong that he even fooled a jury into declaring him not guilty of the double murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, an unfortunate soul who apparently just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Succeeding events, including a civil suit that O. J. lost, have removed any lingering doubts that the football hall-of-famer was guilty. But for a long while many people were not prepared to admit that in real life the jovial athlete-turned-actor was a vicious wife-beater and stone-cold killer.


The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) has learned to mask its inner awfulness even better than O. J. On the surface the nation’s broadcaster claims continued loyalty to its founding purposes, which were in part, to offer an alternative to American programming, to “reflect Canada and its regions to national and regional audiences,” to “reflect the multicultural and multiracial nature of Canada” and to “contribute” to Canadians a “shared national consciousness and identity.” CBC continues to give lip service to these founding purposes with such on-air slogans as: “Television to Call Our Own”, “Canada Lives Here,” and, more recently, “Yours to Celebrate.”


Which brings us to the point. Apparently, the CBC wants Canadians to celebrate its new role as corrupter of the morals of children and youth. On a popular app called “Snapchat” Mother Corp, as she was affectionately known in more innocent times, has taken to encouraging the nation’s youth to indulge in forms of sexuality that were hardly imagined, even at the height of the sexual revolution.


I’ll tell you more about that in a moment, but first, a word about Snapchat. It’s a multi-media messaging app for phones—incidentally the first such app to be designed for phone use from its beginning. But what sets Snapchat apart is how pictures and messages are only available for a short time before they disappear forever. It also encourages users to develop life “stories” of 24 hours of chronological content, for others to read as the day passes.

In a fallen world not every marriage works well, but marriage always works better than any of the alternatives posed by the CBC.

Snapchat is addictive for the demographic between ages 13 and 24. As one mother reported to me, her son, who fits into the lower end of Snapchat’s age spectrum, never uses Facebook or Instagram. But he is constantly on Snapchat. He’s not alone. Last year Snapchat had 187 million daily active users (it’s still growing), more than 400 million Snapchat stories are created per day, and individual users averaged sending over 34 messages a day. With a user base of that size, who knows who’s influencing whom, or what kind of influence is impacting our kids? And remember, you can’t track anything on Snapchat because it all disappears—by design.

It’s the interactive tabloid section where the CBC exposes its true intentions (pun intended). Called “Discover,” the tabloid section allows brands to show “ad-supported, short form content.” And thanks to Keean Bexte at TheRebel.media, we now know a lot (too much?) about the CBC’s short form content aimed out our youth. Here are some of the headlines Bexte found.

  • True or False: People Who Get High Have More Sex?“ This is exactly what it seems to be. Our tax-funded broadcaster is openly encouraging teens to smoke pot (or something stronger) before having sex.

  • Disabled People Are Hot” This is just as disgusting, but not because it involves disabled people. It is disgusting because the received wisdom of the day is that people are not to be objectivised as sex objects. I agree. But if we’re not to objectivise anyone else, on what basis does the CBC justify encouraging us to fantasize about the disabled.

  • Why Some People Are Leaving Monogamy Behind” This is as bad as you might think; it is little more than hook-up culture on steroids, encouraging young boys to accept that they, and their girlfriends, should think about having multiple partners while remaining, in some sense, together.

  • Living with Your Partner's Lover” More of the same, a pornified hook-up culture taken to its logical extreme.

  • Nature Porn” This is the heartwarming story of how a female eagle and a male eagle mated, laid some eggs and started a family. But after the eggs hatched it appeared the male eagle didn’t get the memo on dad taking his turn to feed the babies. Mom was overworked, until another male entered the scene and began helping with the catching of the fish and the feeding. Suddenly, in the words of the CBC, the unhappy couple became a happy “throuple,” after which all was well. CBC plainly implied that part of the throuple’s joy stemmed from the female having sex with both males. Then Mother Corp transitioned to talking about the same phenomenon in human terms, suggesting that a human throuple might also be happier. It discusses non-monogamous dating, and defends against charges that a female with two partners is "cheating" by terming it "ethical non-monogamy," where "everyone knows about other partners and are treated respectfully." A banner at the bottom of the screen invites viewers to "meet more non-monogamous daters."

Two more variations on the same theme

  • Why Are Some People Leaving Monogamy Behind?

  • It's Not for Everyone, but People in Polyamorous Relationships Say It Has Opened Them up to a Different Way of Dating

Never forget, all of this is promulgated and packaged by your friendly tax-supported national broadcaster. But what to do? Well, it seems to me we should first determine where thinking people ought to stand. Is there a good reason to oppose what the CBC is advocating? Yes, there is. Unrestrained promiscuity is not how humanity works. Everything we know about human biology, psychology and sociology tells us that sexual indulgence leads to pain and, too often, early death. With few exceptions, those who enter libertine lifestyles end up burned out and bitter, and sometimes suicidal.

If the CBC really wanted to benefit Canadians it would advocate self-control before marriage (always between a man and a woman), and faithfulness within marriage. In a fallen world not every marriage works well, but marriage always works better than any of the alternatives posed by the CBC, as numerous studies have shown. And marriages that include a vital religious faith are consistently shown to be the happiest lifestyles of all. I know that many readers are conditioned to reflexively reject what I’ve just said, but as someone once put it, “facts are stubborn things”, and these are the facts. There’s a reason why this kind of marriage is referred to as “traditional.” It’s the kind that has survived, and enabled people to survive, for thousands of years. Humanity learned long ago that this kind of marriage, this kind of sexuality leads to the best kind of life. And I haven’t even mentioned that this is the kind of sexuality our Creator has promised to bless.

In responding to the CBC’s subtle temptations aimed at our youth, prayer must also be a priority. If you have teenagers at home, you need to pray about how you will approach this issue with them. If they have cell phones, they almost certainly have Snapchat. So pray for wisdom. It may not be necessary to eliminate the app. But you can make sure the CBC is gone. For more information on how to unfollow the CBC from Snapchat watch the video by Keean Bexte .), and follow his instructions. You might also pray for your own role in speaking to others about what’s going on. Sometimes parents are embarrassed to take a stand against their children’s behaviour until they hear that other parents are already speaking up.

If you want to address the powers directly, you can contact the CBC Ombudsman. It likely won’t change anything immediately, but if enough complaints are received it will make the matter harder to ignore. You can also go to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission website crtc.gc.ca and click on one of the several ways they offer for public input.

Of most importance is the need to speak to your MP. You may not think your voice means much today, but governments change, and sometimes change occurs inside governments. By God’s grace you may get a sympathetic hearing. It seems to me this is not something to be ignored. Without strenuous opposition the CBC will only get worse, not better. So, in the name of all that’s holy, speak up for our youth and their future.

Unplanned Unexpectedly Exposes Elite Conspiracy

By Tom Bartlett

Are we living in The Truman Show?

For any unfamiliar with this 1998 film, Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank—a young man unaware that he is the subject of a reality film that has tracked his life since birth. A massive stage has been built to restrict Truman’s movements and wall him in from discovering the world beyond the confines of his movie set existence. A director and team of writers propel his story forward and engineer the nature of his interactions. All those in his sphere are merely actors playing the role of friends, co-workers, neighbours and even those he believes to be his parents.


Things start to go awry when cracks emerge in their carefully constructed schema and Truman goes off script. His handlers goad him back in line through guided interventions, coordinated messaging, and manufactured dangers to deter him from travel. As Truman becomes stubbornly tenacious about learning the truth, efforts to keep him in the dark become farcically transparent. Ultimately, the director considers whether he is willing to sacrifice Truman’s life to keep up the façade.

Johnson herself had bought wholesale into the narrative that PP was an organisation on a tireless crusade to advocate for vulnerable women victimized by a reactionary Christian patriarchy. Events conspired to convince her she had been deceived.

The Truman Show perfectly illustrates the current state of our western culture. Fixed secular borders are being erected with no one allowed to cross. Cultural, legal and political institutions are working in concert to corral everyone into the approved queue. The tools being used are intimidation, shaming, social prohibitions, mandated trainings, academic indoctrination, legal penalties and job loss. The elites in charge of our institutions seem blind to the fact that when bullying is required to make your argument, chances are you are holding a weak hand, too much power, and a dearth of principles.

At the risk of being accused of being nothing more than another director on another soundstage simply perpetuating another myth, my objective is not obfuscation and sleight of hand. In fact, the impetus that propelled me into adopting my position on this particular social issue is that I was indifferent until I chose to look behind the curtain. The Trumanesque agenda I’d like to raise here is regarding the abortion issue and the coordinated censoring efforts brought to bear to keep the truth from seeping in.

You’ll be forgiven if you haven’t heard about the release of the film; Unplanned that opened in theatres across the U.S. Unplanned is the biographical account of Abby Johnson, former Director and Employee of the Year at a Texas Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. Johnson herself had bought wholesale into the narrative that PP was an organisation on a tireless crusade to advocate for vulnerable women victimized by a reactionary Christian patriarchy. Events conspired to convince her she had been deceived.

Johnson had believed the organisation’s stated objectives of “safe, legal and rare” efforts to terminate an unwanted pregnancy should be accessed without interference. Having swallowed the party line that the unborn was merely a clump of cells, Johnson saw this illusion shattered when she was called on to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old fetus. The experience caused her to run to the arms of the prolife protestors who had been her adversaries for 8 years and she has since become an unwavering champion of the unborn.


Not only did her book get ignored, but no one within the Hollywood establishment had any interest in filming it, so outsiders took it on. Similarly, there was a reticence to distribute the film, which had a limited release; opening in roughly a fourth of the theatres accessible to mainstream Hollywood films. Clearly there was an audience, as even with this handicap Unplanned came in fourth in terms of box office receipts for the opening weekend – beating out the recently released and heavily promoted Captain Marvel.

The impact of [Unplanned] is being felt with many who identified as “pro-choice” prior to seeing the movie now saying they are “pro-life.”

This is an even greater achievement considering the other roadblocks thrown up in the path of the film’s release. The MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) handicapped Unplanned with an R-rating, knowing this would inhibit the key demographics of Christians and young people from seeing the film. In their zealotry to censor the message they sought to contain, they ended up playing themselves.

Being a faith-based film sex and language were clearly not concerns, which left the ratings agency’s only justification being depictions of violence. The only aspect of the film that could conceivably (pun intended) be deemed to show violence was the portrayal of abortions. I’d need to check my memory banks, but aren’t we told repeatedly that abortion is merely an innocuous private choice between a woman and her doctor to remove a cell mass? Violence is a volitional act committed by humans against other living beings. Unless the MPAA is insisting that abortion is legally sanctioned violence against the mother, the only possible victim is the innocent human child in the mother’s womb.

Efforts to include music of mainstream performers were rebuffed by the musicians themselves and studios such as Disney, Universal Music and Sony. Once the film was in the can, several stations (i.e. The Discovery Channel and its subsidiaries and Lifetime) refused to advertise the film. Even some Christian stations failed to advertise, primarily citing the film’s R-rating as a reason. The rating similarly meant that the film could not be promoted on screens except during showings of other “R-rated” movies, where again they could not reach their target demographic. It should be noted that not even the detractors are claiming the abortion depictions to be inaccurate.

Finally, just after the film’s release, Twitter suspended the account for Unplanned, but reinstated it in the wake of a major public backlash. Twitter insisted this was done in error (oopsie)! I’m sure it was a coincidence that it is consistently conservative Christian accounts that are subject to such “inadvertent” censorship events. Google also claimed an own goal against themselves after their platform listed the movie as “propaganda.” Needless to say, no media or talk show platforms have invited any of the movie’s participants to appear, and there is a tacit block-out from the mainstream that no leftist is willing to challenge.

Nevertheless, the impact of the movie is being felt with many who identified as “pro-choice” prior to seeing the movie now say they are “pro-life.” Johnson’s organisation, “And Then There Were None” which seeks to assist abortion workers to walk away from abortion clinics and find new jobs has had calls from over 100 people seeking their services. No wonder advocates of abortion are so scared.

Many who read this column may write it off as mere agitprop from the Christian right. But before you reach that conclusion, I invite you to see what today’s elite don’t want you to see. It’s interesting how the real counter culture is found on the right and those who have identified as “liberal” will pull out all the stops to silence facts they don’t like. This is standard operating procedure for the new left, but hopefully I’ll be heard by genuine free thinkers, men and women willing to break from the herd and check out what elitists don’t want you to see. Incidentally, I don’t believe this is a coordinated conspiracy—only powerful activists doing what comes naturally within their individual spheres.

As I write this, a campaign is underway to lobby for theatres to show this movie in Canada. I’m asking you to add your voice to this initiative and go and see the movie so you can reach your own conclusions. I’m hoping to have reasoned discussions with anyone willing to throw off their blinders and look beyond the propaganda. Social issues like this are important and deserve better than allowing either side to be written off as crackpots based on ridiculous caricatures.  


Alberta’s Youth Conference Ends After a Quarter-century

A YC Veteran Reflects on What it All Means

By Ian McKerracher

On the May Long Weekend, I had the privilege of being one of a small cadre of adult overseers, who escorted a herd of teens to Red Deer’s Enmax Centrium to attend something called YC (Youth Conference). This annual conference has been going on for 25 years, and for many of those years was likely the biggest Christian youth conference in Canada. But this year a lot of us experienced a bitter-sweet nostalgia as YC’s demise had already been announced. The principal driver of the whole thing, a man named Mike Love, was retiring, and, like sand in an hourglass, his commitment to YC had run out. Thank you, Mike for an amazing run of A-list Christian musicians and speakers ministering to Alberta’s boisterous teens. Thank you for providing them with life-changing worship experiences. And thank you for staying true to the original vision to the very end. As always, this year was both awesome and worrying.

I have always regretted the lack of intellectual appeal at these events because I’m convinced a growing understanding of The Faith is a necessary aspect of discipleship, even for teens.

Knowing the end had come couldn’t help but hurt because I have been a part of YC from its beginning, dropping my two kids off at the first few YCs in Red Deer, and then volunteering at a string of YCs when it moved to the Coliseum in Edmonton to mount a spectacle of smoke and lights for 15,000 attendees at a time. The weather was a little cool with rain threatening and a chilly breeze pushing between the assorted school buses, vans, and cars in the parking lot and even into the venue itself. This year’s 5500 attendees felt small compared to the crowds we had back in the day, but it was still a respectable size considering the spiritual malaise that impacts so many churches these days.

I just celebrated the thirty-somethingth anniversary of my 29th birthday, but the kids looked no stranger than ever. There have always been teens who coloured their hair in weird shades, or who hung “Free Hugs” signs around their neck, or who dressed inappropriately, and this year’s YC was no different. Nevertheless, I felt just a little bit sorry for the young girls who willingly suffered from the cruel wind because they insisted on wearing shorts. All seemed like previous years until I saw a young fellow in a giant T-rex costume. That was a first, and strangely symbolic considering YC was headed for extinction.

Photo taken by Ian McKerracher at 2019 YC

The music was, as usual, VERY LOUD. The Red Deer venue allowed me to enjoy the music without the earplugs I was forced to insert at the Edmonton Coliseum. A lot of the music went right over my grey-ish head. One concert featured an artist who spoke rhythmically to the beat of the only accompanying musician; a drummer. I think it was supposed to be rap music but wasn’t quite…I, at least, remained unpersuaded. Tim and the Glory Boys provided a rousing bluegrass set, complete with choreographed movements between the instruments; they’re music and lyrics set my feet a-dancin’. The last concert was provided by the currently hot For King and Country and was well-received by a boisterous crowd of appreciative teens. Leading the crowd in worship were Aaron Boyd and Worship Central. Stellar work from both!

The group dynamic at YC events has always left me a little uncomfortable. The whole thing (music and speaking) relies heavily on emotional appeals and I often wonder what happens when these excited young people go back to their mundane existence. I have always regretted the lack of intellectual appeal at these events because I’m convinced a growing understanding of The Faith is a necessary aspect of discipleship, even for teens. The youth leaders I’ve known are certainly committed, in the sense that they care about their charges—but I sometimes wonder if even they could respond with good answers to the questions that, sooner or later this much-loved crowd of almost-adults will have to face.

What goes on in front of the stage raises just as many questions. The kids who sat behind me talked continuously about anything and everything throughout the ….uhmmm…sermon (?) by main speaker Reggie Dabbs. An elaborately coiffed young man declared me to be “cool”—for being there I guess—but a young lady with eye-watering perfume made me wonder what kind of show she thought she was attending. HOWEVER, at the time of the altar call the kids did appear to be paying attention. They responded to the invitation to “dig deeper into this God-thing,” and as far as I could tell were genuinely moved by the Spirit of God. That gave me great hope that God was speaking to them—and that’s what counts!

I found myself thinking that despite my doubts I will miss YC. And apparently, I wasn’t the only one. The kids I brought spoke of wanting “a little YC” at our own church next year. That would be fun!

Why Does an Engineer Care About Theology?

By James Bruyn

I work as a consultant for the railroads on the design and implementation of safety control systems. I have returned to school to pursue a doctoral degree in workplace theology, ethics and leadership. When one of my colleagues heard I was going to pursue a doctoral degree in theology he asked me why does an engineer care about theology?

“Theology provides a cosmic perspective on my work,” I said, “It gives my work purpose and puts boundaries and constraints on my life, and it explains why work doesn’t always go the way I wish.”

In short, understanding theology inspires me as an engineer to pursue my work with passion, excellence and joy.

A Perspective from the Story of Creation

One of the first things I discover when I study theology is that there is a Creator-God who exists outside time and space, outside our cosmos, and yet remains someone I can know personally.

The story of creation tells me that engineering is not just a job, but a privilege bestowed on me by the Creator. It is my privilege as an engineer to discover, explore and utilize the systems and principles of engineering which God created to make train operations safer for all of God’s creation.

Theology teaches me that God’s desire is to come alongside to help me to discover what I need to know about His creation so that I can do my job with excellence.

Prov 24:3-4 Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established;
By knowledge, the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches.

The story of creation tells me that I am created in God’s image. My desire to create new things, to bring order out of chaos, to communicate engineering concepts clearly and simply, are all reflections of the image of God in me.

The story of creation sets me free to enjoy what I do without worrying about what other people think or say, for the story of creation tells me the primary purpose for my life is to please my Creator.

How does the story of creation influence how you see your work?

A Perspective on Boundaries

Ps 147:5 Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.

Theology teaches me that there are boundaries within which I am supposed to live my life and do my work. Within those boundaries I am free to explore, discover and use whatever I find. These boundaries are meant to keep me safe.

My desire to create new things, to bring order out of chaos, to communicate engineering concepts clearly and simply, are all reflections of the image of God in me.

One of these boundaries, is that I am a finite being, with a finite set of skills and abilities. God lovingly chose these skills and abilities just for me, for this time, and this place where I live. If I am doing my work within the limitations of these skills and abilities, I find joy and peace.

Acts 17:26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.

Other constraints on my life include my socio-economic status, the culture I was born into, the place where I live, and my family. Theology tells me that God in his infinite wisdom and love chose exactly these circumstances for me. Knowing that God doesn’t make any mistakes, I am free from comparing myself to other people; I am free from dwelling on my situation, free from trying to please other people, and free to focus on God; I am free to enjoy being me as God remakes me according to His image; I am free to choose to live my life for God’s glory.

Theology forces me to look beyond myself to see that God has surrounded me with other men and women each of whom God has blessed with equally unique gifts and abilities. It is only as I do my part as an engineer alongside the larger team that God has placed around me that the train control safety systems I design come to fruition. These boundaries set me free! They mean that I don’t have to be a marketer, or a welder, I just have to be me!

How does knowing God change your perspective on the boundaries and limitations of your life?

A Perspective When Things Go Wrong

Designing a new system never goes as quickly or as smoothly as I want. As people test the system, they inevitably discover things missing or configured incorrectly.

Communication is always a challenge in every project I’ve worked on, and miscommunication seems to happen sooner or later. God creates each person with a different communication style. As a result, I am challenged to find the right way to communicate the scope and breath of a project to each interested party.

Theology teaches me that things will go wrong, that miscommunication and conflict are the norm for this world because being alienated from God means we are naturally alienated from one another. But theology doesn’t leave me without hope. Theology tells me that God has worked out a perfect plan of redemption to reconcile people to God, and ultimately, to each other.

God offers me the privilege to enter by faith into a restored relationship with him. More than that, in fact much more than that, theology assures me that there is a day coming when I will spend eternity with God as one of His children, and that on that day there will be no communication problem, no conflict and no broken systems.

God promises that the day will come when he tests my work. He will decide by fire – which of my work is worth preserving like fine gold, and which of my work should be destroyed. This is freeing, because it means that when my work isn’t up to snuff it won’t follow me for eternity. But I also know that when I do my best, I don’t have to look for human approval, for I will receive the ultimate approval, the only approval that counts in the long run – God’s approval.

Prov 16:3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.

Conclusion

There is a freedom in knowing that God is in control of all things, including my work, and that he has promised me a joyful ending beyond my wildest imagination. So why am I passionate about theology? Because I believe that if we as Christian’s can articulate clearly and simply why our faith in God makes a difference in our work life, we will find we have an amazing and compelling story to share with our co-workers.

James Bruyn is a former board member of Faith Beyond Belief and Director of Faith At Work Network. Faith At Work Network connects and equips Christians in the marketplace to positively impact their organization by living God’s Kingdom principles. (www.faithatwork.ca)