QAnon, Conspiracy Theories, & the Church

BreakPoint Daily

Today’s BreakPoint: QAnon, Conspiracy Theories, & the Church

qanon

Faith and Fear Don’t Mix

JOHN STONESTREET WITH SHANE MORRIS

At a press conference a few weeks ago, a reporter asked President Trump about the conspiracy theory QAnon. Started a few years ago by an anonymous user on the message site 4chan, QAnon claims, among other things, that a ring of Satan-worshiping pedophiles is running the government, Hollywood, the media, and the Democratic Party.

The President’s response when asked about this emerging online “cult” was not helpful: “I understand [QAnon followers] like me very much, which I appreciate,” he said, and then added: “I’ve heard these are people that love our country…”

America has long been fertile ground for the creating and spreading of conspiracy theories. Sadly, however, this particular fear-based narrative is finding fertile soil in churches. In a recent piece at Religion News Service, Kaitlyn Beaty quoted pastors from around the country who say QAnon and other obsessions have gained influence in their congregations. Not only are these pastors worried about their members’ credibility and witness, it’s a particular challenge when it comes to reaching the next generation…

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Public School … In a Church?

This is a brilliant cooperative idea, and the churches and ministries participating are to be commended. I just wonder however if they can open their doors why the schools can’t? – Mike

BreakPoint Daily

Today’s BreakPoint: Public School … In a Church?

BP 8 27 2020

JOHN STONESTREET WITH MARIA BAER

Most public schools across the country are either attempting to hold school remotely or, in some hybrid form, brings kids back in the classroom in a limited way, keeping the numbers low. And that’s just for now. The plan has already changed in many districts and will likely change again before all is said and done. The only sure thing, when it comes to this school year is that it is not going to be a normal one.

For a group of churches and ministries in Ohio, this is an opportunity to, in the words of the prophet Jeremiah, seek the welfare of the city. A few months ago, public school districts in Columbus asked local churches to provide additional space for students who have working parents, and whose school would not be opening for in-person instruction. Looking for places where students could access tech devices and the internet, be under adult supervision, where food could be provided, churches in Columbus opened their doors…

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COVID Is Causing Increase in Suicidal Thoughts and Decrease in Mental Health

COVID-19 has caused a myriad of problems in the U.S. and around the world. The obvious physical attacks on the human body, the loss of income from inability to work but an even greater ISSUE is the toll it has taken on the mental health of a large number of children and adults. 

There have been renewed calls from certain parties for further lock-downs, but is this wise? The bible says Proverbs 18:1 ESV Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. I would say whomever forces said isolation they break out against all sound judgment.


 

BreakPoint Daily

Today’s BreakPoint: COVID Is Causing Increase in Suicidal Thoughts and Decrease in Mental Health

BP 8 25 2020

JOHN STONESTREET WITH ROBERTO RIVERA

According to recent report from the Centers for Disease Control, “40 percent of American adults have reported struggling with mental health or substance abuse” during the COVID-19 pandemic. One-third reported feelings of anxiety and/or depression, and one-quarter said that they were struggling with trauma-related issues. One in eight reported either developing or increasing substance-abuse problems.

Worst of all, 11 percent reported that they seriously considered suicide in the last few months. Two years ago, by comparison, that number was just one in twenty-five. And, the CDC study revealed that certain segments of the population have struggled more than others. For example, one in five “essential workers” reported suicidal ideation, as have one in three unpaid caregivers for adults, and one in four 18- to 24-year-olds. And of course, there are others who don’t fit into categories like these, but who were already struggling with mental health issues before the pandemic…

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Children & the Culture War

BreakPoint Journal

Today’s Breakpoint: Children, the Church, and the Culture War

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God’s Blessings Ain’t (Just) a Strategy

07/6/20  and

A few days ago, a colleague shared comments he and his wife get when people find out they have seven kids: “Are they all yours?” “Were they all planned?” “What are you, Mormon?” And, most awkward of all: “You know what causes that, right?”

This kind of reaction to large families, which I’ve gotten with only four kids, reveals the assumptions about children that largely go unquestioned in our culture, even in the Church.

It is widely assumed, for example, that children are a choice. This was not always so. The introduction of reliable contraception, especially the pill, made it possible to divorce the inherent connection between sex, marriage, and procreation…

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Pastor or Parrot?

BreakPoint Daily

Today’s BreakPoint: Pastor or Parrot?

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Pastor or Parrot?

Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 11
JOHN STONESTREET WITH MARIA BAER

Pastoring is always a difficult job. I can’t think of another job, in fact, in which someone is hired to do one thing (typically, lead and disciple God’s people) but evaluated on a completely different thing (namely, growing the audience and the budget).

Pastoring during coronavirus seems even more unenviable. Zoom stock might be way up as the new preferred platform for corporations and schools, but there is no digital substitute for the sort of face-to-face work pastoring requires.

When to close down was a tough decision. When to reopen is even more difficult. If pastors choose to strictly adhere to state guidelines, they will upset people. If they ignore or relax those guidelines, they upset others. In almost every church I know of, pastors face a no-win proposition right now…

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Christian Unity

BreakPoint Daily

Is Christian Unity Possible with So Much Disagreement?

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JOHN STONESTREET

Last week, a listener who follows a lot of Christian podcasts, including BreakPoint, wrote us with the following question, troubled by the conflicting opinions among Christians. Here’s how she put it:

“In most cases the Christian proponents seem to have a genuine love for Jesus and are trying to live out their belief faithfully. Yet their conclusions and interpretation of the Scriptures are often diametrically opposed…If intelligent, well educated, sincere Christians can come to such different interpretations of Scripture, how can I possibly hope to come to a correct understanding of the Truth?”

Given the hurt, anger, and even violence on streets across America right now, not to mention all of our social media news feeds, I imagine this person isn’t the only one wondering about the unity that Christ prayed for in the Garden, as recorded in John 17. “All mine are yours,” Jesus prayed, “and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

 

George Floyd’s Killing, and Why We Need Truth and Love

BreakPoint Journal

George Floyd’s Killing, and Why We Need Truth and Love

BP 6 1 2020

05/29/20 

Outrage erupted across the country this week after video surfaced of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for nearly 10 minutes. In the horrifying video, Floyd begs for air before bystanders plead for his life. In the end, Floyd, an African American suspected of no violent crime but of “grocery store forgery,” died.

The four police officers involved were fired almost immediately. The FBI opened an investigation, and the Justice Department pledged to make the case a top priority. While, in the past, police have often defended fellow officers in similar incidents, this time, as the Washington Post reported, police chiefs across the country “denounced the prolonged suffocation of Floyd.”

Earlier this week, Detroit-area pastor Chris Brooks, a former Colson Center board member and close friend, posted a picture of Floyd on Facebook along with a quote attributed to Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” I admit, for the last few days, I’ve struggled to know what should be said and what could be done….

CONTINUED AT SOURCE

 

Rediscovering Truth

BreakPoint Daily

Rediscovering Truth

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“Truth. Love. Together” Begins Today

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH DAVID CARLSON

In February, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit on behalf of three female high school track athletes who are being forced to compete against biological males. During the oral arguments, the presiding judge demanded that ADF attorneys refer to the biologically male athletes as females, and to do otherwise would not be “consistent with science” or “human decency.”

Of course, as ADF attorneys noted, the entire case is based on whether it’s a fact that biological males are males, and whether a chosen gender identity is consistent with science or reality. ADF has called for the judge’s recusal, and rightly so since, at least in this case, he’s not capable of adjudication, only activism.

Francis Schaeffer and Chuck Colson were among the loudest prophetic voices of decades past, warning of the loss of what Schaeffer often called “true truth,” the idea that truth is objective and, to a large degree, knowable.

When a federal judge announces that affirming observable biological reality is “indecent,” it demonstrates that more than our views about gender have changed. The basic definition of truth has changed. In other words, the most basic conflict in our culture is not just what is considered to be truth and what is not, but what we mean by truth in the first place.

The classic definition is that truth refers to that which corresponds to reality. For decades now, beginning among intellectual elites and then shaping the academy and now various segments of culture, the correspondence theory of truth has been challenged by another definition: that truth is nothing more than a social construct, or views imposed on us by previous generations and those in power.

As the comments of this judge make clear, this new definition of truth is now largely taken for granted, not just in universities but across different segments of our culture. How this happened is important to understand.

At a very simple but hopefully not simplistic level, humans can look to three resources in seeking knowledge: revelation, reason, and experience. By revelation, I mean we can know something because “God said it.” By reason, I mean that through our intellects and logic, we can arrive at truth. By experience, I mean we can know because of what we’ve been through, or what we feel or know to be true.

Throughout history, different religions and philosophies would emphasize one or more of these over the others. For example, religions that believed in God would prioritize revelation. Classic Greek thought often prioritized reason, as did the ideas of the secular Enlightenment.

The Christian worldview teaches that God has revealed Himself through His creation, in His Word, and ultimately in Jesus Christ. By revelation, we know that as Image Bearers of God living in His orderly universe, our reason and intellect can grasp certain truths about the universe. In this view, knowledge is nothing less than what astronomer Johannes Kepler described as “…thinking God’s thoughts after him.”

In the decades since the Enlightenment, and especially into the 20th century, as scientific discovery and technological innovation exploded, reason became elevated as the central and definitive means of knowing truth. Skepticism about the supernatural led to a cynical distrust of revelation.

There’s so much more to this story than I have space for here, but the violence and bloodshed of the twentieth century, especially among those nations and cultures considered most scientifically advanced, damaged trust in reason. If revelation was a myth and pure reason a catastrophe, what’s left? Experience.

This is largely where we are today, where both revelation and reason are secondary, and even expected to serve our own internal sense of reality. Experiences may not be questioned. And so, here we are, with judges who insist that males are females, governors who call abortion “life sustaining,” and with politicians claiming their own facts.

It’s easy in such a situation for Christians to miss the deeper aspects of the real challenges we face, but it’s not simply this issue over here or that battle of ideas over there. The struggle of our time is, at its most basic level, a struggle to define reality. That’s why, as a friend of mine says, we so often find ourselves using the same vocabulary but not the same dictionary.

The battle for hearts and minds is quite often the battle over the definition of words. Defining truth is as essential as defending it.

The opening module of our Truth, Love, Together virtual event is all about recapturing a Christian vision of Truth, one that is, ultimately grounded in the person of Jesus Christ. This first module is entitled “What Is Truth?” Os Guinness opens the module in a session called, “The Roots of the Present Crisis.” Dr. Sean McDowell follows with “What Happened to Truth?” and Abdu Murray’s session is about “Loving Truth in a Post-Truth World.” After all, if truth is grounded in the person of Christ, our proper response must be to not only know truth, but love truth. And, in a special bonus session, Natasha Crain speaks on “Teaching Your Kids Truth in a Noisy World.”

Over 8,500 people have already registered for this free, weekly on-demand, online event.

Come to Conference.ColsonCenter.org to register today.


The Non-Essential Church?

BreakPoint Daily

The Non-Essential Church?

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Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 5

JOHN STONESTREET

  • Note Bold and Italics emphasis through out is from me. 

Crises reveal much about us as individuals: our courage, our faith, our resiliency. They also reveal much about the health and strength of a community, a society, even a nation. Like that gold star or little yellow arrow on the map at the mall, certain moments in a crisis tell us, “You are here.”

Last week, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was asked during a press briefing why the coronavirus infection rate was slowing in his state. Governor Cuomo said: “The number is down because we brought the number down. God did not do that. Faith did not do that. Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that.” To be clear, he wasn’t asked about God or prayer, he just said it. This was a “you are here” moment for us.

After all, acknowledging God and providence has been a common theme throughout our nation’s history, whether through declaring solemn days of prayer and fasting in the midst of a crisis or a day of thanksgiving after. Today, it’s more common for officials to just ignore God and any role He might play in our world.

But there’s a world of difference between leaving God unmentioned and outright denying He deserves any credit at all for anything, from miraculous intervention to strengthening medical professionals to acknowledging He gave some the minds to develop therapies and technologies.

Even more telling, other than a few atheist “amens,” Governor Cuomo’s comments didn’t even make much of a stir. It’s almost as if his words were the culmination of the last few years, where the “don’t offer us prayers and thoughts, just do something” response to other tragedies moved from Twitter to media personalities to elected officials.

Cuomo’s comments, even more than any  we might see, reveal that a certain kind of secularism is now firmly embedded in our culture. To be clear, this isn’t the kind of secularism that takes Christianity and its claims about truth and morality head on, but the kind that dismisses and relegates them as personal, private commitments, irrelevant to public life and maybe even in the way. Despite being Catholic, the Governor seems to believe we live in a world where, at the end of the day, it’s our efforts, our knowledge, and our will that will see us through this and any future pandemics.

Though President Trump recently declared a “National Day of Prayer for All Americans Affected by the Coronavirus,” it’s clear that, as a people, we don’t take seriously God’s place in this world anymore, beyond being a source of personal encouragement and maybe inspiration. We are no longer the kind of people who really turn to God in times of trouble.

The growing conflict between churches and local governments only confirms this analysis. I’m thinking, for instance, of the people ticketed and fined for attending a drive-in church service, while fully complying with social distancing guidelines, listening to the sermon on radio in the church parking lot with windows rolled up. And this was in Mississippi.

Apparently, the mayor, like so many other officials we are hearing about, had signed an order deeming churches “non-essential.” Though he reversed course (thanks to the Alliance Defending Freedom, the Justice Department, and public backlash), the larger point is that the church has long been relegated to the category of “non-essential” for so much of our lives as Americans, well before COVID-19. What else can explain the fact that in most states and according to many judges, abortion is an essential service, but worship is not?

Long gone are the “Little House on the Prairie” days, where churches were central to life in American communities, when school, community meetings, festivals, and local governments all happened at the church; where sermons were printed in newspapers and pastors were community leaders.

How churches became non-essential in our cultural imagination is quite a long story, but the primary fault is our own. If we think and talk of our faith as if its grounded in personal experience only instead of universal truths about the world, if Christianity is described within our own walls as an alternative self-help therapy, then we haven’t done such a great job catechizing our own people as to why Church is “essential.”

C.S. Lewis pointed out that people shouldn’t become Christians to be happy, since a good bottle of port can do that. In the same way, Christians shouldn’t go to church if there’s nothing there that they can’t get online, or in a fun reading club, or on a TED Talk, or at an AA meeting. In other words, if the Church is already non-essential to Christians, a pandemic is more than enough to make it official.


Resources:

We Can Only “Imagine” a Utopia: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 1

John Stonestreet | BreakPoint | March 23, 2020

Deciding Who Gets Treated and Who Doesn’t: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 2

John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera | BreakPoint | March 25, 2020

Gender Transition Surgeries in a Global Crisis: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 3

John Stonestreet & Roberto Rivera | BreakPoint | April 1. 2020

The Viral Pandemic of Distrust and Misinformation: Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus Pt. 4

John Stonestreet & Shane Morris | BreakPoint | April 17, 2020

Religious Freedom and the Coronavirus

I also posted on this subject back nearly a month ago in an article entitled COVID-19 and the Church you can read it here 

BreakPoint Daily

Religious Freedom and the Coronavirus

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Insights from the Alliance Defending Freedom

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH ROBERTO RIVERA

The media narratives that have emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic are varied. Some, like the lack of supplies for medical personnel and first responders, are important. Others, like the stories about churches and their defiant pastors who refuse to comply with physical-distancing and stay-at-home orders, are mostly selective and overblown.

Of course, there are a few churches and pastors behaving badly. A few. A very few. Less than one percent, in fact. To suggest that they are representative of all Christians is both misleading and slanderous.

Also largely ignored in so many of the stories about these churches is the fact that in many towns, counties, and states, the stay-at-home orders are confusing. Some are even illegal.

Understandably, many Christians struggle to know how to take the alarming headlines about pastors being arrested, and many churches and Christian ministries struggle to know how to carry out their mission at this time.

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