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Giving a defense, boldly

One of the preeminent and most fearless Christian apologists of today, William Lane Craig, spells out the logical, rational problems with naturalism and humanism (God-absent philosophies) in the Washington Post. He is responding to the American Humanist Association’s desire to teach children the benefits of atheism (other than life is meaningless and morals are illusory.)

But, if you can, wade through some of the responses. Overall, from a completely biased observer, many of the Christian defenses of Craig appear thoughtful and logical, while those attacking him are often emotion driven and lacking solid linear thinking.

This is the sort of thinking, speaking, living that needs to be part of the public square. Christians who keep their faith “private,” do no service to Christ or their faith, and certainly not to their fellow man. Any follower of Christ must be willing to give a defense for what he believes, and be open to engaging the culture, and the individuals who make it up, from a foundation of Biblical understanding and relational truth. And the walk better line up with the talk.

Here’s the column and responses.

This is a topic that the church really needs to grapple with and The Joyful Watchman will do much more on it in coming months. We spend too much time talking to ourselves. It’s time to get out and take Christ to the streets, the offices, the grocery store, the neighbor’s house, the relative’s, the work site. Everywhere we step our feet.

Does welfare work against God? Does the church help?

Why should Christians care if more than half of young people think socialism is better than capitalism? Or more broadly, why should Canadian or European or Mexican Christians care if more than half of young people think socialism is better than capitalism? What could that have to do with salvation, with the spiritual state of souls in a nation?

It is another leading indicator of where the heart of the nation is, and in this case, where it is going.

Socialism breeds dependence on government. The statistics are pretty clear on that. Trillions have been spent on the war on poverty since the Great Society was launched, yet most indicators of poverty are flat or worse. Some are much worse. It works for dependence. It does not work for solving poverty — which is unsolvable in the aggregate, not the individual.

But God wants us to look to Him, trust Him, depend on Him, to meet all of our needs — even if it is done through our own hard work. I was raised to work hard and value that, and I have worked hard all of my life. But as I have gained a proper understanding of how God gives us what we need — “all good things come down from the Father of heavenly lights” — I have realized that God has always provided for me by giving me work. He does not drop money from the sky, he drops work. He does not wave a wand and money appears, He uses us and others.

So why can’t a Christian look at welfare as a gift from God? Well, one can, I suppose. But I don’t think one should. Because the Bible says that a man ought to work and if he will not work, he should not eat. We have many excuses for why people don’t work, but God is rarely interested in excuses. He expects us to be faithful with whatever we have.

Further reasoning for why welfare may not be a gift from God is that it makes those who are on it — in surprisingly quick fashion — attached to it and feeling they are owed it. Free money comes in the mail. Free money cards buy food. Free doctor visits provide medical care. Free supplements arrive for housing. And so on. Even free cell phones now. The normal human reaction is to find an adequately comfortable range of living and adjust. Why work when money and provision is flowing from the government? And don’t you dare try to take it!

Perhaps the most insidious reason, however, is that — usually in the name of helping those who need it most — welfare eliminates the need for a man in the ways God ordains and leaves largely only that way which God prohibits.

That the rise in welfare has run in tandem with the shocking rise of out-of-wedlock births and utter breakdown of the family in our country’s poorest areas is completely predictable and explainable. There is come causal effect here. The state has replaced the need for a husband as a provider, a role God intends for the family of one man and one woman. The man is not needed. In too many cases, the woman, particularly a mother, is essentially married to the state, who provides for her.

The feminist movement was intended to free women from a patriarchal arrangement. It did, to great damage for many, because it also emancipated the man from responsibility that society and circumstances had foisted on him. For the amoral modern American man, the feminist movement combined with the welfare state has been a boon for his duty-free sexual appetites. Sleep around and claim no responsibility. No commitment to marriage. If there is a pregnancy, urge her to abort, which the state will often pay for. If she won’t kill the child, he can just move on to the next chic who is not bulging with baby.

This is easily reinforced by Hollywood that depicts bed-jumping as normal and harmless, even healthy. Anyone who doesn’t participate in sexual narcissism is a prude and a dunce. Not cool.

This scenario in real life, which is rampant, would be impossible without welfare because the woman would be forced to act more responsibly.

So it’s all government’s fault, right? Not so fast.

The church plays it part, also. We Christians spend billions on our physical infrastructures and ministry salaries, money freed up in part because the government does so much. Most of this money flows within an internal Christian circles. What percentage of all Christian giving, or spending, goes to actually meeting the needs of the poor and spreading the Gospel? I don’t know. I can’t locate such a number, if it exists. But my guess is that it is small.

When the church is doing those things, the work itself is more efficient and effective, but more importantly, it is demonstrating the reality of Christian love in walked-out deeds. We are to be a reflection, or if you please a conduit, for the love of God. That love will always be best exemplified in the person of Christ. But as His followers, we can display that love through our actions. There are those churches doing so, but is the church en masse?

Take your big local church with a large building and mortgage, large ministry staff of pastor, associate pastors, youth pastors, worship pastors and so on, along with secretaries supporting them, employee benefits, utilities bills, band equipment, church vans, gymnasiums, meeting rooms, etc. How much goes to that overhead and how much goes to the Biblical mandate to feed the poor and clothe the naked?

Well why should it? some ask. Government is already doing that. Exactly, to disastrous results.

Yet there is no convincing case to make for reducing welfare if Christ’s people are not ready to jump in to make up the difference. It is hard to see the evidence that we are. And please remember, the church is an amalgam of Christians, with Christ meant to be its head. This is not about any denominations or all denominations, but about all us who call on the name of Christ. Have we distanced ourselves so far from a biblically-founded lifestyle that we can now only see our traditions?

If so, who is really to blame for the condition of our country? And who, knowing the truths of God, needs to repent first?

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