Paul Copan: “That’s Just Your Opinion”—Or Is It?

Paul Copan is Professor and Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University.  He has a Ph. D. in philosophy from Marquette University and is author of  several books including “When God Goes to Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics” (Baker).  Paul is the current president of the Evangelical Philosophical Society.  Find out more about Paul and his books HERE.


  “That’s Just Your Opinion”—Or Is It?

Have you ever tried to explain reasons for taking the Christian faith seriously, only to get shot down with the exasperating comeback, “Well, that’s just your opinion!”?  You’re left scratching your head, wondering how someone could slam the door on such eloquence and brilliance!
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Change is Hard: A Reflection on Change

I often think I like change.  In fact, I am one to push for change, and I love the idea of it, that is until it happens to me.  Recently my family and I have been undergoing massive change, causing us to question, doubt, and pretty much just feel very uncomfortable most of the time.

When I am in the midst of change, I have this feeling of being stuck in a small place, that is very constricting and uncomfortable, and yet somehow wanting to stay there because it is what I know.  It kind of reminds me of the nation of Israel talking about how they would rather be back in Egypt.  

So the other day I read this verse that illuminated my feeling and helped me to get beyond it.  I thought I would share it, and perhaps someone else can benefit as well.  Psalm 118:5 says, "In my anguish I cried to the LORD, and he answered me by setting me free."(NIV)  The NRSV states the second part of that verse as "the LORD answered me and set me in a broad place."  

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Christmas in July

Last Fall a piece of flair was being passed around Facebook that caught my attention.  (“Flair” are fake buttons you can give your friends electronically – seriously don’t ever join Facebook.) On the little button it declared in bold print: Attention! HP fans Christmas has been moved to July! It was not talking about the latest deskjet printer, no, it was talking about “the boy who lived” – Harry Potter. Christmas had been moved to July for every hardcore Potter fan out there. With reasons unbeknownst to any of us, the sixth installment was pushed back and my friends, I’m happy to say it’s finally July. On Tuesday night a bunch of us will gather at my house for an absurdly late potluck and caffeine binge as we try to stay up way past our adult bedtimes of 10pm for a midnight showing.  I couldn’t be more excited.
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God Knew I Would Blog This


500 years ago today—on July 10, 1509—one of the most important theologians in Christian history was born. John Calvin.

A second-generation reformer during the Protestant Reformation, Calvin was a scholar out of the Renaissance humanist tradition and produced a striking amount of scholarly output, including commentaries on most books of the Bible and his magnum opus, Institutes of the Christian Religion–one of the most significant systematic theologies ever written.

But he’s also known for Calvinism—the theological approach (also known as Reformed) that emphasizes things like God’s sovereignty, predestination, and the inherent depravity of man. And Calvinism, strange as it may seem to some, is now more popular than ever.

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The Famine and Michael

Last night I sat in a Chinese restaurant in East Africa with a group of Californians while cable television beamed Michael Jackson's memorial service above us as we ate our Szechuan Beef.  The Tanzanian waiters were attentive, though their real focus was on the screen.  We munched our Spring Rolls as I pondered it all...

The memorial service and the entire giant "event" of Jackson's passing, felt both very close and very far.  I return to LA every 2 years and I just drove past the Staples Center less than 3 weeks ago on my way to LAX for my flight back to Africa.   I can easily imagine the buzzing helicopters overhead, the snarled freeway nightmare of traffic, the way all else seems to be on hold until LA decides to move on again.

But our group of 12 at the table was out for dinner after a day of prep for some days in the wilderness. Byron, my husband, is leading them today into a remote area of Maasai-land  on a reconnaissance trip, if you will, to visit different projects we are involved in.  The team is on a journey of discovery regarding how they might build involvement in Africa.

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When God's Die

Today was the memorial for Michael Jackson here in Los Angeles. The city was expecting about 2 million from around the world who would attend the event. The Staples Center was blocked off for about a mile radius and anyone not having a special wristband and ticket could not enter the hallowed event. News and media covered the event as if it were the last Super Bowl to ever take place. Press passes, media booths, private security, about one thousand extra officers (many pulled from other cities and from Highway Patrol), satellite links, pod casting in full effect, and thousands of onlookers made the event a grand spectacle; not to mention the thousands who came to Los Angeles from around the world just to sign his memorial poster outside the Staples Center, and the sheer celebrity onslaught which saw the likes of Beyoncé to Nas. It was quite the event to say the least. 
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What's public; What's private?

It is an amazing time to be alive.  Never before has information been so accessible or so fast.  Airplanes have internet and fuzzy ant television is now a thing of ancient history.  Changes in media culture are happening quicker and quicker.  Take the time between the inventions of radio and television… it was decades.  Now it’s a matter of months before the new gaming system or new iphone comes out.  People not only expect this, but also make their lives revolve around the latest and greatest.  The pressure to keep up with the Jones’ is pretty overwhelming.  Today will be marked in history as one of the largest audiences ever at and watching Michael Jackson’s memorial, I can’t help but think if this had happened 10 years ago, would it be the same?  Celebrity culture has always been an odd and awed phenomena, but with the advent of everything happening so quickly – it has definitely been thrust even more into the spotlight.  Fans on CNN who were hanging out at Neverland called him a “prophet.”  And the outpouring of tributes and grief are like nothing the world has seen.  I’m not even sure if Princess Diana, who likewise had an enormous outpouring of tribute and grief attributed to her death, had the massive amount of attention that I’ve heard from my friends all over the world who are struck by Michael’s impact there.  Sure in Los Angeles, it’s kind of normal, but Haiti? People received tickets to Michael Jackson’s memorial on Sunday and could fly half way around the world to be in Los Angeles by Tuesday morning and they are here.
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She's a Pastor

Last night, one my closest friends officially became a pastor.

  The elders, pastors, and leaders of our church were on hand to ordain Lynne and testify in public that she had gone above and beyond all the requirements necessary to earn the title. She has faithfully run our missions programs for 7 years, mentored countless people, taught classes and Bible studies, and, oh yeah, she just completed her Doctorate degree. 

In truth, Lynne has been one of the most caring, qualified, passionate pastors I have ever met, for the last 25 years. Working in a variety of ministry settings, she has consistently labored to show people Jesus, to bring freedom from oppression and justice to the poor. She has sat in meetings, often the only woman present, and used her God given gifts of leadership in spite of the belief of some that women shouldn’t have a place at the table.

  Nothing much will change about the way she ministers, now that the name plaque on her door can officially read “Pastor Lynne Ellis.” She’s always given it her all, regardless of the fact that the title was previously unavailable to her simply because of her gender. She ministered with passion and a fierce love of Jesus Christ because she understood that the calling on her life was from God, whether validated by an institution or not.

But, last night, with scores of friends, family, and church members in attendance, Lynne’s years of service were validated. My husband is the Lead Pastor at our church and, as he prayed over her, I wept.  I wept because I was proud of my friend. I wept for the young women watching who witnessed a ceiling being blasted out of their lives.  I wept for the old women watching who, while sighing deeply, had something healed in their hearts. And , I wept because I’m proud of my husband, who strongly, publicly, believes in women in leadership in the church.

My daughter (9) and Lynne’s daughter (4) sat together watching the service and cheering for Lynne. The girls stared up at Lynne, faces proud and smiling, totally unaware of what an historic day they were witnessing.  To them, Lynne has always been a pastor.  My son, Caleb, took in the scene as well, asking, “Mom, why are you crying?” I responded,  “Because, buddy, I think Lynne does a really good job.”  “Oh,” he said. “Cool.”

Lynne’s ordination is an important milestone for her but even more so for women in general. Her ordination repeals a cultural limitation and announces that women are valuable, that they can be leaders, and that God uses them in powerful ways. It also counters some misguided theology of several churches in our community here in the Northwest.

One male leader in particular frequently clarifies that the target of their ministries, the very reason they exist, is to reach lost men. He rails against a “chickified” church and insists Jesus would have spent his Saturdays watching football and drinking beer. I understand that men in Seattle need Jesus. I get it. 

But, so do women.

As a woman who happened to be born with leadership skills, I feel hurt by this rhetoric, excluded and marginalized by it. It pains me to realize that in this particular church community, my gifts would not be valued or utilized to their fullest extent.

With Lynne’s ordination, I believe the message both men and women in our congregation and in the larger community will receive is this: There is a place for women at the table. Women are an essential part of our target audience. Jesus died for them, saves them, and empowers them with his Spirit to change the world. No ceilings. No limitations. Only freedom.


Tuesday morning Bachelorette tirade

Every morning of this past week there has been something new to write about.  It’s ridiculous.  Just when I think the world is going to calm down there’s another death, another engagement or another plane or train crash.  The sensationalism we’re all living with was enough to keep me up last night pondering all of this.  Just a few hours before I went to sleep I was chewing another pillow watching the Bachelorette.  My husband was on his computer next to me barely watching until I whacked him with the pillow and said, “Can you believe this!?  Why do I watch this show?  I’m so mad right now!”  I fumed around the house before scrubbing my teeth much harder than usual.  Now that I’ve slept and woke up with bright whites, I’m not sure I’m any less confused, but I’m rested.  I’m in a state of numbness due to “the most dramatic____________” fill it in with whatever you want: death, accident, rose ceremony yet.  There’s no end.  My cup overfloweth… somehow I don’t think that is what that phrase is supposed to mean.  And why is the cup just flowing and flowing?  
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26 years ago today...

26 years ago today...

My atheistic worldview was interrupted by the God who pursues even those who deny him. 

I was confident that God(s) didn't exist, that he/she/they were constructs of individuals and cultures to stuff in the gaps and calm fears. I considered myself a realist who preferred unanswered questions over fairy tales...

Today, I look back and remember the moment my existence was interrupted. My eyes still burn. 

Today, to deny God's existence, I'd have to first deny my very own.

Today, I still have questions, but now my mind has a Mentor.

Today, I'm savoring the truth that the goal of believing isn't avoiding pain. The goal of all living things is to grow (and multiply). The goal of faith isn't answers. The goal of faith is intimacy. 

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