Ten Insights About Millennials

Last week I had the chance to speak alongside David Kinnaman to the Biola University Staff about reaching Millennials. Along with the fact that I have been working with Millennials for the past decade, I did a ton of research to understand this generation. Here are ten key insights about Millennials, typically defined as those born after 1980 (although these trends apply most pointedly to younger Millennials). Please keep in mind that these are generational trends, and certainly not true of every Millennial.

Millennials are very quickly moving into positions of influence and leadership in our culture, so we better be prepared!

1.      DIGITAL: Teens 12-17 send an average 167 texts per day, 18-24 year-olds send 110, and 25-34 year-olds send 42.[1] 83% of Millennials say they sleep with their smartphones.[2] 

continue reading

Test Your Eyewitnesses, Even When the Eyewitness Is You

As a detective, I’m a distrustful person. I learned to be skeptical the hard way; I was fooled several times in my early career by convincing liars (both suspects and alleged eyewitnesses). As a result, I’ve learned the importance of testing eyewitnesses, even when they offer testimony favorable to my case. I’d much rather discover a lie early, than discover it in front of a jury under cross-examination. I’ve learned to evaluate witnesses with the four part template I developed from the jury instructions offered in criminal trials. If a witness was truly present, can be corroborated by additional evidence, has been consistent and honest over time, and lacks prejudicial bias, he or she can be trusted.

I must confess my skepticism also colors the way I see claims of religious experience. Many believers offer the personal testimony of experience. When they do this, they present themselves as eyewitnesses, and I’ve learned to be skeptical of their testimony. I have six brothers and sisters who were raised in Mormonism. Like other Latter Day Saints, when asked why they believe Mormonism is true, they offer personal testimony of religious experiences that served as confirmation of the Book of Mormon and the claims of Joseph Smith. This religious experience (whether it is described as a “burning in the bosom” or in more contemporary language) is seen as sufficient evidence Mormonism is true. But when Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are evaluated under the simple template I use to assess eyewitness reliability, they fail to withstand the scrutiny. In fact, Mormonism is demonstrably false.

Given my experience with Mormon believers, I’ve become skeptical of Christians who cite religious experience as the only evidence they can offer when defending the claims of Christianity. I’m not saying I don’t trust religious experience at all; I simply saying all religious experience must be tested:

continue reading

Did God Appear in Bodily Form Before Jesus?

The Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building (Genesis 11:5).

 

>How could God “come down” to the earth prior to him taking on human form in the person of Jesus?

 

Explanation: Prior to the incarnation—God taking on human flesh in the person of Jesus—he did in fact make his presence known. Adam and Eve “heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8 niv). God appeared to Abraham (Genesis 17:1 and Genesis 18:1), Jacob (Genesis 32:1), and Moses (Exodus 3:2).

 

These appearances or manifestations of God are called theophanies. It is when God makes himself tangible to the human senses, as when Job was able to hear God in the wind (   Job 38:1), or when God appeared to Moses in the burning bush. But in a more restrictive sense God has “come down” and made himself visible in the form of a man, like he did with Abraham and Jacob. Some scholars believe certain appearances of God were the pre-incarnate Christ. Other possible pre-incarnate appearances include the meeting between Joshua and the “Commander of the Lord’s army” (   Joshua 5:13-15) and the fourth man “like a son of the gods” who was with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace (Daniel 3:23-25). But in any case God did make appearances in tangible form prior to the appearance of the God-man Jesus.
continue reading

The True Christian Myth

The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact.

C. S. Lewis

Everybody loves a hero. Whether it’s a real life ordinary person who does something heroic in a moment of crisis, or a comic book superhero who saves the world from bad guys, we just love a good hero and a great heroic story. To say Jesus was a hero might seem inappropriate or even sacrilegious because Jesus wasn’t ordinary and he certainly didn’t fly around in a cape. But if you give it some thought, it isn’t all that far-fetched, especially when you consider the classic definition of a hero: “A being of godlike prowess and beneficence who often came to be honored as a divinity.”

The idea of the classic hero has been a part of human lore, legend and literature for thousands of years. The Greek poet Homer wrote two epic poems, Illiad and Odyssey, that defined the heroic tradition in literature eight centuries before Jesus was born. Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s story, goes on a long journey following the fall of Troy in order to get home. But he doesn’t get there until he experiences a series of adventures. One of the most popular books and movies of the last century, The Wizard of Oz, is based on this heroic tradition.

continue reading

Love and the Woman in 13F

The large woman was sitting in seat 13F on the Southwest Airlines flight from Austin, Texas, to Los Angeles. Her seat was by the window and she was trying not to make eye contact with the passengers filing by. On Southwest there are no assigned seats. People board by pre-assigned priority, and once you get on the plane you can take any open seat. The seat next to the woman in 13F remained empty for a long time. I should know. I was sitting in 13D, two seats over. The problem with 13E and why it was still vacant, even though most of the passengers had boarded, was a matter of space. For all intents and purposes the woman in 13F was also sitting in half of 13E.

I’m embarrassed to admit this to you, but I’ve got to tell someone, and it might as well by you. I sat in 13D because I thought 13E might remain vacant due to the size of the woman in 13F, giving me extra room for the long flight. Then, the unexpected happened. A young hipster woman (there are lots of them in Austin) walked down the aisle, stopped next to me and pointed to 13E. She wanted to sit there. I don’t know what kind of person I expected to take the “charity” case of sitting next to the woman in 13F—a nun perhaps?—but I would not have expected this young lady with a flowing white dress and several tattoos to be the one. Yet there she was, and I was suddenly feeling very small, especially when she sat in 13E and immediately began to engage the woman in cheerful, respectful conversation.

continue reading

What Does the Bible Say About the Nature of Satan?

Like other claims of the Christian worldview, the existence of a subordinate, personal, evil being can be argued without relying on the Biblical record. But while it is reassuring to note our faith is reasonable and logical, natural revelation does have its limits. The clearest and fullest claims related to the nature of Satan come not from our reasoning ability, but from the Word of God. The Bible has much to say about the nature of Satan, and God’s special revelation affirms what we have already surmised from God’s natural revelation:

continue reading

Is the Existence of Satan Reasonable?

Most of us recognize the presence of evil in our world, but according to a recent Harris Poll, the number of Americans who believe in the devil is actually dropping (from 62% in 2005 to 58% in 2013). Christianity asserts the existence of Satan (in spite of what the culture may believe), describing the devil as a limited, personal being, subordinate to a holy and good God. Satan is, according to Christianity, a personal agent of evil in our world. But is this belief in a subordinate, personal, evil being rational? Is it reasonable?

When I was a new believer, one of the first Christian books I had the opportunity to read was C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. Like millions of other readers, I was fascinated and impressed with both the thinking capacity and writing style of this incredible Christian apologist. But the one thing I remember (above all else) was Lewis’ rational, philosophical argument for the existence of a personal, subordinate source of evil in our Universe. I am happy to have the chance to restate it in a very brief (and certainly inferior) manner. Lewis made the following argument about the nature of an evil power in our universe:

1. Evil exists in our world and begs for explanation. There are two possibilities:

A Good Power is presiding over a world temporarily under the influence of a finite, subordinate Evil Power (This is the Christian worldview), or…

Good and Evil Powers (or Forces) exist in the world and are equal in strength, independent from one another, and co-eternal.

2. If two independent, equally strong, equally eternal powers of good and evil exist in the universe, each power would assert it is good and the other is bad. True good and bad would require the existence of yet a third thing in the Universe: an outside standard deciding between the two.

3. If this outside standard exists, it is actually supreme over the two powers and is the true God of the Universe. It “stands on its own” without dependence on yet another, additional standard.

4. We know evil is the result of the perverted pursuit of one of three things: the attempt to satisfy physical need, the attempt to satisfy personal gain, or the attempt to attain power and glory, but these three objects of pursuit are actually good things by their nature.

5. For this reason, evil requires the existence of good before it can actually exist. Evil cannot “stand on its own”.

6. Therefore, we know the supreme, objective standard in the universe (the force “standing on its own”) must, by necessity, be a good power, while the evil power must, by necessity, be a subordinate power.

I’m not doing justice to Lewis’ reasoning as I attempt to simplify it here, but with this modest argument, Lewis provided a logical and reasonable foundation for a subordinate and limited evil being. This kind of Evil Power is starting to sound something like the devil, but the Christian description of Satan includes another important characteristic. As Christians, we believe Satan is a personal being who has a name and can be recognized. Is that reasonable? Yes, given the following truths:

continue reading

The Christian Bible vs the Book of Mormon

The term Mormons is the common designation for those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), which has its headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1827 Mormon founder Joseph Smith claimed to be informed by an angel named Moroni about a set of gold plates buried in a hill in present-day New York. These plates were said to have ancient writings engraved on them. Smith said he uncovered these plates and then translated and published them as the Book of Mormon in 1830. So how does the Book of Mormon differ from the Christian Bible?

 

The LDS church bases its beliefs not just on the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith also claimed to have had an encounter with Jesus in which Jesus revealed many things to him. These revelations were published in the Doctrine and Covenants. The accounts of Smith’s interaction with Jesus and his story of discovering gold plates are found in a third book, entitled Pearl of Great Price. These three documents, along with the Bible, form the basis of LDS beliefs and continuing revelations. However, the LDS officially consider the Book of Mormon as the “most correct” book of scripture. Since the death of Joseph Smith in 1844 these documents have been supplemented by other revelations that the LDS church says have been given to its leaders.
continue reading

The Case for the Reliability of the New Testament (Free Bible Insert)

I’ve written quite a bit about the reliability of the New Testament eyewitness accounts in Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels and at ColdCaseChristianity.com. I believe there are many good reasons to accept the Gospels as eyewitness accounts, and I’ve focused on four characteristics of reliable eyewitness testimony to demonstrate the trustworthy nature of the Gospels. In an effort to summarize the case for the New Testament in a different way, I’d like to offer the following brief outline:

continue reading

Are There Different Degrees of Punishment in Hell?

Are all sins the same in the eyes of God? Is lying just as bad as murder? The answer is not as simple as it may seem. In one sense our moral failings are exactly the same: Our sins (regardless of severity) expose our imperfection and separate us from the perfect God who created us. Even the smallest moral failing disqualifies us from the perfection of God. But God recognizes some sins are more heinous than others. Jesus affirmed this as He was standing in front of Pontius Pilate:

John 19:11-12
Jesus answered, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin."

continue reading
Syndicate content

Popular Blogs


Sign-up for the Newsletter
Sign-up for the Newsletter
Get the latest updates on relevant news topics, engaging blogs and new site features. We're not annoying about it, so don't worry.