Tag Archives: BreakPoint

BreakPoint –  Justice Kennedy’s Long Awaited Retirement: What it Means for Life and Religious Freedom

Wednesday’s announcement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s long-anticipated retirement has launched the discussion that will dominate the news for the next four or five months.

It’s a discussion Christians should join. After all, there’s so much at stake in who is chosen as his successor. To put it simply, the stakes are much higher with this nomination than they were with Justice Gorsuch replacing the late Antonin Scalia. In that case, the President was replacing one conservative justice with another.

But this time around, Kennedy’s replacement could alter the philosophical balance on the Court. Of course, Justice Kennedy is no “liberal.” He was very often the fifth vote in cases of importance to conservatives, especially in this past term where he voted with conservative justices in all fourteen 5-4 votes.

But he certainly was not conservative in his views on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage. He, along with Justices O’Connor and Souter, authored the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which not only saved Roe but created an entirely new rationale for the right to abortion.

That now-infamous “mystery passage” stated that “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”

Four years later, in Romer v. Evans, he wrote that Colorado’s Amendment 2, which prohibited state and local governments from including sexual orientation as a protected class in anti-discrimination laws, could only be based on animus toward LGBT people.

Then in 2003, in Lawrence v. Texas which overturned Texas’s anti-sodomy statute, he wrote that the law “furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.”

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Justice Kennedy’s Long Awaited Retirement: What it Means for Life and Religious Freedom

C.S. Lewis, the Great War, and the Road to Narnia: Finding Our Deepest Longings

One hundred years ago this spring, a ferocious battle raged in in the French village Riez du Vinage. Amidst the savage German bombardment, a shell exploded near a young British lieutenant, plunging shrapnel into his body.

The soldier—an atheist named Clive Staples Lewis—survived, and went on to write many books on Christian apologetics—books that would likely not have been written had he not known the horrors of warfare.

As my friend Joe Loconte writes in National Review, “The experience of war would transform [Lewis], launching him on a spiritual journey that culminated . . . in his conversion to Christianity.”

That transformation began with mechanized butchery on an unprecedented scale. Lewis, a lieutenant in the Somerset Light Infantry, spent five miserable months in the trenches. He later described “the frights, the cold, the smell of [high explosives], the horribly smashed men still moving like half-crushed beetles, the sitting or standing corpses.”

By war’s end, most of Lewis’s friends lay dead, and in the years that followed, the West became disillusioned with war. But for Lewis, as Loconte writes, “the war and its aftermath seemed to have stirred [his] spiritual longings.”  Traveling by train to a London hospital, the wounded lieutenant “was seized by a sense of the transcendent as he beheld the natural beauty of the English countryside.”

Lewis later described this experience to a friend, writing, “You see the conviction is gaining ground on me that after all Spirit does exist. I fancy that there is Something right outside time and place….”

This transformation continued through new friendships at Oxford, where Lewis taught English literature. J.R.R. Tolkien, a Catholic who had also fought on the Western Front, shared Lewis’s love for ancient myths and the “truth” hidden within them. Lewis read philosophy, and books explaining the nature of atonement and of God Himself.

Lewis told a friend, “Now that I have found, and am still finding more and more of the element of truth in the old beliefs I feel I cannot dismiss, there must be something in it, only what?”

Continue reading C.S. Lewis, the Great War, and the Road to Narnia: Finding Our Deepest Longings

Why Johnny Can’t Read…the Bible: The ‘Teach the Bible in Schools’ Campaign

Last month I told you about a growing movement in the U.S. called “Bring Your Bible to School Day,” organized by our friends at Focus on the Family. It’s part of a growing national movement to encourage our kids to bring their Bibles back to public schools, and perhaps 500,000 young people participated this year! But that’s not all we can do, not by a long shot, despite what you may think.

As you probably know, prominent atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair brought a case before the U.S. Supreme Court, Murray v. Curlett, that ended devotional Bible-reading in public schools in 1963. Schools then threw the baby out with the bath water and stopped teaching the Bible academically, which the U.S. Supreme Court upheld. The results, speaking modestly, have been disastrous. In our schools, suicide, pregnancy rates, and violence have risen dramatically, while our scores in reading, writing, and math have plunged. Of course, while it’s not causation, the correlation is hard to miss.

Bible knowledge, a foundation of Western civilization, has also collapsed. According to Gallup, only a minority of American teens are “Bible literate.” It’s no wonder that over half of the graduating high school seniors in one poll thought that Sodom and Gomorrah were husband and wife and that Billy Graham preached the Sermon on the Mount! Truly, Johnny can’t read … the Bible!

It’s simply impossible for kids to be fully educated without basic knowledge of the world’s greatest book. Without the Bible, students can’t really understand fully the English language, English literature, history, art, music or culture—and the experts agree. In a poll of high school English teachers, 98 percent said that students who don’t know the Bible are disadvantaged when reading English literature.

Continue reading Why Johnny Can’t Read…the Bible: The ‘Teach the Bible in Schools’ Campaign

Opening Closed Minds the Chick-fil-A Way: Friendship, Not Confrontation



Some college students at Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University are claiming, like Chicken Little, that the sky is falling. Sadly, given these crazy times, that’s no longer really news. We’ve seen a steady stream of reports about scholars being driven off campus by mobs of triggered students, of speakers being disinvited or losing announced awards because of their Judeo-Christian beliefs—all in the name of tolerance, diversity, and “safe spaces”!

Truly, though, the kerfuffle at Duquesne shows what we’re up against. In March the university announced that the popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A would be opening in the Catholic school’s main food court.

Instead of cheers for a company that donates generously to charity and makes a great chicken sandwich, the decision brought jeers from some students, who claimed this would put their “safe place … at risk.” One leader of a gay student group said Chick-fil-A has “a questionable history on civil rights and human rights.” A petition that says bullying is a problem on campus demands that Chick-fil-A be banned, while Niko Martini, the president of the Lambda Gay-Straight Alliance, says that the school should, at the very least, “acknowledge there is still some tension.”

So, what has Chick-fil-A done? Well, Dan Cathy, son of Chick-fil-A’s founder, Truett Cathy, has publicly stated his support for the biblical definition of marriage. And the company’s foundation in the past has supported Christian organizations such as Exodus International and Focus on the Family that have taken faith-based stances on human sexuality. By that standard, lots of people of faith are “questionable” in the eyes of some campus groups.

But of course they’re wrong, and we’re not. Dan Cathy is a case in point. A few years ago, you may recall, Chick-fil-A’s president and COO reached out to Shane Windmeyer, who was organizing a national boycott of Chick-fil-A as the executive director of Campus Pride, an organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender college students. Before they met, Windmeyer thought Dan Cathy was a fiend. What he discovered after months of discussion was that Dan had become his friend. His mind began to open.

“Dan expressed a sincere interest in my life, wanting to get to know me on a personal level,” Windmeyer wrote in an eye-opening article in The Huffington Post. “He wanted to know about where I grew up, my faith, my family, even my husband, Tommy. In return, I learned about his wife and kids and gained an appreciation for his devout belief in Jesus Christ and his commitment to being ‘a follower of Christ’ more than a ‘Christian.’”

Continue reading Opening Closed Minds the Chick-fil-A Way: Friendship, Not Confrontation

BreakPoint – Are You a Dangerous Christian: Debunking ‘Patronizing Nonsense’

One of C. S. Lewis’ most famous arguments is his so-called “trilemma,” laid out in “Mere Christianity.” Because of the things Jesus said and did, reasoned Lewis, He must either have been a liar, a lunatic, or Lord.

He made this point to debunk the most common secular misconception of Jesus, which has only grown more popular in the last half century. “I can accept Jesus as a great moral teacher,” says the secularist. “Maybe He was a kind of first-century Gandhi. But I can’t accept him as God in human flesh.”

Lewis called this idea “patronizing nonsense.” Apart from the historic belief that Jesus is God and man, born of a virgin, that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day, Lewis could see no future for Christianity. “Mere” or bare-minimum Christian faith, he argued, requires a belief in these miracles. Yet many today still insist that some kind of stripped-down, “bare-essentials” Christian faith is possible, and that the ancient summaries like the Apostles’ Creed are too exclusive.

During a sit-down interview with pastor Tim Keller just before Christmas, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof suggested that Christianity can survive without the virgin birth or Resurrection.

“I deeply admire Jesus and his message,” he said, “but am also skeptical of themes that have been integral to Christianity—the virgin birth, the Resurrection, the miracles, and so on.” Are these really that essential to the Christian faith? Isn’t it possible to be a Christian without embracing them?

Keller replied that you can’t remove Jesus’ miraculous entry into the world or His miraculous return to life “without destabilizing the whole [of Christianity]. A religion can’t be whatever we desire it to be.”

He went on to explain that the main point of Jesus’ teaching, and of the New Testament, is not a moral maxim, but a message: that Jesus Christ is God in human form, Who was and did everything the ancient creeds say. And believing this is essential. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15, if Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith is vain, and we Christians are to be pitied above all people.

Now as far as I’m concerned, Keller knocked it out of the park. But judging by the letters to the editor, it seems many readers felt differently.

One United Church of Christ minister chided the paper for allowing an evangelical to represent Christianity. The creeds, she wrote, “are not tests of faith for individuals,” and “the virgin birth is not central.”

Continue reading BreakPoint – Are You a Dangerous Christian: Debunking ‘Patronizing Nonsense’

BreakPoint –  Opening the Tomb of Jesus: The Historical Reality of Our Faith

For a sixty-hour period beginning on October 26th, researchers had unprecedented access to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site long-venerated as the place where Joseph of Arimathea placed Jesus’ body on Good Friday.

Then on October 28th, the tomb was resealed and may not be re-opened until, as the Nicene Creed says, He comes again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

As National Geographic told readers, “While it is archaeologically impossible to say that the tomb recently uncovered in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the burial site of  . . . .Jesus of Nazareth, there is indirect evidence to suggest that the identification of the site by representatives of the Roman emperor Constantine some 300 years later may be a reasonable one.”

First some history: according to the historian Eusebius of Caesarea, the Roman emperor Hadrian, about 100 years after Jesus’ death and resurrection, had a temple dedicated to the goddess Aphrodite built over the site of Jesus’ tomb. This was not by accident.

Two centuries later, the emperor Constantine had the pagan temple demolished and in the process, discovered what was believed to be the tomb of Jesus. Constantine ordered a church to be built around the tomb.

The church we see at the site today is not the original. That one was damaged by earthquakes and fires. It was repaired but later demolished by a Fatimid caliph in the early eleventh century and then rebuilt again and damaged again, so forth and so on.

Yet the pilgrims kept coming, so much so that in the 16th century the burial bed in the tomb was covered in marble to keep people from taking home souvenirs.

This is a great story, but is there reason to believe that it’s the site of God’s mightiest work, the raising of Jesus from the dead?

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Opening the Tomb of Jesus: The Historical Reality of Our Faith

BreakPoint –  Christians ‘Under Caesar’s Sword’: Responding to Worldwide Persecution

One hundred years ago, one-third of the population of Istanbul, formerly known as Constantinople, was non-Muslim. It was home to hundreds of thousands of Jews and Christians.

Today, Istanbul, now the capital of the modern state of Turkey, is less than one percent non-Muslim.

This did not happen by accident. What’s more, the same forces that turned one of Christianity’s great cities into a virtual Christian-free zone is still at work throughout the world.

These processes and possible Christian responses to them are the subject of an important new project, “Under Caesar’s Sword,” and a short documentary by the same name.

The project is a joint effort of the University of Notre Dame and the Religious Freedom Center of the Berkley Center at Georgetown University. The goal of the “three-year, collaborative global research project” is to investigate “how Christian communities respond when their religious freedom is severely violated.”

Note that I said “when” not “if” their religious freedom is severely violated. As the project’s website tells visitors, “today Christians constitute by far the most widely persecuted religion.” It cites a study by The International Society for Human Rights, which states that Christians are “the victims of 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world.” Christians are also “the only religious group that is persecuted in all 16 of the countries highlighted as egregious offenders by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in 2012.”

All told, a Pew Research Center found “that between June 2006 and December 2012, Christians faced harassment and intimidation in 151 countries, the largest number of any religious group.”

If you’re a regular BreakPoint listener, some of these dismal numbers should be familiar to you. What won’t be as familiar are the faces and voices behind the numbers. Nor will the localities featured in the 26-minute documentary.

The stories told by “Under Caesar’s Sword” take place not in ISIS-controlled Syria or Iraq, but in Turkey and India, two ostensibly non-sectarian democracies. In India, Christians who’ve been harassed or worse by their Hindu nationalist neighbors, have to file complaints at police stations festooned with Hindu idols covered in garlands and other offerings. Not exactly the stuff confidence in the legal system is made of.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Christians ‘Under Caesar’s Sword’: Responding to Worldwide Persecution

BreakPoint –  The Truth about Miscarriage: Grieving the Loss of an Embodied Spirit

The abortion industry, and politicians allegiant to it, will defend to the death—pun intended—a woman’s so-called “right” to end the life of a living, developing human being in her womb for any and every reason.

But strangely, when it comes to a miscarriage—that is, the unintended death of an unborn baby by natural causes—its script suddenly changes. Consider these words from Planned Parenthood: “Miscarriage is a common event in many women’s lives. Those of us who have had miscarriages know how difficult the experience can be. Miscarriage can leave us with many emotions to sort out.”

By God’s grace, my wife and I have never experienced a miscarriage, like so many of our friends and co-workers. Difficult seems like an inadequate word for the pain resulting from miscarriage—though the nation’s largest abortion provider fails to mention why: because it is the loss of a precious human being in the womb. Planned Parenthood’s concern for miscarriage’s unintended loss seems quite disingenuous given they want us to celebrate the intentional taking of 55 million human beings since Roe v. Wade.

But such logical schizophrenia is not confined to those who defend the legal right to abortion. Those of us on the pro-life side can also be inconsistent. While many Christians can make the case for the dignity of human life in the womb when it comes to the evil of abortion, when it comes to miscarriage—which ends between 10 percent and 25 percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies—the response is often far different. By the words we say or leave unsaid, too often we risk dehumanizing the child who has died and discouraging the grieving parent.

That’s the assessment of Constance T. Hull, who’s experienced four miscarriages herself. Writing in The Public Discourse (an excellent publication by the way), she encourages us to speak frankly about miscarriage. How? By acknowledging the reality that miscarriage represents—to borrow the wording of Thomas Aquinas—the loss of an “embodied spirit.”

Continue reading BreakPoint –  The Truth about Miscarriage: Grieving the Loss of an Embodied Spirit

BreakPoint –  Opening Darwin’s Black Box: Behe’s Bestseller Turns 20

“On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” It was a mouthful of a title too typical of Victorian-era authors. But Charles Darwin’s magnum opus, more commonly known as “On the Origin of Species,” belongs on any list of books that made our world what it is today.

What many don’t realize is that the father of evolutionary theory showed a great deal of humility and openness to criticism. In one famous passage, Darwin wrote that, “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” He immediately added that to his knowledge, there were no such examples.

What Darwin gave us here was a criterion by which his theory could be falsified, teeing up future scientists to reevaluate his conclusions. And in 1996, one biochemist did just that.

Lehigh University professor Michael Behe has spent his career peering through a microscope at the inner workings of cells—workings about which Darwin, writing in the 1850s, could only speculate. In his 1996 book, “Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution,” Behe explained how Darwin’s inability to see inside the cell kept him from witnessing mechanisms and processes which could not possibly have been formed through “numerous, successive, slight modifications.”

Organelles like the flagellum—a microscopic “outboard motor” which many bacteria use for propulsion—exhibit what Behe describes as “irreducible complexity.” In other words, these tiny machines—complete with drive shafts, bushings, universal joints, and propellers—have exactly the correct configuration of parts to perform a specific function. They could not have evolved from simpler mechanisms with fewer parts, because such mechanisms would be either useless or detrimental, in which case natural selection would weed them out.

As scientists gain ever more detailed access to the inner workings of cells, the case against Darwinism from irreducible complexity only becomes stronger. And the intelligent design movement—a community that considers Behe a founding father—continues to question the viability of materialistic evolution on the basis of his reasoning.

To make Behe’s meticulous arguments more accessible to the public, the folks at the Discovery Institute have just produced a documentary summarizing “Darwin’s Black Box.” It’s called “Revolutionary,” a tribute to the fact that Behe’s book forever changed the way we think about evolution. It also documents how, as David Klinghoffer writes at Evolution News and Views, “Black Box” sparked a public debate that rages to this day.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Opening Darwin’s Black Box: Behe’s Bestseller Turns 20

BreakPoint –  Orientation over Speech and Religion: A Half-Baked Verdict in the UK

Okay—stop me if you’ve heard this story before: A Christian couple opens a bakery where, until recently, the only thing they’re known for was the quality of their baked goods. Until one day a gay client demands that they perform a service that would violate their conscience.

After the couple refuses, the would-be customer files a complaint against the bakers. The case winds up in the courts, where the Christian couple loses.

It’s an all-too-familiar story, but this one has a few surprising twists.

First—where it took place: the United Kingdom, specifically, Northern Ireland.

Daniel and Amy McArthur run a bakery in Belfast called “Ashers.” In May, 2014, a representative of a group called “QueerSpace,” which is, as the name suggests, an LGBT advocacy group in Northern Ireland, placed an order for a cake at Ashers.

If the cake had simply been, say, a red velvet cake with cream cheese frosting, the story would have ended there. Ashers would have baked the cake and that would have been that.

But, as you probably guessed, it wasn’t that simple. The would-be customer wanted the McArthurs to put a picture of Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street, along with the words “Support Gay Marriage” on the top.

After the McArthurs declined to bake the cake, the would-be customer filed suit against them.

After losing in the lower court and being fined the equivalent of $600, they appealed to Northern Ireland’s Supreme Court, which upheld the legal conclusions of the lower court.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Orientation over Speech and Religion: A Half-Baked Verdict in the UK

BreakPoint – Veterans Day 2016: How Grateful are We?

With the craziest presidential election of all time ending earlier this week, it’s easy to forgive someone for forgetting that today is Veterans Day.

Sad to say, at least until President-Elect Trump’s brief but important mention of vets during his victory speech, our nation’s veterans have been mostly forgotten during the election campaign. As National Public Radio reported, of the 28,500 words spoken by the presidential candidates during the debates, veterans were mentioned only twice.

This is amazing. The nation and our leaders owe veterans much more.

Let’s look at the figures. The Census Bureau reports that there are 18.6 million American veterans of military service. Since the first Gulf War, 5.6 million Americans have served.

And while most of them are doing just fine, thank you, many are in dire straits. One in five veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or PTSD.

Although veterans represent only 9 percent of the U. S. population, they account for nearly 20 percent of the nation’s suicides. Vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have four times the suicide rate of other veterans.

Homelessness is also an issue. There are nearly 50,000 homeless vets in this country—half of whom are Vietnam vets, although the number of younger homeless vets is on the rise.

Then there’s the scandal of the Veterans Administration hospitals—horrendous waiting lists for medical care, officials falsifying data to cover their tracks. It’s a further scandal that the Administration and Congress haven’t done a whole lot about it. The Washington Post awarded President Obama four Pinocchios for his assurances to military families that “a whole bunch of people” have been fired at the VA as a result of the scandals. The fact is that very few VA officials have been held accountable.

Finally, there’s the ongoing mess regarding war-time re-enlistment bonuses given to members of the California National Guard. These men and women used the money for things like education and mortgages—only to find out that a) they might have been given the money fraudulently because their recruiting officers were trying to meet quotas, and b) the government wants the money back. That’s a fine thank you to the men and women who placed their lives on the line for their country.

Continue reading BreakPoint – Veterans Day 2016: How Grateful are We?

BreakPoint – The Election, the Culture, and the Church: Where are We, and Where are We Headed?

For most Americans, the results of Tuesday’s presidential elections came as a shock, even a surprise, and for many, a bit of a relief.

That feeling of relief is understandable. While there’s no way to be sure what will happen over the next four years, Christians may very well have gained a reprieve in areas such as religious freedom and attempts to impose the new sexual orthodoxy and gender ideology on our schools.

So relief? Yes. But I’d caution against elation, because what happened on Tuesday was more of a reprieve than a vindication. A close read of Tuesday’s results, beyond the presidential race, shows that the cultural trends we’ve been talking about on BreakPoint for years continue unimpeded.

The saddest example is Colorado voters’ approval of doctor-assisted suicide by a two-to-one margin. I warned on this broadcast that so-called “right to die” invariably becomes a duty to die. I reminded my fellow Coloradans that in a state currently in the midst of an epidemic of teen suicide, approving doctor-assisted suicide sends the wrong message.

But it didn’t matter. The siren song of unlimited personal autonomy and self-definition proved irresistible to a large majority of Coloradans.

And a similar dynamic was at work in the various ballot initiatives concerning marijuana. Voters in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada joined Colorado and Washington in legalizing marijuana outright. As of this writing, the result in Maine is too close to call, although supporters of legalization have already declared victory.

Meanwhile, voters in Florida, Arkansas and North Dakota approved so-called “medical marijuana” use. I say “so-called” because if history is any indication, these laws amount to legalization by just another name.

Only Arizona, thanks largely to the efforts of the Council for Arizona Policy, bucked the trend for legalized weed.

Continue reading BreakPoint – The Election, the Culture, and the Church: Where are We, and Where are We Headed?

BreakPoint – The Day after Election Day: Prayer, Anyone?

Whoever you voted for yesterday, Chuck Colson has a few words of wisdom for you, words he spoke after the presidential election in 2008. Please listen closely:

Whether you’re recovering from your all-night celebration or drying the tears from your pillow, today’s a good day to remember the words of the apostle Paul: “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:1-3).

Chuck went on to point out that the next president would face enormous challenges. First among them back in 2008 was what is now called the great recession.

Now dare I say that Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump (and as I record this I don’t know who won the election) face even greater challenges? Ninety-four million Americans are not in the workforce—more than ever before. The nation is in the grip of a heroin and painkiller epidemic that’s destroying lives across the country. To say racial tensions are high is an understatement. Domestic terrorism and cyber attacks threaten us daily.

And there’s a real effort to push religious and moral conviction out of the public square, and enshrine in law a dehumanizing vision of sexuality and identity.

Overseas, ISIS fights on. Vladimir Putin and Communist China thumb their noses at the U. S. in Eastern Europe and the South China Sea. Iran continues to violate the ill-conceived nuclear deal and openly provokes and threatens our military forces in the Persian Gulf. Waves of Muslim refugees continue to swamp Europe.

And yes, the new president and the country need our prayers.

But how have we gotten to this point? Well, once again, here’s Chuck Colson:

I can only think of what Alexandr Solzhenitsyn said about the catastrophic consequences of the Russian revolution. ‘I recall,’ he said, ‘hearing a number of older people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.’

Solzhenitsyn was right. Indeed, I can’t find any better explanation for why we Americans find ourselves in the state we’re in. We have forgotten God.

Continue reading BreakPoint – The Day after Election Day: Prayer, Anyone?

BreakPoint – Election Day 2016: Time to Vote

Chuck Colson was a man of great passion. And long-time BreakPoint listeners heard him and read him at his most passionate when he talked about the importance of voting.

Yes, Chuck was a political animal. You don’t become the President’s special counsel if you’re not. But Chuck was also a man who believed in Christian responsibility. And for him, voting was a duty for Christians as citizens.

Back in 2010, Chuck recorded what was to be his last commentary on the need for Christians to vote. I want to play it for you now. If you’re seriously considering not voting—please, hear what Chuck has to say.

Today is Election Day. What will the outcome be? Well, thankfully, because we live in a free society, it all depends on you and me. So, have you voted yet? If so, well done. If not, as soon as this broadcast is over—or as soon as you’re off work—I want you to go and fulfill your Christian duty to be a good citizen and go vote.

And while you’re at it, call a few of your Christian friends. Find out if they’ve voted yet. If not, tell them you’re going, and you’ll be glad to stop by and pick them up.

Now is not the time to buy into the lie that your vote doesn’t really matter. As a result of my Watergate felony conviction, I lost the right to vote for 28 years. When my right was restored, I was able to vote in the 2000 presidential election. That year, the national election—the presidency—was determined by just 500 votes in Florida. Mine was one of those votes. So your vote does matter.

And let me say this. The next time you hear someone tell you that Christians ought to take a vacation from politics, tell them to go fly a kite.  Listen, it’s our duty as citizens of the kingdom of God to be the best citizens of the society we live in.

If your pastor no longer has the energy or courage to motivate his flock to speak out on public issues, maybe you can lovingly “buck him up.” Remind him—or her—that God’s people are to love their neighbors, to desire the best for them, to pursue the common good. And we can’t do that on the political sidelines.

When a rabid secularist tells you to stop forcing your religion down his throat—simply correct him. You might say, “Excuse me, but who is suing the government to remove crosses from cemeteries? Who has filed lawsuits to remove ‘under God’ from the Pledge of Allegiance? Who’s trying to tell doctors and nurses and pharmacists that they have to participate in medical procedures that violate their religious conscience? Who’s banning Bibles from schools?

Continue reading BreakPoint – Election Day 2016: Time to Vote

BreakPoint – Defend Life: On Election Day and Every Day

Tomorrow is Election Day. And here’s some advice from Chuck Colson from a few years ago that applies even during this crazy 2016 campaign. “Vote as your conscience informs you. And allow your faith to inform your conscience.”

We must be morally informed and conscientious citizens who see voting as a civic duty. And to do so, we need to distinguish between those issues essential for Christians, and those that are matters of prudential judgment. As I wrote in an article for Decision magazine recently, the sacred value of every life, the essential institution that is marriage and family and the preservation of religious freedom are fundamental, essential issues. Others—such as minimum wage increases, gun control, education policy, health care—they matter, but they’re prudential. In fact, it will be impossible to get those issues right, if we don’t first establish that human value is intrinsic and universal, that no society survives without strong families, and that people are first of all allegiant to God, not the state.

When it comes to these essential issues, there can be no debate for Christians. Here at BreakPoint and the Colson Center, we’ll never tell you for whom to vote. But let me be blunt. The dignity of human life from conception through natural death is non-negotiable. And voting for a candidate or initiative that supports the killing of children in the womb or the early termination of the life of the elderly and the infirmed cannot be reconciled with the Christian faith.

As we say here often, politics isn’t everything, but it isn’t nothing, either. The fact is, one presidential candidate, during a nationally televised debate, defended not only abortion, but partial-birth abortion. And one party not only has forgotten its promise to make abortion “rare,” its current, 2016 platform supports the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which would force taxpayers—you and me—to pay for the abortions of Medicaid recipients.

In a powerful homily in October, the Very Reverend John Lankeit of the Phoenix Diocese told his Roman Catholic parishioners that they sin if they vote for candidates and platforms that support “intrinsic evils” such as abortion—harming their own souls and causing a scandal in the church. “Make no mistake,” he said. “There is no single issue that threatens innocent human life more directly, consistently, imminently, and urgently than the deliberate killing of baby boys and baby girls in their mother’s womb.” We have a “serious obligation to protect human life,” he added. “Whoever fails to do so, when able to do so, commits a serious sin of omission.”

Continue reading BreakPoint – Defend Life: On Election Day and Every Day

BreakPoint – Muslim Refugees Meet Jesus: God at Work in the Midst of Crisis

We’ve seen the video clips of Muslim refugees—many of them from war-torn Syria—flooding into an unprepared and overwhelmed Europe. We’ve heard accounts of some of these refugees committing ugly crimes and others demanding that the post-Christian societies that welcome them conform to the harsh demands of Islamic law. We’ve even read the stories about Islamist terror groups such as ISIS infiltrating the refugee populations in order to wreak further havoc on the West.

But chances are you don’t know, as Paul Harvey might have said, the rest of the story. It’s a story of God building His kingdom in the midst of chaos, doubt, and uncertainty. It’s a story of Muslims meeting Jesus. Take, for example, the story of Javad.

A Muslim from Iran, Javad didn’t know any Christians and didn’t own a Bible, though he had heard some Christian satellite radio. Then in 2008 he migrated to Athens, and a roommate asked him to come to an Iranian church. Javad had never heard of such a thing and, curious, he went. There, in a small, unremarkable rented room, he heard the gospel and gladly received Christ.

Now Javad is sharing the Jesus he met with other Muslim refugees in Greece. Every day he goes to a refugee center, park, or coffee shop to share the good news with Iranian and Afghan refugees. He says that he knows of two or three Muslims each day since he arrived who have trusted in Christ. Working at a refugee center that provides practical aid, Javad says more than 2,000 Muslims at the center have turned to Jesus in the last eight years.

Because many refugees remain on the move, an informal network of new churches for Muslim converts has begun spreading in Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, and elsewhere. One church in Berlin has counted 1,200 Muslims converted in just three years, most of them Afghans and Iranians. At a Persian church in Hamburg, meanwhile, more than 600 Pakistanis and Afghans lined up to be baptized during one service. According to a report in The Daily Beast, thousands—maybe tens of thousands—of Muslims have become followers of Jesus across Northern Europe.

Continue reading BreakPoint – Muslim Refugees Meet Jesus: God at Work in the Midst of Crisis

BreakPoint – Men Not at Work: The Church and Combating Joblessness

We’ve all seen the signs on highways and other construction sites around the country: “Men at Work.” Well, in case you hadn’t noticed, those signs are increasingly out of date—and not because they’re politically incorrect. The fact is, more and more men not only aren’t at work, they’re not even trying to find a job.

Princeton economist Alan Krueger counts 7 million men in America between the prime working ages of 25 and 54 completely out of the workforce, supported by someone else. That’s 11.4 percent of men in that demographic, about triple the share of men out of the workforce in the 1950s.

Besides the loss of a paycheck, these 7 million men report all kinds of problems: 40 percent say they experience pain that keeps them from working. A third say they cannot climb stairs or have some other disability. And get this—44 percent say they take daily painkillers—and two-thirds of those say they’re on prescription meds. Further, Krueger says, that they “experience notably low levels of emotional well-being throughout their days and … they derive relatively little meaning from their daily activities.”

Demographer Nicholas Eberstadt says in his new book “Men Without Work,” “We might say those many millions of men without work constitute a sort of invisible army, ghost soldiers lost in an overlooked, modern-day depression.”

How should we respond? Well, for those who are able and for whatever reason choose not to work, a biblical worldview teaches us that work is good. God gave men and women work to do in the Garden before the Fall. Work allows us to take care of God’s creation and bring glory to Him as His stewards. Work is not optional for those able to do work, and that’s most of us. There are to be no shirkers in the Lord’s kingdom. As Paul said, “If a man will not work, neither let him eat.”

Continue reading BreakPoint – Men Not at Work: The Church and Combating Joblessness

BreakPoint –  Religious Liberty Bestowed by God or Government: Understanding the First Freedom

Does anyone in politics really understand what religious liberty is all about? On the one hand, many on the left (including the head of the U. S. Civil Rights Commission) see it as a thin veneer to promote discrimination.

But many on the right don’t get it, either. For instance, I recently attended, along with some other religious leaders, a meeting with Donald Trump. It quickly became clear that to Trump and many of his staffers, religious liberty just boiled down to two things: The freedom to say “Merry Christmas” in public, and repealing the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations like churches from endorsing political candidates.

But neither of those things addresses the real challenges to religious freedom today. The choice we face is whether we will be able to order our public lives according to deeply held convictions. Or if, in the name of public accommodation, everyone has the right to demand services, language, and agreement—even if providing them violates our conscience.

For example, how should we treat county clerks who do not wish to authorize so-called same-sex “marriages” based on sincerely-held religious beliefs? What about bakers, florists, and photographers, for whom facilitating homosexual “marriages” would involve them in sin? Sad to say, many local governments, even judges, think these people should be forced to provide services while violating their beliefs, First Amendment or no First Amendment, conscience or no conscience.

These conflicts raise age-old questions about the role of government, the value of religion, and the challenges of living in a diverse and free society.

In his important book, “Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom,” Ryan Anderson notes that “part of the genius of the American system of government is its commitment to protecting the liberty of all citizens while respecting their equality before the law.” Among other things, the government protects our right to “live out [our] convictions in public life. Likewise, citizens are free to enter into contracts and to form associations according to their own values.”

Continue reading BreakPoint –  Religious Liberty Bestowed by God or Government: Understanding the First Freedom

BreakPoint –  The Election is Coming: And So is the Day After

Well, perhaps you’ve heard: there’s an election next week.

And I’ve never seen the nation or the Church more divided over politics. For the most part, evangelicals are angrily—and I do mean angrily—split over whether to vote for one of the two most disliked candidates in history, to vote third party, or whether to even vote at all.

The anxiety, the anger, and the vitriol are over the top. So with the election just a few days away, let’s take a breath and do a reality check.

First and foremost, the ultimate reality is this: Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. As I said recently on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, this is not just a spiritual truth, it is the singular truth of the universe. The entire story of human history centers on Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Yes, we have two horrible candidates for the presidency.

Yes, Supreme Court seats are at stake. Yes, the Church is coming under enormous and fiendish pressure from all sides. But none of that, not an iota, changes the fact that Christ is risen. To be a Christian in this world means to place our ultimate hope in that incontrovertible fact, not in the electoral process, in our nation, or in anything else.

And second, even so, you need to vote. And here’s why. God has placed you and me in this country, in our particular state, in our particular community at this particular time. And as my fellow Focus guest Carrie Gordon Earle said on that same broadcast, we—unlike many of our Christian brothers and sisters around the world—have the opportunity to vote, and to use that vote to do good.

I can’t and won’t tell you how to vote for President. But not showing up at the ballot box is not an option for a believer. Besides the presidential race, there are Senate and House seats up for grabs. Don’t forget state representatives. And of course ballot initiatives in your area.

Continue reading BreakPoint –  The Election is Coming: And So is the Day After

BreakPoint – A Symphony for Reformation Day: Mendelssohn’s Fifth

Given that today is October 31st, you might be expecting a commentary about Halloween. Well, we covered that on Friday. Instead we want to talk about another celebration that takes place today, and that is Reformation Day.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther wrote a letter to the archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg protesting the sale of indulgences. In the letter he enclosed what he called “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” which came to be known as his “95 Theses.”

Today also kicks off a year-long commemoration of that momentous event that will culminate next October 31st in the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Lots of ink, both actual and digital, will be expended in telling us what it meant and continues to mean, and by the way, I’m writing a biography of Martin Luther right now—stay tuned.

But for today, I want to turn your attention to the art inspired by the events of that day. Specifically I want to tell you about Felix Mendelssohn’s Fifth Symphony, better known as his “Reformation Symphony.”

The occasion of its composition was the 300th anniversary of another milestone in the Reformation, the Augsburg Confession, which defined Lutheran beliefs.

As the program notes to a recent performance of the symphony by the Los Angeles Philharmonic tells us, “As a devout Protestant himself and a boundless admirer of Bach … Mendelssohn felt drawn by the idea of a symphony that symbolized the Protestant Reformation not with a grand choral work on a sacred text, as might be expected, but with a four-movement symphony without words.”

So despite being ill, Mendelssohn spent the winter of 1829-30 composing a symphony whose fourth movement is built around Martin Luther’s great hymn “A Mighty Fortress is our God,” exactly three hundred years after Luther composed his hymn.

The first movement wordlessly “carries the notion of conflict, at first in the slow introduction where clarion figures seem to call out for reform over the aspiring counterpoint in the lower strings.” What follows is a musical reference to the six-note sequence known as the “Dresden Amen.”

Continue reading BreakPoint – A Symphony for Reformation Day: Mendelssohn’s Fifth