Caroline Lois' Story: A response to suffering.

by Caroline’s Dad, Neil Mammen

My sweet daughter Caroline Lois died in my arms last week. She was nine days old. We will bury her this week.

This is Caroline’s story, starting with the reflections my wife and I gave at the funeral. Afterwards I’ve included some of the emails sent to our friends and relatives to show the progression of our family’s journey through the darkest hours we’d yet to walk through. We pray that ultimately Caroline’s short earthly life will serve to encourage both Christians and non-Christians to further engage their own beliefs in relation to eternity.

 

Caroline’s Memorial Service

Venture Christian Church, Los Gatos, CA

Saturday December 5, 2009 

Anna

On behalf of our entire family we want to thank you so much for being here today to honor our little girl, Caroline Lois Mammen. We’ve been tremendously strengthened and encouraged by your generosity of spirit and love. We can literally feel the prayers being offered up in this time and again we thank you!

Since most of you didn’t get to meet her, I wanted the chance to tell you a little about Caroline.

Her Story.

Caroline’s due date is actually today, Dec. 5th. She surprised us and was born two weeks early on November 22 at Good Sam. From the moment I laid eyes on her, I fell in love with her. While it was similar with Mary Katherine three years ago, there was something special about Caroline. When I saw her, my heart instantly went out to her and I immediately burst out in tears- which didn’t happen with Mary Katherine. Looking back I think it was because, while we didn’t realize or know anything was wrong at the time, she was a special needs child and these beautiful children have a way of capturing your heart.

Almost immediately, the doctor recognized that Caroline had a cleft palate (a small hole in the roof of her mouth) and she had to be taken to the NICU. They assured me she’d be back soon as it wasn’t serious and they weren’t even admitting her in there. They just needed to monitor her and teach her to eat using a special bottle. I visited her and was so grateful she wasn’t as sick or tiny as the other babies. In fact at 7lb. 3 oz and 20 inches long she looked like she didn’t belong in there.

But things got worse. I don’t consider myself to be a nervous “new mom” but it seemed every few hours that I’d go to visit or get a phone call –the news would be worse than the last time. First, it was the feeding tubes, as she wasn’t eating as much as they hoped. A few hours later, she was on an I.V., as she couldn’t keep her food down. The next day it was the shock of going to visit her and finding her in a complete incubator with tiny purple goggles on her little eyes and lights, as she was jaundice. I couldn’t hold her anymore because she needed the light therapy.

A few hours later, a cardiologist came to visit me in my room. Caroline had two holes in her heart. Even this news I felt I could manage as the condition is relatively common and my best friend’s one year old Ruthie has a hole that is in the process of growing shut. They were fairly sure Caroline wouldn’t need surgery at all. Still I cried as I was exhausted and just really wanted to hold ……and smell…. my baby again. I missed that newborn baby’s breath smell as it’s one of my most favorite things.

After that, while in my hospital room I got another, more serious call. While in the NICU Caroline had “crashed”… There were apparently other heart problems that hadn’t been seen at first – among them a small aorta and as a result her blood supply had failed starving her of oxygen until they were able to restart her blood supply. At two days old, they were transferring her to the Stanford Children’s Hospital in anticipation of giving her heart surgery. I was discharged that night. Exhausted and overwhelmed, I went home with no baby. And Neil followed the ambulance to the hospital.

But the heart surgery was put on hold. While at Stanford, they discovered the lack of oxygen had done damage to her kidneys, liver, and possibly brain. We’d have to wait and pray. And we did. We sent out emails and messages and heard back from so many of you. And we were hopeful and encouraged by them. We believed that God COULD do a miracle. He’d created her (and everything else), He could heal her. But WOULD He? What was the plan for her life? We prayed desperately for her and visited her in the NICU everyday. She was on a morphine drip for the pain, but we sang to her and sat with her and talked to her and touched her as much as we could and took pictures with her. And we loved her. One of her many wonderful nurses said we’d set a record for the number of bows, hats and clips brought in for a little girl in such a short time span.

Throughout the past two weeks there were two moments that were the worst. Obviously one was when Caroline was dying in our arms. The second worst moment was what I call the “Dress Rehearsal” of her death. It was when –one week ago today– we got the phone call telling us she’d likely die.

The call came at 9:00 in the morning. Neil had me leave the room while he talked to the NICU doctor. Then we sat on our bed as he tried to “soften” the most awful news possible. The doctor was “very worried” as her kidneys were putting out mostly blood and the damage seemed severe. She wouldn’t qualify for a kidney transplant, as her heart wasn’t strong enough. Caroline’s death was now a very real possibility. I remember everything turning black and feeling like the bed was going to open up and swallow me. I felt my heart had been ripped from my chest and that I was free falling into the blackest abyss I could imagine. And I didn’t know what to do. I kept asking, “What do I do? I don’t know what to do? How can this happen?” I also remember saying, “How will we go on? How will I raise Mary Katherine?”

Neil held me and we cried and I sobbed. And then my mom came in and she cried with us and I sobbed. And we prayed. And then my mom left us alone and I sobbed some more.

And then Neil started feeding me a life rope. Feeding me lines of truth. He gently said,

“She’s not ours.”

“We don’t deserve her.”

“This happens everyday all over the world.”?“We’re not special.”

“We will go on. We will have more kids. We will not let this harden us.”

And I was comforted.

You may think those are strange things to say and to take comfort in, but let me tell you why it wasn’t for us. You see when I met Neil he had two passions that stood out. One was for something known as apologetics. Apologetics is the logical, rational, scientific study and approach to God and Christianity. It’s the investigation to questions such as, “Is the Bible TRUE? I mean REALLY, capital “T” TRUE? Or is it full of errors?” “Is it a book of fairy tales and wishful thinking?” “How can you trust that it’s accurate? Isn’t it just a copy of a copy of a copy?” “Is there solid evidence that Jesus ever even lived at all much less died and rose again?” “Are the places and people in the Bible real?” “What sources outside of the Bible can back up Biblical accounts of history?” “Is there enough evidence to be convincing? Would it hold up in a court of law?” “How does evidence for the truth of Christianity compare to evidence for other religions?” As many of you know, this is something that Neil writes and speaks on. Why I’m bringing this up is because in that moment -up until that time the worst in my life- I was so thankful that I didn’t have the added burden of questioning my belief and faith in God. And that’s because I hadn’t made the decision based on tradition or emotion. I had a faith that stood
upon reasonable evidence.

Secondly, Neil and I both grew up in homes passionate about theology. For the nine years we’ve been married, we’ve enjoyed discussing the tough questions of life and death and God and reality. Questions like, “Is God good? Uninvolved? Indifferent?” “If God is good, why does He allow suffering in the world?” “Why do BAD things happen to ‘good’ people?” “What about miracles? Who gets them and when and why? Are they only for the REALLY good people? How does my faith play into miracles?” “Does God punish his people?” We read and chew-on and discuss and argue and go to conferences and listen to podcasts on long road trips about these issues because we find them interesting and worthwhile. And they are a part of the diet of our lives. So, when I found myself face to face with that black Abyss, Neil fed me the statements of solid conclusions we’d already thought through …and it stabilized me. I know that for me personally cherubs and clichés of guardian angels and some fuzzy picture of an old man in the sky with a long beard wouldn’t have been enough as my daughter lay dying 30 miles from my house. All of those notions wash away. In fact, even tradition and my religious up-bringing instantly vanished and couldn’t have been less important. But Neil reminded me of these Truths and I grabbed hold of them. They were my lifeline.

“She’s not ours” – He meant that she’s God’s. She, like you and I, were made in His image with a purpose and a set number of days and has a life beyond the 9 months (growing in me) and 9 days on this earth. While we pray she touches your hearts and she changes us– makes us more sensitive, softer and loving– makes this world a better place. Beyond all that, she is a soul eternal. She isn’t a concept or past tense. She’s her own precious person still existing right now.

“We don’t deserve her” – We are fallen, imperfect people who fall short of the glory of God, yet He’s saved us. Every good gift, including the 9 days with Caroline, comes from Him. Throughout our marriage, Neil has made comments whenever blessings have come our way that we are undeserving of them. We’d get a new car and he’d at some point say, “You know we don’t deserve this.” When we bought our house, at some point he’d comment “We’ve been so blessed, you know we don’t deserve any of this” and I’d respond, “I know, I know… you’re right.” When Mary Katherine was born he said the same thing. So when he said we don’t deserve Caroline I knew exactly what he meant. And I agreed. And the blessing of our coming to the conclusion that we don’t “DESERVE” something – that we aren’t owed or entitled anything by God- is that it stops the root of bitterness and anger from taking hold and growing.

“This happens everyday all over the world. We’re not special.” — Again, that’s TRUE. While in one sense we’re all special in that we’re made in the image of God and incredibly valuable to Him, in another sense Neil and I are no more special than any of you. No one escapes suffering or death. When I look out across this room, my heart aches for what I know many of you have gone through and are going through in all kinds of scenarios. And even now- with our daughter right over there- throughout the course of this week we’ve heard from some of you the tragic stories of your lives- and we’ve commented to each other, “How are they surviving that?” “Now that would have been so hard.” I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to lose your mom, to face cancer, to suffer abuse, to manage chronic pain day in and day out.

This is not the last of our suffering. And whatever you’ve been through, it’s not the last of yours either. We aren’t special.

Finally, Neil also said, “We know where she’s going. And we’ll see her again.”

Our daughter, Caroline Lois, is in heaven. She has been HEALED completely. She has a new body. We will be reunited and we can’t wait to see her again. 

Caroline’s Memorial Service

Part 2: Neil

Our daughter, Caroline Lois, is in heaven. She has been HEALED completely. She has a new body. We will be reunited and we can’t wait to see her again.  

To an analytical, logical, skeptical engineer like me this would seem like just a nice sentiment. A nice myth. But the reality is that it may not be true.

“Ah” we may think, “so what if it’s not true, at least it makes us all feel good, and prevents pain, how can it hurt us, it will comfort us. It’s a comforting myth.”

But it struck me that that’s perhaps the mildest of the scenarios. I realized that there is a worst case scenario. What if it’s a lie and the real truth is something completely different, something that by believing a lie results in a terrible terrible fate. A terrible fate that I could have prevented had I studied the evidence. For if it is a lie, I have not only no hope for Caroline but I may be dooming myself and my entire family by believing this myth. It occurred to me that surely it’s worthwhile to look into this. I likened it to someone telling me the bridge has a huge section broken halfway out. Where I can’t see it. Now I may not care when I’m NOT driving towards the bridge. But say, one day I find that I do indeed need to cross the bridge. Even if I don’t believe the reports of the bridge being out, surely it’s worthwhile to look into it.

With my sweet Caroline’s death I am reminded that one day we all need to cross the bridge. We are staring death in the face today. We are in the middle of the storm. And one day all of us will face it.

So I for one, want to be sure beyond a reasonable doubt that what I believe in, is true. That it’s not just a useful myth. But that it is factually TRUE.

Our daughter, Caroline Lois, is in heaven. She has been HEALED completely. She has a new body. We will be reunited and we can’t wait to see her again.  

What my wonderful, patient, longsuffering, gorgeous and loving wife said is true. I believe this about Caroline because our Apologetics (the factual evidence for our faith) proves our Theology.

That apologetics allows me to prove using science that God really exists.

That apologetics allows me to prove using historical evidence, facts and logic that Jesus Christ was a real person and that he physically rose from the dead proving that He was God.

If this IS true then it’s also true that Christ is the grave robber.

For as 1 Corinthians 15 says, “if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is our faith. If Christ has not been raised then we Christians are fools to be pitied more than all men.

But as we can prove Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first risen fruits of those who have died.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

Our mortality will put on immortality; our perishable will put on the imperishable.  Death will be swallowed up in victory. Then we can say:

“Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?”

Thanks be to God for He has given us the victory over death through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Can I get an Amen?

Our Lord Jesus Christ is the Grave Robber who comes to steal us away.

And thus, now once our Apologetics has proven and verified our Theology, then can our Theology strengthen and direct ou
r Hope. And yes though we are sad and cry and miss our sweet little Caroline, that verified Hope can lead our emotions and give us security, peace, comfort & joy in this wonderful season of Christmas. This season of God’s promise of life.

And that’s why we can truly say: Our daughter, Caroline Lois, is in heaven. She has been healed completely. She has a new body. We will be reunited and we can’t wait to see her again. And what’s great, I can prove that to be the most reasonably, most logical TRUTH.

Some have asked how we manage to be so joyous in these circumstances. It is these things that we have proven. It is these things that we stand on. It is these things that give us a solid ground for our faith and our hope.

Our Apologetics verifies our Theology. Our Theology directs our Hope and our Hope guides our Emotions.

That and the love of a wonderful gorgeous woman who believes in me and believes in us. With her and our dear supporting families who are always close, we can take on the world. I am truly blessed and deserve none of it.

Yet still, many of you have asked me what you can do for me. You’ve asked how you can help us. Can I collect today on that request? You can indeed help us make Caroline Lois’ life more meaningful. Here’s my request. You see one of my passions; one of my purposes in life is to explain this to you.

To show you the scientific evidence that I believe conclusively and reasonably proves that God exists,

The manuscript evidence that proves the Bible is accurate and the historical evidence that proves Jesus Christ rose from the dead showing us he was God.

To show you how and why our Apologetics verifies our Theology. Our Theology directs our Hope and our Hope guides our Emotions.

So here’s my request. Here’s what you can do for us: Let’s go out to lunch or coffee or dinner. Let me show you my evidence. I have five major points. I won’t force them on you. Feel free to disagree every step of the way, it will make it more interesting for one. But let me show you those 5 points. Hear me out. That’s what you can do for me. Those conversations with you will make our friendship stronger and my Caroline’s life that much more meaningful to me, because her life is what allowed us to talk about these normally taboo subjects. Will you do that for me? You don’t even need to pay for lunch. I’ll buy.

I want to close with one thought, if I may. For a while as she lay dying, I thought while I know I will see her again, oh what sorrow that Caroline will never get to live her life here on earth. She lost out.

Many times we think our purpose in life is what we do here on earth. What we do for others. These are all important. But I realized that I’d forgotten that we are not created primarily for the earth. We are created primarily for eternity. You see as the Westminster Confessional says: The Chief purpose of Man is to Glorify God and Enjoy Him forever.

Let me say that again.

The Chief purpose of Man is to Glorify God and Enjoy Him forever.

If we think our chief purpose is to Glorify God here on EARTH we have only a minute fraction of the picture. For if my Theology which is proven by my apologetics is true, we will spend more time in Eternity in the presence or the absence of the Almighty God, than we will ever spend here on earth. Amen.

My dear friends, who have so honored us by being here today, our sweet Caroline’s chief purpose is to Glorify God and Enjoy Him FOREVER. She has not lost out. She has not missed out, she is not lost. She is in fact doing precisely that. Enjoying God.

My sweet kind friends, I wish oh so much, for you to enjoy God as well, for I fear that if we don’t we will lose out. We may not lose a mere 80 years on earth that we thought Caroline had lost, but we may lose something far more permanent and eternal.

Something that Caroline has right now and can never lose.

Thank you.

For those interested in a more detailed account of the progression of Caroline’s story and the journey we took through prayer and a bit of the  emotional processing, we’ve included emails and some facebook posts in sequential order. 

November 22 at 6:45am 

Chris Kent: My sister Anna is in labor! Hopefully baby Caroline will make her grand entrance this time!

Anna Mammen: is thankful for my “Sweet Caroline!” who arrived this morning at 10:40am (13 days early! YAY!!). She is 7lb. 3oz and 20 in. long and we are in love . Definitely is resembling her sister at this point. -Pics to come.. but I need a nap !

November 22 at 2:06pm

 Chris Kent: A proud uncle yet again. Caroline Lois was born to Anna Kent Mammen and Neil Mammen today. Congratulations, world!

November 22 at 6:34pm 

Anna Mammen Our early Christmas gift. Caroline Lois Mammen

 November 23 at 8:08pm 

On Tue Nov 24, 2009, at 5:58 PM, Neil Mammen wrote:

Hi family and friends an urgent prayer request.

Our second daughter Caroline Lois Mammen was born this past Sunday, Nov. 22 at 10:40 am. She was 7lbs 3oz and 20 inches. However, she was immediately admitted into the NICU as they found that she had a small hole in the roof of her mouth and two holes in her heart. Normally this is not a problem and can easily be treated. However after 2 days she was not thriving, today she “crashed,” they think she may have an aorta that is too small and is unable to provide enough oxygen for her. They’ve given her some medicine that will alleviate the problem. If it does not work she’ll be taken to Stanford Medical at Stanford University to a cardiologist for immediate surgery. If it does work she’ll still go there but it won’t be as critical.

There’s lots of good news in this. First if this is the actual problem, it can be treated and the operation itself is relatively simple. Second, I’m glad we don’t have socialized healthcare and as a result have some of the worlds most advanced (and expensive) medical services. Third, like my wife reminded me, we’ve always dreamed of having our kids go to Stanford, all expenses paid. J But most of all we are reminded that God is able and He is in control.

Please be praying that the medicine works to remove the urgency and after that she survives the trip there, that she does not catch any infection (hospitals are notorious for that) and that she has no other problems i.e. no development problems. She is also learning to suck/eat with a special bottle to compensate for the hole in the roof of her mouth, which has proven difficult for her. We serve a mighty God and whatever He wills is fine with us at the end of the day of course our heart’s desire is for a full and quick recovery.

Please forward this to family and friends. We will start updating people on facebook shortly.

Neil and Anna Mammen

November 24 at 7:36pm

Anna Mammen is asking for your prayers as baby Caroline is on her way to Stanford hospital for heart surgery tonight. She had trouble breathing all day and was put on a respirator and feeding tube. We are trusting her to God and His perfect will for her precious life. But it’s still hard.

On Tues, Nov 24, 2009, at 7:10 PM, Neil Mammen wrote:

Thank you all, and praise God. Caroline is looking better. She’s pink again (sorry Indian relatives, another very un-Indian looking baby Mammen – but she does have black black hair so far). The medicine they gave her seems to be working. From my limited understanding it seems to confirm the problem is what they suspected. As we speak the EMT’s are
here getting her ready to move to Stanford. It takes quite a while. So she’s out of danger as much as we can tell. PTL. I will go with her to Stanford and will follow with more info at some point.

Meanwhile here’s a website that tells you what I think is happening. I have not talked to the doctor so this is just my own research. It looks very promising but as we all know the problems are the ones that we don’t anticipate like side effects, infections etc. So please do not stop praying. Caroline is a trooper and will give her older sister a run for her money we pray.

http://www.cincinnatichildrens.org/health/heart-encyclopedia/anomalies/iaa.htm

Wed, November 25, 2009 1:43:53 AM

Caroline is at Stanford/Packard Children’s Hospital, they are stabilizing her and trying to bring her back to fully normal before any surgery is done. It may be a few days. The doctor confirmed that my research was correct, it’s either an interrupted aortic arch or a “skinny” aorta (I haven’t found any info on the latter yet).  They will confirm after all the tests are run tonight and tomorrow.

The biggest prayer need now is to pray that that there was no long term damage done during the time when her blood was not flowing fully. There are lots of things that could have been damaged. Keep praying please and thank you all so much for all your responses. Keep them coming. While we many not be able to respond individually, each one has been a great encouragement.

Thanks again.

Neil

On Thursday Nov 26, 2009, at 11:54 AM, Neil Mammen wrote:

Hi family and friends,

Baby Caroline is getting more stable by the hour. She’s on morphine so she’s out of pain and sleeping steadily. All vital signs have stabilized or seem to be getting there.

They confirmed that there was some liver damage and some kidney damage when she had a short supply of blood/oxygen. But they said these are usually all reversible and that’s what they are working on. We will know more in a few days. All other scans showed there was no genetic issues with her organs or brain. They are doing a few more tests. We are praying that baby Caroline had no brain damage either. Normally the body maintains supply to the brain at the expense of the other organs so please pray that there is no damage there. The nurse said “We see a lot of babies with lack of oxygen here and usually they recover quite well.”

We are praying that they can do the heart surgery next week as that indicates that she’s strong enough and well on her way to recovery.

Do keep praying. We are thankful for you, your prayers, emails of encouragement and all the blessings we have this Thanksgiving. 

Neil and Anna Mammen

Caroline Lois is not improving

November 28, 2009 

Today was a very tough day for us. The doctor called and said that though she has stabilized, our darling Caroline’s kidneys are not improving and he is concerned that there is permanent damage to them. Due to her heart condition he said she may not be a candidate for a kidney transplant. They are increasing her medicine to see if she will respond. He also confirmed that the MRI did show some brain damage that was caused when her blood supply stopped due to her hypoplastic aorta. However, he said that they they don’t know yet if it’s permanent or recoverable. Kidneys can recover naturally; or supernaturally if God wills.

As you can see our optimism suffers compared to the last update (see below). We do know she is the Lord’s and His to take to heaven whenever it is her time, we know that as with Paul and King David, sometimes the Lord chooses not to heal according to his Sovereign will. Yet please pray with us for a miracle of healing. We have seen the Lord act supernaturally before in our life with Mary-Katherine (ask me about this sometime); and pray for Him to do so again if He wills. We have been given so much and don’t deserve Caroline, or anything for that matter, but selfishly would like more time to know and love her and see her grow up to be a powerful force in ministry and apologetics (of course).

As I write this we are here at Stanford Medical at the NICU, she is sedated and sleeps so peacefully. We love her so dearly. It’s tough for me as an engineer as I can’t “FIX” it. But she is first and foremost the Lord’s not mine. Not ours.

Frankly this is where the rubber meets the road when it comes to faith, doesn’t it? God exists, I can prove that to be reasonable and logical using science and facts. Christ physically died and rose from the dead, I can prove that to be a reasonable and logical conclusion with a case that could stand up in a court of Law. (If you haven’t heard me talk about this, ask me for my scientific and historical and logical evidence). So if Christ rose from the dead, the accounts of His ability to heal then fall in place naturally. More so His promise of our resurrection. Faith must be based on truth and facts. Our Apologetics (the evidence for the faith) proves our Theology, our Theology strengthens and verifies our Hope and our Hope leads our Emotions. That way when trials come we can be assured and we can say: Sickness has no chance if He wills us to be healed. And if not to be healed, we can truly say: Oh Death where is your victory? O Grave where is your sting? In that glorious day God will dry the tears from our eyes, pain will end and we will never die.

In my discussion with my atheist friends they have looked at pain and said: How can God exist if there is so much pain and suffering? I look at pain and say: Thank You God, that You do exist and provably so. For without a God, pain and suffering would be a cruel heartless cold ending. For how can my atheist friend truly comfort anyone? In his worldview it is all for naught. There is no happy ending.

In the same way, my friends who do not know, or blindly hope, or only guess what maybe beyond our limited physical and natural four dimensions, can only wish that what is out there really exists and “will” themselves to believe that perhaps it is better than what we have here. But what if they are wrong? Where is their assurance? What is their hope based on? Facts or feelings?

Yet, I know emotionally and can prove intellectually that nothing can stop me from spending eternity enjoying Caroline as much as I enjoy Mary-Katherine, her big sister. The only question is if we have to wait a few years to start spending time with Caroline. At this point in her frailness, we pray we don’t.

The battle is not over. Keep praying. God exists and He is able. We now pray that His Sovereign Will is to heal her.

Neil

Please forward this to family and friends not on the list. 

Caroline Lois is going home

November 30, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009 about 3 PM

Caroline Lois is going to go home to her Lord and my Lord very soon. Perhaps tonight.

We are selfishly trying to keep her here a bit longer, here in 4D space, perhaps an hour or two. But do not be sad for us or worry about her or us for that matter, as we have full assurance that she is going to far greater place than she has ever been before and we too will meet her there one day. To tie a few famous phrases together:

“It’s a far better thing I do now than I have ever done before, it’s a far better place I go to than I have ever been before. Father into your hands, I commend my spirit.”

While we are sad and distraught at the temporary separation, it is with joy that we can release her soul to the great healer who again physically and factually proved He was able to resurrect from the dead. We are left behind for we have a lot of work to do here before we meet her there.

Do remember that if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not ev
en Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. For if Christ did not physically rise from the dead then your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. And worse, those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. Yes, if Christ has not been raised then we Christians are to be pitied more than all men.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.

When this has happened then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”?“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our Lord Jesus Christ the Grave Robber.

1 Corr 15.

One of my favorite 80s song was by Petra. Here’s a link to it with the lyrics.

http://popup.lala.com/popup/576742257649335055

Grave Robber by Petra Hebrews 9:27, John 4:14, I Peter 1:24, Romans 8:11, I Corinthians 15:26, 51-55, Revelation 7:17 Words & Music by Bob Hartman

There’s a step that we all have to take alone. An appointment we have with the great unknown. Like a vapor this life is just waiting to pass. Like the flowers that fade like the withering grass

But life seems so long and death so complete. And the grave an impossible portion to cheat

But there’s One who has been there and still lived to tell. There is One who has been through both heaven and hell

And the Grave will come up empty handed that day. Jesus will come and steal us away

Where is the sting tell me where is the bite. When the grave robber comes like a thief in the night

Where is the victory where is the prize. When the grave robber comes. And death finally dies

Many still mourn and many still weep. For those that they love who have fallen asleep. But we have this hope though our hearts may still ache. Just one shout from above and they all will awake. And in the reunion of joy we will see. Death will be swallowed in sweet victory

When the last enemy is gone, from the dust will come a song. Those asleep will be awakened – not a one will be forsakened. He shall wipe away our tears – He will steal away our fears. There will be no sad tomorrow – there will be no pain or sorrow

Where is the sting tell me where is the bite? When the grave robber comes like a thief in the night

Where is the victory where is the prize? When the grave robber comes, And death finally dies.

If you are interested in why I am so confident about the physical, historical and scientific truth about the Ressurection of Christ and the existence of God my I direct you to this web page:

www.noblindfaith.com/sermon/sermons.htm

Thanks. Neil and Anna

Caroline Lois Mammen is home

December 1, 2009

Tuesday, December 01, 2009 12:41 PM

Today Caroline is with her Lord and my Lord.

This morning at 1:10 AM, I held her, as she went from our ever so limited four dimensional space, to the multidimensionality* of eternal life where there are more colors, more sounds, more tastes, more senses and everything is so far far more wonderful that this dim world pales in comparison. Tis truly a far better place that she is now. She was 9 months and 9 days old counting from when she became human in the womb. She was born on November 22nd, 2009.

She went from me, her dad’s arms, to her Father’s arms.

We are planning a memorial service on Saturday, most probably at Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos. We will post details as we know them.

We praise God in all He has given us. We do miss her greatly and feel the sorrow of parting, but do not despair for us or for her. Mourn instead for those who do not know our Lord and lead them gently to Him. Use words.

Thanks so much to all of you who have written or called or posted on our facebook. It truly shows us how much we are loved and cared for. Neil

www.NoBlindFaith.com

*If you are wondering what all the multidimensional references are about, please see this link:

http://www.amazon.com/Who-Agent-Proving-Science-Rational/dp/1448626196/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1260246977&sr=8-1  

Anna and I hope Caroline’s story will be an encouragement and a witness to others.

As of today I have over 20-30 offers to do “lunch” and talk about God and Christ from my friends who do not believe, who were either at the memorial service or have heard about our journey and just as importantly, who were very reluctant to talk about these issues before. 

To some atheists this may seem “different” but think of Amber’s family who when Amber was killed, decided that their daughter should not die in vain and was responsible for creating the Amber Alerts to protect other children. There are many similarities here, if my atheist friends are really going to hell for all eternity and my daughter’s physical and temporal death can be used to save them from that eternal consequence, surely this is a noble legacy to her life. Surely it’s a nobler legacy that something as excellent and as needed as the Amber Alerts. Amber Alerts may save a child from immediate harm, but it cannot save a child from eternal death.

 This is what we are calling Caroline’s Legacy.

 

 

 

 

Worship, God, and Egomania

“God must be an egomaniac to command all humanity to worship Him and then send anyone to hell who doesn’t worship him enough, right?”

Perhaps you haven’t heard the issue raised quite like that, but this objection is common and forceful. Surely God doesn’t need us to worship him, yet he demands it and punishes us if we don’t. Why can’t God mind his own business and just let people be happy. Or, so the logic goes. Phrased like this, God sure sounds like an egomaniac. There is an issue worth addressing here, so let’s put the question more respectfully and extract some of the presumptions to keep us from getting sidetracked by loaded lingo.

Let’s try this, “Why Worship God if he actually exists?”

This question is a classic and important issue, for it seeks direction at the crossroad between idle theologizing and the religious relationship of faith. Where does “knowing about God” become “Knowing God?” Where do thoughts about God become thoughts towards God? One of the strongest possibilities is that our speculative “God” becomes a personal savior precisely at the point of worship. And so, we are left wondering “Why choose the road of religious worship when we can safely theologize without commitment?”

First, we should remember that worship is worth-ship, it is attributing worth to something. If God is who the Bible says he is, then he is the most perfect, holy, good, necessary (etc.) being in existence. If anyone deserves worship it is God. If that is who God is then our worship of him is kind of like recognizing that gravity pulls us to the ground, the sun is bright, 1 + 1 = 2, sunsets can be colorful, and babies cry when they are uncomfortable. This is just how things are. We can fight reality, or we can submit to the truth where we find it. God is the most worthy being, so we are right to recognize his worth in worship.

Second, worship is not for God’s sake. Again, if God is who the Bible says he is, then he doesn’t need anything from us, especially not worship. He doesn’t need “a few good men,” or “a willing heart,” or “the prayers of men.” He just doesn’t need at all. Of course, he may choose to work in all sorts of relational and cooperative ways, and his worthiness may be demonstrated in all of it. But there is nothing that can add to God’s greatness for he’s already infinitely great. Nor can anything fill a gap in God since a perfect God has no gaps or lacking whatsoever. Worship does not satisfy any longing or need in God.

Third, all human activity is towards God. In the Psalms, King David says “Against you alone have I sinned” (Ps. 51:4) even though he’d sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, and all Israel. Ultimately, he knew that his sins were against God more than anyone else. Later, Jesus forgave people of sins committed against other people, which the Pharisees interpreted as a claim to divinity saying, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mk. 2:7). Elsewhere we see instructions to love and worship God in everything we think, say, do, believe, etc (Deut. 6:4-6; Matt. 22:37; Mk 12:30; Col. 3:17). The cumulative witness of Scripture is that everything we do is towards God. The only question is whether it’s for or against God, whether it’s worship or blasphemy.

Fourth, worship is for our own sake. Yet again, if God is who the Bible says he is, then he is the most perfect and infinitely beautiful being in existence. But if beauty is as Thomas Aquinas defines it, “that which perceived pleases” then God is pleasing to perceive. God, of course, is not seen with mortal eyes, but, Aquinas was not talking merely about looking but also contemplation. We can “perceive” God by recognizing Him, thinking about Him, and, in short, worshipping God. And since God is not just beautiful, but infinitely and perfectly beautiful, then there is no limit to how much pleasure can be had by getting lost in his beauty.

So, we are seeing that worship is about God’s worth, but it’s for our benefit. We can top this off with Augustine’s famous, and perennial quote, “our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee” (Confessions 1.1). Our desperate want of joy (eudamonia), the joy for which everyone seeks, cannot be satisfied with the short-lived pleasures of this world. The good and decent pleasures of this world, at best, are appetizers to whet our desire for the one true God who alone satisfies our souls through worship.

True, we are commanded to worship God alone (Exod. 20:3), but this is the practical equivalent of having a healthy diet of filet mignon and cheesecake, or getting a seven-figure salary for doing light chores around the house, or having to come home to a perfectly beautiful, rich, and loving spouse. The command to worship God alone is a command to be happily fulfilled. Settle for nothing less than God. We are instructed to seek the greatest satisfaction our hearts can handle. All the “no’s” and “thou shalt not’s” in Scripture are  to preserve our deepest capacity and fulfillment in the worship of God alone. Worship is not so much our duty as it is our pleasure.

Returning to the original question, “why worship God if he actually exists?” Worship doesn’t have to be the static recitation of qualities and facts about God but can be a deliberate and personal relationship with God–and a relationship is naturally more appealing than mandating formalities. On a lesser scale, I can compare it to praising my wife. Talking about how great she is is nice, and its moderately pleasing for both of us. But, it is profoundly more satisfying to speak, even sing, my praises to her. Why talk about her when I can talk with her? Why settle for merely acknowledging the truth, when I can live it interactively? Worship is most naturally relational, it should be the personal and relational recognition of God’s unique glory. And it can be done in everything properly ordered to glorify the creator. I testify to God’s generous provision by drinking my morning orange juice. I testify to his marvelous creative order when by body heals from a cut. I witness to his gracious love when I forgive other people as He has forgiven me. Understanding worship like this, it only makes sense to worship God. Why worship God?!!! Why wouldn’t I!

Religion Spoils Everything, Jesus Revives the Spoiled

As I drove back to Colorado Springs from Denver today, the fog was so thick I could barely see the car ahead of me, much less the usual splendor of the Rocky Mountains to the west.  I was listening to Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, who made some interesting points about the nature of faith.  In the ongoing dialogue between theists and atheists that permeates society today, theists are often said to rely on faith while atheists rely on reason in the formation of their respective worldviews.  Yet, such a stark dichotomy is too simplistic and out of touch with reality. 

Adherents to both views arrive at their beliefs through a combination of faith and reason.  Neither the atheist nor the theist relies solely on reason.  Both rely on a component of faith.  For that matter, there are very few beliefs any of us hold that do not involve faith to some degree.  The simple act of driving through a green light requires faith that nearby drivers who are faced with a red light will actually stop. 

Oxford biologist and author Richard Dawkins suggests that religious “faith” is a “virus of the mind.”  In his 1991 article entitled “Viruses of the Mind,” he states that, “Like some computer viruses, successful mind viruses will tend to be hard for their victims to detect.  If you are a victim of one, the chances are that you won’t know it, and may even vigorously deny it.”  So, sufferers of the memetic virus of religious faith may not even know they have been affected by an outside agent.

Conversely, the apostle Paul wrote of non-believers that, “their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ.” (2 Cor. 3:14)  According to Christianity, Richard Dawkins may have been similarly blinded; a viral virgin infected by a God who disdains his arrogant air of superiority.

But here’s the rub.  It wasn’t the fact that faith exists within all of us that beguiled Dr. Keller; it was how each of us expresses our faith that captured his imagination.  Think about it.  By virtue of our various worldviews, each of us discovers a sense of belonging.  Whether you are a Muslim, a Christian, a Hindu or a Freethinker, you will find other people who share your belief system.  You will also soon appreciate that there are many more people who disagree with your beliefs and consider them simply wrong.  What is common to all of us is the tendency to marginalize those who don’t believe as we do; to consider ourselves better than those who haven’t been similarly enlightened. 

In this sense, we can’t help but agree with Christopher Hitchens.  Religion does spoil everything.  And he certainly made that point clearly in his debate with Frank Turek.  Christopher emoted, “Isn’t it as plain as could be that those who commit the most callous, the most cruel, the most brutal, the most indiscriminate atrocities of all, do so precisely because they believe they have divine permission?”  In many cases, we must humbly admit, he is correct.  However, wasn’t Pol Pot cruel and indiscriminate?  Wasn’t Joseph Stalin callous and brutal?  Stalin was also indiscriminate.  He copiously murdered people of all religions.

Richard Dawkins, in The God Delusion, suggests that while these men were indeed atheists, it wasn’t their atheism that drove them to commit such atrocities.  Stalin’s atheism may not have led him to murder had it not been that his atheism first led him to marginalize the masses.  His atheism led to self-supremacy and the marginalization of others, which in turn led to his genocidal acts.  In his Contribution to Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Karl Marx described religion as the “opiate of the masses.”  Supremacist thoughts would come easily to someone convinced that everyone else is walking around in a metaphorical drug-induced stupor.  When it comes to atrocities, all religions, and even atheism, are in a dead heat.

But why is this so?  The bottom line is that people are not led to commit atrocities by either religion or atheism, but rather by the insidious seduction of power and the serpentine invasiveness of pride.  These lead to a misguided sense of moral superiority.  When an individual of one group sees himself as superior to those of another group – as more deserving, more enlightened, more noble – he is bound to subjugate outsiders mentally, verbally and eventually physically.

This process of self-aggrandizement is fueled to an even greater degree when one’s holy book(s) specifically encourage the mindset of supremacy.  Consider the writings of Muhammad in The Koran:

You [true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad] are the best peoples ever raised up for mankind… And had the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) believed, it would have been better for them.  (Surah 3:110)

Verily, those who disbelieve (in the religion of Islam, the Qur’an, and Prophet Muhammad) from among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians)… will abide in the Fire of Hell. They are the worst of creatures.  (Surah 98:6)

Is it any wonder that radical Islam seeks the subjugation of outsiders? Their holy book tells them, in no uncertain terms, they truly are superior.

When religion leads people to view others as lower than themselves, then it does spoil everything.  Consider these sentiments from Richard Dawkins in his Preface to The God Delusion:

Being an atheist is nothing to be apologetic about.  On the contrary, it is something to be proud of, standing tall to face the far horizon, for atheism nearly always indicates a healthy independence of mind and, indeed, a healthy mind.  (The God Delusion, p. 3)

The supremacist leanings of Dawkins’ analogy are rather obvious.  Atheists have healthy minds, whereas theists have been infected by a virus that causes a form of psychopathology.  Sam Harris, in Letter to a Christian Nation, writes:

While believing strongly, without evidence, is considered a mark of madness or stupidity in any other area of our lives, faith in God still holds immense prestige in our society.  (Letter to a Christian Nation, p. 67)

The clear implication in Harris’s words is that “faith in God” should not hold prestige, but rather, should be considered a mark of madness or stupidity.  Both Harris and Dawkins project an air of superiority by insinuating that the religious, and especially Christians, are ill, mad or stupid.  Some people who claim the title “Christian” may indeed deserve these labels, such as those whom Harris claims sent him hostile emails and letters after the publication of his first book, The End of Faith.  Yet, hostility from those who disagree with you is par for the course in this day and age.  I, too, have received my share of hostile communications from atheists subsequent to my rebuttal of Harris, Letter to a Christian Nation: Counter Point.

So, it would seem the score is tied.  Or is it?  We’ve considered the writings of leading atheists and the words of Muhammad, the founder of Islam.  But what does Christ himself say?  While there are self-professed Christians who hold supremacist views, do they come upon these notions through a reliable study of the Bible?  Is supremacy consistent with the teachings of Jesus?  Consider His words:

If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others?  (Matthew 5:39, 43, 44, 47)

Jesus commands His followers to love their enemies.  And the apostle Paul encourages Christians to:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  (1 Peter 3:15, 16)

The dictates of Jesus and Paul, when followed by professing Christians, mitigate against superiority and thoughts of supremacy.  Christians the world over, who live consistently with the mandates of Jesus Christ, find a joy and a peace they long to share with others… all others… for they realize that they are recipients of grace and mercy.  The recognition that they are no more deserving than the next person of that blessed grace leads them to humbly look upon others as greater than themselves.  Religion may indeed spoil everything, but Jesus Christ came to redeem the spoiled.

Christian Apologetics: Dr. William Lane Craig Answers Your Questions

As CrossExamined.org conducts seminars and debates on college campuses, we owe much to Dr. William Lane Craig.  Dr. Craig is one of Christianity’s best intellectual defenders.  He is the author of several Christian apologetics books and scholarly articles, and has debated topics such as the existence of God, the problem of evil, the reliability of the Bible, and several other questions. 

Dr. Craig is now posting answers to difficult questions on his web site. You can find them here (at this writing, there are 63 such questions).  You owe it to yourself to learn Christian apologetics from this fine scholar and gentleman.

Are Atheists really just as Moral as Christians?

Are Atheists really just as Moral as Christians?

One of the complaints that I often hear is that “Atheists are just as moral as Christians are”. The response is usually made when I present the Moral Argument. Well I always try to clarify that I never said or meant that atheists ARE immoral, just that they have no rational basis for their morality. And this is partly because we can always argue that expedience is always better, e.g. killing all the weak is actually better for society; stealing when no one will ever find out, will help preserve your genes; lying when you can’t get caught will help you make headway in society (and if YOU are better FOR society than all those other fools, then it will be good for society if YOU get ahead) etc.

On the contrary, Christians say character is based on “What you do when you know that you will never be found out,” regardless of the expediency.

But now suddenly there’s a glitch. Researchers in 4 independent and separate studies have found that conservatives are indeed much more “honest” and “moral” than “progressives.”

In the San Francisco Examiner Commentary – Peter Schweizer claims that “Conservatives are more honest than liberals”. –

He actually phrases it as a question, but the conclusion is that conservatives ARE more honest. (click on the link).

Now as you read it you’ll realize that he’s not talking about atheists or Christians specifically, but if you are out there and are an atheist and not a liberal/progressive, I want to talk to you. I’d be very interested in picking your brain. I don’t run into too many of those (I did once, i.e. a conservative atheist, but he became a Christian within 6 months of me meeting with him on a regular basis and giving him “The Case for Christ”).

As I see it, atheists are a subset of the superset of secular progressives. And while Christians are indeed a subset of conservatives, we all know that they are a majority of them in the United States where these surveys were taken. (Correct me if I am wrong).

Now don’t get me wrong. This doesn’t mean that I will stop trusting my atheist friends. I know them too well. I just had lunch with one of them last week and he’s a guy I’d trust with my life and fortune. I say this lest you think I actually think all atheists are not moral.

But point 1 is that:

It does seem to indicate that there may now be some statistical validity to the fact that if there really is no rational basis for your morality, one tends to be less moral. What say you?

Is this a valid conclusion?

This also lends itself to the second point/question:

  1. If it is true that morality is “good,” for society (and I surmise this from even the atheists’ vehement claim that they are also moral – so presumably morality is a plus for society even in their eyes)
  2. And it is true that conservatives and Christians are much much more moral than atheists and liberals

Does this not mean that the more GENUINE (and I emphasize that on purpose), the more genuine conservatives and Christians we have, the better for ALL of society?

In which case, shouldn’t even atheists encourage the Christians to continue what they are doing (including evangelizing) so they improve society for all of us?

Just wondering. Naturally next week a new study could come out that refutes these 4 studies, but since that hasn’t happened and we are scientists and philosophers that work with the facts that we have at the moment (and not hope for a future “revelation”), if these studies are true what does this mean? I could be wrong but it does seem to imply something along the lines of the two conclusions I’ve argued for.

Neil Mammen

The Religion in Science

If current Big Bang cosmology is correct (and the evidence is very good that it is) then the entire space-time universe exploded into being out of nothing (see previous posts God and the Astronomers and Who Made God? ).   Therefore, the Cause of the universe would seem to have these attributes:   

·         spaceless because it created space

 ·         timeless because it created time

·         immaterial because it created matter

·         powerful because it created out of nothing

·         intelligent because the creation event and the universe was precisely designed

 ·         personal because it made a choice to convert a state of nothing into something (impersonal forces don’t make choices).

These are the same attributes of the God of the Bible (which is one reason I believe in a the God of the Bible and not a god of mythology like Zeus). 

When I’ve posed this conclusion to atheists, many of them responded by claiming that I was speculating—that we really don’t know what caused the universe (see comments on the posts above). This is exactly the kind of response that Agnostic Astronomer Robert Jastrow said is common for atheists who have their own religion—the religion of science. Jastrow, who once sat in Edwin Hubble’s chair at the Mount Wilson Observatory, wrote this:

There is a kind of religion in science . . . every effect must have its cause; there is no First Cause. . . . This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized. As usual when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implicationsCin science this is known as Arefusing to speculate@Cor trivializing the origin of the world by calling it the Big Bang, as if the Universe were a firecracker.

The implication of the creation of the universe out of nothing is that there is a Cause outside the universe with the attributes listed above.  That’s not speculation, but following the evidence where it leads.

CIA: Your Chance to Make an Impact with Christian Apologetics

If you have some expertise in the area of Christian Apologetics, we are looking for instructors to help us take I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist to students and churches around the country.  Greg Koukl and Brett Kunkle of Stand to Reason, and Jason Reed of Southern Evangelical Seminary will join me, Frank Turek, in leading the CrossExamined Instructor Academy (CIA), August 13-15 in Charlotte, NC.  Hank Hanegraaff, The Bible Answerman, will join us for a special Q and A on Wednesday night August 13.  This is a great opportunity for you to make an impact through apologetics. But hurry– the application deadline is June 24.  Click here for details.?

Is the Problem of Evil and Suffering Insurmountable?

So how do Christians respond to this Epicurean question?

Either God wants to abolish evil, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish evil, and God really wants to do it, why is there evil in the world?”

And especially for Dave the “suffering version of this =:

Either God wants to abolish suffering, and cannot; or he can, but does not want to. If he wants to, but cannot, he is impotent. If he can, but does not want to, he is wicked. If God can abolish suffering, and God really wants to do it, why is there suffering in the world?”

{P.S. This was not the blog entry that I’ve been working on. I will post that shortly.}

ALERT: The above blog entry is now posted at: http://crossexamined.thehuntercreative.com/?p=57 Click to go there.

Christian Apologetics on TV: Tune in!

We are blessed to have a TV show on every Sunday night at 6 p.m. EST (rebroadcast at 11 p.m. Pacific Time) on DirecTV Channel 378.  The show is called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, which will be the main topic through the month of April 2008.    After that, I’ll be preaching through the book of Romans verse by verse (with an apologetics emphasis of course).  Click “TV Program” in the menu to the left to see the intro.  If you’d like to order DVD’s of the show, click here.

Over 1500 Attend "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist" at NC State

The CrossExamined “I Don’t have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” tour visited NC State’s Reynold’s Coliseum on Thursday night February 7.  Over 1500 students attended the seminar which was hosted by Campus Crusade of NC State (http://clubs.ncsu.edu/crusade/).  My thanks to Mike Mehaffie and his CC team for their tremendous work in making the event a success.   The attendance far exceeded their expectations, and both Christians and non-Christians attended.  

Despite the fact that 75% of Christians leave the church during college, many of them appear to have a hunger for answers about God and Christ.  So do their atheist friends.  If you are a supporter of ours, thank you for helping us bring answers to college campuses.  

We are currently looking for a date to conduct Part 2 of “I Don’t have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” at NC State, so stay tuned.   If you would like to bring us to your particular campus, please contact us by clicking here.

Over 2000 Attend "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist" at ONU

Last week we launched our invasion of college campuses for the Spring with two major events at Olivet Nazarene University (ONU is a one-hundred-year-old Christian university about 80 miles south of Chicago, but it may be best known as the site for the Chicago Bears Training camp). I spoke to 1800 students and faculty at chapel in the morning and nearly 400 at a smaller venue that night.

Despite being a Christian school, there is a faculty member at ONU who has convinced many of the students to believe in evolution. I didn’t know that going in, but I sure stirred up a lot of controversy by making a strong scientific case for creation and intelligent design. Several questions during the Q & A period had to do with evolution. Afterwards, many of the students, and even some faculty members, expressed great relief to finally see compelling evidence for creation and intelligent design. One professor, who was visibly moved by the evidence, said, “Wow, you really expanded my understanding of God and his creation with the arguments you presented.” It’s always gratifying to affect the professors positively because they have an ongoing influence with the students.

If evolution has crept into even our Christian universities, you can only imagine what’s being taught at typical secular schools. It’s no wonder why 75% of our kids are leaving the church!

Two secular schools are next. We head to NC State on February 7th for an I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist seminar in Reynolds Coliseum from 8 to 9:30 p.m. The next day I’ll spend four hours taking questions, first from the Campus Crusade team and then from the students. A return visit to Appalachian State will happen Monday, February 25.

One more exciting note: our weekly one-hour TV show called I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist beings Sunday night, February 17 at 6 pm. on DirecTV Channel 378.  Now, we don’t charge students for college events, and we pay to produce the TV show and the CrossExamined website. That’s why we’ll only be able to help our kids see the truth if you continue to support us both prayerfully and financially. Please pray as we again enter the lion’s den, and make a high-impact donation securely by selecting Donate on the left. Thank you for partnering with us!

An Apologetic against Christian Apologetics?

Last week I was taking questions during an “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” seminar on the campus of Olivet Nazarene University.  One question challenged the legitimacy of Christian Apologetics.  It was half question, half critique and it went something like, “Why are you trying to prove Christianity?  We just need to love one another!”   It sounds like something from the “emergent church” people.  Here is my response:

  1. It’s a false choice– we can and should do both.  We ought to show people why Christianity is true and love them as well.   The two are not mutually exclusive but complementary.  In fact, the Bible tells us to do both, which is my second point . . .
  2. Christian apologetics is commanded.  The greatest commandment contains both:  “Love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  And love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt. 22:37).  1 Pet. 3:15 tells us to “always be ready to give an answer but to do this with gentleness and respect.”  Apologetics is not an option for Christians, and we don’t get brownie points for being stupid.  We are commanded to know what we believe and why we believe it.   We are commanded to “demolish arguments” and “take every thought captive to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5).
  3. Atheists have their own apologetics.  We’re losing 75% of our young adults from the church partially because they are the victims of atheistic apologetics in college.  Christian apologetics needs to exist if for no other reason than to counter the false arguments that atheists and apologists from other worldviews are making– and they are making those claims aggressively.  CrossExamined.org exists to counter those false claims with the truth.
  4. It works. While some people believe without knowing why, others need evidence before they can believe.  I know several people, myself included, who came to faith through apologetics.  
  5. There’s a difference between belief that and belief in.  I am not suggesting that apologetics alone gets someone saved.  But it does provide evidence that Christianity is true so people can put their trust in Christ.  Knowing that Christ is savior is not the same as trusting in him.  Even the demons know that Christ is savior but they don’t put their trust in him (James 2:19).   Yet, both belief that and belief in are necessary.
  6. It equips you to be better ambassador.  Even if you don’t sense a need for apologetics for your own edification, you may need it to edify others.  We are called to be God’s ambassadors to minister to others.  In fact, God makes his appeal through us (2 Cor. 5:20).  We can’t answer the questions of others without apologetics.  That’s why Paul tells us to study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim 2:15).
  7. It’s self-defeating to give an apologetic against apologetics.   Why do people give me reasons to stop using reasons?