Saturday, May 18, 2013

All Around the Web - May 18, 2013

Reformation 21 - What We Talk About When We Talk About God | Here's a helpful review of Rob Bell's new book.

Unfortunately, being an apologist for the faith does not always lead one to uphold the faith.  Indeed, there is a long history of folks who have sought to defend Christianity from critical attacks by simply changing the problematic portions of the faith. In other words, apologetics is not always about defending what we believe, but is sometimes about modifying what we believe.  Apologetics is sometimes about giving Christianity an extreme makeover. 

In this regard, one thinks of scholars like Rudolph Bultmann. Despite the negative press Bultmann has received, it should be noted that Bultmann regarded himself as a committed Christian and a defender of the faith. Bultmann recognized that in this modern, enlightened age, people could no longer believe in supernatural events. So, in order to rescue Christianity from its imminent demise, Bultmann stripped all the supernatural elements out of the faith (see his book, New Testament and Mythology). In short, he "demythologized" the Bible. Bultmann wanted to convince people that God wasn't an Oldsmobile. God could keep up with the times. 

Of course, Bell's method of defending Christianity is not by stripping it of its supernatural elements (that was the issue in Bultmann's day). On the contrary, Bell is quite keen to remind the reader of the supernatural--God is everywhere, busy at work, in us and in our world.   Instead, Bell's makeover method is to change Christianity into a broad "spirituality."  His book downplays (and in some instances, simply ignores) many of the key doctrines that make Christianity distinctive. He simply turns Christianity into vague, general, theism. Whereas Bultmann demythologized the faith, Bell has detheologized the faith.

Wall Street Journal - Online Pornography's Effects, and a New Way to Fight Them |

Today 12% of websites are pornographic, and 40 million Americans are regular visitors—including 70% of 18- to 34-year-olds, who look at porn at least once a month, according to a recent survey by Cosmopolitan magazine (which, let's face it, is the authority here). Fully 94% of therapists in another survey reported seeing an increase in people addicted to porn. It has become a whole generation's sex education and could be the same for the next—they are fumbling around online, not in the back seat. One estimate now puts the average age of first viewing at 11. Imagine seeing "Last Tango in Paris" before your first kiss. 

Countless studies connect porn with a new and negative attitude to intimate relationships, and neurological imaging confirms it. Susan Fiske, professor of psychology at Princeton University, used MRI scans in 2010 to analyze men watching porn. Afterward, brain activity revealed, they looked at women more as objects than as people. The new DSM-5 will add the diagnosis "Hypersexual Disorder," which includes compulsive pornography use.
Repetitive viewing of pornography resets neural pathways, creating the need for a type and level of stimulation not satiable in real life. The user is thrilled, then doomed. But the evolutionary plasticity of our mind makes this damage reversible. In "The Brain That Changes Itself," psychiatrist Norman Doidge writes about patients who overused porn and were able to quit, cold turkey, and change their brains back. They just had to stop watching it. Completely.

Dr. Denny Burk - Is proselytizing outlawed in the U.S. military? |

I have been troubled by recent reports about alleged religious liberty violations in the United States military. Some of the reports have turned out to be more hype than help, but there has been enough reporting to suggest some serious issues of concern.

Russell Moore (ERLC) and Kevin Ezell (NAMB) have released a joint statement in response to these reports, and they have sifted through the hype to the central issues at stake. They write:

We reject any and all attempts to sensationalize or misrepresent situations, in this or any other context. Having said that, we are concerned. While rejecting any conspiracy theory linking the reports above, we believe there are in some of these cases elements that are indicative of a troubling lack of respect for true religious diversity in our military. Furthermore, problematic attempts in some sectors of the military to compromise the free exercise of religion have given a sense of plausibility when other such reports emerge, even when those reports are not grounded in fact.

Relevant Magazine - The Creator of 'Girls Gone WIld' Is Going to Jail, as Well He Should |

It should come as no surprise to learn that Girls Gone Wild creator Joe Francis is a dangerous, predatory monster, but it may come as a surprise to find out just how dangerous and predatory he is. His horrifying empire is built on the sad exploitation of inebriated spring break girls, and it's recently succumbed to Francis' several million dollar gambling debt.

Associated Press - Senator says military plagued by sexual assaults | It never ceases to amaze me how surprising such headlines are to so many. Worship at the sanctuary of sex and assaults will increase.

The sexual battery arrest of the Air Force officer who led the service's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response unit underscores how far the Defense Department has to go in addressing the plague of sexual crimes in the military, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Tuesday.

Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., told a committee hearing that a Pentagon report to be released later Tuesday reportedly estimates that, on average, there are more than 70 sexual assaults involving military personnel every day.

Christ is Supreme

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