Recently the Christian worship song "Shout to the Lord" was performed twice on the popular TV show American Idol. The first time the lyrics were changed to remove Jesus' name for the song, while the second time the song was performed as it was originally written. See the performance below:

I do not usually watch the show, but other blogs suggest that the majority of the eight finalists are not Christians, although there have been many overtly Christian participants in the past (including winners Ruben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, and Jordin Sparks).

What do you think about performing Christian songs on a secular TV show? Was the move to perform the song (censored and/or uncensored) by the show's producers appropriate? There seems to be something at least a little ironic about performing a worship song on a show dedicated to making an "idol" out of someone …

(Thanks to Think Christian for their original posts on this topic here and here.)

!!!!!Further to my previous post, I've seen several other examples lately of people taking offense when Christians have the audacity to claim that the Gospel is actually true. First we have a commenter on the old Discuss DaVinci Code Blog who was apparently offended that the site claimed that the traditional biblical story of Jesus' life, death and resurrection is actually true. (See also my reply below their comments on that same page.)

Next we have a person's review of the book The Illustrated Guide to World Religions by Dean C Halverson. I have not read the book, but I noticed this particular review as I was browsing Amazon today (as I do FAR too often …) Anyways, here's their review in its entirety:

The goal of this book is to teach about other religions so people can use that knowledge to convert others to Christianity. If that's not your goal, don't bother. I find it very offensive and am throwing it away.

And my reply (posted in reply on Amazon):

Why would you find this offensive? Are you saying all Christians should abandon their own beliefs and believe like you do? If not, what exactly are you suggesting here? As far as I know this book makes no suggestion or approval of coercive techniques of evangelism, so I don't see the problem with attempting to more effectively share the Christian message with others who belong to different faiths.

If the book contains factual inaccuracies, then that is a different matter. But no viewpoint (whether it be Christian, Muslim, pluralist, secularist, whatever) is neutral, so please don't disparage this book merely because it is written from a Christian point of view, because there is no worldview-free book about religion.

Further reading:

O RLY?Over at his blog Fides Quaerens Intellectum Christian philosopher Johnny-Dee writes:

I think the objection goes like this: It is wrong for you to believe that your belief is true because it implies those who adhere to other religious beliefs are wrong. This objection is rife with problems in validity and soundness, but I’d like to ignore all of that for now. Consider what the objector is suggesting: Christians should have a belief that they do not think is true. [Full post]

Sometimes when a person expresses offense when Christians claim that Christianity is true (not just "true for me" but absolutely and objectively true for everyone) they may indeed object because they hold to an incorrect and inappropriate conception of tolerance, as I've commented on previously (see Tolerance and Stating Facts != Hating). But more often they are objecting because of a similar but subtly different reason, namely that they are making what I'll call a category error regarding religious truth claims.

Baskin Robbins Ice CreamWhen some people express offense that a Christian believes Christianity to be really true, they are conceiving of Christianity as being in the realm of personal (relative) opinion rather than objective truth. That is, they see choice of religion as being like choosing your favorite ice cream flavor: A person isn't "wrong" because they prefer vanilla over chocolate. So too, the erroneous argument goes, a person isn't "wrong" because they prefer Baha'i over Christianity. Greg Koukl talks about this using the ice cream / insulin analogy:

There is significant confusion on this point. Americans think of God, religion, and morals like ice cream and not like insulin. They choose religious views according to tastes, according to what they prefer rather than according to what's true. [Full post]

Of course, this raises the question of whether choice of religious belief is really like choosing our favorite ice cream flavor. Hmmm, after adding the picture above I really crave ice cream … Ahem. Like I noted in my article Aren't there many different paths to God? for From Today On (also posted here):

If someone is dying and needs medicine, you need to give them what will heal them, not what they like best. In the same way, Jesus gives us what we need, and ultimately what is best for us. There are many different paths, but they don’t all eventually lead to the top of the same mountain. Some veer off to the left and the right; others climb entirely different mountains! And if God is real, truth about God is not like ice cream; it’s like medicine, and only what is true can heal.

Further reading: Three Tough Questions and Their Answers by philosopher Michael Horner, including "Aren't all religions the same?"

Here's a video where Greg Koukl and Deepak Chopra discuss the meaning of faith. Click the link to see the streaming video. (6:22 long)

Chopra seems to love saying what people want to hear rather than saying things that actually make sense. Is sin merely ignorance as Dr Chopra says? That seems ridiculous. Certainly if a person truly isn't aware that what they are doing is immoral then we cannot blame them for what they are doing. But that is not what sin is. Sin is when people do things they know are wrong … and if we are honest with ourselves we know that we sin all the time.

On the topic of sin, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron encourage an evangelism style that confronts people with the Ten Commandments. They ask people if they've broken the Ten Commandments, and then when people inevitably admit that yes, of course they have, then therefore they are "sinners" in need of forgiveness. While true in a sense, a non-Christian could easily simply deny the Ten Commandments and their argument falls apart. After all if a person doesn't believe the Bible is the word of God, why should they give credence to the Ten Commandments? However, IMHO it's totally unnecessary to bring the Ten Commandments into the argument, and it works just as well without even mentioning them. Here's why:

Regardless of whether a person is Christian or not, everyone has their own moral standards; aka their moral conscience, or moral rules. And whether a person accepts God's moral rules or not, every person must admit that they have broken THEIR OWN moral rules.

The question then becomes: Who do you think has higher standards when it comes to morals … you or God? If you say God has higher standards, then we're in a heap of trouble, because we've already admitted that even by our own standards we don't measure up, so that means we fall WAY short of God's own standards, whatever they may be. If someone were foolish enough to claim that we have higher standards than God, then they would be claiming that we have greater (more just, more accurate) moral standards than the God who is the source of all moral standards, which is absurd.

Greg makes a great comment near the end of the video regarding "guilt", which is also made in an article on Greg's website:

Folks, we don't get rid of guilt through denial . We get rid of guilt through forgiveness. And that forgiveness can only come from the One whom we have offended. The One who gave the law in the first place. (Read Greg's full article here.)

Further reading:

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