Friday, December 28, 2012

"Aren't You Supposed to Be a Christian?"

I've heard people say, "I know people who claim to be Christians but really aren't" or "Aren't you a Christian?"Regarding the latter, this is rhetorically asked because usually the one being asked is doing and/or saying something that the questioner believes a true Christian would not say and/or do. It is my desire to analyze these notions and break them down to notice their problems.

First, I'm going to write assuming the one making the comments is a nonbeliever. Believers do make these comments as well but I think they have more authority and knowledge in order to make these comments. Now, that doesn't mean one should express doubt about one's faith in this manner. It should be done more gently and privately. Plus, believers have God's Word as their authority in order to challenge an deviation from proper Christian conduct. Unbelievers have......well......I don't know what they have.

So when a nonbeliever says, "I know people who claim to be Christian but really aren't," this is quite an audacious statement. It is because no person can ever truly know who is included among God's elect. So the nonbeliever is claiming to know something that only God knows. That's pretty arrogant to me.

Another problem with nonbelievers making this statement is that they usually don't know what it even means to be a Christian. The secular world has this notion that Christians are simply people who go to church and are perfect people. The secular world certainly has other negative thoughts toqards Christians but I won't deal with that here. How does a nonbeliever rightly judge who is a Christian and who isn't? Is the one who sins not a Christian? If so, then nobody is one. Christians sin and so do non-Christians. The secular world usually judges something it has little to no knowledge about and that is precisely the case here.

Lastly, it's interesting how Christians are regarded as morally superior to all other religions. I've never heard anyone condemn a Muslim who was malicious and perverse in his speech. I've never heard anyone object to the conduct of a Pantheist when he decides to be selfish and spend money on luxury items rather than on helping those less fortunate. I have only heard the Christian condemned any time he does/says something that the non-Christian deems "un-Christian like." I already mentioned that the nonbeliever usually doesn't even understand what he's talking about regarding the faith but putting that aside, the nonbeliever judges the Christian faith to be morally superior. One could say that it's only because Christianity has been more dominant in our culture so people think they know more about it than other religions and that may be true. However, I think that even if others knew more about other religions, Christianity would still be regarded as morally superior and that is why others outside of the faith are quick to make a moral judgment upon believers even though they have no ground to make that judgment. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Simple Request

There are not many things that annoy me. I'm very laid back; however, yesterday I was reminded of something that bugs me a whole lot. It is when people pretend to know more than they actually do. Let me explain.

I know and have come across plenty of people who seem to know everything about anything. The subject doesn't matter; they'll seem to know so much about it. Granted, there may be some people who have a broad range of interests and know a little about many things; however, I don't believe this is the case with most people. In my experience, whenever a particular topic comes up in a conversation the "all-knowing" individual will make assertions and statements as though they are facts.

Just yesterday while I was at work, a staff woman stated to a young client that "Thou shall not lie. You shouldn't break the first commandment." The young client challenged the staff and said it's not the first commandment. She resisted at first and then turned it back on him. She said, "Well if it's not, then what is?" The young client went to his Bible and showed her the first commandment (it wasn't about lying). This is not the first time this staff woman has asserted something as though she knows it to be the case but then was proven wrong later.

I know of two ways to deal with these types of people. There are plenty of them out there so this should be useful to those of you who know that you don't know everything. The first thing one could do is research. Plain and simple. The "all-knowing" individual made a statement and all one has to do is use some trustworthy resources in order to confirm or disconfirm the person's statement.

The second thing one could do is ask questions. That is, the right questions. First, one should ask how the "all-knowing" individual knows what he knows. Many times this type of person won't have a good answer. When someone doesn't have a good reason for believing something it doesn't automatically mean the statement is wrong. It just means one should be very cautious about believing what the "all-knowing" individual claims to know. The following questions are difficult to explain how to do. I know how to do it just through years of experience. I suppose the key element is listening and spotting inconsistencies. When someone hasn't thought out his beliefs, one will likely spot a lot of inconsistencies. Once one spots and points them out to the individual, it is likely the person will attempt to wiggle out of his inconsistent statements by either denying what he said or attempting to reconcile the inconsistency.

If you're one of the "all-knowing" individuals that I'm speaking about here, please humble yourself. You don't know a lot about a lot of things. There's nothing wrong with that. There's nothing wrong with saying, "I don't know." Don't pretend you have all the answers to every topic. It's annoying and makes you look foolish when it turns out you were wrong about a particular subject. Please just stop.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Do Your Homework!

When one inquires of a graduate school, one usually looks up some information on a particular program. Most, if not all, universities/colleges have websites that describe their graduate programs. I'm going to tell of an experience I had one week ago which will explain why I mention this.

I attended a graduate school information day at Biola University. They offer a doctorate program in clinical psychology and I was interested in finding out more information. I had already been on the school's website so I knew a lot about this particular program. This information day was supposed to supply more information and an overall experience of what being a doctoral student is like at Biola.

During a Q&A session with current students in the program, a girl probably in her late 20's or early 30's raised her hand to ask a question. Let's name her Maria. She said that she realizes how important religion seems to be to this school and she was concerned about religion being "forced" on her. She mentioned that she was Catholic but doesn't follow her religion at all. When I heard her question and comments, I couldn't help but laugh to myself in disbelief. Let me explain why.

First, if Maria had done her homework properly she would have realized that Biola's clinical psychology program is one of the top integration programs in the country. What this means is that Biola strives to integrate psychology and theology. The program doesn't want to leave the Christian faith at the door when they enter the study of psychology. Furthermore, Biola is an evangelical Christian University. Biola stands for Bible Institute of Los Angeles (the school was originally located in Los Angeles). How could Maria be so oblivious to the faith commitment which Biola stands for? As part of the application process, incoming students must sign Biola's statement of faith which demonstrates the student's agreement to the statement. This is not juts for the clinical psychology program. It is for every undergraduate and graduate program at Biola.

Second, the student panel seemed to beat around the bush when some of them addressed her concern. One girl stated, "I have never felt like any of the professors have forced their views on me. They are very open and accepting." I forgot what another student said but he used a lot of words and time to state the obvious. The reality was this: Biola is a Christian university. That means the school stands for the essential doctrines of the faith and seeks to integrate the faith into every field of study. If Maria doesn't hold to the Christian faith, then this isn't the school for her. Short and sweet. That's what it is. There's plenty of secular schools and even nonsecular schools that don't take their faith serious. Those schools would be much better suited for Maria.

Third, what is Maria talking about when she says, "I don't want to have religion forced on me?" What does that even mean? Does she mean she doesn't want someone to demand for her to hold to a certain set of beliefs and if she doesn't then there will be negative consequences? Does she mean that she doesn't want to learn anything at all about Christianity? If she means the latter, then she needs to seek a different school because of what was mentioned earlier about Biola. If she means the former, then she's certainly misinformed about Biola and Christianity in general. Maybe there are Christian organizations that have dispersed negative consequences for not holding to Christian teaching. That was probably more common in the past centuries than it is today. I have never experienced anything like that and I know of no one who as.

If anything, it is the secular world who forces their beliefs on everyone else and no one complains about that. People are fired from jobs and students are thrown out of schools for not believing the same things as the secular world. The tyranny of secularism is alive and well today. I'm assuming that Maria went to a secular school for her undergraduate degree and I doubt she ever complained about her professors forcing their values and beliefs upon her. She said she's Catholic but doesn't follow it at all so why would she even be concerned about someone trying to change her religion anyway?

Maria should have done research on graduate schools and she should also reconsider her thoughts on what it means to "force" beliefs onto someone. She should think about what that really means and how much it is the secular world who is tyrannical in forcing everyone to believe as they do, not the Christians. Let's be honest.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Try Jesus?

I was working for a transportation company in Harlem when one day I picked up a large black woman whose age was probably in the mid to late 40's. She boarded the vehicle, said hello and sat down in a seat. She said nothing to me the entire trip. I pulled up to her destination which was a church and she prepared to exit. As she was exiting she said, "Jesus is coming soon. Just give Him try." I thanked her and pulled away after she was completely off. I began thinking about her comments.

What does it mean to "try Jesus?" Let's say I did take her upn her advice and I decided to give Him a try. Suppose that after a month or two I came to the conclusion that Jesus just isn't really my thing and I would like to get rid of Him. Is this acceptable? I think not.

Jesus isn't someone who needs to be tried. He's not a career, sport, shirt, or anything else that you give a whirl at and then do away with if you don't like what the particular thing is offering. We don't try Jesus; we cling to Him. We don't come to Him because we want all of our problems to disappear. We don't come to Him for "our best life now."

One should cling to Jesus because He is the savior. Everyone sins and is therefore considered to be a sinner. We all stand under judgment of a righteous and holy God who punishes sin. Jesus takes the place of the sinner so that the person will not have to face God on the day of judgment based on his own merits. No one can stand before God based on his own merits. Jesus can.

It's not about "trying" Jesus. It's about understanding who He is and what He offers to sinners.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A Psychoanalytic Experience Poem

This is a poem by Anna Russell that I found very interesting:

I went to my psychiatrist to be psychoanalyzed
To find out why I killed the cat and blacked my
husband's eyes.
He laid me on a downy couch to see what he could find,
And here is what he dredged up from my subconscious
When I was one, my mommy hid my dolly in a trunk,
And so it follows naturally that I am always drunk.
When I was two, I saw my father kiss the maid one day,
And that is why I suffer now from kleptomania.
At three, I had the feeling of ambivalence toward my
And so it follows naturally I poison all my lovers.
But I am happy; now I've learned the lesson this has
That everything I do that's wrong is someone else's

I don't want to say anything more because I think the poem says enough.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Chick-Fil-A : Not Coming to a City Near You

I was watching television while in Florida and I saw what was going on with the fast-food restaurant Chik-Fil-A and homosexual activists. If I had to sum up in one word what my reaction was when I heard about this incident it would be: disgust.

The president of Chik-Fil-A, Dan Cathy, simply stated that he supported traditional marriage. The man didn't say anything against same-sex marriage, although it's not difficult to understand that Mr. Cathy is no supporter of same sex marriage. Now, because this man takes a different view from what many in society support, all kinds of foolishness, nonsense, and injustice are being committed against this man and his company.

Homosexual activists were talking about protesting at various Chick-Fil-A restaurants and I have heard of at least one being vandalized because of what is going on. Political officials in Chicago and Boston declared their opposition to Chick-Fil-A expanding into their cities because Mr. Cathy is not in favor of same-sex marriage. In other words, Mr. Cathy and his company are being DISCRIMINATED against because he still supports heterosexual marriage and he openly expresses this.

When I think of how intolerant, arrogant and unjust the homosexual bigots are I can't help but be disgusted. Allow me to clarify what I mean by "homosexual bigots" lest I be misquoted and my words used as ammunition for the silly notion that homosexuals are always persecuted. Within the category of homosexual bigot I include homosexuals as well as non-homosexuals. These are people who claim to be "tolerant" and "accepting" but only insofar as you agree with everything they stand for. They scream for "equality" and "fairness" yet do not extend it to others. Homosexual bigots are those people who treat those with whom they disagree the exact way they complain about being treated themselves. Can you imagine the outcry which would have occurred if a city openly declared they would not allow a particular same-sex marriage supporting business (e.g., Starbucks) to open a shop in the city because they support same-sex marriage? My goodness, one wouldn't be surprised if there were riots! In addition, the media would display it as a "righteous" cause since the city would be acting "intolerant."

This whole incident would be laughable if only it wasn't so widespread. This is the sad reality of what will probably keep continuing in U.S.A. I wouldn't be surprised if we come upon a time when individuals will be thrown in prison for expressing their disagreement regarding same-sex marriage. Or businesses being heavily fined or even shut down by the government because they either openly or implicitly affirm only heterosexual marriage. As I mentioned earlier, the only emotion that arises within me when I ponder these things is: disgust.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Counseling and Christianity

I recently read a book, Psychobabble: The Failure of Modern Psychology and the Biblical Alternative, and it cause me to reconsider my plans on applying to a doctorate program at a Christian University. The author, Richard Ganz, was a clinical psychologist working at a psychiatric hospital. One of his patients barely spoke and when he did, he claimed he was Jesus. Dr. Ganz had recently become a follower of Christ and when this Jesus imposter was in his office one day, Dr. Ganz showed him a verse in the Bible which caused the Jesus imposter to stop claiming he was Jesus; furthermore, this man asked Dr. Ganz how to become a Christian. Dr. Ganz prayed for him and the man went around the hospital telling everyone about Jesus. He reccommended that if anyone wanted to know more about becoming a Christian, talk to Dr. Ganz. Long story short, Dr. Ganz's supervisor gave him the choice to either stop discussing his Christian convictions with others or leave his job; Dr. Ganz chose the latter.

I admire this man because he stayed true to his convictions even though it cost him a good job with probably a well-paying salary. After this incident, Dr. Ganz enrolled at Westminster Theological Seminary and studied under Jay Adams, leader of the Biblical Counseling movement. Dr. Ganz became a pastor and began speaking out against the secular philosophy which pervades secular psychology.

I don't believe secular psychology is completely useless and neither does Dr. Ganz. Psychology has done a lot of good work in helping us understand the brain and human behavior. However, for quite a long time psychology has adopted philosophies which run contrary to a biblical worldview. For example, a biblical worldview requires one to understand what mankind's fundamental issue is and that is sin. Mankind is in rebellion against God. Man is fallen in his nature and needs to be reconciled to his creator. This is very different from what some secular psychologists think. It's popular in our culture to believe that mankind is good but just needs to look deeper within himself to find that good. The secular psychologist might attempt to bring that good out of an individual which he believes is lying deep down within. This example illustrates how different mankind is viewed. A biblical view sees mankind as deeply corrupted. Some secular philosophies view mankind as basically good. These two disparate starting points will greatly influence how one counsels others. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Slow Down

I find myself always rushing in life. I mean rushing to get to the next thing. As soon as I get to the place where I wanted to be, I find that I want to move on to somewhere else. All the while I do not enjoy the road which lead me there, nor do I fully appreciate the place I am once I have gotten there.

I remember as a child I wanted to grow up in a hurry. Now that I'm older, I sometimes wish I would I could become a child again. I pursued a bachelor's degree and obtained it. While I was completing it, I could not wait until I finished so that I could pursue a Master's degree. Now that I have the bachelor's and am in a Master's program, I want to hurry up and finish the Master's so I can move on to doctoral work.

I think it is a mistake to want to rush one's life. This may sound cliched but it's not about just getting to the destination. It's also about the path one takes and enjoying the ride. If you keep moving from one thing to another while not enjoying the place where you're at right now then my suspicion is once you're at the end of your life, you'll be amazed and disappointed how fast your life went. You'll remember how much you hurried without truly simply enjoying the moment.

Sometimes the anticipation of a ride is more exciting than the ride itself.

Thursday, March 22, 2012


I recently read a book that described the type of culture which was present during the time of Jesus and the Apostles. This author makes the case that back then, an individual's relationship with siblings took precedence over one's relationship with one's spouse. He points to different passages of Scripture which exhort for believers to live as a surrogate family. This entails sharing possessions, time, and genuine brotherly love with other followers of Christ.
The author also mentions that life's biggest decisions (e.g., marriage, vocation, etc.) were meant to be made within the context of community. This means receiving input from other individuals who one knows well and whom is well known by this community. The individual's community can offer insight pertaining to one's strengths, weaknesses, talents, abilities, etc. The point being these decisions were not meant to be made in isolation. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

So Much More

I'm not that old. Most people would consider me young but I do learn from my experiences and I tend to be reflective and analytical. As I grow older, I see more and more that people are not content with what they have. There is always a hunger for more. If one is given a dollar, he wants five. If he's given five, he wants ten. If he's given ten, he wants twenty and so on.
It is rare to meet someone these days in the U.S. who will reflect upon his life and say, "I am truly satisfied with my life." This is not to say there is no such person. This type of person is rare.