In Defense of Fireproof

Recently a friend and I have been going back and forth on the merits of Fireproof (the movie). Much of the discussion revolved around a review of the movie written by Dalrock, an anti-feminist blogger.

Both Dalrock and my friend take a very strong stance on the negative effects of feminism and egalitarianism on the church. While I largely agree with them in principle, I think that their emphasis on feminism causes them to read it into things without warrant. I don’t agree that Fireproof is as lopsided as they seem to believe.

If you haven’t seen Fireproof yet, the rest of this post may contain spoilers.

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Avoid Every Appearance of Evil

When Christian leaders talk about how to live a godly life, they eventually turn to the gray areas of those things that are right for some but wrong for others. You know the list: drinking, smoking, watching R rated movies, playing cards, dancing, using colorful language, listening to Country-Western music (OK that last one is not a gray area; it should be taboo for everyone), etc. That’s the short list. And the way instruction on such matters goes is all too often along these lines: First, our freedoms in Christ are articulated, clearly stated, appreciated. Next come the qualifiers: but don’t exercise your freedom in Christ, if it will make someone uncomfortable, cause someone to judge you, is not entirely loving, etc. The situation would be bad enough, if it just ended there. By the time all the qualifications are stated, the freedoms that we allegedly have are almost all stripped away. Paralysis begins to set in. But the coup de grace comes with a single verse from 1 Thessalonians, frequently utilized as a weapon against all those who enjoy their lives in Christ: But even if what you do is loving, makes no one uncomfortable, doesn’t cause anyone to judge you, remember that you are responsible to avoid every appearance of evil. So, when in doubt, don’t do it!

This article is worth reading in its entirety.

Ham on Nye

Yesterday, Bill Nye “The Science Guy” debated Ken Ham of the Creation Museum. Their thesis: “Is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?”

The debate was streamed live via YouTube and will be available to stream free for a period of time before being released as a DVD or digital download. If you haven’t seen it yet (or if you’d like to order a copy) you can find it here.

Both Ham and Nye are popularists. They take complicated, technical science and explain it in layman’s terms. This is a good thing for the average listener, but it also means there’s a limit to how technical the debate can get. I think many listeners were left wishing Ham and Nye could have engaged more in-depth, especially on the science of dating.

Ham gave a modified version of the usual Answers in Genesis presentation. He brought forward testimonies of successful scientists who were also creationists, to show that creationism doesn’t undercut scientific progress. He also drew distinctions between observational science and historical science and between molecules-to-man evolution and natural selection. These lines, he argued, had been intentionally blurred by evolutionists to promote their own position.

After working to clear away some of the cultural conceptions of creationism, Ham framed the debate in terms of worldviews – the evolutionist model of origins and its consequences versus the creationist model of origins and its consequences. He challenged the foundations of Nye’s worldview, asking him to account for logic or the laws of science from a naturalistic perspective, and then with some of his remaining time presented a few examples of how the evidence supported the creation model.

Nye’s main arguments seemed to be that creationism is both unscientific and anti-scientific. He posed several points to support the former; he challenged the worldwide flood with the fossil record, for example, and cited a couple dating methods that seem to predict an old earth. He had one point (that I caught) to support the latter – he argued that the Big Bang Theory successfully predicted the universe’s background radiation, while creationism couldn’t have.

Ham took a bit of time to rebut Nye’s arguments about dating, citing a few examples where the established dating methods were notably wrong. He explained that the inaccuracy of most dating methods resulted from some key assumptions that couldn’t be guaranteed. Given the time constraints and the audience he was presenting to, I think he defended his position well.

My impression of Ham’s arguments overall were that they were cogent and well-formulated, albeit necessarily surface-level. He did an excellent job of not just presenting creationism, but Christianity and the Gospel as a whole package.

My impression of Nye’s arguments overall was mixed. His most cogent arguments were the usual ones that have been responded to thoroughly by Answers in Genesis already (especially with regards to dating and the fossil record). Some of his arguments seemed speculative, if not sketchy; he suggested that gender and sexuality developed because sharing genetic material increased resistance to disease. It’s not at all clear why sharing genetic material results in the development of two distinct genders, rather than one gender which can exchange genetic material with any other member of its species, or even three or four genders for that matter.

It was notable, however, that many of his objections to creationism assumed his own worldview. For example, he argued that it was unlikely that eight amateurs would be able to build a large wooden ark, when 16 expert shipwrights couldn’t do it in recent times. He automatically discounts the possibility that an all-knowing and all-wise God could have given them the knowledge and skills they needed to be able to build it.

Overall, I don’t know that the debate was conclusive one way or the other. The subject was too broad for the time allotted, and neither had time to adequately respond to the other’s position. But the victory for creationism wasn’t just in winning the debate. It was a victory for creationism that the debate took place at all.

Evolutionists protested the debate, because the fact that there is debate means that the question is open. They’d much rather win by shutting down the discussion. But thanks in large part to Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum, that’s becoming harder and harder to do.

Honor and Respect

I don’t plan to do a series on Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” But the second chapter in the book prompted a chain of thought which I think will complement our last post on the subject.

Honor Everyone

Carnegie’s second principle is “Give honest, sincere appreciation.” The Biblical equivalent can be found here:

Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
1 Peter 3:17

The Bible uses the term “honor” instead of “appreciation,” but the meaning is similar. For clarity’s sake, I’ll include a definition for the word honor:

hon-or (verb)
1. to regard or treat (someone) with respect and admiration : to show or give honor to (someone)
2. to show admiration for (someone or something) in a public way : to give a public honor to (someone or something)
3. to do what is required by (something, such as a promise or a contract)
(Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Sometimes honor is a public affair, as when King Ahasuerus honored Mordecai in Esther 6:1–11. But it isn’t necessarily public, for we are told to honor our parents – and as Jesus indicates in Matthew 15:1–6, that applies to our private lives as well.

Generally speaking, the Bible teaches us that we are to lead honorable lives and to give honor to others.

Being Honorable

Romans 12:17 tells us that instead of returning evil for evil, we ought to give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. Paul held himself to this standard as well, aiming at “what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” (1 Corinthians 8:21)

As Christians, we should certainly work to lead an honorable life in the sight of God. But we should also work to lead an honorable life in the sight of those around us. We ought to be making a conscious effort to act in a manner worthy of respect and admiration.

In his first letter to the Corinthians (as quoted above), Paul writes that, at the appointment of the churches, he was traveling with a brother who was a famous preacher. He was very careful to have accountability in his handling of the church’s offerings. He was doing right by the churches, distributing it fairly; and he certainly was accountable to the Lord for his actions first. But nonetheless he took additional measures to be clearly honorable and above criticism when handling the church’s gifts.

Doing what is honorable in the sight of all doesn’t mean compromising our moral high ground. Jesus was the Son of God incarnate, holiness on earth. His sinless life made him many enemies, especially among the religious leaders. Yet for all that, we read in Luke 2:52 that he grew “in favor with God and man.” If we are to be like Christ, we should likewise be growing in favor with God and man.

If we aren’t – why not?

Honoring Others

1 Peter 2:17 tells us that we are to honor everyone. More particularly, we are to honor authorities – the emperor (1 Peter 2:17), our parents (Ephesians 6:2), governors (Romans 13:7), employers (1 Timothy 6:1–2), and elders (1 Timothy 5:17). Notice that the honor due to authorities is due by virtue of their position, not their performance. Rather, authorities who rule well should be given double honor (1 Timothy 5:17).

Besides authorities, we ought to honor our fellow Christians. Within the body of Christ, some members are more or less honorable; God has created the Church so that we can give more honor to those parts which are lacking (1 Corinthians 12:24). It may seem counterintuitive to give honor to someone who doesn’t deserve it, but it’s a documented fact of leadership that giving a person respect (even if they don’t deserve it) does far more to help them become respectable than withholding it.

Husbands and wives are commanded to honor each other (Ephesians 5:33; 1 Peter 3:7).

And, last but not least, we are commanded generally to honor everyone. We ought to act with gentleness and respect, “so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:16).

That’s a tall order.

Do you honor and respect everyone, as the Bible commands? Or only those who deserve it?