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Atlanta, 11 November 2015

Good evening! We hope you're well. For us, it's good to be home, plugging back in to our local ministry. Vicki gave the singles class on Saturday. On Sunday we both shared about Europe (Vicki was brilliant), and then I preached a simple message from Luke 15: "Lost."

Today I taught the North River staff (just 40 minutes) on lessons from the Reformation. The complete video and audio files from our recent Biblical Study Tour are now available (about 4 hours in all). As the group traveled through the cities of the Reformation, we were acutely aware of our own need for reformation. The 16th century didn't feel so very long ago or far away.

Here at North River, many people have become Christians this autumn -- especially in the universities. My wife and I both were reached for Christ while we were students. I'm drawn to campus work because students ask great questions -- and have the mental flexibility to consider fresh answers. And many of their questions were (or are) my own questions. So you could say that Answering Skeptics has grown out of our campus ministry experience.
The Answering Skeptics series:
Hypocrisy, Scripture, Morality, Nonsense questions, God, Science, Suffering, Miracles, Christ, and Religion

Recap: Religion is dangerous!  
Suffering inflicted in the name of religion is a problem. Sadly, for many, Christianity is the religion of the oppressor, the bigot, and the persecutor. Last week we offered possible answers to common objections to Christianity:
  • "What about the Crusades?" -- The fact that they are done in the name of Christ does not mean that they are caused by him.
  • "So many have been killed for religion!" -- True, but atheistic and anti-Christian governments kill, too, and far more people have died at their hands than in religious wars.
  • "Religion causes wars." -- Among the complex causes of war, political / economic struggle lies at the core, not religion -- though religion always makes a nice pretext.
  • "God is violent, especially in the Old Testament." -- God is equally peaceful / retributive in both testaments. A loving and holy God could not remain indifferent towards evil. "Consider, then, the kindness and severity of God..." (Rom 11:22 ISV)

10 Common Misconceptions about Religion

Our modern world, especially in the industrialized regions, seems to have a love/hate relationship with religion. Being "spiritual" is cool, being religious is not. An old billboard reads, Christ -- yes; the church -- no. People reject God and Christianity, yet consult astrologers or believe in reincarnation. And the intolerant insistence on "tolerance" -- that everyone agree that all have an equal claim to truth (no one is really "right or wrong) -- is glaringly self-contradictory.

Even in Jesus' day, wrong thinking about religion and faith was common. That's why he challenged leaders and followers, the religious and the irreligious alike. Jesus asked many questions to make us think about faith. The Lord also was great at answering questions, and hopefully we will all make a serious effort to emulate him.

Following are ten common misconceptions about religion. In some cases you will be pointed to previous newsletters -- no surprise, given how much the various areas within Christian evidences are interlocked. 

Listed are the objections. For the responses (one more page of material), please log in at the website.
  1. "Religion is only psychological projection. Humans created religion to assuage their fears, imagining spiritual powers and projecting their thinking onto an non-existent 'heavenly' canvas." 
  2. "All religions are essentially the same." 
  3. "We made god in our image." 
  4. "We should be tolerant of others, not judging them." 
  5. "Religion is too confining. I want to be free, not under obligation." 
  6. "Religion is 'personal,' and should be kept that way." 
  7. "Sincerity is what counts." 
  8. "Christianity is the biggest killer.
  9. "Religion poisons everything." 
  10. "Most of the world has already heard the gospel anyway, so there's no urgency."

Let's keep learning!

Next week is the final lesson in the Answering Skeptics series. As you may have surmised, the material will find its way into book form. If all goes smoothly, that will be the first quarter of the new year. With the remaining Wednesdays of 2015 (seven in all) we're offering a potpourri of material, from responses to the "gay marriage" issue to a podcast on old St. Nick. Stay tuned.

Yours in Him,
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