Caner refutes ‘Blasphemy Challenge’
– Prompted by the media attention being given to a the “Blasphemy Challenge” website urging people to deny the Holy Spirit, a seminary president has issued a challenge to atheists who want to ask relevant questions about the existence of God.
“Our faith is hooked to the God who created all logic and all knowledge,” Ergun Caner, president of Liberty Theological Seminary in Lynchburg, Va., said Feb. 7. “I’m telling you lazy Christianity will not change one person. It takes a heart committed to the cross, a mind committed to learn, a mouth committed to stand and speak, and a person committed to the simple act of courtesy in answering honest questions.”
The “Rational Response Squad” is behind the Blasphemy Challenge website that urges people — especially teens — to submit videos in which they “damn themselves to hell” by stating the phrase “I deny the Holy Spirit.” More than 1,000 videos reportedly have been submitted.
Caner said the Blasphemy Challenge is an ideal opportunity to answer the legitimate questions of skeptics while emphasizing the intellectual defenses of Christian theology, according to a news release from the seminary Feb. 8.
“They’re asking questions because they see a gap between faith and reason,” Caner said.
So Caner, a converted Muslim and a church history professor, invited leading atheists to participate in an intellectual dialogue concerning whether God exists.
“To any one of you I say, ‘Bring it,’ because I believe that by using rational, coherent rules of logic and law that the God who created those rules of law will manifest Himself,” Caner said at Liberty University’s Campus Church.
He addressed the Rational Response Squad directly when he said, to the applause of more than 4,000 college students, “You asked for Christians to prove what we believe. So we accept this challenge. If you want answers, we’ll give them to you. Invite your most brilliant colleagues and we’ll bring ours. We only ask three things: 1) That we all follow the rules of logic; 2) that we agree that the Bible is an old book; and 3) that we treat each other respectfully.”
For updates and podcasts of Caner’s talks at Liberty’s Campus Church, visit www.liberty.edu/lts.
‘MISS AMERICA’ CONTESTANT PROMOTES MODESTY
– The Miss America Pageant, a decades-old tradition in American culture, continues to push the envelope in order to grab coveted viewers who have been tuning out the broadcast in recent years.
The parade of bodies has become so risqué that this year Miss Utah, Katie Millar, decided to take a stand for modesty by choosing to wear a less revealing evening gown and a one-piece swimsuit. And she finished in the Top 10, despite some criticism from her fellow contestants.
“My message as Miss Utah expands beyond just the pageant world,” Millar told the
Daily Herald in her hometown of Highland, Utah. “I hope that I am an example to all young women that you can uphold traditional values and be successful at the same time.”
“I find it interesting that she was subjected to ridicule by fellow contestants who were aghast that she would seemingly forfeit any chance of advancing by opting for modest attire,” said Mohler, director of the Seminary Wives Institute at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “Imagine their disbelief when she was selected to be among the top ten.”
Millar’s stand, Mohler said, proved that, first, modest attire is available and can be both fashionable and flattering.
BUSH ADDS MILLIONS TO ABSTINENCE FUNDING
– President Bush included a $28 million increase in federal funding for abstinence programs in his proposed 2008 budget, and he did not increase funding for “safe sex” education, according to the Family Research Council’s Action Update Feb. 12.
“If the measure succeeds, the government’s commitment to abstinence programs would reach an unprecedented $191 million. Although many believe the idea will be dead-on-arrival in the new Congress, it does suggest that the White House is willing to fight on issues that affect the family.” FRC Action said. “If the new Congressional majority wishes to make good on its promise to reach out to the faith and family community, we urge it to take the first step by affirming the President’s plan.”
The $191 million, which is part of the Health and Human Services budget, would support community-based programs that teach and encourage sexual abstinence among adolescents ages 12 to 18.
But one of those programs has drawn headlines in Montgomery County, Md., where the Rockville Pregnancy Center has been barred from teaching its abstinence curriculum called “Worth the Wait” after using a controversial object lesson.
“To illustrate the effects of peer pressure and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), leaders passed out a piece of gum and asked students to take turns chewing it (some did),” Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, wrote in his Washington Update Feb. 13. After a parent complained to school officials, the pregnancy center, which had been speaking at the school for nine years and is faith-based, was told not to return.
– Compiled by Erin Roach of Baptist Press