Drop your atheism, win a trip.

Here’s a new TV show idea that’s so off the wall, you’re going to be surprised it wasn’t invented by Fox.

The premise of the new show in Turkey, “Penitents Compete,” is simple: A panel of religious leaders will try to convince an atheist to convert to one of their respective faiths. If the atheist converts to one of their belief systems, they’ll win a trip to its holy site.

So, first salvation, then vacation.

My first reaction (and I have nothing else to go on, having never seen this program) is it risks trivializing salvation and puts it on the same level as the prizes on “The Price is Right.” But if there’s any good that could come out of this show, it’s this:

It’ll give believers in God a great chance to see which of their arguments for the existence of the Divine work and which ones may not be so convincing. It could give Christians an example of how to (and how not to) interact with people who completely disagree with them, who think that “theist” is a synonym for “irrational and stupid.”

So if you’re watching the show, what arguments do you think the panel should use? Which arguments should they avoid?

Or, should they avoid participating in the show altogether?

(via Friendly Atheist)

For you church-going gun lovers.

If you’re in the Louisville area anytime soon and you’ve just been dying for a chance to bring your favorite sidearm to church, you’re in luck:

New Bethel Church is holding an “Open Carry Church Service.” The point of the event (which is not a worship service, according to the Time article) is for gun carriers to give thanks for the 2nd Amendment.

The Rev. Ken Pagano says, in the article, that pacifism is optional for Christians, who ought to be ready to defend their families if need be. I understand the feeling, but I after the tragic shooting death of Dr. George Tiller, the last thing we want to do right now is to further associate churches with guns.

(And yes, as a pro-lifer, I think his death was tragic. God loved George Tiller; so should His children.)

One part of the article caught my attention. The church’s insurance carrier has stated it can’t cover this event, and Pagano won’t have open carriers in the service without coverage. His solution: Ask everyone with an open-carry permit to leave their guns inside their cars.

Another idea is to leave your guns at home, but if you insist on bringing them to church, can you at least not advertise to Louisville’s criminals that there might be a cache of weapons in the parking lot that day?

It doesn’t take much to break a car window.

Question on the death of Jesus.

Here’s a question I have regarding the death of Jesus:

How is God able to sacrifice His Son when He specifically forbade Israel from offering human sacrifices?

I’m referring to the prohibition against child sacrifices in the Hebrew Scriptures:

“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you.”

(Deuteronomy 18:9-12; bold print mine.)

In Judges 11, Jephthah vows to sacrifice the first thing that walks through his door following a military victory; tragically, it’s his daughter, who ends up paying the price for his rash vow (see note below).

Israel eventually adopted this horrible practice, much to the dismay of her covenant King and the prophets He sent. (Jeremiah, for example, condemns this sacrifice in 7:30-34 of his book.)

I know the text specifies children, but I think I’m safe to assume that adults would have been protected, as well. (Children are probably specified because adults were bigger, stronger, and would have been helping make the sacrifice, anyway.)

So have at it. How is God able to offer Jesus without breaking His own commandment?

**By focusing on the sacrificial aspect of the cross, I don’t mean to ignore or downplay the significance of what else he accomplished, including disarming the powers of darkness and giving an example to be followed by his people. But the church also affirms that Jesus is our Passover (1 Cor. 5:7), the same event in which the blood of the animal was spread on people’s doorposts to save them from God’s punishment on Egypt.

About Jephthah:

Some people might argue that God endorsed the death of Jephthah’s daughter by pointing out that the text says the Spirit of the Lord was on Jephthah when he went to battle and thus, when he made his tragic vow. Two things:

First, it seems that the Spirit was on the man for the military victory. I think it’s a harder case to make that the same Spirit was prodding him to kill his little girl.

Second, Leviticus 5:4-6 provided a way for him to get out of that vow since it would lead to evil. Jephthah could offer a sacrifice for his sin to be forgiven (in this case, the sin of breaking an oath), but it would have been a small price to pay for his daughter’s life.

Home.

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?”

(John 14:1-2)

These words were spoken by a weary man with a heavy heart who should’ve been on the receiving end of his friends’ comfort, not the other way around.

Jesus is facing the end of his life. In a few hours, he’ll be taken in by his enemies, mocked and beaten, and handed over to a Gentile ruler who will cave in to popular pressure and order that he be crucified.

And yet, as he’s peering off the edge of the cliff, Jesus finds it necessary to comfort his friends with this message:

There’s a place for you in God’s home.

Despite your betrayal, which is about to occur, and the many more sins that are sure to follow your repentance, God has a spot for you.

Despite how many more times you’re going to break My heart, I’ve made room for you.

Despite how many churches don’t welcome you, you’re welcome at My place.

Despite your many doubts at the moment that I won’t come through on My promises and your suspicions that I might not even exist, your home is My home.

There’s room for you to love Me here. To know and be known by Me. To be yourself. To be appreciated as a wonderful masterpiece in My image.

And it’s here that you can rest from your weariness. You can put aside the nagging fears that you’re going to die alone because all your friends are married and you’re the single left standing. The recession and its accompanying stress are not welcome here; you are. 

Here, friendships and marriages are restored. Hungry people find food. The sleepless find a bed. The brokenhearted laugh. The dead are risen.

Someday, all that troubles you will be gone. They’ll peel back like the fog, and you’ll look around and find that I’ve been standing beside you far longer than you suspected.

 

 

Three movies that will make you ‘Scream’.

What’s my favorite scary movie?

I can confidently say it’s not going to be the three new “Scream” movies that are in the works.

From Entertainment Weekly:

The mid-’90s franchise that sent-up slightly older horror flicks is being remade into a whole new set of movies, starting this fall. Writer-director Kevin Williamson has been working on a trilogy that will bring back many of the characters from the original movies.

I don’t think I ever made it through “Scream 3,” but it seemed pretty clear that this franchise had lost its steam well before that film’s closing credits.

The very fact that this is even being considered may be a good sign that Hollywood’s creative talent has lost its steam, too.