Apologetics

Why Is It So Hard to Call Out Margaret Sanger on Eugenics?

Author and social critic Mary Eberstadt had a wonderful conversation with Hank Hanegraaff on the secularist religion birthed by the sexual revolution, and the real duplicity in the way it turned yesterday’s sinners into modern-day secular saints — Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger being a prime example. The following dialogue is adapted from their conversation.

Hank Hanegraaff: If you look at this whole idea of a secularist religion, there are high priestesses that come to mind, such as Gloria Steinem, Margaret Mead, and certainly Margaret Sanger. I want to single out Sanger for a moment because she was a person who was very much on the vanguard of the eugenics movement. Today, we have a new hypereugenics movement afoot. I was reading a couple months ago about what is going on in Iceland, where they are now declaring themselves to be almost 100 percent Down-syndrome-baby free. They’ve almost eradicated Down syndrome babies through abortion. They suppose this to be some great thing and laude it as a step forward. In fact, Richard Dawkins, probably the most influential materialist on the planet today, says that it is immoral to bring a Down syndrome child into the world. So, we have this new move toward a hypereugenics movement that eradicates those who are thought to be unfit in society; and in their place, we are looking toward designer babies.

Mary Eberstadt: Yes. There is an implicit cruelty, to say nothing of a lack of diversity in one’s outlook, that would wipe children like that from the face of the earth. I’m so glad you brought up Margaret Sanger. We live in a moment where there are upset, agitated groups who want to pull down statues of Confederates, and they are making their argument in the public square. I am glad that they are. They are not just making emotive appeals; they are making arguments about how things have changed, and how we have developed morally as a people. So, whatever you think of their case, it is astonishing to me that Margaret Sanger hasn’t been torn down from her podiums all over America.

As a matter of fact, consider this: Planned Parenthood, for years and years, gave annual awards (the last ones I think were in 2015) called the Maggies, and they were named for Margaret Sanger. They were given to journalists who had written pro-choice pieces, and to other figures who had somehow come into the pro-choice fold.

Alright, let us look at this for a minute. Margaret Sanger was unflinching in her insistence on the inferiority of certain other people. She wanted to keep down the numbers of certain other people. She believed very much that there were fit people and unfit people. But, guess what? Fit people looked like her, and unfit people looked like, well, fill in the blank. So, it is very hard to understand why she gets a pass in a moment of extra attention to racism and extra moral sensitivity to racism in America’s past, when she was the embodiment of this kind of eugenics thinking.

What we are seeing is that in any other context, besides defending the sexual revolution, nobody would be getting away with this; but Margaret Sanger is getting away with it because she is a paragon of the sexual revolution, and she is the equivalent of a secular saint. I think people who stand against what she stood for should be proud of themselves, and I think that those of us who do are on the right side.

Hank: You know what is really interesting about this? I have looked into this over the years. Eugenics has been a huge, huge issue in the United States of America. Talk about a really virulent evil in America, and there have been many, but this is at the top of the list. But, the odd thing about it is this: eugenics was considered progressive prior to World War II in universities such as Stanford, Princeton, and Harvard. This was considered very, very progressive. Pro-eugenics legislation was passed in blue states ranging from California to New York. You had prestigious people on this bandwagon — not just Margaret Sanger. They had bought into an ideology that said that the unfit were affecting the genepool such that the fit did not survive as well, and so the only thing that we can do is to make sure that we got rid of those that were unfit. Moreover, as you correctly said, the unfit were oftentimes people that did not look like the stereotypical American. They were Blacks. They were Jews. They were people who had some kind of a physical malady. But this was something that was orthodoxy within America, and it really did not see its demise, at least for a while, until it reached full bloom in the genocidal German death camps. Then it vanished into the night, and nobody wants to say that they had any association with this eugenics movement. We are quietly paying reparations for the harm that we did, particularly to the Black community, and we, for example, are doing that in North Carolina. But, most people do not want to own up to the fact that this was an ideology that was uncritically bought into that devastated lives, and we are now seeing history repeat itself in other places.

Mary: Yes, once again, Christianity should get some credit for being on the right side of that issue. It is Christianity, infused with Judaism, that taught humanity that all human beings are equal in the sight of God. That is a revolutionary idea. Christianity, correctly applied, should get some credit for that insight. Eugenics was not some kind of Christian thing. It was a progressive thing, as you correctly pointed out. When progressives today wonder why there are people who are “standing on the wrong side of history,” it is because we do not want to be standing wherever they are standing, certainly not in the case of eugenics.

Similarly, Hank, I think Christianity gets such a bad rap for being bad on women somehow, but it was Christianity that introduced the very idea that men and women were morally equal — so morally equal that consent was required for marriage. This is a very early Christian idea and it is revolutionary. Were there equal outcomes? No, of course not. Were there equal economic statuses throughout history? No. But the idea that a woman’s soul was just as important as a man’s and that it would be jeopardized if she could not freely consent to marriage, and the marriage would be invalid without both parties freely willing it, this is a fantastic liberating idea. It is among the most liberating ideas ever to appear in humanity, and that’s a Christian idea.

Part of what I am trying to say is this. I think, for reasons we all understand, a lot of traditional believers have been in a defensive crouch because they were not expecting how ferocious the winds against them would become; they were not expecting all these religious liberty cases suddenly proliferating across the land; and they were not expecting they would not be able to practice their faith without public ostracism. But the defensive crouch is not the answer when what you are in possession of are truths that other people are losing sight of that have been a boon to humanity. So be proud of standing on the right side of the eugenics discussion. Be proud of standing against what Margaret Sanger and all other people like her stood for. I think we can be emboldened — without patting ourselves on the back — to know some of the good that Christianity has done out there in the world.

This blog was adapted from “The Sexual Revolution with Mary Eberstadt,” which originally aired on episode 18 of Hank Unplugged. To listen to the full interview, click here.

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Margaret Sanger: “No Gods, No Masters” (Bob Perry)

How the West Really Lost God (Mary Eberstadt)

Sex, Lies, and Secularism (Nancy Pearcy)

Sex, Lies, and Christianity: Reclaiming Biblical Sexuality (Melanie Cogdill)

Mary Eberstadt is author of It’s Dangerous to Believe: Religious Freedom and Its Enemies. Her writing has appeared in TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, National Review, First Things, and The Weekly Standard, and in March 2017, she was named Senior Research Fellow at the Faith and Reason Institute.

Apologetics

How to Have Hope in Spite of the Wilting Flower of Christianity in the West?

 

Earlier this year, Hank Hanegraaff had an illuminating conversation with best-selling author and social critic Os Guinness, which was released as an episode of the Hank Unplugged podcast. The following is a portion adapted from the conversation wherein they talked about remaining hopeful in spite of the reality of “wilting flower Christianity” in the West.

Hank Hanegraaff: In what many consider is your magnum opus, Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion, you talk about our age as quite simply the greatest opportunity for Christian witness since the time of Jesus and the Apostles. There is a wide door that Saint Paul wrote about, and it has now been reopened for the gospel, yet that seems so counterintuitive. I think about the world today, and I say, “Wow, we are in desperate need of renaissance, but I do not see any signs of it.” You’re saying that the age in which we live is the most open door for the gospel ever.

Os Guinness: We are the first global faith in the world. Globalization, you could put it that way, is almost in the DNA of the Christian faith, going right back to the promise of the Lord to Abraham in Genesis 12. Today, we are the first truly global faith. We are not doing well in America, and in much of the West, but as we look toward the future with the unprecedented challenges of artificial intelligence, singularity, and things like that, only the Christian faith has answers to some of these titanic questions. I say this is the grand age of apologetics, and we need to get out there persuasively so that people can really hear the good news, and not in some simplistic way but in a way that genuinely answers the challenges that are being raised to humanity.

Hank: You talk about the power of creative persuasion in making a case for the gospel to people who seemingly couldn’t care less.

Os: Yes, you are right. In this country, we’ve got more bitter opposition and hostility than ever in American history, and of course many people are just apathetic. But I think it is a great moment because, as you know well, the alternative answers are visibly failing and many of them are profoundly dangerous. I am just in the middle of another book on the topic of freedom. If you think, “America is the land of the free,” Saint Augustine says you understand a nation by what it loves supremely, and it is no question that America’s supreme love is freedom. But how do you ground it? You cannot go to the Eastern religions. They talk about freedom, but it is a way of renouncing this world. When you look at atheism and agnosticism, they look at naturalistic science, whether it is B. F. Skinner, J. B. Watson, or Sam Harris; for them freedom is an illusion. The fact is, our atheist friends, who form a huge number of people in the intelligentsia in this country, cannot ground freedom, and you cannot apart from the Scriptures — the Jewish and Christian understanding.

Hank: It seems to me that we are at a tipping point. I was in Singapore a couple of times last year and I thought about Lee Kuan Yew, the father of Singapore, who talked about how all civilization is essentially fragile. You have written about this in a number of your books: this tipping point in history where we think that we are invincible. But if we look back at the bleached bones of those who have gone before us, like the Roman Empire and many other civilizations, we recognize afresh that our civilization can fade if we do not ultimately become salt and light in this world. You pointed out that there are a number of threats. There is the threat of an illiberal liberalism, on the one hand; and you have the encroaching threat of Islam, on the other hand. But you think that there is a far greater threat, and perhaps that threat is that while pagans are exercising their job description, Christians are not.

Os: That is right. One way of putting it would be looking at this third threat as the scandal of the American church. The church is not strong anywhere in the West, except the United States and Poland are numerically strong. In most of the other countries, the church is a tiny minority. But the scandal of the American church is that we are a huge majority of the American people, and yet tiny groups like Jews or gays and lesbians — they are less than 2 percent of America — each of them has far more influence — they punch above their weight — than Christians do. The American church is simply not the salt and light. The simple fact is the American church is weak culturally because it is profoundly worldly. It has been effectively assimilated.

Hank: We are no longer cultural change agents; we have become conformed to the culture itself.

Os: Exactly, to put it mildly. This is a real tragedy, and that is why we need reformation and revival. Almost weekly you see sad examples of the ineffectual character of the church compared with other groups. As a culture at large, I call it a cut flower civilization.

If you look at many of the great features of our Western Civilization — human dignity, freedom, justice, equality, and all sorts of things like this — they are actually rooted, most of them, not in Greek ideas (some of them are), certainly not in Latin or Roman ideas, they are rooted in the gospel and the Scriptures at large. Yet, for two-hundred years since the Enlightenment, the West has decisively cut those roots, and now the flower is fast fading.

Hank: One of the reasons I love your books is that there is an optimism in them. On the one hand, you are very candid about the issues you just talked about: cut flower Christianity. That metaphor itself seems to indicate that Christianity in the West cannot last. Yet you do believe in the power of one. You do believe in the fact that twelve men changed the world. Therefore, Christianity not only can survive but thrive. But you also point out the problems in the Global South, which are very, very real. I have spent a lot of time in myriad places in the Global South, and there you see tumbleweed Christianity — Christianity without root. I think in one of your books you wrote about the fact that many people in the Global South are just one unanswered prayer away from reverting to animism, Buddhism, or ancestor worship and the like. When you look at the big scope of things, it seems like a problem that cannot be fixed. Yet, in all of your books, there is a resounding optimism.

Os: That is right. I hope that is so. You can put it two ways. The sort of way to put it in the public discussion is that while many of the generalizations about culture or about the church are rather negative and discouraging, it is the exceptions that are really inspiring. Generalizations are often rather gloomy, but thank God for individuals, and thank God for new initiatives. Something wonderful in the last twenty years is the International Justice Mission, one of the premiere human rights groups in the world today. It grew under Gary Haugen. Examples like this are magnificently encouraging.

On the theological and spiritual level, I believe that we should be as realistic as we can be. Look at the facts in the white of the eye and at the same time always respond with Christian hope, never with fear. Fear is the predominant world emotion. The whole globalized world is interconnected, nobody is really in charge, and people are very afraid, but the refrain of the gospel is Have no fear. With the Lord’s sovereignty, we should never be afraid and however dark the times, we move out with hope. I think this is an imperative for all Christians.

Listen to the full Hank Unplugged interview here (scroll through the list to “Living in a Post-Truth World with Os Guinness”).

Recommended books by Os Guinness:

Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion

Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times (B2002)

Prophetic Untimeliness: A Challenge to the Idol of Relevance (B720)

Unspeakable: Facing Up to Evil in an Age of Genocide and Terror (B823)

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life (B638)

Impossible People: Christian Courage and the Struggle for the Soul of Civilization (B2028)

 

Apologetics

Does Christianity Offer a Higher or Lower View of the Body?

Hank Hanegraaff: Paradigms allow us to see only what our paradigms allow us to see. We don’t think so much about our paradigms as we think with our paradigms. As Christians, we have unwittingly adopted bad paradigms. It is not just the culture that needs to be liberated; it is Christianity that needs to be liberated from its own cultural captivity.

Nancy Pearcey: That’s right. When we talk about these issues that I address in Love Thy Body, we’re looking at moral issues like abortion, assisted suicide, homosexuality, and transgenderism. In the book, I am very concerned to help people understand the secular paradigms because so many Christians are adopting or absorbing those paradigms without even knowing it. In particular, I talk about the view of the body, as you might guess from the title. I show that the secular view of the body is a very low view of the dignity, value, and purpose of the body; that Christians have absorbed that as well; and that it is not biblical.

The response I am getting from a lot of readers is, “I picked up this book because I thought I’d get some handy arguments against the secular view, and instead it’s transforming me and my understanding of the body and how it relates to these moral issues?” You’re right. It really hits both sides. It helps people be equipped to understand our secular culture and respond more effectively, but to do that it requires also a transformation of our own thinking.

HH: It is critical for Christians to learn to think Christianly and to develop a Christian worldview. Oftentimes, we embrace other worldviews without recognizing that we have embraced the very water in which we swim. The culture in which we love. Expand on that.

NP: Yes. Let’s take maybe the most hot button issue for Christians — homosexuality. Even conservative churches are dividing over this issue. Young people are having a hard time saying what’s wrong with it.

What I help people to see is that homosexuality assumes a very low view of the body. People say, “We should accept homosexuals because we want to be loving.” If you want to be loving, you want to help them to see that the view itself is very dehumanizing and very negative. For example, here is how I would unpack that: no one really denies that biologically, physiologically, anatomically, males and females are counterparts to one another. That’s just how the human sexual and reproductive system is designed. What happens when you embrace a same-sex identity, then? Well, implicitly you’re contradicting that design. Implicitly you are saying, “Why should the structure of my body inform my identity? Why should my sexed body have any say in my moral choices?” Well, that’s a profoundly disrespectful view of the body. The implication is, what counts is, not whether I’m biologically male or female but just my feelings, my desires, my mind, that nonphysical part of me. As a result, it has a very fragmenting impact on a human personality. It’s self-alienating. It’s alienating people from their own bodies.

Those who defend a biblical view of sexuality are not relying on a few scattered Bible verses. What we are promoting is a teleological worldview. Teleology means it has a purpose. We are saying that the structure of your body has a purpose and that it reflects a divine purpose. As a result, it encourages people to live in harmony with their biological sex and leads to a holistic integration of personality.

This gives us a chance to prove the biblical ethic not simply in negative terms — “it’s a sin,” “don’t do it,” “thou shalt not” — which is true, but it is not complete. It gives us a chance to communicate in a positive way. We have a higher view of the body. We have a high view of the dignity and value of the body. We are encouraging people to have a much more positive view of their body instead of the negative one implied by the homosexual narrative.

HH: What is interesting about what you said is that, in reality, so many people in the secular culture presuppose Christianity itself has a low view of the body.

NP: Yes. In fact, I’m getting that pushback from some of my critics. They say, “Wait a minute, it’s Christianity that has a low view of the body that focuses on the next world.”

The problem is that many Christians are out of touch with their own heritage. If you look back to when Christianity started, the early church was surrounded by world-denying philosophies, like Platonism and Gnosticism. They treated the material world as a place of death, decay, and destruction. In fact, in Gnosticism, which taught that there were many levels of deities, the world was created by a very low-level deity, even an evil deity, because, after all, no self-respecting god would get his hands dirty mucking about with matter.

In this context, Christianity was revolutionary. It taught that, no, it was the highest God, the supreme deity, who created this material world, and — what’s more — He pronounced it “very good” (Gen. 1:31). An even greater scandal was the Incarnation. The very idea that God Himself would enter the material world and take on a human body that was totally rejected by Gnosticism. The incarnation is the ultimate affirmation of the dignity of the human body.

Finally, at the end of time, is God going to scrap the material world as if He made a mistake the first time? No! The Bible teaches He is going to renew and restore this world. He is going to create a new heaven and a new earth, which is why the Apostles’ Creed affirms the resurrection of the body. This is an astonishingly high view of the physical world. There’s nothing else like it in any other philosophy or religion.

Love Thy Body, my book, gives people the tools to go beyond the negative message and to deploy positive arguments, showing that a biblical ethic is more appealing, more attractive, and more compelling than any secular ethic.

This blog is adapted from the February 10, 2018, Bible Answer Man broadcast in which Hank Hanegraaff interviewed Nancy Pearcey. Listen to the entire interview on the Hank Unplugged podcast (scroll through the list of episodes to the title “Love Thy Body with Nancy Pearcey”).

Apologetics

Is Hell a Torture Chamber?

What about books, tracts, movies, YouTube videos, and pictures depicting Satan and demons torturing sinners in hell? Wasn’t hell created as a place of punishment for the Devil and his demons?

The Devil and fallen angels are not going to be caretakers of hell; rather, they are going to be incarcerated in hell. This is very clear in the Scriptures, including passages such as Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:10–15. The premise to the question is absolutely right — hell was created as a place of punishment for the Devil and his demons.

Another thing that needs to be pointed out is this: hell is not torture. It may be torment, but it is not torture. The pictures or images that people come back with after they have had supposed trips to hell and back are simply manufactured. They do not correspond to reality.

Hell is ultimately what people have an earnest of today. Those who reject the goodness, grace, and glory of God, which could be theirs, are experiencing hell in the present. But this is an earnest (or token) of the holy wrath that is yet to come.

What happens ultimately is separation from the blessings of God. The Lord will say to those who rejected His love and forgiveness, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). This separation is shown in the intermediate state with the parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31. The rich man had all the fineries of life, but then he dies and ends up in torment. Again, this is an earnest of what is to come, because that rich man ultimately will stand and give an account for what he did in the flesh, and then death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death, which is a complete separation forever from the goodness, grace, and glory of God.

Remember that hell is not torture; rather, it is torment. The torment is that you are separated from the very one you were created to have union with. Again, I think that hell is misconstrued. Quite often, the metaphors used for hell in popular books, and even those found in Scripture, are taken in a wooden literalistic fashion, as though people are going to be consumed or burned with fire that never fully consumes them. Fire is a metaphor for the horror of the holy wrath of God, being separated from the goodness of God, the very one who knit us together in our mother’s womb and created us for fellowship with Him.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here (Hank Hanegraaff)

Why Should I Believe in Hell? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What about Hell? The Doctrine of Hell (Douglas Groothuis)

The Dark Side of Eternity: Hell as Eternal Conscious Punishment (Robert A. Peterson)

C.S. Lewis on Hell (Louis Markos)

The Justice of Hell (Donald T. Williams)

Love Wins: Making a Contradictory Case for Universalism (Doug Groothuis)

We also recommend the following bookstore resources:

AfterLife: What You Need to Know about Heaven, the Hereafter, and Near-Death Experiences (B1076) by Hank Hanegraaff

Resurrection (B545) by Hank Hanegraaff

Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment (B1060) by Robert A Peterson

Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment (B1062) edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert A. Peterson

This blog is adapted from the October 24, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Are the Ethics of the Bible Just as Bad as Those in the Qur’an?

The Qur’an has ethics which do not belong in any century, you are right, but should not the same be said about the Bible?

No. The same should not be said about the ethics of the Bible. If you think about the ethics of Jesus Christ and the ethics of Muhammad, they are completely different.

Think about Jesus Christ. He lived in a first-century context, a context wherein women were considered chattel. They were on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder. Their testimonies were not considered valid in a court of law. But Jesus takes women and elevates them to complete ontological equality with men in that culture. He has women in His inner circle (Luke 8:1-3).

Not only is this true with Jesus Christ, it is true with the followers of Jesus Christ. Paul famously said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NIV). Genealogy does not matter. Gender does not matter. Station in life does not matter.

We in fact get the inherent worth of human beings from the Bible — from a biblical ethic. I think if people knew a little bit about history, they would know that we are still benefitting from the ethos and morays of the Bible, which have been thrown to the wind in our culture, but we are still benefitting from them. Even though we are no longer living in the pages of the Bible, we are living in the shadow of the Bible, we are still benefitting from a biblical worldview.

When someone cavalierly says, “The ethics of the Qur’an do not belong in any century and the same thing should be said about the Bible too,” I sometimes wonder whether or not the person is familiar with the Bible, and whether or not the person is able to read the Bible in the sense in which it is intended. I challenge all in the spirit of humility, gentleness, and respect to read the Bible. Perhaps start with the Book of Proverbs.

Every single maxim or principle for successful daily living is encapsulated in the Book of Proverbs. I still remember one time many years ago doing a seminar for a large corporation, and I was extemporaneously quoting the Proverbs. “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts” (Proverbs 24:3-4 TLB). As I was going through proverb after proverb, people were going, “Wow, that is amazing! I’ve never heard such erudite business principles.” Then I told them, “I am simply quoting from Solomon from the Bible.”

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Is the Qu’ran Credible? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Could the Bible Command a Rape Victim to Marry Her Rapist? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Could a Good God Sanction the Stoning of a Disobedient Child? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Can Christians Legitimize a God who Orders the Genocide of Entire Nations? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Did Muhammad Believe in Women’s Rights? (Mary Jo Sharp)

Five Differences between Sharia and Old Testament Law (David Wood)

Fundamentalist Faith and the Problem of Holy Wars (Elliott Miller)

Hollywood vs. History: Kingdom of Heaven and the Real Crusades (Daniel Hoffman)

Was Israel Commanded to Commit Genocide? (Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan)

Is the God of the Old Testament a Proponent of Total War against Noncombatants? (Matthew Flannagan)

A full-orbed assessment of Qur’anic ethics can be found in MUSLIM: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion by Hank Hanegraaff. More information on how the Bible (biblical ethics in particular) shaped Western civilization can be found in The Book That Made Your World by Visahal Mangalwadi, How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt, and Christianity on Trial: Arguments against Anti-Religious Bigotry by Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett.

This blog is adapted from the October 19, 2017, Hank Unplugged episode “MUSLIM: What You Need to Know.”

Apologetics

Do Wrong Beliefs about Jesus Hinder or Affect Salvation?

Question: “My wife is a believer in Jesus Christ and on fire for the Lord, but she has difficulty believing that Jesus and the Holy Spirit are God. Will this hinder or affect her salvation in any way?”

I do not think it is the absence of knowledge that damns; rather, it is the despising of knowledge that damns.

One of the things that we know for certain as we read through the Scripture is this: there is only one God. The Scripture is very plain and clear about that. Look at the Old Testament, for example. There is the Hebrew Shema, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NIV).

Now, if you continue reading the Bible, you recognize that the Father is God. The Bible is explicit about that (see John 17:1–3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 2 Corinthians 1:3–4; Ephesians 1:3;1 Peter 1:3–5).

You also realize that the Holy Spirit is God. One example in the New Testament is Acts 5, wherein Peter condemns Ananias, who lied about selling a piece of property and donating all the proceeds to the church. The Apostle said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God” (vv. 3–4 NIV). In this case, lying to the Holy Spirit means lying to God.

Another example in which the Holy Spirit is equated with God is 2 Corinthians 3:17–18: “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (NIV; cf. Romans 8:9–11). The Holy Spirit is omnipotent (Genesis 1:2; Luke 1:35), omnipresent (Psalm139:7–9), omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10–11), eternal (John 14:16; Hebrews 9:14), and personal (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13–14; Acts 8:29; 15:28; 16:6; Romans 5:5; 8:14–16, 26–27; 15:30; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Corinthians 12:11; 2 Corinthians 13:14).

The Bible is also very clear with respect to Jesus Christ being God—being of one essence with the Father. For example, Colossians 1, which declares Christ to be “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (vv. 15–18 NIV). Another example is Hebrews 1, which declares, “About the Son [the Father] says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy’” (Hebrews 1:8–9 NIV; cf. Hebrews 1:3; Psalm 45:6–7). And, of course, John 1 declares “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (v. 1 NIV). Anyone reading through the Gospel of John with an open mind sees Christ repeatedly identified as God. After Jesus demonstrated the power to lay down his life and to take it up again, the disciple Thomas did not identify him as “a god” but as “my God” (John 20:28). The original Greek language of John 20:28 is unambiguous and definitive. Literally, Thomas said to the risen Christ, “the Lord of me and the God of me.”

Moreover, in Romans 10:13, Paul equates calling on Christ with calling on Yahweh (Joel 2:32). And in his letter to the Philippian Christians, Paul declares that Jesus, “being in very nature God [in the form of God], did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant [the form of a servant], being made in human likeness” (NIV). Paul goes on to conclude by equating bowing to and confessing the name of Jesus with bowing to and confessing the name of Yahweh, further demonstrating that Jesus is Himself Almighty God (see Philippians 2:6–11; Isaiah 45:22–25). I do not know how it could be any clearer.

The Bible is telling us that there is one God, that the Father is God, that the Son is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God. But also the Bible tells us that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are eternally distinct (see Matthew 28:19; John 14:15–21, 26–27; 15:26–27; 16:5–15).

In other words, the Father does not become the Son, and the Son does not morph into the Holy Spirit. You have one God, subsisting in three persons, who are eternally distinct. That is what the Bible teaches.

Now, you say it is hard for your wife to get her head around that; I will tell you, it is hard for me to get my head around that, too. I oftentimes tell people, “If you can get your head around that, your God is too small.” This means that the God we serve can be apprehended but cannot be comprehended. He is beyond our ability to fully comprehend, and that is not only true for this present time but also it is true for all eternity. The Bible is clear that Jesus is God, that the Holy Spirit is God, and that the Father is God, but there is one God with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit being eternally distinct.

What I am talking about again is this: it is not the absence of truth that damns; rather, it is the despising of truth that damns. What I am suggesting is that there can be many professing Christians unable to communicate what I just communicated, but I am not looking at them and saying, “Those people are lost.” That is not my province; rather, that is in fact the province of the Holy Spirit. However, as you read about the Lord — doing what the Lord asks us to do, getting into God’s Word, and getting God’s Word into you (Deuteronomy 6:6–9; Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119) — as you learn more and more about God, you have to follow what God says, as opposed to recreating God in your own image.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Who Is the “Us” in Genesis 1:26?  (Hank Hanegraaff)

If God Is One, Why Does the Bible Refer to Him in the Plural? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Is Oneness Pentecostalism Biblical? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Allah, the Trinity, and Divine Love (Jonah Haddad and Douglas Groothuis)

We also recommend the following book:

Muslim: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (Hank Hanegraaff)

This blog is adapted from the November 8, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Christ, Allah, and the Sword

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39 NIV).

Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Does this not contradict His message of peace? If the “sword” mentioned by Jesus is never to be taken literally, can Christians concede that the “sword” mentioned in the Qur’an was never meant for Muslims to take literally? 

The “sword” Jesus talked about is not literal. It symbolizes conflict. Someone says, “Well, then do not take Islam literally when you have the Surah of the sword.” But, the reality is that one should be taken literally; the other quite obviously should not be taken literally. I say that because if you look at the history of Islam, you have fourteen centuries of advancement by sword. If you look at the model of Christ, you have almost two thousand years of advancement by word.

Do you ever see Jesus Christ doing what Muhammad did? Do you see Jesus in Jerusalem slaying people? Do you see Him killing the Jews that would not listen to Him? Muhammad beheaded hundreds of Jews. One is quite literally using the sword; the other is using, in this case, the sword as a metaphor.

Jesus’ metaphor of the sword is quite plain. The sword divides, and ultimately truth divides even more. We follow the one who is the way and the truth, but when we do, there is a division between mother and father, and sister and brother.

In the end, Jesus was very plainly living by a dictum. That dictum was shown in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:47–55; cf. Mark 14:43–52; Luke 22:47–53; John 18:1–11). There the soldiers come to arrest Him and one of the disciples — Peter — takes out a sword and whacks off the ear of a solider. So, Jesus did not suddenly say the rallying cry, “Let us kill them; pull out your swords!” No. Jesus healed the soldier missing the ear. Then He said to Peter, “Put your sword back in its place…for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52 NIV).

The distance between Muhammad and Jesus is the distance of infinity.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following:

Muhammad and Messiah: Comparing the Central Figures of Islam and Christianity” (David Wood)

Five Differences between Sharia and Old Testament Law” (David Wood)

Is Religion the Root of Evil?” (Hank Hanegraaff)

If Christianity Is True, Why Are So Many Atrocities Committed in the Name of Christ?” (Hank Hanegraaff)

Learn more about Islam in MUSLIM: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion (B2043) by Hank Hanegraaff

Uncategorized

Understanding Preterism

I am currently a thirty-five-year-old seminary student, and I have been on an eschatological pilgrimage, if you will, and I am leaning postmillennial, but I am researching now partial preterism and full preterism, and I just wanted to know more about it. What is your take, and where do you stand on such things?

I talked about this a little bit on yesterday’s broadcast along with the Facebook Live that I was doing, which you can also find on YouTube. There are two kinds of preterism that I have been asked about. One is hyper-preterism, or full preterism, and the other is partial preterism. The actual word has to do with the past (preterism is from the Latin word praeter, meaning “past”). This is the view that eschatological events prophesied in the Scripture have already taken place. The manifestation of preterism comes in the forms that I just talked about — partial and hyper.

The partial preterist is within the pale of orthodox Christianity. It postulates that the bodily return of Christ, the bodily return of the dead (i.e., the general resurrection), the restoration of creation, and the final resolution of sin is yet future.

However, hyper- or full preterists contend that all prophecy, including the Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection of Christians, has already been fulfilled. That is why I said on yesterday’s broadcast, and I will repeat today, full preterism is heresy. Flat plain heresy. Of course, you have many full preterists that have called me over the years that would dispute that, but I think it is heretical to say that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has already taken place, or the bodily resurrection of Christians has already taken place. Full preterists think all biblical prophecy—all—was all fulfilled by the end of the first century, especially with the judgment of destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.

The problem is always the same. Hyper-preterists must redefine many essential teachings in order to fit their preconceived notions or their paradigms. The resurrection to eternal life, the resurrection to eternal judgment, the restoration of the cosmos, the second appearance of Christ, all of that has to be redefined. Therein lies the problem of hyper-preterism. For as the Nicene Creed states, the Lord Jesus Christ “ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; His kingdom will have no end….We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come” (see Matthew 19:28; John 5:28–29; 14:1–3; Acts 1:9–11; 3:19–21; Romans 8:18–27; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 15:23–27, 51–54; 16:22; 2 Corinthians 5:9–10; Ephesians 1:9–10; Philippians 3:20–21; Colossians 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17; Titus 2:13; 2 Timothy 4:8; Hebrews 9:28; 11:13–16; 2 Peter 3:5–13; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Revelation 3:12; 21:1–27; 22:1–5 [cf. Isaiah 65:17–25; 66:22–24; Dan. 12:2]).

Oftentimes people fail to recognize that the word “coming” used in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:1–51; Mark 13; Luke 21:5–36) and certainly in John’s expanded version of the Olivet Discourse — the Book of Revelation — can be used in different ways. Coming can mean the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, although Hebrews 9:27–28 talks about the second appearing of Jesus Christ. It is not as though He is coming from somewhere far away and He has to travel back here. The same is just as if one were to say, “He ascended into heaven, and He had to travel a long time to get there;” that of course is reading the text in a way that it is not intended to be read. When we talk about Christ’s ascension (cf. Acts 1:9–11; cf. Luke 24:50–51), we are really in essence talking about Him transcending time and space, transcending this time–space continuum, and only God can do that. When Christ appears a second time, He will appear. It is not as though He is a long way away. He will appear, as the writer of Hebrews puts it. We can use coming in that sense. The sense of Christ appearing a second time.

We can also use coming in an altogether different sense — Christ coming in judgment. This would be in concert with how the Old Testament prophets used the language (cf. Isaiah 19:1–25). Christ is obviously a greater prophet than them all; He uses the language of the Old Testament prophets and now He applies it to His coming in judgment of those who say, “Crucify Him!” “Crucify Him!” “His blood be on us and our children.” (Matthew 25:22, 23, 25; cf. Luke 23:27–31). Those who do not recognize Messiah in their midst. Those who want luminous limestone and glistening gold, as opposed to the crystal Christ, the paragon of virtue in their midst.

— Hank Hanegraaff

“Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:27–28 NIV).

For further study, please access the following:

Is “Coming on Clouds” a Reference to Christ’s Second Coming?

Which Generation Is “This Generation”?

When Do We Receive Our Resurrected Bodies?

The following e-store resources are also recommended:

The Apocalypse Code (B1026) by Hank Hanegraaff

Afterlife: What You Really Want to Know About Heaven, the Hearafter, & Near-Death Experiences (B1076) by Hank Hanegraaff

Last Days According to Jesus (B512) by R. C. Sproul

Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (B793) by Steve Gregg

This blog is adapted from the October 25, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

Politico Whitewashing Abortion

I saw an article in the Washington Examiner entitled “Politico Whitewashes Horror of Aborting Triplites.” The article by Philip Wegmann points out that “Dostoevsky observed that ‘man could get used to anything,’” and “Orwell explained” much the same thing “how political jargon gives a ‘defense of the indefensible.’”

Wegmann goes on to say,

Rather than admit that the only way to turn triplets into twins is to kill a baby, Politico hid behind a euphemism. And rather than react in horror at the death of a child, they printed a splashy graphic to explain “the decline of triplets” as if the procedure was the equivalent of filling a dental cavity. In short, they casually whitewashed slaughter.

The article points out precisely how they do that. This is graphic, but I think it needs to be heard: the doctor uses ultrasound; that ultrasound is used in order “to maneuver the unborn baby into position,” then “a syringe of toxic potassium chloride is inserted in the mother’s belly…that long needle is stabbed into the child’s little heart until [the child’s heart] stops beating. Politico just calls it a ‘reduction,’” but the “real horror goes unnoticed when imprecise language transforms a callous abortion into an unremarkable ‘reduction’” and “the public can become accustomed to the most revolting of horrors if they are pre-packaged correctly. Dostoevsky and Orwell were right all along.”

I happened to write about this subject in The Complete Bible Answer Book Collector’s Edition, Revised and Updated. There I put forth an acronym. The acronym A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N, so that people are equipped to annihilate A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N arguments. While I will not go through the entire acronym on the show today, I do want to highlight the “O” in A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N.

The first “O” in A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N I dubbed the “opium” effect. This is in keeping with the article I just read to you wherein clever codewords are the opium of the pro-abortion lobby. Those code words are specifically designed to dull human sensibilities to something that is absolutely horrendous: the horror of abortion. We see this all around. For example, the moniker “Planned Parenthood.” That may well be the quintessential example. The positive ring of the words masks the horrific reality. To abort a preborn child is tantamount to terminating a life. As Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger famously pontificated, “The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it.” Such killings again are positively repositioned as prochoice prerogatives. The preborn children terminated, well, they are indelicately rendered fetuses and prolife advocates are profanely recasts as social extremists. Again, this is the opium effect, the effect of clever code words. This has been used to great effect within this holocaust that is going on within our midst.

Abortion is the painful killing of an innocent human being, and we ought to get that squarely in our psyche. We ought to be able to communicate this because it is painful for the child, in that methods employed involve burning, smothering, dismembering, and crushing. It is killing in that, from the very beginning, that which is terminated fulfills the criteria necessary for establishing the existence of biological life. That includes metabolism, development, the ability to react to stimuli, cell reproduction, and the like. I say it is the painful killing of an innocent human being, innocent in that the preborn child deserves protection, not capital punishment. The painful killing of an innocent human being, in that the child was killed is the offspring of human parents, has a totally distinct genetic code.

Since abortion is nothing short of terminating the life of a person created in the image of God, it is important for us to get this information into our minds.

— Hank Hanegraaff

Blog adapted from the October 18, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.

Apologetics

The Identity of Mystery Babylon

My question is about “Mystery Babylon”—“the great prostitute”—in Revelation 17. I notice similarities between Jerusalem and Mystery Babylon. Who is Mystery Babylon? Have the events concerning Mystery Babylon already taken place, or are they still future?

One of the seven angels with one of the seven bowls came and said, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits on many waters. With her the kings of the earth committed adultery and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries” (Rev. 17:1–2 NIV).

What is going on here is pretty interesting. When you read Scripture in light of Scripture, you recognize who is in view. Reading through the Old Testament, we see the prophets of God repeatedly speaking of the prostitution of Israel and the prostitution of Judah (cf. Exod. 34:11-16; Deut. 31:14-22; Jer. 3:1-10; Ezek. 16:1-59; 23:1-49; Hos. 1:1-2:13). The prostitution of the northern kingdom and the prostitution of the southern kingdom. In each case, the prophets use graphic language to depict Israel, who was called to be a light to the nations but instead prostituted herself with the nations.

When we get to Revelation, we recognize that Revelation is four-hundred-four verses with two-hundred-seventy-eight of those verses alluding to other parts of Scripture, primarily Old Testament passages. We should immediately think, the clue here is given to me by reading the other passages — Israel is in view here. Israel is the prostituted bride.

We have a grand metanarrative in Revelation—John’s version of the Olivet Discourse (cf. Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21)—in which we see a persecuted bride, the seven churches in the epicenter of a Caesar cult. There is also a prostituted bride. Some of the people in those churches, particularly those in Laodicea, were in bed with Rome, which is the Beast. The Roman Emperor wanted to be called “Savior and Lord” in place of Christ. You were supposed to say, “Caesar is Lord and King,” as opposed to saying, “Christ is Lord and King.” That answers the second part of your question. This is not about the twenty-first century. This is about what happened in the first century.

When you read Romans, you intuitively know that Paul is writing to Christians in a first-century epoch. The same thing is true with John in the Book of Revelation, his expanded Olivet Discourse. He is writing to seven churches — he says so in the introduction — seven churches in the epicenter of a Caesar cult and he is telling them to be faithful and fruitful. They are going to suffer for a short time, but their vindication will be an eternal vindication.

The Book of Revelation, then, was not written to us, but it was most certainly written for us. Just as there are prostitutes in Scripture, and Israel prostituted herself with the nations, so too there are those who act the part of prostitutes. They are not true to the Lord Jesus Christ. They give Him a kiss as did Judas, as opposed to saying with the thief on the cross, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Luke 23:42).

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please see the following;

Who or What Is the Great Prostitute of Revelation 17? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Apocalypse When? Why Most End-time Teaching Is Dead Wrong (Hank Hanegraaff)

These bookstore resources are also recommended:

The Apocalypse Code (B1026) by Hank Hanegraaff

Revelation: Four Views: A Parallel Commentary (B793) by Steve Gregg

This blog is adapted from the October 9, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.