We discuss Jahaziel renouncing Christianity, common claims against Christianity, and the urgency of our task.
Here is the article that is discussed: http://www.rapzilla.com/rz/news/38-backstage/12223-legendary-uk-rapper-jahaziel-renounces-christian-faith
Also, Unapologetic: A Guide for Defending Your Christian Convictions is ONLY $2.99 on Kindle currently! Grab it here.
There's a spiritual condition going around these days and I wonder have you and your children been vaccinated?
Apostasy. Apostasy is spreading like a cancer and it's spreading throughout every church and every age group. Now, it effects some churches and denomination more than others and it effects some age groups more than others, but nonetheless, apostasy, or said more simply, the leaving and renouncing of the Christian faith, is spreading. People are renouncing Christianity left and right, some of them are famous, some of them are unknowns. Today we're going to talk about someone, who at least in some circles, like the Christian Rap circle, is famous. His name's Jahaziel and in the UK at least, he is a famous, formerly Christian rapper. Now, before we talk about him and how he has renounced his Christian beliefs, at least the ones he used to hold, I do want to point out that our teenagers are renouncing their Christian beliefs.
Depending on the statistics you look at, between 40 and 78% of students will leave the faith between high school and college. They'll just drop off; they won't be in church anymore. That is disturbing and actually, that's the main reason I got into teaching and speaking on apologetics because I saw this disturbing trend and it horrified me. I wanted to do what I could to help stem the tide of those that are leaving Christianity for some other religion or non-religion, but for what ultimately amounts to idolatry and hostility with God.
But back to Jahaziel, here's what he said. "Now, after 20 years of being vocal about the positives of the Christian faith, I would like to take some time to be equally vocal about the negatives I have found, i.e. Christianity and its controlling dictatorship, its historic blood trail, its plagiarized Bible stories, characters, and concepts, the many human errors of the Bible and its contradictions, the brutal nature of God, its involvement in the slave trade, the Crusades, the inquisitions and the witch hunts, its second-class view of women, its masculinization of God, its emasculation of men, its financial corruption." You get the drift. He says, "Yes, I will go on and I will not be silent as some have asked. My integrity will not allow me to be so passive against a mass corruption. In all love, J." Wow, there is a lot there.
What I would like to point out first is that this is a classic example the 1 John 2:19, which says, "They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us because if they had belonged to us they would have remained with us, but they went out from us to demonstrate that all of them do not belong to us." The clear teaching of Scripture is that we cannot lose our salvation if we have indeed ever attained it at one point. The reason for that is because God secures our salvation. God does the work of salvation. It is not our faith that saves us, it is the object of our faith (God) that saves us. Yes, faith is necessary, but it is ultimately God who saves us and God secures us as Jesus said in John 6. "All that the father gives to me will come to me and the one who comes to me I will never turn away. I will raise him up on the last day." Jesus never loses any that the father has given him. If someone ultimately leaves Christianity, what we have to say, indeed what Scripture tells us, is that they were never actually a Christian before in spite of appearing so.
This could also be another case of what we see in Matthew 7, where Jesus says, "Many will come to me and saying Lord, Lord didn't we prophesi in your name and cast out demons in your name and do all other sorts of things," and he's ultimately going to say, "Depart from me I never knew you."
These were people who honestly believed they were Christians it sounds like. They thought they were "in", but they weren't, they were self-deceived. Indeed that's what sin does, is it leads us to be deceived, to live in deception, to deny the truth either passively or actively in unrighteousness as Paul says. That's the first point: that there are people who will leave the faith, but what we need to understand is that they were never actually of the faith to start with.
The second thing to point out, is there is pretty much nothing in this list of his grievances against Christianity that should have been surprising. There's nothing in here that you can't actually be prepared to give an answer to or that your children should not be prepared to give an answer to. There are many deadly diseases in this world, ones that will either kill or maim and we give our children vaccinations when they're young so they don't get these things. There's been this mass upheaval in recent years about some people who don't want to get vaccinated and others that think that it's irresponsible. I'm not taking a side on that at this time, but my point is: the vast majority of people, Christians included, will vaccinate their children to protect them against the physical diseases and dangers in this world, but here's the question, do we also vaccinate our children against the spiritual disease of apostasy? I don't think we do, at least not as much as we do against the physical diseases and conditions out there, but we should because we, actually, as Christians should understand that we shouldn't fear what can hurt the body, but what can harm the soul. We're in a war of spiritual ideas, and realities, and philosophies. The ideas that we hold about God are the most important things that we could ever hold onto, much more important than any physical thing, much more important than our life or our physical health. As loving Christian brothers and sisters, as ones who care for the people in our families, as those who care for friends, we need to inoculate them. We need to vaccinate them against the spiritual condition of apostasy.
We can't just sit by and say, "Well, that's difficult. I don't want to get involved in that theological endeavor." Here's the thing, if your seventh or eighth or ninth grader can learn biology and geometry, they can learn some theology, they can learn some apologetics. It's easier to understand then chemistry, trust me on that one!
That's what I want to get across to you today, that there's nothing in this list that Jahaziel mentioned that you and your children cannot understand and be prepared to give a rebuttal against. Let's walk through these items that he mentioned and briefly cover them.
He starts out by talking about the “controlling dictatorship of Christianity” and then he mentions “its historic blood trail”, “its plagiarized Bible stories”, on and on and on and on. None of these individual points that he mentions in and of them self mean Christianity is false, in the same way that some Christians want to say, "Well, look at Islam's, look at what it's doing. Some Muslims are raping women, they're killing people, they're advancing their religion by murder and violence, so Islam is false.“ That's a non sequitur, you can't say that the Islamic conception of God or how it spreads its religion is false just because you don't like how it does it. You have to demonstrate that some other way, in the same way Jahaziel isn't demonstrating that Christianity is false by this list of grievances he points out.
Now, many of these things are wrong or misunderstood about Christianity, but nonetheless, even if they were true that doesn't mean that Christianity is false. Something isn't false just because you don't like it. If you go to the doctor and the doctor says you have cancer, just because you don't like it that doesn't mean you're not sick. Now, maybe you get a second opinion, but nonetheless, your dislike of something doesn't mean it's not true. That's the first point here.
He mentions its historic blood trail and maybe he's thinking of things like the slave trade, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch hunts. Quite a few of these are greatly overblown, but still, we shouldn't judge a religion and its truth claims (its claims about God or Jesus or the cross or that type of thing) based on the actions of its heretics, based on those who got it wrong.
If you try to say that Christianity is either true or false based on how I, Brian Seagraves, live my life, you're setting yourself up for not coming to a good conclusion. I am not the perfect reflection of the truthfulness of Christianity. No Christian is. No group of Christians are. We can't judge a religion based on how the people, often times the heretics of that religion act. That's a very brief way to address the slave trades, the Crusades, the Inquisition, and the witch hunts. It's also worth pointing out that Christians have come to condemn most all of that. If Christianity is self-correcting, it's realized that it's done some things wrong in the past, why would we reject it now? I think that's a bad reason to. He also mentions the plagiarized Bible stories, characters, and concepts of the Bible. That's really easy to just toss out there, but my question would be, if I were dialoguing with Jahaziel about this, "Which ones? Which Bible stories are plagiarized? Which characters? Which concepts?" Let's just say that the Bible actually does include some concepts, some moral concepts that were written down by others before they were written in Scripture. What does that mean? Does that mean they're not true? No, see the Christian understanding of truth is that all truth is God's truth. Things are true because God is who he is.
In Philippians 2, we're told that Jesus holds all things together. That would include truth claims together, not just the physical things, but all things find their subsistence in him. There is truth outside of the Bible. The Bible is not the only source of truth. The Bible is the highest authority, but that doesn't mean it's the only source of truth. It's also worth pointing out that there were oral traditions where perhaps God spoke through a prophet and the things were spread and they got written down by non-Christians, non-Jews at the time let's say, and then later were incorporated into the Jewish or the Christian canon of documents. That doesn't mean that they're false. As for the “The plagiarized Bible stories, characters, concepts”, I would want to dialogue with him and find out what exactly he's talking about. Let's say parts of the Bible are plagiarized, I don't think they are in the way he means that, but what does that mean? Does that mean Jesus didn't die on the cross? Does that mean man isn't accountable to God? No, it doesn't mean any of that.
He says that there are many human errors in the Bible and many contradictions. Where? Show me one. Let's just say, once again, for the sake of argument, though I don't think it's true, that there are those types of things, what does that say about the resurrection of Jesus? We can make a great argument for the resurrection of Jesus, which is the central claim of Christianity and toss out the majority of the Bible. These little, what seem to be powerful grenades that he's tossing out here like, "I reject Christianity because of the many human errors of the Bible at its contradictions." Those seem powerful, but when we examine them, they're really not. Often times when you're in a conversation with someone and you have the benefit of dialoguing with them and asking them questions and they say that type of thing, you can ask, "What's an example of that? Could you show me some, and how do you know they're false?" Many times people will not be able to even begin to give you an answer.
He mentions “the Bibles second-class view of women.” This doesn't mean Christianity is false. I don't actually think it has a second-class view of women, I think it gets that rap today. What it does say is that men and women have different roles, different responsibilities, but both are created in the image of God, we read in Genesis 1:26-27. In the very image of God! That's what gives them their equal worth, their equal dignity, but they do have different roles. It's also the same in the Trinity. Christians believe and the Bible teaches that God is three persons in one being, but while Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the father are equal in terms of their dignity, and their worth, and their power, and their glory, they report to each other differently. Jesus does the will of the father. The father and the Son send the spirit. So, there's a hierarchy in the Trinity too, in the same way that in the marriage relationship and in the church there's a hierarchy, but that doesn't mean someone's more important than someone else. This is a classic misunderstanding of the view of women.
Also, he cites “the masculinization of God” as a reason that he's rejecting Christianity, he sees this as a problem. The Bible is God's revelation to man and if God chose to reveal himself and explain himself in masculine terms, then who are we to say that that's not how He should be understood? Once again, let's say that this is indeed how God chose to reveal himself, does that mean it's not true? I think not. What most all of these, once again, are an example of is him saying, "I don't like it, therefore it's not true." That is a horrible way to determine the truthfulness of anything in the world.
You wouldn't say, "I don't like that I can't turn right on red here, so that means I can turn right on red. It's not true because I don't like it." You wouldn't say that. Only when it comes to religious areas do people try to figure out what's true in terms of what they like and what their preferences are, but God either exists or he doesn't, in the same way that George Washington either existed or he didn't. It's the same type of thing, but our preference does not enter into it.
In the last one of his statements I'll address, he says, "The brutal nature of God," and I'm guessing he's referring to the Canaanites, where God ordered the destruction of an entire nation of people. We've talked about that before. We've talked about many of these different accusations against Christianity before, but what's of note about that one is if God does exist and he's the creator of life then it's his to do with as he pleases. Our discomfort with something just doesn't mean that it disproves it. I don't like part of hell, does that mean hell suddenly doesn't exist? No.
There's just sloppy thinking all the way through this, but the thing to point out is while we've only spent a brief time on each one of these claims, there's nothing revolutionary in here. There's nothing that our students should not be able to defend against, that parents should not be teaching their children how to defend against.
Proverbs 22:6 says, "Train up a child in the way he should go and when he's old he won't turn from it." The children that grow up in the church, they are turning. They are turning away from their faith, between 40 and 80% about, are turning away from their faith. Parents, teachers, brothers and sisters in Christ, let's take this seriously. It shouldn't just make news when Jahaziel renounces Christianity and commits apostasy. It's just as important when the 18-year-old heads off to college and says, "That Christianity stuff, that's a bunch of bunk. I'm not going to go to church. I'm not going to commit my life to that, it makes no sense." That's avoidable, it doesn't have to be that way.
We can help stop that. We can help stem the tide of those that are leaving Christianity. It's not the leaving of a religion that's the problem, it's the leaving of the creator God, who ultimately will hold us to account, that is the problem. Because it's not just either you're for God or your neutral. You’re for God or you're an idolater. We should not be comfortable with anyone having hostility between them and God. First and foremost because we want people to come to worship God because he's worthy of it and secondly because we care about our brothers and sisters in Christ, the other people in the world. We should take this seriously and not just when it makes headline news in a Christian magazine because the person used to be a Christian musician. It should be important to us even if it's the second grader or the 20-year-old.
The last thing I'll leave you with is perhaps the most important and commonly known verse when it comes to talking about apologetics, 1 Peter 3:15, "Always be prepared to give an answer for the hope you possess." If that's a biblical mandate, which it is (that's an imperative there, it's something we're supposed to be able to do), then we should be able to evaluate ourselves on that claim. "Am I prepared to give answers for the types of claims that our culture is throwing at Christians today?" Yes or no? If no, why not? That doesn't mean you're going to be able to answer everything. I can't answer everything. No one can answer everything, but am I more prepared than I used to be? Hopefully. Are our children more prepared than they used to be? Hopefully, and we can evaluate yourself.
I hope this doesn't come across preachy to you, I really do. I take this very seriously. I don't have children yet, and I understand that I'm talking to many of you who do have children and I just want you to understand that I take preparing your children, when I have that ability, seriously, and I know you do too. I hope this is an area where we can all commit to improving, to doing better, to taking it more seriously, to becoming more equipped ourselves so that we can more equip our children and the children in the church. Because we don't want them to be the ones that are talked about in 1st John that go out from us because they were never really of us to start with.
Thank you for joining me for what is, in some ways, a more serious Unapologetic, but a very important one. As you start out this new year, make a commitment to yourself, make a commitment to God, and make a commitment for your family to become more equipped to defend the central truths of Christianity and begin to worship more strongly in spirit and in truth.