Market, Money, Time and Faith Porn Fiction

I am in the process of writing a very fun sci-fi suspense trilogy. I call it Pogland. Fun and challenging and time-consuming (which is why I’ve been off of social media). 

If you know me, you know I have some strong views on the role theology needs to play in fiction. I came across a Christian sci-fi/fantasy: “How to write and be published” video this morning which at first I was thrilled about, but soon found to be very disturbing.

I was flabbergasted! What a role money plays in the Christian publishing industry!

Now I understand not everyone can write just to write, or write what needs to be available. Or publish just any book. Publishing comes down to the bottom line, profit.

On a secular forum board recently a writer posted that they were nervous about having to write a sex scene for the very first time. Instead of just saying nothing, I replied. I suggested that he didn’t actually need to bend to the bandwagon. If he’d never felt the need to write such a scene before, he could still write an excellent book without it. And even appeal to a larger audience because he didn’t.

As a Christian, by my comment I meant so much more. But secular fiction is moved by secular values. And he wants to write what sells.

It’s the same for “Christian” fiction. Christian fiction is moved by Christian dysfunctions.

Now it might be true that dysfunctional marriages lead Christian women to escape into “Christian” romantic fiction. But that’s not always the case. Strong Christians read and write Christian romance novels.

Francine Rivers and Redeeming Love is the epitome of Christian faith fiction. I am also especially appreciative of authors Elizabeth Maddrey and Chautona Havig‘s real-life Christianity in the context of their romance stories.

But theirs is not the common denominator in Christian fiction. The common denominator is a dummied-down nominal Christianity. That’s where the money is.

  • For people who don’t want to grow in their faith through their time in fiction.
  • For people who don’t want to be challenged in their free time.
  • For people who want only to be entertained.

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Dysfunctional faith leads people to escape into borderline fiction.

Dysfunctional faith will earn a writer money. Take Love Comes Softly as an example. It’s a great series, but it’s great in a “it’s not dirty” kind of way. It’s wholesome. But is that what we should be doing? Is that ALL we should be doing? 

Just writing Little House on the Prairie Christianity? Wholesome fiction, get-away, beach-reads? Escaping from this world and its duties fiction? 

Case in point, alcohol is a gift from God.

The book of Proverbs and the gospels show us that wine is a gift for man to enable them to get a buzz, a bit of euphoria. That buzz helps us get through the low times of life, through the busy, hectic times of life. I live in Europe where the view on alcohol is not burdened by the judgmentalism of the Prohibition movement.

But while alcohol is a gift from God, we see as early as Noah’s time, that getting drunk is shameful. Too much alcohol is a sin. Elders and deacons and their wives are measured by this. And their standards are our standards. Not just “if” you want to be in leadership, their standards are the bare-minimum for the mature faith.

So too much alcohol–too much of this world–is a sin. Just as too much reading or too much entertainment is a sin. If it produces nothing but entertainment, it’s overdosing on buzz.

Do I have a Bible verse to back up this rant?

Yes. “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin” (James 4:17).

Sins of omission.

How is reading frivolous wholesome fiction a sin of omission?

Because you have not used those hours of your life for the betterment of your relationship with God, or the betterment of the world.

The two greatest commandments, upon which the Law and the Prophets rest

It’s like sleeping your life away, and while sleep is necessary, and we can even say rest is necessary, oversleeping is a waste of the most precious resource we have: Time.

On the interview I mentioned earlier, the publisher said they are not looking for books with overt Christian message, but only those with a hidden Christian message. They intend to be cross-over books. As an example, she says, read any of Christ’s parables.

We don’t want Christian words, she says, we don’t want Christian messages. No conversions. No preaching. We want…good wins over evil, and be kind to others. Oh, and werewolves and vampires are okay, as long as they are the bad guys.

I couldn’t watch the rest of the interview.

I asked my husband, why is it that they want books that do not grow the reader in their faith through fiction? Why do they want hidden faith, covert messages?

Money, he said. That’s where the money is. It’s how the market of Christian fiction has to function.

And so we come to the faith porn industry. To make money, Christians sell out message for money.

Well I suggest that when Christianity loses its message, it ceases to be Christianity. “Authors have to make a living,” they may say. So they prostitute the name of Christ, and promote a lie.

When the message is traded out for things that are universally acceptable, like “good wins over evil,” it takes the beautiful name of Christ and drags it into the dregs of common-ism. It makes light of the cross. It should cease to use the name of Christ in its label and should be honest and upfront. It is moralistic worldly wisdom. Humanism.

To use the parables of Christ as an example of how to hide the message forgets the very cut-throat effect of his parables.

  • I am the good shepherd, read the message: “I myself am Yahweh of Ezekiel 34!” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.
  • A certain man built his house on sand, another on rock, read the message: “My words are equal to the entire Law and the Prophets, if you reject me you reject God himself.” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.
  • The prodigal son looked at the pigs around him and fled home, read the message: “You religious leaders have no compassion for the lost.” This parable sorted people into two groups: lovers and haters.

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The parables are not happy wholesome secret messages. They are cut-throat. They divide between self-righteous God-haters and trembling beggars kneeling before God. Separation filters, each of them. Sorting people. Left and right, like sheep and goats.

Yes, we need more Christian science fiction and fantasy. But not by circumcising the gospel out of it.

I’m not saying I’m the best author who knows how to do this perfectly. I am not. I tried with Trunk of Scrolls, and for what it is I think my story’s beautiful.

But I have a vision, “I have a dream,” you could say, that Christian fiction would be a way for Christians to use their down time to be entertained into new growth in their faith. New avenues they hadn’t considered. New insights into the beauty of Christ.

I know it’s not only me who talks with others about these things. Bringing Heaven’s eternal conversations into the here-and-now.

I know what it’s like to build faith in someone face to face. Can’t we make the Christian fiction industry into THAT kind of thing?

So I’m starting a list of writers whose works are not ashamed of the Christian message and promoting true Christ-loving life. Please post the names of this caliber of author below along with titles you recommend, and add a blurb about why you think this qualifies. 

Thanks! 

–Darlene


“I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it till now…Come further up, come further in!” Jewel the Unicorn in C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle

Heartache, Broken People

Mental problems are probably the most feared type of issue Christians face. Yes, we’re afraid of hunger and pain. But God will provide and God will comfort, and eventually these kinds of sufferings will be solved. But problems like we see in Broken Pieces are the ones nobody would choose. It doesn’t easily fit into our understanding of the victorious Christian life. Simonetta Carr’s Christian biographies for young readers first brought me into her reading circle. But this book, a cross-section of her personal life, brought me into her life.

The story is a life crisis with the following characters 1) a teenage Christian young man who comes down with sudden schizophrenia his first months at college, 2) his Christian mom and dad who want to honor God with every breath as they pursue every means of help for their son 3) a group of elders at a reformed Church who likewise have to balance the young man’s sinful choices with his mental circumstances. The third element was especially impactful for me.

As a pastor’s wife, I’ve seen my share of people with mental problems come in and out of the church door.  In our experience, people with this disease have hunted us down, stalked us, and threatened us, and one even killed the girl who broke up with him. Their parents have come to us and either told us to leave them alone “this is not a real conversion,” or have warned us, or have blessed our efforts to make their son feel accepted.

It is never easy to know how to protect the flock while loving the sick person—especially one who refuses to take his medication—which is very common. But compassion is difficult to muster when faced with the threats.

This book should be read by every man who desires to pastor a church and by everyone who desires to be a functioning part of their church. We need to understand in order to help. In order for the church to help both them and their families, we need to see it “happening” from inside a Christian family. This is what Simonetta Carr is able to do in her present-tense narrative.

We see that life is made of those little faith-spun choices, where we aren’t sure if we’re doing the right thing but we trust in the sovereignty of God who is bigger than our mistakes. We see that God has given us our “burden that is not too much to bear” so that we can prove faithful in that. Simonetta Carr’s example of a faith-driven life is inspirational, empowering, and reassuring. We’re all tromping down this same path in a broken heartache world.

 Because mental issues are so fearsome, it seems people with these sicknesses are pushed away for “someone else” to deal with.

Thankfully, medication and counseling can help. The last chapters of her book deal with practical helps for those struggling with these issues. But since laws allow for autonomy of people over 18, and 18 is the age when this disease begins to hit, often the sick person is not enabled to will themselves toward healing.

While there is no hard and fast rule or steps to fix it that can be presented to church leaders, this book is a helpful model of how to face this as a church body. Reformed faith in practice.

What is this thing called schizophrenia, nobody knows. But what is a Christian to do? How can a Christian BE schizophrenic? And how can the church contribute to healing, both for the sick person and for his or her family? These are the questions that are analyzed in this book.

Broken Pieces is a story, but it’s more than a story. It’s is A CASE STUDY OF FAITH IN THE TRENCHES, of the Church in the trenches of this horribly broken world.

Please read this book. There are many families hiding their “shameful” struggles with mental illness who need the support of Christ-followers who care enough to face the bias and fear. Once you read this book, you will gain compassion for them, for what they’re going through. You can be the one that makes a difference in their battlefield of the mind.

Here’s a link for how to order your copy from the publisher today. I just saw, it’s $10 preorder!

Preorder information: CBD Preorder,Amazon Preorder

Use the Rainbow, Please!

In the name of one thing, they hang a banner declaring the character of God, his BEAUTIFUL, AMAZING, PATIENT LOVE.

The problem with society’s use of the Rainbow today is the ironic REAL DECLARATION they unknowingly make.

If you fly the flag, you preach the Bible to all God’s faithful people. You are reminding us to pray for you, and hope for you, and to hope for us all.

“And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.” Gen 9:12-13

The Rainbow is a Promise that He Will Be Patient with Us.

Even when society becomes as those in the days of Noah, as Christ warned, where “every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time” Gen 6:5–even then, God will be patient. As Saint Peter said:

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” 2 Peter 3:9

With every use of these beautiful colors, the LGBT community is reminding the rest of us that God is patient and loving, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. You say nothing else.

Patience Means Waiting for Change.

Use the flag, dear friends, declare your hatred of him-whom-you-do-not-know, because it makes us love you even more. It makes us care even more to tell you what the Rainbow really means for you. 

He’s giving you a chance. 

He’s giving you time.

But don’t waste your time, don’t waste this chance.

The Rainbow Belongs to the Covenant Community

It belongs to those whose names are in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It always has. It’s his Rainbow we will see for eternity, around the Throne in Heaven. 

You have rightly taken it, for in it, the beautiful sovereign God has given his people another reminder. A banner of hope. He will not yet sweep his punishment on this world. Not until the last preChristian repents, as Peter shows. Your flag is a modern-day miracle for us. From God. To remind us.

Use the Flag

Use the flag. And know, you declare with those lovely colors “GOD IS PATIENT WITH ME. GOD GIVES ME LIFE. GOD IS GIVING ME TIME TO REPENT.”

Use the flag. But with each flutter, remember your moments are ticking down. You are mortal and have the wonderfully long but painfully short life to figure this Rainbow out.

The first half of the Rainbow promise was that God would not flood the earth again. Peter continues with the second half of the Rainbow promise:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation. 2 Peter 3:10-15

What Kind of People Ought We to Be?

We all have these desires waging war in us to do this thing or that. These desires all feel natural. But natural does not by nature mean good. 

One sin is not worse than any other. What matters is that we see it as sin. Jesus loved sinners, but not the sin. He called sin sin, and even turned away those who had eager hearts but were not willing to let go of the smallest of sins.

“Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

Look at the things on this list. Nobody is exempt:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor IDOLATERS, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the GREEDY, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6

We are all greedy, holding on to our “PRECIOUS” like Gollum. We are all idolaters, worshipping ourselves narcissistically rather than worshipping God. None of us qualify to enter the Kingdom of God unless we call sin sin and look to the cross of Christ as our only escape from that dreadful day.

You May Hate Me for What I Say.

You may do all sorts of things against me because the beautiful Rainbow flag you use speaks to me of God’s great promises for the world.

But you won’t stop the direction my mind goes when I see the flag. It is etched into my soul. The Rainbow is God’s signature on a contract. God is patient, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.

Thank you for reminding me!

(video) Big Questions 2: What Has God Written on the Wall?

This world is filled with Big Questions.

People who know their God can understand the Big Questions, like Daniel could read the Writing on the Wall: “Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin.” God wrote two books. Both books give the same message, both together answer all of the Big Questions of life.

–Video 2 in the Writing on the Wall (Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin) series, unlocking the Big Questions

–How can we know God? If the Bible is a self-revelation of God to man, what does he say about himself through the Bible? Why do some people hate the God of the Bible, and others adore him?

We will investigate in this video series thematic lines running through the Bible. We will learn to highlight the amazing continuity of these 10 ideas God is conveying to us. Since the goal of reading the Bible is knowing God and since this is why he gave us a book, knowing who he is and his purpose and plan for the world is foundational.

This second video introduces the Big Questions in light of God’s 10 strand “rainbow-scaffold” of self-revelation in the Bible.

SUBSCRIBE to my Youtube channel today. Don’t miss any episodes.

Christian Dragons & Fairies & Droids, Oh My!

Magical Creativity in Christian Fiction

A Christian Approach to Alternate Reality Stories


Recently, I was asked on Quora about Christian use of magic and alternate reality in fiction. After thinking about it for a while, I wrote to a guru on the topic, Steve Laube.

Steve began Enclave Publishing to build credibility for a uniquely Christian spin to the popular but strikingly non-Christian realm of speculative fiction.

“Enclave is a place where authors and fans of Christian Fantasy and Christian Science Fiction can come together and then go out and make a difference through worlds of words. Our stories can seem strange but underneath they contain powerful expressions of Redemption, Truth, and Hope.” (Enclave’s vision)

In a series of emails this spring, I was able to glean from Steve an insightful perspective on using speculative worlds in Christian fiction.

With his permission, I have pulled together his answers here. I hope his words can encourage and inspire other Christian writers in their pursuit of promoting intelligent Christianity in the medium of fantasy, sci-fi and speculative fiction.


Steve, I would really appreciate hearing your perspective on Christianity and fantasy, sci-fi and dystopian fiction. I notice you are specific that the books you publish are “Christian.”

Do you have a list of guidelines you use or do you “wing it” and take each story in its own world? In other words, how do you make sure you are honoring God in what you are promoting/publishing when it comes to alternate realities, be it sci-fi or fantasy or dystopia?

  • What is the principle you use as you assess novels for legitimacy firstly as a representation of Christianity and secondly in the Christian fiction market?

You’ve asked a loaded question, to be sure. It is one we’ve worked through for a long time.

I’m often asked “What makes Enclave books Christian? After all you have a book (Knife) where the main character is a Fairy!”

My answer is “The author does.” Our authors write out of a deep Christian worldview.


I think most people would agree that “if there is a creator God” referred to in a story, it would be heretical to change him and his ways.

So Tolkien, for example, changed the laws of his universe so he had NO God referred to. It became generic good vs evil.

Lewis, on the other hand, had Aslan (and the Emperor over the Seas) whose character matched the biblical God though with different manifestation.

  • So how does Enclave approach the use of God in an alternate reality?

The challenge with science fiction and fantasy is that Jesus simply does not “show up” in natural conversations. However, the characters wrestle with faith (the Fairy worships “The Great Gardener” for example) in creative situations. It is how they redeem those situations that point to our Faith as real and life-changing.

Kathy Tyers’ FIREBIRD series, for example is set in a universe where Jesus has not yet come the first time, and yet humanity has spread through the stars. There is a planet where a people live who believe that a Messiah will come through the line and lineage of their king. So, how can that be a Christian novel when there hasn’t been a Jesus yet? The author does it though the power of her story telling and exploring how God reveals Himself. (Book five is the Messiah novel, in case you are interested.)

See our interview with R.J. Anderson, the author of Knife.


In your interview, RJ mentions that Christian publishers were initially reluctant to publish her Christian “fairy” story. Even your name Enclave hints to the friction from within and without.

It seems that up to this century Christians have been afraid to touch the fantastical genres. Yet you have taken this on as a personal project. I’m sure most believers are afraid of challenging the prohibition of magic in Scripture, so of course this is probably the most critical subject.

  • How do you weigh the use of magic in light of God’s absolute prohibition of this in Scripture?

I’ve been involved in this type of storytelling in some form or fashion for over 20 years. I’m quite comfortable with the conversation. In Fantasy there is the device of “magic” in many forms. In Sharon Hinck‘s Deliverer series it is found in Music. In Gillian Bronte Adams‘ series it is in the power of Song. In Lindsey Franklin‘s book, Story Peddler, it is in the power of story telling.

You mention that the Bible prohibits magic. That is a simple way to put it, but the context of each prohibition needs to be reviewed. Below is the text of an article from Marshall Shelley, a conservative leader/writer who has been a part of Christianity Today magazine for a long time. It may help clarify a balanced approach to the subject.

//Sorcery is condemned in the Bible (Leviticus 19:26), but I don’t believe God is against card tricks, illusions, special effects, or the other elements of a magician’s show. I also don’t think there’s anything wrong with reading fictional fantasy stories about boys and girls with superpowers or magic wands (yeah, you know who I mean). After all, if you’re going to avoid all depictions of magic, you’ll have to avoid the Bible because it includes stories about people who practiced magic and sorcery. And in the Bible, not all magicians are viewed as evil.

Remember the three wise men of the Christmas story who brought gifts to baby Jesus? They were Magi. Historically, Magi weren’t known for pulling rabbits out of hats, but they were a part of a long line of consultants to kings who worshiped various gods, practiced the occult, studied the stars, foretold the future, interpreted dreams, and probably experimented with spells, potions and elixirs.

Then around 600 B.C., the Old Testament prophet Daniel was put in charge of the Magi of Babylon (Daniel 2:48). That’s when there was a noticeable shift in how the Magi of Babylon worked. They operated more like a priestly order, became monotheistic (worshiped one God), and even sacrificed animals for their sin. Daniel no doubt turned them to depend upon God for their powers.

So while sorcery is condemned by the Bible, not all the magicians in the Bible are “bad guys.” The difference? The three wise men bowed before Jesus, and Daniel was clear that he could interpret dreams by God’s power, not his.

What the Bible warns against is interacting with powers of the spirit world without God being a part of it.

God outright forbids worshiping other deities (goddess worship, animism), using divination (fortune-telling, psychics, tarot cards, numerology), interpreting omens (astrology, horoscopes), consulting mediums (channeling spirits, contacting the dead), and practicing witchcraft (spell-casting, shamanism).

The Bible wouldn’t warn against these things (Deuteronomy 18:10) if their dangers weren’t real. So what’s wrong with them? Two things.

First, contacting evil spirits places us under the influence of the Evil One. Remember, Lucifer is known as “the father of lies.” This means he usually makes things look harmless or fun—for a while. And fortune-telling, curses and horoscopes can seem harmless at first. But the longer we dabble in Lucifer’s laboratory, the more likely it will affect our faith and thinking.

Second, a deeper danger is your motivation for dabbling in such things. Doing magic tricks like “the disappearing coin” may be just a fun way to entertain your friends, but people who get into real sorcery do it to exercise power over other people, to influence them to do something they wouldn’t do otherwise, or to get knowledge that isn’t humanly available.

This is what God forbids. In fact, the Bible tells about one sorcerer named Simon, who was willing to pay cash to receive the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:9-24). But the apostle Peter saw through to his motivation, and harshly condemned him for trying to use the good side of the spirit world to gain control over others.

Only God has the right to enter another person’s heart and mind and soul. When a person tries to do that, it’s another way of trying to become like God, which is the sin that got Lucifer kicked out of heaven in the first place.// Marshall Shelley

His best quote is this “What the Bible warns against is interacting with powers of the spirit world without God being a part of it.Therefore I have no problem depicting magic in our novels. If it is used for evil we make that crystal clear (like the white witch in Narnia). If it is for good (like Aslan in Narnia) that is crystal clear.

I did a youtube video which explains it in a different way: 



Two of my favorite quotes from your Youtube video say:

“I happen to believe that science fiction and fantasy is the one genre of all genres in fiction that reflect the creativity of God.”

and

Fairies, animals that talk, time travel, using “things of that nature is one of the most incredible opportunities for those who write science fiction and fantasy to express the creativity of God.”

  • Which writers do you think express this creativity especially well?

As a literary agent I have the privilege of representing some of the finest authors in the Christian market who write this type of book, some of whom also now write for Enclave. Check out Lisa Bergren, Chuck Black, Patrick Carr, Ronie Kendig, Kathy Tyers, Sharon Hinck, Gillian Bronte Adams, Morgan Busse, Nadine Brandes,Karen Hancock, etc.

Thank you to Steve Laube for his very helpful and inspirational answers. We would love to hear your comments below.

Grace & Peace to You: Early Christian Views on War & Peace


• “I serve Jesus Christ the eternal King. I will no longer serve your emperors. It is not right for a Christian to serve the armies of this world.” ~ Marcellus the Centurion, 298AD, spoken as he gave up his post in the army of Emperor Diocletian because of his faith.

• “We ourselves were well conversant with war, murder and everything evil, but all of us throughout the whole wide earth have traded in our weapons of war. We have exchanged our swords for plowshares, our spears for farm tools…now we cultivate the fear of God, justice, kindness, faith, and the expectation of the future given us through the Crucified One….The more we are persecuted and martyred, the more do others in ever increasing numbers become believers.”  ~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)

• “Murder, considered a crime when people commit it singly, is transformed into a virtue when they do it en masse.”
~ St. Cyprian (200AD – 258AD)

• “We who formerly hated and murdered one another now live together and share the same table. We pray for our enemies and try to win those who hate us.”
~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)

• “It is absolutely forbidden to repay evil with evil.”~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD

• “To those who ask us whence we have come or whom we have for a leader, we say that we have come in accordance with the counsels of Jesus to cut down our warlike and arrogant swords of argument into ploughshares, and we convert into sickles the spears we formerly used in fighting. For we no longer take ‘sword against a nation,’ nor do we learn ‘any more to make war,’ having become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader, instead of following the ancestral customs in which we were strangers to the covenants.”
~ Origen (185AD – 254AD)

• “Hitherto I have served you as a soldier; allow me now to become a soldier to God. Let the man who is to serve you receive your donative. I am a soldier of Christ; it is not permissible for me to fight.” ~ Martin of Tours (315AD – 397AD)

• “Christians, instead of arming themselves with swords, extend their hands in prayer.”
~ Athanasius of Alexandria (293AD – 373AD)

• The Christian poor are “an army without weapons, without war, without bloodshed, without anger, without defilement.” ~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)

• “I do not wish to be a ruler. I do not strive for wealth. I refuse offices connected with military command.” ~ Tatian of Assyria (died around 185AD)

plowshares2

• “Above all Christians are not allowed to correct by violence sinful wrongdoings.”
~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)

• “The Christian does not hurt even his enemy.”~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

• “None of us offers resistance when he is seized, or avenges himself for your unjust violence, although our people are numerous and plentiful…it is not lawful for us to hate, and so we please God more when we render no requital for injury…we repay your hatred with kindness.”
~ St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (died 258AD)

• “We Christians are a peaceful race…for it is not in war, but in peace, that we are trained.”
~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)

• “Only without the sword can the Christian wage war: the Lord has abolished the sword.” ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

• “You cannot demand military service of Christians any more than you can of priests. We do not go forth as soldiers with the Emperor even if he demands this.”
~ Origen (185AD – 254AD)

• “We who formerly treasured money and possessions more than anything else now hand over everything we have to a treasury for all and share it with everyone who needs it. We who formerly hated and murdered one another now live together and share the same table. We pray for our enemies and try to win those who hate us.”
~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)

• “For what war should we not be fit and eager, even though unequal in numbers, we who are so willing to be slaughtered—if, according to that discipline of ours, it was not more lawful to be slain than to slay?”~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

• “The professions and trades of those who are going to be accepted into the community must be examined. The nature and type of each must be established… brothel, sculptors of idols, charioteer, athlete, gladiator…give it up or be rejected. A military constable must be forbidden to kill, neither may he swear; if he is not willing to follow these instructions, he must be rejected. A proconsul or magistrate who wears the purple and governs by the sword shall give it up or be rejected. Anyone taking or already baptized who wants to become a soldier shall be sent away, for he has despised God.”
~ Hippolytus (170AD – 236AD)

• “Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier.” ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

• Christians “love all people, and are persecuted by all;…they are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and are respectful.”~ Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus (late 2nd Century)

• “Say to those that hate and curse you, You are our brothers!” ~ Theophilus of Antioch (died around 185AD)

• “For the Gentiles, hearing from our mouth the words of God, are impressed by their beauty and greatness: then, learning that our works are not worthy of the things we say, they turn to railing, saying that it is some deceitful tale. For when they hear from us that God says: ‘No thanks will be due to you, if ye love only those who love you; but thanks will be due to you, if ye love your enemies and those that hate you’—when they hear this, they are impressed by the overplus of goodness: but when they see that we do not love, not only those who hate us, but even those who love us, they laugh at us, and the Name is blasphemed.”
~ The 2nd Epistle of Clement (140-160AD)

• “Shall it be held lawful to make an occupation of the sword, when the Lord proclaims that he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword? And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law?”
~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

• “It is the Christians, O Emperor, who have sought and found the truth, for they acknowledge God…. They show love to their neighbors. They do not do to another what they would not wish to have done to themselves. They speak gently to those who oppress them, and in this way they make them their friends. It has become their passion to do good to their enemies…. This, O Emperor, is the rule of life of the Christians, and this is their manner of life.”
~ Aristides (written around 137AD)

• “We Christians cannot endure to see a man being put to death, even justly.”~ Athenagoras (133AD – 190AD)

• “Learn about the incorruptible King, and know his heroes who never inflict slaughter on the peoples.” ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

• “Christians appeal to those who wrong them and make them friendly to themselves; they are eager to do good to their enemies; they are mild and conciliatory.”
~ Aristides of Athens (2nd Century)

• “I recognize no empire of this present age.” ~ Speratus (martyred 180AD)

• “For when God forbids us to kill, he not only prohibits us from open violence, which is not even allowed by the public laws, but he warns us against the commission of those beings which are esteemed lawful among men….Therefore, with regard to this precept of God, there ought to be no exception at all, but that it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred animal.” ~ Lactantius, instructor of Constantine’s son (240AD – 320AD)

• “Shall we carry a flag? It is a rival to Christ.” ~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

• “I am a Christian. He who answers thus has declared everything at once—his country, profession, family; the believer belongs to no city on earth but to the heavenly Jerusalem.” ~ St. John Chrysostom (347AD – 407AD)

• “If anyone be a soldier or in authority, let him be taught not to oppress or to kill or to rob, or to be angry or to rage and afflict anyone. But let those rations suffice him which are given to him. But if they wish to be baptized in the Lord, let them cease from military service or from the [post of] authority, and if not let them not be received. Let a catechumen or a believer of the people, if he desire to be a soldier, either cease from his intention, or if not let him be rejected. For he hath despised God by his thought, and leaving the things of the Spirit, he hath perfected himself in the flesh and hath treated the faith with contempt.” ~ The Testament of Our Lord (4th or 5th Century AD document)

• “We have become sons of peace for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader.” ~ Origen (185AD – 254AD)

• “If you enroll as one of God’s people, then heaven is your country and God your lawgiver.” ~ Clement of Alexandria (150AD – 214AD)

• “God called Abraham and commanded him to go out from the country where he was living. With this call God has roused us all, and now we have left the state. We have renounced all the things the world offers…. The gods of the nations are demons.”
~ Justin the Martyr (100AD – 165AD)

• “But now inquiry is being made concerning these issues. First, can any believer enlist in the military? Second, can any soldier, even those of the rank and file or lesser grades who neither engage in pagan sacrifices nor capital punishment, be admitted into the church? No on both counts—for there is no agreement between the divine sacrament and the human sacrament, the standard of Christ and the standard of the devil, the camp of light and the camp of darkness. One soul cannot serve two masters—God and Caesar…But how will a Christian engage in war (indeed, how will a Christian even engage in military service during peacetime) without the sword, which the Lord has taken away?”
~ Tertullian (160AD – 220AD)

• “This is the way of life: first, thou shalt love the God who made thee, secondly, thy neighbor as thyself: and all things whatsoever thou wouldest not should happen to thee, do not thou to another. The teaching of these words is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast on behalf of those who persecute you: for what thanks will be due to you, if ye love only those who love you? Do not the Gentiles also do the same? But love ye those who hate you, and ye shall not have an enemy.”
~ The Didache, also known as The Teachings of the 12 Apostles, is an early Christian document written between 80AD – 90AD.

 

Sources:
40 Early Church Quotes

Quotes: The Early Church on War and Violence

Research on Pacifism in the Ancient Church

Athiest Claims to See Hell

Can a changed life provide evidence that
a proported event has happened?

In the case below, this college professor on his death-bed experiences some of the pains of what he says was hell.  The change in his life shows that SOMETHING happened. What would a scientist say to these claims? How would the scientist explain this experience?

Part One

Part Two

It’s science week. How do we approach this from a scientific perspective? A scientist sets up the observation. Looks at the evidence. Considers the laws at work, and looks for the best explanation. Then the scientist tests their theory.

Looking at the Evidence

We have watched the videos. The man says he was an athiest. He got sick and died/almost died. During this time he had a horrifying experience which he called hell. His experience in “hell” changed when he called out,

“Jesus, please help me!”  

Then positive things happened, resulting in his coming back to this life and being healed by the doctors.

Considering the Laws at Work
& Looking for the Best Explanation

This is an issue in the mental-psychological realm

Either he saw something. (Truth-teller)

Or thought he saw something. (Self-deceived/delusional)

Or did not see anything, but said he saw something. (Liar)

From the change in his life we can probably rule out the Liar option, since many years passed between the experience and the recording, yet he did not change his story. It appears he obviously believes in his own story. So either he is delusional or telling the truth.

How can science help us know if he is telling the truth or not? Do we need to determine our boundaries?

Reductive Naturalism

…would say that the answer has to lie in the physical world. It could not be true that he experienced something in the supernatural. It was in his mind, and something he saw flipped his view of reality. So he would be delusional, somehow. They would run a battery of tests to find out what kind of psychological problems he has. Simple.

A Theistic Explanation

…would not automatically reduce the possibilities to physical world, so the option of super-nature is still on the table. He might have seen something, and that something might be supernatural.

Testing the Theory

How can we test if he is telling the truth about what he said?

We could test for delusional psychology. Test how he interacts outside of this recording. Is his lifestyle consistent with his profession of faith in God? (Or does he speak on contrary topics elsewhere, for example). We’d need to check his life. To see if he is a habitual liar, or if his actions reflect someone who is not in touch with reality.

If his lifestyle is consistent with his profession of faith in God, we could test if he speaks in accordance with theistic laws.

When I listened to him, I was keenly aware of each point he said, and compared it with what the Bible says. Why the Bible? Because through other reasoning I have come to the confidence in the reliability of the Bible in matters of supernature.

I measured his words against the Bible. It didn’t seem to contradict…

It seems simplistic, because by the same measure we would also have to say that those who see aliens could possibly be telling the truth. And those who are in non-Christian religions who have similar experiences have to be taken at face-value.

I am prepared to consider their cases in the same way. And in the same way, I would measure their words against the Bible’s presentation of the supernatural/natural world connection.

Case in point–

 “The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven”

This best seller about a boy who “saw heaven” had a lot of rubbish, inaccurate according to the Bible. It came out later that the boy and his father were lying. The boy fessed up, but the father keeps reaping the royalties.

Afterlife Travelogues

Unfortunately, the “afterlife travelogue” presented above is firstly questionable because it has dangerous implications. If we believe he went to actual hell, he would be disproving the existence of hell.

What I mean is, we understand hell, and the power of the name of Jesus, from Scripture.

The Bible says,“man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment.” Heb 9:27

If his experience was actually hell,
one man’s experience would be disproving the book of Hebrews.

And if he disproves Hebrews, all of Scripture is suspect. And if Scripture is suspect, his being saved by the name of Jesus is suspect. Meaning that if he were actually in the hell Christ spoke of, he was not where he thought he was, and he could not have been rescued by the one he thought rescued him. It’s self-contradicting.

Experience must bow to Scripture. If your experience tells you something contrary to the Bible, your INTERPRETATION of your experience is wrong.

It [the afterlife-story phenomena] is not harmless. It denigrates the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. It confounds faith with superstition. It subtly elevates human experience to a higher level than the Word of God. It purports to reveal things about God and the heavenly realm that are not taught in Scripture. And it repeatedly insinuates that the testimony of someone who has been mystically enlightened can be a more effective stimulant to faith than Scripture alone…

Thus says John MacArthur. He continues…

This is just one example of a large and growing subgenre of afterlife travelogues popular today—a genre that includes at least two mega-best-selling titles from evangelical publishers. The authors of these stories—and evi­dently millions of readers as well—regard these testimonies as authori­tative, reliable, and full of superior insights that can take readers to a higher level of understanding and enlightenment beyond what we can get from the Bible.

In other words, all of these books take a similarly protognostic stance on heaven and the afterlife. All of them are dan­gerous and misleading. That includes the ones that seem fairly benign as well as the ones that are clearly steeped in occult superstition. All of them stand as reminders to us that Scripture and Scripture alone is the only safe place for Christians to learn anything about the immortality of human souls, what happens to a person after death, what heaven is like, what awaits the unrighteous in hell, and what we can expect in the judgment to come.

Conclusions

So my final conclusion (after testing his life/mental state) might be that he saw something. Maybe a dream or something dream-like. But he did see something.

But he did not go to hell.

Because his life changed drastically, 180*, I know a frightening experience happened to him. He had a supernatural, near-death experience that shook his foundations. But according to Scripture, he did not die and he did not go to hell. He got a chance to make things right. Good for him.

Comments: What do you think?

Windows of the Soul

These questions are based on the Moody Science video entitled Windows of the Soul

  1. Can you completely trust your five senses?  Why or why not?  (at least one sentence)
  2. Make a table like the one below and write down a way that each of your five senses can deceive you.
Sense A way the sense can deceive you
Sight
Hearing
Smell
Taste
Touch
  1. Consider the sentence below:
    Sentence A: “The only things that are real are things people can measure.”
    Explain how this sentence contradicts itself.  (at least one sentence)
  2. Explain whether or not God is more reliable than your five senses.  Give at least one Bible passage to support your answer.  Either summarize the passage in your own words or copy down at least one verse in the passage.  Explain why the passage supports your answer.  (at least one paragraph)
  3. Does this mean that we should never pay attention to our five senses?  Explain your answer.  Give at least one Bible passage to support your answer.  Either summarize the passage in your own words or copy down at least one verse in the passage.  Explain why the passage supports your answer.  (at least one paragraph)
  4. What is the most reliable way God has given us to know whether our five senses are right or wrong?  Give at least one Bible passage to support your answer.  Either summarize the passage in your own words or copy down at least one verse in the passage.  Explain why the passage supports your answer.  (at least one paragraph)

[Sources]