Update to SB-1146 Legislation: SB-1146 Dropped

Earlier this week, I posted about California senate bill SB-1146. As of Friday, August 12th, 2016, I am pleased to announce that California lawmakers have decided to drop California the bill. The bill would have restricted state funding for religious schools due to their religious convictions. A full report on the issue can be found at http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2016/august/california-drops-controversial-bill-to-regulate-religious.html. In a conversation with Biola professor of politics Dr. Scott Waller, I was reminded, however, that this is only a temporary respite. The move to drop the bill appears to have been financially motivated.

One may anticipate that California Senator Ricardo Lana will take up this issue again at some point in the future. When and if such a time occurs, it is imperative that Christians nationwide stand with our California Christian colleagues and speak out against any legislation that impedes religious expression and religious freedom. For those on the east coast, California legislation may seem unimportant to them. However, history has shown that legislation in larger areas, such as California, often influences national legislation and the legislation of other states. Thus, the church must stand together in opposing any move to impede religious freedom.

Conservative political analyst Todd Starnes noted on his social media video that he was shocked that more voices were not heard speaking out against the bill. In his words, “we were almost too late.” For religious Americans who value their liberty to worship and live according to their viewpoints, and even those who are not religious and value individual expression, SB-1146 was a shot across the bow, warning us to stand ready. This is not a time for cowardice. It is a time for bravery and courage. If we fail to stand up for religious freedoms today, our children and grandchildren may not enjoy such freedoms tomorrow.

Copyright, August 12, 2016. Brian Chilton.

Corrective Note: I was informed of a correction that needs to be made to the post. The bill itself has not been dropped, but rather the more controversial language concerning the religious freedom of universities has been erased from the bill. The bill still holds issues that is of concern to many California Christians. While we can be thankful that the language restricting religious freedoms pertaining to higher education has been modified, we still need to pray that when the bill is overturned August 31st when it comes to a vote.

I would like to thank Pastor Donald Shoemaker, Pastor Emeritus of Grace Community Church of Seal Beach, California for the correction. 

(8/12/16, 8:40 pm ET).

 

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Why California SB-1146 Should Matter to Non-California Residents

Recently, I spoke with Dr. Scott Waller. Dr. Waller is the Chair of the Political Science Department at Biola University and is Assistant Professor of Political Science also at Biola. Dr. Waller and I spoke about the newly imposed California state Senate bill, aptly named SB-1146. The bill strips away the standards of religious schools and universities to set sexual expectations for its students and staff, especially as it pertains to same-sex relationships. This is not only a concerning precedent for evangelical schools like Biola University, but also for Roman Catholic schools and the other nearly 50 schools in the state of California that hold to the concept traditional marriage. But, one might ask, “How does this legislation affect individuals outside of California?” Dr. Waller noted, “As goes California, so goes the nation.” The precedent set by SB-1146, if this law is allowed to stand, causes great concern for any religious school in the nation. Dr. Waller is right! If SB-1146 is allowed to stand, other states could implement similar legislation. Furthermore, the federal government could possibly allow for similar legislation nationwide. From my conversation with Dr. Waller and being a non-Californian, I was left with three areas of great concern about the impact of SB-1146 and how it could affect other states if left intact.

SB-1146 Affects Religious Action.

SB-1146 does not force one to believe a certain way. Advocates of the bill will use this as a case for SB-1146. However, the bill does alter the way a person’s belief is set into practice. Beliefs lead to actions. Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:21-22, HCSB). In other words, what a person takes in determines what a person will do. Ideas influence actions. The makers of SB-1146 have their own beliefs which led them towards certain actions—namely, the implementation of the bill. However, their beliefs have led them to the conclusion that Christian beliefs cannot lead to actions. But how exactly is this freedom of religion? Freedom of religion entails not only the freedom to believe as one chooses, but also to live as one chooses. Certainly this is the subject of further debate. Nevertheless, a dangerous precedent is set by SB-1146. Essentially, the bill limits the religious actions that institutions can take.

SB-1146 Affects Funding.

Most directly, the bill will affect funding. Schools that do not conform to the edict set by SB-1146 will not be allowed to use state funding, or rather students will not be allowed to use such funding. Poorer students in California will not be allowed to use state funds to attend religious schools like Biola for any type of program. If this legislation goes through, it seems to me that private institutions like churches would need to set aside money for scholarships so that Christian youth could still attend Christian universities. For me, I would like to think that there would be options available so that individuals could still attend schools like Biola. However, SB-1146 would certainly make it more difficult. Suppose legislation like this goes to the federal level, could student loans be influenced to religious schools that do not abide by rulings such as these? I suppose it may be wise for upcoming Christian students to evaluate other means for future funding.

SB-1146 Affects Future Legislation.

For me, the scariest aspect of SB-1146 is the governmental overreach into the area of religious freedoms. There is no doubt that this bill will be challenged. Not to be doom and gloomy, but let’s just suppose that the bill is allowed to stand (which is a possibility). What future legislation possibilities are opened by the existence of this bill? Pandora’s Box will be opened. Just how far will this overreach extend? How far will it go?

Conclusion

Here’s a novel idea: if a person does not like the beliefs or standards of a particular school…then DON’T GO!!! Allow them to be. I am an evangelical Christian. If I do not like the standards of a Buddhist school like say Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado (which I am sure is a fine school), I would choose not to attend instead of forcing the school to conform to my beliefs. It seems to me that there is a lack of maturity in our culture. Many desire to force others into a “politically correct” mold instead of respecting our differences. The glue that unites all the traditions and cultures of the blending pot that is the United States of America is the freedom of conscience, the freedom of religion. If that glue is allowed to melt away, the democracy of the land is lost and is replaced by something far different.

What can we do? We must have a voice! We must make our concerns known. For those in California, speak up and speak out! For those outside of California, we as a collective people of faith need to pray that God would help us, protect us, and grant us insight. These are perilous days. We need Christians of character and courage so that future generations can know about the Savior’s love and salvation.

See the site http://www.opposesb1146.com/ for more information.

Listen to my conversation with Dr. Scott Waller at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pastorbrianchilton/2016/08/08/sb1146-and-the-threat-to-california-religious-liberties-w-dr-scott-waller. 

© August 8, 2016. Brian Chilton.

The Importance of Relationships in Apologetics and Evangelism

This past week, God has shown me through multiple avenues the importance of relationships. I listened to Garrett DeWeese’s lecture on “Solving the Problem of Evil” and in that lecture DeWeese addresses the importance of relationships. Also, I had a wonderful conversation with Chaplain Jason Kline as he discussed relational apologetics, that is involving relationships in one’s apologetic presentation.[1]

Often times, people think of apologetics as being a “heady, intellectual” pursuit, unconcerned about matters of the heart. While apologetics concerns itself with intellectual matters and the training of the mind, one must understand that apologetics is a branch of a larger spectrum of evangelism. A strong argument could be made that apologetics is part of one’s discipleship effort too as one must be “transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God” (Romans 12:2).[2]

Seeing that apologetics is often intellectual, it is easy for one to lose sight of the greater challenge and the greater goal: not winning arguments, but winning souls for Christ. For this to take place, the apologist must understand the great value of relationships. These relationships should include three things.

  1. The presence of love must be included in one’s relational apologetic.

          Christian leaders should understand the great damage that has been done by the anti-intellectual movement that invaded the church beginning in the 19th century. Modern heresies that have entered the church are a direct result of the emphasis placed on the heart rather than the head. But on the other hand, the apologist, in one’s quest to emphasize the intellectual pursuits of the faith, must not neglect the heart entirely especially as it relates to love. A strong head and weak heart leads to a sterile, emotionless shell of what the Christian life should be. It is a firepit with the wood and coals properly placed, yet without a flame providing heat. What’s the point of a firepit with no fire?

Paul warns vehemently that “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). If I have a strong apologetic with no love, then I am just another “talking head.” Apologist, do you love the person you are conversing with? If not, you may want to step out of the conversation until you have the loving flames of the Holy Spirit burning within your heart.

  1. The presence of listening must be included in one’s relational apologetic.

           In my conversation with Kline as well as DeWeese’s lecture, I was reminded of the great value in listening. DeWeese noted that with Job, “Job’s friends were appalled at the conditions Job faced. They sat with Job silently for 7 days, but it all went downhill from there. Their silence, tears, and ministering to Job helped him more than their words.”[3] As apologists we must use our words to proclaim and defend the faith. But we cannot sacrifice a listening ear in order to do so.

I am from the Southeastern United States. While not as prevalent today, it used to be commonplace to find a group of men gathered around a popular restaurant and/or storefront talking about the issues of the day. My grandpa, Roy Chilton, was a child of the Depression Era and served in World War II. In his time, they had no Facebook, Instagram, or instant messenger. Rather, they had the local gathering place. In my younger years, he took me with him to visit some of his friends at one particular person’s welding shop. The thing to remember about these conversations is that many of the stories become “tall tales;” fun stories based on truth, but exaggerated to make the story sound more appealing. “Conversation” is a loose term to be used in this environment as most of the “conversations” turned into a competition for who could tell the greatest tale. I noticed that Grandpa would not so much listen to what was being said by another as much as he was preparing his next story. Others would do the same.

Apologists should use caution against the use of the same practice. If we are simply preparing our next argument without truly listening to the objections being made, then it is highly likely to miss the objection entirely and leave the seeker more antagonistic in the end. As my grandmother, Eva Chilton, used to say (and it may have been partly directed towards Grandpa), “God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason; so that we’ll listen twice as much as we speak.”

  1. The presence of longing must be included in one’s relational apologetic.

What is the apologist’s goal? What is one in apologetics anyhow? Is it the goal of the person to appear smart and intelligent? Is it the person’s goal to show how many books he or she has read? Or is a person in apologetics simply to join a particular community? Intelligence and community are important matters. However, the goal of the apologist if based on relationships must be to clear the path for the Holy Spirit to operate. It is an evangelistic affair. The Westminster Confession of Faith proclaims that “the chief end of man is to glorify God.” To borrow Westminster’s verbiage, the chief end of apologetics is to win souls for Christ. Does the apologist long to see the person with whom they are conversing come to know Christ? Or is the person simply using the arguments as a means of intellectual chess? A strong argument is nothing without the wooing presence of the Holy Spirit. This means that the apologist, if effective, must be a person of prayer, consistently seeking after and desiring God.

Conclusion

Apologetics is a branch of evangelism. Evangelism seeks to persuade people to accept Christ as their Savior. Therefore, apologetics must seek to persuade people to accept Christ as their Savior. If Christ has truly died for the sins of humanity and has truly risen from the dead according to the Scriptures, then the apologist’s intention must be to see others come to know the reality that is Christ and the salvation that comes from a covenant relationship with Him. Let’s be brutally honest. Sometimes we as apologists can become so involved in apologetics that we come off as jerks to those in which we are trying to minister. For me, guilty as charged. The church needs apologetics. The church needs apologists!!! The church is never going to accept the apologist if he/she consistently berates the pastor or those who are not onboard. If this is true of the church, the lost person will certainly not desire to listen to any apologist (regardless of their credentials) if the apologist comes off as obstinate or emotionless. Remember, Jesus was the greatest apologist of all and He spent a great amount of time building relationships. Apologetics without meaningful relationships often becomes valueless.

© June 20, 2016. Brian Chilton.

[1] The conversation with Chaplain Jason Kline can be found at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pastorbrianchilton/2016/06/20/relational-apologetics-with-pastor-apologist-and-chaplain-jason-kline.

[2] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

[3] Garrett DeWeese, “Solving the Problem of Evil,” Biola University, lecture notes, 10.