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Is happiness a good test for truth?

This post first appeared at seanmcdowell.org.

You might think it’s an intrusion when strangers knock on the door. But when three Mormon missionaries showed up at my friend’s apartment, I excitedly ran down the stairs to talk to them. It’s not everyday that people ride bikes to your house to discuss truth, and evangelism doesn’t get much easier than that.

The elders asked us if we had read the Book of Mormon, and I mentioned that I own a copy. This raised their curiosity and excitement as they began to tell us about how Mormonism had changed their lives. One of the elders had just left Salt Lake City the previous week to start his mission. He stated that before arriving in Salt Lake City he had not been happy, but the training deepened his faith and made him happy again. This was a timely discussion, since I just wrote about whether or not our happiness is God’s priority.

When I talk with Mormons, I want to understand their worldview rather than immediately refuting it. I do this and deepen the conversation with questions like, Why are you Mormon? Have you always been Mormon? Why do you think Mormonism is true?

It’s true because it makes me happy!

One of the elders quickly jumped in and began to tell me that he had actually gone apostate and left the LDS church as a teenager. His life had become horrible and he wasn’t happy. He then began to search for the truth and that led him back to Mormonism, which made him happy again.

To make sure I understood correctly, I repeated back to him what I heard. I asked, “Are you saying that you were searching for truth and that Mormonism is true because it makes you happy?” He responded with an enthusiastic, “YES!” The conversation shifted to another topic, but I would have loved to ask him a few more questions. What would he say if I mentioned that not being Mormon made me happy? Would that mean Mormonism is false?

If you offend someone you are wrong.

This idea that happiness is a reliable truth-detector isn’t only found in Mormonism; it is also popular in our culture. Quick emotional decisions seem to suggest that truth is relative to the individual’s happiness rather than facts. If a belief makes a person happy, then who am I to say that their belief is wrong? Bringing up a contrary point might offend them. This might seem crazy to some of you, but this type of thinking has even crept into the church.

Summit Ministries and Barna teamed up on a recent study. Their study was designed to gauge how practicing Christians have been affected by other worldviews. They found that 29% of Christians under the age of 45 thought that if your beliefs offended someone or hurt their feelings, then you are wrong. This is a huge spike compared to only 8% of Christians over 45 years old believing this. These facts should open our eyes at how culture has affected our students. Many hold to a view of truth that is based on feelings and happiness. If this is true, then we are in big trouble.

However, we know that God has revealed himself to us in Scripture. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). This doesn’t mean that Jesus is my truth or your truth. He isn’t only the truth if it makes me happy. Jesus is the truth! God is the foundation for objective truth, and it is in him that we can stand firm.

If the Mormon missionary standing at the door that night was right, then all we have is relative truth based on feelings. If this is true, then he must also affirm that Mormonism is false since that is what I believe, and I’m happy. It is logically impossible for Mormonism to both be true and false at the same time. Therefore, we know that one of us is wrong and truth can’t be based on feelings. If we can’t base truth on feelings, then how do we discover the truth? We will look at that in my future post.

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MAVEN: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness with Brett Kunkle

I can’t think of anything more important in today’s culture than worldview and apologetics training for students. They are growing up in a very different world, and so they need truth brought to them in a new way. That is where MAVEN comes in.

MAVEN exists to help the next generation know truth, pursue goodness and create beauty, and to equip those who teach and train them—parents, youth workers, pastors and educators—to do the same.

Listen as I interview Brett Kunkle about his new approach to student worldview training.

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Listen to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show on Active Reliance Radio every Wednesday from 4:30-5 PM PT.

Like the Facebook page, watch live, and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. You can also see who will be future podcast guests on the Facebook page and send in your questions to be asked on the show! Send in your questions on FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

Will we have free will in heaven if we can’t sin?

If you are interested in me speaking at your church or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page, look through the speaking topics or suggest your own, and contact me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

How can God be loving when he commanded killing in the Old Testament? (Video)

If you are interested in me speaking at your church or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page, look through the speaking topics or suggest your own, and contact me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

The Nashville Statement: A Christian Response and Testimony

Our culture has been changing, and it is changing fast. One of the areas that we are seeing this change is on the topic of human sexuality and gender. It is for this reason that the Nashville Statement was recently released. As the preamble of the statement says, “As Western culture has become increasingly post-Christian, it has embarked upon a massive revision of what it means to be a human being.” This is why the Christian leaders have come together to create this document which give the clear, orthodox position of the church.

However, many believe this statement lacked love and that it was divisive. So, how should Christians respond to the Nashville Statement? Should it be rejected or accepted?

Neal Hardin joined me on the podcast this week to discuss the Christian response to the Nashville Statement as well as his personal testimony. Neal developed same-sex attraction at a young age and has had to figure out how that fits in with his Christian convictions. Read Neal’s testimony and listen as we talk about how the church should respond to this critical change in our culture.

About the video:

The religious conversation about LGBTQ issues often erupts into depersonalized debates about biblical passages or scientific studies. In Dear Church: I’m Gay, you’ll follow the journey of real people who have wrestled with their faith, sexuality or gender, and you’ll see that these issues aren’t just about issues. They’re about people. Real people. Beautiful people created in God’s image.

What do you think of this approach? Comment below with your thoughts.

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. You  can also find it and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player.

Listen to the Coffeehouse Questions radio show on Active Reliance Radio every Wednesday from 4:30-5 PM PT.

Like the Facebook page, watch live, and interact with Ryan by asking questions and commenting. You can also see who will be future podcast guests on the Facebook page and send in your questions to be asked on the show! Send in your questions on FacebookTwitter, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

Does God just want us to be happy?

It is often said that people become teachers so that they don’t have to work over the summer. Although this may be true for some, it wasn’t true for me this past summer. I spent my vacation working at Summit Ministries and traveling to speak at different youth events. While at one of my speaking events, I was approached by a student who wanted to know my thoughts on drinking and smoking weed. His argument was that it was fine to drink and smoke with his friends because it didn’t negatively affect his behavior or control his life.

Instead of beginning by making a biblical argument explaining why those behaviors were wrong, I began by asking him questions. I first asked why he thought that any action was good or morally neutral simply because he didn’t see it negatively affect his life. This seemed to catch him off guard. It might have been because he was looking for me to give reasons as to why these behaviors did have a negative effect on his life and were therefore wrong. He admitted that pastors had used this approach with him before.

Without even knowing it, this student had adopted a form of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD). One aspect of MTD is the belief that God exists and that the goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself. One huge way in which you can tell that someone is following MTD is by the way they respond to sin. When they are committing a sin, they will think that is it an acceptable thing to do as long as they are still happy. They will not look at what God has to say about that sin since they don’t think God really plays a big role in our lives.

Our students use this form of reasoning when arguing for premarital sex as well as drinking and drugs. They hear their pastors, teachers, and parents say that these things are sin and will affect them negatively. Because they don’t immediately see negative effects, they think the behaviors are fine. This leads them to take a non-biblical approach to morality and ethics because their experience causes them to redefine sin. Sin then is defined as something that has harmful consequences on them and others.

I believe that MTD has become the dominant religion of youth today as they fall more and more away from founding Christian beliefs. Youth are being exposed through TV, movies, and schools to just living a good life and being happy in oneself. Today, success is seen as being happy and doing well at what you want to do.

So, my goal was to help this student re-evaluate the way that he determined what was ethically right and wrong and return to a biblical view of morality. An action isn’t good because it makes us happy and bad because it affects us negatively. We understand that eating candy feels good but is bad for us. We also know that shots hurt but are good for us. Instead, we need to get back to looking at what God teaches. God doesn’t want us to just be happy; he wants us to be holy. When he realized this point, I was able to look at biblical reasons with this student as to why he shouldn’t be drinking and smoking weed. It is holiness that brings true happiness.

How do I share God with someone who rejects Christ? (Video)

Here is a question that I received at a recent Q&A at Hume Lake Christian Camp.

If you are interested in me speaking at your church or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page, look through the speaking topics or suggest your own, and contact me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

Is Jesus the only way to God? (Video)

There are many different ways people answer this question, but it doesn’t mean that all answers are correct. Just like other areas of study, we should seek the truth and anything that contradicts the truth is false. Religious truth is no different. As you can see in the picture below, each worldview gives a different response when discussion what is wrong with humanity and its cure, and each answer contradicts another. So, how can we answer this important question while understanding different worldviews and arriving at the truth? Can we say that Jesus is the only way to God? I am convinced that we can. Watch this video and find out!

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 12.07.19 PM

 

If you are interested in me speaking at your church or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page, look through the speaking topics or suggest your own, and contact me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

How Relativism Undermines Your Student’s Faith in Christ (Video)

Our culture of relativism, the belief that truth changes from person to person, is undermining our student’s faith in Christ. Relativism states that there is no truth. So how can Christianity be objectively true if there is no truth? Jesus is not just one way, but He is THE way. So, how can pastors, parents, teachers, and leaders respond to cultural relativism and help our students remain strong in their convictions? Watch this video and find out.

If you are interested in me speaking at your church or youth group, click on the Endorsements & Speaking page, look through the speaking topics or suggest your own, and contact me at contact@coffeehousequestions.com. I am happy to help in any way I can. God bless!

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