Helping you live and defend the Christian worldview. Founder: Charles W. Colson (1931–2012)
President: John Stonestreet
Executive Director: Steve Verleye
Vice President of Operations: Steve Bradford
"BreakPoint" Radio Hosts John Stonestreet
Vice President of Communications: David Carlson
Most Christians know that they are living in a time of cultural upheaval. At the Colson Center, we equip believers with the tools to understand their place in the culture according to God’s story, so they can be empowered to live as if every part of life belongs to God, and help bring healing to the world. We believe…
1. Every Christian can live like one. “Worldview” is about understanding God’s created reality better, so we can be the people God calls us to be. It’s not only about thinking or politics or great deeds—with J.R.R. Tolkien’s Gandalf, we believe it’s about “the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.”
2. Truth and love go together. God is truth and God is love, and He made us to bear His image. To that end, we believe standing up for truth (if done the right way) is an act of love for God and our neighbor, and we seek to provide a climate of intellectual hospitality in which people can experience love in their search for truth.
3. Christians should—and can—be a people of hope. God’s story never changes, even when the world around us does. We know how that story ends—and we know God has called us to be faithful in our circumstances, trusting Him with the outcome. We seek to live and work that way, so we can help others do the same.
Operating as usual
Each year, the most popular meme that I share on social media is a picture of Chuck Colson with a quote where he describes how his experience in the Watergate scandal during the Nixon administration helped him believe in the resurrection. Years ago, he shared on video how watching the lies of a group of powerful men fall apart made him realize the disciples were, indeed, telling the truth.
Here’s Chuck Colson:
I want to wish you and your families and friends a holy, blessed Easter. We celebrate because we as Christians know that our Lord is risen from the dead—and in His resurrection is our hope of everlasting life with God.
Indeed, as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians, the historical fact of Christ’s resurrection is the only basis of our hope. Without the resurrection, our faith is futile. This is why critics of Christianity often try to explain away the empty tomb. They claim that the disciples lied--that they stole Jesus's body themselves and conspired together to pretend He had risen. The apostles then managed somehow to recruit more than 500 other people to lie for them as well, to say they saw Jesus after He rose from the dead.
But just how plausible is this theory?
To answer that question, fast forward nearly 2,000 years, to an event I happen to know a lot about: Watergate. You see, before all the facts about Watergate were known to the public--in March 1973--it was becoming clear to Nixon's closest aides that someone had tried to cover up the Watergate break-in.
There were no more than a dozen of us. Could we maintain a cover-up--to save the president? Consider that we were political zealots. We enjoyed enormous political power and prestige. With all that at stake, you'd expect us to be capable of maintaining a lie to protect the president.
But we couldn't do it. The first to crack was John Dean. First, he told the president everything, and then just two weeks later he went to the prosecutors and offered to testify against the President. His reason, as he candidly admits in his memoirs, was to "save his own skin." After that, everyone started scrambling to protect himself. What we know today as the great Watergate cover-up lasted only three weeks. Some of the most powerful politicians in the world--and we couldn't keep a lie for more than three weeks.
So back to the question of historicity of Christ’s resurrection. Can anyone believe that for fifty years that Jesus’ disciples were willing to be ostracized, beaten, persecuted, and all but one of them suffer a martyr's death--without ever renouncing their conviction that they had seen Jesus bodily resurrected? Does anyone really think the disciples could have maintained a lie all that time under that kind of pressure?
No, someone would have cracked, just as we did so easily in Watergate. Someone would have acted as John Dean did and turned state's evidence. There would have been some kind of smoking gun, or a deathbed confession.
So why didn't they crack? Because they had come face to face with the living God. They could not deny what they had seen. The fact is that people will give their lives for what they believe is true, but they will never give their lives for what they know is a lie. The Watergate cover-up proves that 12 powerful men in modern America couldn't keep a lie--and that 12 powerless men 2,000 years ago couldn't have been telling anything but the truth.
Again, may you and yours have a blessed Easter, firm in your faith that the Lord is risen. He is risen, indeed!
Come to breakpoint.org, click on this commentary, and we’ll share that meme of Chuck Colson talking about Watergate. Download it and share it with others by email and social media.
From all of us at the Colson Center, Happy Resurrection Day. Christ is risen!
By John Stonestreet & Chuck Colson
Christians claim the resurrection actually happened. While other religions are based on untestable spiritual claims independent of history, the claim to a historical resurrection opens Christianity up to scrutiny. “If this did not happen,” says Paul in 1 Corinthians 15, “the whole thing is false and we are pathetic… “(that’s my paraphrase).
The most likely alternative to the resurrection story is the disciples invented it, but that doesn’t make sense. If you’re making up a story like that, you’d make it a spiritual resurrection not a bodily one! And, it would’ve been easy to produce a body and end the whole charade.
And finally, as Chuck Colson learned from his Watergate experience, “12 men testified they’d seen Jesus raised from the dead, proclaimed that for 40 years, never once denying it,” despite beatings and torture. “In Watergate 12 of the most powerful men in the world couldn’t keep a lie for three weeks! (but) 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible!”
That’s because they were telling the truth.
By John Stonestreet
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“Jesus would’ve baked the cake.”
“Christians hate LGBTQ people.”
“You’re on the wrong side of history”
“Why can’t you let them be ‘their true selves’?”
“That’s just your truth, not mine.”
And, perhaps most painful, especially when it comes from a friend or family member: “If you love me, you’d accept me for who I am.”
All of the slogans that leave Christians silent or shamed today are, at root, different ways of saying the same thing – that truth and love are incompatible. For people to tell the truth, especially when it comes to issues of sexuality and gender, is to be unloving and intolerant. And, to love someone is to affirm their choices.
There’s a uniquely “Christian” version of these slogans, too. Taking a moral stand, we are told, especially on questions so culturally controversial, is to distract from the Gospel. Instead, apparently, the Church needs to be more welcoming and to avoid anything that makes people feel excluded from the Church. After all, we are told, isn’t the Gospel really about inclusivity?
Today, of all the days of Holy Week, directly confronts this mentality. Maundy Thursday is set aside on the Church calendar to remember the Last Supper. The word “maundy” comes from the Latin word for “mandate,” or “command.” At this first celebration of Communion, Jesus gave His disciples “a new command,” that they should love and serve each other. To demonstrate what He meant, He picked up a basin of water and a towel and washed their feet.
To fully understand His words and actions, recall that at this “Last Supper” and first Communion, Jesus and His disciples were obeying God’s original command, given to all Jews, to remember the Passover. God’s people were to never forget how they were rescued from slavery in Egypt. For Jesus to issue a “new” command was an audacious thing to do, especially given how significantly God’s original command stood in Israel’s history and identity as a people.
Jesus, however, went even further than merely adding instructions to an old celebration. Now, rather than remembering how the angel of death “passed over” those homes with lamb’s blood on their doorposts, they were to remember His broken body and His shed blood. Ultimately, the new command was to remember a new rescue, and how, through Christ’s death, death is not merely avoided but finally defeated.
Though the volume has increased in recent years, the American Church has been divided over whether it should be primarily about proclaiming truth or about serving others since at least the mid-20th century. The Lord’s Supper and Jesus’ “new” command remind us that this is a false dichotomy. It’s an unnecessary choice to make. These two things need never be separated and should never be separated. On the same night Jesus when commanded us to remember how His broken body and shed blood rescues us from sin (that’s the truth), He commanded us to demonstrate our new life by serving others (that’s love).
We need not choose between truth and love. In fact, we must not choose. They always go together, because they are both grounded in the same Source, or specifically, the same Person.
“How to Speak Truth and Love Both Inside and Outside the Church” is a new short course that begins next Tuesday. The course will examine how, in practical terms, we can communicate truth to four groups of people: unbelievers who need to know Jesus, Christians who don’t know what (or how) to think, Gen Z who don’t know how (or whom) to trust, and progressive Christians who have abandoned truth. Instructors for the course are Greg Stier from Dare2Share, Michael Craven from the Colson Center, apologist and author Sean McDowell, and Jonathan Morrow from the Impact 360 Institute.
Come to BreakPoint.org to register. The course runs four consecutive Tuesday nights, beginning next week, April 6. All sessions are recorded and made available to all registered guests, which is really helpful if you have to miss any of the live sessions.
Jesus embodied truth and love, not only in the event we commemorate this day, but every event we remember this Holy Week. He is truth. He is love.
And, He has risen. Indeed.
By John Stonestreet
In the church calendar, the Thursday before Easter is called Maundy Thursday. It's set aside to remember the last supper Jesus shared with his disciples.
The word “maundy” comes from the Latin word for command. At this supper. Jesus commanded His disciples to love and serve one another. And then he demonstrated what he meant by washing their feet. And let’s not forget: This was the supper remembering Passover, when the Jews remember God rescuing His people from Egypt, as described in Exodus. At this supper, Jesus revealed himself as the fulfillment of that event.
It's His broken body and shed blood we are re to remember. So is Christianity service or salvation? This divided the church in the 20th century and still does today, but it's both. On the same night. Jesus commands us to remember that we need rescue by His broken body and spilled blood, and to also show we have been rescued by loving and serving each other.
By John Stonestreet
Next week, Christians worldwide will celebrate, as the entire cloud of witnesses has before them, the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The resurrection is, of course, the central event in the Holy Scriptures, the pivotal moment of the story of Christ, and the foundational belief of a Christian worldview. Even more, if it happened, it is the pivotal event in all of human history.
Still, it’s not difficult to see why it’s so hard to believe, especially today. Both science and experience tell us that corpses do not revive. The dead stay dead.
Even more, some skeptics level the charge that the story of Jesus’ resurrection was simply borrowed from pagan myths, who had their own “dying and rising” deity stories. So, was the resurrection story basically stolen from pagan religions? In the latest “What Would You Say?” video, my colleague Brooke McIntire tackles this issue.
The next time someone says the idea that Jesus rose from the dead was borrowed from pagan myths, here are 3 things to remember:
Number 1: Just because some stories are similar does not mean that one borrowed from another.
A little more than a century ago, a story was first told about a passenger ship that was unsinkable. However, while steaming across the Atlantic Ocean on a clear April evening, it struck an iceberg and sank. And, more than half of its passengers died from a lack of lifeboats. The name of the ship was spelled “T-I-T-A-N . . .” Yes, “The Titan.” Did you think I was talking about the “Titanic”? That tragedy occurred in 1912. However, I was referring to the fictional story in a novel titled Futility: The Wreck of the Titan, published in 1898, 14 years prior to the sinking of the Titanic.
There are a striking number of similar details between the two stories, even in the ship’s name! However, we would never claim that the similarities suggest the latter story was influenced by the former and that the Titanic did not actually sink. Similarities between stories do not prove that one necessarily borrowed from another.
Number 2: It is utterly implausible that the early Christians would borrow major ideas from pagan myths.
The earliest Christians were pious Jews who often debated over the minutia of the Jewish Law. For example, they debated over whether Jewish Christians were still required to maintain the temple purification rites, whether Christians could eat meat that had been sacrificed to idols, whether non-Jewish male Christians needed to be circumcised, and whether Jewish Christians could even eat in the same room with non-Jewish Christians. Jews believed that they had been chosen by God to be a people separated from paganism. Given this background, it would have been unthinkable for these early Christians with Jewish sensibilities to engage in wholesale borrowing from pagan religions for the foundational belief of their own new sect.
Number 3: Stories of people surviving death are not unusual.
Surviving death is a deep-seated longing in most humans. So, it should come as no surprise to find stories peppered throughout human history of people returning from the dead. Fictional stories of dying and rising gods in pagan myths do nothing to discredit the story of Jesus rising from the dead. We must decide whether or not Jesus actually was resurrected from the dead based on the evidence. And there’s a lot of evidence. If you want to learn about it, check out Gary Habermas’ book, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus.
To see the whole video addressing the question of whether the resurrection of Christ was based on pagan myths, go to whatwouldyousay.org. Or, you can go to YouTube and search for “Colson Center What Would You Say?” Subscribe and be notified each time a new “What Would You Say?” video is released.
By John Stonestreet
So you’re talking with a friend, and the topic of Easter comes up. She says, “The idea that Jesus rose from the dead was borrowed from pagan myths. What would you say?
In our latest “What Would You Say” video, you’ll find three key points to remember.
First, the fact that the story of Jesus rising from the dead resembles some pagan myths doesn’t prove that Christians borrowed pagan stories.
Second, the earliest Christians were pious Jews who absolutely rejected pagan religions and idolatry. The idea that they would then borrow their central belief from their pagan neighbors betrays a profound ignorance about Jewish life.
Third, stories about someone returning from the dead exist in every culture. What makes the resurrection narratives about Jesus unique are their details and the many eyewitnesses, which no pagan myth comes close to sharing.
Come to WhatWouldYouSay.org to watch “Jesus’ Resurrection and Pagan Myth.” We’ll also point you to additional resources to help you make the case for Jesus’ resurrection.
By John Stonestreet
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A defining characteristic of pagan societies is the sacrificing the well-being of children on the altar of adult happiness and self-fulfillment. Our own pagan society is no different. In a single-minded pursuit of sexual pleasure, career, or lifestyle, we tell ourselves that “the kinds will be fine,” even though they’re clearly not.
Throughout history, across cultures and time periods, Christians bringing the Gospel to pagan cultures found themselves defending and protecting abandoned and abused children as well.
For example, 19th century India was not a welcoming place for girls. Considered inferior to men, women were not allowed to be educated or to work for a living. Child marriage was a fairly common practice. Though the practice of sati (burning widows on their husband’s funeral pyres) had been abolished, the fate of widows in that culture was harsh. Considered to be cursed, they would often be subjected to terrible abuse at the hands of their husband’s family.
Pandita Ramabai’s family was different. Pandita’s father, a member of the priestly caste known as Brahmins, encouraged her to learn how to read the Hindu scriptures. Not only did she learn, her skills and mastery of the text earned her acclaim. Her study also fed her growing doubts about the truth of Hinduism.
After she was married, Pandita found a copy of the Gospel of Luke in her husband’s library. Drawn to Christianity, she invited a missionary to their home to explain the Gospel to her and her husband. Not long after, her husband passed away.
And not long after his death, a child-widow came to her door looking for charity. Pandita took her in as if she were her own daughter. Moved by the young widow’s situation, Pandita started an organization called Arya Mahila Samaj to educate girls and to advocate for the abolition of child-marriage.
It was when she traveled to England that Pandita Ramabai formally converted to Christianity. Returning to India, she set up a school for girls and widows in what’s now called Mumbai. At first, to avoid offending Hindus, she agreed not to promote Christianity and followed the rules of the Brahmin caste. Even these concessions weren’t enough. Within a year the school was under attack, and her local financial support dried up. So, she moved the school to Pune, about 90 miles away. In 1897, after a famine and plague struck the area around Pune, Pandita Ramabai established a second school 30 miles away from there.
Among the subjects taught to the girls in her school was literature (for moral teaching), physiology (to teach them about their bodies), and industrial arts such as printing, carpentry, tailoring, masonry, wood-cutting, weaving, needlework, farming, and gardening.
At first, Pandita had only two assistants. So, she developed a system to help take care of and educate the girls. First, they would teach the older girls, who would then take care of and help teach the younger ones. In this way, they managed to care for the growing number of girls who made their way to the school and take care of. By 1900, 2000 girls were living there.
In 1919, three years before her death, the British king awarded Pandita Ramabai the Kaiser-i-Hind award, the highest honor that an Indian could receive during the colonial period.
Pandita’s example is one of many that we must take seriously today. To live in a pagan society is to encounter victims of bad ideas. Often, especially in our culture, these victims are children.
Whenever a Christian or a church decides that to speak up on controversial cultural issues is to “get too political,” they leave these victims without protection and are out of step with Christian history. Whenever a Christian or a church claims that they avoid these issues because “it distracts from the Gospel,” they are embracing an anemic, truncated Gospel. Christians today can join those who’ve gone before us, proclaiming the Gospel and caring for children. One way to do this is by signing the Promise to America’s Children, pledging to protect the minds, bodies, and the most important relationships of children in our society. And learn all the ways children are being victimized and how the Church can help, by reading Them Before Us: Why We Need a Global Children’s Rights Movement, a vital new book by Katy Faust. Them Before Us is the featured resource from the Colson Center this month.
By John Stonestreet
The Colson Center for Christian Worldview is a ministry that equips Christians to live out their faith with clarity, confidence, and courage in this cultural moment. Every day, we...