The Briefing 11-11-14

The Briefing 11-11-14

The Briefing


November 11, 2014

This is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


It’s Tuesday, November 11, 2014.  I’m Albert Mohler and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

1) Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss hopes for extinction of religion through education of children

Back in 2013 cosmologist Lawrence Krauss made headlines by suggesting that the teaching of creationism in the public schools was tantamount to child abuse; all be it, he said, a rather mild form of child abuse. Now he’s back in the headlines again as reports; he is suggesting that religion could be largely gone in the span of just a single generation.

Now the reason this is noteworthy is because this kind of statement has of course been made before, most classically by the late Karl Marx who back in 19th century suggested that religious faith in general, and Christianity specifically, was doomed to disappear in short order in the acids of modernity. But now you have Lawrence Krauss, who teaches at Arizona State University, suggesting that in a generation – even the living generation of young people – religious faith may disappear. He states it, of course, as a rather hopeful thing from his worldview. He is the co-creator with the atheist Richard Dawkins of the program known as “The Unbelievers” and he’s been in the headlines on this kind of issue before. But the reason this should have special interest of Christians, in terms of this statement, is because he’s actually onto something. Perhaps he’s on to more than he actually himself understands.

As I said earlier this year, the theoretical physicist teamed up with Richard Dawkins to create the movie documentary known as “The Unbelievers.” And most recently in speaking about that, he spoke about the strategy he said,

“What we need to do is present comparative religion as a bunch of interesting historical anecdotes, and show the silly reasons why they did what they did,”

So, it’s a very clear strategy that’s at work here: it’s to attempt to ridicule religion in general, and theism in particular, by suggesting the religious practices and beliefs are silly and thus to be dispensed with by modern sophisticated people. But his main interest isn’t people in general, but very young people specifically.

When Krauss was challenged by people who say:

“Well, religion has been around since the dawn of man. You’ll never change that,”

He responded by saying,

“This issue of gay marriage, it is going to go away, because if you’re a child, a 13-year-old, they can’t understand what the issue is. It’s gone. One generation is all it takes”

Speaking about the disappearance of religion (remember that’s what he hopes will happen), he continued his comment by saying,

“Change is always one generation away. So if we can plant the seeds of doubt in our children, religion will go away in a generation, or at least largely go away. And that’s what I think we have an obligation to do.”

Now, again from a Christian worldview perspective, there are several elements to the argument there made by Lawrence Krauss that should have our attention. In the first place, many of us can remember Christian authorities – preachers, teachers, youth leaders, and others – who have reminded us throughout the generations that Christianity is just one generation away from disappearance, reminding us of the imperative of evangelism. But what is also in the background of this is that magic age that Lawrence Krauss is here cited: the age 13.

That should have our attention as well because when young people reach those ages of adolescence, especially the early years of adolescence, they become capable of critical thinking. And it’s at that particular intellectual juncture that Christians often fail our own young people. We fail them in one particularly strategic way, we often fail to give them the kind of intellectual ammunition they need to continuous faithful Christians as they move into adolescence. At that stage of life they’re facing complex questions for the first time and in a very new way. Cognitive psychiatrist point to these years of early adolescence as the development of analytical complex thinking; this is when for the first time a young person is not only able to think, but able to think about thinking and becomes very much aware of the fact that there are people who think otherwise and must have reasons for those very thoughts. The strategy outlined by Lawrence Krauss is very clear, if secularist can get to 13-year-olds and convince them that religious belief is silly. Then, as he said, religious faith will simply disappear in the span of one generation.

The next thing we need to note is the example he gives for intellectual change. And it’s the issue we’ve had to come back to again and again and that’s the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization in particular of same-sex marriage. Pointing to the issue, Lawrence Krauss said, ‘Look, just a generation ago it was unthinkable. Now when you talk to 13-year-olds – most 13-year-olds – they say what’s the issue? They simply do not understand it as an important issue.’ Now that may be something of an overstatement but he is onto something and we know he is. Intelligent Christians need to understand that here is someone who hopes the religious faith will disappear; here you have a very keen thinking unbeliever who understands what every Christian parent may not, what many Christian churches evidently do not, and that is that if we are not giving intellectual ammunition for the Christian faith, if we are not moving from mere assertions to moving to arguments with their own young people, we shouldn’t be surprised that they fall prey to exactly what Lawrence Krauss is talking about here. We shouldn’t be surprised if we lose our own young people if we do not give them arguments that go beyond merely ‘believe as we believe.’

Young people in this crucial period of life of early adolescence all the way through young adulthood need the continual support and encouragement of the church. One of the worst things we can possibly do is fail to teach our young people the reasons for Christian belief and the ground them in Scripture and the totality of the Christian worldview. In this sense, every Christian pastor, every youth minister, every parent, needs to be an apologist – ready to give an answer for the hope that is in us. And when the parent doesn’t have a ready-made answer, the next step is to go find someone who has an answer and to draw from the rich resources of the Christian tradition over 2,000 years of intelligent reflection upon the Christian faith.

Furthermore, we need to understand that our young people at these very important ages are headed into a period of sustained and in evitable intellectual combat. There are evangelists for any number of ideologies and worldviews out there and if we do not direct a very serious approach to the Christian faith, to our own children, and if they do not see it in us and understand it from us, we should not be surprised that they fall away.

Now as for Lawrence Krauss’s prediction that religion could be gone in a single generation, well it is Christ himself who said that the gates of hell will not prevail against his church. But that’s no assurance that the faith will not disappear where we are, it’s no assurance that Christian faith will not disappear in our generation, and our culture. And in this sense, this word that comes from Lawrence Krauss about his confidence of the disappearance of Christianity should come as bracing warning to every intelligent Christian. He’s onto more than he knows here. The question is do we understand it as well as he does?

2) Secular sex educators in Great Britain argue necessary to accept sexual activity of youth

Next, shifting to age 13 in a very different kind of context. The Telegraph, a major British newspaper, is reporting that teachers in Great Britain are being instructed in terms of that nation’s new sex education program that sex at age 13 “is a normal part of growing up.”

Graeme Paton, education editor The Telegraph, one of Britain’s most authoritative newspaper’s, writes,

“Schools are being told that children should be able to have consensual sex at the age of 13 as part of government-backed guidance,”

That came out just last week,

“The guidelines – which can be used as part of sex education lessons – say that having sexual relationships when children reach their teens represents a ‘safe and healthy’ part of growing up.”

As Paton explains, this new sex education curriculum has been produced by a national nonprofit as part of a plan endorsed by Britain’s Department for education – supposedly “to improve standards of advice given to pupils.”

In the most bizarre aspect of this new sex education curriculum, a traffic light tool – that’s what is called – is being used that’ll list green, amber, and red behaviors that teachers and other professionals should spot among school age children. In other words, some things are clearly not to happen, some things are okay in some context, and others are completely okay.

In one of the most frightening and offensive paragraphs I’ve read in any major newspaper in a very long time, Graeme Paton writes – with language I’m going to have to clean up for the audience of The Briefing

“For 13- to 17-year-olds, normal behaviour includes taking an interest in pornography, having sexually explicit conversations, using the internet to chat online and consenting to …[sexual behavior]”

According to this new curriculum, choosing not to be sexually active is a green behavior – in other words, it’s just fine – but choosing to be sexually active in a consensual relationship, that’s also within the green zone.

There are at least some members of the British government and leadership in that nation that are not taking this new sex education curriculum lightly; they’re not taking it sitting down. Graham Stuart, the conservative member of Parliament for Beverly and Holderness, said that the guide sends out the wrong message and it sends out a message that is actually harmful and dangerous to young people colluding “with something we know is damaging to young people.” Similarly, Sarah Carter, identified as trustee of Britain’s Family Education Trust, told the committee of Parliament that the guidance in this new official sex education curriculum is actually illegal because Britain’s legal age of consent is 16 and the sex education curriculum puts sexual activity – consenting sexual activity – amongst those who were 13 and 14 and 15 within that green zone of acceptable and normal sexual behavior for young teenagers.

Speaking for the new curriculum, Joe Haman, identified as chief executive of the PSHE Association – that is a government agency connected with the personal social health and economic education of young people – said that even though many people believe that teenagers that age should not be engaged in active sexual lives, they said, “we got to deal with children’s realities.”

This news report coming from Britain is interesting to us precisely because it identifies the very same age as Lawrence Krauss did concerning the disappearance of religion. The focal age of 13; that crucial year of early adolescence. But it also points to the fact that people, in particular educators, on both sides of the Atlantic are arguing that young people –  very young people –  simply have to be understood to be sexually active and that sex education should never be addressed to trying to prevent that sexual activity, but rather to trying to channel it in more healthy and responsible directions. But there’s the real worldview clash – the clash between those who understand that there are biblical guidelines for sexual morality that are centered in marriage, and those who believe that anything outside of marriage at virtually any age simply has to be channeled in more responsible and healthy directions. That’s the great lie of ‘safe sex’ that ignores the very clear reality that sex severed from marriage can never be safe – not only in terms of physical terms, but ultimately in personal and spiritual terms as well.

But the last observation on that story is this; they’re out for the minds of our children. The secularists are out for the minds of our children; the evolutionary evangelists like Lawrence Krauss are out for the minds of our children. And the radical sex educators, they’re out for the minds of our children as well. It’s not just that they want to deal with what they identify as children’s realities – they profoundly want to shape that reality. This latest evidence coming from Great Britain is evidence enough for that.

3) Explosive growth of Chinese Christianity persists despite Communist persecution

Next, as President Obama’s about to embark on a major presidential visit to Asia, and in particular the nation of China, several the most authoritative news organizations in the world are out with a very interesting angle on the story. And that is the incredible story of Christianity in China.

First of all, last week’s edition of the Economist, another major British media outlet suggest that there are now “Cracks in the Atheist Edifice of Communist China.” As the magazine reports, the immediate story is a crackdown on Christianity in several provinces within the communist state. In one of them, Wenzhou, there is now a crackdown that has included the destruction of more than 230 structures that had been dedicated Christian worship. In particular, the destruction of a massive facility that had been known as China’s Protestant cathedral. Local officials said they were tearing it down because it violated building codes, and yet as the Economist and also the Financial Times of London have reported, documents leaked to the Western press havae indicated that the orders for this destruction represented the persecution of Christianity that came from the very top of the Communist Party in that nation.

But if as the immediate story, the Economist makes clear the longer-range story is not the eradication of Christianity in China, but the radical growth of Christianity that may now have so concerned communist authorities that led to the crackdown in Wenzhou, and it may be leading to crackdowns elsewhere. But as the Economist makes clear, the big story is the explosive growth of Christianity over against all the efforts of the Communist state.

As the Economist writes,

“Any shift in official thinking on religion could have big ramifications for the way China handles a host of domestic challenges,”

And yet there’s no way that the Chinese government is now going to be able to avoid dealing directly with the question of Christianity. Officials within China’s Communist Party estimate the number of believing Christians in China as between 23 and 40 million. The Pew Research Center, based upon its own definition, found 58 million Protestant and 9 million Catholics. Others, including Professor Yang Fenggang of Purdue University in Indiana, say the Christian church in China has grown by an average of 10% a year since 1980. He estimates there are now 100 million believers in China, and that by the year 2030 there will be 250 million Christians in China. That would make China’s Christian population the largest of any nation in the world.

As the Economist reports,

“Mr Yang says this speed of growth is similar to that seen in fourth-century Rome just before the conversion of Constantine, which paved the way for Christianity to become the religion of his empire.”

By the way, there’s a big change reflected in the Economist here; in the 1980s the explosive growth of Christianity was in the rural regions of China, but now the explosion of Christianity is mainly in metropolitan and urban China. Remember that China has more than 50 cities at present of more than 1 million in population. The Economist, also writing from a secular perspective, points out that the issue of the explosion of Christianity comes also with the rise of much concern for human rights.

And then this blockbuster a statement:

“One civil-rights activist says that, of the 50 most-senior civil-rights lawyers in China, probably half are Christians”

And that points to the fact that the Christian worldview validates human rights – and grounds them in something beyond the mere political recognition of the state, grounding them in the Imago Dei. In the fact that every single human being is made in the image of God. That matters massively, and as this report and others make clear, it now matters to the Chinese Communist Party.

By the way, as the Economist reports, you’ll recall that as Lawrence Krauss of the Christianity may disappear the span of one generation, it turns out that the senior Chinese leaders have become – well a good deal more humble about such claims. Jiang Zemin, then the Communist Party chief back in 2000 said in an official space the religion would probably still be around when concepts of class and the state themselves have vanished. With the story of crackdowns in several provinces, the immediate concern of the Economist; it points out that the long-range trend of Christianity in China is not only growth but facilitated faster and accelerated growth under the very conditions a persecution.

The second major story on the explosion of Christianity in China (and for that matter the growth of Christian influence in that country) comes in the Financial Times, Britain’s major financial newspaper, that ran a front-page story with a picture of a Chinese Jesus represented, and the title: “China’s other Leader.” The Financial Times reports that the growth of Christianity in China is always a point of 100 million Christians – that’s very very similar to the estimates coming from Purdue University – and as the Financial Times reports, that now eclipses the 86.7 million strong membership of the ruling Communist Party. That’s an extremely important fact. Most estimates then now indicate that the number of Christians in China is now greater than the number of members of the Communist Party.

Then comes this very interesting sentence from the Financial Times,

“According to western intellectual tradition, modernity is supposed to bring secularisation but in modern Communist China it has been accompanied by an extraordinary rise of religions formerly banned as “opiates of the masses”.”

Most particularly, Christianity.

The Financial Times also reports that though Catholicism, is growing in China it is Protestant Christianity that is growing by far most rapidly. Then comes this very important sentence coming from Fenggang Yang,

“Chinese officials often cite the experience of Poland, where they believe the Catholic Church helped destroy communism and, although the two situations are not really comparable, the party still sees Christianity as a very serious threat that it needs to suppress.”

While pondering today on The Briefing the persistence of the Christian faith, the endurance of Christian belief, there comes this final paragraph in the report from Britain’s Financial Times, one of the world’s most influential secular newspapers. Here’s the paragraph;

“But even if Beijing does expand its struggle against Christianity to the whole country, the very most it could hope for is to slightly delay the moment when China will become the world’s largest Christian nation. ‘The current suppression and the campaign of demolishing churches, pulling down crosses and throwing people in prison won’t significantly slow the growth in believers,” [that was said by Professor Yang from Purdue, who said] ‘If anything, it actually adds fuel to the fire of Christian revival in China.’”

Before leaving China, another strange anecdote concerning the fate of Christianity there; it turns out the both the Financial Times and Christianity Today report that an increasing percentage of the Bible’s distributed and sold in English in the United States are actually printed in China. As Christianity Today’s Sarah Eekhoff Zylstr reports,

“Chances are good that your favorite Bible was printed in China. The overwhelming majority of Bibles sold at Christian bookstores or Barnes & Noble were printed there… and more publishers are joining in.”

Since 1987 more than 117 million Bibles have been printed by Amity Printing Company in China. Even so, 75% of all of the Bibles printed in China are for export meaning, that only 25% are available for distribution within China. Meaning that even as the Bible you now hold in your hand may well have been printed in China, those living in China might have very little access to the Bible. So perhaps, as you hold your Bible in your hand you should pray for those believers in China who would desperately want also to hold one.

4) Veterans Day an important day to show gratitude to  those who fought for freedom we enjoy

Finally today, November 11, is Veterans Day in the United States. And the reason for that observation on this date is also historically important, for it was on the 11th minute of the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918 that World War I officially came to an end.

Pres. Wilson declared the first Armistice Day, or Veterans Day, in the year 1918 honoring all whatever warned the American uniform – all veterans not just those who on Memorial Day are commemorated for the fact that they died in action or wearing the uniform. So on Veterans Day a much larger number of Americans are to be honored: all those who are taken on military service on behalf of the United States of America, all those who’ve worn the uniform of any branch of the American military service, all those who are officially listed as veterans of the United States Military Services; the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard, and others as well. Armistice Day was limited to honoring those who had worn the American uniform in what was called the Great War (that was World War I), but after World War II all that changed and in 1954 Congress change the name of the holiday from Armistice Day to Veterans Day. The great tragedy is that far too many Americans think of Veterans Day is just another holiday – it’s not that it’s an opportunity for gratitude. And as Christians understand, one of the most important moral imperatives of all is gratitude. Let’s not fail to be grateful this Veterans Day.

Thanks for listening to The Briefing. For more information go to my website at You can follow me on Twitter by going to For information on The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary go to For information on Boyce College just go to I’ll meet you tomorrow for The Briefing.




Podcast Transcript

1) Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss hopes for extinction of religion through education of children

Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss: Religion could be largely gone in a generation, Salon (Sarah Gray)

2) Secular sex educators in Great Britain argue necessary to accept sexual activity of youth

Teachers told: sex at 13 ‘is normal part of growing up’, The Telegraph (Graeme Paton)

Child sexual behaviour traffic light tool, The Telegraph (Staff)

3) Explosive growth of Chinese Christianity persists despite Communist persecution

Cracks in the atheist edifice, The Economist

The rise of Christianity in China, Financial Times (Jamil Anderlini)

Why Your Bible Was Made in China, Christianity Today (Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra)

China Bible publisher prints 125 millionth copy, Financial Times (Jamil Anderilini)

4) Veterans Day an important day to show gratitude to  those who fought for freedom we enjoy


R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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