Big Foot Crossing sign in the wilderness of Colorado
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Friday, February 9, 2024

The Briefing.

Frida, February 9, 2024.

It’s Friday, February 9th, 2024. I’m Albert Mohler, and this is The Briefing, a daily analysis of news and events from a Christian worldview.

Part I

‘We See What We Want to See’: What Interest in ‘Bigfoot’ Teaches Us About Humanity

Well, what about Bigfoot? Well, it’s Friday. Let’s ask an urgent question on The Briefing. It comes down to the fact that there is some public attention being given to Bigfoot, in part because of a book that was recently published entitled “The Secret History of Bigfoot Field Notes on a North American Monster.” The author is John O’Connor, but that is one part of the story. The other part of the story is that Carl Hoffman has written a column for the Washington Post entitled “What The Hunt for Bigfoot Teaches Us About Ourselves.”

This tells us something, by the way. It tells us that we want to understand ourselves. We want to know what this tells us about ourselves. What does an interest or an obsession with say, Bigfoot, tell us about humanity? Well, Carl Hoffman goes on to explain what it means, for example, to be out in a very dark or foreboding place or to be out in a swamp, he mentions one in Indonesia, and he simply says that there is the sense that, “Other things were out there when the sun dropped. Mysterious, mythical, malignant.” Mysterious that is shrouded in mystery, mythical that is coming with an elaborate narrative and understanding and mythical universal meaning, and then malignant, evil, dangerous, deadly.

Hoffman cites O’Connor as writing, “We lose something profound if we look at wild places and don’t imagine a hidden creature there.” Don’t imagine a hidden creature there? Is there actually a hidden creature there? Well, Carl Hoffman is basically writing about this argument suggesting that you don’t need a real Bigfoot for Bigfoot to tell us a lot about ourselves and frankly for Bigfoot to be a matter of fascination.

Trying to keep those issues separate, Hoffman writes, “There is an enormous difference, however, between the sacred metaphor of something out there, the thing that keeps us home and that we genuflect to when the mist rolls over a dark patch of forest or when the thunder cracks and the literal search for it.” Again, you got this metaphorical issue out there in which you think about Bigfoot, you talk about Bigfoot, but then there is on the other hand the literal search for it.

About the first he says that it’s fascinating, expansive, full of meaning. The other he says is banal. It means boring and reductive. Alright, that is kind of academic language, but the bottom line is that the argument here is that we need myth, we need Bigfoot, but we don’t need the real Bigfoot and we don’t even actually need to believe that Bigfoot is real. Of course, the problem with this is we understand there are a lot of people who do claim that Bigfoot is real and they claim they have seen him. What exactly do we do with that? That’s not just some mytho-poetic meaning that’s being expressed there. That’s perhaps your neighbor who’s had a little too much to drink.

The article tells us about one member of the Yakama nation in central Washington who said that when he was a boy, “he heard Bigfoot stories from his great-great-grandfather,” “In these tales, Bigfoot was usually an elusive non-literal figure.” The writer goes on to say, “I took these stories as a passing along of symbolic tales. My great-great-grandfather never admitted to having an actual sighting.” And yet Hoffman goes on to say, “Nonetheless, there are those who claim they’ve had actual sightings. There’s even an organization known as the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.” According to The Post, it, “Maintains a database of 75,000 eyewitness sightings since the mid-1990s.” The article also cites the fact that there are those who have claimed to see Bigfoot. There are even those who claim to have a photographic image of Bigfoot, but it’s always fuzzy and somewhat distant. But then the author writes, “Never mind that no Bigfoot [I’ll just say, bodily waste has ever been found.] No skeletons or fur, no DNA of any kind ever. Nevermind,” he writes, “that ubiquitous wildlife camera traps routinely catch photos of elusive mountain lions and every other kind of fauna, but never once, one of these commonly encountered Bigfoots.” That means supposedly commonly encountered.

When those who are absolutely committed to saying that they have seen a real Bigfoot with their real eyes, argue such things such as that bears and moose, “decompose quickly in the wilderness and seldom leave physical traces.” Yeah, but they do leave some traces and some of those traces are in those, well, I’ll just say droppings that they leave behind. When it comes to Bigfoot, you got nothing. But then it’s just an observation about human nature. Hoffman says, “We see what we want to see.” He calls this myth and imagination. He says it’s essential basically to human life.

But let me just come back as a Christian to ask a basic question. Number one, what do we think about Bigfoot? I think most of us as Christians would admit, we actually believe this tells us more about human nature, than it does about any furry creature with particularly big feet. I think most of us know, look, there are all kinds of unexplained things out there, but at this point, there’s no reason to base any particular kind of interest on a non-existent creature, or a creature whose existence has certainly not been proved in any demonstrable way. But it is interesting that we’re talking about it, and that’s because there is a sense in us, that means that we are looking for something that hasn’t been found before. And quite frankly, an awful lot of people like an awful lot of stories, about a creature such as Bigfoot, because it just interests us.

There’s a sense in which you do look into a dark forest and think you don’t know exactly who’s looking back at you, but then as this writer Hoffman says, it’s basically about myth and imagination. “About the power and importance of wilderness and wildness to the human psyche about belief and the lies our own eyes relay to us each and every day.”

So why are we talking about this today on The Briefing? Well, number one, it is interesting to note that these kinds of stories appear over and over again in all kinds of places, and it’s not always Bigfoot, it’s Sasquatch. It’s somebody, or the Loch Ness Monster, you name it. Now, just as a matter of logic and truth, I have no demonstrable proof that such creatures don’t exist. That means all of them or any one of them. Frankly, I have no argument against the nonexistence of all kinds of creatures that aren’t even described here.

I will simply say that the Christian understands that the logic works the other way, which is to say we believe in those things that are revealed to us and those things that are known to us. And frankly, that doesn’t preclude in any way going to see if we can find creatures we haven’t seen before, but we don’t believe in them until we actually see them, or we don’t believe in them until we have some actual evidence of them. And that might be something such as a bone or a carcass, or as this article mentions even say, a dropping. But I think this is also a great opportunity for Christians to understand that when people say, “Well, isn’t this the way you talk about Jesus?” The answer is a profound emphatic, “No, this is not the way we talk about Jesus. This is emphatically not the way we talk about the Christian faith.”

We’re not talking about strange possible narratives of sightings of Jesus, even of the risen Christ. We’re talking about truth claims that mean it comes down to the fact that we are making the very clear claim, that all that is taught about Jesus Christ happened in time and space in history. And furthermore, that you have the proofs offered in the New Testament about the actual existence of Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of the events that are narrated about him in the Bible. And the Bible goes on to make these claims in undeniable clarity. For example, just think about John chapter one, verse 14, “we have beheld his glory. The glory as of the only-begotten of the Father full of grace and truth.” This isn’t something that is simply talked about, imagined about, some kind of fuzzy photograph about. Here, John, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit says, “We beheld his glory. We are eyewitnesses of the majesty.” That’s something very, very different.

You also have the very clear claims made by the Apostle Paul in a passage like 1 Corinthians 15 in which he makes the space-time history claim very clear that Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures and that God raised him from the dead, according to the scriptures. And then the Apostle Paul will go on to say, “If those two things did not happen, then we are of all people most to be pitied because we are lost in our trespasses and sins.”

So, what are Christians to think about the Bigfoot issue? Number one, it’s not our business to deny that such a creature might exist. It is our business to say, that has nothing to do with the claims that we make about Christ. It reveals the fact that human beings made in the image of God are going to ascribe some kind of fascination to some kind of being, but when it comes to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, it’s not some kind of fascination and some kind of being, real or imaginary. It is the absolute confidence that God in Christ, acted for the salvation of sinners in the incarnation, in the birth of Christ, in Bethlehem, in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and in his ascension to the Father where even now he sits and rules and from which he will come to judge. But when you think about all the swirl of ideas taking place around us, I guess it’s also just interesting as a footnote to notice that the Washington Post found time to run an article about Bigfoot. Well, so much for hard news.

Part II

Should Christians Attend the Wedding of Unbelievers? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

All right, now we’re going to turn to questions, and quite frankly the number of questions sent in after my discussion of the question whether Christians could attend, that is righteously, a same-sex marriage. Quite frankly, there were so many questions that came in on that, it requires a completely separate set of questions here on the desk before me. And some of them are really interesting. We can’t get to all of them, but some of these questions just underline the fact that you need to come back to some issues from time to time to say, “I meant this, not that, and this raises a good point. Let’s consider that.”

Suzanne wrote in and she said, “I was struck by your words that Christians cannot be a witness to a marriage that does not adhere to biblical standards. What about non-believers who marry in a non-religious ceremony?” Well, I’m simply going to say again, that’s marriage. If you’re saying that’s marriage, your witnesses to what you say is marriage, and it’s also important to recognize the Bible never says that two unbelievers shouldn’t marry one another. It says that Christians should not be unequally yoked with an unbeliever. Now, that raises a host of questions and this is why we need the wisdom of the local church. Should you attend a wedding which you believe in any sense is not right? Well, if you’re going to celebrate the wedding, obviously I don’t think you should be there unless you’re going to celebrate it, and that means should rightly celebrate it.

But Suzanne, you really raise another issue, and so let me just make this really, really clear. The reason why what’s called “same sex marriage” is, or a “same sex wedding,” is different than say another irregular wedding that might have to do with someone that we believe they’re not right for each other, or there’s some reason this person should not marry this person, but it’s a man and a woman. The reason there’s a categorical difference is because there’s a long history of Christianity and Christian moral thinking and understanding that there’s a difference between something that is not right, and then something that’s not existent. Those are two different things.

When it comes to the claim that a man can be married to a man or a woman can be married to a woman, that’s not just an irregular marriage, we don’t think it is a marriage at all. That’s a categorically different thing. That’s a thing that doesn’t actually exist, as compared to something that is lacking or in some way fractured. Something can exist that’s fractured or lacking. That’s why we say to someone who might have gotten married, ill-advisedly, we don’t tell them, “You’re not really married.” We have to deal with the aftermath of getting married in an ill-advised or frankly wrongful manner. But if it’s a man or a woman, we don’t say, “You’re not actually married.” When it comes to a man and a man and a woman and a woman, that’s actually what we are saying.

Part III

When Do You Decide to Use the Name of a Person When Addressing a Public Controversy and When Do You Do So Without Mentioning a Name? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

Another listener wrote in and asked the question, “Why do you use names in some situations and not in other situations?” And it’d be very easy for me just to ignore this question, but I think it’s a good question and it’s one I need to answer in some sense. I have the practice of using names where I think that it’s really important to understanding the context of what we’re talking about and quite honestly is really important to the issue. And that often has to do with the fact that someone is trying to leverage this issue in order to bring change to say, evangelical Christianity, or the Southern Baptist Convention, you go down the list, on the issue. In that case, I think I have to use the name, and I’m not reluctant to use the name, but I also am more likely to use the name where this is something that’s a long-established pattern. I know exactly what this means. I know exactly where this person stands.

When I mention someone like the former Episcopal Bishop, John Shelby Spong, I think we do know what we’re talking about, and so that’s why I use the name. Yet there are other situations in which I do not. Now, there is an ethical dimension to this I just want to acknowledge, and I may have this right or I may have this wrong, but I will simply tell you that as an ethical issue, I do not feel I should use names when I am personally involved in some kind of conversation, or in some kind of decision making or bear some responsibility for dealing with an issue. I think at that point it is wrong for me to use the name, certainly until there’s some kind of final adjudication on this.

That’s the line I try to walk. I’m sure I walk it imperfectly at times, but I try to act with integrity and not violate what I believe to be, would be, wrong. I don’t think one as a Christian minister or a Christian figure can simultaneously act in some issues, or be involved in some issues and on the other hand, speak publicly about those issues in a personalized way. I did not believe that this is an issue that I could not address, I could just choose not to address, but I tried to address it in a way that wasn’t personalized in this case.

Part IV

How Do Christians Decide What Significant Events to Attend for Friends and Family Members? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

But next, I want to take a question from a listener in Germany, and I greatly appreciate this question. I appreciate this couple listening. And it comes down again to a hard question, or at least a difficult issue related to a same-sex wedding. You have a husband and a wife, and speaking of the wife, the husband said she argued, “Not visiting such a ceremony would also require to refuse going to other services like Catholic funerals where false claims about salvation and eternal life were being made by the priest.” So are they the same thing or not?

With all due respect, I don’t think they are the same thing, and I want to go back to something I said earlier. One of the categorical issues about what’s called a same-sex wedding is that we don’t actually believe that a marriage is the result. We believe that false claims are being made about what is happening. And that’s categorically different I think than say, going to a Roman Catholic funeral, which you’re going to out of respect. And for one thing, frankly, I know you know this already, you’re not there at a funeral to celebrate what’s taking place. You’re there out of grief, and respect, and commemoration to respect the formal grief about a person who’s leaving. Now, so in other words, I don’t think anyone attending a Roman Catholic funeral is just assumed to be enthusiastic about everything that takes place there.

And frankly, for an evangelical Protestant, it can be awkward, but I think most people understand that Catholics may attend Protestant funerals, or for that matter, a Protestant wedding without believing they’re violating their conscience, and I think Protestants can attend a Catholic wedding. We don’t even believe it’s a sacrament, but we can attend a Catholic wedding, say with our neighbors, without violating our conscience because that’s not what we’re validating. We’re validating the rightness and the legitimacy, let’s put it that way. The legitimacy of the union of this man and this woman, and whether it’s a Catholic priest or a secular, say, state agent, justice of the peace, or a Baptist minister, the fact is we believe that the marriage, insofar as it exists as a legal fact, that it’s equally valid.

I would say to my German listeners, again, thanks for listening and thanks for a smart question. I would just say that the context here is whether or not you’re implying the righteousness of something that’s wrong, and I don’t think attending a funeral actually entails that. Certainly not automatically. Or whether it entails the rightness of something we believe doesn’t even exist, and is profoundly wrong. And that’s the case, I believe, with a same-sex ceremony frankly of any kind.

Part V

Should Protestant Christians Attend Roman Catholic Funerals? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

But then as is so often the case, one good question leads to another. Someone else wrote in about attending a Roman Catholic funeral, and this one just adds one more dimension, and this is another smart important dimension. “Is it okay to attend a Roman Catholic funeral without compromising truth, even if you don’t participate in the mass?” What a fascinating addendum to the question. And I want to come back and say, Hey Taylor, here’s the deal. You got it exactly right, I think, about attending the funeral but not participating in the mass. I think those are two very, very different things, and I’ll say there are circumstances in which I would attend a funeral in that context, but I would not participate in the mass in that context. I think those are two very, very different things and wow, that’s the kind of thing we need to think through. Again, I appreciate the question.

Part VI

What About a Birthday Party? Coming to Terms Some New Questions

Another good question, and frankly just a really practical question, was sent in by a listener who said, “Okay, I get it. I get it. There’s a reason why it would not be right for a Christian to attend a same-sex ceremony, but what about other say, celebrations undertaken by LGBTQ people or even a same-sex couple such as a birthday?” And I want to come back and say, I don’t think it’s wrong, a biblical compromise in any way to say happy birthday to anyone, almost any time. Love of neighbor does mean that we want to talk to our neighbors, and when our neighbor has a birthday, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying “happy birthday” or even having a piece of birthday cake because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the birthday.

Part VII

Does it Matter If Christians Were Really Martyred in the Roman Colosseum? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

Turning to other questions, other issues, I really appreciated a question sent in by a mom whose 18-year-old son’s just about to go to college and is listening to a podcast about history in which there’s some interesting things that come up.”The other day, he said that apparently there isn’t clear historical evidence that Christians were killed in the Coliseum for their faith. Is this correct and do you have some guidance as to how to guide him in testing authenticity, or accuracy of such claims?” Wow, that’s not a question I expected, and so I’ll simply say, mom, thanks for listening. Thanks for sending the question, and I’m thankful you have a son who’s interested in such things, and you’re raising questions of history and how Christians should understand historiography and the challenge of evaluating historical claims.

I want to step back and say the first thing that we’re concerned about is whether or not there’s a biblical claim here that is at stake. And the biblical claim is that indeed there was the persecution of Christians against Rome, and also that there would be periods of persecution against Christians, but the specific claim made here is actually not something found in scripture. It is something that is claimed and often presented throughout history in terms of what actually took place in the undeniable cycles, and that’s the best way to put it, cycles of Roman persecution going all the way up until the fourth century with the Christianization of the Roman Empire under the Emperor Constantine, and by Christianization again as a Baptist, I emphatically say that doesn’t mean they were all turned into Christians. It does mean that Christianity was legalized, and the Empire itself was claimed to be Christian, in its commitments and structures, at least in terms of its allegiance and even the shift in what was understood to be an official religion.

But that was uneven. That’s not uncomplicated, but that’s not what you’re asking. What you’re asking is how do you handle these historical claims? Well, I think there’s actually very good evidence that Christians were persecuted to the point of execution in the Coliseum. But as you look at this, you recognize, number one, the truthfulness of the Christian faith doesn’t rise or stand on this. And frankly, when you’re looking at history, you’re looking at an argument. And so you ask the question, how would such things be evaluated? I would say, you need to look at really good historiography and the multiplicity of sources, or at least a plurality of sources, more than one, look at some arguments and then try to figure out which is making the best historical argument based upon the evidence.

One of the things to note is that when you’re looking at ancient history, like the history of ancient Rome, one of the problems is that the dominant model shifts more often than you might think. And so, something that was just taken for granted, it’s settled history a matter of a few years ago is no longer settled history. And I did a Thinking in Public with Peter Brown at Princeton, the great historian of late antiquity. People didn’t even talk about late antiquity until just a few years ago or decades ago, and now it’s an established area of academic research and teaching in major universities. All that to say the Christian faith doesn’t rise or fall on truth claims outside of Scripture. The Christian faith rises or falls on true claims made in Scripture.

And so, this is a very different issue than arguments about what did or didn’t take place or how many or how few Christians were executed in the Coliseum. There’s simply no doubt, even according to undeniable Roman records, that there was widespread persecution under an emperor like Diocletian that led to massive numbers of deaths. But even Christian historians are very clear to say, even in those periods of persecution, they weren’t always as even and evenly distributed in the empire as might be thought. And so it’s good to do good historical research here and to weigh different claims, but I would just point out that the Christian truth claim, the Christian gospel, neither one of them rises or falls on the question of whether or how many Christians were executed in the Coliseum. There is no doubt that the New Testament speaks of not only the persecution of Christians experience during the first century, even to the point of death and martyrdom, but of even greater persecutions to come.


How Do Christian Parents Decide Which Portions of Scripture to Read to Young Children? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

I also want to acknowledge a very kind question sent in by a Christian parent. Little girls, ages three and one, and then congratulations, I love this, with a little boy on the way. That’s three blessings from the Lord there. And this Christian father and mother are reading Scripture to their children. Remember, we’re talking about a three-year-old, a one-year-old, and the question is asked, “How would you approach reading some of the more tedious sections of scripture to little kids whose attention spans are short at best?”

Okay, I don’t want to sound like I’m making a radical statement here because I don’t think I am. I would not read the genealogies to a three-year-old and one-year-old. I would read Scripture to them, pour Scripture into them, but you’re accommodating in some sense to what they are more able to understand. And I think that’s a matter of wisdom, not a matter of right and wrong. And look, I believe that every word of scripture is inspired. Every word of scripture is equally inspired. Every word of scripture is profitable.

But I think we all understand, that there’s a reason why we get up in a certain context and speak of this text. There’s a reason why this particular text is set to song and say, a classical hymn arrangement. And there’s a reason why we turn to these particularly cherished scriptures. And there’s a reason why as children, we remember often the biblical narratives that that were read to us. And I don’t think it’s wrong to accommodate even some of those decisions we are making to our children the same way we have to use language that may break down some of the big words that are found, including in the Bible, into something they can understand. But how sweet it is, to know of two Christian parents with two little girls and a little boy on the way, who are absolutely determined to pour Scripture into the lives of their children, into those little hearts. And you get there through those little ears and those little eyes, and what a sweet thing. God bless you.

Part IX

What Do You Really Think About Christian Counseling? — Dr. Mohler Responds to a Letter from Listeners of The Briefing

Finally, a question coming from a listener. “Would you please clarify your views on counseling and therapy? As I have listened to The Briefing over the years, it seems to me that you are somewhat against it to the point where you often speak of it with a negative connotation. “Yet,” says this perceptive listener, “I see that Southern Seminary offers biblical counseling in its programs.” Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Thank you. Yes, we do indeed offer, and proudly so, biblical counseling. The crucial issue there is that it’s biblical counseling.

What I’m dead set against are therapeutic modalities, and therapeutic worldviews, that I believe are incompatible with Scripture. And unfortunately, many of them have been mass marketed to Christians. Some of them have been mislabeled to Christians. Some of them are deeply ingrained in many Christian churches and in Christian circles, and I think to great danger and great damage because I do believe that the therapeutic mentality is incompatible with gospel Christianity. And the only counseling I think that is proper for the Christian church is counseling that is the application of the Word of God to the lives of believers.

And one of the presuppositions of biblical counseling is that it is an extension of the preaching ministry of the church. It’s the application of the same word that is preached, and thus it is a testimony to the sufficiency of scripture. I hope that makes sense. Yeah, I think there are all kinds of counseling models that I think are incompatible with Christianity. I think biblical counseling is not only compatible with Christianity, I think it’s one of the most important ministries of the local church in particular, so that’s why we try to train people in biblical counseling, to train ministers in particular and servants of the church in biblical counseling. But I wouldn’t do it just in counseling without the biblical in front, and that’s not just a difference in labeling. If understood rightly, it’s an absolute difference in substance and approach and convictions.

Wow. What an interesting set of questions and my commitment with you is to seek to think biblically, and seek to encourage us all to think biblically together. 

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 again on Monday for The Briefing.

R. Albert Mohler, Jr.

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