Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Short & Sweet.

If God meant sex as a bond between a man and his wife as means of procreation.. is Surrogacy a sin?
Is artificial insemination a sin? If a woman is baren, did God mean for her not to bear children. Is having someone else carry your child through your husband wrong in God's eyes?

Feedback is appreciated.

Friday, March 25, 2011

An Atheist Holiday


In Florida, an atheist created a case against Easter and Passover Holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians and Jews and observances of their holy days.  The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days.  

The case was brought before a judge.  After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel declaring, "Case dismissed!"  
The lawyer immediately stood objecting to the ruling saying, "Your honor, How can you possibly dismiss this case?  The Christians have Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my client and all other atheists have no such holidays.."  

The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, "But you do. Your client, counsel, is woefully ignorant."  
 The lawyer said, "Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists."  

The judge said, "The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day.  Psalm 14:1 states, 'The fool says in his heart, there is no God.'  Thus, it is the opinion of this court, that, if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool.  Therefore, April 1st is his day.
Court is adjourned.."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Good Deeds

   I misplaced my cell phone charger and my phone died sometime last night. I was very irritated with myself about this. I had to drive all the way to Wal Mart to spend 15 dollars on a phone charger that was not even up to standard with the one I already owned. I was very disgruntled as I drove back home with my wallet weighing a little less, and then it began to rain.. could it get any worse?
As I was driving and reflecting on my miserable day, I noticed an old beat up truck on the side of the road with the flashers on. I did not think much about about it until I saw an elderly woman making an exhausting effort to retrieve something heavy out of the back of the truck. I instinctively pulled over and when I got out I asked her if she needed any help.
She looked at me with relief and said "Well my husband had a stroke and I'm trying to get his wheel chair into the truck so it does not get wet."
My heart broke and I quickly helped her load the surprisingly heavy chair into the cab. After a pretty tiring ten minutes she looked at me and started to swell with tears and went to the driver's side of the truck to retrieve her purse and proceeded to get out a 5 dollar bill and gestured toward me. I protested and told her I could not accept her money. She continued to insist and eventually I gave in and she just smiled and hugged me and told me how much she appreciated my help.
As I waved goodbye and drove away I found myself smiling and crying. This simple act of kindness made everything else that day seem so unimportant. And then I thought to myself, if this one event made me feel this wonderful, why am I not helping people as much as possible every day?

A Post in My Dad's Blog

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Heresy For My Daughter's Birthday, by Scott Shirley

The internet’s social universe has been buzzing for a week over the upcoming release of Rob Bell’s new book, “Love Wins.”  Bell will apparently endorse the concept of Universalism (the idea that everyone will ultimately be saved and hell is not a real place) and, as expected, many of the bloggers and writers who find this idea heretical to the Christian faith have voiced their disapproval.  As a fan of spirited discussions, I have read many of the articles, pro and con, enjoying the dialogue immensely.  And though I don’t feel theologically qualified to burden anyone with my opinion on the topic of Universalism, I have been drug into the fray in a completely unexpected way… as a parent.  One of my daughters wants the book.

On March 1st, my daughter Amber sent me the following request for “Love Wins” on my Facebook page… http://www.facebook.com/#!/sgshirley/posts/1834043018049

This raises a serious issue for a Christian parent.  Should a parent willingly support their child’s interest into topics that are controversial?  I want my children to be intellectually curious, to search for truth by dialoging with both sides of an issue instead of having their beliefs dictated to them.  But can I, as a parent, go too far in encouraging this free and open pursuit?  Does prudence demand I discourage my children from at least some of the topics “on the edge” or does intellectual freedom rule the parent’s day?

Surely a good parent would never encourage their kid to read a book about the inherent values of socialism or agnosticism, evolution or atheism.   Maybe, maybe not.  But what if my daughter wanted me to buy her a book entitled “The Joys of Prostitution”; would I make a quick trip to Barnes & Noble all in the name of intellectual freedom? (By the way, there is no book with this title.  I checked.)

Isn’t there a line somewhere?

It is an interesting question… and a difficult one.  I don’t pretend to have an authoritative answer but I will say what I think.  I think that as long as I believe one of my children want to read or investigate an issue because they have a genuine curiosity fueled by a search for truth, then I will support them.

Thomas Paine once said, “It is error only, and not truth, that fears inquiry.” I sure hope he’s right because I plan on buying Rob Bell’s book and giving it to my daughter on her birthday.

Agree or disagree?  If you are a parent I would love to hear your opinion.


Gretta said...
I understand your points totally and agree with many of them. However, we have taught our children about the Theory of Evolution and we even watched the documentary on the life of Charles Darwin together. It only served to reaffirm their faith that GOD created all. Our belief is that we can't "shelter" our kids from these issues because they need to understand why some people believe them and see why those theories/beliefs are Biblically wrong and totally void of God. And how can we as Christians effectively witness to people if we have no idea how or why they believe the way they do and what they base their belief on??? We would just stand there all day arguing back & forth with each other because we don't understand them and they don't understand us. It would get us nowhere. But to have studied controversial issues or issues that go against our beliefs, allows us to be able to see why they believe that way, how that belief is founded and would open up a whole new level of communication between two people. Now I do think these things should be introduced to our children at age appropriate times but as Christian parents we have to not be afraid to foster our children's "inquisitive side of controversial issues". These issues will arrive at some point in their lives and wouldn't we rather have them solidly prepared for when they do so that they continue to stand on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ rather than to begin questioning why they believe the way they do or how they were raised because these concepts are new to them and bring up doubt about what they have always been taught? Right on Scott for buying your daughter that book!! I know it will spur some great discussions between the two of you and as a parent you will be continuing to build her firm foundation in Jesus Christ through the decision to buy that book!
Neil Rampy said...
You raise a good question and one I'm sure many people struggle with. I'm a parent, but my son's far too young ask for anything more controversial than sugar cookies for breakfast. Spiritual issues are especially touchy because we want to see our children in heaven with us one day. I'd say buy the book for your daughter. She may get some insight from it. She might put the idea of Universalism to rest in her mind after reading it. If you're concerned about the book's influence on her, then you might buy along with Rob Bell's book a book she's never read but has been inspirational to you. It might foster some critical thinking about the issue of salvation and present another side of the argument. I know some in my own family have taken with the Universalist camp. I think the idea will be around for a while, so we should be informed about it.
Tim Miller said...
It's a lot like sex---there is a time and place for it (perhaps when they ask) and I would rather them hear it from me (or with me or with my awareness)because they will get their information somewhere. It's best if we, as parents, are involved.
Kay Walker said...
As a parent of a offspring who fits into the young adult catagory, I could not in good conscience encourage my son to read watch things that are unhealthy for him (i.e. porn), but if he is wanting to investigate spiritual things - even ones with which I disagree - I feel I must encourage that exploration. Lynn Anderson once said that the spirit of spiritual exploration and willingness to see things differently that we applaud in those of previous generations, we fear in our children. We fear that they will come to conclusions that do not agree with our conclusions. I also know my son well enough to know that, should he be truly intested in a particular book or piece of music, he will get it for himself if his wishlist item is not filled by someone else. He is spiritually and intellectually curious; he accepts ownership of his own faith - which is exactly what I believe God calls him to. Myself? I would buy my son the book. And one for me, too. That way I can discuss with him what he is reading. Dialogue is essential for growth - both theirs and ours. While watching our young adult children leading in worship, a friend of my leaned over and said, "They're looking more like His kids than our kids." Let it be so, Lord. Let it be so.
Jason Bradley said...
You all are acting like universalism couldn't *possibly* be true, and thus the only value for knowing the arguments for it is to be able to refute them. What if Scott's daughter read the book, examined the reasoning, and yes, considered the dissenting arguments, and came to the honest conclusion she believes in universalism? The comments here imply that this would be the worst of all tragedies. Have anyof you considered the possibility that after you read the book yourselves that you just might be convinced that universalism might be true? If you've already made up your minds before you've heard his suggested evidence (or at least found out whether he presents any arguments you haven't heard before), then it certainly evokes the impression that you deny universalism for reasons other than the credibilty of the evidence.
wjcsydney said...
There are a few assumptions I see here. Firstly is that the Rob Bell book teaches universalism. Secondly is that universalism is heresy. I discuss everything (matters spiritual and non-spiritual) with my 16 year old (Christian) daughter. If anything can be refuted by an intellectual argument, then it's not worth holding. I trust that the truth about God can withstand ANY intellectual investigation.
iamdrinkingcoffee.com said...
I'm glad you are buying the book. BTW, there are Universalists that believe Hell is a real place, and God has plans for its use, too. check out www.evangelicaluniversalist.com and www.hopebeyondhell.net Gregory MacDonald's book "The Evangelical Universalist" is a tremendous study on the issue.
Scott Shirley said...
Jason and wjcsydney, For what it is worth, I am not dismissing Universalism. I am not sure if I made that clear in the article.
Tom Forrester said...
It's so great your daughter is curious about the book. I think it far worse if she had no interest in these kinds of things. God rewards those that diligently seek him. How hard it is for parents to release control as our children try their wings. She will likely read the book whether you endorse or not. Enjoy your discussions with her.
Scott Shirley said...
Thanks Tom.
Anonymous said...
Definitely buy the book for the kiddo and one for yourself provided you feel comfortable with it. my sense is that a young adult who is savvy enough to want to read a book espousing universalism is probably capable of discussing it intelligently and who better than her theologically savvy dad? :-) Pro-active is better than reactive and scared my friend. We all have a little heresy in us somewhere. I have been accused of not believing in a hell (nothing could be further from the truth though) because I think that when we reduce the offer of Salvation in Christ (the Gospel) to just a choice of where you spend eternity then we frontload or highjack the Gospel into something it was never intended to be. Not sure of Rob Bell position. I will have to read the book. It has definitely created a stir. I saw his picture and I am sure he is a nice guy. He might be a nice heretic and probably is sincere as I think most who care about such things are. What if he is a heretic though? What then? How do we combat heresy? Ideas have consequences but more and more I live in a culture who says that all ideas are equal and there are no real consequences to really bad theology or thinking (Just try to convince anyone under 26 in my Air Force that the repeal of "Don't ask Don't tell is a bad idea and there will be social penalties to be paid and see what I mean) The church used to have a sort of singular authority to purify doctrine and weed this stuff out but with the Evangelical wing of protestantism in full swing, everyone is their own little interpreter. I guess my bottom line is if he is a heretic, "So what?" Blessings, Vance
Martha Murphree said...
I am not a parent, but I have 6 nieces & nephews whom I love dearly and I've taught high school for 35 years; 11 years in private Christian schools,4 years in a zoned public school and 20 years in a public Academic High School. I agree with you and pray for our children. I think we need to count our blessings when our children are willing to think seriously about things that matter. The far greater danger is for them to buy into the materialism of our culture and accept just church-going as part of that culture. Faith must be questioned, mulled over, grappled with.
Jason Bradley said...
Excellent point, Martha! Hymns on Sunday and Wednesday night and Justin Bieber the rest of the week isn't doing society *or* religion much good. I love Martin Luther's (possibly attributed) quote: "Better to think of church in the alehouse than to think of the alehouse in church."
Larry said...
Scott, you are a wise Dad. You and your daughter should both read the book and engage in a dialog about it. You both may eventually forget Rob Bell s current position on this issue, but I suspect neither of you will ever forget the discussion you share, the respect you are showing for her, and the quest for the truth that you are modeling for her. Blessings!
Scott Shirley said...
Martha, ditto on the last sentence. Jason, love the Luther quote.. never heard that one. Larry, thanks for the compliment and I am sure we will enjoy the conversation.
Chris Rigoni said...
Well, I am not a parent, but I can give the perspective of a child/teenager/young adult (choose your label). I was raised very conservatively and primarily in the Pentecostal and Baptist denominations. My parents were unaware of my extracurricular studies, but if they would have known, I'm sure they would not have approved. They were more the sheltering type. Not that they were good at it, they just attempted to do so. I actually believe I would have been more interested in Christianity as a young adult if this situation had been the case with my parents. I applaud you for getting involved and for encouraging her curiosity and search. Regardless of what you do, she will make up her own mind. Your influence only goes so far and only lasts so long. You have taught her the most important thing she will ever learn: the Gospel. After that, she has to develop her own personal relationship with God. I would suggest that she check the book with scripture, as everything she reads and we all read. Supplements are great, but they should align with scripture. Honestly, if you are not secure enough in your faith to "risk" reading something that you may disagree with for fear that it will shake your beliefs or "get you off of the straight and narrow," then you have more to worry about than a controversial book. I would be proud that she is confident in her faith and can read and debate different commentaries and take from them Truth that is held within, and leave the rest.
Amber Shirley said...
Well I guess it is about time for me to clear up some issues. Let me start by saying to those of who may be curious or concerned about my age. I am definitely not an adult, however, I am far from a child. Just like my father, I was raised very conservatively in the Church of Christ, but always thought that those who surrounded me in my church home always seemed a little self-righteous. I do not intend to offend anyone, but even as a kid, I sensed something was a bit off. I have told my father before that I strongly admire his courage and dedication. I promised myself that I would never be stagnant in my faith and my dad has shown me precisely how to avoid that. When I first dipped into my journey of questions, I had one mindset: I want to know why some people are Atheist. So I began to do my research, and the most heart-breaking discovery that I made was that almost every Atheist’s blog or essay I read, was more knowledgeable about my God and my Bible. I was shocked at how little I knew about the roots of my religion and how little I knew about the word of God. That’s when I began reading. I read everything I could and I was fascinated by how much I learned. Unfortunately, as I began to read, I began to disagree wit some of the ideas that had been forced down my throat my entire life. I discovered that I had been so closed-minded as far as my Christianity was concerned. I also learned that you cannot force your beliefs on other people and that it is much more rewarding to learn about the ideas of others and form your own opinions rather than persecute them. The bible tells us in Peter chapter 3 to be able to give a reason for your faith, but to so in a humble and gentle manner. How can we expect others to respect our ideas if we do not respect theirs? I simply love the idea of be knowledgeable of other beliefs and then deciding on my own how I want to approach them. I might read this book and become a Universalist. I might read the book and know enough about Universalism to know that I do not believe that way. How harmful is that? The most comforting thought I have right now is that most people, after reading this article probably googled Universalism to try to understand it. Because honestly, most of the people arguing against it, have no idea what Universalism even is, and that is collectively my goal. ☺

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Self Righteous Assumptions

A Holier Than Thou Attitude

Assumptions are “just the way things are.”
Assumptions are “how its always been done.”
Assumptions are “the way the world works.”

     We Assume anyone that is different is wrong. We assume that sense most people aren't gay, then those who are, are wrong. There is great conflict about whether the bible is literal, or to be taken in contrast, or maybe its all figurative. Because of this ambiguous line, we assume that we have the power and authority to interpret the bible in a specific way that we choose. When this phenomenal translation occurs, we assume anyone who translates it any different, is wrong. We assume the homeless man on the street is a drug addict who could have done better. We assume those who are divorced and re-married are all adulterers. We assume those who are 'saved' will always be saved. 
     Why do we assume so much? We were raised believing a certain way, and maybe we still follow those same guidelines, or maybe we have ventured to find a new way to believe, either way, we think we are right. I can't help imagining that the Muslim believes with all his heart that he is correct in what his religious beliefs are and will one day be rewarded. He believes the same way we do. We all assume we are right. But again I can never completely push away the question, What if I'm wrong? What if everything I have ever done in my faith is insignificant?

Friday, January 28, 2011

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed only one.

Stop whining about how hard your life is, how tired you are, how hungry you are. Start caring about those who would take your 'bad day' over their good day. Reason guides our attempt to understand the world about us. Both reason and compassion guide our efforts to apply that knowledge ethically, to understand other people, and have ethical relationships with other people.


Galatians 5:13
You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

1 Peter 4:10 
 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.

Mark 10:45 
 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Searching for Enthusiasm

"At Oxford - to my surprise - I discovered Christianity. It was the intellectually most exhilarating and spiritually stimulating thing I could ever hope to describe - better than chemistry, a wonderful subject that I had thought to be the love of my life and my future career. I went on to gain a doctorate for research in molecular biophysics from Oxford, and found that immensely exciting and satisfying. But I knew I had found something better - like the pearl of great price that Jesus talks about in the Gospel, which is so beautiful and precious that it overshadows everything. It was intellectually satisfying, imaginatively engaging, and aesthetically exciting."

- Alister McGrath

     Enthusiasm is the inspriration of everything great. Abraham Lincoln once said that success is going from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm. Christians cannot be unenthusiastic about our faith. When we stop searching for answers, that is when we are truly lost. The moment we stop treasuring our search for the truth is the moment we lose sight of the journey that God has placed before us. Becoming stagnant is unacceptable. Being content is hazardous.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
Deuteronomy 31:6

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Timothy 4:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.