Tyler Seabloom Contemporary Christian Belief When God Goes to Starbucks Coffeehouses are generally places that foster deep conversations; whether they be simple, philosophical or theological. In the book “ When God Goes to Starbucks”, Paul Copan attempts to tackle some of the big issues that are brought up in a Starbucks setting. The main issues addressed are homosexuality, jihad wars and miracles. In Chapter 8 entitled “ Does the Bible Condemn Loving, Committed Homosexual Relationships? ” Copan dissects the issue of homosexuality in a delicate fashion. As Christians, it is very easy to place the “ gay lifestyle” on the hot seat and think of it as one of the worst sins one can possibly commit. Not diminishing the sinfulness of homosexuality, Copan explains that “ Scripture doesn’t highlight homosexual acts as the greatest wrongs but includes them in lists of other sinful practices. ” (92) (Such as fornication, idolaters, and adulterers (1Cor. 6: 9-10)) “ All too often self-proclaimed “ Bible-believing Christians” can act with a smug moral superiority toward homosexuals…” (78) Heterosexual people act this way because they cannot understand how something so unnatural can even be a coherent thought for a person. Copan states that as Christians we should be welcoming to everyone from every background and lifestyle. Another point that is made is that Scripture doesn’t speak against homosexual inclinations, only homosexual actions. Everyone lusts. Whether it is heterosexual or homosexual, lust is a sin; the decision to act on that lust is a different story. It is just as bad for a man to lust after a man, as it is for a man to lust after a woman (lust is lust). God says that we have already committed adultery in our minds just by lusting. Although the cause of homosexuality is unknown, people can have homosexual feelings AND still be a Christian as longs they do not act upon their desires. Many homosexuals use the excuse of “ That’s the way I was born” in order to justify their gay lifestyle. Copan asserts that if everyone used that excuse, then pedophilia, bestiality and necrophilia would also be justified. This is ironic because homosexuality is thought of today to be a normal and “ natural” feeling, and yet people see pedophilia and bestiality as disgusting fetishes. Although homosexuality goes directly against the sanctity of marriage, God and His Word can still transform those who have participated in homosexual activity. In Ch. 9, Copan approaches the question “ aren’t we born gay? ” in a more biological fashion. Without too much repetition from chapter 8, the biggest point in this chapter is that most data has supported that homosexuality is not caused by genetics, but rather a stream of dysfunctional same-sex attractions/relationships in one’s youth. Copan uses the example of an artsy, nonathletic boy who is intelligent and sensitive. If the masculine bullies of the school call him “ sissy” and reject him, he will automatically surround himself with the gender that accepts him: women. Since this boy spends his time exclusively with women as he is developing through puberty, the conversations that surround him will be about how attractive boys are. In order to continue being accepted by this group, this artsy boy will join in on the conversation and eventually develop a curiosity and attraction to the very men that rejected him. Gay marriage is probably the most confusing discussion on homosexuality. Especially now that is becoming legal in states around America. In chapter 10, Copan starts off by saying that “ Part of the problem in the gay marriage debate is that emotions run high on both sides. Each side digs in its heels and refuses to budge in any way. ” (108) So should we as Christians act to the legalization of something we know is a direct violation of God’s Word? First, Copan states that we as Christians are called to show grace and reserve and to extend friendship to those who disagree with our view. Many Christians are (but shouldn’t be) homophobic and are legitimately afraid of homosexuals. Acting in this way is not Christ-like and is in some cases a sin in-and-of itself. An interesting question proposed by Copan is “ Why restrict marriage to two persons–or even to humans? If marriage is merely a socially constructed arrangement, why should any marital arrangement be preferred over any other, and why should gays get preferential treatment over others? ” (117) Basically, why are homosexuals being supported but a man involved in bestiality with his dog cannot be married? Going along with this point, Copan notes that we should be careful about gay marriage and gay adoption because support of this “ fetish” (if you will) moves us in the direction of pedophilia being accepted. However, regardless of what happens with gay marriage in the future, we as the church should live our lives with grace and love and exude the kindness and acceptance that we were shown on the Cross. Chapters 12-14 ask the question “ Aren’t the Bible’s “ Holy Wars” Just Like Islamic Jihad? Copan starts off this section by stating that God’s ultimate plan is to bring salvation to all the nations through Abraham’s offspring, even if this may mean bringing just punishment to a morally depraved culture to pave the way for Messiah’s world-saving mission. (142) Also, God is the only one who is justified to kill. We as humans did not create humans, and it is therefore not in our authority to kill another human. In Bible times, God uses people and armies as his tools for holy destruction, but this is only because He is God. “ God is the giver of life and can legitimately take it back again. ” (142) “ The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away…” (Job 1: 21) Yahweh directly punished Sodom and Gomorrah, but he also used the army of Israel to punish the morally corrupt Canaanites. Copan also shortly approaches this question from a historical and literal stance. He explains that the word jihad refers to an internal, spiritual struggle or to physical fighting and that in the late eighth century–jihad was more closely connected to the latter. (148) Paul also mentions that the Crusades were carried out in the name of Christ, even though they weren’t conducted in the spirit of Christ. Despite this, the Crusades are still considered different from the militaristic bent that Muhammad’s campaigns exuded. Lastly, Copan gives a side-by-side comparison of the OT Yahweh and Islamic Jihad. This table clearly shows just how much Yahweh and the Jihad differ in geography, objects of war, God’s love, morality standard, fulfilling God’s plan and normativity of war. The general difference between these two is that God’s will is peace and love, whereas Muhammad’s is aggression on those who don’t love God. The last big topic that Copan talks about is on miracles. Many atheists and agnostics will argue that “ miracles are unscientific”, however this is completely false. God made a natural self-sustaining world (at least to some degree) and uses different biological processes at His will to perform miracles. People deny the existence of miracles just because the chance of certain scientific processes happening in a certain chain is extremely rare. God uses the processes in the world He created for His purposes. An example of God’s divine activity is the impeccable timing of the earthquake at Jericho. Copan also talks about the distinction between deism and our God. Deism is the belief the God lets the universe run on its own and has no part in it. This is false because God is a personal, omniscient being who has concern for the world He created. Lastly, Copan briefly touches on the belief that only gullible people believe in miracles. Many who say this demand to know how miracles are performed before they believe miracles are possible. To combat this, Copan uses the example of light. God said, “ Let there be light! ” which is a miracle in itself, and yet people don’t question the existence of light and how it could have possibly been created. I enjoyed the majority of the book very much! Although Paul Copan doesn’t break any significantly new ground, he gives simple and concise arguments against a few questions regarding Christianity. Our faith is based on God’s revelation to us through Christ and as our society moves farther and farther away from God, we must be ready to answer any question that is thrown our way. This is why apologetics is so important. I would give the book 3. 75/5 stars.
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