Jerry and Cristie Johnston interview Texas Super Lawyer W. Mark Lanier

Lanier has won court verdicts totaling between $12 – $13 billion dollars. In October 2012, Mr. Lanier was awarded the coveted Clarence Darrow Award. In 2015, Mark was named the 2015 Trial Lawyer of the Year by The National Trial Lawyers and The Trial Lawyer magazine during the Trial Lawyers Summit in Miami. Pepperdine, St. John’s, and Trinity International Universities have bestowed Honorary Doctorate degrees on Mr. Lanier. Cristie and I sat down with him at his remarkable Lanier Theological Library, which exhibits exquisite, unique architecture and houses a comprehensive collection of 100,000 books, periodicals, magazines, artifacts, and historical documents all designed to aid the serious study of Scripture in Houston and include one of the highest esteemed collections of C.S. Lewis. The Stone Chapel on the grounds of the Lanier Library is a reconstruction of a 500 A.D. church in Tomarza, Cappadocia (Turkey) and was built using photos of the original church ruins taken in 1909 as well as an analysis of the site by a Harvard student published in 1971. Mark extended his legal defense skills in his book, Christianity on Trial: A Lawyer Examines the Christian Faith.

“Let’s talk first about Christianity on Trial. Cristie, I know you had some questions about the book.

Dr. Cristie Johnston: Well, Mark you spend your life in the art of convincing. So if you had 60 seconds or less to convince me the truths about Christianity. How would you approach that?

Lanier: Cristie, the biggest problem I see with a lot of people is they want to prove Christianity in the way you prove science. In science, you can prove in a laboratory.  Mathematics, you can prove on a chalkboard. And those are valid ways to prove science and mathematics, but if I want to prove does Cristie love Jerry; Dr. Johnston love Dr. Johnston? You can’t prove whether someone loves another with science, in scientific methodology. It’s the wrong measure of proof. In courtrooms, we recognize that because we have to prove not only who ran the red light, or did the product cause a heart attack, or did so and so murder so and so, but we have to prove things like, what is the level of pain and suffering. What is the level of mental anguish? Does someone love someone? And you can’t prove those things scientifically. You prove them by what’s called the preponderance of the evidence. What’s more likely than not? And that’s proof. And so when I want to engage someone in whether or not Christianity is true, the first thing I try and do is help them understand that proof is not simply science. There are loads of things. We can’t prove ‘was Napoleon at Waterloo’ by science. We have to use other methods of proof, and that’s where I start with people.”

We certainly captured on film a stunning interview with one of America’s very finest trial attorneys. Are there proofs for the Christian faith? Why are believers not informed and articulate to share these faith facts? Further, what are the specific reasons why nearly 70 million adult Americans have “disaffiliated” from the church? Cristie and I drilled down on this issue and Mark’s answers were thought provoking. We have now filmed with nearly 90 international leaders and our documentary saga continues. We will keep you informed as we move to its release and the invaluable ancillary support resources designed for children, youth, and adults.

www.lanierthelogicallibrary.org


Researchers, Drs. Jerry and Cristie Jo Johnston, are Executive Producing a quick-paced film via trans continental, staccato interviews documenting the shocking rise of the non-religious.

Jerry Johnston Interviews Youth With A Mission Senior Leader Mark Anderson regarding the Largest Missions Organization in the World

Are all Millennials “nones”? Not at all. Over 30,000 young people are engaged in evangelism throughout the world serving through YWAM in over 180 countries in 1,100 locations. I spent the day with Mark Anderson who has served for decades next to YWAM founder, Loren Cunningham. Multiple thousands of people are coming to Christ in China, Indonesia, and many other countries — the true “news” stories of our day that the media will never report. I consider him one of my most respected friends. Spending time with Anderson, founder of the global pastor/leader movement call2all.org, I was captivated by stories he shared that sounded like the Acts of Apostles in the 21st century. The Chinese church is raising up 1MM missionaries to take the Gospel worldwide. YWAM features no hierarchical organization chart, which is perhaps one of the reasons for their massive growth and effectiveness. Antidotal to a grim spiritual landscape in North America and Western Europe, YWAM and its army of passionate youth committed to the Great Commission reminds us of what the power of prayer and vision can accomplish.

“The idea that Loren had … and he got it from the Lord, very sovereignly, was that you don’t have to wait until your 30, 35, 40, to engage the Lord and move into some category of influence. God made it clear to him that you can help the young people who are still teenagers, certainly college age, to experience missions and have their lives changed, and encounter the Lord on very deep levels, and make a difference even while they are young. So Youth With A Mission idea is ‘catch them young’ and give them an opportunity to do what we typically think are ‘adult things’ particularly 50 years ago. Nobody thought you could send an 18-year-old to a mission field. You had to be Bible college, Seminary, experience something somewhere, and then be funded, and then you could go. He blew all that up, by God’s direction … now it is normal.”

Why does it seem God is moving in demonstrable ways in nations other than the United States of America? Why do Chinese and Indonesian Christians, who often suffer for their faith, eagerly risk their lives, social status, and much more? One distinction Cristie Jo and I have observed as we travel the globe is their determination to learn “why” they believe “what” they believe. Discipleship has replaced ‘entertainment’ Christianity. As a couple, we will take you on an international journey transcending the shallow reasons for American Christianity’s decline, paradoxically, at the same time it is booming in other nations where Christian leaders are daring to call people to a higher level of commitment and catechism long overdue.

Mark Anderson is the founder and president of www.call2all.org. He has served in Christian ministry since 1977 in a variety of capacities including senior leadership in www.ywam.org.


 

Jerry Johnston Interviews Peter S. Williams on the Religious Prospect of Britain

 

Certainly saddened by rise of nones, the pastors and researchers we have interviewed are not entirely disheartened. Though being refined, the church in the UK is experiencing Continue reading “Jerry Johnston Interviews Peter S. Williams on the Religious Prospect of Britain”

Jerry Johnston Researches Reason Rally 2016: David Silverman

Though he comes from Jewish roots, David Silverman has been an atheist for most of his life and is currently the president of the non-profit organization American Atheists. The organization supports atheist rights and the effective removal of any governmental religious expression. I watched Silverman define the term “atheist” for the large crowd at the Reason Rally in June 2016 at our nation’s capital:

“An atheist, ladies and gentlemen, is a person without theism, a person without a belief in god, atheism. A person without a belief in a deity. If you don’t have that belief in a deity, you’re an atheist. It’s not about whether or not you’re absolutely sure there are no gods, and it’s not whether or not you know everything in the universe. It’s about what you know. If you don’t have a belief in a god, you’re an atheist. If you don’t have a belief in a god and you absolutely hate the word “atheist” too bad, you’re still an atheist.”

              Atheism is rising as millennials leave their faith in millions. These “nones” were raised in a biblically illiterate culture surrounded by people who think belief in a god is irrational. With our upcoming documentary and accompanying resources, Cristie Jo and I want to partner with churches and help individuals. Just as Silverman clarified the definition of “atheist,” we must clarify what it means to be a Christian.


Researchers, Drs. Jerry and Cristie Jo Johnston, are Executive Producing a quick-paced film via trans continental, staccato interviews documenting the shocking rise of the non-religious.

Jerry Johnston Researches Reason Rally 2016: Anthony Pinn

The applause that met Anthony Pinn as he greeted the crowd at the Reason Rally was proof of his popularity in secular circles. In June of 2016, I stood with that crowd and listened to Pinn, an American professor of religion and theology from Rice University in Houston, Texas. Pinn is the founder and director of the Center for Engaged Research and Collaborative Learning, and he had something to say about the existence, or lack thereof, of gods.

“For much of the year, we do what we do, the hard work that’s necessary to make this nation more reasonable within the confines of our local communities and regional organizations, but this weekend, this day, we stand strong, family committed to reason and logic. We are prepared to carry our reason without regret, without shame, and with a determination to demand life free of prejudice and discrimination, because we choose to live life based upon reason rather than the words of old books somehow deemed sacred. Theists may try to dismiss us but we will not be ignored. We will not stand by while religious paranoia rules the day, strangling public life. Today marks a new day, a bright and beautiful day when we recognize the public importance of atheism and humanism. We are good without gods.”

              Pinn’s chilling statement “We are good without gods” should spur Christian leaders and pastors as they strive to teach men and women in an increasingly secular culture. Could you counter Anthony Pinn?  Cristie Jo and I earnestly desire to partner with pastors as they seek to fight the rising tide of biblical illiteracy among professing Christians. To facilitate this partnership, we are developing resources that will assist all ages in their quest for biblical literacy.

Jerry Johnston Researches Reason Rally 2016: Larry Decker

My crew and I attended the Reason Rally in Washington DC in June of 2016 to document the largest gathering of atheists in America. We listened to Larry Decker, the Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America, and long-time government relations professional in the capital. He spent nearly eight years in leadership with the American Red Cross and was the campaign manager for D.C. mayoral candidate, Reta Jo Lewis. Decker said,

“This is a rally that supports religious freedoms, for those who believe, and those who don’t. This is a rally that supports the freedom of, and more importantly, the freedom from, religion. This is a rally to unite all Americans around shared secular values, because secular values are American values. How this Reason Rally is remembered will depend not on what we do here today, but what we do every single day after we go home. I want this Reason Rally to be remembered as a turning point in American history; as the day we started to repeal the religious privilege and exemption laws that the Right has forced on the federal government, on our State houses, and on each of us.”

Sadly, the trend in the North American church is secularization and conformity to the culture. As Christians, our values should come from scripture. Can you defend the truth of the bible and the reasons we have for maintaining our Christian values? Millennials have obviously been left ill-equipped to face such questions and resort to abandoning their faith. Cristie and I are producing resources to equip Christians of all ages to defend the truth of the Bible.


Researchers, Drs. Jerry and Cristie Jo Johnston, are Executive Producing a quick-paced film via trans continental, staccato interviews documenting the shocking rise of the non-religious.

Jerry Johnston Researches Reason Rally 2016: Ian Harris

Satirical comedian Ian Harris has appeared on popular shows, including Jimmy Kimmel Live! and Comedy Central, as well as his own TV special “Critical and Thinking” that is currently on Hulu. He has a skeptical comment for everything from global warming to religion. With his wit and humor, Harris entertained the crowd of the Reason Rally in Washington DC this summer:

              “God creates these two people, Adam and Eve, puts them in this garden. He said, do not eat this fruit. There’s this forbidden tree of knowledge, we can’t have you thinking or learning, so do not eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge. And then a little while goes by and a talking snake comes along and he says, yeah, don’t worry about that guy, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Go ahead and eat the fruit. They eat the fruit, God goes, whoa, I told you not to eat the fruit. Now I’m going to have to punish everybody for all eternity by sending them to burn in eternal hellfire, right? And that’s what he does. You’re born, sorry, you go to hell. Why? She ate some fruit, I’m sorry.  You’re born, you go to hell. You’re born, I’m sorry, it’s called justice. That’s how it works. You’re born, you go to hell. Sorry, she ate the fruit. You’re born, you go to – yeah, and then after a few thousand years, or you know, a couple million, depending on whose book you read, God says to himself, I might be being a tad bit irrational. I’m going to have another child, this time a son, and murder him, so that you don’t have to go to hell because this chick ate some fruit. At that point, my daughter gets really angry with me. She goes, Daddy, stop it! Quit being silly. That doesn’t make any sense. Now would you just tell me the real story? And I look at her and I go, you know what, baby girl, that is the appropriate response.”  

              Harris’ version of the Gospel is quite different from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Are you able to discern the difference? Can you defend your beliefs? Cristie Jo and I are making a documentary and writing many other resources that will teach men and women the truths of the Gospel.

 


Researchers, Drs. Jerry and Cristie Jo Johnston, are Executive Producing a quick-paced film via trans continental, staccato interviews documenting the shocking rise of the non-religious.

Jerry Johnston Researches Reason Rally 2016: Mark White

At the Reason Rally in Washington, D.C., Mark White, the bass player for the 1990s band the Spin Doctors and an active member of the atheist community, addressed the crowd from the main stage. Mark is a proponent of actively combatting Christianity rather than tolerating it through the New Atheism Movement. After speaking about the hypocrisy of Christians, Mark said:

“So one of the things that really made me upset in the beginning was that being an atheist was a horrible thing. Like, I had – I just chose not to believe in God because there’s no evidence. I realized there was no evidence. I read the Bible. I did everything that was in the Bible that you’re supposed to do, and none of this came out. And so when I became an atheist, I got, like super crazy attacked. All my Christian friends were like, “You’re going straight to hell. What the hell’s wrong with you? You shouldn’t be doing that. God’s gonna strike you down.” And so like, I’m – you know, look, I’m here today, so I thought I’d be struck down before I got here, actually. But here I am. So for all you Christian people, and all you people who are on the fence, the best thing you can do is to question everything.”

Reason and logic pose no threat to the validity of the Christian message. Are you aware of the evidence that supports the conclusion that the Bible is true? Aside from our upcoming documentary, Cristie Jo and I are writing and developing many other digital resources that will equip men and women of all ages with the truth.  


Researchers, Drs. Jerry and Cristie Jo Johnston, are Executive Producing a quick-paced film via trans continental, staccato interviews documenting the shocking rise of the non-religious.