No Hope Outside of Christ... great insight into the relationship between man's sin and expereience, and the only solution. (Also a good introduction to Monergism for those not familiar with it.)
Friday, April 27, 2007
PETA is pulling no punches, but now with a letter to Norm Goldstein, editor of The Associated Press Stylebook, has gone to an all time high in its effort to deny the distinction between humans and animals and its effort to supplant the scripture which draws such a distinction.
While readers can view the letter for themselves, let me draw attention to a few significant points found in the letter:
1. PETA's agenda is to attack and replace traditional thinking and values (declared by Scripture).
The letter states "While the world accelerates through the 21st century, progressive ideas are challenging and changing conventional perspectives". Where have those perspectives come from, and where is it that man has come to recognize there is a significant difference between humans and animals? Answer: the Bible. Here's an illustration where if you reject the Bible, you can declare whatever you want, or better put if you want to declare whatever you want, then you must first seek to reject, deny, challenge or change the truth.
2. PETA agenda seeks to deny and wipe away difference between humanity and animals. This is seen in their request for guidelines to reflect the usage of personal pronouns for all animals, and in their statement that animals are felling, intelligent "individuals", not objects. A quick look at Websters Dictionary relates the word personal to that having to do with a person or human being. Peta, in seeking not to establish a new set of pronouns, but to assign "personal" pronouns seeks to exalt all animals to the status that's traditionally been reserved for humans, and in effect also taking away traditional distinctions found in humans from that of animals. What's interesting is that dictionaries also speak of a spirit or soul associated with that which is "personal". Any guesses as to where PETA is headed with this? Will it be to suggest that there is no difference (to do so one must either add revelation of a soul to animals, or to take away the soul of humans, both of which contradicts the Scriptural truth).
3. PETA's agenda speaks of giving animals the "respect" they deserve, without specifying the authority and grounds for that respect. To do so would produce interesting discussion.
4. PETA's agenda sets a false argument in suggesting that one must either view animals as "property" or as people. Is that not an additional category of "animals"? To fail to include that category as an alternative is to mislead.
5. PETA's agenda also sets a false argument in suggesting that one must assign personal pronouns in order to acknowledge that animals are living beings rather than inanimate objects? This too is to mislead.
6. PETA's agenda is no mistake. It draws intentionally on the distinction of male and female within animals but seeks to use that as a means of equating personhood. That would be like suggesting that just because a chair has four legs, then one should refer to a chair as being or possessing the qualities of a table.
May the world recognize the greater issue here, and not be misled by the people of PETA (all of the "more than 1.6 million members and supporters worldwide" ... unbelievable, isn't it? Surely, some them will speak out and show they do not support this, won't they? ... or, is PETA becoming exactly what people have become to think of them as being?)
Act wisely Associated Press, or before long, pit bulls will have more rights than babies named Paul or Paula.
Posted by Swordbearer at 3:14 PM
Ever thought about how ridiculous and unreasonable non theist skeptics are when they seek to disprove God on the basis or denial of miracles?
Some state that science disproves miracles. Other non theists, seek to disprove God by attempting to limit or define by dichotomy the difference between what occurs according to the normal laws and principles we see at work in the universe with God's ability to will and/or to act apart from those laws. Others prove more circular suggesting miracles don't exist because God doesn't exist.
Has it ever occured to these folks that...
1. God, who is above the laws and principles which he established and put in place for the good and regular government and use of mankind, is free not only to act in keeping with those laws but to act above or apart from those laws (and along with those laws).
For example, while the normal laws provide such that a rotation is experienced between the planets and sun, that nothing stops God from stopping this rotation anytime he chooses. I know some have scientifically tried to argue all the physical effects that would necessarily occur if the rotation stopped even for a brief period of time, but is it not reasonable that if one were wise and powerful and sovereign enough to stop the rotation of the planets at will, that he also could not prevent or zero out these other effects at will.
The point being that God is not limited to the dichotomy of either acting within the laws of the universe or acting apart from them, God is free and does act in both manners, both being normal and not extraordinary (on one level) to Him.
2. Even those things that occur in keeping with the normal laws and principles of the universe are extraordinary on one level. Is it not amazing that a person can throw a ball up and have that ball return to them, for while gravity has received a name and appears normal to us, what is it that ultimately causes gravity to work the way it does? Does eternal mass provide satisfactory answers for this? The point being this: While non theists seek to set the miraculous apart from the normal laws and principles, even the normal laws and principles operate on the basis of the miraculous and extraordinary.
3. Something lies behind the sustenance and operation of the things we experience in the physical realm.
For example, while science might explain that a wind blew against a particular sail because of an approaching storm, one must ask why was the storm approaching, and why is that, and why is that, etc.? Are we to suppose that the universe itself is the ultimate watchmaker? Or, doesn't it appear to me more reasonable that a purposeful, intelligent, sovereign creator and being not only created and began things in motion, but remains involved in all things, whether they appear "normal or not"?
4. While science can provide physical explanations for many that take place, can non theists distinguish and/or disprove the existence and participation of the metaphysical behind them?
Seekers, don't fall for the rhetoric often found among non theist apologists. As the writer of Proverbs states "The first to present his case seems right, till another comes forward and questions him."
Posted by Swordbearer at 10:45 AM
RELIGIOUS FANATICISM is a topic of interest in the press and will continue to be so. This is good and Christians should not only welcome this topic of interest in the press and in conversation, but take every opportunity to address the subject as often and as long as people want to talk about it.
Yes, I know that when it comes to religious fanaticism, many are quick to point to the Crusades, or to the Spanish Inquisition, etc., but this is all the more reason for Christians to speak to the subject, not to set the record clear … for the record speaks for itself, but to set the truth before others that they might possess not only mature discernment and judgment, but come to understand the unique distinction belonging to Christianity in that it is the only belief system where fanaticism (or adhering to, or being obedient to, or becoming more and more committed in and to the faith) not only results in greater good for the individual but for society as well.
You ask “But what about the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, etc.?” ....
The truth is that when one uses discernment, separates the various issues involved in the situations named, and not only possesses sound biblical understanding but compares the issues with the true teaching of the Scripture, one quickly finds that every abuse or wrongdoing resulted from either misunderstanding, mishandling, or misapplication of the Scripture, even when it was carried out in the name of the Scripture, or Christianity itself.
The truth of the matter though is that becoming a true fanatic of the truth Christian faith and religion leads one toward conforming more and more to Christ and to the highest ideals, principles, and practices of life as set forth in the Scripture, something that not only leads to truth and personal holiness, but also the good of one’s fellow man and society.
This is true only of Christianity!
All other religions and belief systems, if carried out fanatically (or consistently and persistently) not only would fail to display the characteristics and attributes that Christianity does (including the unity, purity, peace, and edification), but would ultimately bring about either a combination of darkness, denial, deceit, desertion, despair, destruction, and death, either in the physical or spiritual realm.
For example, utilitarians ultimately must deny the truth (or all the factors involved) or ditch purity at some level in order to always result in or increase the happiness (or utility) of a person or the “average happiness of a society”.
Muslims, who hold that that infidels are to be sought out and made to submit or be killed show their hand.
Secular humanists who seek to redefine the human condition when it comes to sin, unlike some other fanatics who abuse by heaping false guilt on individuals, go in the other direction by denying the guilt that belongs to man, and thereby harms the individual by not only causing misunderstanding, confusion, conflict, or denial, but keeps them from understanding and acknowledging their greatest need, which is redemption and forgiveness leading to righteousness and eternal life.
Think about an atheist who lives consistently with his belief that man has no purpose or ultimate accountability (or is just free to come up with his own purpose, whatever that may be). Even those atheists who believe that the freedom of man to believe as he will, who believes the preservation, propagation and advancement of humanity is the ultimate goal, etc., where does that leave the expressions of others who believe differently, what does mean when it comes to one whose teachings are in their opinion in sharp contrast to that goal, etc.?
The list could go on… but this much is clear: The world today, caused by alarm due to potential threats to their physical bodies and lives, are concerned about fanaticism on ONE level; but when one’s eyes are opened to understand fanaticism as it relates not only to physical harm and abuse, but to EVERY other sphere of life as well, there is only one belief system that leads to godliness and light (consisting of all goodness, righteousness and truth) and that is found solely in the purity and committed practice of Christianity.
Why, O Christians, do we shy away, from those subjects that lead directly to the exclusive beauty and provisions of Christ? May we do so no longer, but magnify his truth and righteousness, that the world may come to see Him, and submit to his glory!
(And perhaps, it's a good thing, there aren't more fanatics in this world ...
though on another level, it's also true that people do live in conformity with their beliefs to the extent they are allowed and feel free and beneficial to do so.)
Fanaticism is not just hijacking a religion, or living out a bad religion or one which does harm to others, fanaticism can include anything that people are passionate about and seek to serve; but this much we know: while much of the emphasis centers on Islam and perhaps Christianity, it's NOT limited to these!
Posted by Swordbearer at 8:28 AM
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Paul Kurtz, Editor in Chief of Free Inquiry (the Secular Humanist Bulletin), has written an article entitled “’Yes’ to Naturalism, Secularism, and Humanism” in order to define what the “illustrious FREE INQUIRY contributors” are for, but in doing so he also provides indirectly a clear and articulate agenda for the Secular Humanists. This agenda seeks not only to mirror, but to replace everything that Christianity (and/or theists) consider not only important but essential in life and practice. In effect...
...SECULAR HUMANISTS SEEK NOT ONLY:
to replace God by becoming God themselves(wishing to “realize the goodness of life” apart from God for themselves and others, and to “create a better world”);
to replace God as the author, sustainer and taker of life (by providing “abundant opportunities for achieving the good life),
to replace the Spirit (by using their own “method of inquiry” along with an open mind and applying the best methods of objectivity, corroboration, and replication to work out explanations of what we find in nature.”),
to replace God’s eternal law as the basis for morality and ethnic (by “seeking the realization of autonomous human values, independent of theology), but
to replace both the church and the comfort it brings (by providing “new sources of community and comfort that can provide the aesthetic and moral dimensions for new forms of ‘spirituality’ realized in naturalistic terms”).
Secular Humanists even seek:
to replace Christ and the redemption offered through him (by asserting “new and useful recommendations concerning the human condition”).
Were it not for natural intuition; the reasonable comfort and appeal which is discovered and experienced through faith findings and solutions; the witness and testimony of those who know and enjoy God through more wholistic methods of inquiry (Christianity); and the lack of real solutions along with comfort and appeal that secular humanism offers ..this might serve more of a threat than it is!
... but evenso, I believe it important that both Christians and non-Christians alike, both theists and non-theists alike need to sit up and take notice of what is not only being offered and suggested, but what is being pursued!
...for while the average Christian in America sees at times the Bible come under attack, or the Ten Commandments or the laws of our land come under attack, or even the church come under attack, I do not believe the average Christian today recognizes the sum and totality and integrated nature of the attack leveled against both our faith and our way of life. If so, many more would wake up and not only show more concern for what is taking place, but take a more active role and voice in protecting, preserving and promoting the faith we now enjoy and benefit so greatly from.
I’d like to address this article and agenda by looking at several issues:
THE AIM OF THE SECULAR HUMANISTS
Let it be clear that the aim of the secular humanists (or scientific naturalists, or humanist ethicists, or atheists or agnostics, or whatever other label or name they call themselves by, whether they are full secularists or affiliated only in part) is not to simply sit back and propose their principles and propositions, but to actively seek to remove God and any way, manner, expression or communication related to the supernatural from society and from being propagated to persons or future generations. In Paul Kurtz’ own words, “scientific critics of theism are to be applauded for making it clear why they cannot accept the God hypothesis and why they reject the theistic tales and parables of the past”; “supernaturalism was thus replaced by naturalism”; they “reject the ancient mind’s simple invocation of hidden deities who reward or punish human behavior”; “What matters is that we begin by opening the ‘Book of Nature,’ not ancient books of scripture, such as the Bible or the Qur’an”; they seek “the realization of autonomous human values, independent of theology”; they are “committed to the separation of the church … and state” and “consider political liberties so vital and theocracy so dangerous”, they “deplore supernaturalists’ attempts to flee from reason and freedom”, and they seek “to supplant the God hypothesis”.
THE EVALUATION OF REASONABLE RESPONDERS
While the secular humanists speak of being able to provide exactly those things that most recognize now that only God can provide, is it really so, or are there shortcoming and pitfalls to their approach?
First, one must recognize the inherent inadequacies of a method of inquiry which for the most part is limited simply to science. Any reasonable person will recognize that there’s more to life, more to personhood, more to man’s psyche, more to man’s experience than just the physical, or than just the study of the physical can either detect or explain. As many have pointed out, such things as love, and beauty, and passion pass beyond the measuring of a laboratory instrument.
Second, one of the greatest weakness of the secular humanist position is it’s failure to address the human condition. While it states that it must assert “new and useful recommendations concerning the human condition”, it fails to do so. While it speaks of its wishes for a “better world”, for “enhancing human freedom in a just world”, for “the possibilities of achieving the fullness of life”, for being committed to truth”, for “…developing a critical understanding of how nature works and why”, and while it acknowledges “the power of affection and love in enriching our lives”, and its challenge to “create alternative institutions that satisfy the hunger for meaning, that satisfy our ideals, that support sympathetic communities, that are able to provide comfort in times of stress”, and it’s desire to its determination … to bring about a more creatively joyful life for ourselves and others in the new planetary civilization that is emerging”, along with its need to “cultivate ethical wisdom and to appreciate the intrinsic value of life”… it fails to acknowledge, address or deal with the problem of SIN. What’s true in experience is that when it comes to the sinful nature of man, which is exactly as the Scripture defines it, man is forced to either deny sin, redefine sin, cover up sin, suppress sin, etc. However, when man does this, he ends up only masking it, hiding it, setting a façade in front of it, mistreating it (such as through anti-depressants, etc.), etc.
Third, what alternative are secular humanists going to provide in order to replace the laws of nature (the laws of God, not only defined in the Scripture, but known to all as evidenced by the testimony of the man throughout the world throughout the ages (who on the whole have agreed to all of them, though they have not always individually agreed on all of them). Can you really improve on them? Not only that, but has not experience shown that apart from absolute law, that man even though he may claim wisdom, progress, modernity, etc., that what’s called right today is either called wrong by another person or group, or will be replaced as wrong tomorrow in the name of that same wisdom, progress, and modernity. Who are you trying to fool? Who is going to make these decisions? What if what you declare right for you is not right for others? What will you do with the inconsistencies? What will you do when people struggle because your systems ultimately must be left to say there is no ultimate justice?
Fourth, while secular humanists claim to either have all the answers, or to be capable in time of achieving them, do they not overestimate the capabilities of man? While they claim they have come to understand the laws that govern the universe such that they are confident there is no God, can they violate these laws without consequence? While they claim to be able to provide the comfort that individuals need, does their counsel satisfy when it comes to death? While they wish for a good, new world, what is going to remove the selfishness, greed, and hatred of man? Can you really have and provide community among those whose ultimate goal is to provide for themselves? Is it enough just to provide “our best resources to cope with” “the disappointments, adversities, and infirmities of life” and when they occur to “endure’ in spite of them? Can humanist provide so that we can endure in spite of all of them? If man could have done these things, and found these answers on his own, would he not have done it long ago, or are we to assume the progress made is that significant that it can now be done? Who are you trying to fool?
Fifth, can secular humanists really replace the church? Can it really extend sympathy and altruism beyond our ethnic and racial groupings – and ultimately to all human beings on the planet earth? If so, then why has it not done it in the past? Do you really care?
Sixth, is life to be found in the things secular humanists are looking for? While we all appreciate health, possessions, etc., is this where life is ultimately found? Or, can life be experience even apart from all these things?
Seventh, can secular humanists provide the euphoria, the ecstasy, and the eutopia that they suggest? Just look to those who now experience the lifestyles of the rich and famous, who have all this world has to offer. Do you find it there? I’ll let you decide.
THE CHRISTIAN RESPONSE
1. Recognize that the agenda of the secular humanists (and all other religions, positions, etc.) is not to simply introduce a principle or practice, but to eradicate everything about God and our way of life.
2. Respond not only personally but by helping others see and understand what’s at stake.
3. Resolve to not allow these agendas to advance either in your lifetimes, your children’s, or in the ages to come, as far as it depends upon you (in God’s providence and grace).
4. Recommit yourself to living and propagating the faith inaccordance with the truth and redemption.
Posted by Swordbearer at 1:28 PM
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Response to Bill O'Reilly's interview with Richard Dawkins.
It’s good to see the interview conducted. I wish it could have been longer.
1. The weakness of O’Reilly’s position of relative truth was exposed by the argument for absolute truth (even if it came from Richard Dawkins)
2. O’Reilly’s “throwing in with Jesus" comment and suggestion of openness to side with others reveals the lack of assurance and foundation of those who hold to religion but have not been drawn by God and come to the knowledge (ginosko = to know experientially, vs. oida/eido, to know cognitively or intuitively) of Christ.
1. Dawkins stated “We have a very FULL understanding of why the tides go in and the tides go out and why the continuents drift about, of why life is there. Science is ever more piling on the evidence, piling on the understanding…” [CAPS - my emphasis]
Interesting that Dawkins later says “We don’t know everything.” Here’s the point, it’s one thing to say as Dawkins does that science has "full" understanding and as he says elsewhere elsewhere that “all was produced by laws acting around us”,... and being able to provide absolute, verifyable, and incontrovertable answers (and “understanding”) as to where those laws have come from, what sustains them, why they act the way they do, and to what end they ultimately serve!
It’s like a person taking a statement apart from (or while denying) the spokesman, and suggesting they fully understand and can fully explain what is being said/revealed.
Does simply giving a law a name like gravity mean that we fully understand it? I'd love to see scientists attempt not just to explain how it works, but why it works the way it works (not referring to simply the relationship between physical objects, etc., but beyond that to why there is a law to begin with, why the law is the way that it is, why it is not something else, etc.)
2. Dawkins stated ““Well, a leap of faith, you don’t actually need a leap of faith, you’re the one who needs a leap of faith, because you are actually, the onus is on you to say why you believe in something…”
Dawkins here either fails to admit he believes in something (that there is no God) or he sets forth an inconsistent standard suggesting that only Christians must provide support for their beliefs.
3. In response to O’Reilly’s statement that “You guys can’t tell us how it all got here.”, Dawkins replies ““We’re working on it. Physicists are working …If you look at the history of science over the centuries, the amount that is gained in knowledge each century is stupendous, in the beginning of the 21st century we don’t know everything we have to be humble we have to in humility say there is a lot we still don’t know.”
Here, he admits that scientists don’t know everything. That’s good to know. (Too bad many of his followers seem to think or suggest the opposite)
4. Dawkins seems to suggest that Hitler and Stalin’s actions had no relationship to their beliefs. (Obviously, he fails to understand what Scripture teaches when he says that “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”)
Posted by Swordbearer at 9:36 AM
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Christians in the west have enjoyed a time of great peace and prosperity; however, as recent events have shown, and the record toward the future continues to reveal, it is going to be incumbent upon these same believers to wake up and face the reality that the future may not be as rosy as the past has been. We must prepare ourselves and deal with that reality.
My support for this thought comes from several observations:
1. Not only the increasing technology when it comes to firepower as well as other means to inflict harm or death upon individuals, but man's continued willingness to use it for this purpose (apart from legitimate uses of the sword by the state)
2. There seems to be an increasing trend for the perpetrators of evil to gain additional notority and seek additional effect by carrying out their crimes in mass (the bigger the better, the more who are harmed the better). (Note: in spheres of decency and peace, acts of this nature should be viewed as of greater guilt and shame!)
3. An increase of attacks on the majority Christian position and strongholds in the west both by enemies outside and within.
4. The encouragement that 9/11 gave to those outside that they can attack within (though thanks are in order to God that since that time, nothing of that size and nature has occurred.)
Why these things are happening to the west I'm not sure. Perhaps, it's because of
steps in which we've taken which communicate our hope and dependence has shifted in degree from the Lord. (Scripture states that God will provide peace even from enemies toward those whose hope, trust and service lie with him. Perhaps other factors such as greed among our corporations, or the constant ramblings within internal politics, or the selfish interests of individuals, etc., and I'm sure factors from other parts of the world affect this as well, but for whatever the reasons, it appears whereas we here in the west have been shielded from much of this, the future may not hold this for us. (It's interesting to hear/see people whose foundations have been shaken to be alarmed and to fear; but those whose hope is in the Lord have no need for fear, though we face the trials and tribulations that come).
There is good and bad that can come from this. The bad, in that being recipients and targets and victims of evil always results in difficulty and suffering. Yet, on the other hand, situations like these can be used by God to wake Christians in the west up again to the realities of this world, to remove indifference and to keep us from being or becoming slothful, lazy, apathetic, and prideful.
What's this got to do with Christian Skepticism. Every aspect of evil that we come up against comes from some source (even from within) that sets itself up against the Lord and his Scripture. Jesus is right on when he said that "the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy" but he has come that believers "may have life and have it to the full." We continue daily to see the deceit, death and destruction that takes place around the world, which comes not from Christ or in keeping with his Word. Yet, at the same time, we see not only the difference, but the opportunity that lies ahead, come what may, for the good that God desires, to come even in the testing and fires that loom potentially on the horizon.
This is all the more reason for individuals to examine their foundations, to act in keeping with the true foundation, to stand firm in the Lord, and to pray and prepare both for the present and the future.
It shouldn't shock us when we hear of wars and rumors of war (Didn't Al Quada even this week speak as though they want to attack on the level of Hiroshima?). It shouldn't shock us when we experience and witness greater and greater tribulation (Has not the Scripture even foretold of this in the latter days?). The diffence that Scripture provides us is... that these things not only don't have to take us by surprise, but they also don't have to leave us without hope! Here, the premises, positions and practices of the world prove to be lacking in comparison with the hope found only in Christ and his kingdom.
Posted by Swordbearer at 7:05 AM
Friday, April 20, 2007
Freedom of speech, while forming one of our most precious and treasured possessions, can also become a platform for some of the grossest abuse, even under special protection, if not guarded and properly used or administered.
Several issues have led me to reconsider and address this subject:
1. It's not uncommon today to see such things as obsenity, pornography, hate speech, etc., exercised and protected to varying degrees under "free speech".
2. Many consciously recognize that something's just doesn't sit well when it comes to the hip hop world singing about killing policemen (and potentially planting seeds among parts of our more impressionable culture) and doing so under the protection of the "free speech" clause.
3. While advancing legislation dealing with hate crimes (a good thing), moral issues like sexual orientation and homosexuality are being slipped in and placed inseparably alongside non-moral issues like race, religion, gender, ethnic origin, etc. (not such a good thing).
4. Legal experts, in addressing the government's hands being tied regarding the massacre at Virginia Tech, declare that while Cho Seung-Hui's writing and words proved very troubling, there was nothing the government could do. (While I'm not suggesting or denying that more could or should have been done or not done in this case, the point is that while actions and steps taken by an individual using other parts of the body would provide grounds for greater intervention or restraint, it struck me that when it comes to one's expressions and words, even the tongue which we know can be so powerful, that particularly in this area, where so frequently the assailant himself was communicating there was a problem and potential for greater problems, it seems our hands were tied, under the auspice of "free speech."
While I recognize issues surrounding free speech, censorship, etc. are extremely complicated, and while I recognize and greatly value the free speech I have and would do nothing to give it up or have it taken from us,... and,
While I claim neither to be an historian, constitutional expert, etc., ... and,
While I do not suggest we can or should legislate individuals for their thought or profitable creative expression, etc....
At the same time, the wisdom of the Scripture is clear, and supreme, and perhaps may provide guidance in better perfecting the manner in which we understand and apply "free speech" when it says in Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things. whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me - put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
While this may not speak directly to free speech, it does remind us of the better way that suggests that some things are better than others and that while some individuals may even desire to participate and propagate certain things - some that may not even be appropriate (such as hate, or songs about the killing of cops; or while perhaps not criminal, even the writings such Cho Seung-Hui's which the teachers and media suggest were clearly of inappropriate nature given the nature of writing and context of the assignment ... should it along with his additional "signals" of disturbance not have tipped us off more and perhaps opened the way for greater intervention?? , etc.), it is better, yea best to follow the higher road.
Again, while recognizing that temporally speaking someone must be the legislator and judge of what is appropriate and what is not (and that the lines will ultimately be drawn someone by someone either to one's likes or dislikes), it's also clear to me that while freedom of speech is a right that we should provide and protect, that does not mean we are to do so at the expense or in conflict with other truth and values.
Am I suggesting that all the beliefs and values of unbelievers not be considered and that only the values of Christians be considered in making and enforcing laws? No...but at the same time, it appears to me that given our present situation and struggles, a reassessment of the origin, history, and direction of what we mean and how we use free speech is worthy of consideration. Not being a historian, it's still my belief that the framers of the U.S. Constitution probably did not have in mind and intend to suggest that unrighteousness and evil/rebellious practices were good and were to be protected in the manner and to the degree that we witness today.
While dagoods may accuse of hypocrisy again by suggesting I'm looking to the courts to advance my positions, let me not only state that what I'm suggesting is the evaluation and rightful use of the laws and courts versus the use of the courts as a primary tool to impose and indoctrinate others with one's own beliefs, and at the same time encourage believers through the use of a quote from an unknown author who stated that "the best defense against abuse of free speech is more free speech".
In the same way that Abraham Kuyper and others helped us understand and administer government better, perhaps those with minds brighter than mine can think, act and provide leadership in perfecting the principles, understanding, and application of free speech (or perhaps, as may need to be the case, simply to reform our understanding and ways back to the original intentions of the first amendment).
This much I know, protecting profanity for profanity's sake(or even for the sake of free speech) is not in keeping with purity, nor should it continue in practice. How much more then, for such things as pornography, etc.
Posted by Swordbearer at 11:48 AM
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Should not religion be able to stand on it's own?
There's a difference between government supporting the freedom of religion (and even legislating on moral issues in accordance with the free views and expression of its people) and government acting to promote a specific religion either through:
(1) Enacting law that encourages and supports the targeting of individuals of a different faith,
(2) In effect, distinguishing between its citizens based upon their faith setting some apart as second class or lower rate/privleged individuals; or through
(3) Judicially setting precedence by siding with a particular group of people based upon their faith, or against another group because of their faith.
The latest top story on the Voice of the Martyrs Website reminded me how often I read and hear of stories where those of the Muslim faith so often lean heavily upon the government and courts of their land, using religion as the very means by which they not only maintain and advance their faith, but oppress and seek to hold captive those of other faiths and the belief systems that they hold.
While I recognize my own government is not free from imperfections, at the same time how thankful I am for those like Abraham Kuyper and others who have made a mark in how we understand and apply principles regarding the relationship between church and state.
The Scripture declares that the Holy Spirit alone is Lord of the conscience. That's why Christianity (when understood and applied properly) does not need to depend on the state beyond support of the freedom to exercise and express religion ... in order to stand, advance, and triumph.
There's not only a difference between a Savior who lays down his life for others and a religion that calls for infidels to be killed; but there is a difference between a faith system that provides opportunity for all to discover and embrace truth for themselves and those that must rely on the strong arm of someone else to carry out their cause.
Posted by Swordbearer at 11:19 AM
While surfing the net today, I found it interesting to note the priority of subjects listed on the homepage of the American Atheists Website, a site that discusses things like Atheism, Youth and Family, The Courthouse, Coming Out, The Church, Islam and the Koran, The American Atheists Magazine, etc.)
Would you like to guess the order of their list?
Their list by order is as follows:
A WELCOME FROM THE PRESIDENT
THE VISITORS CENTER
WHAT’S NEW - At The American Atheists Web.
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QUESTION: Shouldn't legitimate belief systems (and interest groups/organizations)not only be able to stand on their beliefs and set those beliefs as the foremost concern? Isn't it interesting that immediately following the basic welcome information, you find the "courthouse", the "schoolhouse", "youth and family", the "church", and "the marketplace" as the first subjects discussed (and in that order), and that it's not until the fourteenth subject in the list that you find the subject of "Atheism", ... and this on an American ATHEISTS website!
Do you think think this is by chance, or design? Do you think their battle is one they first and foremost intend to fight on the level of the mind, or through legislation and indotrination?
Food for thought....
Posted by Swordbearer at 7:20 AM
in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2
To ask a holy and just God to show mercy to sinners who deserve punishment is to ask God to be less than God. How could Habakkuk do this? How can mercy and wrath be reconciled. This is the core and mystery of the Gospel, this is the Grand Riddle of scripture.
We've just come out of the Good Friday/Resurection Day season and every year these dates seem to activate the usual cast of skeptics: the sensationalists in media, the sad and desperate of atheism and the sophists of liberal theology.
This year a movie hit the theaters about a black Jesus who was crucified because he was black and the Jews were white racists:
"Although this ethnic discrimination angle might be factually inaccurate, since if Jesus was a black Jew, his accusers must’ve mostly been black Jews, too, the best thing about Color of the Cross is that it finally furnishes us with a reason for the Crucifixion." (Review from BlackFilm.com)
Frustrated and deluded atheist Richard Dawkins continues to display the epistemological receptive bias that Paul warns about in Romans 1:21 "For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." Dawkins writes:
"Submitting to such a monstrous scheme is to condone its immorality, to sacrifice our morals too, along with our dignity. We are granted knowledge between good and evil... and I know an evil scheme when I see one! If I am a selfish person, I will do anything to attain heaven... but if I am a moral person, I cannot accept God's scheme. I do not believe that this is the way it is... either God is immoral, or the Crucifixion was not part of God's plan, or of course the more sensible alternative is that there is no God at all." (The God Delusion" by Prof. Richard Dawkins, p253)
Then there are those who profess to be 'in the fold' - teachers who go about "having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power." (2 Tim. 3:5) Some of these false teachers proclaim that the crucifixion was merely Christ, our moral exemplar, giving us the ultimate example of sacrifice for our fellow man. Others of these liberals teach that Jesus never really died; that Jesus survived the crucifixion and the later Gospels edited the story to make it look as if Jesus died on the cross.
I have given these people more time and more acknowledgment than they deserve but I list these delusions as a small example of a very large body of information being promulgated against the crucifixion of Christ.
The Grand Riddle
The prophet Habakkuk, in the midst of a vision of impending doom and wrath, offers up a prayer of intercession to the Lord. It begins:
O Lord, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O Lord, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2
The prayer continues but my mind was arrested by that last simple request, just four words in english - in wrath remember mercy. If this were a supplication made before a great king then this request would make sense. "Please great King, you know what it's like to make a mistake. Please overlook the wrong doing of these people enough to spare them what they in fact deserve." We might make such an appeal to an earthly King or president.
This request is not made to an earthly king, however, but to the Holy and Righteous Sovereign of the Universe whose perfections and power are without boundary. God's righteousness cannot tolerate any sin. God's justice must dispense retribution for every sin. Can we ask God to overlook that which dishonors his very name? Of course not!
So how can Habakkuk, a mere creature, ask the Holy Sovereign to withhold the punishment that the people had earned. Remember, grace is giving to someone a gift which HAS NOT been earned; mercy is withholding the punishment which someone HAS earned. Habakkuk has asked that God be less than just; to violate his holiness. What is more puzzling is that Habakkuk is praying in and under the supervision of the Holy Spirit. How can wrath and mercy be brought together? This is the grand riddle.
This is not the first time we see the grand riddle appear in scripture. It is expanded but not explained in Exodus 34:6-7.
Ex. 34:6 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children's children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Just prior to this amazing proclamation Moses had asked God to show him His glory. (Ex. 33:18) What a bold prayer, what a dangerous prayer. God agreed to show Moses a portion of his glory. Glory is the 'weightiness' of God, the embodiment of his perfections and power in such an awesome display, that the full weight of the truth and expression of these attributes would quickly overrun and overload our perception. We would be undone, we would be ruined. But God is merciful in His revelation of himself and he has created us with the ability to understand 'packets' of his Glory.
In scripture, God's Glory is always composed of a visible element and a proclamation. We see these two components in Luke 2:8-14, the announcement of Christ's birth. The visible element shown all around and the proclamation of the birth of the Christ was heard.
In the Exodus passage, there was again the great brilliance of the visible Glory and then the proclamation. Did you see the the great riddle within that proclamation? It's an impossible situation that God expresses. God proclaims to Moses that he punishes EVERY sin. Not only does he tell Moses that no infraction goes unnoticed and unpunished, but that the sinner will receive a penalty so severe that the sinner's great-great-grandchildren will feel it. And yet, in this same sobering proclamation God says that he forgives iniquity, keeps a steadfast love and is faithful to the faithless. How can this be? Could Moses possibly have understood this proclamation or was the truth of this as numbing to his mind as the brilliant glow was as blinding to his eyes?
The riddle stood for centuries, wrath and mercy, two conflicting attributes standing in irreconcilable contrast to one another and begging the skeptic, and the Accuser, to ask: Is God really just? Many when asked why Jesus died on the cross will answer, "He did it out of love for his people" and these folks are not wrong, but they are only partly right. Jesus died on the cross to demonstrate the righteousness and justice of God the Father.
Romans 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.
The grand riddle, 'in wrath remember mercy' is answered only in the cross of Christ. The crucifixion was not the unfortunate end of a good but misunderstood teacher. The crucifixion is the only solution to the riddle of God's Glory. The cross is the revelation of the great mystery of the Gospel. In the Cross we witness the mercy of God in it's utter fullness "abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin". Simultaneously we witness, in the cross, the fullness of God's wrath poured out until the divine cup is empty, the long deferred anger of God exhausted in one place on one person, the justice of God fully satisfied at last.
Christ in his righteous keeping of the law proved himself the only worthy substitute for our sin filled race. In his divinity, only Christ, could withstand the wrath of God earned by every sin and sinner since Adam. The cross and the doctrine of penal substitution is far from an embarrassment to Christians; it is the core of the good news of the Gospel. Without the cross the grand riddle of scripture would remain unsolvable for in the cross we witness the fullest revelation of all of God's perfections and powers. In the cross alone, I will boast.
Posted by Bob Vigneault at 6:59 AM
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
My deepest sympathies and prayers go out to all the family members, friends, as well the multitudes of people who have been tragically, mournfully, and wrongfully touched by the recent shootings at Virginia Tech, and in addition to our own nation and fellow countries such as South Korea who unknowingly and without present choice have been drawn into this sad situation and state of affairs.
The candle vigils and convocations taking place not only at Virginia Tech but on campuses across the country are meaningingful and helpful in dealing with the aftermath and helping the students cope, and will I suppose prove even therapeutic to varying degrees.
However, with the lack of answers across the board on news channels for why this has taken place, and with pictures of the candlelight vigils placed prominently in the headlines with titles such as "Lights of healing in a time of darkness" attached to them, I'm reminded of the limitation of the state (along with the weaknesses of others besides the state) in that it cannot on it's own sufficiently address the situation, provide the ultimate answers, or bring about the ultimate healing and needed change. For these, the church is needed, in pointing people to God, who alone can accomplish all these things, ranging from the problems dealing with the human heart to the heart and hope of a nation, which is at present at loss, both from the mass casualties and loss of life and in knowing how to explain, rectify and prevent the same from happening again in the future.
I point out that when it comes to providing these ultimate answers and solutions, not only can the state not do it, neither the world provide sufficient and satisfactory answers. I was reminded of this when even the psychiatrists being interviewed were left simply to make statements like "We don't know exactly what causes this, what others might be able to handle in the same situations some are not, all we can say is that all the wrong factors came together at all the wrong times and when they did the individual just snapped..." and to suggest the ultimate solution perhaps is found in more medication or a better balance of medication (something that I do not deny is needed by some at times), but even in this case not only do first indications point to the fact that the shooter had been on anti-depressants, and now had not taken his anti-depressants, but the truth is that so often these drugs are used simply as seditives to medicate the person and lower their activity (or keep them from being the person they really are) without addressing or dealing with the root causes that lead to the person needing the depressants to begin with, namely apects dealing with the fallen and sinful nature of man and the lack of spiritual life and fruit needed to live and function well regardless of circumstances (something ...I believe many more people can do if sufficiently provided for - I was reminded of this a few days ago when witnessing parents providing a daily dose of Ridalyn for a child whose real problem was parents who had not known how to teach discipline and right behavior to their child.) To some, I'm sure this may sound like a repeat of statements made by Tom Cruise in his lack of sympathy, judgment, and prudence, but while I am not denying the proper and good use of medicines when needed and in order to serve purposeful ends, at the same time, while the world is without answers except to continue to identify and zombify more and more people and in the process to continue to experience more and more of what we have begun to experience, even on our high school and college campuses, not to mention in the workplace of some of brighter and most educated people, ...the answer does not lie in the world, the answer is found only in God, and the wisdom, counsel, regeneration, renewal and transformation that is found and that comes through his name.
There is a need for the church at this time to speak up and speak out while the world is left without hope and without sufficient and ultimately satisfying solutions. The message that needs to be communicated is the need for people to acknowledge the truth when it comes to good and evil, the truth regarding the fallen and sinful nature of man, the truth regarding the value and dignity of human life, the truth concerning the consequences of believing and living apart from Scriptural law, and the truth regarding the sad, pathetic, evil, horrendous and pitiful state of affairs that occurs when individuals live as though righteousness does not matter and that it doesn't matter if one lives and acts by carrying out evil actions as though there will not be significant consequences for both them and others in this this world and the afterlife.
While the remainder of the world is left ultimately without sufficient and satisfying solutions, though it has many questions, here's a place and time where the church, which though on many levels has its differences does possess unity and conformity of belief on basic issues related to these problems, should take center stage, not by trying to grab the microphone in the center of the podiom in an attempt to gain press and notarity during the time of the crisis, but by getting it's message out in all the highways and byways where there are needy, hurting, ignorant, but receptive people, that renewal and transformation, not only of individuals and states of affair for nations might be changed, but that God might be glorified in the redemption, renewal, and peace that only he can bring. What's needed is not a new bandaid by the world, but revival and repetitive involvement by God's people.
There was a day, not too long ago, that here in the United States, the prevalent and predominant attitude was that no matter how bad it got, this type and pattern of behavior we witness today was not only not as common a solution as it's becoming these days, but it was not a consideration to even be entertained in the minds of most, much less be carried out. While we continue to look forward, we need to return to the foundational beliefs and values that resulted in greater character and a safer place to live in previous days. It is of key importance that whatever the cultural, family and individual factors that lead individuals to act in this manner, that the message get through and especially to our children and these young generations, especially concerning the considation of the value and dignity of human life, and the sin and consequences of wrongfully taking it, for if this message does not get through, I fear with certainty that what happened on the campus of Virginia Tech might pale in comparison to what might take place in the future.
Times of refreshing and peace can again be ours, but it will only come through a spirit of revival and a restoration of common grace.
May those who have lost loved ones find comfort, answers, peace and even forgiveness through the Lord, and may the rest of us who possess the spirit and the power come alongside them by championing this cause in keeping with their legacy and our love for the good that can be established and enjoyed in life!
Posted by Swordbearer at 6:11 AM
Saturday, April 14, 2007
“all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35)
Time and again we are inundated with so-called “challenges” to the existence of God by unbelievers of all stripes. Usually these challenges take the form of “If God exists, why doesn’t He do ……..” However, these challenges have absolutely nothing to do with the existence of God. In fact, such challenges presuppose some knowledge of God’s power, as rebellious humans seek to mold Him into our image.
This is proven by the fact believers throughout history have asked similar questions. These questions, from believers and unbelievers, are understandable, but the attempt by atheists to present these as “challenges” are merely humanistic revolts against the way God runs His universe, irrespective of His existence. The great Charles Spurgeon observed this rebellion among believers as well.
“Men will allow God to be everywhere except on his throne. They will allow him to be in his workshop to fashion worlds and to make stars. They will allow him to be in his almonry to dispense his alms and bestow his bounties. They will allow him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends his throne, his creatures then gnash their teeth; and when we proclaim an enthroned God, and his right to do as he wills with his own, to dispose of his creatures as he thinks well, without consulting them in the matter, then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on his throne is not the God they love. They love him anywhere better than they do when he sits with his scepter in his hand and his crown upon his head. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon his throne whom we trust.”1
It is one thing to ask why God allows certain things to happen, as I have been guilty of myself. It is completely different matter to question His existence. Trying to create a god from our own vain imaginations who will bow to every request of His own creation does not disprove His existence.
Why doesn’t God heal amputees? Why won’t He change the past if we pray for it (assuming we could even know if he did)? Why does He allow evil to exist? These are all tough questions that minds more acute than my own have asked. However, they are completely unrelated to the question, “Does God Exist?” Challenging that question will require more than a few atheistic presumptions about how God should run things.
1 Charles H. Spurgeon – Divine Sovereignty
Posted by Puritan Lad at 1:36 PM
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Over the past several weeks, I’ve continued to come across the challenge (or ultimately the argument) from Atheists asking the question “Why Won’t God Heal Amputees?” Sam Harris proposed this question in his debate with Rick Warren. There’s an entire website dedicated to this subject called Why Won’t God Heal Amputees? Gil Gaudia includes this challenge in his post and proposal on the Secular Web. It’s been discussed in a New York Times piece by N.D. Kristof. It’s also been picked up and littered throughout the web on sites like My Case Against God, the Blog for WWGHA, etc.
The popularity of this challenge and the significance of this question (in the minds of some), while on one level is understandable, on another level is mindboggling. It’s been described as “one of the most important questions that we can ask about God”. It is claimed to end ambiguity and coincidence when it comes to intercessory prayer. One has even stated “it could provide us with the definitive proof of the power of prayer.” So for some, this challenge seems to be the “be all and end all” when it comes to disproving the existence of God. In their minds, there’s quite a bit (and I suggest even more than they realize) riding on this challenge. So this challenge, at least as far as it concerns the the lack of experimental documentation of a healed amputee, if not just the seeming unwillingness of believers to take up the challenge, goes so far (in their minds) as to prove God is imaginary. In effect, it goes even beyond the challenge to the point they are willing and have chosen to entrust their eternal destiny upon the outcome. (Or so it seems, …I imagine it’s more likely the challenge itself has been established and propagated by those whose persuasions were already formed and who simply use this, not so much as proof though they present it as that, but moreso as expression and propaganda of their present unbelief and opposition to the truth.)
Well, what should the Christian response be? Is there a response?
(Or, have we been shamed and silenced by the ultimate ultimatum?)
I’ll respond on several levels.
First, there’s the False Presupposition Concerning the the Knowledge of Man Embedded in the Challenge Itself. The argument suggests for example that if amputees were brought and identified (with DNA, etc.), and then believers were to pray for one year, then at the end of the year, one could prove or disprove the existence of God. Here’s the question: How can you assume that if there is a God, that (1) It is God’s purpose and plan for individuals to be healed in this manner, (2) It is God’s purpose and plan for this individual to be healed, (3) It is God’s purpose and plan for the person to be healed in the time period described, (4) God does not have a different plan he might be working through the exercise, including the hardening of the unbeliever’s heart in keeping with his presumptive confidence of his own knowledge and position as judge. The point being that those who not only present this challenge but suggest this challenge provides definitive proof not only overestimate their extent of knowledge and sovereignty (/ability) to carry out the experiment in a controlled fashion so as to arrive at conclusive results, but they also err in setting themselves up as being in such control as to either determine or to box God in as to how and when God must act in addition to stipulating the timeframe in which he must carry out their challenge (or thereby have his non-existence definitively proved.) Also, presenters of the challenge err in reversing the order and setting themselves up as ones in a position to judge God and make definitive claims concerning his will, power, purpose, and timing in addition to his existence.
Second, there’s the False Assumption that Unbelievers Could and Would Ascribe to God the Power For the Healing If It Took Place. For example, let’s say that a physical limb begin to grow slowly overtime. Would not man try to explain it away by some other phenomenon, or physical explanation, even if it had to be studied to find out the cause. Or perhaps, for example, let’s say that a physical limb grew quickly. Would man believe it, even if he saw it with his own eyes? Did not Christ himself not only give sight to those known to be blind, enable the lame to walk, and even beyond this raise the dead to life (something by the way far beyond just healing an amputee), and what was man’s response? To deny the truth, to explain it away, to try to slander him, to malign his reputation, and to try to rid the world of him and his followers. The point being, not only would metaphysical cause, origin and involvement be denied by those who presuppose that everything that happens in the physical must have an explanation in the physical (as is so often held and argued), but hearts that are opposed to God will not submit to and give credit to God even if the evidence lies before them.
Third, there’s a False Assertion that God is Interested and Intends to Prove Himself to Unbelievers Today Through Miracles of This Nature. It’s as if unbelievers take a position that says “Oh yeah, if God is true, then he should/must prove himself to me in this specific way.” That’s like a arrogant and rebellious child who in trying to prove his greatness to his friends defies his parents and makes stipulations that his parents must do certain things like buy him a car, or provide a cell phone, etc., to prove their love, or otherwise their love does not exist, all the while the parents are holding out their open arms to the child and doing things consistent with love. The truth is God has revealed that while there is sufficient evidence in general revelation to hold unbelievers accountable and leave them without excuse, at the same time, God has no intention of submitting to or being drawn into the demands or challenges of unbelievers that propose things such as this, to revealing himself to them by means other than his word (found in Scripture), or to continuing to perform miracles for the primary purpose of convincing unbelievers of his existence, power and grace. In this, the presenters of the challenge err in thinking God owes them something, when in fact, the opposite is true.
Fourth, there’s the Errant Understanding and Proposition Concerning Intercessory Prayer. While the Bible does state in several places that God hears and grants the prayers of his people, the Bible also states that the prayers he grants are those which are in keeping with his will. It’s a false assumption that this doctrine suggests anything of the sort... that man, by just praying and asking anything (i.e., that which is not in keeping with God’s will) thereby impositions, coerces, necessitates or compels God in such a way that he must comply with man’s request. The challenge errs in failing to recognize that intercessory prayer, rather than forming the origin of, actually flows from and is in agreement with the grace of God. Here again, subtle differences in doctrine can be and are often shown to result in colossal errors in thought and practice. At the same time, the fact that God does not do all things that man might want him to, request him to do, or even challenge him to do, does not negate the fact that God does act and intervene in other ways congruent with his will, even in ways like through the wind, or waves, or even the sea, which while man be able to come up with reasons for, such as gravity, the laws of thermodynamics, etc., and yet cannot explain the origin or what's behind such laws and/or occurences.
Fifth, there’s the False Assumption that God’s Plan for Salvation is to come about through miracles in the physical realm. While God may use extraordinary means in the lives of some people to draw them to himself, not only are miracles not the means by which God intends to salvifically open the eyes of the blind today, but salvation in the greater and broader sense comes by way of things like sickness, suffering and other consequences associated with the curse, but used by God as a means of grace. Presenters of the challenge while looking to the condition of amputees as proof of God’s non-existence fail to recognize that at the same time the very experiences amputees can be the very means through which God reveals himself and draws men to himself.
Sixth, there’s the False Assumption that God’s Plan Includes Salvifically Proving Himself to Unbelievers by Miracles of This Sort in the Present Age.
Such an assumption fails to exegete Scripture correctly by discerning the differences in the dispensations and intended means of God’s revelation and workings. The point is that while Jesus, in authenticating himself and revealing his glory, performed miracles of this nature, that is not the same as to suggest that God’s plan today is to open the eyes of the blind and to win men unto himself by these means. Man looks for miracles, but God speaks through his Son.
Seventh, there’s the False Assertion that because God does not heal amputees that he does not exist or care for men, but the truth is that not only does God do the far greater for man in providing salvation for his soul, but God has revealed that a day is coming for the consummation and transformation and healing of all the imperfections associated with the flesh. The point being that unbelievers fail to understand and embrace what Scripture teaches when it says that the kingdom of God is of a different nature than what men often look for. Man so often is seeking a physical and earthly kingdom (comfort, ease, earthly prosperity, earthly healing, live forever in earthly existence), when Christ proclaims that the kingdom of heaven is of a different nature. (Matthew 13) It is spiritual in nature, and while it ultimately will provide for the renewal and transformation of the body, these things are not to be looked for and set as the object of one’s hope, though at times God does provide for man’s physical well being and improvement through his grace.
Eighth, there’s the Silent Absence of a Legitimate Control Group offered in the Challenge As Well As Any Alternate Offered and Tested Which Proves the Opposite.
While one might say the burden of proof lies with believers, for unbelievers to make the claim that this challenge offers definitive proof, given my first argument, more positive proof is needed representing the other side. If God is non-existent, then is “FATE” the one in control? Can “FATE” be shown to produce a new limb for an amputee in the same year? I know the argument will be that man is working on these things and if ultimately man figures out how to solve it, then “FATE” (even if it’s MAN’s fate) will prove itself able. But to argue this, is to fail to be able to answer the question of how one knows that it is not God but fate which has accomplished this. Such arguments not only fail to provide definitive proof, but are uneducated in their approach.
Conclusion: There’s not as much smoke in the Challenge’s smoking gun as many might think. In fact, there’s more error and eisegesis in the Challenge than most understand. And while there's much less resting on the challenge that is often implied, and much more eternally revealed and at stake than many realize, there also plenty of reasons informed Christians have not shown greater interest in or concern over the challenge, reasons resulting from better reason and reasoning when it comes to the existence of God and the exposition of his word.
Posted by Swordbearer at 9:25 AM
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
As discussed in a previous post, in January ABC aired a news story about two atheists who video-taped themselves blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and encouraged others to do so. Hundreds copied them.
I have just learned that Kirk Cameron and Ray Comfort (The Way of the Master) have challenged the atheists to a debate. ABC loved the idea and so did the atheists. So the debate (Does God Exist?) will be in New York City, and will be streamed LIVE on ABC's website early in May. Details are still to be worked out. It will be filmed for Nightline, moderated by Martin Bashir.
Posted by Swordbearer at 7:04 AM
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Idolatry is not just a substitute for God, idolatry is seeking a point of contact with God that is outside of God's design. Calvin puts it this way: "That idolatry has its origin in the idea which men have, that God is not present with them unless his presence is carnally exhibited." This is a bit more subtle approach to idolatry and self-atonement. We want to connect with God and so we create our own point of contact, a transmitter, a place of meeting.
My wife and I were at the house of an acquaintance recently and we noticed an unusual artifact. It was a "Star Of David" carved to look like a Celtic knot. Historically there is no evidence that the Celts ascribed any magic to these artful knots, but some Wiccans have taken up the creation of celtic knots, attributing to them ideas and magical properties that may not have been there originally. Based on additional images and objects in this ladies house, and her own description of her syncretistic 'cafeteria style' religion, I knew this "Star of David" was more than a mere piece of artwork.
The majority of people, when asked the question "What is idolatry?", will give you an answer that involves the creating of a false god. This is true. When we think of idols, we think of statues carved in the shape of animals or grotesque mythical creatures and ecstatic primitives bowing down to them.
An idol is indeed a substitute for God. Romans 1:21 tells us:
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
The apostle Paul explains that forming a substitute God is the result of withholding honor from God, for which God diminishes our ability to reason. The bible calls knowledge of God's perfections and work, light. But in the futile workings of our corrupted darkened minds we perceive only shadows of the Truth. We believe we are wise and can even fool our fellow men, but in light of God's word, we are foolish child 'kings'. Just as a rebellious child hides from the authority and justice of his parent, the 'child king' hides from God. Hiding our sin from God is called 'self-atonement'.
Man's shame has left him addicted to self-atonement. Our ancestral grand-parents tried to cover themselves with leaves and God demonstrated to them that the shedding of blood would be the means of atonement - of sin covering. This lesson did not stop the rest of Adams children from seeking other ways to shelter their shame.
One way to ease guilt is to do away with the Holy Judge. We made 'gods' that were not so holy, so just and so demanding; gods that were gods by OUR will; Gods that were subject to OUR word. We gave these gods their attributes and their form. We controlled every aspect of their, and our, divinity. Hence we may define as idol as a god created in man's image. Most believers will flee from this type of pagan religious expression; tt's easy to see that it violates the second commandment and is abhorrent to us and to our God.
Idolatry as a point of contact
Idolatry, however, is not just a substitute for God, idolatry is seeking a point of contact with God that is outside of God's design. It's mystifying for many that Aaron and the Israelites could turn so quickly from God to a golden calf. After the great miracles they had seen how could they be so confused? How could the great priest Aaron fall so far and so fast? You must remember that after Aaron and the artisans formed the 'idol' he proclaimed, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.”
They were not seeking a NEW God that was NOT Yahweh. They were just frustrated with God being invisible, they wanted a God they could see - the wanted a new POINT OF CONTACT. Calvin puts it this way:
That idolatry has its origin in the idea which men have, that God is not present with them unless his presence is carnally exhibited.This is a bit more subtle approach to idolatry and self-atonement. We want to connect with God and so we create our own point of contact, a transmitter, a place of meeting. We will go a long way toward recognizing idolatry if we keep this second definition in mind.
Is it acceptable to expect to move God's hand by repeating the 'Prayer of Jabez'? Can we pray with more focus by looking at a 'picture' or statue of Jesus? of Mary? of Joseph? Can we pray through a saint? Can we experience the divine through a handkerchief blessed by (name your favorite TV preacher)? Are we closer to God if we stand in the Jordan river or at the tomb? Can we create our own point of contact as long as the Lord is our focus of destination? The answer to all these questions is NO. The reason that these pursuits are wrong is that there is only ONE point of contact where we meet God and that is His WORD.
One Point of Contact
We are to be a people of the Book, the Word of God. One may say, "I am a disciple of Christ", but if you are not familiar with his teachings and abide in his Word (John 8:31) then you are no disciple of Jesus. The Word of God is THE point of contact. It is where God meets his people for "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."
You might ask, "Can't we find God in nature?". No, God certainly reveals his divine nature and power within the nautral world but it can only be defined and interpreted by the Word. God spoke the Word and the universe, the world came into being; nature is a product of the Word, not the other way around. If you want to connect with nature, go through the Word.
Even a church can become an idol or idol factory. Martin Luther said that a true church is where the Word of God is pure and the sacraments are administered correctly. Today we are seeing the rise of niche churches - cowboy churches, hip hop churches, men only churches. These are not churches for the Word of God is not kept pure. The church is not to be broken up into small groups based on common interests, the church is where distinctions are broken down. These 'niche churches' are man-made attempts to create new and fresh points of contact with God.
Singing "I can sing of your love forever" 27 times is not a point of contact. But I've watched the 'rapture' in the faces of the members of the praise band and it makes me wonder. Songs of praise, even scripture itself (Prayer of Jabez) can be misused and transformed into a talisman, a formula, an incantation if we are not careful in our handling.
"Hence we may infer, that the human mind is, so to speak, a perpetual forge of idols." (Calvin, Insti. 1.6.8) So let us be vigilante as we go to God and meet him through and in the Word. Seek out a church where the Word and the Gospel are faithfully preached, where the sacraments (ordained physical expressions of the Word) are faithfully administered. Be cautious of the next new thing, new movement, new book that even the secular world gets interested in. We are a people of the Word.
John 1:1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Posted by Bob Vigneault at 7:48 AM
Monday, April 09, 2007
On a cloudy California day, the atheist Sam Harris sat down with the Christian pastor Rick Warren to hash out Life's Biggest Question—Is God real?
Rick Warren is as big as a bear, with a booming voice and easygoing charm. Sam Harris is compact, reserved and, despite the polemical tone of his books, friendly and mild. Warren, one of the best-known pastors in the world, started Saddleback in 1980; now 25,000 people attend the church each Sunday. Harris is softer-spoken; paragraphs pour out of him, complex and fact-filled—as befits a Ph.D. student in neuroscience. At NEWSWEEK's invitation, they met in Warren's office recently and chatted, mostly amiably, for four hours. Jon Meacham moderated.
Newsweek article here
Posted by JD L at 2:18 PM
Read this article if you get a chance about the world's best violinist playing in a subway lobby as a test of people's ability to recognize the wonderful around them - then juxtapose this scripture from Paul:
18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,
19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them.
20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened.
22Professing to be wise, they became fools,
Posted by JD L at 8:56 AM
Thursday, April 05, 2007
I'll come to the Energizer bunny in a bit, but in getting to know the Atheist mind and studying what’s popularly being expressed by Atheists, I read "Dying an Atheist in America" by Christ Morton on the American Atheists webswite (http://www.atheists.org/comingout/dying.html)
In the article, Chris writes “Dying is a process, death is the end. It is during dying that the first problems begin. An Atheist is a member of Homo sapiens. He or she is a biological machine whose function is to expand and develop its species and to protect all other species dependent on it in this lifetime. There is no "afterlife." Therefore, life itself is very valuable. To me (and this may not hold for all Atheists) if my life ceases to be valuable to me and to others, it can and should be ended - to use another machine-term, I can be powered down, or as Timothy Leary puts it, "deanimated." If I am still functioning, somewhat, this choice is a hard idea for most people (particularly Atheists because of their love of this life) to accept. So let me take a small part of it for elaboration and leave the rest to your own choice.”
While Chris raises a legitimate issue in his article in suggesting that Atheists’ thinking and planning in regard to dying and death should be consistent with their beliefs; it’s his definition of life, it’s purposes, and care that I find most interesting (and degrading when compared both with the intuitive knowledge of man as well as the revealed knowledge of Scripture.
For Chris, humans are no more than a biological machine. In defining humans this way, Chris denies or detracts not only from man’s uniqueness but that which defines his nature and greatest attribute: his personhood. By “machine”, he not only denies the immaterial, but denies ultimate thought, will, morality, worth, value, distinction and accountability. By “biological”, Chris fails to give due consideration to the many other facets of man’s makeup and relationships. It’s no wonder that with such a degraded and omitted view of humanity that Chris goes on to speak of the deteriorated body as nothing more than “bacteriological slime” to be “deposed”, that he speaks somewhat lightly of even his own life being ended, and that he claims personal authority to control and end life which he neither brought into existence nor did anything to rightfully obtain or control.
Regarding the function of life, Chris says of humanity that it is “to expand and develop its species and to protect all other species dependent on it in this lifetime.” Besides the obvious question of the source and authority from which Chris arrives at this answer, and the question that goes beyond his stated function to ask “to what end” is man to do these things, he suggests that those who fail carry out these tasks fail to function as humanity. To attempt to avoid this dilemma by suggesting that this is only humanity’s “intended” function only raises the question of whose intentions.
Regarding life’s value, one should note that in Chris’ view, while on the one hand life is “very valuable” (when compared with “no afterlife”, in his view), that at the same time life has “no value” of it’s own but is only serves to be valuable when subjectively considered, since his life can cease to be valuable “to him and others”. Such contradictions are inherent and common among worldviews in conflict with Christianity.
It’s sad, but in the Atheist worldview, humanity is considered of less dignity, worth, and usefulness than even the energizer bunny, of which may be said that while animated, still “keeps going and going and going”. If you’ve held to or even considered Atheist thoughts or positions, isn’t it time for such unenlightened and misguided thinking to be gone?
Posted by Swordbearer at 8:07 AM