A friend of mine told me there's a saying in Egypt "a knife that's not used much soon becomes dull." The same can be said on one level concerning our faith. We're all familiar with the testimonies of Christians (particularly in other lands) whose faith has grown and become strengthened as a result of being challenged, tested, opposed and even persecuted. While some may suggest that the challenges in the west and particularly in America may result in the decline of Christianity, I submit the opposite is true when it comes not just to the numbers of those who may profess the faith, but to the strength and vitality of those who truly belong to the faith and to the overall well-being of the body itself which is called by God's name.
Both challenges from without and those from within will serve to boost and strengthen the church in coming days. Not only will individuals and churches be forced to examine their foundations and distinctions, but division will come (which must happen in revealing those who are of God and those who are not), Christians will grow through the testing and practice of their faith, and churches will become stronger as they stand upon Biblical truth or become marginalized as they prove little or no difference from the world. Besides this, churches will benefit even from challenges that come from having to think and strategically plan so as not only to avoid decline but do those things which lead to health, growth and greater effectiveness.
With this in mind, I believe the context we live in and that which we will see in the coming years is a context not only in which true Christianity and evangelicalism but also and in particular the reformed faith can not only thrive but make significant strides. The greater the exposure, variety and extent of the challenges brought on and found between believers and unbelievers, in addition to the greater tendency toward rational arguments and exchanges, the more the strength and value of the reformed faith will be revealed. More and more, we're seeing the need for Christians, their children and their converts to know what they believe or risk being isolated, found irrelevant, and weakening in their witness in the world; and at the same time, more and more we're seeing the ability of those who hold to the gospel and its truth with great conviction and understanding not only to gain a greater hearing but to have a significant impact in the world as apologetics and winsome character, love, and message are becoming the sway that wins the day. In a time when there's great sinfulness, hopelessness, confusion, searching, darkness, and hardness of heart; what better context both for us and our message to be sharpened and honed so that we might become more useful and effective both in cutting to the chase and in serving as instruments in the Lord's hand to bring the gospel cuts even to the heart, circumcising it, and doing away with the filthy and bad while promoting life, health, purity and prosperity.
It's great to see not just the historic reformed community participating in apologetics, but seeing Christians from other backgrounds taking interest and steps in apologetics as well. I look forward to seeing these new bridges, relationships, and partnerships being developed, even as the city of God protects itself and advances against both her enemies and the enemies of God, taking not the weapons of this world in hand, but the sword of the Spirit, God's holy word.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Posted by All Things Reformed at 7:53 PM
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The lesson is that unforgiveness leads to this bitterness and then opens you up to the spirit of Satan, to the spirit of whatever, and when that occurs, it becomes a power that people cannot control,'' said Ronald Murray, a neurologist.
Without forgiveness,'' Ronald Murray said, ''I don't think we could have moved on.
Quotes by Ronald Murray, father of the young man who killed four people at a church and a missionary training center in Denver. Quotes provide a powerful confirmation of truths taught in Scripture. Quotes were taken from article entitled Parents Tell of Church Shooter's Anguish .
May the Lord be with this family.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 7:25 PM
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Scientists Predict When World Will End
From a scietific perspective, the only hope for humanity...celestial bumperpool!
(Explains why recently there's been so much emphasis on finding another planet which can reasonably sustain human life..... but of course, if your only hope for humanity lies in this world, then you better search every nook and cranny! ... even though given your own lifetime, it won't do you any good!)
Note: it's not that Christians are opposed to science and the study of the physical realm, but to suggest one knows when the earth will cease to exist is like assuming to know all that tomorrow brings.
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Mt 24:36)
Posted by All Things Reformed at 8:59 AM
Friday, February 22, 2008
Yet the exhibition’s overarching theme, the ability to switch fluidly from the scale of the atom to the scale of entire cities, may sound a death knell for the tired ideological divides of the last century, between modernity and history, technology and man, individual and collective. It should be required viewing for anyone who believes that our civilization is heading back toward the Dark Ages.
The above quote is from an article in the NY Times about "Design and the Elastic Mind,” which is described as "an exhilarating new show opening on Sunday at the Museum of Modern Art." The quote communicates this year's theme which is different but still one in a line of themes which have characterized the art show over the years.
As students of worldviews recognize, art often reflects the thinking, mindset, apsirations, hopes and even struggles of a particular age. It's not surprising that science and technology plays a predominant role in this year's show. Nor is it surprising that phrases like "hold the key to paradise" and "shaped by an unwavering faith in the transformative powers of technology" appear in this article.
However, the article is telling of the future... when it in seeking to set apart this years theme of science and technology not only distinguishes it from themes of the past, but reveals it as one in a line of changing themes and in a line that is clearly subject to more change.
There's no doubt that with scientific advancements we will continue (as people have been in the past) to be facinated and impressed with the changes; however the question of whether man's hope and supreme pleasure lies in it will certainly not remain in the place where it may be found today (and in this year's art show). In fact, I saw a man on TV the other day who stated there's even a new form of interest and entertainment (agri-tainment, agri-tourism) where some are moving in the opposite direction and looking back to the simple things of nature and fellowship for fun.
Hope in science and technology... this too shall pass (as have the other themes)... as the only real hope and satisfaction is found in God.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 9:36 AM
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Fuller, 69, who has lived for several years with his wife, Prue, in Squamish, where he plans to remain, also doesn't let off the hook those atheists who like to blame religion, whether Islam or Christianity, for inciting much of the planet's violence.
He notes that the "principal horrors" of the 20th century "came almost exclusively from strictly secular regimes: Leopold II of Belgium in the Congo, Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin and Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. It was Europeans who visited their 'world wars' twice upon the rest of the world -- two devastating global conflicts with no remote parallels in Islamic history."
The Middle East, without Islam, would still be challenged, Fuller says, by ethnic rivalries involving Turks, Kurds, Jews, Persians, Arabs and others -- all of whom remain involved in ongoing conflicts over power, territory, influence and trade.
Interesting article entitled Don't blame Islam for terrorism, expert says
Here's my take:
1. Regardless of whether the author's take is correct or not (or to what degree); it can be deduced that "religion" itself is not the problem, but man and his sinfulness (Note the quote "...conflicts over power, territory, influence and trade...", and this is just to mention a few of the problems which point to the "root" problem which the author does not mention.) Man, in his sinfulness can and often does use religion for his evil purposes. Man in his sin also uses opposition to religion for sinful purposes. While some such as the new leadership of Atheism like to suggest that "religion" is the problem, they fail to understand the problem ultimate lies with the heart and nature of man.
2. This is not to deny that false religions (and even the true religion...when high-jacked, faked, abandoned, or lived inconsistently with, etc.) can serve as part of the problem... but this only to the extent that sinful man allows and makes use of it.
3. While the author suggests troubles would have occurred even if Christianity rather than Islam had been the predominant religion, he fails to distinguish between true Christianity and other forms (such as the fallen fleshly Christianity often experienced on earth where individuals even as Christians live according to the flesh and inconsistly with true Christianity).
4. Christ, and the salvation, redemption, rule and ultimate re-creation and restoration is the only effective and real hope for mankind. This is true because the sinful nature and sinfulness of man are dealt with (and will be fully dealt with) in Christ. Putting one's hope in anything less, be it secular humanism, false religion, or even Christianity itself (apart from God's redemptive and restorative plan) is hopeless and foolish. Only God can bring about the type salvation and deliverance we need. This work he has begun through Christ, whose rule and dominion will continue to abide and increase until the day of the consumation of his kingdom's rule. Come Lord Jesus!
5. Don't buy into the lie of New Atheism which suggests "Religion is the problem!" As always, context and qualification is the key!
Posted by All Things Reformed at 2:02 PM
In a previous post, I summarized Hitchen's Arguments with Christianity (in his debate with Alister McGrath) in the following way.
In his opening statement of the debate, Hitchens declares Christianity to be false, irrational, insulting, and harmful for the following reasons (my summary):
1. Christianity's establishment and strength has resulted and depends upon man's ignorance.
2. Christianity's doctrine of vicarious atonement and redemption is immoral and unethical
3. Christianity's rule is totalitarian and brings the greatest burden and shame on our species.
4. Christianity's ethics undermine man's basic integrity
5. Christianity's love is dictatorial (/compulsory)
6. Christianity's message (i.e., revelation of delay & method of God)is immoral.
7. Christianity's message (i.e., "man is blood, mud, etc., but God has a plan for you")is sadomasochism.
Here, I will provide a quick response to his arguments.
(Sorry, but time restraits prevent a better form and development)
I. Christianity’s Establishment & Strength has Resulted & Depends on Man’s Ignorance
“We have better claims -- excuse me, better explanations for the origins and birth of our cosmos and our species now, so much better so, in fact, that had they been available to begin with, religion would never have taken root. No one would now go back to the stage when we didn't have any real philosophy, we only had mythology, when we thought we lived on a flat planet or when we thought that our planet was circulated by the sun instead of the other way around, when we didn't know that there were micro-organisms as part of creation and that they were more powerful than us and had dominion…. We wouldn't have taken up Theism if we'd known then what we do now.
1. What are those “BETTER EXPLANATIONS for the ORIGINS & BIRTH of our COSMOS?
- Organic goo on bottom of ocean (Never been discovered)?
- Eternal matter and eternal evolutionary forces (forces which remain unidentified, but when pressed for an answer about them begin to look alot like the God of the Bible). Simple to complex development, but how long would such a process take? Has the universe existed anywhere near that long?
- Life from no life, intelligence from no intelligence, etc.
- Has not Science concluded that the Universe had a Beginning.
- Interesting scienties continue to try to find life elsewhere and if life (forms) could travel from Space” (so far, not found or feasible)
2. Examine the foundations of his argument.
a. Hitchens seems to suggest: Scientific Rationalism & Secular Humanism Not Only Meets All Man’s Needs but Provides Satisfying Answers
i. Has/Can Science explain/define the purpose of man?
ii. Has Science & Secularism solved the problem of Evil, Sin, Death?
iii. Does Science & Secularism explain /provide a foundation for law, ethics, etc.?
iv. Has Science & Secularism created Life, & Life Eternal (Not Just Physical, but in All it’s Manifestation
b. Hitchens seems to suggest: Religion Has Only Served as a Substitute (Weak & Faulty One at that) until Philosophy & Science developed.
i. False Assumption is that Religion seeks to be a Philosophy or Science
ii. Religion has not been replaced by science and philosophy but undergirds and serves alongside them.
c. Hitchens seems to suggest: Now that Science & Secularism have developed, Evidence Shows there’s No Need for Religion
ii. Are there more today who are Religious, or Non Religious?
iii. Are there not Intellectuals, Scientists, Doctors, Lawyers, etc., who still look to religion & consider it of inestimable value today?
d. The God of the Bible and the gosple proclaimed in the Bible have NOT CHANGED, but have been the abiding comfort, hope, security,& love of God's people throughout ALL generations (regardless of the state of science and philosophy)!
Gen 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” “The fool says in his heart there is no God.”
Summary: Hitchen’s Assertion is weak and archaic
II. Christianity's doctrine of vicarious atonement and redemption is immoral and unethical
“I would submit that the doctrine of vicarious redemption by human sacrifice is utterly
immoral. I might, if I wished, if I knew any of you, you were my friend or even if I didn't know you but I just loved the idea of you … but suppose I could say, “look, you're in debt, I've just made a lot of money out of a God-bashing book, I'll pay your debts for you, maybe you'll pay me back some day, but for now I can get you out of trouble.”
I could say if I really loved someone who had been sentenced to prison if I can find a way of saying I'd serve your sentence, I'd try and do it. I could do what Sydney Carton does in a Tale of Two Cities, if you like, I'm very unlikely to do this unless you've been incredibly sweet to me, I'll take your place on the scaffold, but I can't take away your responsibilities. I can't forgive what you did, I can't say you didn't do it, I can't make you washed clean. The name for that in primitive middle eastern society was scapegoating. You pile the sins of the tribe on a goat, you drive that goat into the desert to die of thirst and hunger. And you think you've taken away the sins of the tribe. This is a positively immoral doctrine that abolishes the concept of personal responsibility on which all ethics and all morality must depend. “
Hitchen’s Argument is Put More Succinctly in Other Places where He Claims
It’s IMMORAL for God to Punish Jesus for Sins He Did Not Commit, & Call Believers Righteous when we are Sinners.
Note… the Bible does Not Skirt this Issue (but addresses in what some call the Heart of the Heart of the Bible)
Rom 3:25 “God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished – he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
Hitchens Arguments Fails in the Following Areas:
1. Hitchens Fails to Account for the Roles & Authority of God… as Creator, Governor, & Judge (in addition to His Being the Offended Party & One who determines what he will accept in regard to appeasement for sin)
2. Hitchens Fails to Take Into Account the Federal Relationships of Humanity (1st & 2nd Adam)
3. Hitchens puts himself in the place of God as the one who determines what is moral/immoral.
4. Hitchens Fails to understand Salvation by Grace (“maybe you’ll pay me back some day”)
5. Hitchens Fails to Distinguish between his own nature & the Nature/Plans of God (God provides “freely”, not on basis of man being “incredibly sweet” to him
6. Hitchens Fails to Understand the Doctrine of Justification (God does not say “man did not sin”, but provides in light of man’s sin!)
7. Hitchens Fails to Take Into Account the Sanctifying Power of God (He is able to wash & cleanse us)
8. *** Hitchens Mistakenly Asserts that the Doctrine of Vicarious Atonement & Justification abolishes the concept of Personal Responsibility!
The truth is that only the biblical worldview and that which is illustrated through the vicarious atonement and justification of Christ provides a consistent basis, grounds, motivation, etc. for human resposibility and accountability, and calls man to personal responsibility, not only for our actions, but to the Law Giver Himself!
Rom 5:6-8 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely wil anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Rom 6:1ff “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
III. Christianity's rule is totalitarian and brings the greatest burden and shame on our species.
“Well it's here that we find something very sinister about Monotheism and about religious practice in general. It is incipiently at least and I think often explicitly totalitarian,b/c I have no say in this. I am born under a celestial dictatorship which I could not have had any hand in choosing. I don't put myself under its Government. I am told that it can watch me while I sleep. I'm told that it can convict me of, here's the definition of totalitarianism, thought crime, for what I think I may be convicted and condemned.
And that if I commit a right action, it's only to evade this punishment and if I commit a wrong action, I'm going to be caught up not just with punishment in life for what I've done which often follows action systematically, but, no, even after I'm dead. In the Old Testament, gruesome as it is, recommending as it is of genocide, racism, tribalism, slavery, genitalia mutilation, in the displacement and destruction of others, terrible as the Old Testament Gods are, they don't promise to punish the dead. There's no talk of torturing you after the earth has closed over the Amalekites. Only toward when gentle Jesus, meek and mild, makes his appearance are those who won't accept the message told they must depart into everlasting fire. Is this morality, is this ethics?
...I submit not only is it not, not only does it come with the false promise of vicarious redemption, but it is the origin of the totalitarian principle which has been such a burden and shame to our species for so long.”
Hitchens Errs in the follow ways:
1. Hitchens fails to take into Account Creator/Creature Distinctives.
2. Hitchens “groundlessly” suggests His Own Self-Governance is the basis of Truth/Reality.
3. Hitchens slanders the Nature of God & His Rule (“dictatorship” … vs. Creater, Governor, Merciful Savior, etc.)
4. Hitchens Mischaracterizes the Motivation for the Works of Man; & the Grounds & Nature of God’s Judgment
What we discover is that it's Hitchen’s own self centeredness and self-exaltation and desire for self-rule which not only distorts, but keeps him from acknowledging, and submitting to the truth!
The denial of God’s rightful place & man’s exaltation of self (& self-rule) which resulted in God needing to provide salvation & light to begin with!
IV. Christianity's ethics undermine man's basic integrityHitchen’s Argument:
“I further think that it undermines us in our most essential integrity. It dissolves our obligation to live and witness in truth. Which of us would say that we would believe something because it might cheer us up or tell our children that something was true because it might dry their eyes? Which of us indulges in wishful thinking, who really cares about the pursuit of truth at all costs and at all hazards?
Can it not be said, do you not, in fact, hear it said repeatedly about religion and by the
religions themselves that, well it may not be really true, the stories may be fairy tales. The history may be dubious, but it provides consolation. Can anyone hear themselves saying this or have it said of them without some kind of embarrassment, without the concession that thinking here is directly wishful, that, yes, it would be nice if you could throw your sins and your responsibilities on someone else and have them dissolved, but it's not true and it's not morally sound and that's the second ground of my indictment.
On our integrity, basic integrity, knowing right from wrong and being able to choose a right action over a wrong one, I think one must repudiate the claim that one doesn't have this moral discrimination innately, that, no, rather it must come only from the agency of a celestial dictatorship which one must love and simultaneously fear.
And that we don't have an innate sense of right and wrong, children don't have an innate sense of fairness and decency, which of course they do. What is it like? I can personalize it to this extent, my mother's Jewish ancestors are told that until they got to Sianai, they'd been dragging themselves around the desert under the impression that adultery, murder, theft and perjury were all fine, and they get to Mount Sinai only to be told that's not kosher after all.
I'm sorry, excuse me, you must have more self-respect than that for yourself and for others. Of course the stories are fiction. .. It's an insult, it's an insult to us, it's an insult to our deepest integrity.
No, if we believed that perjury, murder and theft were all right, we wouldn't have got as far as the foot of Mount Sinai or anywhere else.
I have a challenge which I have now put in print on the Christianity Today Website and in many other places. It's this: if it's to be argued that our morality or ethics can be derived from the supernatural, then name me an action, a moral action taken by a believer or a moral statement uttered by one, that could not have been made or uttered by an infidel, a non-believer. “
1. Hitchens clearly misunderstands the unfolding of the covenant & the role of covenant law in the Old Testament.
a. God does authorize his people to kill, etc., but what is the context, and on whose authority is the command based? Hitchens fails to take the context and God's authority and right to use his people as instruments of his just judgments. (Note: one must understand differences in the dispensations of God's covenant workings or one will fail and err by falsely assigning certain authority and commands to dispensations or peoples where it does not belong)
b. Who determines morality? Was God ever UNJUST in his accusations/judgments? Is the punishment for sin not “death”? Can God not use man to carry out his just will?
2. Hitchens presupposes universal absolutes without a Law Giver
a. Where do ethics & morality come from? What is the standard?
b. What is the standard? Whose right … those who declare abortion right or wrong… How do we know?
3. Hitchens fails to take into account “common grace” & the need for the conscience to be trained.
4. Hitchens mischaracterizes the biblical position on “perjury, murder, theft" etc by failing to take context into account.
5. Hitchens fails to take into account the influence of God’s Word/Law in history. (Affect other peoples / values)
a. Note: Cannibalism is deemed okay in some people groups
6. Hitchens gives credit to hmself (& oher hmanity) with no basis for how man has gotten (& judges) the way he does.
Atheism & Secular Humanism has YET to provide Grounds & Answers in regard to the origin, existence, standards, & authority of Morals and/or Ethics
V. Christianity's love is dictatorial (/compulsory)
“…compulsory love is another sickly element of Christianity, by the way
It has a further implication. I'm told that I have to have a share in this human sacrifice even though it took place long before I was born. I have no say in it happening, I wasn't consulted about it, had I been present I would have been bound to do my best to stop the public torture and execution of an eccentric preacher. I would do the same even now.
No, no, I'm implicated in it, I, myself, drove in the nails, I was present at Calvary, it confirms the original filthy sin in which I was conceived and born, the sin of Adam in Genesis. Again, this may sound a mad belief, but it is the Christian belief.”
I. Hitchens mischaracterizes nature & motivation of love for God (& hence the nature of God Himself)
a. Nowhere in the Bible is love “compulsory” in the sense Hitchens states
i. God is WORTHY of Love
ii. God’s people who having first been loved by God… freely desire to love God.
iii. It’s a SAD STATEMENT when one falsely assumes there must be a "compulsory nature” for man to love that which is good & lovable!
II. Hitchens fails to take into account the Federal Relationship of Mankind
“before I was born”a.
This points to the Hitchens being influenced by the “Individualism” of the 21st century, rather than the evidence of the oneness of humanity.
VI. Christianity's message (i.e., revelation of delay & method of God)is immoral.
For 100,000 years Homo sapiens were born, …very often dying in the process or killing its mother in the process at life expectancy probably not much more than 20, 25 years. Dying probably of hunger or of micro-organisms that they didn't know existed or of events such as volcanic or tsunami or earthquake types that would have been wholly terrifying and mysterious as well as some turf wars over women, land, property, food, other matters. You can fill them in, imagine it for yourself what the first few tens of thousands of years were like.
And we like to think learning a little bit in the process and certainly having Gods all the
way, worshipping bears fairly early on, I can sort of see why, sometimes worshipping other human being, (big mistake, I'm coming back to that if I have time), this and that and the other thing, but exponentially perhaps improving, though in some areas of the world very nearly completely dying out. And a bitter struggle all along.
According to the Christian faith, heaven watches this with folded arms for 98,000 years and then decides, whew, it's time to intervene and the best way of doing that would be a human sacrifice in primitive Palestine where the news would take so long to spread that it still hasn't penetrated very large parts of the world and that would be our redemption of human species.
Now I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that that is, what I've just said which you must believe to believe the Christian revelation is not possible to believe, as well as not decent to believe. Why is it not possible? Because a virgin birth is more likely than that. A resurrection is more likely than that and because if it was true, it would have two further implications. It would have to mean that the designer of this plan was unbelievably lazy and inept or unbelievably callous and cruel and indifferent and capricious.
Is this the biblical picture of God’s involvement?
Ans: No. Hitchens could not be further from the truth. God has been involved from the beginning.
1. God was immediately on the scene with Adam and Eve presenting salvation (protoeuvangelion).
2. The cross has application to both those who came before and after.
3. God has always be faithful and there for his people.
4. Because God has not redeemed all and because God has not consumated his plan does not mean he has been absent or uncaring!
VII. Christianity's message (i.e., "man is blood, mud, etc., but God has a plan for you")is sadomasochism.
And here's my final point, the final insult that religion delivers to us, the final poison it injects into our system. It appeals both to our meanness, our self-centeredness and our solecism and to massochism. In other words, it's sadomasochistic.
I'll put it like this: you're a clot of blood, you're a piece of mud, you're lucky to be
alive, God fashioned you for his convenience, even though you're born in filth and sin and even though every religion that's ever been is distinguished principally by the idea that we should be disgusted by our own sexuality. Name me a religion that does not play upon that fact. So you're lucky to be here, originally sinful and covered in shame and filth as you are, you're a wretched creature, but take heart, the Universe is designed with you in mind and heaven has a plan for you.
1. Hitchens fails to take into account the docrine of creation and man's being created in the “image of God”
2. Compare the Atheist view of man: mass of chemicals, no purpose, to decopose and exist no more, etc., worse than mud…
3. Hitchens denies the dignity, purpose and glory of man
4. Hitchens slanders the goodness and purposes of God.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 12:48 PM
Patterns today among Muslim communities and groups are telling and can provide Christians insight into planning for more effective evangelism in the future among Muslims as well as planning for how to equip and build up saints so as to not be deceived or led astray by Muslims in the future.
Though the warfare on the spiritual battlefield will be the same, tactics will need to adapt to the changing environment and conditions. It's clear that ...
...in many places, the face of Islam is changing and will continue to undergo change so as to look different in the near future, particularly due to the effects of westernization and modernity. These changes are now being seen in places such as college campuses, European and American Muslim communities, the practice of Muslim leaders thoughout the world, etc. See For Muslim Students, a Debate on Inclusion for insight into the types of changes in process.
While others I'm sure are more seasoned and experienced and are already seeing these changes, my projections would be that we will continue to see more splintering of the Muslim community along typical lines such as liberal vs. conservative; literal vs. non-literal, legalistic vs. licentious, etc.; each of which must be examined as to how it will not only affect the Muslim faith but also how it offers opportunities, challenges and roadblocks to Christian evangelism as well as how it affects the role of the church in equipping saints for standing firm and dealing effectively in the new environment.
I suspect the battleground will include everything from pockets of traditional isolated hardline non inclusive resistant groups to those who besides their theological doctrines (and associated and resulting practice) will look outwardly no different than anyone else on the street, even to those who while they look no different outwardly are of a jihad mindset and secretly plot with against their neighbors to do them physical harm and bring death. The point being many of the former identifiers on a physical level of those who are different will not be as present or evident. This will do several things. First, it will require believers to be more discerning, it will require the state to be more creative and on top of things, etc. But as believers, these are not times we must fear or dread, but rather both appreciate the good that comes with the changes and take advantage of them as well as to be aware of the new challenges that will come both spiritually and physically.
One good is that we will continue to see the melting of the peoples of the world into one. Another good is that many of those who formally would have been isolated due to their Muslim heritage and environment will be more assessible, engagable and open. Another good is that rather than emphasis and distraction being placed on physical and geographical differences more emphasis will be placed on theological, doctrinal and ethical differences. Another good is that faults and errors within the Muslim faith and traditions will be open to greater scrutiny and the thoughts, attitudes and practices of its adherants challenged. Another good is that we will again have opportunity to see the face of the Christian faith advance from being more of a western look to seeing more of the unity and peace as those from every tongue and tribe and nation come together in one body ("Red and yellow black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus love ALL the children of the world). Another good will be the advancement of the church's thinking and work as greater perspective and additional scholarship is brought to bear. Another good is that cultural as opposed to biblical Christianity will more and more be challenged. Another good is that we ourselves will be challenged in areas we've grown comfortable or are not living consistent with the truth. These are just to name a few, but to point out that the future possesses great promise.
At the same time, we must understand that these changes will also bring a greater spread of Muslim teaching and resources, a greater exposure of our children and immature to that which is false, not biblical thought forms, attitudes, and practices which oppose, challenge, and seek to supplant our own; greater numbers of those who will blindly hold to pluralism, a greater challenge to the churches personnel and resources in confronting Islam at home as well as abroad; a greater amount of false teaching to defend against, etc. Again, these are just to name a few, but to point out why it is important that the church and its members not blindly and unwisely fail to prepare and get caught behind the curve.
Much more can be said, but the purpose of this post is simple to bring the matter to attention and encourage greater conversation and planning among God's people.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 7:06 AM
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Note the following statements in this article:
Owners of domestic animals are forbidden from taking them on the streets of the city because Islam considers dogs to be impure.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ...took possession of four guard dogs, bought in Germany for approximately $161,040 each.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 2:18 PM
Having just listened to NPR's Interview with Bart Ehrman on his New Book "Questioning Religion on Why We Suffer", I present the following observations/comments:
1. I question Ehrman's sincerity and truthfulness when he states he does not want to convert people to be agnostic as he is. (Perhaps it might be stated he desires people to question the God of the Bible, or the Bible, or Christianity, but otherwise...) Why write the book?
2. Despite Ehrman being a professor of religion (even a recognized one), I question his understanding of the very Scripture passages he bases his argument on. For example, his explanation of the book of Ecclesiastes misses the point when he suggests the writer of the book concludes that since everything is going to pass away the ultimate point is simply to eat, drink and be merry (as if perhaps from a secular humanist standpoint)... But note the author's own concludion (Song of Solomon 12:13) who writes "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man." (To understand this view, let me recommend Walter Kaiser's book on Ecclesiastes.) Similarly, with the book of Job, Ehrman seeks to divide the text without seeing the natural relationships and unfolding of Job's story to reach the conclusion through the struggles he had due to suffering. When one divides, takes from, or distorts the text, it should not be surprising to find them arrive at distorted conclusions!
3. Errors are found in each of the arguments Ehrman sets forth as to why the Biblical view of suffering does not add up. For example, in failing to recognize and understand that suffering has come as a consequence of man's sin, Ehrman dismisses man's free will simply because it does not cover all situations like natural disaster. There is nothing in Scripture that states that the cause of suffering will be limited to one entity or source. In regard to the "mystery" or our not knowing "all things" about suffering, Ehrman dismisses the truth and tries to equate our "not understanding everything" as the same as there "is no answer." In regard to suffering and a loving and powerful God, Ehrman confuses "all loving" with the necessary to always show all mercy and grace and do all that one can immediately and in fullness and totality so as to alway completely alleviate all suffering and to the full, immediate and complete satisfaction of the one enduring suffering ... or else he's not all loving. This is to misunderstand or fail to take into account the nature of mercy and grace, the various aspects of love (in which in some cases patience and allowing it to work out is best, etc.). In regard to the God is "punishing" argument, Ehrman fails to distinguish between suffering as a natural "consequence" of "man's" sin and as he puts it "God creates suffering". Confusing the two results in the errant conclusions he makes. In regard to the "Suffering can be redemptive" argument, while Ehrman admits it can be true, and perhaps is alot of the time, he then goes on to argue against suffering being "always redemptive" (i.e., he not only switches the argument, but also suggests it is not while asserting his own personal groundless temporal assessments without considering the issues in light of the greater context of God's purposes and accomplishments in redemption. In regard to the suffering being a "test" argument, Ehrman fails to recognize the various uses of suffering and also suggests because the Bible refers to it in one way in one passage for Job, that must deny other aspects, applications, or usages. In regard to the "apocalyptic" view of evil and suffering, Ehrman's argument came down to two reasons. First he suggests that the Bible contradicts itself by suggesting it is caused by man but then attributing it to the "devil, demons, diseases, death" etc. but fails to recognize that "as" the consequence of man's sin, man is subjected to these other things. Second, he suggests that since generations of believers have thought of the end as immanent ... but in his view "has not happened" then it must be false. This is to fail to take into account that each indidual of past generations has "soon" (in respect) come into the passing of this life where the "now" meets the "not yet" as well as the fact that with God a thousand years is like a day and especially given a view such as the amillenial view, not only there the present rule of Christ even now, but also that a return in the "near" future would certainly satisfy Biblical prophesy especially when one takes into account the various ages and the eternity and perspective of God (and spiritual man). What's sad is he fails to take into account the very warning Scripture gives concerning the very argument he makes that there will be those who because they have not seen will question its very truth. In effect, Ehrman's multiple errors in exegesis and logic lead to his faulty conclusions. (Too bad there's probably going to be alot of hype about this book which has so many holes in it!)
4. Revisiting Ehrman's motives, one must wonder when he presents his being "born again" and his "evangelical" studies and participation, is he presenting this simply as "credentials" or is he using this as others do to try say "I was a REAL Christian" but now I'm admitting I was wrong" so as to try to discredit both Christianity and those who are true believers. What's interesting is that Ehrman's own testimony is not congruous with those who are "born again" (for those who are... not only receive the testifying seal of the H.S., but also do not deny Christ as the Son of God).
5. The saddest part of this book is that for the unspiritual, uneducated and undiscerning, many will be persuaded both by his story and his arguments. However, the great news is that even this book fits within the greater context of God's redemptive plan in bringing all the elect to himself so that not one will be lost.
6. While I do not deny that it's an absolute qualification for one to be religious to teach in a religious department, UNC's decision in having him in this position on one level could be likened to having a creationist teach evolution classes or an evolutionist teach classes in creationism. While there's certainly nothing that forbids it, one must question whether it is best and how much stock one should put in what they have to say.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 9:55 AM
Saturday, February 16, 2008
In Ephesians 5, it is written "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." The word "expose" literally means "reprove" them...reminding us that it is the duty of believers not only to walk in ways of holiness and righteousness ourselves, but to "reprove with conviction" those who are offenders of the law and authority of God.
In reading this, I was reminded of the inconsistency being lived out in America these days in regard to homosexual behavior and the likes. On the one hand, many in America have not only not spoken out and condemned such thinking and behavior, but have unthinkingly bought into the lies and co-participated in the evil (of those who participate in or promote such immorality) by either actively approving or passively accepting their ways (or at least speaking of it as something should be perceived and/or embraced as acceptable). And yet on the other hand, the truth itself is both exposed and revealed when revulsion and objection is shown in response to clips and pictures of public expressions of such behavior and practices at such events as the gay parades in San Francisco where the shameful, unbecoming and filthy practices are brought to light...leaving many (and some of the same...) observers disgusted and with distaste for the things which are taking place, much of which is done today in secret, but these providing a glimpse into the darkness of their world of sin and evil.
I stand apart and am not ashamed to take a stand and publicly condemn all such thinking, attitudes, practice and behavior as contrary to the holy and authoritative law of God, as opposed to nature, as that which is improper, immoral, impure, unbecoming and unfit for anyone to take part in to any degree. Those who do so and speak thus so should be ashamed beyond measure and deserve the disgrace that belongs to them (whether or not it comes to them) and that they bring upon themselves. The only right response from them is to stop, to start anew, and to proceed on the path which consists of repentance and then toward purity.
It's time for God's people to speak out, for think of all those who will be drawn asunder because we have not spoken out, think of all the poor souls who need to be confronted and whose sin needs to hear words of conviction that they might turn and be saved, and think of all the extent of responsibility that lies with us in participating in all goodness, righteoueness and truth as we serve to shed light and truth in the name of God here in this world.
I have no doubt such a post will draw great criticism and response; so be it. I submit it as a clarion call for truth and for repentance, in the spirit and as a bearer of light, truth, and of the gospel of Jesus Christ, who himself is the light, Savior, sanctifier, and ruler of the world.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 6:56 PM
Friday, February 15, 2008
Debate is found here.
1. I can understand Atheists' frustrations when it comes to dealing with those who "profess Christianity but do not hold to doctrines such as virgin birth, miracles, etc.", ... but what should you expect when you debate one who is an "agnostic Catholic Buddhist" who claims to profess Christianity.
While one can understand the frustration of Dawkins, Hitchens and others who often are confronted with those who profess Christianity but deny it's foundations; that does not excuse their (atheists')common perception and practice of first attributing the errors and/or inconsistencies of such individuals to the whole or to the rest of Christianity and then criticizing them for it particularly as if that is the norm. It would be no different that a Christian going to the infidels site and finding those who proclaimed to be atheists but "agnostic" or "pluralistic" in certain areas and then criticising athesism (even hard athesists) as if they were consistently inconsistent.
Note: Dawkins didn't run into the same situation when he debated Alister McGrath.
It will be interesting to see if in the future Atheist leaders continue to carry out their business among those of the like of Madeline Bunting (or others of like position, even if among the intellectuals but not grounded and built up upon the faith), or if they will be wise and courageous enough to deal with those positionally, doctrinally, and unapologetically Christian.
2. While I respect Dawkins for his continuous advocacy for truth and evidence, I submit that (1) One must allow for ALL the evidence (including revelation/testimony/etc.) or one poisons the outcome even before looking to the evidence; (2) One must allow for metaphysical possibilities and application before denying the metaphysical based on limitations of the physical (ie. the question of God and whether Jesus had a father or not is not determined simply by other human births (as if simply because in all other human births a human father (or sperm) is necessary. The very question and introduction of God and of metaphysical reality suggests that just because all other human beings have a father through ordinary means does NOT mean that Jesus had to... in fact, not only does revelation and Christian doctrine state otherwise but the remainder of the evidence (history/testimony/the church/etc.) serves as evidence and supports the truth of Christ's birth as other than ordinary.
3. The miracle of Jesus turning water into wine should not be as surprising and shocking today as more and more even mankind is proving the ability to change the nature and characteristics of liquids or metals (originally composed of particular elements or compounds). (However, when man is able to do that more thoroughly, consistently, and completely, atheists will even use that to try to deny the miracle of Jesus).
4. Note the inconsistency when one suggests that it's okay for believers to allow their beliefs into the public sphere when it comes to poverty (, clothing the naked, and the like) but NOT in other areas (particular those which atheists disagree with).
5. Dawkins continued to refer to Christianity in AMERICA and to the Bible Belt because Christianity is still alive and well in these areas; also because it's in these areas in particular that doctrinal truth is not watered down or denied but stands in direct opposition over and against the positions and arguments of atheism.
6. Christianity is not threatened by intellectualism, nor are Christians insecure due to size or the belief of others concerning our being disempowered. Our foundation is eternal, our hope is secure, our lot is good, and our confidence is sure and alive. God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, of love and of self discipline. The wisdom of this world (because it denies God and stands in opposition to his sovereign and eternal kingdom) does not threaten or impress us, rather it is seen for what it is, man's futile attempt to think highly of himself and glory in himself ... all the while he continues to walk in darkness and remains under condemnation. While others smugly assure themselves while making reference to our supposed insecurity, we pity them not only concerning the future but in their present arrogance.
7. Dawkins opposition to believers training up their children points by teaching them they belong to God points out one of our greatest blessings and truths, and that is that we are not just what we think or believe, but we are also defined by our relationships and covenants. While Dawkins and others view man as lost until he finds himself, the believer is one who belongs (by decree, love and relationship) even before he discovers his identity in Christ.
8. Dawkins suggests that to teach a child that he will "roast forever in hell" is child abuse, but if such is the truth apart from faith and union in Christ, to do otherwise (and falsely comfort a soul which IS in danger by telling them they are NOT) is one of the the greatest abuses one can commit (and one God not only does not, but will not take lightly; Luke 17:2).
9. Not surprising that Dawkins who suggests that religion should be "private" and "not forced on others" does not heed his own position and keep his own views and beliefs out of the public sphere.
10. For Dawkins, who prides himself in being a scientist, to suggest there is no (supreme) intelligence in our world, is the ultimate irony.
11. I do not believe Atheists will back off their message one iota. This will result in the advance of the gospel.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 7:46 AM
Thursday, February 14, 2008
In 2 Sue to Void Ban on Same-Sex Marriage, Mari Newman, a lawyer for a lesbian couple who filed a motion in Colorado claiming that Amendment 43, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman, violated their constitutional right to equal protection", stated the following:
"Marriage is a fundamental right, which should be for all Coloradans, not just some Coloradans.”
One of the lesbians went on to say:
“We are planning on sticking with this until the law has changed,....When you see something unjust, you want to change it.”
Is it not correct that MARRIAGE (the union of one man and one woman) is available for ALL Coloradans (who qualify and desire marriage as defined)? If so, then there is nothing unjust about the ban (based on equal opportunity and marriage as defined).
The charge of something "unjust" comes by those who first want to "twist" or REDEFINE marriage (as something "in addtion to" or "other than" between one man and one woman) and then suggest their rights are being denied.
Those who have studied the Scripture understand that "twisting" the truth or presenting "half truths as the whole truth" is nothing new.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 12:48 PM
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Walking down the hall of a hospital where my mother just had surgery, my thought reverted back to the statement of a man who said the doctors in this hospital were good. I thought to myself "They did what needed to be done for my mother.... or at least that's what they said they did. My mother didn't need someone to simply tell her (along with the rest of my family) what we wanted to hear, but not deal with her true physical condition and needs.
As I thought about this, I was reminded that if this is true on a physical level, how much moreso on a spiritual level, and yet how many people today are content as Jesus said they would be to gather around them those preachers and companions who tickle their ears and tell them what they want to hear rather than deal with the true nature, condition and needs of their soul.
How many are deceived by those who they consider "sincere" though they may be "sincerely wrong"? How many are satisfied to hear "feel good" messages and motivational speeches rather than hear what God says concerning our sin? How many continue to think of themselves of "good" and able to please God themselves if they will just try harder rather than accepting the truth that God accepts only Christ and those joined to him through repentance and faith. (See here for a comparison chart between biblical Christianity and cultural Christianity).
Cancer can only kill the body, but sin can condemn the soul. Do not be led astray by flattering lips and smooth talk that deceives.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 12:02 AM
Saturday, February 09, 2008
Posted by All Things Reformed at 10:48 PM
This article though a few years old is worth reading again, not only for when considering statements like Hitchens who says archeology does not support the Bible (see McGrath-Hitchens debate) but in learning to deal apologetically with those who make similar statements.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 10:37 PM
A Sunday School teacher last week applied Jesus' question to his disciples in Matthew 16 by asking "Who does OUR CULTURE say Jesus is?"
Ajinbayo Akinsiku wants to renew culture's thinking on Jesus by presenting him as "a hard guy, seeking revolution and revolt, a tough guy”... a samurai stranger ... even one likened to Clint Eastwood.
While one must ask first whether those who are unfamiliar with Jesus will possess the wisdom, ability, and discernment to distinguish the Jesus in Akinsiku's graphic novel from the Jesus found in Scripture... but beyond this, one must recognize that anytime one seeks to represent Jesus by something other than the way Jesus is presented in Scripture, one fails to present the real Jesus, and fashions a Jesus other that the true Jesus. For example, in portraying Jesus as a Clint Eastwood character, while it may present a picture of a more "active" Jesus who does more than just talking, it will certainly fail to present his divinity the way it really is and will leave out to various degrees his other attributes (such as meekness, patience, gentleness, etc.) which all consist and work together according to his perfections.
Who do YOU say the Son of Man is? ... just a good teacher, the gentle, blue-eyed Christ of old Hollywood movies and illustrated Bibles, a graphic action hero, one who secures and provides for your health and wealth, a universalist messiah, or "the Christ, the Son of the living God" who came and gave his life for those the Father gave to him that we may have forgiveness of sins in his name and life everlasting?
Posted by All Things Reformed at 8:18 PM
In his article Why Darwin matters, Richard Dawkins states: "You can pare Darwin's big idea down to a single sentence (again, this is a modern way of putting it, not quite Darwin's): 'Given sufficient time, the non-random survival of hereditary entities (which occasionally miscopy) will generate complexity, diversity, beauty, and AN ILLUSION of design SO PERSUASIVE that it is ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO DISTINGUISH FROM DELIBERATE INTELLIGENT DESIGN.'" (CAPS, my emphasis)
Posted by All Things Reformed at 5:22 PM
White, 63, said he was raised as an atheist, and after earning a doctorate in chemistry, embraced evangelical Christianity in 1964.
He says that when he is asked to speak to science classes, he challenges the accuracy of radioactive dating which shows the world to be thousands of millions of years old and says that the Bible is a more accurate description of how mankind began. He personally believes the Earth is between 6,000 and 12,000 years old.
"Usually I find the discussion goes on science, science, and science and then when the lesson is finished one or two students say, 'Can we talk about other things?' and I sit down with them and usually they want to talk about Christianity," he said. "They want to know, why do you believe in God? Why do you believe in the Bible? How can you be sure it's the word of God?"
Posted by panta dokimazete at 4:04 PM
Thursday, February 07, 2008
"...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins." (John 8:24)
A new "spiritual" book called “The Third Jesus: The Christ We Cannot Ignore”, written by new age mystic Deepak Chopra, is set to be released on February 19. According to the book description, the purpose of The Third Jesus is to provide “a challenge to current systems of belief and a fresh perspective on what Jesus can teach us all, regardless of our religious background.” In short, this novel is just another false revelation of the modern religion of pluralism.
This fact is further exemplified in the description of the third Jesus in contrast to the first two.
“First, there is the historical Jesus, the man who lived more than two thousand years ago and whose teachings are the foundation of Christian theology and thought. Next there is Jesus the Son of God, who has come to embody an institutional religion with specific dogma, a priesthood, and devout believers. And finally, there is the third Jesus, the cosmic Christ, the spiritual guide whose teaching embraces all humanity, not just the church built in his name. He speaks to the individual who wants to find God as a personal experience, to attain what some might call grace, or God-consciousness, or enlightenment.”
As we can see, the “third Jesus” is quite a bit different than the other two (which are one and the same). This newer model is more inclusive and tolerant, embracing “all humanity, not just the church built in his name”. The “third” Jesus doesn’t care what you believe or how you live, he wants you to simply have some sort of personal spiritual experience (not to mention that anyone who confuses “grace” and “enlightenment” is either dishonest or intellectually challenged in world religions.)
“Ultimately, Chopra argues, Christianity needs to overcome its tendency to be exclusionary and refocus on being a religion of personal insight and spiritual growth. In this way Jesus can be seen for the universal teacher he truly is–someone whose teachings of compassion, tolerance, and understanding can embrace and be embraced by all of us”.
Clearly, this speaks volumes about Chopra’s real theology of religious pluralism. Pluralism is simply the theology of unbelief. We are never told what the source of this “third Jesus” is in the book summary. Perhaps the book itself will tell us, but I doubt it. Therefore, I’ll take the liberty of doing so. The “third Jesus” is a vain invention of human neurons. Chopra created this Jesus out of necessity, for he knows nothing of the first Jesus, and obviously doesn’t think too highly of the second.
Posted by Puritan Lad at 9:06 AM
In a New York Times article discussing issues related to a "science" debate, one wise stated:
Framing questions of economics, ethics and other aspects of policy as ‘science issues’ does no favor for either science or politics.
Seems men like Dawkins could learn from this when he tries to define the question of the existence of God as a "science" question.
Seems also that the place of science is coming more and more to the forefront, as those who believe science may be used as a tool to further their own thinking and agendas there's a propensity to want to redefine the place of science. While I don't disagree that science can sometimes lose it's proper place and need to be restored especially in it's realtion to politics, policy, etc., at the same time one should be especially leery when hearing of others who want to set science above all other things. Anytime one desires to set things out of their proper place, it's not good news and there's a reason for doing so which is not good.
Beleivers need to be alert, on their guard, and watchful concerning the place and role of science in our world. It should not surprise us to find those who look to "reason alone without a foundation in and an eye toward faith" and those who hold a secular view of the world to try to overthrow the natural places and relationships and replace them with their own.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 8:04 AM
Because some lost souls did not lead good lives, the nuns explained, they are agonizingly stuck between this life and the next. So each night, at precisely 8:30, the nuns take turns striking a large gong with a wooden mallet and reciting a “hell-breaking mantra” to release them from their pain.
These words found here refer to the practice Buddhist nuns who are doing things in an attempt to help others become free from their predicament and move on toward nirvana. However, would you not agree that this very practice flies in the face of (/is inconsistent with) the words of Buddha who on his own deathbed in instructing a young monk said "So, Ananda, you must be your OWN lamps, be your OWN refuges. Take refuge in NOTHING OUTSIDE YOURSELVES. Hold firm to the truth as a lamp and a refuge, and do not look for refuge to ANYTHING BESIDES YOURSELVES. A monk becomes his OWN lamp and refuge by continually looking on his body, feelings, perceptions, moods, and ideas ... Whoever among my monks does this, either now or when I am dead,... will reach the summit." (CAPS, my emphasis)
Posted by All Things Reformed at 7:04 AM
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
More and more we see Atheists seeking to come together to actively strategize and plan how to advance their cause and beliefs in the world.
Two questions this raises is: What type of unity will this produce and what will be it's effect.
The answer to the first is illustrated in the videos of the four horsemen. Here leading atheists sit around a table and discuss various issues related to their treatment and cause. What's interesting is that while there may be common thinking (and even common laughter)as they sat around the table pondering and discussing how their interests might better be served, there was certainly not a "unity" or close bond between them like what you find among Christian servants, but is this not what we should expect, since besides their cognitive pursuits and positions the only relation they believe to exist between one another is that of the simultaneous co-existance of evolved forms.
As far as what it's effect will be eventual tribulation, as prophesied in Scripture, for believers. This is already seen in the fact that the four horsemen agree that any who affirm a belief in or position on faith are to be discredited as illogical and irrelevant. (History has shown that once a segment of society is set apart as irrelevant, unequal, etc., then tribulation and persecution soon follows.) Personally, while the current movement may not necessarily result in the time of great tribulation referred to in Scripture (I say that because I believe its leaders have erred in trying to discount the faithful before their own numbers are of any account, and thus the thrust of their campaign will prove premature), at the same time, it does signify signs of things to come and could be laying the very seedbeds and paving the path of things will surely come. It's clear that as prophesied in Scripture, the spirit of the antiChrist is already at work in our world, and the direction as foretold by Scripture is sure to come. This is all the more reason for believers not to become complacent, but to stay alert, to pray and to prepare. Certainly God is exalted even in the truth as it surely is going to come to pass. How thankful we should be that his faithfulness will be just as sure as his truth.
Type rest of the post here
Posted by All Things Reformed at 8:35 AM
Richard Dawkins comments on the God Delusion here.
1. The question of primacy - There's a huge difference between saying the existence of God (being the greater issue) has significant implication in the area of science (along with others area) or that science is a field where the existence of God can be looked at ... and stating the existence of God is a scientific question. Dawkin's statement falsely presupposes the supremacy of science over God whereby it denies the definition of God. Rather than getting the cart before the horse, Dawkins errs in setting the physical over the spiritual.
2. The question of justification - Dawkins continues to suggest that God's law has been given such that men may "try to please God" by obedience to his law. Here, Dawkins, while he seeks to set himself as an expert on the very Scripture he sets out to deny, shows his lack biblical and spiritual understanding resulting from both his ignorance of the Christian faith and his faulty exegesis of the biblical text. The Christian position is that "faith" not "works" serves as the instrument of justification. It's no wonder that if Dawkins misunderstands this (a central truth associated with the Bible/gospel) that his understanding and view of much of the rest of Scripture is twisted.
3. The question of existence - Dawkins states that apart from the existence of God the world "stats with essentially nothing and builds up" to what we find today with all the complexities, etc. What does Dawkins mean my "essentially nothing"? Is that to suggest either: (1) that there was even minimalistically something... & if so, where did that come from???; or (2) it began with nothing... & somehow something came and grew from nothing, i.e., life from no life, intellegence from no intelligence, law from nothing, etc.?
4. The question of ethics/morality - Dawkins does two things:
a. In suggesting that a person can be "good" apart from the existence of God, he fails to speak to (and provide answers) to the basis, standard, and meaning of "good".
b. While Dawkins uses comparison, it's clear that atheist's do not consider "fear of punishment" as a legitimate motivation for obedience. While I agree there are better motivations, that does not deny "fear" as a legitimate motivation.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 7:52 AM
Consider the following quote
Evolutionists argue that the fetus has not fully evolved into a baby, and thus has no need or right to life because it is not fully human.
Now compare it with the next quote
In his view, toddlers are not just small people. In fact, for all practical purposes, they’re not even small Homo sapiens.
Can anyone tell me what they have in common?
The second quote is found here and comes from one who believes evolution is the key to understanding and communicating with toddlers.
It's a slippery slope when one departs from the biblical understanding of humanity and begins to redefine segments of society (young, old, mentally challenged, other races, etc.) as other than human...but that's where evolution and the pride of the flesh take some.
Distinctions in the way humanity is defined not only provides a reason why God and the way of his truth should be embraced, but provides a real concern and reason why evolution must be opposed.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 6:21 AM
Monday, February 04, 2008
Isn't it interesting the number of religions which at the same time claim the Scriptures are tainted or corrupt in some form BUT then go on to suggest they (in some form... which is often clouded) hold to the Scriptures (in addition to their other "holy" books).
When confronted with this, one should immediately recognize the issue at hand. Those who seek to "add to" or "take from" the Scripture must in some way try to discredit portions of Scripture which stand in stark contrast to their deviations, or otherwise prove inconsistent.
Because of the exclusivity of Christ, of the Gospel, and of the truth, one cannot "add to" or "take from" them without departing from, changing, or opposing them.
These actions should not be taken lightly by those who commit them. The warning of Scripture sounds loud and clear: "I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book." Because of the exclusivity of the gospel (and the exclusive means of justificaion), by adding to it one actually takes from it and hence disqualifies themselves from it's reward. Likewise, by taking from it, one must add to make up the difference, thereby stripping it of it's power and imposing on it that which keeps it from attaining it's end. Either way, it's a futile effort. Only the gospel, in its pure, biblical, unique, and unaltered form is sufficient and able to provide salvation.
As apologists, anytime one comes across this, one should key in and press the issue on this point. It takes one straight to the gospel, where the wisdom, power, purity, and sufficiency of Christ is seen most clearly, and where the foolishness, weakness, corruption and insuffiencies of false hopes may be exposed through contrast.
For these reasons, it should not surprise us to find that so often those who proclaim they believe in the Bible in addition to their other holy books in practice and when pressed are found in the end in effect attempting to supplant the Bible with their own texts, for you cannot have it both ways. The suggestion and/or presumption that one can has gone unchallenged for too long; however, the Scripture speaks clearly to the issue.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 6:40 AM
Friday, February 01, 2008
Fox News reports that 9 year old Josh Rich in paying his last respects to Hinckley (a man he revered as a prophet) had a hand-drawing of Heaven with a message he had written at the top that said "You passed the text. Welcome home."
While the boy's sincerity and intention are commendable, one must question the truth and legitimacy of his message (which he probably has picked up from the Mormon faith).
Compage his statement and that of Scripture:
"You passed the test. Welcome home."
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom 3:23)
The point being that Scripture attests to the fact that NO human being (Hinckley or ANY other) has or can meet the standard of God's righteous requirements on their own. That's why there is a need for a Savior who can meet the requirements of God for us.
God has sent such a Savior in Jesus. We read in Scripture "But now a righteousness from God, apart form law, has been made known... This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God..." but those who believe on Christ (rather than their own righteousness, their own ability to pass God's test, etc.) are justified freely by God's grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus, who offered himself in our place and paid the penalty for our sins by offering himself as a sacrificial atonement at Calvary and by perfectly fulfilling God's righteous requirements (through active and passive obedience in all things) which God accepts and credits to all those who believe on Christ.
Those who believe that as sinners they can do enough to meet God's standard need to consider Isaiah's statement that "ALL OF US have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous works are like filthy rags" [before God](Isaiah 64:6)" That's why Jesus said in applying the prophesy of God to himself "Sacrifice and offering I did not desire, but a body I prepared for you" referring to Christ. (Heb 10:5) Because our own righteousness would not result in salvation, God provided another means of attaining it, which is found in Christ crucified for us.
Do not be fooled. There is a way that seems right to a man but ends in death. But the righteous will live (not by their own works) but BY FAITH!
See this for more on the difference between Justification by Faith or Works.
Posted by All Things Reformed at 6:12 AM