Thursday, June 28, 2007

McGrath vs. Dawkins - A Christian Skeptic responds to a Naturalist Skeptic

If you have the time - wow...



This was supposed to be included in the Dawkins series - The Root of all Evil? - got cut...hmmm...

Good analysis over on A Fool's Heart: Answering the Village Atheist.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Emerging Leaders on Core v. Non-Core Beliefs













link here

Don't know that I agree with the totality of his diagrams...but it is an interesting idea...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The SIN Sin-sation!

Will God deny the kingdom to a person for just ONE LITTLE SIN / Violation / mistake?

That's a question raised so often to Christians.

Note first, how even in asking the question, often there's an attempt to lessen, minimize or do away with the problem itself.

Next, understand there's an entire world of evil wrapped up in EVERY "little" sin.

You've seen the commercials advertising candy or gum or a breathmint where the object containing peppermint or cinnamin appears rather indescript at first but then an EXPLOSION occurs when it reaches the mouth. The SAME is true on one level with the evil that is wrapped up in EVERY "little" sin, for what at first appears somewhat safe and undisruptive, when it is caried out and scrutinized for what it really is, is found to be like the poisonous venom found in a baby rattler, which is able to kill, is deadly even though its quantity is smally and it looks quite harmless.

In every sin, no matter how small, there's either the failure to carry out that which is in agreement with or the committing of that which directly contradicts the will and law of God; there's the setting of one's own will in place of or in opposition to God's; there's the denial and opposition of the existence or lordship of God; there's the enmity, even the demonstration of one's desire, to overthrow the very rule of God, even to supplant God, and to put oneself in the very place of God... in effect, that God be cursed! YES, for just ONE little sin, the answer is yes!

Some may object and say "But doesn't God understand what we are like, and how we are?"

YES! And that brings the issue into greater enormity and consequences. When the link between one little sin and it's history and source reveals God did not make man this way, but the sin we commit is tied to original sin where sin entered the world through one man and death through sin and this death reigned over all men, and the consequence of the one sin was that judgment followed one sin bringing condemnation upon all men. In other words, it would like someone saying "all I did was push the person", but then finding out that it wasn't an innocent little push but rather the person has not only personally been against the person being pushed all of his life, but a part of a terror group that has long been against and acting out against the person being pushed ... and wanting to rid the world of the one being pushed,...THEN the push itself (the smaller tied to the bigger) becomes ALL THE MORE significant. It not only emminates from but is tied to greater evil, and therefore all the more significant!

Will God deny a person the kingdom for one little sin? Yes! And he is just in doing so!

James 2:10 "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it."

1 Cor 6:9-10 "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offendeers nor thieves nor the greedy nor durnkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherity the kingdom of God."

Yet there is hope... that same passage goes on to say:
"And that is what some of you WERE. BUT you were WASHED, you were SANCTIFIED, you were JUSTIFIED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND BY THE SPIRIT OF OUR GOD."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Hell

good post from the CalvinDude click for more

...the claim was made that God would torture people throughout eternity, and this was morally wrong.

Leaving aside the issue of whether justice is torture, the argument is based on several misconceptions of Hell. This primarily comes from various analogies that the Catholic Church came up with through the Middle Ages, views such as Dante’s Inferno, and other extra-Biblical “scare tactics” used by overzealous “evangelists.” The result is that the Biblical concept of Hell has become twisted, Hollywood-ized, and morphed into something out of a Stephen King horror novel rather than the simple concepts discussed in Scripture.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Persuasion by Propaganda

Have you seen the CNN Article entitled: Gay life: Change and Challenge?

Should one consider this news, a feature story, or propaganda?

(Note: the "family" picture along with children, the intention of the article for readers to "understand" how much gay life has changed and how challenging it remains, ...

...the statement "a typical family with soccer, brand new puppies, church, choir and not enough time in the day.", quotation of a gallup poll referencing the those who see homosexuality as morally acceptable first, etc., the list could )

Suppose for a moment this article read: "Prostitution: Progress and Problems"
...rather than "Gay life: Change and Challenges"

Suppose it read: "To understand how much prostitution life in the United States has changed -- and how challenging it remains -- consider the story of Suzie Smith, who describes herself as "a typical American teenager with soccer, brand new puppies, church, choir and not enough time in the day or night."
...rather than "To understand how much gay life in the United States has changed -- and how challenging it remains -- consider the story of the Dillards, Sharon and Tanya, who describe themselves as "a typical family with soccer, brand new puppies, church, choir and not enough time in the day."

Suppose it read: "It was only in 1992 -- the year Suzie was born -- that while many states had increased the penalties for prostitution in cases where the prostitute is knowingly HIV positive, prostituion remained legel in some counties of Nevada."
...rather than "It was only in 1974 -- the year after Tanya was born -- that the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its manual of mental disorders."

Suppose it read: "In 2005, the year that Suzie became a teenager, maximum sentences 10-15 years in prison were typical"
...rather than "In 2003, the year Sharon and Tanya became a couple, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the laws in states that singled out same-sex relations for criminal prosecution."

Suppose it read: "Is prostitution still viewed as a sin?"
...rather than "Is homosexuality still viewed as a sin?"

Suppose it went on to quote polls in Nevada, to speak of prostitutes whose behavior may have found acceptance in some religions, etc., to quote Suzie about the problems she encounters, the problems she has being accepted in church and/or society, to tell of her move to Nevada along with others who have made the same decision and the reasons for doing so, to tell of her desire to validate her practice and have everyone accept it, etc., ..... and suppose it closed by stating "It's a touchy subject, but America will have to come around to accepting a change in the policy," said Smith, now living in Nevada. "Each new generation has accepted more diversity. Eventually, with the new generation, it's going to change."

Would this make prostitution right, or cause YOU to embrace it as morally acceptable?

Encouragement for Christians

There are signs perhaps of a brighter future and better days for Christians in America!

Christians are beginning to get better at presenting and defending their position and arguments.

Take a look ...

...beyond the subjects discussed, to the arguments and what is said in the following articles:

Public official to call for revamped policy on Christmas decorations in New York City

Southern Baptist Leader: Evangelicals Unlikely to Vote for Romney

All is NOT gloom and despair on the horizon. :)

The Search for Truth

Observation reveals that failure to search for truth forms a significant hindrance to finding truth for many.

Failure to search for truth can be found in many forms: from failure to search altogether, to adopting the views of others without significant inquiry, to adopting the views of others without inquiry into their findings, to being content to simply argue one's position repetatively without further inquiry, to inquiring further but remaining in or continuing down paths opposed to the truth, to conducting even fuller and continuing inquiry even into the truth itself but with commitment to false presuppositions or blinded by predispositions.

Even the time and energies of the most highly proclaimed naysayers would be better spent continuing in their personal search for truth than making proclamations (no matter how sought after, publicized, desired, or received) while remaining apart from the truth, in which solid discovery (including revelation, foundations, commitments, dispositions, recognition and reception) is possible and comes only through exposure and relation to Christ.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Meet Joe Average

Ray Comfort has written an article based on the argument of incredulity. While the article presents nothing new from the argument side, as far as things to think about and things to be thankful for, it's worth the read! Meet Joe Average.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Law and Gospel - John M. Frame

some quotes from this article

The distinction between law and gospel is not a distinction between a false and a true way of salvation. Rather, it is a distinction between two messages, one that supposedly consists exclusively of commands, threats, and therefore terrors, the other that consists exclusively of promises and comforts. Although I believe that we are saved entirely by God’s grace and not by works, I do not believe that there are two entirely different messages of God in Scripture, one exclusively of command (“law”) and the other exclusively of promise (“gospel”). In Scripture itself, commands and promises are typically found together. With God’s promises come commands to repent of sin and believe the promise. The commands, typically, are not merely announcements of judgment, but God’s gracious opportunities to repent of sin and believe in him. As the Psalmist says, “be gracious to me through your law,” Psm. 119:29.

....

We should be reminded of course that there is also an opposite extreme: preaching “gospel” in such a way as to suggest that Christ makes no demands on one’s life. We call that “cheap grace” or “easy believism.” We might also call it preaching “gospel without law.” Taken to an extreme, it is antinomianism, the rejection of God’s law. The traditional law/gospel distinction is not itself antinomian, but those who hold it tend to be more sensitive to the dangers of legalism than to the dangers of antinomianism.

...

...suggests that when you do something in obedience to a divine command, threat, or promise of reward, it is to that extent tainted, unrighteous, something less than a truly good work. I agree that our best works are tainted by sin, but certainly not for this reason. When Scripture presents us with a command, obedience to that command is a righteous action. Indeed, our righteousness is measured by our obedience to God’s commands. When God threatens punishment, and we turn from wickedness to do what he asks, that is not a sin, but a righteous response. When God promises reward, it is a good thing for us to embrace that reward.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Relevant Word from Jeremiah for Our Day

If the church conforming to the world is bad enough, then how much moreso (in our day) when the world begins to instruct and train up the church?

Take a look at And Justice for All: Embracing Sexual and Gender Diversity within the Faith Community.

Not only is the world looking to those who preach but do not uphold the truths of Scripture to side with them, but the world now seeks to use them to spread their own
message within the church as the message of the church.

Note what the Lord says to Jeremiah: "If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me; if you utter WORTHY, NOT WORTHLESS words, you will be my spokesman. LET THIS PEOPLE TURN TO YOU, BUT YOU MUST NOT TURN TO THEM." (Jer 15:19-20)

All the more reason for people today to be students of the word and exercise discernment, and not just take what other people say ...as biblical truth.

The Atheist Bible of Quotations

A good article by Gary DeMar. The list of atheistic quotations alone gives great insight into the worldview of the chief proponents of atheism. Whatever one thinks of the quotes, at least these atheists are honest and consistent, though they never give any account for their basic presuppositions. As Richard Lewontin admits, the atheist worldview exists “because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism”.

“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.” (Colossians 2:8)

Monday, June 18, 2007

The problem of evil...for atheists

Christians are often confronted with the problem of evil. If God is all-good, then how can He allow evil things to happen? There are varied answers to the question, oft debated and discussed. However, how does the atheist answer the same problem from a naturalistic/materialistic perspective?


......
Firstly, the problem needs to be properly framed. And the first key question is whether evil, from a materialist sense, actually exists? If we deny the existence of evil, then we deny the need for any moral conduct, since morality at the very least describes acts of right and wrong, or, good and evil personified. The universal existence of moral code, varied as it may be, and a universal sense of how we ought to behave, exists without question. It may differ from society to society, but every society is morally governed in some sense. I think it is therefore safe to conclude that if determination of right from wrong exists, then good and evil does exist.

We can further justify the existence of evil by the universal condemnation of what is perceived to be evil acts. Genocide, theft, rape and imperialism, for example, are almost universally rejected, except by the perpetrators of course.

The second issue to be addressed then is if evil does indeed exist, then what is the nature of evil? Here we must be extremely careful not to confuse acts of evil and evil itself. Or put another way, is evil a cause or an effect?

If evil acts, as discussed above, are indeed the very nature of evil, then evil is an effect, but of what? For the atheist, there is but one answer, it is the effect of impersonal and random processes. But how can processes that are random and impersonal result in effects that are personal (moral indignation and suffering) and specific (groups or individuals affected). Furthermore, if all evil acts are the result of naturalistic processes, then on what grounds can the atheist condemn evil acts? It is surely just the inevitable outcome of what the laws of nature determined, and cannot be right or wrong if so determined. To summarize then, evil as an effect is a fatalistic outcome of predetermined laws, and as such, moral indignation is misplaced.

But I think it is somewhat shallow to argue that evil is equal to evil acts. The act of evil has to be caused by an underlying motive or force, human moral decisions are not as instinctive as the killing of prey by lions, for example. Something predetermines our moral reactions, whether it be societal norms or something in our genes. The fact is, evil acts are motivated by something else. What are the possible causes of evil acts? If evil itself exists separately from evil acts, as we surmised in the first paragraph, and it is not just evil acts, then it becomes the cause of evil acts. The atheist must then account for evil as a cause of evil acts, and the task becomes even harder. The very causes which are responsible for the progression of nature, including survival of the fittest, becomes the personification of evil. The removal of the weaker from the gene pool is generally viewed as morally wrong, yet this selection by nature is the backbone of progression in the atheist world view, and therefore, becomes the cause of evil.

In the end, we reach similar conclusions from both arguments. The atheist has an interesting conundrum. He can deny the existence of evil and its effects, but that would merely be sticking his head in the sand. Alternatively, he can acknowledge the effects of evil, and accept the fatalistic omnipotence of random existence as the cause. Again, this is somewhat unsatisfactory, since man can clearly avoid acts of evil, we all do it every day. Lastly, he can argue for an uncaused metaphysic of evil based on evolutionary development, where the metaphysic follows the selection of nature for survival. Again, this leads to conflicting arguments, survival of the fittest is by no means equal to normative moral behavior, and indeed stands mostly in direct contrast, unless the atheist wishes to argue that natural selection has a moral purpose.

Either way, the problem of evil is indeed problematic for atheists. The very causes which they propose to be responsible for our moral compass are irrevocably responsible for evil, either in cause or effect. Of course, they attempt to divert attention from this severe shortcoming by attacking Christian morality. However, the atheist philosophy must withstand internal criticism, and before the atheist can level criticism at other positions, he should account for his position, or else argue from midair.

For the Christian, evil is that which is in opposition to God, personified in Satan, the cause of evil acts. The love of God has overcome evil, so that we may stand justified before Him, the opposition forgiven.
......

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Philosophy of the Christian Religion - excellent resource for the Christian Skeptic


I wanted to highlight this compilation by Paul Manata - The Philosophy of the Christian Religion - an excellent online resource for the development of the well-considered Christian worldview.


......
From Paul:

Introduction: This is comparable to a book on the Philosophy of Religion. There are a few differences between this "book" and other books. You will notice that there are no (well, just one or two) arguments against the positions I've listed. This is because this "book" is also meant to substitute as an apologetics "book" for the Christian faith, hence the offensive nature. Furthermore, this "book" is intended to present the Philosophy of Christianity from a Reformed perspective and also a presupposition approach to answering many of these questions (or, what I feel is in the same “vein” as presuppositional-esk answers). I also included some dated (or, stated in a non-analytical way) statements of Omniscience and Omnipotence, the reason for this is because I feel that if one could just state the traditional reformed understandings of these doctrines one would avoid many of the so-called problems with these doctrines. I have also included "chapters" in this "book" that are not found in other Philosophy of Religion texts (e.g., Christian Theism and Abstracta). I hope this "book" serves to increase your understanding of the Reformed Faith (or, in other words, Christian Faith) as well as enables you to better defend it.


CHAPTER 1: Arguments For God's Existence
i. If Knowledge Then God: The Epistemological Theistic Arguments of Plantinga and Van Til. - Dr. James Anderson
ii. Two Dozen (Or So) Theistic Arguments. - Dr. Alvin Plantinga
iii. The Argument From Reason. - Dr. Victor Reppert
iv. The Indispensability of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality - Dr. William Lane Craig
CHAPTER 2: The Problem of Evil
i. The Problem of Evil. - Dr. Greg Bahnsen
ii. The Bible on The Problem of Evil: Insights from Romans 3:1-8,21-26; 5:1-5; 8:28-39 -John M. Frame
iii. Evil As Evidence for God -Grek Koukl
iv. Why Calvinists Can't Solve The Problem of Evil. -Dr. Victor Reppert
v. Why Calvinists Can't Solve The Problem of Evil (A Direct Response). -Steve Hays
vi. Why Calvinists Can't Solve The Problem of Evil (An Indirect Response). - Frame, Adams, Piper, Sproul et al
vii. Euthyphro's Dilemma. -Greg Koukl
viii. Euthyphro, Hume, And The Biblical God. -John M. Frame
ix. The Problem of Evil. -Greg Welty
CHAPTER 3: Free Will and Moral Responsibility
i. Free Will And Moral Responsibility. -John M. Frame
ii. Determinism, Chance And Freedom. - John M. Frame
iii. Free Will And Moral Responsibility Are Not Inconsistent. - Dr. Loraine Boettner
iv. On Free Will. - John Calvin
v. Compatibalism, Incompatibalism, Pessimism, Moral Responsibility, Metaphysics and Moral Psychology, and Challenges to Pessimism. - Galen Stawson, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy
vi. Free Will And Responsibility. - Dr. John Byl
vii. Arminianism and the Idol of Free Will. - John Owen
CHAPTER 4: The Attributes of God

[a] Time And Eternity:
i. Is 'Timeless' Divine Action Coherent. - Dr. Michael Sudduth
ii. Eternity. - Dr. Paul Helm
iii. Is It Coherent to suppose that there Exists an Omniscient Timeless Being? - Dr. Michael Sudduth
iv. God in Time. -John M. Frame
[b] Omniscience and Human Freedom:
i. Foreknowledge and Human Freedom. - John M. Frame

ii. God's Foreknowledge and Free Will. - Stephen Charnock

iii. Does Divine Timelessness Resolve the Problem of Foreknowledge and Human Freedom. - Dr. Michael Sudduth

iv. Cross Examination: Foreordination and Free Will. - Dr. Greg Bahnsen
[c] Omnipotence:
i. Omnipotence. -Dr. Joshua Hoffman and Dr. Gary Rosencrantz

ii. Omnipotence. -Dr. Edward Wierenga

iii. Omnipotence. -Geerhardus Vos

iv. The Lord of Power. -John M. Frame

v. Divine Omnipotence. -Dr. Sam Storms
CHAPTER 5: Miracles
i. The Problem of Miracles. -Dr. Greg Bahnsen

ii. Miracles: A Test Case . -Dr. Vern Poythress

iii. Counterfeit Miracles. -B. B. Warfield
CHAPTER 6: Faith and Reason
i. Ready to Reason. -Dr. Greg Bahnsen

ii. The Problem of Faith. -Dr. Greg Bahnsen

iii. Natural Theology and the Rationality of Religious Belief. -Dr. Michael Sudduth

iv. Theism, Atheism, and Rationality. -Dr. Alvin Plantinga

v. How To Believe in God in The 2000s. -John M. Frame

vi. Faith and Reason. -Dr. Michael Polanyi

vii. Faith. -B. B. Warfield
CHAPTER 7: Religious Language
i. The Problem of Religious Language. -Dr. Greg Bahnsen

ii. IS HUMAN LANGUAGE ADEQUATE TO TALK ABOUT GOD? A CRITIQUE OF VERIFICATIONISM AND THEOLOGICAL PESSIMISM. -Dr. Michael Sudduth
CHAPTER 8: Christian Theism and Abstracta
i. An Examination of Theistic Conceptual Realism As An Alternative To Theistic Activism. -Greg Welty

ii. Theism and Mathematical Realism. -Dr. John Byl

iii. Logic. -John M. Frame

iv. Reforming Ontology and Logic in the Light of the Trinity: An Application of Van Til's Idea of Analogy . -Dr. Vern Poythress

v. Creation and Mathematics; Or, What Does God Have To Do With Numbers. -Dr. Vern Poythress
CHAPTER 9: Christianity and Science
i. Why Scientists Must Believe in God: Divine Attributes of Scientific Law. -Dr. Vern Poythress

ii. Is Intelligent Design Science?. -John M. Frame

iii. Scripture and Geologists. -Dr. John Byl

iv. When Faith and Reason Clash: Evolution and the Bible. -Dr. Alvin Plantinga

v. An Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism. -Dr. Alvin Plantinga

vi. Naturalism Defeated. -Dr. Alvin Plantinga

vii. Revelation, Speculation, and Science. -Dr. Greg Bahnsen

viii. Science, Subjectivity, and Scripture. -Dr. Greg Bahnsen
CHAPTER 10: Christian Ethics
i. What Is Theonomy?. -Dr. Greg Bahnsen

ii. The Authority of God's Law. -Dr. Greg Bahnsen

iii. Cross Examination: A Biblical Standard For Civil Law. -Dr. Greg Bahnsen

iv. Penultimate Thoughts on Theonomy. -John M. Frame

v. Some Thoughts on Theonomy. -G.I. Williamson

vi.Christian Ethics: Basic Principles. -John M. Frame

Friday, June 8, 2007

Are We Handing Our History, Heritage and Help Over One Law at a Time?

Ed Thomas in his article No. Carolina courtroom oaths expanded beyond Bible provides something to think about.

To some, it's simply a matter of religious freedom and expression (or "religious conscience and conviction") for laws to be changed allowing individuals to use whatever book is most sacred to them when being sworn in or taking oaths before a court. But the truth is, in the greater perspective, this is one more step toward the secularization of America.

......
For example, what's going to happen when someone comes in and says that "Harry Potter", or "The Little Engine that Could" or "Green Eggs and Ham" is the book they consider most sacred and want to use it?

... In effect, what is happening is legislation is giving up the standard (or ANY standard) and by doing so is leading down the path that suggests that an oath actually means nothing, the ultimate accountability is to the court, and that it's meaningless to call upon God's name in the taking of an oath.

This is not a good path for us to take... nationally, socially, legislatively, judicially, or historically. As with other matters, time will not only tell, but will teach us alot.

Half Infidel?

You won't believe this!

Just when you think you've seen it all,Pluralism takes on a whole new meaning...

In the June, 2007 issue of the Episcopal Voice, there's an article entitled "On being Christian and Muslim" which gives the story of the Rev. Dr. Ann Holmes Redding who holds a Ph.D. in New Testament and claims to be BOTH Christian and Muslim. See for yourself, on page 9.


Whereas pluralism once meant MIXING or COMBINING supposed truth claims from various religions, it now has evolved to mean one can BE more than one religion at the same time!

Where will the unbelieving mind stop? I suppose as long as the statement "for me...." (quoted so often is the article)is around, we've yet to see the end to which man (or woman in this case) will go.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Riddle of the Day

What's the one thing the world despises more than an evangelical?
What's the one thing the world hates more than the exclusive nature of the gospel?


Answer: A CALVINISTIC EVANGELICAL and the SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD... for not only does a CALVINISTIC EVANGELICAL proclaim justification by grace through faith in Christ alone, but in keeping with the fact that justification is by grace alone, we not only acknowledge but proclaim the "SOVEREIGNTY" of God in salvation, which is something the world hates even more than the exclusive nature of the gospel, since exclusivity alone would not be a problem if the world could be the determiner of the exclusivity, but God as the author, giver, and provider of grace not only has determined the means by which grace is received, but the recipients of that same grace. (Acts 11:18, 13:48; Rom 9:15-16, 1 Thess 5:9, Jude 4, )




Note: Calvinists do not deny but recognize that human freedom and responsibility do not work in opposition to but along with and within the sovereignty of God.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Irrelevant Atheist Arguments

Atheism has changed over the last 20 years. It used to be defined as a belief in the non-existence of God. Today, it is defined as a philosophy that finds the arguments for the existence of God to be insufficient. This change in definition is an attempt by the materialist to establish his worldview by default, rather than have to defend it. By doing so, the atheist can force the theist to try and prove the existence of a supernatural God by way of materialistic methods, and thus enabling the atheist to refer to any other method as “insufficient”. This can be seen in the following atheistic arguments that I’ve seen grow in popularity in recent times. These arguments assume a materialistic worldview, and attempt to shield the materialist from having to deal with the actual question “Does God Exist?”

1.) “Atheists believe in one less god than the Christian. We are all atheists when it comes to the existence of Zeus, Thor, or the flying spaghetti monster.”

Aside from the inability to explain why belief systems in a materialistic worldview hold any significance beyond the brain cells that created them, this argument establishes absolutely nothing in regard to the question, does God exist? The question of God’s existence is independent of the non-existence of other deities. If an atheist wants to waste his time refuting the existence of Thor, let him have at it. He’ll have my full support, though it’ll be hard for him to find many Thor-worshippers to debate him. This is simply a vain attempt by the atheist to vaunt his worldview above all others without having to defend it. He hopes that, by lumping all religions together, he can refute one and thus, by default, defeat them all. It most be noted that Christianity was refuting false gods long before atheism got into the act. Rather than borrow from the Christian worldview, the atheist needs to come up with his own arguments.

2.) “Religion has been the major cause of many tragic historic events and human rights violations.”

Aside from the failure to establish how any objective “human rights” can exist in a materialistic worldview, this argument fails to deal with the existence of God. Imagine a man walking down a highway. He hears a loud noise and turns to see a Mack Truck bearing down on him at full speed, only a few feet away. “If that truck is real”, he says to himself, “the results are going to be bad for me. However, if the truck isn’t real, I’ll be OK. Therefore, I’m not going to believe that it exists.” Obviously, this is nonsense. The question of God’s existence must be answered independent of the results of belief in God. Even if belief in God were to result in maximum evil and no good whatsoever, that would have no bearing on God’s existence. If God exists, He exists. The results of that are what they are. Fortunately, the Christian God is not only real, but good. Christianity has been the greatest source of good in the world, but that is another subject for another time. (I don’t want to be guilty of the same kind of irrelevant arguments for God’s existence.)

It also must be pointed out that atheism has proven to be no champion of human rights. If atheists will quit expecting Christians to apologize for the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, then we in turn will stop expecting them to apologize for the atheistic societies founded by Josef Stalin, Pol Pot, and Adolf Hilter.

3.) “Believers in God aren’t necessarily more “moral” than non-believers”.

Aside from assuming an objective moral standard for which that cannot account for in a materialistic world, this argument once again fails to deal with the existence of God. The question of God’s existence is independent of either the piety or the hypocrisy of His professed followers. Jesus said that there would be both wheat and tares growing together in the kingdom until the harvest. In any case, hypocrisy in the church has no bearing whatsoever on God’s existence. Even if every professing Christian were a hypocrite, this fact would have no bearing on the truth of God’s existence. (That said, I would hope that this argument would be a wake up call to the church. Like it or not, it’s probably true.)

Besides, my dear atheist. What will the hypocrisy of professing Christians profit you? If every professing Christian you ever met were to join you in Hell, what benefit would that be to your soul? Will you flame be any cooler, or your gnawing worm be any less hungry? Why do you hide behind such irrelevant arguments in order to avoid seeking redemption for your souls? Repent of your atheism. Turn from the bitterness of your sinful nature and taste the sweetness of Christ.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Spiritual Warfare - Does it happen today?

Another great post from a member of Puritanboard.com!

In response to this post.

As in many spiritual and doctrinal things there is great imbalance in the spiritual warfare arena. On the one hand there is what is called “the spiritual warfare movement”, and on the other the conservative (I should probably say Reformed) “classic” approach to spiritual warfare.

The former is exemplified by such as Frank Hammond’s Pigs In The Parlor, Don Basham’s Deliver Us From Evil, Benny Hinn, as well as the more conservative Merrill Unger of DTS, and many other non-Charismatics. There is a "Christian" here in my city who operates according to the Pigs In The Parlor schema and seeks to promote sanctification through exorcism. “I will cast out the spirit of smoking (or anger, lust, etc).”

The latter approach, the “classic”, is seen in such as David Powlison (of CCEF) and his book, Power Encounters: Reclaiming Spiritual Warfare (Baker 1995), and Frederick S. Leahy in his, Satan Cast Out: A Study in Biblical Demonology (Banner of Truth 1975).

Powlison rightly points out in his excellent book that we find deliverance from moral evil through repentance, receptive faith, and active obedience, and not through exorcism, as the root of the evil is moral – is our own and not an outside agent, as a demon – and so must be dealt with by ourselves seeking the grace of God to aid us.

To my knowledge this subject of spiritual warfare is not directly addressed in either the Westminster Standards or the Three Forms of Unity.

Leahy makes clear that the most powerful mode of warfare against the kingdom of darkness is the open proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, and of the kingdom of God. This is true. What is the praying against evil spirits in a locality compared to this? I do see no problem of announcing to the demonic world in one’s prayers the victory of Christ, nor do I see a problem of praying against demons who are deceiving or oppressing an individual, and at the same time asking the Lord for light and repentance for that person. To the person I would address his moral responsibility to repent and believe.

The 60’s counter-culture brought a new dimension of demonic activity into the world (degree-wise, at any rate) through its use of sorcerous potions and occult practice. In Hindu lands certain devotees use hashish and grass to project themselves into the spirit-world to make contact with spirit-entities (which we know as demons).

In highly advanced metropolises – the one I know best is NYC – there are groups such as the Santeria and other voodoo cults, as well as covens that practice serious witchcraft, and guru-led groups who connect deeply with demons who energize their spiritual activities, often with significant manifestations of power.

Again, against such the most powerful warfare is simply the proclamation of Christ, His Person, His work, His power, love – the attributes of His deity….the victorious establishment of the Kingdom of God in various areas through the planting of churches.

In the things I said to Raj on the other thread, these are my thoughts: the woman “attacked” by a spirit should be counseled by the pastor or a mature saint to discern what was going on. Was there some continued involvement in the occult? A demon cannot rightly attack a believer except through ignorance – deception – or through some sin which gives ground to their operation. The “deliverance” needed here is proper discipleship.

I do not believe that, as per Luke 10:19, 20, this word is only for the 72 – as though after those days the spirits are no longer subject unto us? The mode of warfare is different after the crucifixion and resurrection; as the Lord said, “…now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (Jn 12:31). And yet, we may well run across individuals who either a) consciously and deliberately traffic with demons and so have their power operating through them (gurus are one class, Satanists, witches, and warlocks another) and it bodes us well to know that there is no demon operating through any human agent who may have the mastery over us; and b) those who are deceived and greatly oppressed or even possessed by a spirit. Not too many of the latter running around in the West – most of them are in psych wards under heavy medications (“chemical restraints”) or in shock therapy. In primitive countries one may see more of them. And the spirits – operating in whichever class – are even in these days subject unto us. I walk in this confidence. The Spirit of the great God dwelleth in me.

Raj, the church your wife’s family is in needs to be taught of the mighty power that Christ the Lord is unto His church – indeed, “God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.” (Psalm 46:5) And they need to be taught that to walk in godly trust and obedience is to be in the “strong tower… of the name of the Lord” and they are safe in Him (Proverbs 18:10).

The church of God – that is, we bands of pilgrims who journey through the wilderness of this world en route to the City of God – may look weak and miserable to the world, but the might and wisdom of our King is in our midst. I will be praying that the church you speak of will realize this.

Bob, as I don’t know the specs of your former situation, I can’t say much. It is true that “deliverance teams” can wreak much damage. But if psychic (or physical) phenomena were happening around me I would fast, and pray, and would have no reluctance to “directly engage” whatever was behind it. But I would not come in “guns blazing” – I would watch, and pray. As David with the giant, aggression is just fine in certain situations.

Steve Rafalsky
Elder, International Evangelical Church (Presbyterian)
Limassol, Cyprus

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Environment of Worship - the Visitor

I participate in an online forum (puritanboard.com) that, among many other topics, discusses the elements and purpose of worship. The general tone on the site is counter to any type of environment matching the "Seeker Sensitive" or "Purpose Driven" models of worship. That is, a worship environment purposefully designed to appeal to folks that are "un-churched" or "seeking". The contention is that focusing on this aspect of worship reduces the "purity" of worship that God demands in Scripture - particularly focusing on the high holiness of the Old Testament requirements - which were Tabernacle/Temple focused and strictly regulated for the nation of Israel.

See more here