Monday, July 30, 2007

WHAT JERUSALEM? WHAT TEMPLE? - A Christian Skeptic ponders

Great article from Puritan Board member JerusalemBlade:

We know there are two Jerusalems: the apostle Paul puts it like this, “…Jerusalem which now is…is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”[f] Elsewhere the Scripture speaks of “the heavenly Jerusalem”[g], and “the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven.”[h]

Is there a Temple in the Jerusalem above? The 21st chapter in Revelation tells us “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.”[i] Is not the Temple with which Jesus’ brothers and sisters have to do this very one? For Scripture says, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”[j] Do we not now “enter into the holiest”[k], and is not our mercy seat the very “throne of grace”[l] where mercy is lavished on those sprinkled with that precious blood?



See full article below then compare and contrast with this video:



......

What Jerusalem? What Temple?

There is an ancient plot of land in Jerusalem the Jews call the Temple Mount, while the Muslims call it (and the building on it) Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary), aka, the Dome of the Rock. A journalist recently said of this place, “That is the epicenter of Jewish-Arab tension in this land since the beginning of the national conflict.”[a]

The back cover of this journalist’s book on the subject reads, “Here nationalism combines with fundamentalist faith in a volatile brew. Members of the world’s three major monotheistic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—hold this spot to be the key to salvation as they await the end of the world, and struggle to fulfill conflicting religious prophecies with dangerous political consequences.”[b]

The matter before us now concerns the Christians. A great block of them agree with certain fundamentalist Jews that the Temple must be rebuilt on this piece of land, and the Muslim mosque which stands there now — the third holiest shrine in Islam — must come down, one way or another. For these particular Christians, the imagined scenario is: the church will be raptured out[c], the Antichrist will be revealed, and the Tribulation period will commence; after three and a half years the Antichrist will proclaim himself God from the rebuilt Temple precincts, and in another three and a half years the Lord Jesus will return, fight Armageddon, and His Millennial reign over the earth from Jerusalem will commence, and after this eternity proper will ensue. Thus saith the Left Behind books and the Dispensationalist teachers!

There is no room to refute these latter here (the interested reader is referred to a couple of books for this, one brief[d], one comprehensive[e]), but we will look at some vital Biblical principles involved: a) Where is the Jerusalem in which God’s Temple is located? b) Where is the Israel in which God Himself dwells, in great power? And, c) What is the Temple God is building?

We know there are two Jerusalems: the apostle Paul puts it like this, “…Jerusalem which now is…is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”[f] Elsewhere the Scripture speaks of “the heavenly Jerusalem”[g], and “the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of Heaven.”[h]

Is there a Temple in the Jerusalem above? The 21st chapter in Revelation tells us “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.”[i] Is not the Temple with which Jesus’ brothers and sisters have to do this very one? For Scripture says, “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem…and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”[j] Do we not now “enter into the holiest”[k], and is not our mercy seat the very “throne of grace”[l] where mercy is lavished on those sprinkled with that precious blood?

If we have so great a salvation, the substance of which was only shadowed by the great types of the old covenant, why do we deceive the Jews, supporting their dreams of a paltry temple built of crumbling stones, and in which the blood of animals will be shed once again, which cannot cleanse their souls, thus ensuring their entrance into Hell? Do you think this is God’s agenda? The plumbline of discernment is this, “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”[m] Whatever prophetic or covenantal scenarios may be thought up, that standard determines the eternal destiny of men. Everyone who dies outside of Messiah, the High Priest of the everlasting Temple, perishes in the Gehenna of souls.

Why are we hiding from the Jews the proclamation of the true Temple, the true blood of sprinkling? Not only are the Christian supporters of the mock temple enemies of the Jews, foisting upon these lost souls their own agenda, they are enemies of the Arabs, as they incite the Jews to war upon them, also hinting that to destroy the Dome of the Rock would not be a bad idea, and as they do these things they utterly disgrace the name of the only One who can give eternal life to the Arab world. The Jews and Arabs are thus made expendable pawns as these Christians attempt to manipulate into actuality their version of the Apocalypse! (Please note: not all followers of Christ are of this ilk!)

Christians! Reason this out. Do you not know that the Temple of the living God is also here in this world now? By virtue of our union with Christ — made one body with Him[n] — His people, along with Him, are now considered the temple of God. Speaking of the Gentiles (Arabs as well!) being included into “the household of God”[o] — which Paul identifies moments earlier as “the commonwealth of Israel”[p] — he says of these two peoples in Christ, they are, “an holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”[q] The Jews and the Gentiles in Christ are the household of God, His Israel, and His temple. Paul says it again: “for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”[r]

The apostle Peter puts it this way, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”[s] Why do we not proclaim that the God of Israel is building a great house — His Temple — stone by living stone? What do you think Paul meant when he spoke of provoking the Jews to jealousy, if it is not this very thing? There is a great celebration going on in the nearly completed Temple! Can we not call both Jew and Arab to come in? Can we not tell them that to build upon the tears, sweat, and blood of those in Palestine is an affront to God, for upon His own blood, His own tears and sweat, He built a Temple eternal in the Heavens, and which He shall bring to earth after the great resurrection, with abundance of shalom for all those blessed to be in that glorious Kingdom?

The true Jerusalem for the Christian is the heavenly; the true temple is the Lord Jesus and those living stones built into Him; the true Israel is that Representative and King descended from the patriarch of that name — the only One now worthy of the name[t] — and that community, that nation, which cleaves to Him, even becoming part of His body. Those of Jewish blood living in the Jewish state need to hear these things! They need to hear of Israel’s true and eternal return from exile in Messiah — or they perish! Why not tell them of the joy the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has prepared for those who return to Him in these last days? What? Have we been so saturated with the “blood and guts” of Hollywood’s “modern warriors” and “heroes” that we impose this conquest-through-violence on the kingdom of Christ? Beware, for those who live by violence — and incite others to it — shall die by it.

If these things be true – and a Reformed hermeneutic supports it – why do we not simply stand for the vision of Christ, holding forth the Kingdom He proclaimed, a kingdom not of this world? At least not yet of this world, as the day is coming when the new earth will contain only His kingdom, a kingdom of such glory and wonder we can barely imagine it.

But instead of this, Christians, why do you persist in fomenting the bloodshed between two peoples we are called to serve in love and illumine with the light of Messiah? You do the Jewish state (it is not worthy the name Israel) the gravest injustice in failing to call it to repentance. And you do the Arab world as grave an injustice by urging the Jews on in their aggression. How many of you know of Israel Shahak’s book, Open Secrets: Israeli Nuclear and Foreign Policies, where he tells how close Moshe Dayan (then Commander-in-Chief of the Jewish Armed Forces) came to using nuclear weapons against Syria in 1973, declaring “the Syrian cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Latakia should be obliterated.” He was only stopped by Golda Meir and Henry Kissinger (pages, 39, 48, 49). And then there is what the Jewish military calls “the last-minute option,” which could be used in the event the Jewish state is being defeated by means of conventional warfare, and consists of “a devastation by nuclear weapons of a considerable number of Arab urban centres and such crucial installations as the Aswan Dam (whose destruction was envisaged in Israel before 1973).” (page 38)[u]

The “light of the world” you are urging the Jewish state to be is the light of nuclear holocaust upon its neighbors, an abomination you are supporting in the name of Christ. This “Christian” influence pushing for a conflagration of violence in the Middle East comes mostly from America.

In your deceiving the world about what “being Israel” means — this very heart of the issue of salvation! — do you think you will continue in this with impunity, putting the world at such awful risk with your hard-hearted delusion and blindness? You might unwittingly err in your distorting the prophecies, but your eyes are wide open to see the consequences and cost in terms of human suffering. May God silence you.

----------
Footnotes:

a “Jerusalem Holy Site a Tense Crossroads Again,” by James Bennet, NYTimes.com article, August 29, 2003.
b The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, by Gershom Gorenberg (Oxford Univ. Press, 2002). From the back cover.
c Some other Dispensational views have the church raptured — taken to Heaven — during or after the Tribulation.
d An Examination of Dispensationalism, by William E. Cox (Presbyterian and Reformed Publ. Co., 1963)
e Wrongly Dividing The Word Of Truth: A Critique Of Dispensationalism, by John H. Gerstner (Soli Deo Gloria Pub., 2000)
f Galatians 4:25, 26
g Hebrews 12:22
h Revelation 21:2
i Revelation 21:22
j Hebrews 12:22, 24
k Hebrews 10:19
l Hebrews 4:16
m 1 John 5:12
n 1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 4:15, 16; 5:29, 30
o Ephesians 2:18
p Ephesians 2:12
q Ephesians 2:21, 22
r 2 Corinthians 6:16
s 1 Peter 2:5
t Genesis 32:28, “as a prince hast thou power with God and with men.” Isaiah 49:3 (cf 49:1-3, 5-10)
u Another shocking and revealing book by Shahak is, Jewish Fundamentalism In Israel (Pluto Press, 1999)
......

Sunday, July 29, 2007

John Piper is skeptical of the "Prosperity Gospel"



Many thanks to Steve Camp for the video and the following Scriptures.
......
1Tim. 6:3 ¶ If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness,
1Tim. 6:4 he is conceited and understands nothing; but he has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions,
1Tim. 6:5 and constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of [material or financial] gain.
1Tim. 6:6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
1Tim. 6:7 For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.
1Tim. 6:8 If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content.
1Tim. 6:9 But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction.
1Tim. 6:10 For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
......

The religious neutrality of atheism

Why is it that atheism is seen as default "religious neutrality"? In the linked article, a group of atheists are quoted as saying exactly that, and the writer then rightly points out what Van Til had to say on the topic.

Oklahoma Atheists and Religious Neutrality
......
I would even add that the atheists who claim that their position is the default "religiously neutral" position, are committing the usual host of errors.

1. Firstly, for atheists to be neutral, assumes a religious position to begin with. Religion is that which one is devoted to, and atheism clearly has its devotees. They consequently assume that religion is indeed valid, but it just needs to be "neutral". Of course, the belief system that they are devoted to is seen as superior, as every devotee of every belief system would propose.

2. Following from 1. the assumed superiority of their belief system somehow implies that they are in a position to judge the validity of all other belief systems and find them wanting. But that superiority is at best implied, and at worst pure nonsense, while uniformly assumed without proof. Surely if atheism is claimed as the yardstick for measurement, the burden of proof for its validity lies with them.

3. Atheism therefore has a slight dilemma. Before it can claim to be the neutral stock position, it must prove that all religions are invalid, a daunting task. Doing so will require one of two things, either disprove all other religions by internal critique (i.e. internally inconsistent), or by establishing its own set of standards that are internally and logically consistent and superior by which to measure all other belief systems.

Until 3. happens, all of their assumed superiority is just bluster and bravado. And efforts to impose their belief system is just as invalid as all others.
......

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Monday, July 23, 2007

John Stott's 11 steps to sermon preparation

From John Stott's book on preaching, Between Two Worlds. The whole article is on Joshua Harris' website.

How To Prepare a Sermon

1. Choose your text and meditate on it.

2. Ask questions of the text.

3.Combine diligent study with fervent prayer.

4. Isolate the Dominant Thought of the Text.

5. Arrange Your Material to Serve the Dominant Thought

6. Remember the Power of Imagination--Illustrate!

7. Add Your Introduction

8. Add Your Conclusion

9. Write Down Your Sermon

10. Edit it Again

11. Pray over Your Message

Sunday, July 22, 2007

We Need to Rediscover the Gospel

From the Internet Monk:

We need a gospel that makes us so hungry for reformation that we can’t stand ourselves and our churches to be the same. We need a gospel that makes a preacher a joke if he doesn’t preach it. We need a gospel that plants questions right where we aren’t used to asking them and breaks us on the rocks of integrity and holiness. We need a Gospel that will save us, and that we will will savor.
read more

Money X 3 - The Burden of Being Rich...


Ben Stein on the root of much evil:

Money, it’s now believed, will make us as gods. In fact, this belief, that having a lot of money is going to drastically change our lives for the better, might well be called the root of almost all civilized Western and Eastern (and Northern and Southern) life. Being rich will solve everything, or so the popular mind tells us.


Jesus "R" Us...

A visit to a "Christian Lifestyle" store:

I've come to realize that what I recoil from in that store is what repulses me about myself, the manner in which I commoditize and cheapen Christ. I chip away at Him until He fits my lifestyle, so that He is stylized, so that He fits on a shelf, or between the covers of a book, or on a bookmark. I parse Christ until He is tame. I view Him through the lens of my wants, rather than viewing myself through the truth of who He is.
read more

Neat game!

And now for something completely different - a neat little flash game

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Great Deception in the 21st Century

One thing to notice in religious debate today is how some in the name of "tolerance" or the pretense of "community/dialogue" are actually hiding behind deception by which they not only seek to disguise their own intentions but also to avoid confrontation with the truth ... the gospel truth.

Recently, I've noticed statements on the part of unbelievers (one an agnostic, another a "pluralistic Hindu) in dialogue (/debate) with Christians such as:

..."I appreciate the fact that you are nice to me. Please don't change." Another stated "I am very much impressed by you. My hats are off for being very COOL and not getting angry when you write your theories about God and salvation."

What's interesting is that in both cases, while the debate began on this note, as soon as the debate advanced to include anything related to the exclusive nature and demands of the gospel, ... the attitude and tone of those who previously had set such a "high" value on relationship and tolerance changed, and eventually, even within a few exchanges, the unbelievers came to admit themselves their intent neither was nor had been to engage in mutual dialoge, but to attempt to prove the Christian and his position wrong (if that were possible). Note - They did this by false pretense, or by suggesting & setting forth a facade by which the Christian, if unaware or undiscerning, might be deceived (be or become preconditioned) to either make allowances he otherwise wouldn't or shouldn't make, or find himself in a position having offered himself as a sheep before a hungry wolf. (Does "Little Red Riding Hood" come to mind?)

This should not surprise us in a day where emerging principles seem to set community, fellowship and dialogue in the forefront over and against doctrine and orthodoxy. It appears one method of the enemy is to CAPITALIZE on this stage of relationship and gospel proclamation, so as not only to deceive believers, and catch them off guard, but so as to enable unbelievers to avoid the truth and demands of the gospel, which reveal the nature, intentions and persuasions of their hearts.

My point is simply this:
Christian apologists, DO NOT BE MISLED or DECEIVED by such statements!

1. Anytime you see such statements, be mindful that the unbeliever may be hiding behind deception. Note: moving fairly quickly to the gospel and exclusive claims of Christ willl reveal whether this is a facade or not.

2. Remember that much time can be spent under this pretense arguing with individuals regarding details when the other person is not interested in what you have to say. Better to deal with them and bring them to the issues of the gospel and of accepting or rejecting Christ than spend endless time answering their questions when we can be ministering to others. (Note - this is not to suggest that even those who hide behind this facade don't need Christ, but it's better to be aware when deciding upon the commitment of your time.)

Hitchens Dusted

A Good Review of Hitchen’s “God is not Great” by Steven Hays

From The Chalcedon Foundation

"One of the ironies of his work, which is typical of this genre, is the combination of intellectual pride with an anti-intellectual performance. He affects a tone of rational and moral superiority, but without the supporting evidence to justify his pretensions..."

Read More...

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Marc Driscoll gives Answers to Common Questions about Creation

From Marc Driscoll over on the the Resurgence Blog:

Today a debate rages about the question of origins and where creation and humanity came from. Much of the passion that surrounds this question is because the question of origins has implications for everything else. For example, Genesis says that there was a beginning to history which means there will be an end. Genesis says that creation comes from God which means it belongs to God. Genesis says that people come from God which means that people will stand before God in the end.

Within Christianity there had not been a widespread debate on the nature of creation until the sixteenth century. Nor was there much of a debate about the length of the six days of creation until the nineteenth century. This is because if someone simply read the account in Genesis 1–2 and the primary summary accounts throughout the rest of their Bible (e.g., Exodus 20:11; Psalm 136:1–9), they would likely believe that God made creation out of nothing in six literal twenty-four hour days.

more here

Friday, July 13, 2007

Cessationism - The End of Spiritual Gifts?

Interesting article:

John Calvin, William Perkins and George Gillespie, who link the miraculous gifts with the earliest period of the Church's development, are open to the possibility of a re-occurrence of extraordinary offices and their gifts in extraordinary circumstances. For them the cessation of these gifts meant that they had ceased to function as an ordinary part of church life, not that they had ceased altogether. But Warfield's argument that these gifts were linked with the apostolic office and therefore ceased with the disappearance of this office is consistent with both history and Scripture. Perhaps the insights of both viewpoints can be combined in the recognition that the gift allowing some of God's people to do extraordinary works for God at their will has disappeared, but that God may still use human agents to do wondrous works in extraordinary circumstances.

More here

Government Prayer

Do lawmakers realize what they have done in opening the door (not only allowing but by their action endorsing) a Hindu prayer on the floor of the Senate?

WHO's NEXT??? ... a Muslim cleric (who's participation would only encourage and advance Islam/"radicalism" in the U.S.), or a new ager, a Satan worshipper, an atheist, etc.? And just who is it, and upon what principles is the decision going to be made?

I see several problems with what's taken place, and though it appears senators thus far are supporting the problem (even if by not addressing the issues), this is a change in which Christians need to not only demand an accounting from our leaders, but be intimately involved in the development and outcome of all that progresses related to this matter.

Here are the problems:

1. The Purpose of Prayer

By endorsing a pattern that implies that it doesn’t matter “WHO one prays to” or “ON WHAT BASIS one’s prayers are acceptable” or even “WHAT one prays for” is ultimately to proclaim that either prayer does not matter or that it doesn’t matter how one prays.

To proclaim that prayer does not matter would be contradictory to the very practice being espoused.

To proclaim that it doesn’t matter how one prays (i.e., in Jesus’ name or not, by faith or not, to Jehovah or any, etc.) is to either suggest that all prayers are equally acceptable, effective and advantageous, or again that prayer does not matter. To suggest that all prayers are equally acceptable, effective and advantageous is to espouse some form of religion (plurality) which is denied by all participants to this point, and to deny the very distinctives set forth by each of the participants themselves.

Either God exists and is one who will not share his glory with another, or either God(s) exists and it does not matter or God(s) do not exist and it does not matter, but logical consistency proves it cannot be both ways!

The truth is that God himself has revealed that mediation is necessary for the prayers of men to be acceptable, effective and advantageous. The only mediation that God approves comes only through Jesus Christ, who came and shed his blood that men might be reconciled and blessed by God. To suggest that God can be approached on any other basis (which adds to or takes from the basis of Christ alone) is not only to reject God’s purpose in his Son, but to render men’s prayers not only unacceptable but an affront to God himself, something which contradicts men’s prayers being effective and advantageous.


2. The Precedent for Prayer

Note that even given the current battle over our nation’s history and historical documents as to whether they are Christian or secular, it must be noted that neither promote the pattern that is now being espoused.

What’s true both in our historical documents as well as our nation’s history (even in the precedent of prayer until this week) is that the formation and practice of our nation has been based on recognition of and dependence upon the creator. While debate may exist over the identity (or purpose to whatever degree to remain ambiguous about the identity) of the creator in the historical documents, there is no debate when it comes to the historical practice of prayer leading up to this week’s shift. Prayers have been offered to God (assumed to be the Christian God).

While it’s true that the U.S. provides for the “freedom of religion”, that is different from suggesting therefore that the U.S. must approve and endorse all religions, a dangerous practice that is being advanced, advocated and witnessed more and more. (i.e. “Islam is a religion of peace”, Hindu prayer, etc.)

While secularists might suggest the solution is to just do away with all prayers, the answer is not that simple. For among the principles and proponents of secularism, differences are found as well. Is it just that “certain institutions and practices should exist separately from religion or religious belief” as defined by Wikipedia, or that “religious influence is to have no place in government”… such that religion is officially (or though not officially but de facto) denied and atheism becomes way of the day.

Is it possible for governments to be neutral, or does the nature and exclusivity of the kingdom and gospel deny the possibility of that? What’s true is that the kingdom of God is both separate from but interrelated to the kingdoms of this world.

3. The Pursuit of Prayer

While it's clear that at least nationally most Christians would want to see prayer continue but only in the name of Jesus, the fact that this has now "become an issue", even the pursuit of prayer in the name of Jesus could lead toward changes which either promote pluralism or that result in changes that not only side with secularism, but advance the secularist and atheistic agendas in our nation. What's for sure, is that this is a matter that Christians need not only pay great attention to but be intimately involved in the process.

Conclusion: While I’ve not specifically addressed the issue of whether a prayer should be offered or not, leaving the former precedent and establishing the new one has not and is not in the best interest of our nation.

Presuppositional Apologetics - the foundation of Christian Skepticism

I found this and wanted to share it - from Cornelius van Til's "My Credo"

My understanding of the relationship between Christian and non-Christian, philosophically speaking.

1. Both have presuppositions about the nature of reality:

a. The Christian presupposes the triune God and his redemptive plan for the universe as set forth once for all in Scripture.

b. The non-Christian presupposes a dialectic between "chance" and "regularity," the former accounting for the origin of matter and life, the latter accounting for the current success of the scientific enterprise.

2. Neither can, as finite beings, by means of logic as such, say what reality must be or cannot be.

a. The Christian, therefore, attempts to understand his world through the observation and logical ordering of facts in self-conscious subjection to the plan of the self attesting Christ of Scripture.

b. The non-Christian, while attempting an enterprise similar to the Christian's, attempts nevertheless to use "logic" to destroy the Christian position. On the one hand, appealing to the non- rationality of "matter," he says that the chance- character of "facts" is conclusive evidence against the Christian position. Then, on the other hand, he maintains like Parmenides that the Christian story cannot possibly be true. Man must be autonomous, "logic" must be legislative as to the field of "possibility" and possibility must be above God.





3. Both claim that their position is "in accordance with the facts."

a. The Christian claims this because he interprets the facts and his experience in the light of the revelation of the self-attesting Christ in Scripture. Both the uniformity and the diversity of facts have at their foundation the all-embracing plan of God.

b. The non-Christian claims this because he interprets the facts and his experience in the light of the autonomy of human personality, the ultimate "givenness" of the world and the amenability of matter to mind. There can be no fact that denies man's autonomy or attests to the world's and man's divine origin.

4. Both claim that their position is "rational."

a. The Christian does so by claiming not only that his position is self-consistent but that he can explain both the seemingly "inexplicable" amenability of fact to logic and the necessity and usefulness of rationality itself in terms of Scripture.

b. The non-Christian may or may not make this same claim. If he does, the Christian maintains that he cannot make it good. If the non-Christian attempts to account for the amenability of fact to logic in terms of the ultimate rationality of the cosmos, then he will be crippled when it comes to explaining the "evolution" of men and things. If he attempts to do so in terms of pure "chance" and ultimate "irrationality" as being the well out of which both rational man and a rationally amenable world sprang, then we shall point out that such an explanation is in fact no explanation at all and that it destroys predication.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church

In the recent years, I've heard alot here in the U.S. about "progressive Catholism" (primarily in discussions concerning the grounds and instrument of salvation, i.e., faith vs. faith&works, etc.)

For all those who think the Catholic church is so progressive, note the present declarations of Pope Benedict XVI concerning not only the government but the identity of the true church.

Nothing new here... but something worth noting. Seems some errors continue to be propagated and passed down.

Regarding the primacy of the Pope,...consider Scripture's own word:

Referring to Jesus Christ, Paul writes in Col 1:18 "And HE is the head of the body, the CHURCH;..." Again, in Eph 1:22 it is written "And God placed ALL things under his feet and appointed him to be HEAD over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."

Note believers: the pope is stating that if we are not members of the church (the body of Christ), ...then Christ is not our head! Or, put another way, Catholics need to consider what body they belong to ... if the Pope (rather than Christ)is their head.

The problem is found in this, that in misunderstanding pn one level the "spiritual" nature (and government) of Christ's kingdom, the catholic church errantly looks to physical rather than spiritual lineage (according to the apostolic faith, rather than geneology) for the priesthood. Seems the lessons of the Reformation are still not understood.

Note as well the official view of the Catholic church is that Protestant churches are "but merely ecclesial communities" and therefore do not possess the "means of salvation." Interesting, that the Catholic church possesses the means of salvation, supposing it does not come through faith or on another level through prayer and the faithful preaching of God's Word. Are not the Scriptures "able to make one wise unto salvation?"

Thankfully, as the article points out, there are more levels of relationship between Protestants and the Catholic church than just the "official" ones; but this much is true, both Protestants and Catholics need to take note of what the pope is declaring.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

A Simple Logical Rebuttal to Exclusive Psalmody

p1 - Paul commands singing psalms. hymns and spiritual songs to God - inarguably including the 150 Psalms - in public worship

p2 - The 150 Psalms command a new song to be sung to the Lord

c1 - Paul's command includes provision for new songs to be composed and sung, as well as the 150 Psalms, in public worship

Treatment of Widows - A Relevant Comparison

Interesting article on CNN about widows in India. How is it that widows should be treated? Some toss them aside, some see them as a drain on society, some go to the other extreme and in the name of being "liberal" would create conditions that encourage sin.

Note the good, balanced, and wise perspective of the Scripture:

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

"Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

"If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need."

"So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander."

==
.....And these are just to provide a few.

.....Think back now and look to the widow pictured in the CNN article and consideer her treatment.

Christian Skepticism...our GREAT HERITAGE & CALLING

While many in the church today, who having bitten off the principles of the world rather than swallowing the word of God, fail to recognize it, ...the truth remains that CHRISTIAN SKEPTICISM is not only our great HERITAGE and long standing TRADITION, but ALSO our Christian CALLING!

For just a short sample of what I'm saying, permit Robert Haldane to stir your soul:

"Many religious persons have a dread of controversy...

and wish truth to be stated without any reference to those who hold the opposite errors. Controversy and a bad spirit are, in their estimation, synonymous terms. And strenuously to oppose what is wrong is considered as contrary to Christian meekness. Those who hold this opinion seem to overlook what every page of the New Testament lays before us. In all the history of our Lord Jesus Christ, we never find Him out of controversy. From the moment He entered on the discharge of His office in the synagogue of Nazareth till He expired on the cross, it was an uninterrupted scene of controversy. Nor did He, with all the heavenly meekness which in Him shone so brightly, treat truth and error without reference to those who held them or study to avoid giving its proper appellation to those corruptions in doctrine or practice that endangered the interests of immortal souls. His censures were not confined to doctrine but included the abettors of false principles themselves.

And as to the Apostles, their epistles are generally controversial. Most of them were directly written for the express purpose of vindicating truth and opposing error—and the authors of heresies do not escape with an abstract condemnation of their false doctrine. Paul again and again most indignantly denounces the conduct of the opposers of the Gospel and, by name, points out those against whom he cautions his brethren. When Hymenaeus and Alexander erred concerning the faith and when he delivered them unto Satan that they might learn not to blaspheme, he did not compliment them as amiable and learned persons. Even that Apostle who treats most of love and who possessed so much of that spirit which was so eminently manifested in his Divine Master, does not avoid controversy—nor in controversy does he study to avoid severity of censure on the opposers of the truth. In the examples of opposing error (left on record for our imitation) we perceive nothing of that frigid spirit of indifference which smiles on the corrupters of the Word of God and shuns to call heresy by its proper name.

With what holy indignation do the Apostles denounce the subtle machinations of the enemies of the gospel! In vain shall we look among those faithful servants of the Lord for anything to justify that trembling reserve which fears to say decidedly that truth is truth--and error is error.

In what style, indeed, should perversions of the truth of God be censured? Ought they to be treated as mere matters of opinion on which we may innocently and safely differ? Or ought they to be met in a tone of solemn, strong and decided approbation? Paul warned Christians against men who arose from among themselves, speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them—and instead of complimenting false teachers in his day, denounced an angel from heaven on the supposition of his preaching another gospel. And if an Apostle was withstood to the face, because he was to be blamed, are the writings of those who subvert the Gospel to pass without rebuke?

When the canker of the principles of neology [the use of new meanings for established words], derived from the Continent and from America, is perverting the faith of many and seducing them into the paths of error—which a spirit of lukewarmness and indifference to truth is advancing under the mask of charity and liberality, there is a loud call on all Christians to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the Gospel,” to present a firm and united phalanx of opposition to error under every name—from whatever quarter it may approach. Should believers become unfaithful to their trust and be seduced to abandon their protest against false doctrines, they may gain the approbation of the world—but what will this avail when compared with the favor of God? But if (with prayer to God, in the use of the appointed means) they contend earnestly for the truth, then they may expect the gracious fulfillment of the blessed promise, “When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.”"
==

Enough weak minded nominalism and misguided practice,
Rise up O Church of God! Onward Christian Soldiers!


Circular reasoning

One of the top posts on Wordpress the last few days was this one:
Don't ask me to read your holy book

Having just gone through a light discussion with a couple of atheists, I came across the little gem above, which seems to typify the current mode of thinking among non-believers. The premise seems to be that reading a "holy book" is nothing but circular reasoning, since the "holy book" is the thing that validates itself.

Since the issue seems to be circular reasoning, we read on.

......
Let me quote from our non-believer:
"
Let me reiterate what I consider myself to be. I am a skeptic. I am a naturalist (i.e,. I look for natural, as opposed to supernatural causes). I’m not a scientist in the sense that I work with science, but I’m a fan of the scientific method."

and

"Naturally, I can’t find out if the premise is true by assuming the premise. That would be circular reasoning. "

and

"This is some elementary advice to theists who wish to justify their faiths to nonbelievers or believers of other faiths: never rely on your conclusion to prove your conclusion."

Talk about being hypocritical. Why is it that people like this want to apply one set of standards to the theist, and another to themselves? It must be ignorance, arrogance or just plain foolishness. Does this writer not see how he shoots himself in both feet right before he puts them in his mouth? He himself is guilty of vicious circulus in probando.

His conclusion of inherent circularity in holy books apply equally as well to his position. "I am a naturalist because I look for natural causes." His conclusion of naturalism is therefore found in his premise, he is a naturalist because he believes only natural causes can exist. It is question begging in his own favor of the highest order. We see no reasoned argument for why naturalism is deemed to be true, but even if we do, we may dismiss it with equal disdain by saying that he should not ask us to read his argument, it assumes naturalism in the premises.

Of course, he will make no mention of the things he holds to by faith (uniformity of nature, omnipotent chance and reliability of the senses), nor will he show the natural causes of the scientific method. Not only is he circular, but the axioms within his circle are firmly suspended in mid-air. For an argument to be valid, the premise have to be undeniable. Clearly, the naturalist premises are not.

The key is how the different schools of thought withstand internal critique. Naturalism struggles with internal critique, because it is inductive by nature. Any of its conclusions can be viewed with skepticism, because we can never examine all the evidence in all relationships in all senses. It further refuses to admit to its own metaphysical components. For example, how can the naturalist prove the laws of logic by use of the scientific method, without being viciously circular? It is a metaphysical assumption held to by a groundless faith.

Christianity may be or not be circular, but it withstands an internal critique much better than naturalism. Furthermore, our friend may be surprised to know that not all circular reasoning is fallacious. Also, there are many proofs for theism and Christianity that are not viciously circular.

This is just a further example of how much the writings of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris and the other pop-lit atheists have set back reasoned thinking and debate. Arrogance and intellectual dishonesty are not arguments, they are sad demonstrations of a bankrupt philosophy hiding behind bravado.
......

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Why I believe in baptizing babies (condensed version)

I grew up with the traditional Baptist view, typically referred to as " believers baptism ". It is theologically known as credobap...