Friday, November 30, 2007

Supra, Infralapsarianism and Molinism - guess which I am for!

Started at the Founders blog which lead me to start reading about the Building Bridges conference this blog post from the Baptist Press:



The primary weakness of both supralapsarian Calvinism (God decreed to save some men before the fall) and infralapsarian Calvinism (God decreed to save some men after the fall) lies in their inability to explain sin and evil without stipulating God as the cause of them, Keathley said. Molinism better reconciles God and the so-called "problem of evil," he said, and eliminates the charge of God having caused evil.



"God controls all things but He does not cause all things," Keathley said. "We must embrace God's permission to avoid having God causing evil."




I guess I don't really understand the issue...is seems like the proposition is that unless God somehow did not know that Man was going to sin, He is the author of sin - that is - if He knew Man would sin and did nothing to stop it, He was the cause of sin.



I think it goes something like this.



P1 God knew Man would sin

P2 Man sinned

C1 God caused sin



This, to me, is a false dilemma - God created Man (and Angel) to have free will - it is obvious (or strongly evidential) that free will not bound/regulated by the will of God is corrupting and that makes sense. God is God and has the capability to exist with the potential of absolute libertarian free will, yet freely chooses goodness and freely chooses to humble Himself to save some of Mankind. Man (and Angel), when given libertarian free will, chose to exalt themselves and grasp equality with God. Now, since we are not God and God is not a puppet master, we fail and are responsible - not God. The fact is that God is glorified through our inability without being culpable for causing it.



Now, I do not know the circumstances of Angelic free will, except to know that they have been through a first judgment with no mercy as a result of some of their freewill rebellion (led by Satan) against God, since they were immediately judged and cast out (although one might propose that they are currently experiencing some mercy until the final judgment). I believe the Angels that did not rebel are now glorified and are incapable of rebelling (non posse peccare), just as we will be, post-judgment. In other words, I think the Angelic beings were judged under works-righteousness criteria, since they do not have a Savior, yet are in the presence of God.



Now clearly Satan is the ultimate author of sin, both in the Angelic and Mankind realms, since we know he is the prince of the Fallen, but we (and they!) were willing (free willing!) accomplices - the primary difference is that our (Man's) sin ultimately worked to the good, since through Man's sin, Christ was glorified as Savior. Some of the guilty are saved! None of the rebelling Angels were given mercy - on purpose, I am sure and to the glory of God and the fulfillment of His purpose.



So...God's foreknowledge - and I really think that the concept of foreknowledge is a limitation of the language, not a limitation of God - is perfect and complete because He is not required to be bound by time or the rules of time, since, well, I hate to point out the obvious here, but He created time. He is also not bound by this "middle knowledge" scenario, since creation (including Time) from the initial BANG to the final judgment is a tapestry he has woven and ordained/decreed to be. And just as I have exhaustive knowledge of a tapestry I have woven does not detract from the pleasure I receive by putting it to its decreed purpose; in this instance - God glorifying Himself, saving some of His creatures, thus displaying his loving Mercy as well as glorifying Himself through the exercise of His divine Justice. Justice without Mercy is not true Justice. Love without Justice is worthless.



That is the current state of my 2 cents on this matter.



:)



-JD

Good Apologetics site

4thruth.net looks like a good, straightforward apologetics site.

About Us

Apologetics, found at www.4truth.net, is maintained by the Apologetics and Interfaith Evangelism team of the North American Mission Board, an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention.

The team, working with a network of partners on the state convention, association, and church levels, seeks to convey factual and reliable information about American and World religions and the truth of Christianity, and to equip Southern Baptists to be effective witnesses of the gospel to all people.

Islam: A Religion of Peace and Tolerance?

Note the cry of Sudanese Muslims protesting because the Gillian Gibbons did not get the death penalty for allowing her Muslim students to name their teddy bear Muhammed:

The protesters called for Gibbons' execution, saying, "No tolerance: Execution," and "Kill her, kill her by firing squad."

If this were an isolated incident and performed only by a few, then one might could dismiss it as radicals of a particular religion, but as was witnessed earlier by the response to the cartoon, this type practice is not isolated nor is it performed and condoned only by a few on the fringe; rather it points to the result of a religion whose foundation is tied up in a man, who therefore must be radically protected and defended, rather than in God.

My challenge is for Muslims to look closely at what's taking place, examine the reasoning behind what's taking place, and ask the questions: Does it not strike one as odd that rather than the name of God himself or the message brought by his prophet, it's the name of the prophet himself that needs protecting the most and that evokes the greatest rage even at the slightest or perceived mishandling or permissive use of his name as in this case? Does the reasoning and response of the protesters reflect the character and response that is found not only with God but that comes from God? If in asking these questions, you come to question or take issue with the facts and foundations of Islam, consider the God of Christianity, whose truth is not dependent upon a man, nor is the validity of his Messiah dependent upon human testimony (John 5, 8), but is one who only only testifies from heaven itself, but also produces a character and calls for a different type response than that demonstrated by the Muslim protesters.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Greg Bahnsen: Defending the Christian Faith

Part 1




Part 2




Part 3




Part 4




Part 5

Faith and Consequences (Jehovah's Witness Doctrine and Practice concerning Blood Transfusions)

Faith, whether true or false, has consequences. This is seen clearly in the death of a Jehovah's Witness teen who died after refusing a blood transfusion.

The belief and practice of Jehovah's Witnesses in refusing blood transfusions based on passages such as Acts 15:19-21 (where James refers to Gentiles abstaining "from blood"), (along with others such as Gen 9:4, etc.) fail to recognize (1) this passage's ultimate focus deals with the question and primacy of relationship between the Jews and Gentiles and the request of Gentiles to give up some liberties for the sake of the common fellowship; (2) this passage deals with the pagan practice of eating blood (or using blood as a food) not transfusing blood [i.e., to abstain from all blood would require giving up one's own blood]; and most importantly (3) the abstaining from eating blood was based on the principle of "LIFE" and of setting a HIGH VALUE on life since "life was in the blood" ... principles that current Jehovah's Witness teachings and practices do not reflect.

While the death of this young teen is to be mourned, perhaps other similar deaths can be avoided through better exegesis of the Scriptures. It's not always enough just to be sincere, for one can be sincerely wrong. (Even youths need to note this.) Truth has consequences, and sometimes those consequences can mean the difference between life and death.

I'm reminded of a coach recently who when blood was being kept from his Jehovah's Witness mother-in-law and the argument was made that Jehovah's Witness doctrine allowed for blood "substitutes" responded by saying: "I'm a coach, and on the basketball court I have both my starting five players along with my substitutes. I personally have a lot more confidence in my starters than I do in the substitutes. Give her the blood she needs." Fortunately, in her case, though blood was not given, she barely recovered, though she did. All may not come through as she did, and with options available, one's beliefs can make the difference.





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Type rest of the post here
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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Muslim Hate Crimes

FoxNews reports "Sudan on Wednesday charged a British teacher with insulting religion and inciting hatred, a crime punishable by up to 40 lashes, six months in prison or a fine, after she named a class teddy bear 'Muhammad'"."

Questions:
1. Will the 7 year old boy be charged as well since he initiated the name calling?
2. Will the parents of the 7 year old boy be charged as well since they named their son Muhammed?
3. What hatred was incited by this (except for hatred toward a non-Muslim)? What evidence is there?
4. Are Muslims suggesting there's something different about Muhammed than other humans, or other prophets? Will they impose the same penalty for similar use of names like John the Baptist, Jesus, etc., who according to their doctrine were also prophets?
5. Ever heard or any or many hate crimes for using the name "Allah"? (I'm told in Muslim dominated regions practically speaking it's okay to use Allah's name in vein, but you better not mention Muhammed in any negative way in the slightest form, or you'll incite rage and you'll pay dearly). Interesting, isn't it, there's more allegience to Muhammed than to Allah.
6. What do these charges suggest about the Muslim position in regard to freedom of conscience and expression of religion? Note, in this case, it's not by spiritual persuasion and argument but by physical pressure and punishment that the teacher (and others) will be forced to recognize the Muslim prophet. What a difference from Christianity!
7. Suppose this matter in the Sudan will receive due attention from many in the Muslim community in America (or around the world) who claim they stand for freedom of religion? What level of condemnation will be lifted?
8. To what extext should Christians (whether in America or elsewhere) and other non-Muslims be concerned to ensure we do not (if not already) come under Muslim dominion, law, or influence?
9. Should not reports like this serve as motivation for both gospel evangelism and exposing the practices of those who set themselves up against the knowledge of God, that obedience might be unto Christ, whose name IS set apart, not by the power of the Sword, but by the power of the Spirit!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Good analogy of classical vs presuppositional apologetics

From this thread:

armourbearer says

I liken the two approaches to a man who finds a watch on the beach. He sees the watch, and figures there must be a maker of it, and probably even learns something about the skill of the watchmaker. Throughout this process the man is the master of the opinions he arrives at. But suppose the watchmaker himself comes on the scene, and begins to tell the man how he made the watch, how it works, and what it needs in order to run properly. The man is no longer in control of the facts, but is submissive to and dependent upon the superiority of the watchmaker. The revelational theology of the Bible undoubtedly calls upon us to bow to the sovereignty of God (presuppositionalism), and not to be masters of our own thoughts about God (evidentialism).

Anti-Spanking Laws

Anti-spanking laws continue to surface (See here).

Rather than a lengthy post, consider the simple question:
Does (or should) ABUSE of something negate it's PROPER USE?

The answer is NO! (This applies to spanking just as it does to alcohol, glue, catnip, love, relationships, property, laws, etc., the list could go on.)

You can't remove the authority or means that God gives without causing additional (& often greater) problems. While such problems may be and/or remain masked for awhile, history has proven that while one may abandon, seek to undo, or even legislate against God's will and provisions, such actions cannot be taken without consequence. Wisdom calls for protection of and participation in the duties God sets before us, even for good ... including the right administration of physical discipline, which serves as an effective means of reproof and correction for those who will be trained by it, even reaching the heart and shaping the character and will, which often keeps those who have been trained from experiencing and causing additional and more serious troubles and pain down the road.

Interesting, isn't it, that new findings are now coming out about the medical community and how sedating (/drugging) kids was NOT in the best interest of our children. And when it comes to physical discipline, has not the result of removing authority from principals and teachers in our schools shown us anything? Now take away the use of physical discipline in the home and see where that leads...

Again, ask yourself the question: Does abuse of something negate it's proper use?
The answer is No!

There's God's way and the way of the world. Just compare!

Do you have a new relationship with sin?

Wow - just listening to the Way of the Master radio - a program contrasting the "feel good" message with the "total depravity" message.

Paul Washer (God bless him!) is the subject of the latter - one thing he sid really resonated with me.

"Lot's of people come to me saying they have a new relationship with God. My response is, "DO you have a new relationship with sin? Because if you don't have a change in your relationship to sin, then you don't really have a relationship with God."

Incredible!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Origin (or Evolution??) of Art/Artistic Impulses

According to a New York Times piece entitled "The Dance of Evolution, or How Art Got Its Start", some researchers suggest human artistic impulses "arose accidentally, as a byproduct of large brains that evolved to solve problems and were easily bored." Another argues that "the creative drive has all the earmarks of being an adaptation on its own. The making of art consumes enormous amounts of time and resources ..., an extravagance you wouldn’t expect of an evolutionary afterthought. Art also gives us pleasure, she said, and activities that feel good tend to be those that evolution deems too important to leave to chance." This latter expert goes on to suggest that "the tightly choreographed rituals that bond mother and child look a lot like the techniques and constructs at the heart of much of our art."

"Perhaps the most radical element of Ms. Dissanayake’s evolutionary framework is her idea about how art got its start. She suggests that many of the basic phonemes of art, the stylistic conventions and tonal patterns, the mental clay, staples and pauses with which even the loftiest creative works are constructed, can be traced back to the most primal of collusions — the intimate interplay between mother and child."

Hence, art for some is either accident, an adaptation, and/or finds it's origin in a human relationship between mother and child!

Here again, the evolutionist framework either does away with the meaning and significance of art on the one hand, or confuses and substitutes similarities with/for origin and potential influences (or developmental means) on the other hand.

This is another example of the superiority of the Christian framework which provides a rational argument and grounds for both the origin and significance of art!

In denying God while trying to explain everything else, evolutionists deny both reason and truth.

Man Almighty???

For anyone who thinks that modern science is completely devoid of metaphysics, just look at how far from reality this article takes us.

"Forget about the threat that mankind poses to the Earth: our very ability to study the heavens may have shortened the inferred lifetime of the cosmos."

Read More...

Not only is mankind the all-powerful enemy of the planet, but now he has the ability to destroy the universe!!! What frontiers will we conquer next?

This also caught my attention. Has the science of Astromony adopted the religion of Hinduism?

Parallel universe proof boosts time travel hopes

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Test of Wearing Western Trousers

Skeptical of Al Qaeda, who beheaded an Iraqi couple in front of their children for being infidels because they "wore western trousers" and did not pray.

Determinations based upon the make or material of one's clothes rather than the faith and beliefs of one's heart are the result and display of legalism (in this case, resulting from cultural/religious bias & brainwashing), not spirituality.

Not only that, but based on "wearing western trousers" being part of the criteria for proving oneself an infidel, would not the 9-11 high-jackers be infidels (or partial infidels, or at least participating in the practice of infidels), not to mention scores of Muslims living in the West today!


1 Cor 2:12-13 "We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words."

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Skeptical of Thanks on the part of Atheists



Today is Thanksgiving, a day set apart for giving thanks...that is: Thanks to God our creator, the one who is the ultimate source of every good and perfect gift, and the one from whom all blessings flow, the one apart from whom there is not life or purpose or hope or confidence or fellowship, but separation, wandering, lostness, destruction and death. Today is also a day for giving thanks to others, who according to the pleasure and wisdom of God have been created with a living soul and a personal will able under the sovereignty and providence of God to make choices and affect our lives and our welfare. Today is a day for reflecting upon the mercies and grace that have been shown to us as well as the good that we have received and enjoy. Today is a day of thanksgiving, a response and an act that has historically and continues to be recognized by humanity as not only a character trait, behavior and expression that is right and becoming but one that displays the best in a person and beauty when genuinely displayed from the heart.

This being said, think now upon the atheist worldview whose fundamental beliefs are based upon the reasoning that everything including life itself is based upon chance, an accident or even a mistake, ... a worldview that denies any true or real personhood and suggests that man is simply a conglomeration of chemicals and components which acts simply and somewhat mechanically (or evolutionally) according to one's past and present environment and stimuli, etc. If this is the case, then what reason is there for thanksgiving? What reason for responding as if there were true mercy, grace, and goodness? What reason for communicating, displaying or expressing thanks (that most basic trait and/or behavior that's recognized as beautiful and essential for the best to be found concerning a man or recognized among men)?

Here again, even concerning something as simple and basic as giving thanks, atheists must either borrow from another worldview, live inconsistently with their own, or admit there is no reason for expressing thanks. While most would suggest gratitude is natural to man and there's reason to give thanks to our parents for choosing to have us, etc., even this is inconsistent with a worldview that stands upon accident, chance, and the absense of true personhood.

Thanks be to God, who not only formed us and has informed us, but who both forms the beauty that is found within us and that forms the object of our greatest thanks!

May grace, truth and beauty be yours this thanksgiving day!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Saudi Arabia Courts

Skeptical of the Equity in Saudi Courts: Some rapists get "light" sentences while a female found in a car with males who were not her relative gets six months in jail plus 200 lashes. Which do you consider the greater "crime"?

Compare this injustice and inequity with what is said of the Lord and his kingdom:

Isa 32:1 "See, a king will reign in righteousness
and rulers will rule with justice. "

Isa 9:7 "Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this."

... How bright the glories of the Lord are when contrasted with the fallenness of this world.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Wow! Science says there was a Great Flood after all...as long as it was a *natural* flood...

I tell ya the material naturalists are creative!

"Masse’s biggest idea is that some 5,000 years ago, a 3-mile-wide ball of rock and ice swung around the sun and smashed into the ocean off the coast of Madagascar. The ensuing cataclysm sent a series of 600-foot-high tsunamis crashing against the world’s coastlines and injected plumes of superheated water vapor and aerosol particulates into the atmosphere. Within hours, the infusion of heat and moisture blasted its way into jet streams and spawned superhurricanes that pummeled the other side of the planet. For about a week, material ejected into the atmosphere plunged the world into darkness. All told, up to 80 percent of the world’s population may have perished, making it the single most lethal event in history.

Why, then, don’t we know about it? Masse contends that we do. Almost every culture has a legend about a great flood, and—with a little reading between the lines—many of them mention something like a comet on a collision course with Earth just before the disaster. The Bible describes a deluge for 40 days and 40 nights that created a flood so great that Noah was stuck in his ark for two weeks until the water subsided. In the Gilgamesh Epic, the hero of Mesopotamia saw a pillar of black smoke on the horizon before the sky went dark for a week. Afterward, a cyclone pummeled the Fertile Crescent and caused a massive flood. Myths recounted in indigenous South American cultures also tell of a great flood."
from here

Love that qualifier... "with a little reading between the lines"...

Heck with a "with a little reading between the lines", you can make up most anything!

Bottom line - the evidence can point to ANYTHING but a God ordained, world-wide Flood...

Greg Bahnsen: Introduction to Worldviews

Part 1




Part 2




Part 3




Part 4




Part 5




Part 6




Part 7

Friday, November 16, 2007

Proof You Can't Just Blame It On Religion

In Moscow, psychologists are negotiating with some doomsday cult members, who have sealed themselves in ...a cave or a bunker... waiting for the end of the world.

No doubt Hitchens and others will point to this incident and suggest that "RELIGION" is a problem (i.e., "God is Not Good: How Religion Poisons Everything", religion is the cause of so many troubles in the world, etc.).

However, it should be pointed out that "RELIGION" is on both sides of this issue(/incident). The point being, it's NOT "RELIGION" which is the problem, but "FALSE RELIGION"! Failure to distinguish and lump the two together is made by those who possess no more discernment than to look at examples of "FALSE SCIENCE" and it's effects and then conclude that science is a problem and poisons everything. Note - it makes no difference how loud, how often, how popular, how persuasive, how arrogant, or how hateful one makes such claims, it does not change the truth.

BE CAREFUL:
1. WHAT YOU BELIEVE - not only about the end of the world, but about religion.
2. WHO YOU BELIEVE - for false teachers can not only lead you astray and down unwise paths, but once on that path, unless one wakes up and sees the light, it can lead to disasterous consequences and even to death, whether referring physically, spiritually, or both.

Exposing the Darkness (Religion and LGBT Arguments)

The following is an exerpt from an article entitled "Is Not Love What Matters Most? Synod PJC Decision denies Same-Sex Couples Equal Marriage Rights in the Presbyterian Church (USA)" found on the More Light Presbyterians Website (which is a "a network of people seeking the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA)):

"Several key matters are at stake with this case and decision. For a religious institution to cling to a binary view of gender is a failure of recognizing God's palette of creation. Our own hearts, human experience, the sciences and even our own spirits reveal to us that there is no simple notion of what is a man or a woman, or that love is limited to opposite sex hearts only. This decision reveals that our Church is out of step when it comes to recognizing and embracing all of God's good creation which includes God's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender children and their families. God's good creation includes God's gift of sexuality and love which is not a possession of heterosexuals only."

Comments
1. Claiming "other than" a binary view of gender and suggesting "there is no simple notion of what is a man or a woman" not only opposes the Word of God (which states "So God created man ...male and female he created them", Gen 1:27; and which condemns males being effeminate, etc.), and opposes the wider testimony of history, humanity, and nature; but shows how departure from the authority and teaching of God's word can result in any view, and how delusional, blind, and off base people can become. Just think about it "there is no simple notion of what is a man or a woman." Is it not those who are confused who seek to bring confusion both to the issue and to debate.

2. When it comes to "love" and "sexuality", it's not a question of whether they are limited to "heterosexuals only", but whether as gifts and graces from God they are oriented, displayed, and enjoyed in keeping with God's purpose in giving them and for their use. It's no different than asking the question "Is money and financial freedom a possession of good stewards only?" The answer is no, both good stewards and bad stewards possess money and freedom to spend it how they will; however, that does not suggest that poor stewardship should be declared as God's pallete or intention for creation or that the church is out of step when it does not condone the preaching and practice of poor stewardship.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Supreme Court vs. The Supreme Court


The supreme court has tipped their hand and showed us some of the criteria they use to determine whether or not causing intentional death is justified.

......
On October 30th, the Supreme Court blocked the execution of a Mississippi murderer. There was no doubt about the guilt of the killer. In a capital punishment case the prosecution MUST prove guilt beyond the shadow of doubt. It would be a sad tragedy indeed to put an innocent person to death. The high court, in the case of this murdererer, blocked the execution until it concludes an ongoing review of lethal injection. The conclusion of the review should come about next year sometime and until then, there will be a moratorium on executions. The primary question is whether lethal injections constitute cruel and unusual punishment. In other words, do they hurt? It’s true the method used now is not the same as that used to euthanize a pet and perhaps an improvement can be made in the kinds of drugs used.

I’m not unhappy with this moratorium. I’m not anti death penalty. Genesis 9:6 says,
Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.
That is the beginning and the end of the argument for me. The image of God in man is not to be taken lightly and every human on the face of the earth, regardless of deed and thought, carries with him a portion of dignity that is derived from the creator Himself. We ought to show respect to all, and part of that respect means that our government must punish the evil doer; in the case of murder the guilty should die.

So why am I pleased with this moratorium? Two reasons:

First, our government does not know how to execute the evil doers with fairness for all. Black men are executed far more frequently than white men and poor people are executed more often than the wealthy. Until our leaders can fix the inequities in the system, I am all for a postponement on execution.

Second, the supreme court has tipped their hand and showed us some of the criteria they use to determine whether or not causing intentional death is justified.
This gives me hope in curbing the four thousand a day habit that America has developed in its abortion addiction.

Does a lethal injection hurt the one being ‘terminated’? Good question, and so important that until this question can be answered, we will have NO 'termination of life' by lethal injection for years to come and believe me, it will take years.

In Roe vs Wade, 34 years and 48,589,993 dead babies ago, the most important question that came up before the Supreme Court was, ‘When does life begin?’
We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins. When those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus, the judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to an answer.
In other words, the answer could take years. However, instead of calling a moratorium on the killing, the black robes legalized the slaughter of the innocent.

The question of when life begins is not the only difficult question posed by the practice of abortion. What about the question that the court is considering at present, the one that has halted executions - does it hurt? Could a brilliant lawyer form an argument that may cause a supreme court justice to consider that cutting a baby to pieces inside the womb might hurt the baby? Does it cause discomfort for the baby as her head is crushed? In a partial birth abortion where the entire baby is born except for his head, does it hurt when the scissors are pushed into the base of his skull? As I said, perhaps an exceptionally smart lawyer could at least insert doubt into the high jurist’s mind that abortion might not be painless. That should be all that is necessary to place a moratorium on abortions until these questions can be answered.

Clearly there are many questions that are being overlooked while the killing continues. Questions philosophical, legal, medical, psychological and theological. Isn’t it important that we answer these questions before killing one more innocent or is the killer the only one who deserves such a thorough review of procedure and practice?

Recently, my own Senator
Russ Feingold, D-Wis. on introducing the Federal Death Penalty Abolition Act spoke these words -
We should take advantage of this apparent pause in executions to consider the severe injustices within the system as a whole
In all honesty, I couldn't agree with you more senator, but let's look past the walls of death row and into the abortionist's clinic.

I appeal to, I beseech, I cry, I beg the supreme court to follow it’s own cautious reasoning and call a moratorium on the termination of the pre-born until these questions can be answered beyond a shadow of doubt. May God have mercy on us.

For more questions to ponder please see Kirby Anderson's excellent arguments here.
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Social Darwinism in Action - Destroy the Weak!

From here

“Eight people were killed when a teenaged gunman opened fire at a school in southern Finland on November 7, 2007 hours after a video was posted on YouTube predicting a massacre there. The gunman was a pupil at Jokela High School, a teacher who witnessed the attack told Reuters, and had walked through the school firing into classroom after classroom. . . . The YouTube video, entitled ‘Jokela High School Massacre—11/7/2007,’ was posted by a user called ‘Sturmgeist89.’ ‘I am prepared to fight and die for my cause,’ read a posting by a user of the same name. ‘I, as a natural selector, will eliminate all who I see unfit, disgraces of human race and failures of natural selection.’ Sturmgeist means storm spirit in German.”2

Science and the Origin of Life on Earth

Science ... getting closer to discovering the origin of life on earth.

Impressed, Anyone?

Iranian Minister: Gays Deserve Torture, Death Penalty

According to today's news, Mohsen Yahyavi admits that Iran believes in the death penalty for homosexuality.
A few comments:
1. There's evidence & testimony here that even unbelievers recognize that homosexuality is "against human nature."

2. The complete wide range of views by unbelievers ("against nature" & "deserves torture/death" by Yahyavi versus "it's natural and should be accepted & promoted" by some in the U.S.) shows that apart from an absolute, unbelievers have no ultimate authority or agreement for their positions or response (regardless of whether as unbelievers they look to religion [false] or to any other ground, even that resulting from the desire to justify personal behavior).



3. I imagine the greatest number of people lurking to see the responses to this will be those who participate in homosexuality, not simply because they have an interest involved, but because their conscience is alerted to anything related to the matter, the same way one who has committed any other immoral act is drawn by any attention or communication directed toward the area of their guilt.

4. It's interesting that homosexuality is seen as one of a most hideous kind, though on the side of Mohsen Yahyavi there's no mercy or steps to help the individuals or change the heart. On the other side of the coin, homosexuality is seen as a practice to be accepted though the vast history of the world regardless of location or education has recognized it to be opposed to nature, ... this side denying the need for help or for a change of heart. The glory of the biblical position is found in that at the same time it recognizes the unnatural and depraved nature of homosexuality, the ambassadors of the biblical position seek to shed understanding and bring about a change of heart while leaving the issue of justice and sentencing to God.

5. Proponents of homosexuality, in looking for any argument, will draw on the phrase Mohsen Yahyavi stated saying "...humans are here to reproduce. Homosexuals do not reproduce" and use the fact that sexuality is not always used simply for reproduction in order to attack his position, though this does negate the fact that homosexuality is against nature.

6. It's interesting to sit back and think of all the ways that simple issues like this are addressed and handled from the various sides, but to know that while truth and untruths and half truths and lies may all come into play as man seeks to advance his own agendas, that God still rules over all, and his Word will not be violated without consequence. Praise be to God for his holiness, his Word, his patience and ways, but also for his justice and mercy!

7. When considering globalization and pressure in regard to both sin and righteousness, I'm mindful again of the wisdom of God, who confused the languages at Babel in order to provide for the division necessary (due to sin) for the preservation for the gospel to be propagated. While I hope good can come from this, that is ...that Iran may be brought to deal with humanitarian issues and at the same time that those advancing the cause of homosexuality will be again be confronted by the greater testimony found worldwide, it's obvious that with greater communication and relations, both the advancement of sin and the advancement of righteousness will be seen to grow both into global proportion and the very struggle prophesied in Scripture, but leading to the end as well which God has revealed for his saints, even the judgment to come and for his own, life everlasting. Come, Lord Jesus!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Reason for God


New book out by Tim Keller: The Reason for God





Table of Contents
PART ONE

The Leap of Doubt

1. There can't be just one true religion

2. A good God could not allow suffering

3. Christianity is a straitjacket

4. The church is responsible for so much injustice

5. A loving God would not send people to hell

6. Science has disproved Christianity

7. You can't take the Bible literally

PART TWO

The Reasons for Faith

8. The clues of God

9. The knowledge of God

10. The problem of sin

11. Religion and the gospel

12. The (true) story of the cross

13. The reality of the resurrection

14. The Dance of God

Epilogue - Where do we go from here?

Secular Statistics

I find HUMOROUS the fact that the Council for Secular Humanism would in a press release use statistics from those who when polled about their religious beliefs responded by stating "they would prefer not to say" or "they are unsure" in order to try to finagle their numbers to be higher than that of Roman Catholics (which they refer to as the largest single belief group in America).

CONGRATULATIONS, by hook or crook, you reached the 27% needed to be higher than the 26%!

Science and Morality

Science is often touted as the "Be All & End All" of humanity's problems. Evidence this is not the case is showcased in a statement by Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Dir. of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University) in a NYTimes piece entitled
"In DNA Era, New Worries About Prejudice" where he states " “We will all be walking a fine line between using biology and allowing it to be abused.”

As expected, advancement in technology, while it doesn't cause jealousy, rather than eliminating all problems within humanity, can and will serve to provide new opportunities for humanity's root problems(those centered in sin)such as jealousy and prejudice to continue and to prosper and grow with even greater potential and capability.

For clarity, let me emphasize I'm not stating there is anything wrong with science itself, but that because science and morality are on one level independent ... such that immoral people can use good science for evil ends ... in the same way that immoral people can use natural resources for evil ends, or good intentions of others for evil ends, or even good behavior for evil ends, ... in the same way skepticism is in order for those who tout science as the "Be All & End All" of humanity's problems.

Here's an excerpt from the NYTimes piece:

"At the same time, genetic information is slipping out of the laboratory and into everyday life, carrying with it the inescapable message that people of different races have different DNA. Ancestry tests tell customers what percentage of their genes are from Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas. The heart-disease drug BiDil is marketed exclusively to African-Americans, who seem genetically predisposed to respond to it. Jews are offered prenatal tests for genetic disorders rarely found in other ethnic groups.

Such developments are providing some of the first tangible benefits of the genetic revolution. Yet some social critics fear they may also be giving long-discredited racial prejudices a new potency. The notion that race is more than skin deep, they fear, could undermine principles of equal treatment and opportunity that have relied on the presumption that we are all fundamentally equal.

“We are living through an era of the ascendance of biology, and we have to be very careful,” said Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard University. “We will all be walking a fine line between using biology and allowing it to be abused.”

Friday, November 9, 2007

Skepticism Concerning Handling and Discussions of Christians and Persecution

Most discussion between unbelievers and believers over the issue of persecution center around the crusades, the spanish inquisition, and the like... examples done under the Christian name "regardless" of whether specific motives and/or actions were in keeping with foundational Christian truth and principles.

That matter aside, what is not discussed is the extent and degree of persecution of Christians both throughout the world and throughout the ages. One day when the truth is known, the greater picture regarding persecution of Christians will show unapologetically that the discussions and press of today fail miserably in representing the truth and situation as it actually is. The true picture will reflect that which Scripture foretells.

Chuck Colson's article "Where Were You?" touches on the issue, but...why not documentaries? Where are the humanitarians? Why the absence, & silence, & neglect?

But praise be to God for He has warned his people, He equips his people, He grants grace to his people, and He eternally governs over all things such that even these things will result in His glory and both the honor and blessing of his people. Here again, reality and truth results in the manifestation of God's glory and the majesty of His name!

Skeptical of Mormonism

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)

Also see Difficult Questions for Mormons

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Skeptical of Deniers of God's Graciousness

While many in the world today point to tsunamis, earthquakes, aids, disease, death, etc. (or even to issues like the length of time God allowed before providing a Savior) as reason to denounce the graciousness of God and to lay charge at his being evil, wicked, pitiless, and the like; the case can be (and has historically been) made that the opposite is true.

Apart from God and his covenantal faithfulness (which results in his being gracious both to believers - and unbelievers (though to a different degree)), none of us as sinners, having fallen short of his righteous requirements, merit ANY good, and so the very fact that we all are not left destitute and given over to death at present, REVEALS the graciousness of God! In fact, tsunamis, earthquakes, aids, and the like should serve both as warning to those who content themselves with living in opposition and rebellion to God, as well as to stir up our appreciation and admiration for the graciousness of God.

What's interesting is that at the VERY places where unbelievers point in decrying the graciousness of God, the graciousness of God SHINES THE BRIGHTEST!

For it's not just believers that God shows grace to, but all people, in both revealing his grace and treating us better than our sins deserve.

The truth is that God is GRACIOUS to ALL, just more to some than others, but at the same time gracious to ALL! While for some, his blessings extend even to eternal life, for others it extends only to this life (to whatever length, degree, and/or level it's given), ... but even so, it's grace (and graciousness) to ALL!

For this reason, I'm skeptical of those who in failing to take God's justice into account deny God's gracious nature (and existence). Again, reason is found in the side of the truth of Scripture which proclaims a God who is gracious, and kind, and slow to anger, abounding in love, to ALL!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Welcome to another CS team member!

Folks, please welcome Brian Lanier to the Christian Skepticism team!

I have had the opportunity to participate with Mr. Lanier on the PuritanBoard, where he has been a regular and outstanding contributor.

His love of apologetics and philosophical theology, among other things, make him an excellent addition to Team CS.

Take a look at his blog over in the right menu bar - strong stuff! :)

Welcome, Brian!

SDG,

-JD

Muslim Persecution & Silence

An Iranian judge, in regard to a Christian woman who was beaten and threatened with death for participating in evangelism, declared her persecutors were "within their rights TO ATTACK HER."

Will American Muslims who claim they stand for "freedom of religion" speak out against the practice of their fellow Muslims?



HOW LONG has this type practice taken place? HOW LONG will it continue and HOW LONG must Christians suffer without MUSLIMS condemning it? HOW LONG will it be said that Islam is a "religion of peace"?



My sympathies and prayers go out to the many who suffer daily in these ways even if not mentioned in the courts or reported in the press. May the mercies and blessings of God rest with each of you who are persecuted for his name's sake.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ashamed Of Their Own

Dinesh D'Souza is doing some excellent work lately. His latest article refutes the ultimate in 20th Century Historical Revisionism, the ridiculous idea that Adolph Hitler was a Christian.

“Embarrassed at the murderous legacy of atheist Communist regimes in the twentieth century, leading atheists seek to even the score with believers by portraying Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime as theist and specifically Christian. Atheist websites routinely claim that Hitler was a Christian because he was born Catholic, he never publicly renounced his Catholicism, and he wrote in Mein Kampf, “By defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord.” Atheist writer Sam Harris writes that since “the Holocaust marked the culmination of…two hundred years of Christian fulminating against the Jews,” therefore “knowingly or not, the Nazis were agents of religion.”

How persuasive are these claims?”

Read More…

Nice try Sam, but we don't want him. Hitler is all yours. Nazism was far more influenced by Darwin and Nietzsche than by Jesus Christ, Paul, or Athanasius.

To see what Hitler actually thought of Christianity, see Was Hitler a Christian?

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Predestination, Hell, and the nature of God's love

Well - this was an interesting thread over on the Puritanboard and should give folks a good idea that even though we are Calvinistic, we still "work out our own salvation" and the practical application of our doctrine. It's not always pretty...or simple...or "sweet baby cakes" loving, but it is the truth.

Bottom line - how can we trust that God is not cruel? Why doesn't He save everyone?

You can trust God, because you can trust Christ.

Christ displayed the character of God in that He showed an abundance of love toward His children, even asking forgiveness for those that crucified Him, yet was ruthless toward those that dishonored the Father.

If you don't trust Christ, you are a son of the devil and deserve the fate of the enemy of God.

Mercy's preciousness is measured by it's rarity, otherwise there is no true justice.

That is why not ALL are saved.

Remember, cause 1 - Man's rebellion - everyone WAS saved - WE screwed it up - and if you think you would have done differently, you are FOOLING yourself and should examine yourself for sinning in pride. If God does not punish His enemies and the bearer of His image for rebellion, He is a liar and there is no true justice.

If He does not display mercy, there is no true love.

Remember, God is the only one capable of true justice, not Man. We are, however, capable of expressing love, imperfect though it may be, thus our mandate in the second part of the greatest commandment.

We will rejoice at God's righteous and just punishment of the reprobate and rejoice that we have been saved from among them, not because of our worthiness, but because of God's mercy.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Back to the Puritanboard

Response to this thread: Oh No! You're a member of the Puritanboard!

Well, I must say, this is an interesting thread. I have wrestled quite a bit about my involvement with the PB and publicly discussing my faith in general on the Internet, both from my personal walk as well as the potential ramifications in my professional life. I work for a large company and I have opportunities to represent that company in ways that my name is likely to be published and associated with on the Internet, so anyone googleing me (and it has happened) are more likely to see interactions on my faith than my professional activities. The struggle is that I desire to "be not ashamed", so I have decided to not go through the motions of disguising my identity here or elsewhere. Primarily, I pray that I am not dishonoring to my Lord because I have resolved that I am certainly willing to suffer for the sake of His righteousness.

That being said - permit me to digress - recently I had a good opportunity to "part ways" with the Puritanboard and actually had fairly well determined to keep it that way but returned for a couple reasons:

1) the graciousness of my brothers to dig deeper than surface posting to understand the nature of my disgruntlement and offer reconciliation (sometimes it is ok to agree to disagree, particularly when we agree on the essentials)

2) the desire to continue in relationship with believers that dig much deeper than "spiritual milk" (as well as understand what actual "orthodoxy" means) and bounce thoughts and ideas against some of the staunchest defenders of the faith congregated on the Internet. It is my experience that we truly want to edify and be edified.

3) the "preciseness" of some of the members - I think this is the area that causes the term "legalistic" to be cast about so freely. And I must say that while "preciseness" is an admirable quality, I do believe that "preciseness for preciseness sake" is the spirit that sometime comes across and is offensive to folk. Seasoning the fervor with a bit of grace is not a bad thing ...really. I think it would be great to see even more of the same level of "preciseness" displayed in our interactions and disagreements as well as our doctrine. Speak (and defend!) the truth in LOVE. (I am also speaking to myself, brethren.)

Anyway - my 2 cents - blessings!

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...