Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Atheist Lawsuit regarding Presidential Inaugeration

The head of an atheist group that has filed a lawsuit against prayer at Barack Obama's presidential inauguration says the government is picking a winner between "believers" and "those who don't believe" and subjecting atheists and agnostics to someone else's religious beliefs.

The 34-page legal complaint similarly seeks to enjoin Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., from adding the phrase "So help me God" to the presidential oath of office.


"We're hoping to stop prayer and religious rituals at governmental functions, especially at the inauguration," Barker told FOX News Radio.


"The inauguration is not a religious event. It is a secular event of a secular country that includes all Americans, including those of us who are not Christians, including those of us who are not believers," he continued.


Those people who do pray do believe in God and they are in fact trying to use the government to pick sides.


Quotes taken from here.

Don't be fooled by those who seek to lay the battle lines. The battle is NOT between "believers" and "those who don't believe" but those keeping with the original documents and their framers along with the history's long heritage which stands upon it and those who seek to remove all theist references from government and the public arena (something the original framers clearly did not intend... as demonstrated by both their works and their words)!

The USA is not a secular country, but a country that recognizes the "Almighty" and his providence.

"If the government were to invite me as a national atheist leader to get up and give an invocation that curses the name of God and that encourages people to stop believing and stop being so childish and divisive then that would be wrong because the government would be taking a pro-atheist position," he said.


PAY ATTENTION to this! Here is a blatant example of those who would CURSE the foundation and name of the "almighty" upon whom our nation's founders referenced and called upon!

Psychology and Self Control

He and a fellow psychologist at the University of Miami, Brian Willoughby, have reviewed eight decades of research and concluded that religious belief and piety promote self-control.


The intrinsically religious people have higher self-control, but the extrinsically religious do not.


Quotes from here.

While I don't buy much of this type research, perhaps some secularists may find some of the findings interesting.

For discovery of the fountain and fruit of self-control, try reading Galatians 5. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Atheist believes Africa needs Christianity

Interesting article, even if it does display some cognitive dissonance and atheistic inconsistancy - may the Lord use this struggle to bring this man back into the Kingdom and may the Lord bless Africa!

New Reformed Discussion Board!

This is an exciting addition to the web and is tied to a totally free online Reformed seminary. A great place to go and discuss among like-minded brethren and learn to be a well-grounded Christian Skeptic.

Reformed Theology Institute

New Reformed Discussion Board

I am excited to see this! :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dispensationalism vs Covenantalism

Taken from here

Here is a list of essential differences between dispensationalism and covenantalism (D= dispensationalism, C = covenantalism)

D 1. May be Arminian or modified Calvinist. Almost never 5-point Calvinist.
C 1. Always Calvinist. Usually 5-point.

D 2. Stresses literal Interpretation of the Bible.
C 2. Accepts both literal and figurative interpretation of the Bible.

D 3. Usually does not accept the idea of the ‘Analogy of Faith
C 3. Almost always accepts the idea of the ‘Analogy of Faith.’

D 4. ‘Israel always means only the literal, physical descendants of Jacob
C 4. ‘Israel’ may mean either literal, physical descendants of Jacob or the figurative, spiritual Israel, depending on context.

D 5. ‘Israel of God’ in Gal. 6:16 means physical Israel alone.
C 5. ‘Israel of God’ in Gal. 6:16 means spiritual Israel, parallel to Gal. 3:29, Rom. 2:28-29, Rom. 9:6, Phil. 3:3.

D 6. God has two peoples with two separate destinies: Israel (earthly) and the Church (heavenly).
C 6. God has always had only one people, the Church gradually developed.

D 7. The Church was born at Pentecost.
C 7. The Church began in the O.T. (Acts 7:38) and reached fulfillment in the N.T.

D 8. The Church was not prophesied as such in the O.T. but was a hidden mystery until the N.T.
C 8. There are many O.T. prophecies of the N.T. Church.

D 9. All O.T. prophecies for ‘Israel’ are for literal Israel, not the Church
C 9. Some O.T. prophecies are for literal Israel, others are for spiritual Israel.

D10. God’s main purpose in history is literal Israel.
C 10. God’s main purpose in history is Christ and secondarily the Church.

D 11. The Church is a parenthesis in God’s program for the ages.
C 11. The Church is the culmination of God’s saving purpose for the ages.

D 12. The main heir to Abraham’s covenant was Isaac and literal Israel.
C 12. The main heir to Abraham’s covenant was Christ and spiritual Israel.

D 13. There was no eternal Covenant of Redemption within the Trinity.
C 13. The eternal Covenant of Redemption was within the Trinity to effect election.

D 14. There was no Covenant of Works with Adam in the Garden of Eden.
C 14. God made a conditional Covenant of Works with Adam as representative for all his posterity.

D 15. There was no Covenant of Grace concerning Adam.
C 15. God made a Covenant of Grace with Christ and His people, including Adam.

D 16. Israel was rash to accept the Covenant at Mt. Sinai.
C 16. Israel was right to accept the Covenant at Mt. Sinai.

D 17. The ‘New Covenant’ of Jer. 31:31-34 is only for literal Israel and is not the New Covenant of Luke 22:20.
C 17. The ‘New Covenant of Jer. 31 is the same as in Luke 22; both are for spiritual Israel according to Hebrews 8.

D 18. God’s program in history is mainly through separate dispensations.
C 18. God’s program in history is mainly through related covenants.

D 19. Some Dispensationalists have said that O.T. sinners were saved by works.
C 19. No man has ever been saved by works, but only by grace.

D 20. Most Dispensationalists teach that men in the O.T. were saved by faith in a revelation peculiar to their Dispensation, but this did not include faith in the Messiah as their sin-bearer.
C 20. All men who have ever been saved have been saved by faith in Christ as their sin-bearer, which has been progressively revealed in every age.

D 21. The O.T. sacrifices were not recognized as the Gospel or types of the Messiah as sin-bearer, but only seen as such in retrospect.
C 21. O.T. believers believed in the Gospel of Messiah as sin-bearer mainly by the sacrifices as types and prophecies.

D 22. The Holy Spirit indwells only believers in the Dispensation of Grace, not O.T. and not after the Rapture.
C 22. The Holy Spirit has indwelt believers in all ages, especially in the present N.T. era, and will not be withdrawn.

D 23. Jesus made an offer of the literal Kingdom to Israel; since Israel rejected it, it is postponed.
C 23. Jesus made only an offer of the spiritual Kingdom, which was rejected by literal Israel but has gradually been accepted by spiritual Israel.

D 24. O.T. believers were not ‘in Christ’, nor part of the Body of Bride of Christ.
C 24. Believers in all ages are all ‘in Christ’ and part of the Body and Bride of Christ.

D 25. The Law has been abolished.
C 25. The Law has three uses: to restrain sin in society, to lead to Christ, and to instruct Christians in godliness. The ceremonial laws have been abolished; the civil laws have been abolished except for their general equity; the moral laws continue.

D 26. O.T. Laws are no longer in effect unless repeated in the N.T.
C 26. O.T. laws are still in effect unless abrogated in the N.T.

D 27. The Millennium is the Kingdom of God Dispensationalists are always Pre-Millennial and usually Pre-Tribulational.
C 27. The Church is the Kingdom of God. Covenantalists are usually Amillennial, sometimes Pre-Millennial or Post-Millennial, rarely Pre-Tribulational.

D 28. The O.T. animal sacrifices will be restored in the Millennium.
C 28. The O.T. sacrifices were fulfilled and forever abolished in Christ.

D 29. The Millennium will fulfill the Covenant to Abraham. Israel has a future.
C 29. Christ fulfilled the Covenant to Abraham. Some Covenantalists believe in a future for literal Israel, most don’t.

D 30. David will sit on the Millennial throne in Jerusalem.
C 30. Christ alone sits on the throne. Saints rule under Him.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Evolution and Ethics (/Deceit)

Deceitful behavior has a long and storied history in the evolution of social life, and the more sophisticated the animal, it seems, the more commonplace the con games, the more cunning their contours.


Tactical deception requires considerable behavioral suppleness, which is why it’s most often observed in the brainiest animals.


Our lie blindness suggests to some researchers a human desire to be deceived, a preference for the stylishly accoutred fable over the naked truth.


Quotes taken from A Highly Evolved Propensity for Deceit.

Seems deceit (and being good at it) is a sign of "advanced evolution".
Think about the practical ramifications of this one.

...consider also the contrast between the goal of Christianity vs. what's involved in advancing in evolution.

Penn from Penn & Teller - Christians should evangelize...

From one type of skeptic to another, I have always respected the mind of Penn Jillette (an admitted atheist) - you can see why in this video - he does understand the imperative of the Gospel - I just pray that the Lord softens his heart and calls him into the Kingdom.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rick Warren defends Inauguration Invitation

"Under fire for opposing gay marriage, influential evangelical pastor Rick Warren said Saturday that he loves Muslims, people of other religions, Republicans and Democrats, and he also loves "gays and straights."


Quote from here.

While I differ with Warren on some things, I felt this response by Warren was right on target. It's good at times when we get to see Christians not only live the truth but display some political savy as well.

[Note: my comments addresses only the statement above, not other issues related to Warren]

Pope Benedict on Homosexuality and Environment

Pope Benedict was accused of stoking homophobia today after a speech in which he declared that saving humanity from homosexuality was just as important as saving the rainforest from destruction.

The Pontiff made the remarks yesterday in an end-of-year address to the Curia, the Vatican's central administration. He said that humanity needed to listen to the “language of creation” to understand the intended roles of man and woman and behavior beyond traditional heterosexual relations was a “destruction of God’s work”.

“The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less," Benedict told scores of prelates gathered in the Vatican's Clementine Hall.

"What’s needed is something like a ‘human ecology,’ understood in the right sense. It’s not simply an outdated metaphysics if the Church speaks of the nature of the human person as man and woman, and asks that this order of creation be respected.”


Quote taken from here.

Very good line of argument by Benedict. It not only speaks the truth but ties that truth to a predominant theme that is at the center of public attention (... and is thus "positionally" set for greater traction and potential impact).

... and while the opposition will bring up "homophobic bullying" the "instances of people being killed ... because their sexual orientation" (... each which deserves individual discussion and treatment), these do not anywhere near approaching the magnitude and gravity of the position he is proclaiming.

[Note: I recognize it does matter for the individuals who suffer and even die as a result of ill treatment and sin, but that's not the topic of my post. My post addresses the issue Benedict has spoken to in looking to the "forest rather than the issues surrounding specific trees" when it comes to mankind.]

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christian Response - Pro-Homosexuals against Rick Warren, etc.

Goodbye Larry King, Hello Jerry Springer!

Carl Truman has been especially good recently on the issues surrounding Obama's swearing in, Rick Warren, pro-homosexuals, etc.

This article is worth the read.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Social Contexts of Christmas: The Secular Trend to Relegate the Truth

"A lot of the Christmas celebration is a nostalgic veneer that doesn't really connect very deeply theologically," says Mary Helene Rosenbaum, head of Dovetail Institute for Interfaith Family Resources, based in Boston, Ky.

When she advises religiously mixed families, she finds what works best is pragmatic: Elevate the holiday trappings over doctrine.

"We really are becoming a secular society," she says. "When you ask people their religious identity, they're really talking about their sense of community and belonging," not wrestling with ideas about God.


Quotes from Where is Christ in Christmas?


Christians... note how secular trends result even in environments which ignore, discourage, or deny the issues/truth. We must take note that secular trends seek to relegate the truth. This should be noted especially when one considers our calling to evangelism and opportunities to reach out with the gospel.

Some pertinent topics of conversation in situations like this include:
1. I note we tend to ignore the core issues of Christmas when we get together, but would it not be better for all to hold personal convictions and be able to express them?
2. Which is better to elevate and consume ourselves with the trappings of Christmas, or discuss and respond to the substance of Christmas?
3. While I value and respect people's personal beliefs, and even value peaceful relations among families, do we not miss out on a great opportunity to reflect upon and discuss the issues of Christmas at a time like this. If we don't do it now, when will it be done?


Note: I recognize the place of honoring the desires of the host, not turning holliday gatherings into family fights and quarrels, etc., but if such topics as this cannot be addressed, then perhaps there are greater underlying problems and prejudices that also might become a topic of discussion.

Mindsets such as set forth in the article are sure to come, but the believer's call to witness does not go away. We must recognize the contexts in which we live, make adjustments in the times, places, and situations that which we give ourselves to, and also consider the directions and/or demands of the world upon us. Above all, we must make the most of every opportunity for Christ!

Mohler on Recent Pew Poll

Overall, the new findings are "an indictment of evangelicalism and evangelical preaching," said Mohler. "The clear Biblical teaching is that Jesus Christ proclaimed himself to be the only way to salvation."

Mohler sees behind the statistics the impact of pluralism and secularism in U.S. society and the challenge of facing family and friends with "an uncomfortable truth."

"We are in an age when we want to tell everyone they are doing just fine. It's extremely uncomfortable to turn to someone and say, 'You will go to hell unless you come to a saving knowledge of Jesus,' " Mohler says.


Good words my Mohler. Article on the poll - see here.



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Illustration of False Views of Redemption

Seven Pounds appears to be a movie filled with illustrations of false views concerning redemption.

Consider the following items:
1. The main character is self righteous and self pitying
2. The main character is planning his own suicide
3. The main plot is for a man who has killed seven family members to redeem himself by saving seven other people (... but this must not be good enough and satisfy since he still plans to commit suicide)
4. The main character's sacrifices are all about him
5. The main character tries to himself become a savior of sorts (tries to provide the ultimate sacrifice (through wrongheaded heroism), becomes frustratingly god-like in his pursuit of redemption, working wonders,
6. The main character's life is characteristic of those who seek this method of redemption - His life has fallen apart, and –as he’s lost faith — has been seemingly abandoned by everyone in his life. His brother ... is ineffectual at best because he can’t stand in the way of Ben’s ultimate sacrifices.
7. In the end, it can only be described as gruesome.



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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Science - Discovery and Incredulity

Modern quantum mechanics predicts that empty space should indeed be imbued with this strange energy, but the possibility that the dark energy might actually be Einstein’s cosmological constant has thrown physics into philosophical turmoil.

According to the calculations, the cosmological constant should be 1060 times bigger than what astronomers have measured; in such a universe, stars, planets and of course ourselves could not exist. The only way out, some physicists and cosmologists argue, is to presume that our universe is only one of as many as 10500 parallel universes, in which the laws of physics happen to be conducive to our existence. But many others bitterly disagree.


Quote taken from here.

While I'll not attempt to solve the quantum mechanics debate, I do present the observation that it appears on one level the more advances in science and discovery of the universe...the more incredulous suggestions of a world without God are going to seem.

NPR: What's The Word? The Bible On Gay Marriage

As an addition to the earlier post - see below, I have not listened, yet, but based on the summary - should be interesting:


What's The Word? The Bible On Gay Marriage
Listen Now

December 15, 2008 · Religious leaders often cite scripture as the basis for their opposition to gay marriage. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and host of the Albert Mohler Program, believes a strict reading of the text forbids gay marriage. But Lisa Miller, religion editor at Newsweek, contends the Bible's models of marriage are flawed, and its lessons about love actually argue for gay marriage.

Here is the original link.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Link to Carl Trueman's Response to Newsweek's Article by Lisa Miller on the Bible and Gay Marriage

Carl Trueman at Reformation 21 has an insightful and helpful response to Lisa Miller's article in Newsweek on the Bible and Gay Marriage. Read it here.

Three Godless Christmas shows

The latest wheeze of one of Britain's most innovative comedians, Robin Ince, is a series of three shows that will bring together fellow comics Ricky Gervais, Stewart Lee, Chris Addison, Phil Jupitus, Mark Thomas and Dara O'Briain and musicians Luke Haines, Jarvis Cocker and Robyn Hitchcock with Richard Dawkins and science writer Simon Singh for a non-Christmas Christmas-time celebration of rational thought – a secular take on the festival of Nine Lessons and Carols.


Taken from here.

They used the word comedy, but perhaps even described "Like the crackling of thorns under the pot..." (Eccl 6:6)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Muslim Accusations and Practice of Exploitation


A new breed of undercover Christian missionary is turning to Muslim north Africa in the search for new converts, alarming Islamic leaders who say they prey on the weak and threaten public order.

The Koran states no-one can be forced to follow one religion, but many Muslims believe that to abandon Islam is to shun family, tribe and nation and bring shame upon relatives.

"Many Muslims told me 'If I find you I will kill you'," said Amin, a young man from northern Morocco who did not want to give his full name for fear of reprisals.

... PERSECUTION, EXPLOITATION

Converts recount stories of persecution as evidence of the risks they run. These are impossible to verify, but one said he heard a newly converted Moroccan was thrown from a balcony in a shopping mall by two acquaintances, leaving him paralyzed.

Another said people of a town in eastern Morocco threatened to decapitate a convert unless he renounced his faith.


Quotes taken from Christian missionaries stir unease in north Africa

When one reads the article, one must really ask: Who is it that is exploiting people? Seems the Muslims are the ones in the article who are using others for their own selfish ends.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Vatican, U.N. Declaration on Sexual Rights

"The fact that there are people who want to silence the Church is disturbing. If people want to disagree with the Church it's one thing, but when you start this kind of name-calling it is intended to have a chilling effect," said Susan Fani, a spokeswoman for the Catholic League.


Catholic groups say the protests and editorials are part of a campaign to silence the Church on issues where it is considered politically incorrect.


Quotes taken from Vatican Under Fire for Opposing U.N. Declaration on Sexual Rights

Where's the TOLERANCE? Seems those who clamor for tolerance all the time are the very ones who display intolerance of those with different views. Believers need to take note of examples like this for while it's happening in isolated cases and on specific issues today, buying into the "tolerance" clamoring today can lead to increased cases of "intolerance' tomorrow.

Those such as Evangelical Christians, Mormons, and Roman Catholics deserve public support in their public stand against homosexuality (/LGBT).

On the issues themeselves, the Bible does not call for or authorize capital punishment for homosexuality; at the same time homosexuality is a sin and should not be embraced otherwise.

Ricky Gervais' Testimony (Atheist Comedian)

Then came the moment of apostasy. He was drawing a Bible picture one day when his older brother, Bob, casually asked him why he believed in God. "My mother went, 'Bob!' And I knew. I knew that she was hiding something that he wanted to tell me. I thought about it for an hour and that was it. I didn't believe any more."


Quote taken from Ricky Gervais: Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People

Interesting how unbelivers challenge believers when it comes to "childlike faith"?

How about these grounds for being confident in one's DISBELIEF (/APOSTASY)? Here is one who with no more than a child's intelligence, with no regard to evidence or consideration of revelation, simply makes a childish decision and then sets that forth as if it's reasonable and should be accepted.

Not only does it point to the fact that his "belief" was not the kind referred to by Scripture (of the grace of God, and not just of man), but misses the mark by trying to substitute childish thinking for reasonable faith.

Muslim practice of stoning the devil

In Muslim pilgrims stone devil amid tight control it is stated that "More than two million Muslim pilgrims stoned walls symbolizing the devil in a narrow valley outside Mecca".

Two problems biblically with this practice.
1. Authority and Power of Man- First of all Satan (the god of this world) is not one who can be defeated by humans throwing stones at a wall. He is not only spiritual, but powerful and unable to be dethroned or defeated even my millions of men. Note in Jude 1:9 the position even the archangel Michael took - "But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" What's interesting is, Satan continues to exercise control over many, even through the work of deception.

2. Nature of Satan - As stated above, Satan is spiritual and is neither harmed nor held back by men taking physical objects and throwing them at a wall regardless of the symbolism. The only way Satan's rule is limited is by Christ's own rule overthrowing it and the Spirit of the Lord strengthening men through faith to deal with temptation. Christ rule is experienced when by God's own election and calling, man comes through the grace of regeneration and faith to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and honor him, wherein Christ exercises dominion and protects and provides for his people.


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Friday, December 5, 2008

Eckhart Tolle and Differences with Christianity (John Stott Quote)

... Yt the possibility of self-salvation is one of the major delusions of New Age philosophy. It teaches that salvation comes not from without (someone else coming to our resuce) but from within (as we discover ourselves and our own resources). So 'look into yourself, shirley MacLaine urges us, 'explore yourself', for 'all the answers are within yourselef'. And in here subsequent book, which is revealingly entitled Going Within, she writes that'the New Age is all about self-responsibility', i.e., taken responsibility for everything that happens, since 'the only source is ourselves'.

But Paul teaches oa different source of salvation. With verse 4 he turns from us in our depravity to 'God our Saviour', from our hatred of one another to his amazing love for us. paul traces our salvation right back to its source in the love of God. But when the the kindness and love of God our Saviour appeared, that is, in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus, he saved us. .... Thus salvatin originated in the heart of God. It is because of his kindness, love, mercy and grace that he intervened on our behalf, he took the initative,he came after us, and he rescued us from our hopeless predicament."

Quote taken from John Stott in his commentary on Titus (ch. 3)

The differences he points out in regard to salvation coming either from without or from within apply not only to MacLaine but to Tolle's philosophy as well. One must ask how fallen is man. The apostle Paul points out that sinful man (in need of salvation) is deceived and this deception is not limited to just thinking a different way in order to save ourselves, but that God himself has to do a change in us (regeneration) in order that we may see and understand the truth.

The issue comes down to this: What is the need of man when it comes to salvation? Simply to see things differently (as Tolle suggests), but to be able to see to begin with (a work that God himself must do). The scripture teaches the latter, Tolle the former. Which is it?

Luke 8:10 "to you it has been given to know the secrests of the kingdom of God...'

1 Cor 2:14 "The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned."

Eph 1:17-18 "...that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you."

John 3:27 "John answered, 'a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven."

Romans 9:16 "So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy."

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View of Poverty

After more than three years of nomadic uncertainty, many of the children of Hurricane Katrina are behind in school, acting out and suffering from extraordinarily high rates of illness and mental health problems. Their parents, many still anxious or depressed themselves...

Many Children Lack Stability Long After Storm

Ms. Bankston has particularly grave concerns about the children who have fallen so far behind in school that there is little chance of their catching up. “What you’re looking at is our future juvenile justice, our prison population,” she said.

Many of the adults are at least partly victims of their own poor choices. But the children are another matter.

From several plastic baggies and a dented metal canister, the family could barely amass the documents needed to prove his address.

A shy, artistic boy ..., Jermaine is one of tens of thousands of youngsters who lost not just all of their belongings to Hurricane Katrina, but a chunk of childhood itself.

Quotes taken from Many Children Lack Stability Long After Storm

I remember growing up thinking that most people who are poor are that way because of laziness or because of their own decisions and choices. Then, a few years ago I read a booklet by Dr. Tim Kellar that provided biblical descriptions (and if I remember right - statistics) regarding the reasons many found themselves in poverty and was shocked to learn that those catagorized by my previous way of thinking were actually a small portion of the overall amount, many being affected by natural disasters, physical disabilities, compound emergencies, poor foundations, etc.

I am grateful to Shaila Dawan for this this article and post on this for three reasons: 1) To draw reader's attention to the article and the various needs and ways to continue to help on the coast. 2) To help others not be as wrong and naive as I was growing up in my thinking about poverty, and 3) To highlight the details in the article that help paint a good picture of all the different kinds of factors that can contribute to the present and future states of individuals and families especially if out of love others do not come to their aid and support and provide for them.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wilson - Hitchens Debate (Westminster Theological Seminary)

Quick Reflections:

1. Had the discussions followed the format of Wilson's opening arguments (i.e., How and Why are we to assume meaning/significance of thoughts that result from chance; What is the basis/warrant for truth/value/aesthetic claims by atheists; The relationship between a meaningless universe yet meaning in it's parts), the debate would have been a good one. However, it didn't, and while there's merit in other issues, I would have a hard time recommending a person taking the time to watch this one given the topics themselves and the length of the debate.

2. Problems with Hitchens arguments

a. Hitchens seemed to set up a false dichotomy in that if one doesn't look to God, then they will take (or be more prone to take) responsibility to deal with issues like slavery. The truth is that one is not limited to one or the other option, but believing in God actually provides motivation for taking responsibility.

b. Hitchens though he states the items photographed by the Hubble telescope produce awe (and are more awesome than other things) fails to provide the basis/reason behind this.

c. Hitchens argues the nature of a black hole is more awe inspiring than pigs running down a hill. The question is why? If both happen by chance, what makes one anymore noteworthy than the other?

d. Hitchens argues that religion stands in the way of discovery. This is false in that the knowledge of God and the fact that the universe has order and meaning will reveals the glory of God motivates discovery. On the other hand, not knowing whether it has meaning, or whether our discovery will have any lasting significance could inhibit discovery.

e. Hitchens states killing an Amalekite would matter if he were an Amalekite, but provides no basis for why it should matter. (Note: apart from an objective standard of ethics, even the human desire for life does not define the morality surrounding the situtation)

f. Hitchens in asking why miracles are true only when they are Calvinist miracles shows he fails to take into account relationships between the miracles and the defendability of their supporting texts and proponents, the differences in that some are prophesied before hand while others are not, the different effects resulting from the miracles, etc. This shows lack of scholarship on his part.

g. Hitchens in arguing against miracles assumes uniformity of nature which he does not prove.

h. Hitchens suggestion that there was no questioning of the resurrection is unfounded. Even the disciples themselves questioned it until their eyes were opened.


It still strikes me that Hitchens still does not understand the gospel itself. He still refers to Christians as perhaps thinking of themselves as "better" people. The gospel does not suggest Christians are any "better", only that their sins are forgiven.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Episcopal Church Split and the Press

Conservatives Expected to Split Episcopal Church


While technically or eccliastically this headline may be true, one must ask which group has "split" the church?

Consider the following quote:

They claim those churches have broken with traditional Christianity in many ways, but the development that precipitated their departure was the decision to ordain an openly gay bishop and to bless gay unions.


Interesting isn't it, how the reporter and paper publish a headline that can tend to infer blame on the part of conservatives?


Rom 16:17 "I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them."

Lk 12:51 "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division."

Right to Bear Arms (St. Louis Alderman calls on residents to get armed)

Police did not immediately return requests for comment. Chief Dan Isom told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch he understands Troupe's frustration but doesn't support citizens arming themselves.

Carrying guns, he said, is not a "recipe for a less violent community."


This is the response of a police chief whose department supposedly cannot provide protection for the community. See St. Louis alderman calls on residents to get armed

1. Protection is a biblical responsibility for the head of the home (and for individuals).

2. If what was reported is true, that "there was nothing he [/the police department] could do to protect" the citizens and community; if the chief does not support citizens arming themselves, then HOW are they supposed to protect themselves? Are they supposed to just become defenseless targets?

3. While it's true that vigilantism is to be cautioned against and headed off, that does not deny the right and responsibility to legally provide protection for oneself and one's family. If the statement is to ward off this type of environment and mindset, the government then also has responsibility and need to provide citizens with information regarding how they plan to provide protection, ...which even when given, does not negate the responsibility of citizens to ensure their ability to provide protection, and to purchase instruments toward that end if deemed desirable or necessary toward that end.

Atheist Kentucky Homeland Security Lawsuit

The following quotes are from Atheists Want God Out of Kentucky Homeland Security

A group of atheists filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to remove part of a state anti-terrorism law that requires Kentucky's Office of Homeland Security to acknowledge it can't keep the state safe without God's help.

This will be an interesting case and one important not only to the framework but the fabric of future law and life in the United States. It would not surprise me to not only see a united front by Christians behind this issue, but a joining of other theists in the battle of how national and state constitutions are interpreted as either theistic or secular documents... and even moreso whether these documents forbid references to God, or even by their own example provide for the legality of doing so (this being the better and more decisive issue the present case must address). In this light, this case should be seen by theists as a LANDMARK and WATERSHED CASE, and therefore one not to be taken lightly, but one in which FULL support (i.e., prayer, encouragment, finances, mobilization, etc.) is put behind those leading the charge. Beyond this, the example in Kentucky illustrates the good that can come from lawmakers using the wording found in constitutional documents and more broadly applying them to other areas of life and legislation in honoring the divine being. Similar to the methodology of ID propenents, theist supporters of the constitution should see this as the foremost battle, and the question of accompanying Bible verses a separate issue.

It is one of the most egregiously and breathtakingly unconstitutional actions by a state legislature that I've ever seen," said Edwin F. Kagin, national legal director of Parsippany, N.J.-based American Atheists Inc.

While one might question whether the best place to start was by quoting a Bible verse on the plaque, the issue of whether acknowledging "God" is unconstitutional is a separate issue, and one that I believe if properly defended can stand the test. May the officials in Kentucky be encouraged to stay the fight and do so wisely.

"I'm not aware of any other state or commonwealth that is attempting to dump their clear responsibility for protecting their citizens onto God or any other mythological creature," Buckner said.

1. This is no more than the logical fallacy of "an appeal to common practice".
2. It should be noted that every state does have some acknowledgement of the divine in their constitutions.
3. The reference to "mythological" is unproven and requires "burden of proof".

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

C. S. Lewis Quote

Now that I am a Christian I do not have moods in which the whole thing looks very improbable: but when I was an atheist I had moods in which Christianity looked terribly probable.

Border Patrol

What is needed in Britain—and America—is a change in the thinking that naively believes that simply exposing foreign nationals to our way of life means they will "catch" it as they might the flu. Allowing immigrants from nations in which the dominant religion mandates the forced subordination of every other faith (or no faith) and their subjugation through state power under Sharia law, increases the likelihood of more attacks.


Taken from here.

Failure to consider the beliefs of others is not only unwise, but can prove dangerous.

Experienced Journalist on Mubai

I get increasingly uncomfortable with the convention of journalism that requires us to say that so far, we don't know the motives of the people who carried out this week's attacks in Mumbai.

A word like "motive" seems to imply there was reason or purpose. It suggests that, however profane their actions, the terrorists had the incentive of some goal in mind.

But after covering too many killings, as a reporter or host, in Bosnia, Kosovo, Oklahoma City or Somalia, I've come to the conclusion that the perpetrators of such crimes might just be ... evil.

Evil is a word that many people of my generation shrink from using. It seems so imprecise and uneducated — biblical, rather than cerebral and informed.

But there are times and crimes that remind me how often the Bible gets it right.


Taken from here.

Experience is often a good teacher.

When the guards come down, it's interesting the conclusion that experience so often points to.

An Article for "The Way of the Master"

Students cheat, steal, but say they're good


Interesting headline taken from here.

An interesting quote from the same article:

"What is the social cost of that — not to mention the implication for the next generation of mortgage brokers?" Josephson remarked in an interview. "In a society drenched with cynicism, young people can look at it and say 'Why shouldn't we? Everyone else does it."'

Scientist Admits Views were MYTH

Over the last decade, the mineralogical analysis of small hardy crystals known as zircons embedded in old Australian rocks has painted a picture of the Hadean period “completely inconsistent with this myth we made up,” Dr. Harrison said
.

Quote from here.

While still holding to an old earth view, this scientist admits the former view of the early earth held by those espousing an old earth was a "myth".

“The picture that’s emerging is a watery world with normal rock recycling processes,” said Stephen J. Mojzsis, a professor of geology at the University of Colorado who was not involved with the U.C.L.A. research. “And that’s a comforting thought for the origin of life.”


This is another place in the article where it can be taken that scientists now admit holding to an earlier view (myth) that did not provide much "comfort" (i.e. support) for the origin of life. Suppose presuppositions were held even in spite of what they believed the evidence to teach?

Monday, December 1, 2008

CS Milestone

CS Milestone: 75,000 page views!

Somali Pirates and Lawlessness

"We went into the deep ocean and hijacked the unarmed cargo ships," Boyah said.


The pirates had warned of "disastrous" consequences should the owners fail to comply with their demands.


Cruise Ship Attacked by Somali Pirates


Piracy 'out of control'


You Can't Stop Us, Pirate Leader Says


"With no strong deterrent, low risk to the pirates and high returns, the attacks will continue."


Quotes from various sources

A good example of how "lawlessness" must be dealt with or it only escalates and tends to bring about such things as death, theft, and destruction.

Basis for Unbeliever's Argument

The campaign they funded was one of lies and deceit, clearly in violation of the religious tenet of “thou shalt not lie
.”

Quote taken from here,... a statement by a homosexual activist in the debate of Proposition 8


...Ever noticed how unbelievers are left to quote from "religious" (or biblical) tenets when arguing. Obviously, some might suggest that the activists are simply claiming hypocrisy, but if God does not exist and the Scripture is not true, then of what value is the claim "against" hypocrisy?

Seems the activists need to spend more time considering the Scripture they so fondly love to quote.

Some Poor Losers (Proposition 8)

Protesters have defaced some church buildings, and in Arapaho County, Colo., the Sheriff's Office is investigating a possible hate crime — the torching of the Book of Mormon on a church's doorstep.


Actions of some gay activists following the vote on Propostion 8. (Quote from here)

Answering Skeptics (Trustworthiness of Scripture, God's Justice, Personal Responsibility)

The following guidance comes from the Apostle Paul in Romans 9

1. TRUSTWORTHINESS OF SCRIPTURE

When skeptics question the trustworthiness of Scripture (has it come to pass?, Can God's word be trusted?, etc.), remember that often there are deeper issues surrounding this question when raised by skeptics.

First, communicate how you feel concerning the condition of the lost. Whereas Christians are often accused of indifference toward the condition of unbelievers, this is not reflective of the heart of Christ. Note how Jesus mourned over Jerusalem, how Moses asked that his name be blotted out in Exodus 32, and how Paul in Romans 9 was filled with great sorrow and unceasing anguish in his heart over the condition of his lost relatives and countrymen(Romans 9). Communicating one's response and feelings will not only set forth the truth, but also eliminate unnessary distractions which may stand in the way of others hearing and accepting the gospel.

Next, deal with the questions where others question either the trustworthiness of Scripture or Jesus as the Messiah. Typically, one can show the problem is not with God's faithfulness or the trustworthiness of His Word, but unbelief on the part of skeptics and their failure to either interpret Scripture correctly or receive it.

Finally, point out that the skeptic's own unbelief results in their failure to receive the inheritance offered in the promise.

2. JUSTICE OF GOD

When skeptics decry God as unjust because of his election to salvation of some but not others, point out that "mercy" is the basis of God's salvation. The nature of mercy is not conducive to issues of "fairness" or "justice", but operates differently.;

3. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

When skeptics in response to God's purposes in election ask "Why then does God blame us?", responsd by pointing out 1) To denounce God as unjust is not only to try to shift blame to God but to usurp created order and make God accountable to man; 2) The Freedom and Authority of God to do with creatures what he will; 3) The fact that God treats creatures only as their sins deserve (or better!); Even when God judicially hardens the hearts of individuals, he does not violate the freedom or will of the individual, but only provides greater opportunity for the nature of their heart to be more openly revealed.

But note, never end the discussion at this point, After dealing directly with the faulty error of skeptics, turn the discussion again toward God's sovereign grace toward those who are objects of his mercy.

=====
CONCLUDING GUIDANCE: Persuade others with the gospel. "What then shall we say?" v. 30 “What then shall we say?”

If God’s Word is INFALLIBLE (trustworthy & will surely come to pass)
If God’s Ways are characterized by FREEDOM (he is not bound to respond any certain way, but has chosen to grant salv. to those who will believe on his name)
If God’s Wrath & Power & Being is Formidable (He is Beyond Accountability to Us, but has made the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy)
WHAT THEN SHALL WE SAY? HOW SHALL WE RESPOND?

At this point, as it has been written, while some will stumble and fall, the one who trusts in Christ will never be put to shame.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The SBC and Calvinism - James White Responds to the John 3:16 conference

Skeptical of UFOs and Alien Abduction

I was reading this blog post
reviewing this book:



From the review:

This book considers the possibility and probabilities of aliens and UFOs having an extraterrestrial “natural”/evolutionary origin. Are they really space-creatures who journeyed from other planets to meet us? The frequency of sightings, the distances from which they must come and resultant time involved, along with the lack of any evidence of these beings communicating with us through radio waves or other indirect methods – or even signs of entrance into our atmosphere, make such an explanation virtually impossible. The UFOs and beings act in a way more consistent with an inter-dimensional being (yes, in the scientific, physics sense). They appear and disappear, change shape, and move at velocities that defy the laws of motion.

Are the aliens good? Are they our space brothers sent to help us reach the next stage of our evolution? No, they are known liars (until we discovered there was no life on the moon, they said they were from the moon, the Mars, then Venus, then every other planet in our galaxy until they said they were from the Pleiades and Sirius and far away stars systems; their foretelling of future events has also proven false) whose impact on lives is in the negative. They create pain, confusion, withdrawal from friends and family, and fear in their contactees. Certainly some people become willing to endure these encounters, and enjoy the profit and attention generated by their experiences. Many people have ended up harming themselves and others, submitting themselves to abuse or even death, as a result of encounters with these beings.

I am pleased to see that someone is flexhing out and exposing what I have been thinking about on the whole phenomenon. I'll be adding this book to my collection.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hitchens - Wilson Debate - the video

Link to video here
I am watching it now - excellent, thus far.

Edited to add - thanks to Brian for the link to the audio in the comments.

Behind the scenes articles here.

Thoughts:

Earlier, Hitchens warns against solipism, yet uses a solipistic argument to rebut the destruction of the Amalekites. Transliterated - Wilson - "According to your worldview, the universe doesn't care, so it doesn't matter." Hitchens - "Not if I am an Amalekite."

I think that Wilson allows Hitchens to pull him off onto rabbit trails.

Then Hitchens argues that if most religions are false, it is likely all are.

Liked the David Hume discussion.

Hitchens uses humor to deflect Wilson's rebuttals.

I really like the section on the resurrection as the foundational miracle from which the veracity of all other miracles is measured.

Like the mention of healthy skepticism - Christian skepticism being the healthiest type, of course!
1 Thess 5:21 :)

I am glad Wilson called him on some of the strawmen he introduced.

Ah! The partial preterism argument!

Now to the Golden Rule - which Christians qualify with the Shema.

And now the POE...which Christians, particularly Calvinists, can answer consistently with Romans 8:28 (among others).

Using tryanny to describe God is anthropomorphism.

Hitchens uses the same technique he says despises in Christianity - using pathos (emotions) to rebut logos (reason).

This debate highlights why there is no neutral ground in apologetics.

I think that Wilson should clearly articulate his position:

1. Any worldview or religion introduced into their debate other than the Reformed Christian worldview is a red-herring.

2. The Reformed Christian position on the Bible is that it is a consistent collection of timeless truth tested over the course of centuries and must be considered over the breadth of its teachings and any attempted decontextualization is deceptive and disengenuous.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Atheistic Bathroom Literature

After enjoying a meal with family at a restaurant last night, my son went and then returned from the bathroom with the story that someone had placed literature in the restroom asking the question "What do you miss out on by being a Christian?" (the back of the card solicited phone calls for those interested in living as "non Christians) ... to which we discounted and responded by saying "hell, for starters", but that is only to speak of the eternal reality that unbelievers should take seriously, but doesn't begin to touch on the rest of the realities. (For those interested in finding out more, read Romans 5 & Romans 8 and then give thought to what the opposite entails!)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Happiness is the Lord

Happy people spend a lot of time socializing, going to church and reading newspapers — but they don’t spend a lot of time watching television, a new study finds.

That’s what unhappy people do.

Although people who describe themselves as happy enjoy watching television, it turns out to be the single activity they engage in less often than unhappy people, said John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the author of the study, which appeared in the journal Social Indicators Research.


Quote from here.

Go to church and be happy!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Majority Rule - The Problem With

The measure, Proposition 8, amends the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman only.

Supporters of gay rights have vowed to fight the move, saying majority rule should not set the law.


Quote taken from here.

"Majority Rule" is often lifted up by unbelivers as a standard/rule for ethics, but I guess when it doesn't go your way, even this can be set aside. Why not just begin with "Everyone does what is right in his own mind". (Oh yeah, that doesn't work either when other's desires conflict with the individual's desires or well being).

OH, when will sinners find a standard that suits all their interests?

Illustration of Regeneration

As scientists are talking now about resurrecting extinct species by the use of DNA (i.e., using design information), we now have a good illustration on a physical level of what God does on a spiritual level in not only giving new life but creating anew with an orientation toward one's original design! :)

God Enough by Steve Paulson: Christian Skeptism of New Scientific Worldview

Once one gets beyond reductionism, it leads to a radically new scientific worldview, which changes our place in the universe as human beings. We are not meaningless chunks of particles spinning around in space. We are organisms with meaning in our lives, and the way the biosphere will evolve is ceaselessly creative. The way the economy evolves is ceaselessly creative in ways that cannot be predicted ahead of time. That's why five-year plans don't work. The same thing for human culture.


I'm saying God is the sacredness of nature. And you can go a step beyond that. You can say that God is nature. That's the God of Spinoza. That's the God that Einstein believed in. But their view of the universe was deterministic. The new view is that evolution of the universe is partially lawless and ceaselessly creative. We are the children of that creativity.


Quotes from here (God Enough by Steve Paulson).

Interesting Article - both in that you have a recognized secular humanist scientist who admits science doesn't explain everything (and results in meaninglessness according to the current scientific reductionism model) and that he then goes on to try to attribute creativity, consciousness, etc. to the universe.

Let me state that while it excites me to see a secular humanist scientist open up and admit much of we find in this article, at first read it appears this new scientific worldview is nothing more than a combination of scientism and current philosophy (existential/post-modern).

Trust me, this is not only a fascinating read, but one worth everyone's attention, for as Stuart Kaufman has admitted, the current hope in scientific reductionism does not provide satisfaction and leads to the nihilism associated with naturalism taken to it's ultimate end. The only "natural" solution is to affirm "agency" and if one cannot credit God with that, then one is left to generate some other origin and place responsible for it, and what better place for unbelievers to try to posit it than in nature, and what better time than when philosophers are suggesting that humans give meaning to the universe. This is not just emergence in the sense Kaufman speaks of it but emergence of secular science and philosophy. All this to say that it will behoove Christians on all levels to familiarize themselves with this article, for if my guess is right, we'll see much more of this in the future, the only question depends on how long it gets tied up in the humanist ranks first and then how many different forms (and what predominant form) it takes when it becomes a major worldview, which I believe will be the case.

While there is SO MUCH to discuss and point out in this article, from Kaufman's poor exegesis of Scripture, to the inconsistencies in his statements, to the baseless assumptions/assertions he makes, etc.; I simply post this much this evening with the intention of providing a more detailed response in the near future. Read up, for this will not be the last time you see this, I guarantee it. (In the mean time, take a look in the coming days at the stir I'm sure this will cause in the atheist/humanist camps, especially since Kaufman outright states he thinks Dawkins is wrong, but makes specific mention to differences with the new atheism!

"Culture" Considerations and Debate

Some sage advice from Carl Trueman at Reformation 21 on Christians dealing with arguments involving "culture", especially in a post modern environment.

...am I alone in being sick to death of all the trendy talk about `culture'? A biblical approach to reality seems to involve, first and foremost, a commitment to the notion of essences. Culture is very real but, as a social construct it is not the ultimate reality; nor is it, therefore, the ultimate reality. This seems to me the problem with much postmodernism: it's obsession with culture at the expense of essence has created moral chaos. For example, how can one have inalienable human rights when there is no inalienable human nature? Hence the silliness on the left these days where ... moral equivalence arguments are made between feudal genocide, as in Saddam's Iraq, and poverty in post-feudal democracies. Any Marxist knows that capitalist democracy, for all its faults, is superior to feudalism in every way. Christians should take a leaf from the books of the palaeo-Marxists and return to talking about nature and essence, not culture.

...It also reminds the church, I think, that cultural change is not her primary task. But that's another story.


Full post here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dr. Al Mohler on the Strategy of Public Relations for a New Spirit for Positive Atheism

All this makes for interesting reading and media attention, but it's hard to see that the average American will see this new approach as reassuring. The fact remains that atheism, by definition, is a worldview based on the denial of God's existence. Atheists may attempt to create rituals, ceremonies, and practices that mimic Christian traditions, but this serves only to point to the infinite emptiness at the heart of the atheist worldview.

I think I can understand why atheists are concerned about public relations. A kinder, gentler atheism might sell better in the public square. But it remains what it is -- a worldview that denies the existence of a divine Creator, Redeemer, or Judge.


Quote taken from here.

Fox News - Yvonne Fulbright - "I Kissed a Girl and I Liked It - Embracing Your Sexual Fluidity"

Years ago, I was at a party in Reykjav√≠k, Iceland, where an attractive Swedish fellow was flirting with both men and women. When someone actually dared to ask about his sexual orientation, the man’s reply was classic: “I'm sexual.”

What I loved about this response is that he didn’t allow himself to be defined. His sexuality was fluid, which is the best mindset to have in exploring your sexual potential.

After all, everyone has the potential to be erotically, romantically or affectionately attracted to anybody. Looking at your sexual potential as black or white — as society has taught us — is what can confine our inner nature, longings and curiosities. Looking at your sexuality rigidly — as either gay or straight — limits your erotic imagination.


Quote taken from here.

Carry the logic and method of the above statement to it's natural ends, what prohibits polygamy, adultery, beastiality, etc?

The point is to take one truth (humans are "sexual") while failing to take into consideration other truths (humans differ in gender; potential alone cannot always be equated with what's right or best; not to mention natural and divine law) is not wise nor does it usually end in the best advice.

Fox News, a station which often speaks of other company's responsibilities for what they publish, should be (A)SHAMED for hiring Yvonne Fulbright and for promoting the trash she writes.

Roos to Rodents to Robert

Humans and kangaroos last shared an ancestor at least 150 million years ago, the researchers found, while mice and humans diverged from one another only 70 million years ago.

Kangaroos first evolved in China, but migrated across the Americas to Australia and Antarctica, they said.

"Kangaroos are hugely informative about what we were like 150 million years ago," Graves said.


Quote taken from here.


Help me with the logic, someone! If "Humans and kangaroos last shared an ancestor at least 150 million years ago, ... while mice and humans diverged from one another only 70 million years ago" and if "Kangaroos are hugely informative about what we were like 150 million years ago," .... THEN does that mean mice are hugely informative about what we were like 70 million years ago? Interesting transition, particularly if our former ancesters went from ability to get around on two legs to crawling again on four. Just think what humans might be like in another 70 million years... we might just be like cockroaches on our way to a greater humanity.

(Note: I recognize evolutionists would say my argument doesn't take into account developments of kangaroos in the last 150 million years, etc., but the statement that kangaroos are "hugely informative" about "what we were like" (without stating what information that is) tends to give the impression we were like what people see in kangaroos today)

Catchy Facebook Group Name

There's a group called: "As a former fetus, I'm opposed to abortion."

Archaeology and Love (Oldest Nuclear Family Murdered)

"You feel some kind of sympathy for them, it's a human thing, somebody must have really cared for them. Normally you should be careful in archaeological research not to allow feelings in that make us base judgements on modern ideas, we don't know how hard daily life was back there and if there was any space for love."


Quote taken from here.

Interesting both: 1) How in this discovery and investigation it appears that following the murder of this family someone buried them with the children in the arms of the parents; and 2) how the expert states "The care with which the bodies were laid out shows that whoever buried them must have known who they were" and then "somebody must have really cared for them" ... but then goes on in the SAME statement to say "we don't know how hard daily life was back there and if there was any space for love."

Israelites, the Soul, and Cremation

University of Chicago archaeologists who made the discovery last summer in ruins of a walled city near the Syrian border said the stele provided the first written evidence that the people in this region held to the religious concept of the soul apart from the body. By contrast, Semitic contemporaries, including the Israelites, believed that the body and soul were inseparable, which for them made cremation unthinkable, as noted in the Bible.


The above quote was taken from NYTimes Article "Found: An Ancient Monument to the Soul"

The statement that Israelites "believed that the body and sould were inseparable" and that this is what made "cremation unthinkable" for them is not correct, particularly those quoted in the Bible. See the following for just a few examples:

Paul - "We are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord." (II Cor 5:8) "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (1 Cor 15:50)

Jesus "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Mt 10:28)

Job - "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" (Job 19:25-27)

The reason the Israelites were opposed to cremation is that they believed the body as well as the soul was given by God and therefore should be treated with honor, and if you study the Scriptures you'll find that the burning of the body was typically associated with dishonor (for example, it was a type death often experienced by evil kings, etc.)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Old Testament Tithing vs. New Testament Giving

The idea that every believer is obligated to tithe (give ten per cent of their
income to the work of God) is widespread in the evangelical church today. Most
Christians receive teaching on tithing early in their spiritual lives. Some
churches believe so strongly in tithing that their members regularly recite the
Tither's Creed -- "The tithe is the Lord's. In truth we learned it. In faith we
believe it. In joy we give it. The tithe!" Other preachers have claimed that
anyone who does not give a tithe to the work of God is robbing God and under a
curse according to Malachi 3:8-10. In this pamphlet, we will examine the
Biblical teaching on the subject of the tithe with a view to understanding what
relevance it has to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ living under the New
Covenant. We will do so by examining what the Bible has to say about tithing 1)
before the Law was given; 2) under the Mosaic Law; and 3) in the New Testament
Scriptures.


Full sermon here and here

One of the clearest teachings on the subject I have seen.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Tim Keller (the Veritas Forum)

Marriage and Dogma

When someone says "Marriage is defined by love not dogma", is this not itself dogma? Is this concept not someones' arbitrary preference based on someones' self-declared authority? If the placard was honest it would say what they really mean which is: "marriage is defined by my dogma, not yours.


From Marriage is Not Defined by Dogma at Reformation Theology

Friday, November 14, 2008

Which Gospel?

Phil Johnson posted this excerpt from Spurgeon over at Pyromaiacs.
Thanks!!!

There's nothing new under the sun!

Someone demands, "How am I to know which is the gospel?"

You may know it by searching the Scriptures.

"But one sect says this, and another sect says the reverse."

What have you to do with the sects? Read the Book of God for yourself.

"But some men do read it and arrive at one opinion, and some maintain the opposite, and thus they contradict themselves, and yet are equally right."

Who told you that? That is impossible. Men cannot be equally right when they contradict each other. There is a truth and there is a falsehood; if yes be true, no is false. It may be true that good men have held different opinions, but are you responsible for what they may have held, or are you to gather that because they were good personally, therefore everything they believed was true? No, but this Book is plain enough; it is no nose of wax that everybody may shape to what form he likes. There is something taught here plainly and positively, and if a man will but give his mind to it, by God's grace he may find it out
.

Black Liberation Theology Surfaces Following Obama's Win

“It’s ushered in a new generation of leadership,” said Mr. Brawley, 40, the incoming pastor of Saint Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn. “It symbolizes the Moses generation passing the baton to the Joshua generation. So the Obama presidency presents us with both an opportunity and a challenge.”


“There’s a growing tension for those of us who’ve been mentored by the Moses generation but are part of the Joshua generation,” Mr. Bennett, 42, said in a telephone interview. “The challenge for us is to get out in front of everything that’s changing — high tech, the desire for personal experience in worship, social networking — and still stay connected to the social-justice struggle.”


Quotes taken from here.

While the quotes could simply refer to "transfer of leadership", the references to Moses' generation (which experienced bondage) and Joshua's generation (which did not) is telling, especially given the religions issues related to Obama leading up to the election.

While such references will not be helpful politically, they certainly are not helpful when it comes to display and communication of the true gospel and the renewed and transformed thinking it calls for.

India's Poverty and Worldview

I had lunch with a man yesterday with whom I was discussing worldviews. I brought up the article I read last week about how in India they are having to hire "cowboys" to round up cattle in some of their cities. He made a thoughtful point about how there are so many in poverty in India yet they have an abundance of livestock (and other resources) but because of their beliefs will not touch them. The problem, on one level or in some situations, is not the lack of resources, but a faulty worldview. Note in the following video in a few of the scenes illustrating the poverty, there are goats and pigs (and we know of the overabundance of cattle) living right alongside those either in poor health or starving to death.



Reminds me of the joke that's told about the man stranded on an island who after stating God would save him rejected a boat and then a helicopter. After death, he went to heaven and cried to God "Why did you not save me?", to which God replied I sent you both a boat and a helicopter, why did you pass up the help I sent?

===== Just as noteworthy in the video is the illustration of the bondage some find themselves in on a physical level which they cannot repay. The same is true on a spiritual level of all mankind, though unlike the taskmaster in India, God has provided that there might be freedom, by paying the debt himself and providing freedom from bondage for those who are objects of his grace and come to him through faith in Christ.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

John Frame On Education

"To those who are offended by the advocacy of religion in the classroom, it should be replied that Christians have just as much right to be offended by the teaching of various secular philosophies, which disavow our need for God. Christians ought to express this offense (including their offense at having to pay for this brainwashing with their taxes) more consistently and severely. Why should offensive teaching be limited to “religious” expression in some arbitrarily narrow sense? Of course, if a more evenhanded view of these matters were to prevail, we would all have to accept equally the burden of possibly being offended, or we should eliminate public education entirely. Education in which people of all convictions are enrolled, but in which no one is offended, is not worthy of the name."

From Apologetics To The Glory Of God, Footnote 3, p. 33

Gospel and Culture Website

I just received information stating a new website has been launched by The Gospel and Culture Project. Looks promising enough to add to favorites.

Distinguishing between Torture and Interrogation

"We are all opposed to torture, but there's some careful thinking that has to go on, ... Aggressive interrogation of enemy combatants, he said, is different than torture, and governed by international conventions.
Alan Wisdom, vice president for research and programs at the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD)


Quote found here.

The reason I post this is for the promotion of truth. Alan Wisdom, as his name suggests, is one of the first I've seen to make this differentiation. I'm thankful for it as I believe this distinction to be both needed and useful in the debate, in crafting policy, and in providing protection for people in the future.

The Scripture makes it clear:
1. Rulers have the role and responsibility of protection.
2. If one wants to be free from fear of the one in authority, then they should do what is right.
3. Withholding information which can lead to or result in the unnecessary or unrighteous loss of life is wrong (/sinful) ... and should not only not be tolerated but the righteous have responsibility (when applicable) to do what is righteous and necessary to prevent such loss of life.


Even experience shows that motivations and purposes must be distinguished when judging a particular action. For example, one may cut the skin of a human either for the purpose of good or for the purpose of evil (for example - for a medical procedure or an assault). Likewise, when it comes to government practices, one must distinguish between the purpose and motivations behind the practice.

This being said, whether water-boarding should be an acceptable practice for interrogation is a good question for debate; however, to fail to distinguish between the same techniques as a practice of torture and as a tool for interrogation is to show lack of understanding.

Secular Humanist Morality

Human beings are social primates. So they have basic feelings of empathy and sociality built in, just as do other social primates like chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, baboons, and the like. These animals don’t get their social behavior from Scripture and neither do you. Morality finds its roots in human nature.


The above quote from the American Humanist Association is taken from here

Question: If morality finds its roots in HUMAN nature, how did the gorillas and chimpanzees get theirs?

Think of all the issues this raises: separate moralities?, should we do what primates do(to what extent, and who decides, and if there are different moralities - how can anyone say other's are wrong, and then where's accountability, etc.). Are we supposed to act based on all natural instincts? Not only this, but if morality finds its roots in human nature, then how can you cast off certain beliefs or values of individuals even if they differ from the majority (and if you do, who decides, etc.)? The list could go on and on.

Once again, humanism is unlivable with any real meaning, significance, or rational foundation and basis for accountability.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Strong Words on Abortion

"We have lost perhaps 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution, and that is a horrible, horrible thing to answer to," said Bishop Robert J. Hermann, administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.

"I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about the end of abortion," he said. "If we're willing to die tomorrow to bring about the end of abortion, then we should be willing to spend the end of our lives dedicated, to take whatever criticism, to bring about the end to this genocide."


Quote taken from here

It's great to see strong words like this on this subject!

Six Rebuttals to Six Common Pro-Abortion Arguments

These are common objections to the pro-life position. Here are my rebuttals.


......

1. “Few people are ‘pro-abortion’. But we recognize that abortion is a necessary evil. There are just not enough resources to go around, to cover the burden of millions of new sickly or unwanted babies. Aborting them in the womb is more human that letting them live and watching them struggle with hardship and survival. It’s just to simplistic to say, let em all live. Maybe there will come a day when abortion is no longer necessary, but in the meantime, we must keep it safe, legal, and rare.”

Response: Many people were not "pro-slavery" either. They said, "We are not “pro-slavery” but we recognize that slavery is a necessary evil. There are just not enough resources to go around to cover the burden of millions of new free blacks. Keeping them enslaved is more humane than freeing them and watching them struggle with hardship and survival. It's just too simplistic to say, let em all go. Maybe there will come a day when slavery is no longer necessary, but in the meantime, society must work to keep it safe, legal, and rare

  1. In 1973 the Supreme Court declared abortion legal in Roe vs Wade. End of discussion.

Response: In 1857, the Supreme Court declared slavery legal in the Dred Scott decision. End of discussion.

  1. Look, if you believe abortion is immoral, don’t do it. But don’t tell me not to.

Response: Look, if you believe child molesting is immoral, don’t do it. But don’t tell me not to.

  1. Science will tell us what we need to know about abortion.

Response: Science can tell you that a fetus is viable, but not that a fetus is valuable. Science can tell you the size of the fetus, but not the worth of the fetus. Science can’t tell us what we need to know about abortion (if it’s right or wrong and whether the unborn child is worthy of legal protection). Christians are not pro-life because they don’t care about science. Rather, the very nature of science prevents it from settling the abortion issue.

  1. “Abortion is humane if it relieves suffering and rescues the child from an unwanted life.”

Response: Infanticide is humane if it relieves suffering and rescues the child from an unwanted life (Peter Singer, an atheist and Bioethicist at Princeton has argued this for years; what ethical or rational difference, he says, can a few centimeters in the birth canal actually make?)

  1. “People should not base their abortion policy preferences on their worldview or religion. Keep that stuff at home.”
Response: Abortion is about ethics and abortion policy is about public ethics. Ethics are based upon worldviews or religions, unless they are arbitrarily decided (flipping a coin, for instance). Abortion is contentious because it involves a conflict of worldviews. To say that Christians should keep their worldview at home is neither democratic nor respectful of the free exercise clause. In our democracy, if the Christian may not decide abortion policy preferences based upon his worldview (man made in God’s image has intrinsic value and worth), then the non-Christian may not decide abortion views based upon his/her worldview either. But that reduces all policy preferences to pure arbitrary choice. That is, if everyone somehow divorced their opinions from their worldview (which is not logically possible), then all policy must be decided from a purely arbitrary process. If so, then abortion is just as likely to be “right” as it is “wrong” and so are laws protecting women’s rights and children’s rights for that matter. We’ll just flip for everything to make sure our worldviews are not involved.
......

Reincarnation of Buddha (Christian Skepticism of Buddhism, Eastern Pantheistic Monism)

See Teen 'Reincarnation of Buddha' Draws Crowds

Questions:
1. If only one impersonal element constitutes reality, why come to "God" for blessing?
2. Why come to "this" God for blessing if each and every human being IS God. (Though some are just unenlightenened and don't know it yet.)
3. If human beings in their essence or their truest, fullest being are impersonal, is this why "this" God separates himself from humanity and goes off to live in the jungle ("months without moving, sitting with his eyes closed beneath a tree.")
?
4. While the going without food in the jungle has not been verified, what about the imperfections found on his chin?
5. If pure consciousness is "not" consciousness, but pure being; has not this God lowered himself in leaving meditation to communicate consciously with others?
6. If realizing one's oneness with the cosmos is to pass beyond good and evil (and to distinguish), then is not coming back to "bless" (or do "good") to others inconsistent?
7. If death is the end of individual and personal existence (i.e., there's a disappearance of a person at death and simply the reconstitutions of another person from the five aggregates or existence factors)... and if all that which is personal in this world is an illusion... then why refer to this God as the reincarnation of Buddha? (While Atman may survive, Atman is impersonal, therefore to assert the reincarnation of something personal is inconsistent; while there's )
8. Isn't there an inconsistency between a goal of being in a state where "all distinctions disappear" and then distinguishing between this God and Buddha?

"Why Believe in a God" Ad Campaign

Ads proclaiming, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake," will appear on Washington, D.C., buses starting next week and running through December.


Article here

While humanists are running the ad to try to "plant a seed of rational thought and critical thinking", their own ad raises the very question they prescribe as the solution. Tim Wildmon puts it well in the article when he says "It's a stupid ad," he said. "How do we define 'good' if we don't believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what's good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what's good, it's going to be a crazy world." The point is that apart from God, there is no basis for believing in any ultimate good or goodness, much less reason for participating in it. In fact, if "survival of the fittest" is the dictating issue, then there would certainly be cases where being "good" actually works against the ultimate good and against one's own good. Not only that, but if one is to be good only for "goodness" sake, then why would it not be equally true or acceptable for one to be bad for "badness" sake? Apart from truth and recognizing the reality of God, the absolutes that derive from his nature, the righteousness in living in accord with his nature and purpose for our lives, and the recognition of personal accountability; not only are the value systems suggested by humanists meaningless and without reason, but ought to cause questioning in people's minds not concerning theism which has foundations, but the very system being suggested. In the wisdom of God, isn't it interesting how "unreasonable" the thoughts of those who seek to claim wisdom and reason apart from God!

As the humanists are providing a website for those attracted by the ad; let me also suggest those interested in finding out more about how the Christian/theist worldview proves superior (even more "reasonable") than naturalism, atheistic existentialism (and the likes)talk with us here at Christian Skepticism. For those who simply want something to read, try "The Universe Next Door" by James Sire. Let us hear from you, for Christmas is not a time to be "alone" in the world huddled around those who espouse a way of life that is meaningless and cannot account for values, but rather a time for coming to the knowledge of the truth and grace which God sets before us and offers through the person of his Son, who has come into the world that we might no longer walk in darkness but be reconciled and united to him through the light of the gospel.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Intellectuals - Is it Enough?

As Mr. Obama prepares to take office, I wish I could say that smart people have a great record in power. They don’t. Just think of Emperor Nero, who was one of the most intellectual of ancient rulers — and who also killed his brother, his mother and his pregnant wife; then castrated and married a slave boy who resembled his wife; probably set fire to Rome; and turned Christians into human torches to light his gardens. Nicholas D. Kristof in "Obama and the War on Brains", NYTimes


Quote from here.

A good example of how even God's greatest gifts to man can be abused if faith is absent and one is governed by the flesh rather than grounded in truth and led by the Spirit seeking to fulfill the righteousness of God from whom he received the intellect itself.

It's no different than a gun, or one's money, or one's strength, or one's influence, etc., all which depending on the orientation and heart of the possessor can be used for good or evil.

Mormons Posthumous Baptism of Holocost Jews

Posthumous baptism by proxy allows faithful Mormons to have their ancestors baptized into the 178-year-old church, which they believe reunites families in the afterlife.


Sorry Mormons, but what unites people in the afterlife is being saved by the covenant of grace and being united to Christ. Baptism is simply a sign and seal of the covenant which must be enterred through faith, not the posthumous works of others!

Using genealogy records, the church also baptizes people who have died from all over the world and from different religions. Mormons stand in as proxies for the person being baptized and immerse themselves in a baptismal pool.


Sorry again, but Jesus Christ is the only mediator who stands between God and man for salvation. And while water can cleanse the outward body, only the Spirit of God can cleanse the heart.

.... Quotes taken from here.

Wilson - Hitchens Debate

Why should any of us care about the effeminate judgments of history? Should the propagators of these "horrors" have cared? There is no God, right? Because there is no God, this means that—you know—genocides just happen, like earthquakes and eclipses. It is all matter in motion, and these things happen.

If you are on the receiving end, there is only death, and if you are an agent delivering this genocide, the long-term result is brief victory and death at the end. So who cares? Douglas Wilson in debate against Christopher Hitchens


See here for Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens debate.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Reason and Faith on Future Hope

For the creation was subjected to frustration,...


Is not the past century a standing commentary on this verse? Our knowledge leaps exponentially and our problems no less so. Books proliferate and ignorance abounds, harvests increase and hunger spreads, production grows and poverty deepens. Mechanization makes our lives easier but threatens our worth as persons, and the time it saves us reveals only the meaninglessness of life around us. People live longer but fear growing old, they worship sex but fear getting pregnant. Counselors, clinics, and agencies abound, but the divorce rate soars and youth lose their way. Symbolic of it all is nuclear weaponry which, with each advance in technology, makes the world less secure. Human solutions, which once rose like a Phoenix from the ases of the past, return like Harpies to prey upon us! James Edwards


Were bondage to decay the only thing the world knew, or its final state, then despair would be the only possible result. But creation has been given the promise that it will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God


That the groanings of creation will one day open up to the glory of sonship is a certainty not based on rational observation but on claiming the promise of God in faith.


Powerful.

Christians and Politics

So it is with politics. Its outcomes are not our greatest joy when they go our way, and not demoralizing when they don't. Political life is for making much of Christ whether the world falls apart or holds together.


Excellent article on Christians and politics by John Piper at World Magazine (Marry, Cry, Rejoice, Buy)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

What Communion Means - a brief study

What Communion means...

...to me
A reminder - of the great sacrifice - the body broken, the blood shed (Luke 22:19-20) - that is a pale shadow of the great spiritual sacrifice (2 Cor.5:21)
A warning - to practice it in a worthy manner and examine myself as a true disciple of Christ or eat and drink judgment on myself (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
A comfort - that speaks of the finished work of Christ in my salvation and that none of it relies on my pitiful efforts (Eph 2:8-10)

...to the church
A time for community - as we welcome and share with those around us (Romans 15:5-7)
A time for unity - with the greater catholic/universal church - past, present and future (1 Cor 10:16-17 1CO 12:13)
A time for love - for God and our neighbor (John 17:11)

...to God
A way of worship in Spirit and Truth that He commands and accepts (1CO 11:23)
A common means of His grace - a simple statement that it is all about Him, but to our benefit (Heb 7 & 10)
A glorification of the Son - the true purpose of this creation and the task of the Bride (John 17:10)

Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-25