Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Christian Response to Eckhart Tolle on Death



Difference between Eckhart Tolle and Christianity on the subject of Death

Whereas Tolle speaks as if only to come to "accept" death is enough, the Christian "overcomes" death (thorough resurrection & through God ultimately destroying death).

Whereas Tolle suggests one is fine as long as one comes simply to "admit" guilt; Christianity recognizes atonement must be made. (For example, suppose a murderer stood before a judge and said "Okay, I ADMIT I did wrong. Will a righteous judge respond by saying "confession" alone is enough, you're free to go? No punishment or restitution is in order? If a human judge should not do this, then do you think the righteous judge of all the earth will do so?)

Whereas Tolle looks life in the past when death arrives (i.e., through surrender the flower "had" happened); Christianity looks to life eternal which continues.

Whereas Tolle suggests that death no longer matters when the "thought forms die", Christianity recognizes that while one can come to accept death, death still is significant - it separates us our soul from our bodies, it temporally separates us from our loved ones, and death itself is real foe which causes real harm - that's why Jesus did not look upon death as no big deal, but even prayed "If it be possible may this cup be taken from me..."

While Tolle suggests it's enough simply to "find death before death finds you", Christianity recognizes that simply coming to "accept" death (in Tolle's way of thinking) does not do away with the power, effects or consequences of death.

While Tolle suggests that man alone can solve the problems of death, Christianity teaches it was necessary for God himself to send his Son to die that we may have victory over it.

While Tolle suggests one a "few human beings" have come to deal with death victoriously; Christianity points out that all those who have and will believe on Jesus Christ will overcome death.

While Tolle's position (in this video) appears to be that of annihilation, Christianity consistently recognizes the eternal character of the life found in Christ even through death.
Christ

Skeptical of Relationship involving Corporal Punishment

Haleigh would not give investigators specifics about the events surrounding her injury. She only said that the Stricklands used corporal punishment regularly during her childhood.


The above quote comes from an article from FoxNews about a girl who has arisen from a vegitative state of consciousness and communicated with officers about physical abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of her adoptive mother and step father.

While the article states that the girl "would not give investigators specifics about the events surrounding her injury", the JOURNALIST COMBINES this fact with the statement that "She only said that the Stricklands used CORPORAL PUNISHMENT REGULARLY during her childhood. [CAPS, my emphasis]

By joining these two statements together, (which on one level both address what the girl was willing to communicate) tends to raise the question if not make the suggest that corporal punishment is related to or the cause of the physical abuse. I'm skeptical of whether corporal punishment (especially if referring to that which is biblical in nature) results or resulted in a girl in a vegetative state.

This is either poor journalism, or a journalist with an agenda.

Skeptical of “Unity” at the Expense of Orthodoxy

"Divisions and separations are most objectionable in religion. They weaken the cause of true Christianity ...But before we blame people for them, we must be careful that we lay the blame where it is deserved. False doctrine and heresy are even worse than schism. If people separate themselves from teaching that is positively false and unscriptural, they ought to be praised rather than reproved. In such cases separation is a virtue and not a sin." - J. C. Ryle

It has often been suggested that doctrine is a bad thing is a church, because doctrine is divisive. It is a sad case when brothers in Christ reject each other as persons over doctrinal issues, but doctrine itself is what defines the true faith. Doctrine is important, and the Bible says more about sound doctrine than it does about unity. The importance of Doctrine, particularly the infallibility of Scripture, can be seen in the following case.

In 1936, J. Gresham Machen, along with several other Presbyterian Ministers, were defrocked by the northern Presbyterian church (PCUSA) for opposing the move to modernism (liberal) theology at Princeton. The result was a new denomination, the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Since the break off, the PCUSA has involved itself in several modern heresies, such as Sophia Worship.

Now this…

Presbyterian church court rules on gay unions

“the Permanent Judicial Council's ruling affirmed the right of same-sex couples to have unions, a ceremony that would theoretically have a distinct liturgy.

The ambivalent ruling - affirming the rights of gays and lesbians to have their relationships sanctioned by the church but not considering them equal to those of heterosexual couples - is likely to disappoint both sides in the debate.”

To be clear, I do believe that there are true Christians in the PCUSA, just like there are in the Roman Catholic Church. However, it is obvious that the PCUSA as a whole has moved further from Orthodox Christianity than even Machen could have imagined. Methinks that Machen was right on, and thankfully separated himself from goats.

China: Beyond the Dalai Lama

Media has focused on events and circumstances surrounding Tibetan monks in view of the upcoming Olympics. I came across the following post this morning. While this may not receive much attention in the news, it is no less real. Should China have to answer for treatment of Christians as well?

Christians on trial in China

A Uyghur Christian in Xinjiang, Mr. Alimujiang Yimiti, is expected to be sentenced in China this month. Alimujiang was secretly detained on 12 January and accused of subversion of the national government and endangering national security, a crime which can carry the death penalty.



Alimujiang Yimiti (Alimjan Yimit in Uyghur) was working as a project manager for a British company, Jirehouse, known in Xinjiang as Xinjiang Jiaerhao Foodstuff Company. The company was targeted in a series of closures of foreign companies belonging to Christians in Xinjiang in September 2007 and Alimujiang was accused of illegal religious activities. He was subsequently taken into detention and is reported to be currently held in Kashi detention centre. His lawyer was denied a meeting with him on 25 February on grounds of national security. Those close to him say there is no proof of wrongdoing and are gravely concerned about the high level of secrecy surrounding his case.



Alimujiang is married with two young children. His family are deeply concerned for his welfare and fear that he may receive a death sentence at the outcome of his trial this month. Described as a quiet and very professional young man, his arrest has come as a complete shock to his friends and family. Those close to him believe that Alimujiang, who comes from a Muslim background, has been targeted for his Christian faith. Xinjiang has been the site of a serious crackdown on Christians in the last year and even the limited religious freedoms protected in China are further restricted in Xinjiang.



Concern has been expressed that Alimujiang could be wrongly targeted as a separatist or terrorist. However Alimujiang has repeatedly stated during interrogation that as a Christian he loves and supports the Chinese Government, something which many Uyghurs are unable to do due to resentment of the Han Chinese in Xinjiang.



Another Uyghur Christian, Wusiman Yiming (35), is due in court this Wednesday, 16 April. He is a former employee of Xinjiang Pacific Agricultural Resources Development Company Ltd. The company was run by an outspoken Christian American businessman who was expelled from China and had his business shut down. The Detention Notice states that Wusiman was put under criminal detention on 19 November 2007 on suspicion of disclosing state secrets. He was sentenced to two years of re-education through labour on 27 November 2007. The Decision Statement on Re-education through Labour states: “During his work at Luofu County Branch of Xinjiang Pacific Agricultural Resources Development Company, Ltd. From March 1998 to April 2004, he assisted foreigners in illegal activities”. He has appealed and the hearing is on Wednesday. We would especially ask for your prayers for him in the run up to the hearing. A number of people around the world are praying and fasting for him before and during the trial and sources have asked us to suggest that joining this effort would be much appreciated. You could also mention Wusiman in any letters that you write regarding Alimujiang.


You can help by sending an urgent letter of concern to the Chinese Embassy:


Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong

Chinese Embassy in the United States

2300 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.

Washington D.C. 20008

Could it Be: PETA Consistent; CHRISTIANS Acting Inconsistent?

The Scriptures tell us that animals are soulless creatures, and will perish with the rest of creation. We will not see them while our souls rest with God; when Christ returns and our bodies are resurrected, we will live in the new heavens and new earth—where there may be new, not resurrected, animals.

If we fail to understand our own doctrines, more and more Americans will begin to accept the idea that animals and humans are morally equivalent—and animal-rights activists may press on to their ultimate goals: eliminating animal agriculture and banning scientific research that uses animals—jeopardizing the development of life-saving medicines. And, as Singer proposes in his utilitarian system of ethics, activists would seek to allocate scarce resources fairly among animals and humans. (Fido's operation will create greater happiness than keeping Uncle Ben on life support.)


Good article for thought: Keeping Pets in Their Place

This is another one of those areas where people recognize something's wrong, but don't know exactly what to say, know they will be ostracized by those around them if they speak up, and do not realize the greater harm if the practice and direction is allowed to continue unchallenged. I'm grateful for the article.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Skeptical of Kinder - Gentler (more "open minded") Atheists

Previously, in the videos of the Four Horsemen of Atheism, it was clear leading atheists had not only become aware of criticisms people hand of them and their critical spirit, but also were aware of how this was affecting their mission, and the need for them to do something about this.

Well, not only are we beginning to see differences in the way Atheists are making presentations, but I find interesting this article seeking to recast the image and portray Richard Dawkins as a more kinder-gentler open-minded type.

While arguments can be made concerning his statements and positions in the article, the purpose of this post is simply to suggest that neither should it surprise us to see more of the same in days to come, nor should people be fooled through such pieces.

CS and Rev. Jeremiah Wright

While some may wonder if CS has anything to say about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright situation, thus far not much has been stated concering his beliefs in relation to Scripture, per se. While skepticism is certainly in order when it comes to the foundations of liberation theology, in order when it comes to whether and to what extent an attack on Jeremiah Wright is an attack on the "black church" (and whether this is a legitmate way - and on what levels - to think of the church, even though distinctions of this sort are common and sometimes useful), and in order when it comes to Rev. Wright's priorities (and the emphasis he is placing on issues pertaining to the state, even if for this time and these matters).

Perhaps good will come from this...even as some black pastors and leaders have come forward to speak in some venues in regard to the need for Christians to move beyond liberation theology and more widely and fully embrace the theology of the cross.

Skeptical of Bloch's Argument (Religion is a Result of Man's Imagination)

In Religion a figment of human imagination, it's reported that Maurice Block of the London School of Economics argues that religion is the result of man's imagination (man being the only to "evolve" to the level of imagination).

It's interesting that Block's argument suggests only that man's imagination (and his belief in things that don't exist) must lead to religion. Why not assume the opposite, that there IS life after death and metaphysical realities... so that what is imagined is the opposite of true religion or that of unbelief. The point being that Bloch's argument appears to have begun with a presupposition (even a "popular" presupposition - "religion is simply a figment of man's imagination") and then looked for even the most far reaching and measley evidence to support it, rather than the other way around.

I can quickly give evidence to support the opposite ... that UNBELIEF IS A FIGMENT OF MAN'S IMAGINATION. Not too long ago there was a young boy who had come to understand there's a difference between right and wrong. One night when he was sitting at the dinner table and wanted to do what he knew to be wrong began to revert back to talking like he was about a year younger that what he was. It's interesting that in wanting to do wrong, he had to "imagine" or create a world in which one could do wrong and it would be okay ... he could even get away with it. When the parent called the boy on it, immediately the boy knew his bubble had been burst. The point is ... not only do adults do the very same thing, only we tend to be better at disguising and covering it up, but if one wants to look for evidence to refute Bloch's position (and show evidence supports the opposite) one does not have to look far.

Besides that, if you want to press Bloch's argument, especially when he states that humans are the only ones that imagine what does not really exist and believes in in, one would have to say that non-humans are more fit (on one level) than humans... hence evolution is does not lead to the survival of the fittest but the dominance of the unfit.

While Bloch states ""Once we realise this omnipresence of the imaginary in the everyday, nothing special is left to explain concerning religion," he says." How about the prophesies that have been fulfilled, the willingness of the eyewitnesses to lay down their lives, the sustenaning power behind the universe, the continuing and unstoppable growth of the church, the pointing of time, etc., the list could go on and on.

This is no more than atheist propaganda stretching in it's search (and imagination) to deny the truth and reject the one who lords over all and will hold man accountable, his having left man without excuse.

Skeptical of "Objective" Science

It seems that the philosophical bias shown in the Ben Stein’s “Expelled” is creeping over into climatology. William Gray, the pioneer of “the science of seasonal hurricane forecasting and teaching 70 graduate students who now populate the National Hurricane Center and other research outposts”, could be “expelled” for not drinking the global warming kool-aid.

Of course, the college denies that this is the reason.

CSU officials insist that is not the case.

The dean of the College of Engineering, which oversees atmospheric sciences, said she spoke with Gray about terminating media support for his forecasts solely because of the strain it placed on the college's sole media staffer.

"It really has nothing to do with his stand on global warming," said the dean, Sandra Woods. "He's a great faculty member. He's an institution at CSU."

We’ll let the reader decide as this story develops.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Skeptical of Preferences to Muslims

It is hard to see how violence, how terrorism will lead to the implementation of sharia,” Mr. Pipes said. “It is much easier to see how, working through the system — the school system, the media, the religious organizations, the government, businesses and the like — you can promote radical Islam.



In Critics Cost Muslim Educator Her Dream School it's stated that a "public" school was established by a known Muslim activist in Brooklyn and this school would teach Arabic and "cultural studies." Would the same be allowed in America if it was a known "Christian" activist in "Jackson' and this school would teach "Hebrew and Greek" and "cultural studies"?

In the corresponding video, the announcer states this school was to be the first of its kind (using duel Arabic-English curriculum) in "bridging the gap between Arabs and non-Arabs" in a post 9-11 world. Regardless of arguments as to whether or not the public schools should be used for this purpose, what's clear is ...it points to the public schools in America as a battleground. Christians need to understand all of life is a battleground. This is being proved out more and more even on American soil.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Skeptical of Media (/ New York Times)

The New York Times had articles today on:

Nude Vacations: No Worrys (No Shoes, No Shirt, No Worries)
Young Gay Rights
What Darwin Saw Out Back
Tests Confirm T. Rex Kinship With Birds
Luck over Lists
Meat Is Out at Fielder’s Plate
Through Sickness, Health and Sex Change
Where Alaa Al Aswany Is Writing From


Anything stand out?

The Best One Can Ever Hope For...

Words of Atheist Army Spc. Jeremy Hall:

...I've never believed I was going to a happy place. You get one life. When I die, I'm worm food.


Nice.

(Suppose this statement is based on metaphysical evidence(/revelation) or atheist presupposition?)

Porn addiction high risk among church workers

post here

Interesting article - worth reading - particularly the comments. As a church worker and Internet junkie I resonate with the point - this is a pervasive and constant temptation that one may fall into without even trying. The key is to "take every thought captive" by every means; self discipline, filtering, accountability groups, whatever.

Expelled, the Rise of the Mind and Scientific Disdain

Take a look at this conversation over on bloggingheads.tv

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Good Cure for "Pluralism"

“You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, you shall be careful to do. You shall not add to it or take from it.” (Deuteronomy 12:31-32)

There are many errors involved in pluralism, the belief that there are many paths to God, and that all religions contain equal truth, and should be approached that way. Aside from the fact that this brand of humanism flies directly in the face of the law of non-contradiction, the fundamental error of pluralism involves the nature and sovereignty of God. Who is the final determiner of how God is to be worshipped, God or man?
The Regulative Principle of Religion
“…essential to religion is the revelation of God's will as the regulative principle according to which man, as a servant, must engage himself. It has not been left to man to determine the manner in which he would serve God, for then he would stand above God. Anyone who engages himself in this way exalts himself above God and displeases the Lord in all his activity. "But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mat. 15:9).

Rather, the Lord Himself establishes for and reveals to man the regulative principle, indicating what He requires man to do and in which manner He wishes this to be accomplished. "Should not a people seek unto their God?...To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:19-20); "That ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Rom. 12:2).”

Wilhelmus a’Brakel – The Christian’s Reasonable Service

Friend, it is God, not man, who determines how He will be worshipped. Pluralism is nothing more than the modern tower of Babel, whereby men attempt to build a device that they hope will ascend them to the throne of heaven. Pluralism is simply recycled humanism, placing man above his Maker, worshipping the creature more than the Creator (Romans 1:25). All religions make mutually exclusive claims (including pluralism), and therefore cannot all be true. Pluralism insults the work of Christ, who did not suffer the cross so that men may simply bypass His sacrifice to enter into the heavenly Jerusalem.

"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7:13-14)

"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1)

American Education and Faith

TOMORROW is the 25th anniversary of “A Nation at Risk,” a remarkable document that became a milestone in the history of American education — albeit in ways that its creators neither planned, anticipated or even wanted.

In August 1981, Education Secretary T. H. Bell created a National Commission on Excellence in Education to examine, in the report’s words, “the widespread public perception that something is seriously remiss in our educational system.” Secretary Bell’s expectation, he later said, was that the report would paint a rosy picture of American education and correct all those widespread negative perceptions.

Instead, on April 26, 1983, the commission released a sweeping 65-page indictment of the quality of teaching and learning in American primary and secondary schools couched in a style of apocalyptic rhetoric rarely found in blue-ribbon commission reports.

“The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a nation and as a people,” it warned. “If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.”


The above quote is taken from an opinion piece by Edward B. Fiske entitled A Nation at Loss in the New York Times. The article closes with the following remark:

One of the main ideas enshrined in the document — that quality of schooling is directly linked to economic competitiveness — has also shaped the way Americans think about education. This particular theory, however, hasn’t been borne out by history.


While I would liked to have seen the article lengthened and the author provide specifics in regard to his last line, I submit that in my own life, it wasn't until I came to know the Lord, came to understand education in light of the Lord, and came to understand the purpose and usefulness of education in fulfilling God's purpose in and for my life that education began to be viewed as important important and I personally began to possess a motivation for education along with a view that education was not only needed but essential and critical for me... that education has taken on a whole new and real meaning in my life and that education has begun to mean what it should in my life.

It's not surprising that when education, rather than being cast in light of it's ultimate role and function is cast in light of other reasoning is seen to decline and deteriorate, and mediocrity becomes the common path, for other rationales are more easily set aside and rejected, whereas biblical rationale and reasoning, when properly communicated and received, provides the greatest motivation foundation for education.

May clergy, Christian parents/educators and legislators, take every opportunity and path to help fuel and propagate this educate this type thinking... for the sake not only of American education, but for the poor students who now are like I once was, but could be and become so much that is different!

Skeptical of "Big Government"

Writing from a biblical framework versus a political framework, I am skeptical of the term "Big Government."

While the term "Big" government has been coined and serves a somewhat useful purpose in today's dialogue and political sphere, casting the issues in terms of "big" (as opposed to small) sets the issues in "relative" terms rather than terms of foundation, authority, and accountability. For example, when considering the role of the church when it comes to "church-state" relations, suppose that rather than disccusing the role and authority of the church ...dialogue rather centered on the philosophy of "big" church versus "small" church. Or suppose that when it came to the boundaries regarding the family (and leaders staying within or overstepping their bounds), we began speaking of "big" families versus small families. Get the picture?

Point: While the term "Big" government does draw attention to the role of government, it's weakness is found in that it seems to suggest that the definition of that role and the answers and solutions are relative rather than revealed (and/or deduced, determined, etc.). This is not to suggest that there aren't matters of good debate in certain areas in regard to the decisions in relation to the proper role of government.

Application:
1. Government leaders, regardless of political party, need to remember and be reminded, that issues of government and it's limits are not relative but defined for us in God's Word, the word of Him who not only has established and provided for government, but will hold government leaders accountable for their decisions and actions.
2. When dialogue is allowed (and allowed to continue) as if issues of this nature are relativistic in nature only, then abuses will exist (and continue). Casting, or recasting issues of this nature in the proper light will lead to and produce better results.

Note: This does not mean that government will never be "big", for just as their are "big" churches that are healthy and holy and are effective in recognizing and fulfilling their God given role (... just as there are "big" and "small" churches who do not recognize their role and fulfill it); issues of the "size" of the government of the state may vary, but the issue is whether or not they recognize, stay within, and fulfill their roles.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Chuck Norris is Skeptical of Oprah and Tolle

Now, I am not endorsing everything Chuck Norris does or says, but I admire a principled Christian Skeptic:

Still, they gotta be shakin' in their shoes! :)

My battle is not with Oprah; she has her guru (Tolle), and I have mine (Jesus). The real war is between those who assert to be bearers of the truth, such as Tolle and Jesus. And the question is: With contradicting truths, will we believe a mere man or one who claimed to be so much more? As C.S. Lewis -- the great Oxford scholar and writer of "The Chronicles of Narnia," who was once an avid atheist -- wrote:

"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a good moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic -- on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg -- or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. …

"You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

That might not be what Oprah, Tolle or others around the world want to hear on their webinar, but he is everything we all need to obtain peace with God and peace with one another.


Way to go, Chuck!

full article here

Ministering the Gospel in Our Generation

The dominant theme at the fair might best be described as survivalist: in piece after piece, designers explored how they can help us (and themselves) navigate the perils of contemporary life — in particular, the big problems of recession, environmental crisis and design’s neurosis about its role in a saturated consumer culture.


As the thoughts of men are often followed and represented in various spheres of life such as art, music, literature, etc., it's noteworthy to recognize specific places where man struggles in his fallen condition and where he experiences such things as hopelessness, hurt, lack of contentment-satisfaction, loneliness, fear, etc.; for these are the places where the lustre of the gospel can be brightly seen when offered and set against the backdrop of the lives of unbelievers.

Note the above quote, which was used to describe the dominant theme at the Milan Furniture Market, suggests that many today stuggle (/suffer) with a survivalist spirit due to issues related to the recession, environment and consumerism.

Here, the gospel has much to say and many answers... therefore, make it a point to speak to issues related to these areas knowing that God according to his grace is able to brings peace instead of panic, strength instead of turmoil, and confidence instead of dispair!

Skeptical of Earth Day Scripture Reference

Interesting quote from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Earth Day.

"The Bible tells us in the Old Testament, 'To minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship. To ignore those needs is to dishonor the God who made us.' On this Earth Day, and every day, let us pledge to our children, and our children's children, that they will have clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and the opportunity to experience the wonders of nature."

What Old Testament (or New Testament) passage is she referring to? Anyone???

Ignorance Leads to Opposition to Protestantism in Russia



‘It’s not ours, it’s American, it’s alien; since it’s alien we cannot expect anything good from it.’ It’s ignorance, all around.”


This quote is taken from a Methodist minister defining the religious-political climate in Russia in relation to protestantism. The full article is found here. In the article (At Expense of All Others, Putin Picks a Church), it's stated that the "Kremlin’s surrogates in many areas have turned the Russian Orthodox Church into a de facto official religion, warding off other Christian denominations that seem to offer the most significant competition for worshipers." The sense the Methodist minister gets for why this is taking place and the reason why Protestantism is being rejected is because it's American and it comes from outside Russia.

The ignorance is found in the following:
1. The gospel comes not from man but "from God". Note Paul's statement in Romans 1:17 where it is written "For in the gospel a righteousness FROM GOD is revealed..." [CAPS, my emphasis]. So the first error committed by those who seek to oust Protestantism is to fail to understand that the source of true religion and salvation must come from outside Russia, it comes from God himself.

2. To reject Protestantism because it's "American" would also be false and out of ignorance if this is true. While protestantism has flourished in America and while American protestants have demonstrated a long and broad missionary arm, one would be misled to think that protestantism either has its origins in America or looks to America for its identity and/or power.

3. While it's true that the gospel and protestantism are "alien" on one level to man, at the same time protestantism brings with it nothing to be be feared (except for those who do not want to be confronted with the truth and with their guilt). On another level, protestantism is not alien to the Soviet Union, but was present and active will before being cast out afterwhich Russia faced their decline and downfall.

4. Soviets are misled in thinking that opposition to Protestantism and the gospel will silence it. Let protestants be encouraged in reading the Scripture (Acts) that opposition and acts to squelch the gospel were used by God as means for advancing the work and growth of the gosepl. Opposition, which it creates hardships, should not ultimately discourage believers, but be seen as part of the providence of God by which he not only advances his kingdom and the reach of the church, but brings about the very work that unbelievers through their opposition work against.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Skeptical of Roman Catholic Idolatry

This is some sick stuff...

Faithful await display of Catholic mystic's body:

“About 750,000 people from around the world, mostly from Italy, have made reservations to view the body up to the end of December, according to church officials. About 7,200 people a day will file past the glass coffin.

A poll in 2006 by Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana found that more Italian Catholics prayed to Padre Pio than to any other icon, including the Virgin Mary or Jesus.

There are about 3,000 "Padre Pio Prayer Groups" around the world, with a total membership of 3 million.”

Ramadan and Euro-Islam

“We start to run into problems when we construct new dividing lines, when we cease to see society as a whole,” says Ramadan to the worn-out-looking men and women sitting at large round tables. “Instead of perceiving Muslims as ‘the other’ or foreigners, try to see them as fellow Englishmen and women.”


The above quote is taken from The Theologians Working Towards a Euro-Islam. The advice is from Prof. Ramadan who is a "professor of Islamic studies in Geneva" but is speaking on a circuit to "boost the self-confidence of Europe's Muslins" and to try to get Europe's Christian elite to buy into his teaching that Islam is not a threat. The aim of his teaching is said to be "to reconcile Western values with the teachings of Islam."

Here's the issue: While on one level Ramadan is correct, that on a physical level, in Europe, Islamic citizens are "fellow Englishmen and women" with all other citizens, including Christian citizens. However, on another level, Christians should not be fooled into thinking the advances of Islam (even through fellow citizens) should be considered no threat. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Cor 5:16

"So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view."

Now, while this does not mean that Christians should not recognize worldly citizenship and/or distinctions, at the same time it does recognize the fact that Christians are not to view things (or even fellow citizens) simply from an earthly perspective, but are to exercise spiritual perspective and discernment in evaluating all things.

What threats can Muslims and/or a Euro-Islam cause? A lack of the freedoms now enjoyed by individuals, a change in values/law along with a change in the justice system and its related sentencing and punishments, a greater base for the spread of falsehood, greater enticement for those who are unconverted or weak in the faith, greater opportunity and probability of those who take up arms in the name of jihad, etc.

While it's true on one level, that freedom of religion is to be held in high esteem, at the same time, one should not desire or make it easy for false religions to spread, especially through "half-truths" like the one Ramadan is making, without being challenged.

It's time for Christians to wake up, and not take everything handed to us at "face value". The Scripture calls for us to exercise discernment and make wise judgments.

It's not without reason that the closing statements of the article include the following:

Others see him as an Islamist in disguise, a “wolf in sheep's clothing,” a master of deception...And, as a matter of fact, Ramadan has made a number of statements that don’t sound remotely ...tolerant.

Paul Verhoeven: Jesus Was Son of Mary and Roman Rapist

In his upcoming biography of Jesus, "Basic Instinct" director Paul Verhoeven will make the shocking claim that Christ probably was the son of Mary and a Roman soldier who raped her during the Jewish uprising in Galilee, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Catholic League President Bill Donohue called Verhoeven's claim "laughable."

"Here we go again with idle speculation grounded in absolutely nothing," Donohue told FOXNews.com. "He has no empirical evidence to support his claim, which is why they say 'may have.'"

Donohue also mocks the fact that Verhoeven — best known for directing the famous Sharon Stone crotch scene in "Basic Instinct" — reportedly worked on the book for 20 years only to come up with a "probably."

"He's been working 20 years trying to sell this argument and hasn't come up with anything. This won't make a dent with Christians, nor with scholars somewhat wary of the biblical account. It's a European version of Hollywood. He should go back to Sharon Stone's legs."


Above quote taken from here.

Attempts like this reveal not only faulty scholarship and false claims, but the extent unbelievers will go to try to discredit Jesus and the gospel.... a vivid and graphic example that unbelief persists not simply out of ignorance but is accompanied by hatred and animosity.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Repetition (and timing) is the key to Learning

I read this article:

Want to Remember Everything You'll Ever Learn? Surrender to This Algorithm

I am once again struck by the failure to acknowledge the elephant in the room. The presence of order and patterns should point to the conclusion that there is underlying order (logic) to the universe and if there is logic, there has to be a source of logic.

Removing the Language of Luck

Fox News reported on a New York mail carrier who caught a child who fell out of a second story window. The woman (within God's ordained plan and providence) certainly did a wonderful deed and was used by God in protecting the life of this child.

That being the case, the intent of this post is to draw attention to the presence, appearances, and implications of the references in the article regarding "luck", and to suggest that Christians rather than turning the head and allowing statements like this to go unchallenged (and thereby to passively allow the thought and false doctrine to be perpetuated) should speak out and help remove such thinking and speaking from common practice and communications.

The following remarks are found in the report:

"Thank God the baby was OK."


Albany Postmaster David Yanni told the Times Union that the stunning part about Harrell’s ordeal is that she was not on her normal route on Monday. On any other day, she would not have been on those steps at that time.


It wasn't her normal time to be there," Yanni said on Monday. "The stars were aligned for that baby today.


But for Harrell, it was just a lucky coincidence that she was able to save Niales.


"A hero? No. I was in the right place at the right time," Harrell told the Times Union. "God was there for me and the baby."



Question: Which was ultimately responsible for Mrs. Harrell being in the right place at the right time? Was it "lucky coincidence" or "God"? Or, was it "lucky coincidence" that was ultimately responsible and within the "lucky coincidence", God was there for her, such that God is subservient to "lucky coincidence"?

The point is that those who refer to God but also lucky coincidence are inconsistent on some level. Either they err in suggesting God (as defined in Scripture) is sovereign but then suggest that circumstances are left to "lucky coincidence; or they err in suggesting that circumstances are dependent upon "lucky coincidence" and then suggest God is involved (at which point they must deny the sovereign nature ascribed to him in Scripture and limit his governance and role to that which serves within the greater sovereignty of "lucky coincidence".

Hopefully, by pointing out such inconsistencies, people will be challenged not only to example the issue and give thought to their speech, but also to examine the teaching of the Scriptures that show that God does sovereignly decree all things that come to pass (and at the same time allows for human decision, responsibility and action) and not only believe according to the truth, but speak according to the truth as well.

The danger and harm of allowing such statements to go unchallenged is that people begin to accept and adopt such thinking... and like yeast it continues to spread and have effect.

(Note - I'm not suggesting Christians should be rude, but there is a way and there are times where comments regarding "luck" can properly be addressed.)

Jason Beghe's Video (Scientology)

Jason Beghe's full video is out on vimeo.

(Warning: Lots of Foul Language)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Losing their religion

Expelled: A Quick Review

Having only seen the movie once, I am unable to recall all of the names and faces in Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. Nonetheless, a quick review for those who consider seeing it.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed is not a defense of the Biblical view of Creation. It was not meant to be that, and any viewer who is looking for that will come away disappointed. You will not see any interviews with Ken Ham or John Morris, or even Hugh Ross or Richard Deem. The scientists/journalists interviewed are either hardcore Darwinists, proponents of Intelligent Design, or blackballed scientists who happened to write, say, or publish the wrong words. Most of the Intelligent Design scientists are associated with the Discovery Institute, a foundation consisting of scientists who ask tough questions concerning Darwinism, but are not necessarily Christian.

Intelligent Design vs. Creationism: An Important Distinction

Intelligent Design is not necessarily Creationism. ID makes no effort to defend the Scriptures, nor does it seek to identify the Creator. Instead, it examines scientific evidence while being open to the possibility of an intelligent designer. Some are Christian, many are not.

Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed does not deal in depth with Creationism, Darwinism, or ID, though it does touch on the complexity of the cell and the issue of origins. The movie is not meant to be a defense of any position. Instead, the main intent of Expelled was to expose the “wall of separation” that has been erected between science and faith, and the dogmatic attitude of the scientific establishment concerning this wall. The message is being sounded out loud and clear from universities, the media, and the courts. “Darwinism is in, God is out.” And if you want to succeed in any scientific career, you had better get in line with this philosophy. Question Darwin, and you will lose grant money, be denied tenure, or even fired.

Oddly enough, most of the exiled scientists in the movie were not Creationists, nor even proponents of Intelligent Design. They just happened to slip up and mention ID as a possibility worth considering, or publish a paper in a scientific journal that was written by an ID proponent. Who knows how many other scientists there are who see similar problems with Darwin, but are afraid to speak out for the reasons above?

A precaution to those who may consider taking their children to this movie. There is a disturbing section of the movie dealing with the link between Darwinism and the holocaust, as well as a blasphemous verbal attack on the God of the Bible by everyone’s favorite angry atheist Richard Dawkins.

In conclusion, what the Expelled movie does, it does very well. It is clear that the academic establishment wants no part of God or any creator (unless he is a highly evolved being from another planet – see previous post), and will vehemently extricate anyone who slips up and puts a crack in their wall.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Richard Dawkins: ID Proponent???

In the evolutionary worldview, two theories of the origin of life have been presented as possibilities. The first is the Primordial Soup Theory, the idea that a bunch of chemicals accidentally ran together with just the right combination, and formed the first ever living cells. This theory, however, has run into dead ends for the following reasons:


......
  • The first life was far to complex to have simply put itself together.

  • Life came into existence very quickly, after liquid water was formed.

  • There is no evidence of a primordial soup, as all carbonaceous materials in the earth’s crust are postbiotic.

The second theory that we are presented with is panspermia, the idea that life originated on another planet, and then was transferred to earth via meteorite. Again, this is a dead end because…

  • No living organism could survive such a trip.

  • No sugars can be found on meteorites, which are a basic necessity for life.

  • Even in the unlikely scenario that this could take place, the origin of life on that planet needs to be explained.

These are a few of the dead ends that naturalistic origin-of-life theories run into.

Now having watched Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, I have been introduced to two new theories.

1.) Life’s basic building blocks formed on “crystals” and remained until there were enough to produce a cell. (Will some atheist please explain this in further detail?)

2.) A modification of panspermia, suggesting that highly evolved being from another planet seeded earth with early life.

The second theory was presented by none other than Richard Dawkins. Who would have thought that Dawkins was a proponent of intelligent design after all?

......

Ronald Weinland - False Prophet

Friday's a good day for comedy. Check this out...

We are at the very end-time for man’s self-rule on earth. The Seventh Seal has been opened and now the First Trumpet has been blown. You will want to listen to the sermon given this Sabbath to learn much more.

... Not only has man’s time of self-rule come to an end, the very blessings that God gave through Abraham on a physical plane, for his descendents, is good to understand. God promised much beginning with Abraham (to him) that continued to be revealed even more through the next three generations (Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph). There were promises made on a physical plane that would take mankind up to the very end of man’s first 6,000 years on earth, and then greater blessing beyond that would be both physical and spiritual. However, the United States has been the recipient of the pinnacle of those physical blessings and prosperity (for this first 6,000 years) that God had promised to Abraham. When those promises had been fulfilled and the time had come for those blessings to be taken away (because of sin), we would be cast into this very time we have now entered


Having said that, more will be said in the months to come, but now is the time to publicly reveal the name of the second end-time witness. It is my wife Laura.


These quotes are taken from Ronald Weinland's website, a self proclaimed prophet who claims:
1. To be one of the two witnesses in Rev. 11 (He claims his wife is the other).
2. Beginning today (April 17) within 45-90 days (depending on reactions of people in the U.S.)a nuclear weapon will be set off in the United States in fulfillment of prophecy
3. He will be put to death by the Pope and the Catholic Church in Israel.
4. Etc.

Response: Weinland's misunderstanding and false interpretation reveal he is a false prophet!
1. The promise made to Abraham and his descendants were not physical only in nature. They were spiritual as well. Spiritual blessings (even salvation itself) came to Abraham and the sons of Abraham (through faith).
2. God's covenant of grace is not for 6000 years only but for eternity.
3. Weinland transfers the physical promises related to the type (Israel) over to the United States without justification.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Willow Creek shifts focus - HALLELUJAH!

In the past Willow believed that seekers didn’t want large doses of the Bible or deep worship music. They didn’t want to be challenged. Now their seeker-sensitive services are loaded with worship music, prayer, Scripture readings, and more challenging teaching from the Bible.


and

Hawkins said that sometimes Willow gets accused of managing the church based on market research; of simply giving people what they want. “Look at what they want!” he said while pointing to the screen. “They want the Bible, they want to be close to Christ, they want to be challenged. Yes, I will give them what they want!”


GO, BILL, GO!

From here

Economists' Findings Slow, But Verifying Scriptural Truth

Scripture has taught for years:
1. Wealth has benefits. (Prov 14:24)
2. While money and the things it supplies can result in temporal happiness, money cannot guarantee happiness that lasts. (Eccl 5:10)
3. The eye and the appetite of man (in the flesh) is never satisfied. (Eccl 1:8)

Read the article [Maybe Money Does Buy Happiness After All -(Note: the article does not fully support the title)]... and you'll find the same issues being discussed.

Rather than look to money and to the things it can supply, look to the one who supplies all good things. (James 1:17)

Eccl 5:19 "Moreover, when God gives any man welalth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is a gift of God."

Tolle referred to as Cult in Main Stream Press

It's good to see that even if in a "Features and Faces" section of Fox News, that the word "cult" is being used in relation to the movement started by Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey... see Is Oprah Starting Her Own Cult?.

Interesting quotes in the article:
And what’s different about the Tolle connection for Winfrey is that for the first time in her much-applauded Book Club’s history, she’s gone into business with the author.


But is Eckhart Tolle an appropriate spiritual leader? He told an interviewer that he stopped going to school at age 13 and didn’t resume any education for at least a decade. In the same interview he says he graduated "with the highest mark at the London University."


He says in interviews that he had a personal epiphany in 1977 at age 29 after a life of suffering from suicidal depression.


For seekers who want to compare Tolle with Christianity, see here and here.

Eco-Righteousness

Seems that Eco-therapy points to a new form of works righteousness (being eco-friendly). Interesting the article not only points to the bondage and consequences of those who live by it, but the costs (therapists) many will look to in order to try to find a remedy.

(Hint: Finding the gospel of Jesus Christ might save you not only much pain but big bucks in the long run.)

How did those stars get there?

Just when you think you think you got it all figured out...

A new intensely detailed ultraviolet light and radio wave image of the nearby galaxy known as M83 is revealing an astronomical stumper: scads of newborn stars where they should not be.

One possible explanation is that the stars forming so far away from the galactic disk are not being made of complex molecular gases at all. Instead, they are being built out of atomic gases -- old-fashioned hydrogen and helium atoms like those that somehow got together to make the universe's first stars.

...somehow? yeah...

The more I see, the more I am convinced of a Christian, Scriptural, presuppositional worldview.

Psalm 97:6
The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples have seen His glory.

1 Corinthians 1:20
Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Pope Benedict's Visit: Christian, Protestant, Evangelical Response

This post is to provide a place for responses to the Pope's visit. Feel free to comment as news of his visit continues to come to light.

While his visit so far has been more ceremony than substance, the following comments can already be made:

[Note: Some may want to comment on the "good" that will come from the Pope's visit, my concern in this intitial post is simply to address statements from the Pope that contradict Biblical teaching or practical wisdom. While I'm grateful for my Protestant heritage that has historically come through the Catholic church, differences between the Pope's statements and position (or those made to the Pope) and that of Scripture are worth pointing out.]

"I come as a friend, a preacher of the Gospel and one with great respect for this vast pluralistic society," Benedict said in a speech after Bush welcomed him to the White House at a ceremony that included 21-gun salute.


Response: While the intent of his statement referencing "respect" for this "vast pluralistic" society was probably to gain greater acceptance by a broader audience, statements such as this will in the end do more damage than good. While some can differentiate between having respect for a people even though they hold pluralistic views, on the surface it can come across (and many will take it to mean or suggest) that pluralism is good. (While President Bush commented "We need your message to reject this dictatorship of relativism ...; the Pope's statement could do the opposite).

Looking forward to his speech to the United Nations, the pope said the need for global solidarity is "as urgent as ever if all people are to live in a way worthy of their dignity" and secure a place at "that table which God's bounty has set for all his children."


I'd love to know what he meant by this. While global solidarity is important (along issues in keeping with justice, mercy, etc.), it's important to note that God's blessings come to us as gifts "secured" by Christ, not by man. Yes, only those "qualified" will receive the blessings, but man does nothing to merit or "secure" bounty from God.

Later on Wednesday, the pope was addressing U.S. bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where he was to discuss the scandal of sexual abuse of children by priests, which he said had left him "deeply ashamed."


While the victims are looking for actions rather than words, I'd also be interested to see his defense of the requirement of celibacy for the priesthood.

"Most of all, Holy Father, you will find in America people whose hearts are open to your message of hope," made by President Bush.


Depends on what message of hope he's referring to. If he's referring to the hope that comes as God's people exercise faith and serve as salt and light, etc., then yes, I'm open on one level. However, if he's referring to the "gospel" the Pope brings, ...My heart has received God's message of hope, which is based on grace alone through faith in Jesus.

Spectacular Sins & Their Global Purpose by John Piper



Promotions state:

John Piper delivers powerful biblical reassurances to bolster readers’ trust in the sovereignty of God and the supremacy of Christ when evil and tragedy come.


Though God has not answered all of our questions about sin and suffering, neither has he been silent. There are things he wants us to know, things he declares in his Word—such as what’s at stake in the “spectacular” sins of others and the horrible tragedies of this life; their global purpose, both historically and today; and what these events say to us personally.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Save the Planet

Seems from Scientology to Kabbalah to Tolle ... and the list goes on and on and on, the new cliche and end goal of many now seems to be for man either by faith or by works (i.e, either by hook or crook, or by anything else that might work, be it through one's own consciousness, experience, or efforts) to save the planet (or through cosmic evolution to bring about the kingdom of God on earth).

While global concerns, global partnerships and global efforts and responses are important and have their place, does man really believe that apart from God himself providing that we have it either in ourselves or within our grasp (even our corporate, continuing, advancing, global grasp) to save the planet? Think about it, even though a new and renewed focus on helping others and people taking intiative and playing a part in the world we live in has much good that can be said for it, does man have what it takes to remove sin or to change the nature of the heart? Does man have what it takes to remove greed, envy, sloth, revenge, etc.? Can man alleviate all troubles, trials, tribulation, suffering, and death? Have not the poor been around for awhile and will they not continue to be? Does man possess (or is he going to be able to acquire all) the knowledge needed to sustain the living conditions of man eternally, and even if he could, to what end? Could he as well make it so that the appetite is satisfied? I don't think so.

It seems to me what we have here is another trend set by Hollywood stars (aids relief, Ophrah's school, overseas adoptions, Idol Gives Back, etc.), the media, etc., along with others who have their agenda (be they politicians, scientists, environmentalists, etc.). I imagine the trend will like others which have gone before... last for some time, but then the emphasis or the trends will change (like that of music, or clothes, or of nations, etc.) (I remember living in one town where saving "greyhound dogs" was the trend, but that was soon abandoned for professionals riding Harley's, which then gave way to training for triathalons). Only now, the trend is not just related to global communication and efforts, it seems it's been tied to and even set as one if not the chief end of many religions, or religious philosophies.

In the end, while it behooves mankind to be good and wise stewards and to take care of our planet and to work toward all the positive effects that we can wisely, justly, mercifully and fairly bring about; one should not be surprised if efforts to "save the planet" either fizzle, or fade, or become wearisome, or fall to the back burner for other emphases ... only to be revived again later; for the only one who is truly able, willing and committed to saving the world is Jesus Christ, who has come not only that sin might be done away with, but that recreation, restoration, and true and lasting renewal might be fully and finally accomplished. ("The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to grustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.", Rom 8:19-21)

Note the emphases upon "saving the planet" today though... and ask yourself if man (even in all we are, possess, and are able to set our efforts toward) will be able to do what is being suggested. I'm no pessimist, but a believer, and one skeptical of the current trend and it's accomplishment by any one of or the combination of the various methods and madness by which man is suggesting that he can or even should attempt it, particularly as the end or goal of our faith/exisistence.

Jason Beghe on Scientology

"Scientology is destructive and a rip-off...."It’s very, very dangerous for your spiritual, psychological, mental, emotional health and evolution."


"It ain’t deliverin’ what it’s promised. It sure has not."


Seems working with an auditor on one's engrams (hang ups) to achieve the state of 'clear', then progressing up the "bridge to total freedom" doesn't work. Surprised?

BLAISE PASCAL: APOLOGISTS TO SKEPTICS



BLAISE PASCAL: APOLOGISTS TO SKEPTICS
Author: MACKENZIE CHARLES S.

TULIP in my Own Words and introducing GRACE!

I am currently working on an assignment as part of seeking a license to preach in the Southern Baptist Church and part of this document is explaining my theology. As you may can tell by the contents of my blog - I am committed to the consistent teachings of Scripture that are exemplified by the exegetical genius of John Calvin. Some of his teachings have been summarized by the acrostic TULIP which I have attempted to "spell out" in my own words, below:

Total Depravity: Post-Fall, man is completely enslaved to sin - born with a "heart of stone" - all thoughts, deeds and actions naturally inclined toward self-centeredness as opposed to God-centerdness - without the merciful direct intervention of God to regenerate or make some Men reborn, all men would remain in this natural state and be subject to the absolute justice of God and the consequences thereof.

Unconditional Election: God has chosen select people from out of all humanity to grant exemption from the execution of His just judgment of all Post-Fall Mankind. This mercy is independent from any meritorious characteristic or activity of the elect persons and is the result of a covenant between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (the Trinitarian God) to bring glory to God through the activities of the Son as redeemer and judge of all Mankind.

Limited Atonement: seemingly the most controversial of the 5 points, and sometimes referred to as Particular Redemption, merely points out the fact that though Christ's sacrifice is infinite in worth, it is self-limited by God in application only for the Elect. This point is a self-evident hedge against universalism - that is - if Christ's atonement for sin is not limited, either by God's choice or Man's, His infinitely worthy sacrifice must save all mankind without exception.

Irresistible Grace: Acknowledges that by the specific application of God's grace, Man's Post-Fall, natural state, most clearly described as naturally possessing a "heart of stone" and being a slave to sin, is transformed so that the Elect person is saved from God's justice by receiving a "heart of flesh" and becoming a slave to righteousness. Once the Elect person has been given faith through the application of grace, God's irresistible plan of regeneration, justification, sanctification and glorification will be accomplished as He has decreed.

Perseverance of the Saints: Simply means that the truly regenerated person will continue to progress in the outworking of God's plan for the Elect. It also means that a truly regenerated person will progressively display characteristics associated with the inward workings of the Holy Spirit. This does not mean that a person will achieve perfect holiness in this life, but will, throughout any blessing or trial, continually strive to glorify God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength and exhibit agape love for others.

For a detailed presentation of TULIP with Scriptural proofs, please see this post.

So - my pastor believes that the TULIP acrostic may be burdened with too many preconceived biases for potential reviewers of my qualifications document and asked me to consider utilizing another acrostic that I have discovered - G.R.A.C.E.

Conceptualized by Klay A. Aspinwall, over on the Sword & Trowel blog, I believe it captures the essence of the TULIP acrostic as it was originally conceived - for convenient reference, I have aligned the letters of TULIP to the associated sections:

God Glorified (TULIP) - a biblical understanding of salvation results in the exclusive glory being given to God alone, and not to the one who receives or to the instruments who are used to bring this salvation (Rom. 9.16; John 1.13). Why did God so act in our salvation? The answer of God's Word is, “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1.6; Rom. 9.23).

Redemption Resolved (TU) - from all eternity, out of the mass of fallen humanity, God resolved not to allow all humanity to perish in their rebellion, but rather to intervene and provide redemption for a specific people to the 'glory of His grace'. He could have chosen to save all (universalism); He could have chosen to save none (as He did with the fallen angels); but praise Him, He did choose to save some (Eph. 1.4-5; 2 Thess. 2.13-14). This is known in scripture as ‘Election’ - God's eternal choice to save sinners. The choice was based not on foreseen merit or worthiness in the sinner, but purely motivated by the unconditional love and mercy of God (1 John 4.19; Eph. 2.4).

Atonement Accomplished (UL) - When Jesus died, his satisfaction of the wrath of God was surely sufficient for the redemption of the entire world many times over, but is only efficient for those who believe in Him. The triumph of the cross did not merely make salvation possible, but rather, it actually secured the salvation of everyone who would, by God's grace, believe in Him (Heb. 9.12; Rom. 5.8-9) - those who are called the "elect" in scripture. Atonement for such sinners was completely accomplished - Christ made certain the salvation of everyone who would believe in Him, the very ones who were entrusted to Him by the Father (John 6.35-40; 10.24-29; 17.2,6, 9-12, 24-26). If atonement were not objectively secured for anyone, then the salvation of no one would be certain. And, if atonement were objectively secured for everyone, then no one could ever be condemned (resulting in universalism). Thus the shorthand: 'sufficient for the world, efficient only for the elect'.

Conversion Completed (TI) - the work of God's grace in conversion is known as regeneration (‘being born again’) and is always completed (John 1.12-13). The soul that is quickened by God's grace (Eph. 2.4-5) will willingly come to repentance and faith, though before reaching that point may run, resist and hide (Phil. 1.29; 2 Tim. 2.25-26). When we consider what the Bible has to say about our need to be 'born again', we understand that our human nature is completely influenced and corrupted by sin (1 Cor. 2.14). Left to our own will and to our own desire, no one would ever come to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (John 6.64-65). Thank God that His grace intervenes and liberates us from the bondage of our sin, that we might joyfully and freely embrace Jesus Christ (John 6.37).

Endurance Ensured (UP) - As salvation from beginning to end is a free work of God's grace alone, so each and every redeemed soul shall be empowered by His grace to endure in faith 'till the end (1 Pet. 1.3-5; Matt. 24.13). We persevere as God Himself preserves us. His grace ensures our endurance and eternal salvation (Titus 1.1-2). Those who fall away from the faith do so because they have never truly been born again (1 John 2.19). A child of God, once adopted by grace, will forever be counted among God's people.

I hope this is helpful to others, as it has been to me. :)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Eckhart Tolle versus Scripture / Christianity / Church on Jesus Christ (Your Response)

Biggest Question Eckhart Tolle Inquirers and Followers need to answer...

Jesus Christ once asked the question: Who do you say that I am?

Eckhart Tolle (Inquirers/Followers), Who do YOU say that Jesus is?

Is Jesus simply a "way-shower" or is he the one and only Savior (i.e. substitutionary sacrifice)?
Is Jesus simply a "revealer" or is he a Redeemer?
Is Jesus simply an "enlightened master"(teacher) or is he the Son of God?

As you consider your answer, give thought to the following...

Jesus was not a mere enlightened Master. The New Agers' rendition of Jesus as an "enlightened Master" in a class with Buddha, Zoroaster, and others is a radical distortion of the Jesus found in Scripture (which is to say, the Jesus of historical record rather than the Jesus of the mystical Akashic Records). The Jesus found in Scripture clearly believed and taught that He alone among men is God (John 8:58; 10:30; 14:9-10). Douglas Groothuis comments: "If Jesus thought he was uniquely God incarnate but he wasn't, he was far less than 'an enlightened master' -- he didn't even know who he was! If he knew he was not uniquely God incarnate, but said he was, he was a flaming fraud, and in no sense was he an 'enlightened master.' Worse yet, he would have been a deceiver, leading a multitude astray."


[Quote taken from here.]

Also see here.

Amazing Grace - on the black notes...

I am weeping as I post this - God's Providence is Amazing...:

Answering in a New Age / Mystical & Esoteric Theological Climate.

With increasing chatter of putting aside the "ego", of looking to Jesus as a "way-shower" rather than a savior, etc., I think The Christ of the New Age Movement by Ron Rhodes in the CRI Journal is useful reading. Of special significance is the final section entitled "An Orthodox Christian Response".

Another useful resource is Michael Horton's The New Gnosticism.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Challies is Skeptical of "The Shack" by William P. Young



Thank God for men like Tim Challies!

A great review by a great Christian Skeptic. After reading his review, I will certainly heed his advice:

Because of the sheer volume of error and because of the importance of the doctrines reinvented by the author, I would encourage Christians, and especially young Christians, to decline this invitation to meet with God in The Shack. It is not worth reading for the story and certainly not worth reading for the theology.
Click here to read the review.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Skeptical of American Idol singing Shout to the Lord

Here is the song, as written:



Here is the song with "my Jesus" removed:



My skepticism revolves around a couple of items:

a) Why did the words change from performance to performance? - some think the copyright holder may have forced the issue... a thought I am inclined to agree with.

b) What is the intent of AI in utilizing this song? - some think it an attempt to pander...another thought I am inclined to agree with since this was, as I understand it, a money raising event.


Since we can be fairly sure all the singers in that group are not Christians, how is the considering Christian to respond?

Here are a couple of thoughts:


......
Psalm 31:6
I hate those who regard vain idols,But I trust in the LORD.

Psalm 139:20
For they speak against You wickedly, And Your enemies take Your name in vain.

Jonah 2:8
"Those who regard vain idols Forsake their faithfulness,

I think Christ's exegesis of the prophet Isaiah to the "American Idols" of his day particularly appropriate:

Matthew 15

8'THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
9'BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.'"
......

The doctrine being taught - God wants you to give money to American Idol, because we know better than your local church how to help others...

Polygamy (Response to FOXSexpert Article)

Yvonne Fulbright makes several statements in her article FOXSexpert: Polygamy's Global Acceptance that deserve a response.



Yet in the eyes of world history, we, the gawkers, are matrimony’s social deviants. After all, polygamy is the original "traditional marriage."


Fulbright provides no grounds for asserting that polygamy is the "original" traditional marriage. While polygamy is popularly found among pagan cultures, that does not mean it was the first. Scritpture reveals the "original" traditional marriage was monogamous (between Adam and Eve). "The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man.' For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh." (Gal 2:24) "Jesus replied, 'Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning." (Mt 19:8) The point being just because one finds a great deal of depravity & difference, doesn't mean those are the original or the standard.

But a marriage in which a spouse of either sex has more than one partner at the same time has been accepted globally for centuries.


Geographic acceptance does not make something right. If so, arguments could be made for slavery, prostitution, etc.

It is an institute originally intended to help people acquire wealth, power and property — not love. The expectation of love and loyalty for a one-and-only actually is a relatively recent social invention.


This is the posionous fruit of the vine - Since Fulbright first errs in not accepting or looking to the original marriage, she then carries the error over to the orignial purpose of marriage. While being a helpmeet is involved, that's far from pursuit of worldly lusts.

When it has come to one’s sexual needs, cultures simply have gotten "creative," both in and out of the marriage framework.


Sex outside of marriage is more than "creative", it's sinful.

So how did we in the West evolve into honoring the bliss-filled, two-person marriage?

Early Christianity was the first to condemn having more than one spouse at a time (polygamy), and is considered unique as a world religion for insisting on monogamy. The other major religions have allowed men to have a number of wives.

Thanks to the Christian movement, as early as the 12th century, polygamy was prohibited in Western Europe. Quite by accident, this support for monogamy became a step toward gender equality. Men no longer were allowed to see wives as possessions. (They could — and many did — keep mistresses, which a wife was expected to ignore.)...


1. Yes... CHIRISTIANITY LED THE WAY in condemning what the world now recognizes as an inferior way and has called for all who do otherwise to repent and look to the original as the standard.

2. It was no "accident" that this the Christian movement led toward "gender equality". It was this way from the beginning and Christian truth acknowledges this (even if at times in history some practice in the name of Christianity has errantly denied it).

While hard for us to swallow, history’s most "successful" marriages have not been the modern, happily ever-after sort. They have not been about our society’s ideas of a "perfect union," such as:

— Having deep love and loyalty for your partner;

— Making your partner your highest obligation and priority;

— Putting your partner before your parents and family members;

— Being best friends with your partner;

— Expressing affection to your partner;

— Being sexually faithful.


And what is her definition of success?

It has only been in the last couple of centuries that Western Europe and North America have developed a new values set around organizing marriage and sexuality.


Western Europe and North America did not invent this. Issues of morality in relation to marriage and sexuality existed long before North America has become what it has.

In meeting one’s intimacy, affection and sexual needs, we in the West have sought a marriage free of coercion, violence and gender inequality.

Thankfully, recent history shows us that these values are spreading globally.


Thanks to the influence of Christianity. Cast off the Word, the influence of the church, etc., and you'll see these values change!













......

What are the options here?

This article is an interesting read.

Shock: First Animal on Earth Was Surprisingly Complex

Notice the two options given.

“Dunn says that two evolutionary scenarios can explain why the comb jellies would actually have been first among animals. The first is that the comb jelly evolved its complexity independent of other animals after branching off to forge its own path.

The second is that the sponge evolved its simpler form from the more complex form. This second possibility underscores the fact that "evolution is not necessarily just a march towards increased complexity," Dunn said.”


This second scenario is interesting. Your distant descendants may well be jellyfish, just like your ancestors were.

Well, there is another option…

John Piper's examples of Truths the Natural Man Cannot Fully Grasp

from here

1. All persons are accountable for their choices, and all their choices are infallibly and decisively ordained by God.

  • [He] works all things according to the counsel of his will. (Ephesians 1:11)
  • On the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak. (Matthew 12:36)

2. It is not sin in God to will that there be sin

  • “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it [the evil acts of Joseph’s brothers] for good. (Genesis 50:20)

3. What God decrees will come to pass is not always the same as what he commands that we do, and may indeed be the opposite.

  • For example, he may command, “Thou shalt not kill,” and decree that his Son be killed: “It was the will of the Lord to crush him” (Isaiah 53:10).

4. God’s ultimate goal is the exaltation and display of his own glory, and this is at the heart of what it means for him to love us.

  • And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:5)
  • Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory.” (John 17:24)

5. Sin is not primarily what hurts man but what belittles God by expressing unbelief or indifference to his superior worth.

  • My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

6. God is perfectly just and orders the complete destruction of the inhabitants of Canaan.

  • Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just? (Genesis 18:25)
  • But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes. (Deuteronomy 20:16)

7. The key to the Christian life is learning the secret of acting in such a way that our acts are done as the acts of Another.

  • Walk by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25)
  • Put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit. (Romans 8:13)

8. Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh.

  • And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. (Galatians 5:24)

9. “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” (Matthew 1:23)

10. “Before Abraham was I am.” (John 8:58)

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Courage to Be Protestant by David Wells


Just coming out: The Courage to Be Protestant by David Wells

Here's some of the recommendations:

......
The Courage to Be Protestant: Truth Lovers, Marketers, and Emergents in the Postmodern World by David F. Wells
This book is a broadside against; versions of evangelicalism as well as a call to return to the historic faith, one defined by Reformation solas (grace, faith, and scripture alone), and to a reverence for doctrine. Wells argues that the historic, classical evangelicalism is one marked by doctrinal seriousness, as opposed to the new movements of the marketing church and the emergent church. He energetically confronts the marketing communities and what he terms their "sermons-from-a-barstool and parking lots and apr├Ęs-worship Starbucks stands; He also takes issue with the most popular evangelical movement in recent years--the emergent church. Emergents are postmodern and postconservative and postfoundational, embracing a less absolute, understanding of the authority of Scripture than Wells maintains is required. The Courage to Be Protestant is a dynamic argument for the courage to be faithful to what biblical Christianity has always stood for, thereby securing hope for the church's future.



Faith Comes By Hearing: A Response to Inclusivism
Christopher W. Morgan & Robert A. Peterson (Editors)
The debate swirls and feelings run deep. What is the fate of the unevangelized? The traditional position--that apart from an explicit faith in Jesus no one is saved--seems to have fallen out of favor with many evangelicals. Here is a passionate but irenic response to the arguments of those who believe that the unevangelized can (or might) be saved apart from knowledge of Jesus Christ. Building on the insights of others, nine scholars introduce readers, even those with little background, to the ongoing discussion. Key questions--Is general revelation sufficient? Are other religions salvific? Do holy pagans exist? Must faith be explicit? Is exclusivism unjust?--are probed and answered from a biblical, theological and historical perspective.



Jesus Christ: The Prince of Preachers by Mike Abendroth
"Abendroth's insightful work is so helpful, calling Christians today to consider the model of the Master Teacher Himself. Thoroughly biblical and intensely practical, this Christ-centered treatment on preaching deserves a place on every pastor's bookshelf. In a day when so many pulpits are less than weak, it is a timely and necessary challenge to those who are called to "preach the Word; (2 Tim. 4:2). But this book is not only for those in church leadership. It also articulates what each congregation should expect from their teaching pastor, as they lovingly hold him to the standard set by our Lord."
--John MacArthur, Pastor-Teacher, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California

Statements that Raise Skepticism (Jazzy's Jingles)

In a previous comment, jazzycat stated the following:

It is a almost sure sign that someone is following a god of their imagination when they say something like the following:

......
1)My god is a god that.......
2)In my faith journey, god.....
3)God is too big to have just one way of salvation.
4)I couldn't be a Christian if that were the only way to salvation.
5)As long as you are sincere in your beliefs is all that counts.
6)My path to god may not be.....
7)As long as you live a good life, god will....
8)If you are basically a good person, then god will......
9)I know I am saved because I try to obey the ten commandments...

I've started this post for us to keep a continuing list of statements people make that either "could" or "should" make believer's "raise an eyebrow" (i.e. be concerned) about where others stand spiritually.

Another example
"I know I am a Christian (or have eternal life) because I survived a car wreck, or survived a war, etc."

What other comments do you hear that give you a clue the person you're talking with may need either the gospel clearly presented or the doctrines of salvation clearly explained to them?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pluralism (Quote by G.I. Williamson)

In discussion of the first commandment which deals with the "object" of worship, and in response to those who suggest "it doesn't matter what particular religion one may have, or what denominaton one belongs to", G. I. Williamson writes:

If God were only the creation of man's imagination, then all 'gods' would be 'created equal.' One 'god' would have no higher claim than another.


Point: Since God is not the creation of man's imagination, the object of our worship matters, hence religious choices and alignment prove significant.

Faces of Life and Death


“People are almost always pretending something, but these people had lost that need,'’ Mr. Schels told the paper. “I felt it enabled me as a photographer to get as close as it’s possible to get to the core of a person; when you’re facing the end, everything that’s not real is stripped away. You’re the most real you’ll ever be, more real than you’ve ever been before.”


Above quote from photographer who not only captured pictures of faces of willing participants before and after they died, but spent time interviewing them and getting to know them.

The opening to the original article says the following:
Nothing, it is said, teaches us more about living than dying. But if so, isn't it odd how little we face up to death? And isn't it odd that modern societies, which appear so keen to find meaning in the business of living, push death to the periphery, minimising our contact with it and sanitising its impact?


Interesting, isn't it?

For those intrigued by this subject, let me recommend: "Homeward Bound" by Dr. Ed Hartman

Faith and Politics in America

Yet the outreach efforts by Clinton and Obama should serve as an example to all Democratic officeholders that ignoring voters who feel strongly about their faith, and also public policy, will continue to lead to losses. [CAPS, my emphasis]


Quote taken from here.

Two Responses
1. As atheists often like to tout surveys and their supposed numbers, this statement points to a different assessment of the role of faith and those who consider themselves people of faith in America. (Shall we say that on one level, the proof is in the pudding?)

2. While this can be said about the role of faith, one then must ask what will be the particular responses given in the name of faith and the effect upon the communication and propagation of true faith that results from the scheduled discourse. If past responses and national discussions as a whole serve as an indicator, before believers begin to tout victory because debates are held to address matters of "faith", we must take two things into account:
a. There is a tendency in and of the world ("Babylon") to use "religion" for it's own ends... which results in opposition and resistance to the true gospel.
b. Times such as this provide opportunity for believers being filled with the Holy Spirit to powerfully proclaim the truth(s) of the gospel.

Summary: While believers should not be (blindly) overly excited on the one hand, they also should not be overly pessimistic, but in Christ continue to appeal for power in proclamation and press forward with the gospel according to the hope found in Christ!

Monday, April 7, 2008

Beware of the "NEW" Queen

If you study humanities or political systems or sciences in general, philosophy is really the mother ship from which all of these disciplines grow.”


Quote taken from student in an article highlighting new interest in the study of philosophy.

Whereas "religion" has been recognized before as the "queen of the sciences" or the foundation upon which all other disciplines stood; it seems the tendency today is to want to supplant the foundation of faith with that of philosophy. (I've seen this already in the teaching and debates related to New Age and of Eckhart Tolle).

What's going to be interesting in the future is:
1. The arguments for the basis of authority which will enable philosophy can serve in such a role (or whether one is required, needec, etc.)
2. The applications and effects supplanting the one foundation and replacing it with another will have on various aspects of life including definitions and relationships to truth; significant issues such as policy, war, etc.,; along with decisions in every other area of life such as religion, morals, law, etc.

Rising generations of Christians (along with our own) need to be prepared for handling these new opportunities. Some things that will help:
1. (True) Christians being trained in the area of philosophy
2. Others studying the foundations of philosophy as well as the works of philosophers
3. Paying attention to how philosophy enters into discussions and debates presently, as well as noting changes that occur as thought and debate progresses.
it needs any? whatwith any measure of

What I find interesting is the statement in the article that "The discipline as we see it from the time of Socrates starts with people face to face, putting their positions on the table,", for what I've found most in debate is that those who engage in philosophy when pressed with the truth of the gospel like to use their philosophy as a means of avoidance or diversion in order to keep from having to put their positions on the table.

At the same time, I'm certain great good can come from this new trend and from the new questions that will be raised in the future, for as Paul writes "All things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose."


......
Type rest of the post here
......