Friday, May 30, 2008

Will Smith (Confusion of Christianity and Scientology

While there has been much speculation about the couple's ties to Scientology, Smith has never publicly said he is a Scientologist.

Last month, Smith was quoted as saying, “I am a Christian. I am a student of all religions. And I respect all people and all paths.”

In December, interviewed on "Access Hollywood," Smith said of his Scientology connection: “I was introduced [to] it by Tom [Cruise], and I’m a student of world religion. I was raised in a Baptist household, I went to a Catholic school, but the ideas of the Bible are 98 percent the same ideas of Scientology, 98 percent the same ideas of Hinduism and Buddhism.”


Quotes from here (Will Smith Funds Private Scientology School).

Sound like there's any confusion here? Seems pastors today need to be sure not to neglect one of their basic roles: to EXPLAIN WHAT IT MEANS TO BE CHRISTIAN and distinguish what is not. Seems there is recurring confusion in this area especially among Hollywood celeb's.

Another Old Read that's Still Relevant

I heard an audio version of this today, but could only find it in print on the net. He reminds me of an "Andy Griffith" simplicity applied to issues pertaining to the church and culture today. Another one of those lengthy reads, but still relevant and worthy.

See here (Modern Reformation: A New Evaluative Question: "Would Jesus Have to Be Crucified to Make This Sermon Work?" Interview with William Willimon)

Is God Against Gays? Does God Hate Gays?

Is God against Gays? Some who reject God and criticize Christians love to make that argument, but consider this selection from Thomas Watson...

'Whom he predestinated, them he also called'.

Election is the foundation-cause of our effectual calling. It is
not because some are more worthy to partake of the heavenly
calling than others, for we were 'all in our blood' (Ezek. 16:6).
What worthiness is in us?

What worthiness was there in Mary Magdelene, out of whom
seven devils were cast? What worthiness was in the
Corinthians, when God began to call them by the gospel? They
were fornicators, effeminate, idolaters. 'Such were some of
you, but you are washed'.

Before being effectually called by God, we were not only
without strength, but His 'enemies' (Col. 1:21). So the
foundation of our effectual calling is election.

"It is God who saved us and chose us to live a holy life. He did
this not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan
long before the world began--to show his love and kindness to
us through Christ Jesus." 2 Tim. 1:9


While on one level it's true that God opposes all unrighteousness, at the same time God loves righteousness and desires that all would be turn and be saved and live in it.

Those who will not will not be condemned because of the lack of God's mercy but because of their own unrighteousness and rebellious heart. However, the glory of God will be revealed in the gift of his mercy and righteousness to all those who will accept it and turn from their ways to God, putting aside the attitudes and deeds of the past and living according to obedience in Christ.

Pastoral Counsel for Pastors

Seems like recently one pastor after another is having to apologize in the press. This is not doing the clergy any favor.

A good word to heed so this is prevented in the future: Not only make sure your theology, soteriology, and eschatology are correct, but follow the instruction of Paul in the pastoral epistles (2 Timothy 2:4) "No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer."

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Beyond Expelled

“Darwinism is not just a scientific theory,” said Pearcey. “It has worldview implications, just as intelligent design has worldview implications, and that’s why it’s important to bring this discussion into a larger cultural conversation.”



While the most popular arguments center around evolution and its counterpoints, intelligent design and creationism, Pearcey believes the ramifications of Darwinist worldviews are being felt in other realms of science, as well as morality and ethics, politics, health and medicine, law, commerce, literature and art, and even sexuality.


But Pearcey’s intent was not to debunk proponents of evolution and its derivative theories, but to call for a fair exchange of ideas. “So often today, public education actually discourages critical thinking,” Pearcey observed. “If secular views are taught uncritically, without taking opposing religious views seriously, it becomes a kind of totalitarianism.”


Quotes taken from here.

People Beginning to Wake Up Regarding Oprah?

It's reported ratings are down 7% for Ophah Winfrey. While many are speculating (and I'm sure the Winfrey camp is doing their own research) as to why this is happening (some suggest her political involvement (either party issues, or gender issues, etc.) some have suggested some of this has resulted from Ophrah's espousal of New Age Philosophies. Perhaps people are starting to wake up and see through the guise that everyone who may call themselves Christian are not necessarily so! The details and evidence, once one looks into it, speaks volumes.

I've notice Oprah's website now has a "new" spiritual advisor who is leading Oprah in a "new" cleansing diet. How many new advisors does one need when they've found the truth? How many new diets will there be? The truth is that when one is continually searching, and always having to look for something and someone new, it's not always because new is better, but because one has not found that which satisfies and meets the need to begin with.

In the wake of the Eckhart Tolle webcasts, there's been a brighter focus put on Oprah and what she believes and teaches... and how it not only is "not" Christian, but opposes the very message that's at the heart of Christianity. Hopefully, through these things some are beginning to see the difference and become more discerning. This is good and hopefully will continue, and perhaps through it many may come even to evaluate the truth claims of the gospel itself.

Will there be any Muslim Response?

It is reported not only that Christian converts are increasing in Iran, but that Muslims in leadership are stepping up persecution against Christians in Iran.

Suppose we'll hear much criticism from Muslims around the world who themselves enjoy the freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and the right to choose and express their beliefs?

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. (Jesus Christ, John 15:20)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Exposure of the Practice of Some who Espouse the Gospel as Myth

This article, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, gives great insight as to how the gospel-as-myth industry often operates. In this case, it was with the handling of the Gospel of Judas. Finally, though it will be read by only a tiny fraction of the public, with no documentaries or Datelines or ABC Easter specials, who have already been swayed by the fabricated story in the National Geographic some years back, the truth is getting out. It's the same story though. A minority group of scholars well-known in the field as anything but dispassionate (typically those not directly doing research in the specific subfield, see Ehrman) and a large group of profiteers join forces to shake things up and invent a "crisis of faith" for money. Who cares if the story is true (see Jesus Family Tomb). The problems with the story will come out long after the damage is done, the money and movie is made, and long after the fleeting attention span of the media and public dries up (error correction stories are not nearly as exciting, you know, as allegation stories).

Friday, May 23, 2008

A Church Carrot of Preference in place of Principle

Australia's Anglican bishops have agreed that parishes that cannot in good conscience recognise the ministry of a woman bishop will be offered the services of a male bishop.


Quote taken from here. In other words, they're saying, "disregard the principle (we're doing away with it), but in order to appease you, we'll give you your preference (that is until the new precedent become commonplace, accepted and substituted as the new principle.)"

Olympic Spotlight on China

Chinese citizens can now choose their own careers, travel abroad, own a car and establish a business. But Christians cannot legally hold a prayer meeting in a private home, share a church service with foreign Christians or interact with foreign Christian organizations. China still bans religious education for children under the age of 18 and limits the publication of Bibles and other religious materials.

Many Chinese Christians see little good coming from the Olympics in the way of religious liberty. Some point to a government crackdown on unregistered house churches over the past year, as evidenced in a 2007 report issued in February by the China Aid Association (CAA), and an unprecedented expulsion of foreign missionaries in 2007 as part of a “clean-up” in preparation for the Games.

Others fear religious persecution will increase after the Games as the world’s media moves on from China.


Quote taken from here.

Another example of the world being fearful of (/oppressing) the gospel. What are they afraid of? The irony is not only will the gospel expose their sin, but it's that which is needed to bring true freedom and liberty.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

New Book by Collin Hansen: Young, Restless, Reformed


Young, Restless, Reformed ought to be a good read for what it's purposed to be. See here for a book reveiew.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Paul Washer on the depth of the Gospel

Quote from Henry Morris, Ph.D.

In previous years, "science" was understood to mean "the search for truth," but many now limit that to a search for naturalistic explanations, even if that search leads to hopeless conclusions.


Taken from here.

Solution to High Gas Prices


Solution to high gas prices in America: Honor the Sabbath (Lord's) Day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Psalmic Worship

As the first quarter of the year has progressed, my thoughts have been directed to the appropriate elements of worship in the church and how we (the church) practice worshiping the Most High God in a way that pleases Him. As I have pondered these things, a verse from Scripture keeps coming to the forefront of my mind:

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. - Colossians 3:16 (NASB)

When Paul says we should be taught and admonished by psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, what does that mean?

I believe it means that we, at the very least, are to look to the 150 Psalms of the Old Testament as a guide to corporate (the church gathered) worship - among other things.

When you look closely, the 150 Psalms are a perfect template and guide to the form, fit and function of worship through music - if you pay attention as you read through, you will find many elements that we practice today in our local church worship:

1. Singing songs
2. Singing new songs
3. Lifting up our hands
4. Making a joyful noise
5. Praising him with instruments

So - here are some points to ponder:

What other ways of worshiping the Lord do we find in the Psalms?

Are there things that you find uncomfortable in the way we worship today?

How do you reconcile your feelings about worship with the directions of Scripture concerning worship?

As you think about these things - take a look at a couple of the Psalms for guidance:

Psalm 100
1Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
2Serve the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
3Know that the LORD Himself is God;
It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 149: 1-6a
1Praise the LORD!
Sing to the LORD a new song,
And His praise in the congregation of the godly ones.
2Let Israel be glad in his Maker;
Let the sons of Zion rejoice in their King.
3Let them praise His name with dancing;
Let them sing praises to Him with timbrel and lyre.
4For the LORD takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.
5Let the godly ones exult in glory;
Let them sing for joy on their beds.
6Let the high praises of God be in their mouth,

Psalm 150
1Praise the LORD!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
2Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
3Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
4Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
5Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
6Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Who owns salvation? James White gives insight - OORAH! :)

Use of the Term "Supernatural"

Good article over on the Evangelical Outpost:

Those who believe that the material is all that exists (i.e., materialists, physicalists, some atheists) are forced to reduce or explain everything in terms of the physical. The mind, for example, is considered to be identical and reducible to the physical states of the brain. Senses, emotions, desires, and other intangibles presumably are illusory properties that "emerge" from the physical. All natural laws are therefore physical laws.
...

Christians, on the other hand, should draw the line of demarcation between the creational/natural and the supernatural based on that which exists necessarily (exists on its own) and that which relies on something else for its existence. According to the Bible, all of creation not only came into existence by God's fiat, but remains in existence only because of his continuous action (sometimes referred to as "providential action" or simply "providence").


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Good Reading

In unexpected ways, science and mysticism are joining hands and reinforcing each other. That’s bound to lead to new movements that emphasize self-transcendence but put little stock in divine law or revelation. Orthodox believers are going to have to defend particular doctrines and particular biblical teachings. They’re going to have to defend the idea of a personal God, and explain why specific theologies are true guides for behavior day to day.


If you survey the literature ..., you can see that certain beliefs will spread into the wider discussion.

First, the self is not a fixed entity but a dynamic process of relationships. Second, underneath the patina of different religions, people around the world have common moral intuitions. Third, people are equipped to experience the sacred, to have moments of elevated experience when they transcend boundaries and overflow with love. Fourth, God can best be conceived as the nature one experiences at those moments, the unknowable total of all there is.


Good reading perhaps for where discussion may be headed (The Neural Buddhists).

As always, the task of the Christian apologist will be to distinguish between truth and untruth, to weed out untruth, and show how the truth points people to Christ!

Yes... we will have to become more familiar with the Eastern Religions... for they are becoming more interspersed, common, and discussed in our day, raising new questions and additional thought. Here, we will have to build on the labors of those faithful saints who have gone before us and apply the truth/Scripture in our day!

Christian Skepticism in regard to Einstein's Letter / Position (Einstein: Bible Is 'Primitive, Pretty Childish')

While Einstein's faith(and/or lack thereof) has historically been and continues to be debated, I raise skepticism on a theological level as to the significance of what many seek to accomplish through the debate.

While the debate from a historical perspective is a good one and of value, from a theological perspective it matter not (except for Einstein himself) whether he was a Christian or not. It seems that be it both from the side of unbelievers and perhaps from some believers that the tendency is to want to claim Einstein (who has achieved a reputation among many as one of the smartest men who has ever lived, etc.)on their side... as if by having Einstein on their side it would tend to lend some greater measure of credibility to their side. However, when one comes to understand the truth communicated in Scripture both in regard to the knowledge of God and particularly the means of attaining that knowledge, it's clear that the question of whether Einstein believed in God or not is irrelevant in settling the debate or lending credence to either side.

To put this more clearly, the Scripture states "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him - but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit." The point is that it doesn't matter how smart a human being is (on a human level), unless God himself reveals the truth concerning Christ, the metaphysical kingdom, etc., man will not know it, or believe it, regardless of whether they be an "Einstein" or a kindergarten student. The truth is that all human beings, regardless of their earthly intellect (which itself is a gift from God), are fallen and blinded of the truth as a result of sin, so that whether Einstein believed the truth or not is irrelevant and what matters is whether one is regenerated by the Holy Spirit and enabled by the Spirit of God to see things as they really are and to accept and embrace the truth.

That being said, I'll address a few comments in the recent FOXNews article entitled Einstein: Bible Is 'Primitive, Pretty Childish'. (see below)


In the note, written the year before his death, Einstein dismissed the idea of God as the product of human weakness and the Bible as "pretty childish."


Einstein's holding this position doesn't deny (/negate) the truth. Such a statement (which if taken in context and from an (spiritually) unenlightened mind) would reflect his spiritual depravity and blindness as opposed to any weakness, ignorance, or error in the Scripture.

Einstein, who helped unravel the mysteries of the universe with his theory of relativity, expressed complex and arguably contradictory views on faith, perceiving a universe suffused with spirituality while rejecting organized religion.


While one can be saved apart from organized religion, affirmation alone of "spirituality" in the universe is not the qualification of salvation, rather faith is (in reference to the gospel).

In it, Einstein said that "the word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish."


No surprise if Einstein was unregnerate. No different than others who claim the same today. However, one must not this position differs from the testimony of God's Spirit (through the inspired writers) in Scripture along with the testimony of those spiritually enlightened.

Addressing the idea that the Jews are God's chosen people, Einstein wrote that "the Jewish people to whom I gladly belong and with whose mentality I have a deep affinity have no different quality for me than all other people. As far as my experience goes, they are also no better than other human groups, although they are protected from the worst cancers by a lack of power. Otherwise I cannot see anything 'chosen' about them."


Several responses:
1. On one level, election does not always result in earthly prosperity.
2. There are evidences in history of providences that point to special blessings to Israel and to the Jews (especially when one considers the prophesies beforehand which were later fulfilled); however it's not surprising when unbelievers assign the same events and happenings to things like "chance" or no different than what is sometimes found in the accounts of others.
3. On another level (that is "in and of ourselves") it is true that God's people are no different tht others; what distinguishes God's people is the grace and mercy of God bestowed on them. Yet on another level, those who possess faith and are justified, will usually be seen to experience sanctification (on various levels) which others do not (Note - one's perspectives even come into play in this evaluation).

"Einstein was not a conventional theist" — although he was not an atheist, either.


My post is not to argue either position, but to get readers to not get so caught up with this issue that they miss the greater issue, which is the need to be born again through the living and enduring Word of God.

Born to a Jewish family in Germany in 1879, Einstein said he went through a devout phase as a child before beginning to question conventional religion at the age of 12.


Not unusual for children of this age to have questions and raise questions concerning what they have been taught. However, it's not a matter of "conventional religion" as much as his position in regard to the reigning Lord which is of ultimate concern for him (and his soul).

In later life, he expressed a sense of wonder at the universe and its mysteries — what he called a "cosmic religious feeling" — and famously said: "Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."


The wonders and mysteries of the universe are above all.
A "cosmic religious feeling" does not save, God does, and those he saves he does through faith and dependence upon Christ.

Einstein is correct that science without religion is lame (/misguided). It not only fails to provide for what's found in the universe, but it misses it's intended end.

In stating religion without science is blind, while its true that truth will not disagree with one another whether it's source be from general or special revelation; at the same time it's also true that it's special revelation (not general revelation) by which God has revealed and manifest his gospel (/mercy). Those who believe they can look to science alone to determine the ultimate truth in religion are mistaken, for God has revealed this truth in Christ and his Word.

But, he also said: "I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil. My God created laws that take care of that. His universe is not ruled by wishful thinking, but by immutable laws."


While Einstein recognized the laws of God at work in the universe; his error may have stemmed from seeing this issue as an "either - or" scenario rather than a "both/and" scenario. God both works through natural laws, principles, precepts, etc., but also through decree and judgment.

Brooke said Einstein believed that "there is some kind of intelligence working its way through nature. But it is certainly not a conventional Christian or Judaic religious view."


Seems scientists today could learn something from Einstein in regard to the presence of intelligence.

No specifics here in what Einstein argued with concerning the Christian view.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Implications of Consistent Atheism

As has been noted several times throughout this blog, atheism is a philosophy that cannot sustain itself, but must borrow from other worldviews in order for it's proponents to even function. This point was brought to light in a recent New York Times article criticizing Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, which claimed that the movie failed to take into consideration the difference between “Scientific Darwinism” and “Social Darwinism”. What the article failed to do, however, is explain how one could hold to “Scientific Darwinism” and logically reject “Social Darwinism”.


......
Peter Singer is one of the few atheists who nearly tries to live what he believes, yet I would dare say that even most atheists would find his views on human life objectionable. Here are a few goodies expressed by Singer, from Dinesh D'Souza’s article Atheism and Child Murder.

On how mothers should be permitted to kill their offspring until the age of 28 days: "My colleague Helga Kuhse and I suggest that a period of twenty-eight days after birth might be allowed before an infant is accepted as having the same right to life as others."

On why abortion is less morally significant than killing a rat: "Rats are indisputably more aware of their surroundings, and more able to respond in purposeful and complex ways to things they like or dislike, than a fetus at ten or even thirty-two weeks gestation."

On why pigs, chickens and fish have more rights to life than unborn humans: "The calf, the pig, and the much-derided chicken come out well ahead of the fetus at any stage of pregnancy, while if we make the comparison with a fetus of less than three months, a fish would show more signs of consciousness."

On why infants aren't normal human beings with rights to life and liberty: "Characteristics like rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness...make a difference. Infants lack these characteristics. Killing them, therefore, cannot be equated with killing normal human beings."

You can watch Dinesh D'Souza Debate Peter Singer at Biola University.

Whatever one thinks of Peter Singer’s radical belief system, at least he is consistent (to a certain point).
......

Worship Essentials - a very practical read

PDF here

This is from blog.worship.com - check it out sometimes.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Antagonists in the church

Excellent article here - very relevant and accurate.

It is important to deal with antagonists sooner rather than later, particularly in a growing church - as folk come into the fold, the antagonist uses any slight, any problem as an opportunity to build their base. I completely agree with the author - nip it in the bud.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Chuck Colson and The Faith



I am reading this right now - VERY easy and accessible - HIGHLY recommended for a study group or a special church-wide campaign - I agree with much of Colson's thoughts here and certainly his call for a return to Biblical orthodoxy, but I think he may pander a bit to the Arminian and Roman Catholic traditions, even as he seemingly aligns with much of Reformed thought.

All in all...I'd give it a high A-.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Worship and the Worship Leader

Reading in regard to The Evangelical Manifesto

This week, a select group of men (if there are any women involved, none have been identified) will issue a document they are calling “An Evangelical Manifesto: The Washington Declaration of Identity and Public Commitment.” We know just a bit about this embargoed document’s existence, not its content, because Warren Cole Smith, publisher of the Evangelical Press News Service, has written about the plan and process of producing the declaration that purports to represent American evangelical beliefs and values. Smith’s point in writing about the manifesto is that the timing of the release makes it a political document, and the closed group of people working on the content apparently excludes traditional conservative and pro-family evangelical voices.


However, no amount of pious-sounding rhetoric about our common American values will obscure the policy litmus tests on the great moral issues of the day upon which our humanity hangs; nor should it. As Christ warned the Disciples, standing for truth is not the route to public acclaim. The term “evangelical” means a Biblical worldview and this dictates a philosophical/theological perspective on the timeless moral issues of Scripture. Those positions ought to be clear and unequivocal, rather than muddied by sophisticated rhetoric and clever obfuscation. The subtle danger is, as the old axiom states: “Those who stand for nothing will fall for anything.”


The above quotes form the opening and closing paragraphs of an artile written by Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, entitled Muddying the Evangelical Waters, which discusses The Evangelical Manifesto.

Without discussing it myself at this point, I present the article for awareness, for thought, and for believers to learn to be discerning of the need to distinguish Christianity (and a biblical world and life view), and to understand how other interest groups (whether political or otherwise, whether from a perspective of the right or the left, etc.) though they may present themselves as "Christian" or "evangelical", while they may have some things in common may also differ or leave out others, and even have different motives or interests in mind. Believers are not to be naive, and particularly when it comes to the area of politics, need to be discerning and not blindly believe, follow, accept, or associate themselves with all that they hear, are taught, or are sold.

Weinland and Revelation

Ronald Weinland, the self-proclaimed final witness has posted again and in his upcoming trips he states

Over the coming months, planning visits to specific areas will become more difficult as destructive events strike in different locations. As we look to God to lead us in our planning, we are going to continue sending elders to locations where growing numbers of people are seeking baptism and fellowship with God’s Church. We are going to focus on serving those whom God is calling as long as we are able to accomplish such work, and as we move forward through the Four Trumpets that will sound first, we will have to be very flexible in how this is accomplished.

As God reveals the work His two witnesses are to accomplish, we will keep you posted in as timely fashion as we are able. God has not yet revealed all that we are to accomplish or the areas in which such things will be done. That will be a progressive revelation to His two end-time witness, whose job formally begins on April 17th.


Note: Now Weinland appears to be suggesting a belief in Continuing Revelation!

Interesting, that since April 17th, ... destructive events have not occurred ... unless Weinland plans to visit Myanmar, which is not revealed in Scripture. Remember that while one might state that when Weinland uses references to "destructive events" it might inclusive enough to consider things like the cyclone, Weinland also specificly has spoken of large nuclear disasters (and the end of all things) in the coming months. We shall see.

Excellent Example that Good Works don't Make Up for Wrongs Done

Often, people like to think that even though they have sinned against God, they can get right with God by "loving" (or "caring") for him and doing good deeds.

Read the following article, and answer the question: Given what this man has done, could he ever do enough good to make up the difference?

Incest dad: I cared for my secret family

Skeptical of Children Skeptics (Marriage, Children)

But, despite the belief that children are the apples of our eyes, they actually can have a negative influence on marriages, according to the report. And more kids equals more sadness, Gilbert said.


In Harvard Professor: Children Can Send Marriage Into Downward Spiral, the strain and stresses that children can add to a marriage are clearly reflected...even if by way of addressing the measure of present temporal happiness among parents. At first read, one may even wonder what the intent or outcome of the article suggest, and yet a closer read points to children having a "negative influence" on marriages. Is the professor simply pointing out that having children and especially teenagers is difficult (and thereby affects temporal happiness, something any parents could have told you without his research!!!), or is he suggesting something more, even the way we should look upon children and having them.

This point comes into clearer focus when you consider the term "negative influence". Is the professor simply referring to the "lack of happiness" due to the difficulties? If so, then several questions come into play. Is the professor simply measuring the "temporal happiness" of the parents, or does he also take into account that good that comes to parents as they learn more about themselves through these difficulties, more about what it means to die to oneself and serve others, more about what it means to perservere and mature, etc.?

If the professor is referring to more than just the "present temporal happiness" of the parents when he suggests that children are a negative influence on marriages (i.e., that we should not have children because they harm our marriages), then one must consider whether "temporal happiness" alone is the ultimate measuure of a good and fruitful and satisfying marriage, or whether a variety of other issues come into play, such as the blessing that children bring to their parents; the joy that children bring to parents; the carrying on of the family; the addition family, community, church, etc.; the greater productiveness achieved; the expansion of lives affected; even the help received when parents become aged; etc. Here again, we see the error of making one's "present temporal happiness" the be all and end all of meaning, purpose, determinations, etc.

I speak as one who has children in the very ages the professor says they produce the greatest negative influence, and while at times my wife and I get stretched (even thin at times), and while sure we could be off indulging ourselves and our flesh without them if we wanted to, I would not give my children up for anything but consider them of greatest value or endearment. As the Scripture states, children are a "gift" (not a "negative influence") from God, and as the Psalmist writes "Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him."

Again, one must be careful of presenting half the truth (or even less than that) as the whole truth. Doing so can lead a person and others to draw wrong conclusions.

Skeptical of Pfc's Comment

In response to changing standards which may ban magazines such as Playboy and Penthouse for pornographic material on military bases, it's reported that one Private First Class made the following statement as an argument against the proposed change:

"We all read 'em,...'There are times we just read 'em for the technological parts like the new gadgets that come out. They have good stories sometimes too.'"


Do you think additional magazines with technology and gadgets would satisfy him?

It's no different than when men suggest they go to Hooters because they have good wings.

Note the statement by U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga (which I assume probably comes from the Department of Defense's study committee's findings):

"Allowing the sale of pornography on military bases has harmed military men and women by: escalating the number of violent, sexual crimes; feeding a base addiction; eroding the family as the primary building block of society; and denigrating the moral standing of our troops both here and abroad,"

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

No News from Weinland

No news recently from Ronald Weinland - the "self proclaimed" final witness (along with his wife - who "he" claims is the second witness).

One might possibly think, perhaps without the rest of the world knowing it, the prophecies of the Bible have taken place without out knowledge... that is, except for the fact in one of Weinland's interviews he states that he will be openly opposed by the Pope... which hasn't taken place, not to mention the nuclear disasters he referred to!

We'll continue to wait ... AND with expectation: not of Weinland's prophesies coming true, but of seeing a false prophet exposed as his statements fail to come to pass.

Skeptical of accepting category of "Religion" as the problem

Richard Dawkins and others like to state that particularly after 9-11 they've come to see "religion" as a threat (/problem).

While the events of 9-11 were on one level done in the name of "religion" (or in the name of Islam); one could also say that the actions were done in "unbelief" as opposed to those who believe (even though they were done according to the individual's 'errant & destructive' beliefs) ... in the sense that it was not "religion" per se that was the problem, but actually the deviation from true religion that both founded and motivated the acts of terrorism and killing.

My point is that as believers, we should not allow atheists to select the categories without being challenged on it, for "an apple can be cut several ways", and simply letting atheists define the problem in terms of "religion" versus "non-religion" gives the appearance of a high-ground to secularist views while seemingly dirtying the name of "all" religion, without sufficient grounds.

In effect, they have tried to "combine" Christianity (and other religions) in "assigning" the blame of Islam to all. The blatant unreasonableness of such attacks deserves to be exposed and should not be left unchallenged.

The truth is that the attacks of 9-11 are perfectly consistent with the timeless truths of God's Word concerning the nature, motives and practices of those who are found to be and persist in unbelief. While in saying this I do not seek to put the blame of the Muslim terrorists upon Atheists, and yet it remains true that those who oppose Christ are often found to kill, steal, and to destroy.





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Excitement & Caution in Regard to the "New Synthesis in Moral Psychology" (Human Morality)

Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, economists, primatologists and anthropologists, all borrowing liberally from each others' insights, are putting together a novel picture of morality—a trend that University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt has described as the "new synthesis in moral psychology." The picture emerging shows the moral sense to be the product of biologically evolved and culturally sensitive brain systems that together make up the human "moral faculty."



One of the present and future battlegrounds in religious debate (as shown by the above quote, taken from here) is certain to be in the area of human morality.

As with other areas of debate between Christians and non-Christians (especially those within secular humanism), this new area of study is nothing for Christians to be afraid of, only something Christians must critically scrutinize, or else risk giving up ground in areas which can be used in highlighting the glory of God, the truth of the gospel, and furthering the work of bringing others to Christ through the truth both revealed and confirmed.

Here's what the battle is going to look like: One one hand you'll have those who seek to suggest that human morality is simply a result of biological factors and evolution (i.e., it has no ultimate standard but finds it's origin and source in matter ... or in man)... and on the other hand you'll have those who look to the evidence as support of what the Bible has always proclaimed - that morality's origin is found outside of matter or the universe in God himself, and the evidences when properly scrutinized not only point to but confirm the teaching of Scripture. The ultimate answer to this question (as it has been found in so many other areas) is going to come down to none other than (...Guess what??!!) a matter of FAITH!

For example, as the article points out, "intuition" rather than reason is now being looked to as playing a significant role in human morality. The question is...what is intuition and where does it come from? Is it simply a something that has resulted in a materialistic world and is now biologically passed down through evolution, or is it the result of the law of God being written upon the hearts of men? You see, on one level, this new research can be exciting for the Christian apologist, because it points to what the Bible has been saying all along, and that is that morality is not simply based on "reason" and "cultural" factors (though these play a part in human morality (in the exercise of it, and to a small extent in the informing/storing up in the conscience, etc.)... i.e., we can confidently, joyfully, and unsurprisingly point to the fact that "evidence" now, even from the beginning of these studies, points to the truth of what the Bible states (even though others based on their presuppositions, rejection of the gospel, and opposition to it's truth ... while they must admit this [when pressed] to be a rational possibility... will argue and set out to prove otherwise ... that intuition is simply a factor, function, or product of man.

Here's what Christians need to be concerned about and keep in mind as the findings of these studies continue to come forward and as the level of debate picks up in these areas:

1. One must evaluate the presuppositions and evaluations upon which findings are determined.

For example, in the article in regard to the examples given (the individual who failed to keep his promise to his dead mother, and the individual who had sex with a chicken before eating it), it states that "These weird but essentially harmless acts were, nonetheless, by and large deemed to be immoral." While the articles defines "harmless' as " no sentient being was hurt", we're reminded by this that at the same time that investigation will be to determine how individuals respond to certain scenarios, that at some point judgements of the findings may/will involve relationship to ethical judgments (and in particular to "a" standard of ethics/morality). Christians must be on their guard to evaluate not just "whether or not" some particular outcome was discovered, but if determinations are made in regard to those outcomes, that the "input" or "evaluation" criterias are themselves right. Put another way, if trash comes out, it could be because trash was put in.

2. Christians also must be careful to evaluate issues concerning "cultural" factors to human morality. Without understanding that one aspect of the conscience is that one one level it is like a storehouse and especially in our fallen state must be filled with deposits (for good and better use)(i.e., the need to study and memorize Scripture); secular humanists will most likely deny the relationship between the law written on the heart and particular role and funtion of the conscience, and instead assert that morality is more just a factor of human evolutionary inheritance and cultural conditioning. An example of this can be found in relation to the issue of "moral dumbfounding". In the study where people acknowledged that incestous sex was wrong, but could not state why, ... some may try to argue that it's just "cultural" influence, i.e., biblical influence or it's effects. (Note - in such a position, nothing could ultimately be stated as wrong, just culturally relevant. This is the same thinking the prophet condemned) If one's presupposition is the law is not written upon the heart (i.e. rejects the truth of Scripture), then they would define the innate or intuitive knowledge of incestous sex as simply the result of brainwashing. However, if one recognizes the truth of Scripture, it's not unnatural for one to know things apart from sole reasoning.

3. Finally Christians need to be careful in examining the studies and their findings that all factors involved are taken into account. For example, if "cultural" influences are mentioned, but the conscience all it's workings are not taken into account, then faulty findings will result.


In the end, study in this new area is exciting and can be a great testimony in the arsenal of the Christian apologist and evangelist; however, as with other issues, be they in the field of science, literature, theology, archaeology, etc., the big question will depend on whether Christians are not only involved in the research and discovery (which helps by not having to correct and address errors and deficiencies later), but whether Christians critically examine not only the findings but all that been involved in reaching those findings.

Two beautiful things that can already be stated:
1. The position that secular humanists would ultimate argue for in this area is one that I don't believe anyone wants to live out... that being that there is no absolute truth, morals, or ethics.... for imagine a world in which this is the predominant mindset.

2. Even the fact that this issue, along with all the other ultimate issues of debate, comes down to an issue of "faith" and one's "presuppositions", ought to serve as additional thought and motivation leading to one considering the wisdom and gospel of God, for is it by accident that so many of the the ultimate questions come to and arrive at this point, or is it the intended result of the wisdom of God, which manifests itself for the good (and salvation of man), and which one day will be revealed fully and finally for all the world to see?!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Interesting Vodcast: Intelligent Design and Evolution



Props to Thinking Christian

Skeptical of "Progressive Christianity"

In the mold of Tolle and Oprah, a new term has begun to emerge from the liberal churches, "Progressive Christianity", which obviously not Christianity but yet another form of humanism dressed up with Christian terminology.

Christianity without Christ: No creeds, no miracles, no Resurrection: Minister preaches faith without the symbolism

Consider...

  • "a Bible ... is just a book among other books."

  • "the cross ... has no special meaning"

  • "The central story of Christianity will fade away...The story about Jesus as the symbol of everything that Christianity is will fade away."

  • Jesus was a "Middle Eastern peasant with a few charismatic gifts and a great posthumous marketing team."

  • "The Bible is used in her services, but it gets rewritten to be more contemporary and speak to more people. Even the Lord's Prayer -- also known as the Our Father -- does not make the cut because it creates an image of a God who intervenes in human existence. And then there is the "Father" part that is not inclusive language and carries with it the notion of an overbearing tyrant who condemns people to hell."

  • "It's been evolving for a long time but we're afraid to acknowledge that so this is merely the next iteration of what Christianity needs to be."

Like every other form of pluralism, Progressive Christianity seeks to make man the ultimate authority of spiritual matters by denying that God has revealed Himself and His will.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Skeptical of “Relevant” Churches

Many churches, seeking to become “relevant” to the world, have become less relevant to the Kingdom of God. Case in point…

Concerts to resume after fight at church club

It is painfully obvious that, in such cases, the term “relevant” is simply another synonym for “worldly”. Whether or not such “club” atmosphere events are appropriate for a church is debatable. In the larger scheme, however, the church will never become relevant to the world by imitating it. These events may attract goats, but fail to convert them into sheep. The church is not called to be “relevant”. It is called to be Holy.

Here's more information from the event:

Tonight 's "battle of the bands" was originally billed to feature five groups vying for a chance to open for Killwhitneydead at Club Relevant on June 27.

Killwhitneydead, a Greensboro, N.C., band, is described on its MySpace page as "metal/hardcore/death metal."

Can't get much more "relevant" than that.

Skeptical of Term "Mother Nature"

I just heard commentators on Fox News suggest that "Mother Nature" was selective in that it (she) picked some houses to destroy with a tornado while it left others.

While it's one thing to speak of a storm affecting some houses and not others, to go beyond this to speak of "Mother Nature" is to enter the level of motive and purpose behind the storm. While I do not disagree that motive and purpose is found in or behind storms, I point out there's much greater evidence pointing to the Christian God than to "Mother Nature".

While references to "Mother Nature" might reasonably be expected among popular culture, is it too much to expect more of professional news reporters?

Skeptical of "Sexual Orientation" in Non-Discrimination Policies

See Ministry Fined for Firing Homosexual Employee to see illustration and consequences of what happens.

Grouping an issue of morality (sexual orientation) along with non-moral issues such as age, race, handicaps, etc., oversteps what non-discrimination policies should protect.

People should not be forced or legislated to embrace, accept or be involved with it the immorality of others. (Note: while some may argue (1) "Whose" morality is the standard? (2) What about Christians views being imposed on others, etc.; several factors come into play. First is the issue of whether these issues belong in a "non-discrimination" portion of law. Second, if one wants to push the argument far enough, it can be shown that only the Christian position provides for a rational and consistent view of morality. Third, hate crimes laws deal with other issues related to concerns in these areas (though even what is included in these laws of this nature is subject to judgment and concern)

This is no small matter, and believers need to recognize it up front and speak out where there is opportunity before it becomes law and oppose it where it has become law.

One place to do this includes participating in and speaking out when your state hosts seminars for the "Rule of Law" in keeping with the World Justice Project.

Skeptical of Extent of Methodist Slide

While some might be surprised, it's reported that Delegates to the United Methodist Church's General Conference have voted to uphold traditional marriage. For details, see here.

Good for the Methodists! This is encouraging to hear!

Climate Predictions and a Lesson for Religion (Similarities of Science and Religion)

It seems everyday I read a different prediction in regard to the forecast for global warming or cooling. Some suggest warming (some warmer, some less warm), others suggest cooling (some cooler, others less cool), now I've even seeing a small period of warm with an overall period of cool, and the opposite I'm sure can be found.

While science is to be considered of significant value, I want to point out to those who constantly argue the point that because there are various "religous" viewpoints when it comes to truth, then religion itself is useless, none should be trusted, and and all should be rejected, ... that if you applied this same argument to science, then you'd be cutting off the very foot you try to stand on.

The truth is that there is truth, and though some may be wrong while another is right, that doesn't mean that no one is right and that none should be considered and evaluated.

Just as time will tell which of the climate forecasts are right (recognizing changes continue even as time continues), and just as one can even now look to and evaluate those methods of interpretation that are better than others, so it is with religion, and arguments that set Christianity apart from the rest.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Moratorium on Questioning Evolution: EXPELLED!


The Moratorium on Questioning Evolution is being: EXPELLED!

see: State Legislators Seek Bills to Allow Questioning of Evolution Theory in Schools

Beyond Tolle - The Next Generation

If Tolle's not enough for you, or you want to go deeper, consider this (just kidding):



It's a Miracle - she kept a straight face while making this; but no matter how hard I tried, I could not keep one while watching it.

Jazzycat... this one ought to be right up your alley!

Skeptical of "Offering Children" (Indian Babies Dropped)

In Indian Babies Dropped 50 Feet for Good Luck in Bizarre Ritual, it's reported that parents take vows at a temple to take actions which place the health, well being, and life of their children in danger. This annual celebration is reportedly observed by Hindus and Muslims.

Compare this with the position and words of the Christian God (in regard to putting children at risk or harming them as if it were commanded or received as acceptable by Him):

They have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as offerings to Baal - SOMETHING I DID NOT COMMAND OR MENTION, NOR DID IT EVER ENTER MY MIND." (Jeremiah 19:5)[CAPS, my emphasis]

Skeptical of Jesus Coming in 2015

Regardless of one’s eschatology, this type of date setting should always be viewed with skepticism.

Blood moon eclipses: 2nd Coming in 2015

This would be quite amusing if it didn’t continually put blight on the Church of Jesus Christ. Methinks someone needs a lesson on Apocalyptic Language.

The Knowledge Of and Faith in Christ and His Accomplishment versus The Search for the Sacred

...for the Reformers, adds Lee, the new birth was the opposite of "rebirth into a new and more acceptable self," but the death of the old self and its rebirth in Christ.


Modern Reformation: Your Own Personal Jesus by Michael Horton - Excellent reading for those willing to labor and digest to better understand the landscape of religion in America today.

The Christian duty to be vaccinated and double effect

In another post, I briefly summarized why it is the duty of Biblical Christians to take the vaccine in alignment to the 2nd greatest command...