Saturday, November 29, 2008
reviewing this book:
From the review:
This book considers the possibility and probabilities of aliens and UFOs having an extraterrestrial “natural”/evolutionary origin. Are they really space-creatures who journeyed from other planets to meet us? The frequency of sightings, the distances from which they must come and resultant time involved, along with the lack of any evidence of these beings communicating with us through radio waves or other indirect methods – or even signs of entrance into our atmosphere, make such an explanation virtually impossible. The UFOs and beings act in a way more consistent with an inter-dimensional being (yes, in the scientific, physics sense). They appear and disappear, change shape, and move at velocities that defy the laws of motion.
Are the aliens good? Are they our space brothers sent to help us reach the next stage of our evolution? No, they are known liars (until we discovered there was no life on the moon, they said they were from the moon, the Mars, then Venus, then every other planet in our galaxy until they said they were from the Pleiades and Sirius and far away stars systems; their foretelling of future events has also proven false) whose impact on lives is in the negative. They create pain, confusion, withdrawal from friends and family, and fear in their contactees. Certainly some people become willing to endure these encounters, and enjoy the profit and attention generated by their experiences. Many people have ended up harming themselves and others, submitting themselves to abuse or even death, as a result of encounters with these beings.
I am pleased to see that someone is flexhing out and exposing what I have been thinking about on the whole phenomenon. I'll be adding this book to my collection.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I am watching it now - excellent, thus far.
Edited to add - thanks to Brian for the link to the audio in the comments.
Behind the scenes articles here.
Earlier, Hitchens warns against solipism, yet uses a solipistic argument to rebut the destruction of the Amalekites. Transliterated - Wilson - "According to your worldview, the universe doesn't care, so it doesn't matter." Hitchens - "Not if I am an Amalekite."
I think that Wilson allows Hitchens to pull him off onto rabbit trails.
Then Hitchens argues that if most religions are false, it is likely all are.
Liked the David Hume discussion.
Hitchens uses humor to deflect Wilson's rebuttals.
I really like the section on the resurrection as the foundational miracle from which the veracity of all other miracles is measured.
Like the mention of healthy skepticism - Christian skepticism being the healthiest type, of course!
1 Thess 5:21 :)
I am glad Wilson called him on some of the strawmen he introduced.
Ah! The partial preterism argument!
Now to the Golden Rule - which Christians qualify with the Shema.
And now the POE...which Christians, particularly Calvinists, can answer consistently with Romans 8:28 (among others).
Using tryanny to describe God is anthropomorphism.
Hitchens uses the same technique he says despises in Christianity - using pathos (emotions) to rebut logos (reason).
This debate highlights why there is no neutral ground in apologetics.
I think that Wilson should clearly articulate his position:
1. Any worldview or religion introduced into their debate other than the Reformed Christian worldview is a red-herring.
2. The Reformed Christian position on the Bible is that it is a consistent collection of timeless truth tested over the course of centuries and must be considered over the breadth of its teachings and any attempted decontextualization is deceptive and disengenuous.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Friday, November 21, 2008
Happy people spend a lot of time socializing, going to church and reading newspapers — but they don’t spend a lot of time watching television, a new study finds.
That’s what unhappy people do.
Although people who describe themselves as happy enjoy watching television, it turns out to be the single activity they engage in less often than unhappy people, said John Robinson, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland and the author of the study, which appeared in the journal Social Indicators Research.
Quote from here.
Go to church and be happy!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
The measure, Proposition 8, amends the state constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman only.
Supporters of gay rights have vowed to fight the move, saying majority rule should not set the law.
Quote taken from here.
"Majority Rule" is often lifted up by unbelivers as a standard/rule for ethics, but I guess when it doesn't go your way, even this can be set aside. Why not just begin with "Everyone does what is right in his own mind". (Oh yeah, that doesn't work either when other's desires conflict with the individual's desires or well being).
OH, when will sinners find a standard that suits all their interests?
Once one gets beyond reductionism, it leads to a radically new scientific worldview, which changes our place in the universe as human beings. We are not meaningless chunks of particles spinning around in space. We are organisms with meaning in our lives, and the way the biosphere will evolve is ceaselessly creative. The way the economy evolves is ceaselessly creative in ways that cannot be predicted ahead of time. That's why five-year plans don't work. The same thing for human culture.
I'm saying God is the sacredness of nature. And you can go a step beyond that. You can say that God is nature. That's the God of Spinoza. That's the God that Einstein believed in. But their view of the universe was deterministic. The new view is that evolution of the universe is partially lawless and ceaselessly creative. We are the children of that creativity.
Quotes from here (God Enough by Steve Paulson).
Interesting Article - both in that you have a recognized secular humanist scientist who admits science doesn't explain everything (and results in meaninglessness according to the current scientific reductionism model) and that he then goes on to try to attribute creativity, consciousness, etc. to the universe.
Let me state that while it excites me to see a secular humanist scientist open up and admit much of we find in this article, at first read it appears this new scientific worldview is nothing more than a combination of scientism and current philosophy (existential/post-modern).
Trust me, this is not only a fascinating read, but one worth everyone's attention, for as Stuart Kaufman has admitted, the current hope in scientific reductionism does not provide satisfaction and leads to the nihilism associated with naturalism taken to it's ultimate end. The only "natural" solution is to affirm "agency" and if one cannot credit God with that, then one is left to generate some other origin and place responsible for it, and what better place for unbelievers to try to posit it than in nature, and what better time than when philosophers are suggesting that humans give meaning to the universe. This is not just emergence in the sense Kaufman speaks of it but emergence of secular science and philosophy. All this to say that it will behoove Christians on all levels to familiarize themselves with this article, for if my guess is right, we'll see much more of this in the future, the only question depends on how long it gets tied up in the humanist ranks first and then how many different forms (and what predominant form) it takes when it becomes a major worldview, which I believe will be the case.
While there is SO MUCH to discuss and point out in this article, from Kaufman's poor exegesis of Scripture, to the inconsistencies in his statements, to the baseless assumptions/assertions he makes, etc.; I simply post this much this evening with the intention of providing a more detailed response in the near future. Read up, for this will not be the last time you see this, I guarantee it. (In the mean time, take a look in the coming days at the stir I'm sure this will cause in the atheist/humanist camps, especially since Kaufman outright states he thinks Dawkins is wrong, but makes specific mention to differences with the new atheism!
...am I alone in being sick to death of all the trendy talk about `culture'? A biblical approach to reality seems to involve, first and foremost, a commitment to the notion of essences. Culture is very real but, as a social construct it is not the ultimate reality; nor is it, therefore, the ultimate reality. This seems to me the problem with much postmodernism: it's obsession with culture at the expense of essence has created moral chaos. For example, how can one have inalienable human rights when there is no inalienable human nature? Hence the silliness on the left these days where ... moral equivalence arguments are made between feudal genocide, as in Saddam's Iraq, and poverty in post-feudal democracies. Any Marxist knows that capitalist democracy, for all its faults, is superior to feudalism in every way. Christians should take a leaf from the books of the palaeo-Marxists and return to talking about nature and essence, not culture.
...It also reminds the church, I think, that cultural change is not her primary task. But that's another story.
Full post here.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
All this makes for interesting reading and media attention, but it's hard to see that the average American will see this new approach as reassuring. The fact remains that atheism, by definition, is a worldview based on the denial of God's existence. Atheists may attempt to create rituals, ceremonies, and practices that mimic Christian traditions, but this serves only to point to the infinite emptiness at the heart of the atheist worldview.
I think I can understand why atheists are concerned about public relations. A kinder, gentler atheism might sell better in the public square. But it remains what it is -- a worldview that denies the existence of a divine Creator, Redeemer, or Judge.
Quote taken from here.
Years ago, I was at a party in Reykjavík, Iceland, where an attractive Swedish fellow was flirting with both men and women. When someone actually dared to ask about his sexual orientation, the man’s reply was classic: “I'm sexual.”
What I loved about this response is that he didn’t allow himself to be defined. His sexuality was fluid, which is the best mindset to have in exploring your sexual potential.
After all, everyone has the potential to be erotically, romantically or affectionately attracted to anybody. Looking at your sexual potential as black or white — as society has taught us — is what can confine our inner nature, longings and curiosities. Looking at your sexuality rigidly — as either gay or straight — limits your erotic imagination.
Quote taken from here.
Carry the logic and method of the above statement to it's natural ends, what prohibits polygamy, adultery, beastiality, etc?
The point is to take one truth (humans are "sexual") while failing to take into consideration other truths (humans differ in gender; potential alone cannot always be equated with what's right or best; not to mention natural and divine law) is not wise nor does it usually end in the best advice.
Fox News, a station which often speaks of other company's responsibilities for what they publish, should be (A)SHAMED for hiring Yvonne Fulbright and for promoting the trash she writes.
Humans and kangaroos last shared an ancestor at least 150 million years ago, the researchers found, while mice and humans diverged from one another only 70 million years ago.
Kangaroos first evolved in China, but migrated across the Americas to Australia and Antarctica, they said.
"Kangaroos are hugely informative about what we were like 150 million years ago," Graves said.
Quote taken from here.
Help me with the logic, someone! If "Humans and kangaroos last shared an ancestor at least 150 million years ago, ... while mice and humans diverged from one another only 70 million years ago" and if "Kangaroos are hugely informative about what we were like 150 million years ago," .... THEN does that mean mice are hugely informative about what we were like 70 million years ago? Interesting transition, particularly if our former ancesters went from ability to get around on two legs to crawling again on four. Just think what humans might be like in another 70 million years... we might just be like cockroaches on our way to a greater humanity.
(Note: I recognize evolutionists would say my argument doesn't take into account developments of kangaroos in the last 150 million years, etc., but the statement that kangaroos are "hugely informative" about "what we were like" (without stating what information that is) tends to give the impression we were like what people see in kangaroos today)
"You feel some kind of sympathy for them, it's a human thing, somebody must have really cared for them. Normally you should be careful in archaeological research not to allow feelings in that make us base judgements on modern ideas, we don't know how hard daily life was back there and if there was any space for love."
Quote taken from here.
Interesting both: 1) How in this discovery and investigation it appears that following the murder of this family someone buried them with the children in the arms of the parents; and 2) how the expert states "The care with which the bodies were laid out shows that whoever buried them must have known who they were" and then "somebody must have really cared for them" ... but then goes on in the SAME statement to say "we don't know how hard daily life was back there and if there was any space for love."
University of Chicago archaeologists who made the discovery last summer in ruins of a walled city near the Syrian border said the stele provided the first written evidence that the people in this region held to the religious concept of the soul apart from the body. By contrast, Semitic contemporaries, including the Israelites, believed that the body and soul were inseparable, which for them made cremation unthinkable, as noted in the Bible.
The above quote was taken from NYTimes Article "Found: An Ancient Monument to the Soul"
The statement that Israelites "believed that the body and sould were inseparable" and that this is what made "cremation unthinkable" for them is not correct, particularly those quoted in the Bible. See the following for just a few examples:
Paul - "We are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord." (II Cor 5:8) "I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (1 Cor 15:50)
Jesus "Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell." (Mt 10:28)
Job - "I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!" (Job 19:25-27)
The reason the Israelites were opposed to cremation is that they believed the body as well as the soul was given by God and therefore should be treated with honor, and if you study the Scriptures you'll find that the burning of the body was typically associated with dishonor (for example, it was a type death often experienced by evil kings, etc.)
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The idea that every believer is obligated to tithe (give ten per cent of their
income to the work of God) is widespread in the evangelical church today. Most
Christians receive teaching on tithing early in their spiritual lives. Some
churches believe so strongly in tithing that their members regularly recite the
Tither's Creed -- "The tithe is the Lord's. In truth we learned it. In faith we
believe it. In joy we give it. The tithe!" Other preachers have claimed that
anyone who does not give a tithe to the work of God is robbing God and under a
curse according to Malachi 3:8-10. In this pamphlet, we will examine the
Biblical teaching on the subject of the tithe with a view to understanding what
relevance it has to believers in the Lord Jesus Christ living under the New
Covenant. We will do so by examining what the Bible has to say about tithing 1)
before the Law was given; 2) under the Mosaic Law; and 3) in the New Testament
Full sermon here and here
One of the clearest teachings on the subject I have seen.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
When someone says "Marriage is defined by love not dogma", is this not itself dogma? Is this concept not someones' arbitrary preference based on someones' self-declared authority? If the placard was honest it would say what they really mean which is: "marriage is defined by my dogma, not yours.
From Marriage is Not Defined by Dogma at Reformation Theology
Friday, November 14, 2008
There's nothing new under the sun!
Someone demands, "How am I to know which is the gospel?"
You may know it by searching the Scriptures.
"But one sect says this, and another sect says the reverse."
What have you to do with the sects? Read the Book of God for yourself.
"But some men do read it and arrive at one opinion, and some maintain the opposite, and thus they contradict themselves, and yet are equally right."
Who told you that? That is impossible. Men cannot be equally right when they contradict each other. There is a truth and there is a falsehood; if yes be true, no is false. It may be true that good men have held different opinions, but are you responsible for what they may have held, or are you to gather that because they were good personally, therefore everything they believed was true? No, but this Book is plain enough; it is no nose of wax that everybody may shape to what form he likes. There is something taught here plainly and positively, and if a man will but give his mind to it, by God's grace he may find it out.
“It’s ushered in a new generation of leadership,” said Mr. Brawley, 40, the incoming pastor of Saint Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn. “It symbolizes the Moses generation passing the baton to the Joshua generation. So the Obama presidency presents us with both an opportunity and a challenge.”
“There’s a growing tension for those of us who’ve been mentored by the Moses generation but are part of the Joshua generation,” Mr. Bennett, 42, said in a telephone interview. “The challenge for us is to get out in front of everything that’s changing — high tech, the desire for personal experience in worship, social networking — and still stay connected to the social-justice struggle.”
Quotes taken from here.
While the quotes could simply refer to "transfer of leadership", the references to Moses' generation (which experienced bondage) and Joshua's generation (which did not) is telling, especially given the religions issues related to Obama leading up to the election.
While such references will not be helpful politically, they certainly are not helpful when it comes to display and communication of the true gospel and the renewed and transformed thinking it calls for.
Reminds me of the joke that's told about the man stranded on an island who after stating God would save him rejected a boat and then a helicopter. After death, he went to heaven and cried to God "Why did you not save me?", to which God replied I sent you both a boat and a helicopter, why did you pass up the help I sent?
===== Just as noteworthy in the video is the illustration of the bondage some find themselves in on a physical level which they cannot repay. The same is true on a spiritual level of all mankind, though unlike the taskmaster in India, God has provided that there might be freedom, by paying the debt himself and providing freedom from bondage for those who are objects of his grace and come to him through faith in Christ.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
"To those who are offended by the advocacy of religion in the classroom, it should be replied that Christians have just as much right to be offended by the teaching of various secular philosophies, which disavow our need for God. Christians ought to express this offense (including their offense at having to pay for this brainwashing with their taxes) more consistently and severely. Why should offensive teaching be limited to “religious” expression in some arbitrarily narrow sense? Of course, if a more evenhanded view of these matters were to prevail, we would all have to accept equally the burden of possibly being offended, or we should eliminate public education entirely. Education in which people of all convictions are enrolled, but in which no one is offended, is not worthy of the name."
From Apologetics To The Glory Of God, Footnote 3, p. 33
"We are all opposed to torture, but there's some careful thinking that has to go on, ... Aggressive interrogation of enemy combatants, he said, is different than torture, and governed by international conventions.
Alan Wisdom, vice president for research and programs at the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD)
Quote found here.
The reason I post this is for the promotion of truth. Alan Wisdom, as his name suggests, is one of the first I've seen to make this differentiation. I'm thankful for it as I believe this distinction to be both needed and useful in the debate, in crafting policy, and in providing protection for people in the future.
The Scripture makes it clear:
1. Rulers have the role and responsibility of protection.
2. If one wants to be free from fear of the one in authority, then they should do what is right.
3. Withholding information which can lead to or result in the unnecessary or unrighteous loss of life is wrong (/sinful) ... and should not only not be tolerated but the righteous have responsibility (when applicable) to do what is righteous and necessary to prevent such loss of life.
Even experience shows that motivations and purposes must be distinguished when judging a particular action. For example, one may cut the skin of a human either for the purpose of good or for the purpose of evil (for example - for a medical procedure or an assault). Likewise, when it comes to government practices, one must distinguish between the purpose and motivations behind the practice.
This being said, whether water-boarding should be an acceptable practice for interrogation is a good question for debate; however, to fail to distinguish between the same techniques as a practice of torture and as a tool for interrogation is to show lack of understanding.
Human beings are social primates. So they have basic feelings of empathy and sociality built in, just as do other social primates like chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, baboons, and the like. These animals don’t get their social behavior from Scripture and neither do you. Morality finds its roots in human nature.
The above quote from the American Humanist Association is taken from here
Question: If morality finds its roots in HUMAN nature, how did the gorillas and chimpanzees get theirs?
Think of all the issues this raises: separate moralities?, should we do what primates do(to what extent, and who decides, and if there are different moralities - how can anyone say other's are wrong, and then where's accountability, etc.). Are we supposed to act based on all natural instincts? Not only this, but if morality finds its roots in human nature, then how can you cast off certain beliefs or values of individuals even if they differ from the majority (and if you do, who decides, etc.)? The list could go on and on.
Once again, humanism is unlivable with any real meaning, significance, or rational foundation and basis for accountability.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
"We have lost perhaps 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution, and that is a horrible, horrible thing to answer to," said Bishop Robert J. Hermann, administrator of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
"I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about the end of abortion," he said. "If we're willing to die tomorrow to bring about the end of abortion, then we should be willing to spend the end of our lives dedicated, to take whatever criticism, to bring about the end to this genocide."
Quote taken from here
It's great to see strong words like this on this subject!
1. “Few people are ‘pro-abortion’. But we recognize that abortion is a necessary evil. There are just not enough resources to go around, to cover the burden of millions of new sickly or unwanted babies. Aborting them in the womb is more human that letting them live and watching them struggle with hardship and survival. It’s just to simplistic to say, let em all live. Maybe there will come a day when abortion is no longer necessary, but in the meantime, we must keep it safe, legal, and rare.”
Response: Many people were not "pro-slavery" either. They said, "We are not “pro-slavery” but we recognize that slavery is a necessary evil. There are just not enough resources to go around to cover the burden of millions of new free blacks. Keeping them enslaved is more humane than freeing them and watching them struggle with hardship and survival. It's just too simplistic to say, let em all go. Maybe there will come a day when slavery is no longer necessary, but in the meantime, society must work to keep it safe, legal, and rare
- In 1973 the Supreme Court declared abortion legal in Roe vs Wade. End of discussion.
Response: In 1857, the Supreme Court declared slavery legal in the Dred Scott decision. End of discussion.
- Look, if you believe abortion is immoral, don’t do it. But don’t tell me not to.
Response: Look, if you believe child molesting is immoral, don’t do it. But don’t tell me not to.
- Science will tell us what we need to know about abortion.
Response: Science can tell you that a fetus is viable, but not that a fetus is valuable. Science can tell you the size of the fetus, but not the worth of the fetus. Science can’t tell us what we need to know about abortion (if it’s right or wrong and whether the unborn child is worthy of legal protection). Christians are not pro-life because they don’t care about science. Rather, the very nature of science prevents it from settling the abortion issue.
- “Abortion is humane if it relieves suffering and rescues the child from an unwanted life.”
Response: Infanticide is humane if it relieves suffering and rescues the child from an unwanted life (Peter Singer, an atheist and Bioethicist at Princeton has argued this for years; what ethical or rational difference, he says, can a few centimeters in the birth canal actually make?)
- “People should not base their abortion policy preferences on their worldview or religion. Keep that stuff at home.”
1. If only one impersonal element constitutes reality, why come to "God" for blessing?
2. Why come to "this" God for blessing if each and every human being IS God. (Though some are just unenlightenened and don't know it yet.)
3. If human beings in their essence or their truest, fullest being are impersonal, is this why "this" God separates himself from humanity and goes off to live in the jungle ("months without moving, sitting with his eyes closed beneath a tree.")
4. While the going without food in the jungle has not been verified, what about the imperfections found on his chin?
5. If pure consciousness is "not" consciousness, but pure being; has not this God lowered himself in leaving meditation to communicate consciously with others?
6. If realizing one's oneness with the cosmos is to pass beyond good and evil (and to distinguish), then is not coming back to "bless" (or do "good") to others inconsistent?
7. If death is the end of individual and personal existence (i.e., there's a disappearance of a person at death and simply the reconstitutions of another person from the five aggregates or existence factors)... and if all that which is personal in this world is an illusion... then why refer to this God as the reincarnation of Buddha? (While Atman may survive, Atman is impersonal, therefore to assert the reincarnation of something personal is inconsistent; while there's )
8. Isn't there an inconsistency between a goal of being in a state where "all distinctions disappear" and then distinguishing between this God and Buddha?
Ads proclaiming, "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness' sake," will appear on Washington, D.C., buses starting next week and running through December.
While humanists are running the ad to try to "plant a seed of rational thought and critical thinking", their own ad raises the very question they prescribe as the solution. Tim Wildmon puts it well in the article when he says "It's a stupid ad," he said. "How do we define 'good' if we don't believe in God? God in his word, the Bible, tells us what's good and bad and right and wrong. If we are each ourselves defining what's good, it's going to be a crazy world." The point is that apart from God, there is no basis for believing in any ultimate good or goodness, much less reason for participating in it. In fact, if "survival of the fittest" is the dictating issue, then there would certainly be cases where being "good" actually works against the ultimate good and against one's own good. Not only that, but if one is to be good only for "goodness" sake, then why would it not be equally true or acceptable for one to be bad for "badness" sake? Apart from truth and recognizing the reality of God, the absolutes that derive from his nature, the righteousness in living in accord with his nature and purpose for our lives, and the recognition of personal accountability; not only are the value systems suggested by humanists meaningless and without reason, but ought to cause questioning in people's minds not concerning theism which has foundations, but the very system being suggested. In the wisdom of God, isn't it interesting how "unreasonable" the thoughts of those who seek to claim wisdom and reason apart from God!
As the humanists are providing a website for those attracted by the ad; let me also suggest those interested in finding out more about how the Christian/theist worldview proves superior (even more "reasonable") than naturalism, atheistic existentialism (and the likes)talk with us here at Christian Skepticism. For those who simply want something to read, try "The Universe Next Door" by James Sire. Let us hear from you, for Christmas is not a time to be "alone" in the world huddled around those who espouse a way of life that is meaningless and cannot account for values, but rather a time for coming to the knowledge of the truth and grace which God sets before us and offers through the person of his Son, who has come into the world that we might no longer walk in darkness but be reconciled and united to him through the light of the gospel.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
As Mr. Obama prepares to take office, I wish I could say that smart people have a great record in power. They don’t. Just think of Emperor Nero, who was one of the most intellectual of ancient rulers — and who also killed his brother, his mother and his pregnant wife; then castrated and married a slave boy who resembled his wife; probably set fire to Rome; and turned Christians into human torches to light his gardens. Nicholas D. Kristof in "Obama and the War on Brains", NYTimes
Quote from here.
A good example of how even God's greatest gifts to man can be abused if faith is absent and one is governed by the flesh rather than grounded in truth and led by the Spirit seeking to fulfill the righteousness of God from whom he received the intellect itself.
It's no different than a gun, or one's money, or one's strength, or one's influence, etc., all which depending on the orientation and heart of the possessor can be used for good or evil.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Posthumous baptism by proxy allows faithful Mormons to have their ancestors baptized into the 178-year-old church, which they believe reunites families in the afterlife.
Sorry Mormons, but what unites people in the afterlife is being saved by the covenant of grace and being united to Christ. Baptism is simply a sign and seal of the covenant which must be enterred through faith, not the posthumous works of others!
Using genealogy records, the church also baptizes people who have died from all over the world and from different religions. Mormons stand in as proxies for the person being baptized and immerse themselves in a baptismal pool.
Sorry again, but Jesus Christ is the only mediator who stands between God and man for salvation. And while water can cleanse the outward body, only the Spirit of God can cleanse the heart.
.... Quotes taken from here.
Why should any of us care about the effeminate judgments of history? Should the propagators of these "horrors" have cared? There is no God, right? Because there is no God, this means that—you know—genocides just happen, like earthquakes and eclipses. It is all matter in motion, and these things happen.
If you are on the receiving end, there is only death, and if you are an agent delivering this genocide, the long-term result is brief victory and death at the end. So who cares? Douglas Wilson in debate against Christopher Hitchens
See here for Douglas Wilson and Christopher Hitchens debate.
Friday, November 7, 2008
For the creation was subjected to frustration,...
Is not the past century a standing commentary on this verse? Our knowledge leaps exponentially and our problems no less so. Books proliferate and ignorance abounds, harvests increase and hunger spreads, production grows and poverty deepens. Mechanization makes our lives easier but threatens our worth as persons, and the time it saves us reveals only the meaninglessness of life around us. People live longer but fear growing old, they worship sex but fear getting pregnant. Counselors, clinics, and agencies abound, but the divorce rate soars and youth lose their way. Symbolic of it all is nuclear weaponry which, with each advance in technology, makes the world less secure. Human solutions, which once rose like a Phoenix from the ases of the past, return like Harpies to prey upon us! James Edwards
Were bondage to decay the only thing the world knew, or its final state, then despair would be the only possible result. But creation has been given the promise that it will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God
That the groanings of creation will one day open up to the glory of sonship is a certainty not based on rational observation but on claiming the promise of God in faith.
So it is with politics. Its outcomes are not our greatest joy when they go our way, and not demoralizing when they don't. Political life is for making much of Christ whether the world falls apart or holds together.
Excellent article on Christians and politics by John Piper at World Magazine (Marry, Cry, Rejoice, Buy)
Thursday, November 6, 2008
A reminder - of the great sacrifice - the body broken, the blood shed (Luke 22:19-20) - that is a pale shadow of the great spiritual sacrifice (2 Cor.5:21)
A warning - to practice it in a worthy manner and examine myself as a true disciple of Christ or eat and drink judgment on myself (1 Corinthians 11:27-29)
A comfort - that speaks of the finished work of Christ in my salvation and that none of it relies on my pitiful efforts (Eph 2:8-10)
...to the church
A time for community - as we welcome and share with those around us (Romans 15:5-7)
A time for unity - with the greater catholic/universal church - past, present and future (1 Cor 10:16-17 1CO 12:13)
A time for love - for God and our neighbor (John 17:11)
A way of worship in Spirit and Truth that He commands and accepts (1CO 11:23)
A common means of His grace - a simple statement that it is all about Him, but to our benefit (Heb 7 & 10)
A glorification of the Son - the true purpose of this creation and the task of the Bride (John 17:10)
Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23-25
Anarchy is defined by Merriam-Webster as "a: absence of government b: a state of lawlessness or political disorder due to the absence of governmental authority c: a utopian society of individuals who enjoy complete freedom without government". While I don't quote Wiki-pedia often, it's definitions expand this further by adding "a state of lawlessness due to the absence or inefficiency of the supreme power; political disorder." "A theoretical social state in which there is no governing person or body of persons, but each individual has absolute liberty (without the implication of disorder)." "Absence or non-recognition of authority and order in any given sphere." Without government or law A society free from coercive authority of any kind is the goal of proponents of the political philosophy of anarchism (anarchists)."
Given the fact that one of the central themes of Obama's campaign was "No more Bush" which on one level can be taken to mean less government reach and control; I suspect that one of the things beneficial for the future will be for the church to begin addressing issues related to:
1. Law - The Role of Law and the Result of Lawlessness;
2. Freedom - The Source of True Freedom and the Roads that Lead to Bondage
3. Sex - The Purity of the Marriage Bed and the Consequences of Immorality
We ought to commit ourselves to pray for our new President, for his wife and family, for his administration, and for the nation. We will do this, not only because of the biblical command to pray for our rulers, but because of the second greatest commandment "Love your neighbor" and what better way to love your neighbor, than to pray for his well-being. Those with the greatest moral and political differences with the President-Elect ought to ask God to engender in them, by His Spirit, genuine neighbor-love for Mr. Obama.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Atheists and the Synod of Dordt: How the Response to Arminians Answers the Atheist Straw Man which Seeks to Substitute a Blind Faith for Saving Faith
Note the relation the Synod of Dordt draws:
Rejection of the Errors
Having set forth the orthodox teaching, the Synod rejects the errors of
those ... Who teach that what is involved in the new covenant of grace which God
the Father made with men through the intervening of Christ's death is not that
we are justified before God and saved through faith, insofar as it accepts
Christ's merit, but rather that God, having withdrawn his demand for perfect
obedience to the law, counts faith itself, and the imperfect obedience of
faith, as perfect obedience to the law, and graciously looks upon this as
worthy of the reward of eternal life.
For they contradict Scripture: "They are justified freely by his grace
through the redemption that came by Jesus Christ, whom God presented as a
sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood" (Rom. 3:24-25).
This brings a whole new thought to people's "sacred cows"! ( . . ) ( . . )
The act of thanksgiving, as distinguished from the observance of thanksgiving, consists and depends on four things: 1) An acknowledgement of God and our relationship with him and others wherein we recognize the freedoms of others and the places where they lack obligation toward us; 2) A belief and recognition in the reality which not only provides a basis and ethic but defines and distinguishes good in regard to people's motivations and actions; 3) A spirit of gratitude which acknowledges oneself to be the undeserving recipient of such good, favor and gifts of others; and 4) A heartfelt expression of gratitute and appreciation directed toward the giver for the grace and benefits received.
Due to our sinful nature, we often fail to experience and/or express thanksgiving the way we should, but thanks be to God that through the freedom and endowments of his Spirit thanksgiving is again not only made possible but freely flows from our quickened spirits and is to become the persistent practice and pattern of our lives rather than something we have to ponder and then fabricate for special days. That's why thanksgiving is so often expressed and held out by the scriptural writers as both the expectation and evidence consistent with the Christian life.
There's a familiar saying that if you want to find the corruption, then "follow the money trail". In a similar way, it's in coming not only to understand and embrace the truth but in following the paths which result in the grace and goodness that we receive which leads a person to see that indeed every good and perfect gift comes to us from God above!
What might you do at this time of year?
1. Christmas provides a great opportunity not only for spending time with friends and family, but reflecting on the historical and soteriological purpose of Christ's birth and life. This is accomplished by meditation upon the narratives of Christ's birth as found in the gospels as well as the prophesies and interpretation of his birth found in other portions of Scripture.
2. Christmas provides a unique opportunity to gather and worship with God's people in the sense that on one level Christ came first for us as a people united in his body, and second to us as individuals who form a part of his body. This suggests not only the priority we should give to the corporate participation and worship as a body, but also to the importance of individual reflection and worship.
3. Christmas provides a unique opportunity to sense and delight in God love as well as to reflect upon our own sacrifice and service in light of Christ's, but of course remembering the distinction that only his was meritorious while ours serve as a response to his grace.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Generic religion and spirituality can survive a mindless conservatism or a mindless liberalism, but Christianity cannot. It thrives in an atmosphere of questioning, engaging, wrestling, listening, and reading. If we are only looking for whatever "works"-for the moment, at least for for what is entertaining, fun, or affirming, we will always be spiritual infants, if Christians at all. Michael Horton
Religion and spirituality are chiefly about how to attain power: power over oneself, one's destiny, others, and even God. The gospel, by contrast, is God's power for salvation (Rom 1:19). It is God's means of saving us, not a "to-do" list for saving ourselves. Michael Horton
Sociologists have pointed out that when Europeans go "secular," they become atheists, but Americans secularize their faith by blending an enthusiastic personal faith with the pragmatism and narcissism of our popular culture. It may be a deeply personal, exciting, and emotional spirituality, but it need not bear any direct connection with historic Christianity. Michael Horton
A few quotes from the Viewpoint discussion between the Washington Post and Michael Horton on his book "Christless Christianity". Read the rest of the discussion here.
Sunday, November 2, 2008
From this thread on the Puritanboard:
Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church in America (Paul Washer)
1. A practical denial of the sufficiency of Scripture
2. An ignorance of God
3. A failure to address man's malady
4. An ignorance of the gospel of Jesus Christ
5. An ignorance of the doctrine of regeneration
6. An unbiblical gospel invitation
7. Ignorance regarding the nature of the Church
8. A lack of loving and compassionate Church discipline
9. Psychology and sociology have replaced the Scriptures with regard to the family
10. The Emergent Church , Church growth, and cultural sensitivity
"All this Emergent Church stuff, much of the Church Growth stuff, all of the cultural sensitivity, throwing out the window biblical sensitivity, it is just a bunch of little boys wanting to play church without the power of God on their life. And I will stand on that statement." Paul Washer
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