Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Atheist Lawsuit regarding Presidential Inaugeration

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

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


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


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


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


Quotes taken from here.

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

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

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


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

Psychology and Self Control

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


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


Quotes from here.

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

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

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Atheist believes Africa needs Christianity

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

New Reformed Discussion Board!

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

Reformed Theology Institute

New Reformed Discussion Board

I am excited to see this! :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Dispensationalism vs Covenantalism

Taken from here

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Evolution and Ethics (/Deceit)

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


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


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


Quotes taken from A Highly Evolved Propensity for Deceit.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Rick Warren defends Inauguration Invitation

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


Quote from here.

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

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

Pope Benedict on Homosexuality and Environment

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

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

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

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


Quote taken from here.

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

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

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

Saturday, December 20, 2008

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

Goodbye Larry King, Hello Jerry Springer!

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

This article is worth the read.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

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

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

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

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


Quotes from Where is Christ in Christmas?


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

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


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

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

Mohler on Recent Pew Poll

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

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

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


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



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Illustration of False Views of Redemption

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

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



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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Science - Discovery and Incredulity

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

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


Quote taken from here.

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

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

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


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

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

Here is the original link.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

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

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

Three Godless Christmas shows

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


Taken from here.

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

Monday, December 15, 2008

Muslim Accusations and Practice of Exploitation


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

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

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

... PERSECUTION, EXPLOITATION

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

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


Quotes taken from Christian missionaries stir unease in north Africa

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Vatican, U.N. Declaration on Sexual Rights

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


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


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

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

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

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

Ricky Gervais' Testimony (Atheist Comedian)

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


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

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

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

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

Muslim practice of stoning the devil

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

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

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


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Friday, December 5, 2008

Eckhart Tolle and Differences with Christianity (John Stott Quote)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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View of Poverty

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

Many Children Lack Stability Long After Storm

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

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

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

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

Quotes taken from Many Children Lack Stability Long After Storm

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

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

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wilson - Hitchens Debate (Westminster Theological Seminary)

Quick Reflections:

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

2. Problems with Hitchens arguments

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Episcopal Church Split and the Press

Conservatives Expected to Split Episcopal Church


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

Consider the following quote:

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Atheist Kentucky Homeland Security Lawsuit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

C. S. Lewis Quote

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

Border Patrol

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


Taken from here.

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

Experienced Journalist on Mubai

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

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

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

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

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


Taken from here.

Experience is often a good teacher.

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

An Article for "The Way of the Master"

Students cheat, steal, but say they're good


Interesting headline taken from here.

An interesting quote from the same article:

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

Scientist Admits Views were MYTH

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

Quote from here.

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

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


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

Monday, December 1, 2008

CS Milestone

CS Milestone: 75,000 page views!

Somali Pirates and Lawlessness

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


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


Cruise Ship Attacked by Somali Pirates


Piracy 'out of control'


You Can't Stop Us, Pirate Leader Says


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


Quotes from various sources

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

Basis for Unbeliever's Argument

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

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


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

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

Some Poor Losers (Proposition 8)

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


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

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

The following guidance comes from the Apostle Paul in Romans 9

1. TRUSTWORTHINESS OF SCRIPTURE

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

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

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

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

2. JUSTICE OF GOD

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

3. PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY

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

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

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

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

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

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...