Saturday, December 26, 2009

On Worship

A brief guiding statement on Christian Worship -

Worship is privately and publicly acknowledging the absolute sovereignty of God, His complete sufficiency and our complete inadequacy1, all done in spirit and truth2.

Christians accomplish this good work, in general, by loving God with their full selves and loving others3, so that all may ascribe glory to Him alone4.

Corporate worship is the gathering of the church specifically to worship as a unified body. Corporate worship includes the proper and orderly5 public practice of the spiritual gifts, preaching, praying, singing, giving and other elements which are required, allowed and outlined by God in His Holy Word6.

While the practice of worship may vary in terms of inclusion of all or some of the elements, no element may be added that is not clearly outlined in Holy Scriptures7.

(Intended as a Scripturally based guiding principle, not as an exhaustive declaration.)





Saturday, December 19, 2009

God is Great, God is Good




God is Great, God is Good edited by William Lane Craig and Chad Meister... while reflecting the simple words with which children are sometimes taught to pray looks to prove anything but childish. In fact, after reading a discussion of it's contents and writers over at Apologetics 315, I believe this book will not only prove one of the greatest and best selling books of it's time, but will be a book apologists and the common reader will want on their shelf for years to come, and beyond. Check it out here, then buy it and promote it. It's DEFINITELY on my Christmas list this year!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Gimmicks

Perhaps it's because there's more press, but it seems to me I'm reading more and more of pastors and/or churches performing "gimmicks" to draw attention to themselves this Christmas. While I admit I do not know their hearts, and while I admit that some good comes through their actions, I also have noted some aspects of the things I've read, even quotes coming from the individuals themselves, which are not in keeping with Scripture.

We must keep in mind that some things are done for charitable and right reasons, and it's only because others draw attention to them that they receive the press they do, but at the same time, there's the possibility that some things might be done (even in the name of religion, or under the guise "God laid it upon my heart to do it) which are done to gain attention.

I'll not mention specific incidents here for various reasons, but keep in mind that all which is done even in the name of charity is not of righteousness.

Christian Influence and Religious Freedoms

Among all regions, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest government and social restrictions on religion, while the Americas are the least restrictive region on both measures.



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Christian Influence and (Religious) Freedoms

Among all regions, the Middle East-North Africa region has the highest government and social restrictions on religion, while the Americas are the least restrictive region on both measures.


Interesting article and report entitled Two-thirds of global population live in religiously restrictive countries

Not surprising to find the America's where they are listed.

Not surprising to find Muslim countries listed where they are.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Carl Trueman on Displays of Pride & Practices of Humility in Blogging

Carl Trueman's Fools Rush In Where Monkeys Fear To Tread is not only an interesing read, a convicting piece of work, but useful in raising awareness of sins commonly espressed expressed in the world of blogging.


Ha! - I know I'll get the question: Did I post this so I could use Carl Trueman's name on our blog? ... but his great insight and writing reflects no credit to us (I can even say I don't know him and have never talked with him), but simply felt his article was a good read and of great benefit. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quotes opposing "Value Free Parenting" fr. Clifford Longley (& Commentary by Matthew Boudway)

“There is no such thing as value-free parenting,”


Simply to avoid all discussion of the parents’ religious beliefs…is to impart the clear and strong message that religion does not matter.



... of course public schools approach important matters all the time, and cannot avoid doing so. However fastidiously they dodge metaphysical questions, they cannot dodge what Socrates called the most important question: how to live.


Quotes taken from here.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Do Christians and Muslims worship the Same God?

"In our country, if one refers to Allah or mentions kalimah Allah, it will bring to one's mind that it refers to the god for Muslims. Kalimah Allah is sacred to the Muslims and put at the highest position, and its sanctity must be protected," he said Monday, according to local sources


The above quote is taken from here. Regardless of the use of Allah, what's clear in this article is that Muslims too recognize they refer to and worship a DIFFERENT God than Christians.

If Christians and Muslims both acknowledge that the God Christians worship is different from the object of Muslim worship, why do people go around suggesting: "We all worship the same God"? That fact is ... we don't! Any statements to the contrary reveal either naivete or ignorance, or arrogance in suggesting the holder (without authority) knows more than all the adherents to the other religions.

Note also the statement in the article:

The use of the word ‘Allah’ by other religions may arouse sensitivity ... among Muslims," explained Abdullah Zin, the de-facto minister for Islamic affairs,


While the suggestion that such use "may arouse sensitivity" may refer to cultural considerations or may even underlyingly serve as a threat, what's clear is that Muslims would not take lightly the suggestions of those that would suggest their object of worship is no different and should be mingled or interchanged with others.

While Christians who worship in spirit and in truth recognize it's a sin to take God's name in vain, we also recognize the authority and power given to the church today is spiritual and ecclesiastical (as opposed to physical or civil) and as such we neither possess the power of the sword physically nor are we to assume that power for ourselves individually for to do so would be to usurp the authority of the Scripture and to strike or kill people (apart from legitimate authority acting in accord with God's Word) would be to commit sin.

Friday, December 11, 2009

False View of Ten Commandments and Salvation

Paul writes "For while we were powerless, Christ died for the ungodly."

Too often, one comes across participants or members in Christian churches who have the idea that God saves those who are GOOD. You know the type, I'm a Christian because I try to keep the Ten Commandments, or God saves me because I'm different than others who do not go to church or pray - at least I'm trying to do right and serve him.

But Scripture presents a different teaching when it comes to salvation. Christ did not come to die for those who are good, or for the godly, but for the ungodly.

Part of the problem is that many misunderstand the use of the Ten Commandments. Many live or speak as if the Ten Commandments were given for us to try to keep as if to "prove" our righteousness to God or show how good we are or can be. However, God knew of man's fall in the garden and the fact that through Adam's sin all became sinners and are therefore incapable of keep the Ten Commandments. Then for what reason were the commandments given? Paul writes: "the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ" (Gal 3:24). It does this by setting the standard of God's righteousness before us and proving to us our unrighteousness and therefore our need for Christ, one who has come in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be met in us, not through our own works, but through the imputation of Christ's righteousness to us.

In this light, we come to see that before one comes to understand salvation and the grace offered by Jesus Christ, they must first comes to see themselves as "ungodly". (Note, it's not those who are well but those who are sick who need a doctor; likewise it's not those who think themselves good or godly but those who have come to admit themselves to be ungodly who need a Savior.)

This condition of thinking Christ came for those who are "good" is a plague that looms over many and must be addressed not only if these individuals are to be saved but if our churches are to serve as effectively lights to the world in regard to God's saving grace. Make it a point to draw attention to this distinction for many are blindly unaware of it.

Christmas Encouragement of Global Evangelization

Iranian Republic, Not Islamic Republic


Above quote is a slogan held up by brave protesters in Iran who seek and fight for freedoms under a banner which perhaps sheds insight into greater things to come not only for Iran but for the hope which has been communicated for the world.

I'm grateful this Christmas of the encouragement that globalization gives toward the fulfillment of Christ's Great Commission and the evangelization of the world. As it is the understanding of all reasonable men that each person should have freedom of discovery and belief when it comes to religion, it seems the globalization of the world, including the greater exposure it brings to all ... as well the greater influence and pressure exerted by the larger masses will serve in significant ways to facilitate the expansion of the Great Commission and the ushering in of the fulfillment of the words spoken by Christ (and his messengers) that the gospel will go forth and spread to the ends of the earth and the fullness of the conversion of the elect will come to pass, afterwhich there will be the final coming of Christ, the judgment of the living and the dead, and the eternity of reward and punishment of the saints and of the lost respectively.

I think of the encouragement this year as I consider the continuing news of the number of Christians in China; and who would have considered the just a few years ago the door being opened for the gospel to freely go into places like Iran, but the above slogan, and the demonstrations taking place in Iran give hope and point to the day whether sooner or later when the things prophesied will come to pass. It's a great time as we consider what's taking place around the world and the prospect and promises of things to come.

Some may say there doesn't seem to be any good news in the world, but even in the midst of the battles and strife, there's hope and encouragement for who have eyes to see even this Christmas season! For isn't that what the gospel is all about... that even in the midst of all the conflict and strife, God brings about salvation through the truth and mercies of his Son, who gave himself that men might be reconciled to God redeemed along with creation itself. If this doesn't bring Christmas cheer, I don't know what will. We have reason to rejoice, even as we look in faith to the fulfillment of God's purposes and to the consummation of those things which are to come!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

America: an Islamic Nation?

In President Obama's nobel acceptance speech, he made reference again to Islam as "a GREAT religion" (Caps, my emphasis, though it reflects the tone in which the statement was made).

While I recognize both the political and practical benefits of using such a term (i.e., seeking to drive a wedge to separate the greater Muslim community from those presently and publicly endorsing jihad.... so as to avoid WWIII), at the same time I wonder if any News organization would consider counting and reporting the number of times the President of the United States has made reference to Islam as a Great Religion and the number of times he has publicly referred to Christianity as a Great Religion? I guarantee the difference would be ASTOUNDING!

Question: Where's the CONSISTENCY when it comes to what many refer to today as "separation of church and state"? Seems while there may be "separation of Christianity and state", there is no "separation of Islam and state". Where is Barry W. Lynn, the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, on this? While outcry would be heard if anyone in a rural classroom even mentions anything related to Christianity, the President of the United States can speak and be broadcast to the world stating "Islam is a GREAT Religion", and no one says a word.

Several Points
1. While I don't believe our forefathers meant what most people say "separation of church and state" means today, at the same time the inconsistency in applying the principle (as commonly accepted) is gross.
2. While calling Islam a "great religion" may presently have political and practical implications, the consequences of such a high profile figure repeatedly making such references may have great and devastating consequences in the future.
3. Distinction between present expouses of jihad and the greater Muslim community can be made without referring to Islam as being "great". (Note: the reference "great" can not only be taken to mean Islam has made contributions to the world but also to mean Islam is worthy as a religion and not only worthy of endorsement (if not acceptance) but is publicly being endorsed with grand appraisal by the high profile person making the statement.)
4. If we do not need government competing against our business in the marketplace, we certainly don't need government competing against our religion in the world.
5. I'm grateful that while the President(s) of the U.S. may refer to Islam as a great religion, the greater witness found in Jesus and heaven itself not only has spoken with a powerful Word to the contrary but will also win the battle since the certainty of victory lies not in human persuasion (even those with high profiles) but in the sovereignty, power, and faithfulness of God himself.

U.S. President Jimmy Carter's Speech at Parliament of the World’s Religions

Carter, who left the Southern Baptist Convention nearly a decade ago in part because it does not allow women to be ordained as pastors, said discrimination against women in religious settings not only contradicted the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of the world’s major faiths, according to Christian Today.


Quote from here.

In Carter Rails Against Religious Discriminaton of Women, it seems former President Jimmy Carter continues to stump for "equality of women's roles" in the church while denying Scripture and positing authority in the U.N. Declaration of Human Rights and the teachings of the world's majoy faiths, though he also inconsistently goes on to condemn some of the practices of those faiths which has first upheld as the standard we should base our views and practice upon.

I won't waste the time on a new rebuttal. Readers can find what needs to be said in my previous post.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Call and Reminder to Christian (and Non-Materialist) Scientists regarding Collider

Seems the Collider is powering up and though it might be next year before any significant findings are made (or up to three years), let me express by hope that Christian scientist will not only be involved in reviewing the evidence but also in posting reviews, for if history teaches us anything, it's that not only is the evidence important, but so are the presuppositions with which one comes to the evidence, and history reveals that often those with humanistic/materialistic views like to try to beat others to the press espousing not only their positions but claiming them to be scientific and undebatable fact, a situation which not only misleads but also creates a more difficult environment and challenge for communicating the truth in those areas where a more thorough and comprehensive view of the evidence proves their positions to be wrong.

My understanding is that the Collinder data is to be published where scientists around the world can gain almost immediate access to it. Hopefully, scientists from the creationist and/or intelligent design positions will not only give this matter significant attention but also remember matters related to publication and the press (i.e., timing, caution people ahead of time of the need to be patient and not simply accept everything they may first be told by those who want to make a name for themselves or to hijack the media attention and public, etc.)

Personally, I'm grateful for the work and advancements I see Scientists making on the side of truth. Keep up the good work and may science be a field where the glories of the creator, sustainer and governor of the world are recognized and his due worship and praise rendered to Him!

Cal Thomas on the Left's Position on the Climate

THIS IS THE LEFT’S RELIGION. WHILE DENYING GOD, THE LEFT IS COMMITTED TO “SAVING THE PLANET.“ WHY? IF THERE IS NO GOD, WE MIGHT JUST AS WELL EAT, DRINK, POLLUTE AND BE MERRY FOR TOMORROW WE DIE. FOR WHAT ARE WE TRYING TO SAVE THE PLANET?


Quote taken from here.

While the remark should taken in context (which admits generalizations), this was a good example of taken the familiar (i.e., a verse from Scripture) and applying it in an engaging and powerful way.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Opposition to Anti-Blasphemy Laws

A group of Islamic nations, led by Algeria and Pakistan, is lobbying to bring before the U.N. General Assembly a proposed treaty banning mockery of religion,


The letter seeks to outlaw utterances that are “grossly abusive or insulting” to religion without defining precisely what it deemed grossly abusive. That kind of spongy language leads many to suspect that the treaty would be used against political dissidents as much as it would be used to protect the feelings of the devout.



The above quotes are taken from Editorial: Free speech ... crackdown in name of religion

This writer makes a very good point.

While we all realize the following:
(1) Freedom of religion is good and to be protected
(2) Speech can abusive and sinful
(3) The context of speech is important and should be taken into account
(4) Beliefs that are true should not fear standing against tests
(5) Harm can occur when false beliefs are protected and kept from being addressed,

I say the writer makes a very good point because if a global anti-blasphemy law were approved and put in place, additional persecution and violence in Muslim countries would not only be great, but be conducted under a new veil of protection.

Dawkin's Response to Why He Refuses to Debate Dr. William Lane Craig



You can tell from the tone of his voice, he's agitated. Being publicly exposed might easily explain it.

Perhaps he won't be as busy "after Christmas" and will accept the invitation next year. ;)

My prediction: Similar to a boxer who gains a little fame for a time but knows he can't stand up to real competition, Dawkins will find some stiffs or dead weight to debate and then claim he's fought the competition...

I hope the question continues to be put to him, often!

About Dr. Craig

Friday, December 4, 2009

Biblica/theological resources and the...

Biblical/theological resources and theology to avoid:

Interpreting Scripture:



http://www.equip.org/articles/how-to-interpret-your-bible-correctly-part-1-



http://www.equip.org/articles/how-to-interpret-your-bible-correctly-part-2-



http://www.desiringgod.org/media/pdf/booklets/BTBX.pdf



Commentaries - use when reading Scriptures - these are trustworthy theologians:



http://www.ccel.org/ccel/henry/mhc.i.html



http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/



http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/commentaries.i.html



http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes.htm



Systematic Theology - to set your doctrinal focus (Reformed Theology):





http://www.reformed.org/documents/wcf_with_proofs/





http://www.ccel.org/ccel/hodge/?show=worksBy



http://monergism.com



In general - television preachers are to be avoided - LOTS of false/bad doctrine - here is a list of some others to avoid:



http://www.spurgeon.org/~phil/bookmark/realbad.htm

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Illustration of Grace (& Misunderstanding Grace); Matthew 20:1-16 - Parable of the Vineyard

Carrying this new deal being offered by this restaurant to its logical conclusion, they are actually charging those families and individuals who don't go to any church more money for their meal over those that those do go to church. Additionally, those tourists who may be visiting the area without a special bulletin will be charged more as well.


The above quote is taken from a post from the Mississippi Atheists website. What's clear, when one reads the post, is the author either doesn't understand the meaning of the word "discount" or he's prejudiced against grace shown to Christians, or both.

The situation is this: a restaurant advertised a 10% discount to customers who presented a copy of their church bulletin. The blogger suggested this was paramount to charging some people (who don't go to church) more than others.

This fails to understand how grace works. The owner, here, is not selling the food for two different prices, but for the same price, and yet has chosen to give a discount - (an amount the business owner could legitimately charge, as evidenced in the amount the business charges other customers - but an amount which the business owner chooses to absorb the loss and pass on benefit to the customers of his choosing.) Hence, it is not that other customers are being cheated (but are paying the price they justly owe), but that some - at the pleasure and expense of the business owner - are shown grace and thus experience more than they deserve.

I suspect the motivation behind the post is most clearly revealed in the writer's statement:

My initial question would be "Why is a church goer so much more favored at the restaurant over all others"?


Just as with the parable of the vineyard in Matthew 20:1-16, those who have a problem with those who dispense grace reveal a problem of the heart. Shouldn't we all enjoy seeing individuals experience grace and even see individuals who are willing to sacrifice so that others may experience more than they deserve? And doesn't the business owner have a right to choose how he will run his business and to whom he will show favor? Could the problem not be a social and ethical problem where one shows special treatment for specific subsets of people of a certain ideology over others, but rather a prejudice toward believers and a wrong attitude toward those who (justly and graciously) bless them?

(Note: I recognize this example is not without some weaknesses, but the essential point remains. Weaknesses include:
1. The grace of the gospel is different in that in this example the customers must perform an act - show a bulletin, whereas the grace of the gospel is such that it is completely without works on the part of the recipient.
2. In this illustration, there is incentive for the business owner which stands behind the marketing, whereas in the gospel the incentive to the one giving grace is not of the same nature as the benefit of the one receiving the grace.)

CS Response to post by Atheist Revolution

With the idea of karma, there is a certain inevitability of justice. If one screws up enough in life, there is no forgiveness and no absolution of "sin" gained by repeated hail Mary's. No deathbed confessions will save your ***. Your fate will be determined by your own behavior, just as it should be. The various Christian denominations seem determined to offer short-cuts - ways to get away with sin. [*** Curse Word deleted]


The above quote was taken from a blog called "Atheist Revolution". I draw your attention to a several issues raised in the statements:

1. Note how the writer acknowledges one's fate will be determined by their own behavior. The writer even adds this is "just as it should be". To this end, the writer will have no excuse on the day of judgment, for his own words will testify against him. (Note: the writer leaves the issue of representative & substitutionary atonement unaddressed.)

2. Note how the writer reveals his ignorance of Christianity when he states "The various Christian denominations seem determined to offer short-cuts - ways to get away with sin." Christianity, unlike atheism, takes sin seriously. Statements like this reveal both a misunderstanding of Christianity as well as the tendency of unbelievers to condemn Christianity for something other than what Christianity really is.

3. Note as well the position taken on deathbed confessions. Unlike God, this writer shows a lack of mercy and a refusal to recognize the righteousness and effectiveness associated with true confession and repentance regardless of the time of its occurance.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

More Proof That Atheism Is A Religion

From Atheist Group Takes ‘Godless Holiday’ Campaign Nationwide

Observations:

1.) Atheism holds a specific view of God (that goes without saying).

2.) Atheism holds a view of sacred things (the term "holiday" denotes a sacred, "holy" day.)

3.) Atheism holds a view of morality (as quoted in article, "Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God"). What is good?

4.) Atheism is trying to build an ecclessiastical unit ("the atheist group claims its campaign is designed to reach out to fellow atheists on what is normally a religious holiday").

5.) Atheism has a view on law (ACLU, etc.).

Atheism bases its worldview on particular views of God, man, law, ethics, rights, etc. They claim an exclusive avenue to public policy based on those views. Yet when Christians do the same, we keep hearing about the mythical "separation clause".

This clearly shows that there is no neutral territory in any area of life. Far from being neutral, atheism is an extremely dogmatic religion.

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...