Friday, March 30, 2007

Atheists pop heroes examined by Michael Novak

Saw this over on the Thinking Christian site - I added a hyperlink - great piece of Christian skepticism: is extremely difficult to engage on the same level with Harris, Dennett, and Dawkins. All of them think that religion is so great a menace that they do not have much disposition for dialogue. The battle flags they put into the wind are Voltaire's Ecrasez l'infame! Meanwhile, all three pretend that atheists "question everything" and "submit to relentless, almost tedious, self-criticism." Yet in these books there is not a shred of evidence that their authors have ever had any doubts whatever about the rightness of their own atheism. Self-questioning about their own scholarly indifference to their subject; about the horrific brutalities committed in the name of "scientific atheism" during the 20th century; about the restless and mercurial dissatisfactions in atheist and secular movements during the past hundred years; and about the demographic weaknesses thereof--all such questions are notable by their absence. Moreover, although an atheist zeitgeist dominates university campuses in America, it has not proved persuasive to huge numbers of students, who hold their noses and put up with it. Why does atheism persuade so few? Our authors never ask.


It was, then, a huge disappointment to me to find that Dennett,
Harris, and especially Dawkins paid no attention to the actual conversion experiences and narratives of fidelity, which are so common in the prison literature of our time. Moreover, none of them ever put their weak, confused, and unplumbed ideas about God under scrutiny. Their natural habit of mind is anthropomorphic. They tend to think of God as if He were a human being, bound to human limitations. They are almost as literal in their readings of the Bible as the least educated, most literal-minded fundamentalist in Flannery O'Connor's rural Georgia. They regale themselves with finding contradictions and impossibilities in these literal readings of theirs, but the full force of their ridicule depends on misreading the literary form of the Biblical passages at stake, whether they be allegorical, metaphorical, poetic, or resonant with many meanings, for the nourishment of a soul under stress. The Bible almost never pretends to be science, or strictly literal history.

Most of all what surprised me is that, while all three authors write as if science is the be-all and end-all of rational discourse, these three books of theirs are by no means scientific. On the contrary, they are examples of dialectic--arguments from within one point of view, or horizon, addressed to human beings who share a different point of view. Surely, one of the noblest works of reason is to enter into respectful argument with others, whose vision of reality is dramatically different from one's own, in order that both parties may learn from this exchange, and come to a deeper mutual respect. Our authors engage in dialectic, not science, but they can scarcely be said to do so with respect for those they address.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The atheist ego

It is remarkable...

Just recently, in one of the discussion boards I used to frequent, an atheist lamented about the fact that, to paraphrase the words of Rodney Dangerfield, Christians "just don't give me any respect."

This follows after the person in question related a fairly normal atheist tale. Grew up in a "religious" home, started investigating on his own at the age of 15, "studied" religion for about 4 years, and then concluded that it was all a load of bunk. Stories like that abound in non-believer circles. They then proceed to try and convince you that God does not exist, based on their years of study.

Well, I'm sorry if I stand a tad skeptical towards these types of arguments. And if that is construed as a lack of respect, then you ain't gonna get any either.

Because here are the problems with that type of argument:
1. Has the person in question examined all the evidence, everywhere? If the person claims that, I will venture that he is slightly mistaken. And if not, then we have to ask why the person wishes to make an absolute claim based on partial evidence? And any starting assumptions need to be shown as necessarily true.
2. The opinion or conclusions of that person, or any other human, has very little to do with the objective truth of God's existence. Even if everyone, everywhere, at all times believe that God does not exist, He still does.
3. These types of arguments rely on assumptions that are unprovable from the atheist perspective. On what grounds, for example, would an atheist purport to be feeling insulted about getting no respect? If deterministic chance is the ultimate cause, then no-one can be blamed, and no-one can feel aggrieved. If the standards are social, then where did the social standards come from?
4. It relies on vicious circularity. A starting assumption of the human need to skeptically investigate "religion" will inevitably lead to atheism, with rare exceptions. The unregenerate cannot find the truth through investigation of any sort.

So, I'm sorry to say that our atheist friend will not get any respect, because his arguments are unsound. They are firmly grounded in the relativist vagrancies of the human ego.

In stark contrast stands the witness of God through creation, revelation and grace. In Him we are firmly grounded. However, Christians don't deserve respect in this sense either, only God deserves it. We just give it to the deserving One, and through Him we respect our fellow believers.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

More than Lyrics by Elton John

Elton John recently stated that religion produces discrimination, bias, hatred and spite. Referring to his position, he stated “From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it is not really compassionate.”

Has it ever occurred to you to ask the question, if organized religion is the source and produces all these things (discrimination, bias, hatred, spite, etc.), then where did Elton John get his?

It never ceases to amaze me, how in either debating or listening to those who oppose the truth, how often they in laying charge to believers commit the very crimes they seek to lay at the feet of believers. It’s no wonder the Apostle Paul writes in Romans 2 to unbelievers that “You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things…”, (only in the case of homosexuality, both Scripture and natural intuitive knowledge affirm the position of those opposed to homosexuality as not discrimination or bias, but wisdom and truth).

If this were not enough, one should note the additional hypocrisy, hatred, and hidden agenda when EJ states that he would “ban religion completely”, for while on the surface it appears he speaks openly and outright about his beliefs, what is not stated outright is that by doing so he would seek to deny man the most basic privilege and freedom not only to think for himself but to possess the opportunity and methods of approach to arrive at conclusions for himself. Compare the value systems where Christianity, which upon the principle that the Holy Spirit alone is the Lord of the conscience, UPHOLDS the freedom of each individual (while at the same time supporting government that provides, protects and defends); whereas some unbelievers not only OPPOSE the free expression of believers, but ultimately would SEEK TO TAKE AWAY our freedom to think and worship as we choose.

Nothing new here, it’s been going on for ages and will continue to go on, but at the same time, it’s important both apologetically and culturally that individuals not be swooned just by EJ’s popularity, but see the issues, and note them for what they are.

New Team CS Member - Bob Vigneault

Hi, folks - I want to introduce the newest member of Team CS, Bob Vigneault.

Bob is a Moderator (and some say, male model ) for the Puritan Board. He has a couple of cool blogs, a great wit and a heart for the glory of God, as well as being creative, funny and committed to the authority of Scripture and a theistic worldview. A perfect fit!

For a little more insight take a look at some of his threads over on the PB and his profile there - which also links to his blogs.

Greetings and welcome to the team, Bob!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Why Atheism cannot be correct - Article

Alan Roebuck’s latest essay for View from the Right takes the form of an open letter to an atheistic think tank called the Center for Inquiry, proceeded by an introduction.

Introduction to the ideas in the letter

Liberalism must be opposed fundamentally, because if you accept, even tacitly, your opponent’s premises, you will eventually be forced to accept his conclusions. And the philosophical foundation of liberalism is atheism, because atheism makes man the supreme being, and means that there are no absolutes.

But nowadays, most apologists for atheism do not call themselves atheists. They say, “Atheism requires proving a universal negative, which is impossible. So I’m not an atheist. I just think there’s no reason to believe in a God, so I don’t. Call me a naturalist [or infidel, or freethinker, or agnostic.]” (But note that it is not impossible to prove a universal negative; mathematicians do it all the time.)

More importantly, the atheistic apologist says, “Since my position does not posit the existence of anything, it is the default position. The burden of proof falls on the theist to prove a God exists, and if the proof fails, I am justified in my unbelief.” The atheist then finds what he regards as flaws in each theistic proof, and believes his position is justified.


Dear Center for Inquiry:

I have read the statements of principle on your website, and there are some things I can agree with. Postmodern relativistic irrationalism needs to be strongly rebuked by being demonstrated to be false. Furthermore, you are right to decry the widespread ignorance of and even hostility to science.

But the statements on your website, and your basic position of naturalism (the doctrine that nothing exists but physical entities and their properties), make some fundamental intellectual errors. These errors doom your enterprise, and explain much of the public’s hostility to a scientific establishment that declares itself, erroneously, to be the acme of truth and clear thinking.

read the full article

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Atheist's Atheism Examined

Make a declaration and it may seem like you have something to say, but just because declarations are made does not mean they are substantive, sufficient, or satisfying. It behooves a person to check them out before forming conclusions and accepting them.

The following declarations are taken from a section of the American Atheists website entitled "Atheism" with my examination/responses.

Atheism is a doctrine that states that nothing exists but natural phenomena (matter), that thought is a property or function of matter, and that death irreversibly and totally terminates individual organic units. This definition means that there are no forces, phenomena, or entities which exist outside of or apart from physical nature, or which transcend nature, or are “super” natural, nor can there be. Humankind is on its own.

I love the phrase “nor can there be”. How do they know? How can they prove this? If man is continuing to find things even in physical nature they did not know before (like the turbulence of the sun in today’s news), how bold a claim to speak authoritatively on that which lies beyond their own experience.

This being said, and recognizing metaphysical realities, on one level the knowledge of God is beyond the realm of natural man (Rom 8:7); yet on another level, with regeneration and renewed ability, the knowledge of God while spiritual is within the realm of spiritual man. God may be known to man because he wants to be known and therefore reveals himself to man.

The following definition of Atheism was given to the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Murray v. Curlett, 374 U.S. 203, 83 S. Ct. 1560, 10 L.Ed.2d (MD, 1963), to remove reverential Bible reading and oral unison recitation of the Lord's Prayer in the public schools.
“Your petitioners are Atheists and they define their beliefs as follows. An Atheist loves his fellow man instead of god. An Atheist believes that heaven is something for which we should work now – here on earth for all men together to enjoy.

This asserts either a simple declaration that atheists claim a love for man and not for God (while denying him) or it asserts a false dilemma suggesting that one must either love God or love their fellow man, when the truth is that believers love both God and their fellow man.

Additionally, it points out the failure of the Atheist mission, for given the continued sin, strife, suffering, misery and death experienced each day here on earth(just read the newspapers) and this has not changed overall even given the increase in knowledge and technology of man, no one is justified in suggesting there is or will be heaven on earth in the present life given the world order and condition. The truth is there will be a new heaven and a new earth, a redeemed and renewed one, but it comes not through the work of man, but through the power of him who is creator and redeemer.

An Atheist believes that he can get no help through prayer but that he must find in himself the inner conviction, and strength to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and enjoy it.

While there is truth to the fact that apart from faith one should not expect answer to prayer, at the same time one must ask the question does man have it in himself to meet life, to grapple with it, to subdue it and enjoy it? While no one denies the responsibilities, opportunities and temporal blessings man enjoys, to suggest that man can subdue life is as far fetched as to suggest that one can determine the future, to handle all that comes one’s way, and even to conquer death, and this is just on the physical level which fails to take into account what it truly means to live according to holiness, etc.

Seems a major tenet of atheism is to claim for man a sovereignty that he does not possess.

The truth is that believers only, can enjoy life, not only in the spiritual realm, but even as they come to receive and enjoy the blessings that whatever comes their way will work out for good, and that no matter what they face, though they may fail or fall in their own strength, that ultimately they will gain the victory through another.

An Atheist believes that only in a knowledge of himself and a knowledge of his fellow man can he find the understanding that will help to a life of fulfillment.

Is it possible for an atheist to possess a knowledge of himself if he knows not where he comes from, what his purpose is, and that his end leads to and results in a forgotten nothingness? Does this type of thinking lead to a life of fulfillment?

He seeks to know himself and his fellow man rather than to know a god. An Atheist believes that a hospital should be built instead of a church. An Atheist believes that a deed must be done instead of a prayer said. An Atheist strives for involvement in life and not escape into death. He wants disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated. He wants man to understand and love man.

It’s a poor man whose significance is found in his works. (It’s no wonder there’s such a low view of the fetus as well as others in latter stages of life or with health conditions in life by which they cannot contribute as much to society as others.)

Another false dichotomy in the suggestion that those who look to an afterlife possess no interest or involvement in the present life.

It’s not a question of wanting disease conquered, poverty vanquished, war eliminated; the question is the source and method of accomplishment. Will man, who is born with a sinful nature which includes greed, selfishness, love of earthly possession, power, etc., ever accomplish these things according to the present order? Or, is a power beyond man required to accomplish this and bring it about? Believers rightly hold to the latter.

He wants an ethical way of life. He believes that we cannot rely on a god or channel action into prayer nor hope for an end of troubles in a hereafter.

Another false dichotomy to suggest that non-athiests do not want an ethical way of life.
What is the standard for atheist ethics? Is there an absolute standard, or is it no more than the standard proclaimed in the past which even with progress and additional knowledge prove no more than a system which flip flops on issues such that they call good evil and evil good?

He believes that we are our brother's keepers; and are keepers of our own lives; that we are responsible persons and the job is here and the time is now.”

Was Cain his brother’s keeper? All seemed good for a time, but when things did not go his way, he tried to set that responsibility aside. God however is the one who upholds this principle regardless of the weaknesses and sinfulness of man.

Atheism is a failed system, which while denying the future and focusing on the present, is nothing but frustration in the face of failed principles and promises.

John Piper: The Morning I Heard the Voice of God

"Let me tell you about a most wonderful experience I had early Monday morning, March 19, 2007, a little after six o’clock. God actually spoke to me."

read more

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Wisdom reveals that everything has a role - there are chairs for our sitting and legs for our stroll.

And wisdom has shown it’s not a good goal – to confuse the two - to look to legs for our sitting or chairs for our stroll.

So how foolish for man when by things of this world he attempts to satisfy his soul.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Skepticism concerning the rule and motives of other gods (with a lowercase "g")

Ever wondered WHY it is so hard for non-believers to convert to Christianity?
Ever wondered WHY non-believers struggle so much with Christianity and would prefer it to disappear or be destroyed?

The answer is that idols not only control but demand one's allegience.

I was reading a chapter last night from Alfred Poirier's book "The Peace Making Pastor" who I believe in addressing idolatrous desires in the lives of believers, also sheds light on the idolatry of unbelievers. He writes:

"Moreover, this concept of idolatry sheds even more light on the dynamics of our desires. Idols are counterfeit gods. As gods, they direct and rule over us. And we, in turn, worship, fear, serve, love, trust, and obey them. Like God, our idols promise and threaten us. If they get what they want, they promise us happiness. If they do not get what they want, they curse us and threaten death.

As counterfeit gods, idols are lawgivers. They command us. They shape our affections, direct our decisions, and motivate our behaviour. What we do, we do because we obey the command of our God."

While God also requires full allegience and service, the difference between worshiping Yahweh (the true God) and the various idols of unbelievers is this: Yahweh's rule is one that includes love and both self denial and sacrifice for his servants. (Isa 44; Mt 20:25-26; Col 3:5-8)

Consider this: while the "g"ods of unbelievers may not like it, the switch is not only worth it, but the best move that any can make!

A True Christian...

Watch this video all the way to the end...

Monday, March 19, 2007


A Good Creed Seldom goes Unpunished (Condensed)

What I am reading today over at Reformation 21...

A Good Creed Seldom goes Unpunished

By Carl Trueman

I have a sneaking suspicion that the cry of `No creed but the Bible!’ has often meant rather `I have my creed, but I’m not going to tell you what it is so that you can’t know what it is and thus cannot criticize it or me for holding it.’


I certainly regard scripture as uniquely authoritative and divinely inspired; but I also appreciate the help which the insights of others over the centuries gives me into scripture’s meaning and application; I also delight to identify myself with Christians through the ages who have worshipped the same God; and in this context I place a special premium on creeds and confessions for two very important reasons. First, the church is more than just a collection of individuals; it is the community of those united to Christ and the community of the Word and sacraments, and as such has a special place in God’s redemptive plan. Thus, I take much more seriously the consensus declarations of the church (problematic as that now is, given the diversity of denominations) than the individual statements of particular theologians.

Second, the consensus nature of creeds and confessions is particularly attractive and important. The fact that most creeds and confessions were formulated partly in response to political pressure is often seen as bad thing, but I am not so sure that such is inevitably the case. Each year as I teach in the councils of Nicea, Constantinople and Chalcedon, students express concern at the sleazy political chicanery that lies in the background to these events; yet the fact that a creed is formulated in such situations does not make its teaching of necessity less biblically coherent, any more than my total depravity inevitably undermines my occasional attempts to preach God’s word; and, on the positive side, it does mean that such creeds are no more exclusive than they have to be. Yes, they clearly rule out of bounds particular positions; but they are designed to keep as many on board as possible, and this ecumenicity of theological and ecclesiastical intention was arguably reinforced on many occasions by political expediency.


In short, I regard creeds as important because they are documents approved by the church, or at least by particular churches, and thus have more status than the writings of any individual Christian; they generally represent in intention a desire to reflect consensus among Christians; their negative, boundary-setting thrust means that they leave room for discussion, disagreement and thoughtful theologizing, albeit within churchly limits; and they essentially focus on the real core doctrines. In sum, I might say that they give those of us who adhere to them a place to stand both doctrinally and historically, and thus to lay our views open for appropriate public scrutiny and challenge.


The church must never compromise the unique authority of the Bible, must always focus on the basic essentials which cross time and space, but must also speak thoughtfully, to the here and now. Historic creeds and contemporary declarations thus both have their part to play in making the church’s voice a relevant voice.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Incredible Guitar artistry!

Medical Quackery and the Christian Skeptic

Good thread over on the Puritan Board concerning fad cures, herbalism, chiropractic, a Christian Skeptic, we are to examine everything and keep the good - I think it is interesting how otherwise perfectly rational folk can be led into some strange stuff...

Monday, March 12, 2007

From the Protestant Reformation to the Southern Baptist Convention

What Hath Geneva To Do with Nashville?

This is a great article from Tom Ascol - Director of the Founders Ministry.

As disjointed as the two worlds presented in the subtitle may appear to some, there is in reality a close and vital connection between them. The relationship between the two becomes apparent when some of the main features of the Southern Baptist family tree are traced.

We Baptists look to the Scriptures to justify our existence, and that is just as it should be. We are a people of the Book. The Bible, and the Bible alone, is our authority. We look no further than the Scriptures to seek direction for our faith and practice. History is not our authority. Nevertheless, history can be our assistant as we try to learn from the biblical insights of those who have gone before us.

Southern Baptists have a rich heritage, and it stretches back hundreds of years before our actual emergence as a denomination in 1845. Our roots extend all the way back to the fertile soil of the sixteenth century Protestant Reformation.

From the Protestant Reformation to 1619

The nineteenth century Scottish theologian William Cunningham called the Protestant Reformation "the greatest event, or series of events, that has occurred since the close of the canon of Scripture".(1) It was, quite simply, a great work of the Spirit of God, a revival of biblical Christianity. Without a doubt, the Reformation stands as the most significant revival since Apostolic times.

General Characteristics of the Reformation

Before an obscure monk named Martin Luther nailed ninety-five theses to the church door at Wittenburg on October 31, 1517, the Church of Christ had been living in spiritually dark times. The Bible had been kept from the common people. The Roman Catholic Church had largely perverted the gospel of God's grace by teaching that salvation comes from the hands of the priests through the administration of the sacraments in response to human works and merit.

With the dawning of the Reformation these perversions of the gospel were exposed, and a renewal of biblical Christianity emerged. Though the story of how this awakening came and spread across Europe and Great Britain is a fascinating one, we must limit ourselves in this pamphlet to an overview of what happened and leave the question of "how" it happened to a later study.

With the rediscovery of the Bible in the sixteenth century came a reawakening to God's way of salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. In fact, that little word alone provides a real key to understanding the main themes of the Reformation. In Latin the word is sola and it was used in five phrases that capture the essence of Reformational theology.

Five Reformation Themes

1. Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone

The Reformers taught that the Scripture alone is the final authority for what we must believe and how we must live. This view sounds commonplace to us today, but it was radical in the sixteenth century. For centuries the Roman Catholic Church had asserted its authority over against that of the Bible. The authority of the Pope, tradition, and councils were all regarded as authorities along with the Bible. Against that view, the Reformers asserted sola Scriptura: the Bible, and the Bible alone, is our only infallible source of authority for faith and practice.

2. Sola Gratia: Grace Alone

How can a sinful man become right with a holy God? That is always the most important religious question. It was the question that plagued Luther's conscience and nearly drove him insane before he was converted. Rome had developed a very elaborate system in response to that question. Rome's answer involved human works and merit--a sinner must perform sufficiently well before God if he would receive the blessing of salvation.

But through the study of the Scriptures the Reformers rediscovered that salvation is the gracious gift of God. Man contributes nothing to it. It is only by the sheer, absolute grace of God. Bible words like election and predestination, which magnify the grace of God in salvation, were rediscovered, having been largely forgotten or drained of their meaning by the mainstream of medieval Roman Catholic teachers.(2)

3. Sola Fide: Faith Alone

The Reformers taught that the means whereby a sinner is graciously justified before God is faith--not faith plus merit or faith plus works--but faith alone. Luther discovered that the Bible teaches that the sinner must place his trust in Jesus Christ in order to gain a right standing before God. Through faith alone the righteousness of Jesus Christ is imputed to the one who believes.

4. Solo Christo: Christ Alone

The Reformation rejected Rome's requirement that common church members put their faith implicitly in the church's teachings. Instead, they argued, Jesus Christ alone is the proper object of faith. He is to be trusted for salvation--not priests, popes, councils, or traditions.

5. Soli Deo Gloria: The Glory of God Alone

In one sense the Reformation can be seen as a rediscovery of God--a reawakening to the greatness and grandeur of the God of the Bible. It is God, not man, who belongs at the center of our thoughts and view of the world. And it is God's glory alone that is to occupy first place in our motivations and desires as His children. He created us and the world for Himself, and He redeemed us for Himself. Our purpose is to glorify Him.

Certainly there are other truths which would need to be discussed in a thorough consideration of reformation theology, but these themes summarize the essence of Reformed thought. It is obvious that the Reformers did not invent these teachings. They simply rediscovered them in the Bible and brought them out into the light for all of God's people to experience. Baptists have been greatly influenced by these Reformed themes.
read more

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Doctrine of Oprah vs. Biblical Doctrine

Oprah offers her doctrinal viewpoint that there are many ways to God - and is confronted by the truth.

Acts 4:12
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

...and also shows why it is important to be ready with a defense!

What about the native that has never heard the name of Christ?

A good response from

So, we realize that we don't measure up to perfection. This is universal. I know of no culture where people feel they have never erred. We even use the expression "You're only human" to show that perfection cannot be attained by the human race. What makes this so condemning is that all of mankind has the means necessary to know there is a God and that they fall short of His plan. Romans 1 states this when it says "that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so they are without excuse." Paul argues here that every person of the human race has the testimony of the creation and the testimony of their own shortcomings to inform them that they do not meet God's requirements for them. Further, Paul says that man should realize the creator of the universe would be larger than the created items we find in the world ("birds, and four-footed animals, and crawling creatures"), but he chooses to worship them rather than Him, so "man is without excuse."

So, because God testifies of Himself through His creation we are expected to understand that there are absolutes which we violate. However, we are not left to that attestation only. In Romans 2:12-15 it states,

"For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; for not the hearers of the Law are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law unto themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts ultimately accusing or defending them."

This is a fascinating Scripture that explains how God has given each man a "natural law"; a general understanding of right and wrong. This is evident in the fact that all men are endowed with a conscience. Though the remote tribesman may have never heard of the Gospel or the Jewish Law, they all have a strong working knowledge that lying, stealing and murder of others in his tribe is wrong. Further, every person develops some type of a moral code that they judge others against. No one has ever been able to consistently keep even their own moral code without adjusting it or rationalizing their behavior. Thus God says that their thoughts will justify or condemn them.

When one understands each person's true position, then the objection falls beyond debate. A prisoner sentenced to die for a capital offence can be pardoned by the Governor of his state. However, for that criminal to claim the Governor is being "unfair" or "unjust" because he refuses to pardon the felon is ridiculous. A pardon is an action of grace and mercy. Carrying out the sentence given would be justice. This is why the writer to the Hebrews remarks, "How can we escape if we neglect so great a salvation(Heb. 2:3)?" This salvation that we're offered is great not only because of the tremendous sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf, but it is also great because of how much we deserve punishment, and how a God who is 100% just can rescue us from His judgment.

What Jesus Demands from the World

We are studying this at our church as part of the Deacon training material our pastor is instituting.

I am looking forward to reading and studying it.

Praise God for men like John Piper!

Wow - just started reading it and this pops right out at me (emphasis mine):

John Piper says:

I found myself at home in these amazing words of Adolf Schlatter as he defined what he believed scholarship (die Wissenschaft) should be.

"I keep myself as free as possible from conjectures and avoid therefore the effort to overturn them. This does not seem like a fruitful business to me. For conjectures are not overturned by producing more of the same. They sink away when one sees that observation is more fruitful than conjecture. . . . I call Wissenschaft [scholarship] the observation of what exists (des Vorhandenen), not the attempt to imagine what is not visible. Perhaps one will object that the guesswork of conjecture excites and entertains while observation is a hard and difficult work. That’s true; play is easier than work. But the Gospel is misunderstood when one makes a plaything out of it."

Study Guide

9 Marks - Characteristics of a God-driven church

I was doing my daily blog reading and was reminded of the 9 Marks ministry - I think they have a great mission statement and a Scripture-bounded view of church development. Take a look...

The Mission of 9Marks

We believe the local church is the focal point of God's plan for displaying his glory to the nations. Our vision is simple: Churches that reflect the character of God. Our mission is to cultivate and encourage churches characterized by these nine marks:

1. Expositional Preaching
This is preaching which expounds what Scripture says in a particular passage, carefully explaining its meaning and applying it to the congregation. It is a commitment to hearing God’s Word and to recovering the centrality of it in our worship.

2. Biblical Theology
Paul charges Titus to "teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Our concern should be not only with how we are taught, but with what we are taught. Biblical theology is a commitment to know the God of the Bible as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

3. Biblical Understanding of the Good News
The gospel is the heart of Christianity. But the good news is not that God wants to meet people's felt needs or help them develop a healthier self-image. We have sinfully rebelled against our Creator and Judge. Yet He has graciously sent His Son to die the death we deserved for our sin, and He has credited Christ's acquittal to those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus' death and resurrection. That is the good news.

read more

Friday, March 9, 2007

Sponsored Worship

Saw this on my buddy's website (the Rurban Church) thought it was pretty funny...

The Consumer Church

Since much has been blogged about the institutional vs. missional church - and since the institutional church almost always manifests a consumer spirit - I thought I would give a stab at the logical manifestation of a sponsored worship service. (in a southern church!)

The Pop Tart Pre-session Praise and Worship
The Pepsi Opening Prayer
Body Life (important events) by Nabisco
Pringles Praise and Worship Set 1
Verizon Video Segment 1
The Craftsman Tool Testimony

click here for more

Thursday, March 8, 2007

The Prayer and the Past Challenge

While I've ceased being amazed at how often unbelievers argue against a gospel which is not the true gospel (which displays how great their fear and enmity against God is since they go to the extent of arguing against God through the fabrication and argument against their own strawmen), I'm still not amazed at how many different ways unbelievers will come up with in misunderstanding or misapplying the text of Scripture to try to argue against God.

For example, John Loftus, in his recent post on "Debunking Christianity" entitled "Can Prayer Change the Past? One More Time" sets a challenge before Christians to "pick any event in the past, announce that they are praying to change it, and then watch what happens." His argument is that if God lies outside of time, but hears the prayers of believers, then God can change the past, events like "the Holocaust, the terrorist 9/11 attacks, or any tragic event reported in the daily newspaper."

Besides the obvious question of how one would determine that God changed the past (given that the change would then be our past), Loftus' challenge is an example of either poor exegesis or faulty logic when it comes to the Scripture. Does not Loftus understand that God does not change and that the prayers that God honors are those in keeping with his will? In effect, what Loftus seeks to accomplish through his challenge is to put the burden on believers to prove the existence of God by having God answer a believer's prayer which is contrary to his will (something contrary to Scripture). This is no different than the logic used by those who in arguing against freedom of the will in light of predesitination are willing to suppose that God predestines the end but then fail to recognize that God ALSO presdestines the means to that end as well. Or better put, it can be likened to someone challenging another to prove a spouse's love for their mate by presenting evidence (or seeking to show evidence) that is contrary to love.

Let readers beware, that often what may appear to be fine sounding arguments at first by unbelievers (even those who set themselves up as previous believers or pastors), are easily untangled and found faulty when one takes the whole truth into account. Scripture shows that one of the tactics often used by those who oppose Christ is to try to set forth a half-truth as the whole truth. Those who want to avoid deception and become mature must learn to discern and then they will not fall to those arguments which are falsely set forth as high-minded wisdom and knowledge.

Just Say No to Drugs / Atheism

Richard Pratt, Jr. in his book “Every Thought Captive” rightly makes the irrefutable claim that all unbelievers find themselves in the inescapable dilemma of continually living in the tension of uncertain certainty and certain uncertainty. In other words, any person seeking to claim absolute certainty on any matter, while turning from God and biblical presuppositions which provide both the foundation and confidence of knowledge and truth, while not possessing full and complete knowledge of all things is left to “uncertainty” concerning the very things they claim with absolute or total certainty. At the same time, any person who claims uncertainty, while denying God and those same biblical presuppositions, is left contradicting himself in making certain claims of uncertainty. Pratt shows this problem to be even greater when he explains that “when turning from God, the unbeliever asserts with absolute certainty that the biblical distinction between the Creator and His creature is false, he therefore puts on the mask of absolute certainty. Yet, when turning from God, the unbeliever is left in the position of having no solid ground for knowledge and must therefore wear the mask of total uncertainty. While an unbeliever may wear one or the other mask at different times, beneath the mask he may wear the unbeliever is caught in the unsolvable dilemma of being BOTH absolutely certain AND totally uncertain AT THE SAME TIME.” Any apologist who argues with unbelievers will find this to be true and not only easy to work out but interesting as unbelievers cannot get around this truth given their lack of foundation apart from God for knowing even the things they claim to know and especially to claim any knowledge beyond their own or even the natural human experience especially including the metaphysical.

This being said, I’d like to take this one step further, for not only is man apart from belief caught in this inescapable tension, but atheism in all its forms, and even moreso as one moves toward strong atheism leads one to participate in a constant battle within oneself to suppress the tension that naturally battles within those who resist the truth. Here’s my point, while God has provided through general revelation enough to leave man without excuse, there is in the unbeliever a nature that seeks to deny and reject the truth so that the life of an unbeliever is a life of constant tension, and one of the greatest kind since it lies and is being fought within them. The only means of avoiding this tension while remaining in unbelief is to try to suppress the truth such that one’s unbelief and resulting practices metaphorically speaking becomes the opium of one’s soul. Hence, the greater the unbelief (i.e. strong atheism) the greater the tension and hence the greater the suppression needed to deal with the tension. This does not suggest that strong atheists cannot experience a measure of peace, but like the physical drug addict, the peace that comes from opiates is a false peace though it may at times not only provide a measure of personal comfort but even be euphoric. One must ask the question: Is this the best for the individual, or is there a solution?”

The only solution to this conflict is to put one’s faith in Christ and align one’s beliefs with the truth which has been and continues to be revealed. The Scriptures provide understanding of all these matters when it states the following: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”(Prov 1:7) “…If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (Jn 8:31-32) “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” (Ps 14:1) “The sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.” (Rom 8:7) “Great peace have they who love your law…” (Ps 199:165) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jn 16:33)

Peace, true peace, belongs only to those in whom this conflict and tension is not only dealt with, but who in dealing with it also gain the foundation and knowledge for dealing with all things while living in this age. It is only in possessing a foundation for truth that truth means anything and becomes truly meaningful and beneficial for those who possess it. With this in mind, let the readers be reminded that opiates, while they may serve a purpose for those in pain, are not necessary for those who with life and health.