Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Church of Oprah Exposed

A good video that should remove all doubt (as if there were any) about the false teacher Oprah Winfrey. She and her guru Tolle are clearly anti-Christs.

The Church of Oprah Exposed

Friday, March 28, 2008

Humanist Sunday Schools and Free Thought?

It's at the Humanist Community, where for a few hours every Sunday the humanists, as they call themselves, come together in what one might call a congregation. It even has its own Sunday school.....What's interesting about this non-church is some of its churchlike aspects. There's a hymn book, talks that sound like homilies and, at one point, an actual collection plate passed through the aisles after one song.

Quotes taken from ABC News: The Non-Church for Non Believers

While there's nothing wrong with non-believers getting together in this fashion, I laugh at the number of times the article refers to "free thought". Seems humanists not only want to borrow Christian presuppostions, they now want to borrow our practices!

BTW, hasn't it been from those with this background who have been the ones so outward spoken and accusatory about collections taken up at Christian services? ;)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Obama, Salvation, and Children of God

See: One News Now Article on Obama's Statements

QUESTION: Do the morality and works of man (apart from Christ) merit heaven?

Answer: No.

A. Because of our sin nature and sinfulness, our works are not acceptable.

Isaiah 64:6 "All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away."

B. The only acceptable offering before God is His Son whom he anointed, has taken pleasure in, and accepts.

Hebrews 10:5-10 "Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: 'Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.' Then I said, 'Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—I have come to do your will, O God.' "First he said, "Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them" (although the law required them to be made). 9Then he said, "Here I am, I have come to do your will." He sets aside the first to establish the second. And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

C. Apart from Christ, no one meets the God's righteous standard.

Rom 3:22-23 "...There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,"

D. Those who believe in Christ will be saved.

Acts 16:31 "They replied, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household."

E. Those who reject Christ will not be saved.

1 Cor 15:55-57 ""O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the ower of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."

Jn 14:6 "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Conclusion: Only those who are in union with Jesus Christ through faith, who have been justified by his blood, and who are shielded by his covering will avoid God's displeasure and wrath. Hence, only true believers will be saved. Others, including Muslims, moralists, etc., who persist in their unbelief will not be saved nor find themselves in heaven.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Prayer for Healing while Denying Medical Help

It is reported "An 11-year-old girl died after her parents prayed for healing rather than seek medical help for a treatable form of diabetes..." Such a death is tragic not only because of the loss but because it did not need to happen.

While it is true that God can heal by prayer alone, and while it is true that even in passages where prayer and accompanying practices are performed the emphasis is placed on the prayer, that does not deny the fact that God works through means and calls his people to be wise making the most of all legitimate, ethical and rightful uses of means that he has provided through providence.

For example, in James 5:14, we read "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. While the emphasis lies on prayer and all being done in the name of the Lord, oil was also to be applied. As Donal Burdick in the Expositor's Bible Commentary states
Prayer is the more significant of the two ministries performed by the elders. 'Pray' is the main verb, while 'anoint' is a participle. Moreover, the overall emphasis of the paragraph is on prayer. So the anointing is a secondary action. There are a number of reasons for understanding this application of oil as medicinal rather than sacramental or ritualistic anointing. James could have used the verb 'chrio' if that had been what he had in mind. The distinction is still observed in modern Greek, with aleipho meaning 'to daub,' 'to smear,' and 'chrio' meaning 'to anoint.' Furthermore, it is a well documented fact that oil was one of the most common medicines of biblical times. See Isaiah 1:6 and Luke 10:34.

To illustrate this principle more clearly, so as to encourage parents not to allow another tragedy such as this to take place, consider the fact that Luke was "medical doctor" for a reason. Consider that while prayer alone could have been offered for the soldier whose ear was cut off by Peter, did not Jesus himself take action and place the ear back on for him? Were not the women who "cared for" Jesus himself noted for their actions? Consider that God could also have spread the gospel with prayer alone and without the use of the church but he has ordained the use of both. God could also have provided a wife for Isaac by prayer alone, but he accomplished this through the use of Abraham's chief servant (Gen 24). Paul could have relied on prayer alone, but he also saw the need to inform and instruct the Corinthians (2 Cor 13:7).

It will not be surprising to ses atheists and others jump on this article as if to point to (1) the irrationality of believers, and/or (2) the impotency of prayer; but what you have in this case is the tragic consequence as a result of individuals being misinformed. Those who seek to prove the "irrationality" of believers or the impotency of prayer by this example must note the problem lays not with biblical truth or practice in this case, but the misinformed understanding of it.

Type rest of the post here

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Eckhart Tolle Christianity (Understanding Eckhart Tolle - Comparison / Difference with Christianity)

I believe it important that both believers and unbelievers understand the difference between the teaching of Eckhart Tolle and Christianity. Here's a brief post to introduce you to a few of the significant differences. (Note, I've just been exposed to Tolle, but it doesn't seem to take long to discern the differences)

Context (the problem)Taken from here.:
Despite Oprah and Eckhart's reduction of Christianity to but one "way" amongst many other equally legitimate ways to God, and their calling Christ a "revolutionary" who has been misunderstood by the Church, and who simply came to manifest "Christ-consciousness", a quick search through the internet reveals that many Christians are following Oprah in attempting to fuse together the teachings of Eckhart, and the doctrines of the historical Christian church.

Great website to gain quick summary of Eckhart's beliefs/teachings: Ripples on the Surface of Being

Key Responses by Eckhart Tolle
AC: Ultimately, would you say that real spiritual practice or real spiritual experience is meant to lead one to the letting go of the world, the transcendence of the world, the relinquishment of attachment to the world?

ET: Yes. Sometimes people ask, "How do you get to that? It sounds wonderful, but how do you get there?" In concrete terms, at its most basic, it simply means to say "yes" to this moment. That is the state of surrender-a total "yes" to what is. Not the inner "no" to what is. And the complete "yes" to what is, is the transcendence of the world. It's as simple as that-a total openness to whatever arises at this moment. The usual state of consciousness is to resist, to run away from it, to deny it, to not look at it.

JM: I was also struck by your interpretation of the cross as a symbol of "thy will be done".

ET: It's a strange dualistic symbol. Basically, it's a torture instrument. To me, Jesus stands for humanity. So this man is nailed to the torture instrument, totally helpless, in deep suffering. At that point comes total surrender to what is. "Not my will, but thy will be done." At that point, the symbolic significance of the cross is changed from being a torture instrument to a symbol of the divine. So what it points to is that the very thing that seems to stand in the way of realizing who you are. The very suffering that comes with being here in this physical realm---because eventually some form of suffering comes to everybody---can become an opening into that which we call the divine. If you're lucky, disaster comes before the physical form is lost and the psychological form dissolves. This sometimes happens through extreme suffering, when people lose everything, or they find out they don't have much more time to live. So they are faced with extreme disaster which cannot be explained away.
(From ">here)

The possibility of such a transformation has been the central message of the great wisdom teachings of humankind. The messengers—Buddha, Jesus, and others, not all of them known—were humanity's early flowers. They were precursors, rare and precious beings. A widespread flowering was not yet possible at that time, and their message became largely misunderstood and often greatly distorted. It certainly did not transform human behavior, except in a small minority of people.
From here.

1. Whereas in recent days, many have viewed Jesus as only a "GOOD TEACHER" rather than the "Son of God and Savior of the world"; Eckhart views Jesus (along with others such as Buddha) as one who only SET AN EXAMPLE for others in "SURRENDERING" as a result of suffering, BUT NOT ONE WHOSE SACRIFICE WAS NECESSARY FOR ATONEMENT! [i.e. Historic Christianity] In doing this, Jesus was only "one among many". (Note: In this view, Eckhart Tolle has done as much if not more than Jesus for us... since he not only supposedly sets the example for us in surrendering, but according to him...his teachings are not misunderstood and twisted like Jesus' example and teaching... so according to his view, Tolle, not Jesus is or becomes the de facto "real" or "best" Savior)

In other words, whereas before Jesus was a good "teacher" whose teachings (along with others) were instrumental in leading people to God, now in Eckhart's view Jesus (along with others) is one who has gone before in "participating in the right experience" (that of renouncing the world, ego, etc.) that leads people to experience reality (stillness, pure consciousness, self, transcendence of the world).

Put another way, in Eckhart's view, when Christ said "thy will be done, not my will", Jesus was not simply expressing the continuous attitude of his heart even in light of the present circumstances, but he had arrived at the divine and accomplished what is needed by others (an awakening), so that what followed (the penal substitution and atonement) was essentially unnecessary [/CONTRARY to SCRIPTURE and ESSENTIALS of Historic Christianity].

Finally, it should be noted that whereas Eckhart sees Jesus on the cross as "representing" humanity; he fails to see that Jesus set himself "in the place of" humanity (the elect). (Isaiah 53 "...Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, ..., ...he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.")

Such teaching fails to take into account passages such as:
Matt 6:10 (Lord's prayer) "...your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
John 6:27 "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval."
Phil 2:6 "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,",
... not to mention those dealing with substitutionary atonement, including:
Romans 3:25 "God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood..."
Hebrews 10:10 "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
... also not to mention those dealing with God's decretal will in regard to the events of the cross
Acts 4:27-28 "Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what YOUR POWER AND WILL had decided beforehand should happen." (i.e. Jesus didn't just suffer the wrath of men but the fulfilled the plan and suffered the wrath of God for those he represented through federal relationship.)

2. Eckhart falsely supposes that man can renounce the world and self on his own apart from any grace in Christ.

Such teaching suggests man can change his own nature, that the death of Christ was not necessary for man to die to sin, and that grace is not needed for man to renounce the world and himself.

This runs counter to:
Jeremiah 13:23 "Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil."
John 17:19 "For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified."
Romans 8:7 "the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so."
Rom 6:13 "Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life;..."

3. Those who seek to "together the teachings of Eckhart, and the doctrines of the historical Christian church" are fooling themselves. Not only do they attempt to join together doctrines that can't be joined (like oil and water) but they deny the critical teaching of Christianity found in the doctrine of the necessity of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ... along with teachings dealing with sanctification that accompany the doctrines of justification.

4. Eckhart is doing nothing different than others such as Joseph Smith or Muhammed when he seeks to supplant Scripture and the gospel of Christ by claiming the Scriptures have been misunderstood and that he knows better than the biblical writers.

For more, see here.

See also a comparison of Eckhart Tolle and Christianity on the Subject of Death.

Eckhart Tolle - Christian Response

Unbelievable! ...The extent man not founded upon Christ will go and follow in their quest and pursuit of self and attempts to explain away reality and sin. Here's Oprah's spiritual sage...

1. He resurrects errors of the past which deny reality by seeking to replace it with forms.

2. By reducing the past to forms (or photo albums) he not only denies the reality of the past but the extent of it's connectedness and relationship to the present. This error he also translates in regard to the future.
3. He establishes a false premise that one can separate the reality of the present ("now") from reality itself, which he vests in onesself (though he inconsistently goes on to suggest that life is found in abandoning oneself)
4. He has no grounds or basis for assuming reality is found in self (and apart from everything else, or only what one want's to allow)
5. By denying the truth of God, he falsely asserts that the future is no longer problematic when one presupposes it's only about self (i.e., "knowledge of self" does not deny the "reality of sin")
6. He denies the promise the future holds by simply asserting "it just is". (i.e., by denying relationship of oneself and the future, he not only cast the dishwater out (the problems), but the baby as well (the promise).
7. He falsely asserts that it's up to the individual to "let the world just happen", AS IF man not only is in control of providence rather than God, but man positionally controls whether and the very factors of providence occuring. (i.e., man is sovereign; at the same time - close your eyes and all will be alright)
8. He falsely asserts that what arises ins't that important - it's a form, it's short lived, it's a play of phenomenal existence. He states it's "the universe playing with form, it's consciousness playing iwht form) (i.e., he denies purpose, signficance, importance, etc.)
9. He speaks to "felt needs" of man today such as "strain, effort, stress, fear, etc." and seeks to offer that which is "simple, joy, alive, etc." However, his method of achieving the latter is by denying the significance and realities involved in bringing about the former. (For example, by closing one's eyes and breathing, will not do away with the realities of cancer and death, though one may call the symptoms and pains and results "forms".)
10. His "detached" philosophy and forms of delivery in presentation alone are enough to drive any reasonable, thinking and engaged people away. It's amazing to what people will give themselves to when they deny the true God and the truth of reality.

For more, see here and here. See also here.

See also Comparison of Tolle and Christianity on the Subject of Death.

Problems for Unbelieving Worldviews - Greg Bahnsen

Calvin and Servetus - the truth revealed

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Pluralistic Facade (Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth, Oprah Winfrey)

I was just reading The Wisdom of the Ages, for Now Anyway which highlights the ministry of Eckhart Tolle, a "German-born teacher on spiritual enlightenment and a best-selling author. He is not identified with any religion, but uses teachings from Zen Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism and the Bible."

I was reminded in reading that while the trend of many today (including Oprah) is to suggest that by combining religions or "taking the best from what each of the religions has to offer" is either subject to the subjectivism or relativism of deciding for themselves what to accept and what to reject (and therefore set themselves as the ultimate determiner/aribiter, and perhaps creator of truth) or as in the case of following Eckhart Tolle to submit themselves to the subjective beliefs of another who has chosen and rejected along the same principles and thus become the de facto determiner, arbiter, and creator (if not borrower) of truth.

What's interesting is the infinite number of "truths" and "creators/determiners/arbiters of truth" that can and will not only result from trust and dependence on such foundational presuppositions, but infinite number of conflicts and oppositions to the truths held by others. The point being that when one assumes truth is relative (or can be found even among combinations of systems of belief which are self-exclusive or oppose one another), then the result is not one "higher" good that can and will be obtained by those who give themselves to such belief and practices, but to a numerous mirage of beliefs and possibilities that not only will lead to disunity and disfunction, but to confusion, irrationalism, and division.

In effect, those who espouse and practice pluralism, while seeking and claiming greater wisdom, ultimately are found to delve deeper into the wisdom of man, which not only cannot save but results in the things mentioned above. While seeking to become wise, they prove themselves to be foolish.

As shown in the article, speakers continue to come and offer something (perhaps a little different but in ways) in essense the same.... the suggestion that man controls (or can control) his own destinity and success. I love the quote "Mr. Tolle suggests that by living in the moment and in touch with what he calls 'the totality,' good things MAY start happening to you." [CAPS, my emphasis] Seems the one thing these self-help geniuses can't get over is the curse itself. Seems no matter how much "embracing the present", "turning off the ego", "turning off the mind's chatter", "meditating" (which by way, it you can determine truth, why meditate?)... they just can't get over the fact that things don't always go they way they want, and it seems aging, difficulties, even death keeps staring them in the face. Funny that so many "wise" people would follow one whose best advice only promises that things "may" begin to go their way. (By comparison, Christianity recognizes One - Jesus Christ - in whom peace, strength, confidence and hope may be found even though trials, troubles, suffering, tribulation and even death will come.)

The only thing new with today's speakers, advocates and followers, is that they use words and phrases like "globalism", "packing thousands of years of teaching", etc., along with the fact they address issues more pressing upon modern minds ("war", "conflict", "world at large", etc.), and perhaps that they now see the
"worlds religions" as a new source to look to in order to provide a measure of "authenticity" or "believability" or "global" or "pluralistic" perspective to their message, but in the end, it's no new message, just more of the same of that which is old dressed up in new clothes!

It's another opportunity and occurrence of a person getting rich by speaking to the felt needs of man and offering a solution that comes from man but in the end will prove powerless, though the very claims made include words such as "power", "wisdom", "a New Earth", potententially "world changing", etc.

Should it surprise us that "not much is being revealed about the author and speaker's own life, except that he's living with his girlfriend and failed to follow through with his educational pursuits, and yet the masses are following him as if he has all the answers?

As the writer of Ecclesiastes states "There's nothing new under the sun." Seems many followers could learn from the writer of Ecclesiastes who shows that living simply in the moment (or for the "now", or "present") apart from God doesn't produce or result in the satisfaction, peace or lot that many believe it will.

"Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, 'I find no pleasure in them -" (Eccl 12:1)

It's not that God has left us without the truth, or that God has dispersed or confused his truth; rather he has provided a consistent and continuous revelation of Himself by his Word, most clearly revealed in Jesus Christ himself, about whom the Scriptures testify and proclaim. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved... and this... not in the absence or always in the alleviation of suffering, war, etc., but in spite of it and even in it's midst as we wait for the return of him who will restore all things.

In essence in Tolle's writings (along with the statements of his followers), you have a gospel presented which denies the necessity of the substitutionary atonement of Jesus as revealed in Scripture. While Tolle and his followers may claim Jesus was an example or one who has gone before us in reaching a state of consciousness (of surrendering, of renouncing ego and the world, i.e., "thy will be done", etc.), they reject Jesus as Son of God and Savior sent from God. Rather than looking to the forgiveness based on Jesus' sacrifice and the justification that comes through the imputed righteousnes of Christ, they look to their own abilty, actions, and merit as enabling them to reach the goal. Hence it is salvation (even of a different sorts) by works, not by grace. Conversations with Tolle's followers reveal a quickness to talk about God as "love", but unwilling to talk about the "justice" of God. One in particular was willing to say Jesus was crucified according to the wrath "of man', but refused to acknowledge the wrath "of God" was involved. In the end, Tolle and his followers present another gospel, which while some may claim fits with Scripture, does not. One the one hand they present a different gospel (which depends on what man does rather than on what God has done for us), and on another hand is no gospel for if salvation could have been accomplished through the law (or by man's efforts), there would have been no reason for Jesus to come and to die for us.

For more, see here and here.

See also a comparison of Eckhart Tolle and Christianity on subject of Death.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Self Denial: The Key to Happiness

“And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

One of the tragedies of modern evangelicalism is the seductive worship of “self-esteem”, an idol that has been erected to draw church growth pundits to its disgraceful altars. The message of self-denial is not popular among today’s professing believers, yet on this point Jesus was most adamant, claiming that whoever would refuse to do this “cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).

The false religion of pop-psychology, however, tries to convince us that the key to happiness and contentment is to build up self. The “self-esteem” concept was invented by necromancer William James late last century, and was eventually advanced to the throne of Christ in many churches during the early 1970’s. (See Self-Esteem: The New Reformation by Robert Schuller). Indeed, we have become “lovers of self” (2 Timothy 3:2).

However, a recent scientific study has confirmed the biblical view that self denial, as well as esteeming others better than oneself, is the actual key to happiness.

Money Buys Happiness When You Spend On Others, Study Shows

“Researchers at the University of British Columbia and the Harvard Business School have found that it's possible to buy happiness after all: when you spend money on others...Regardless of how much income each person made...those who spent money on others reported greater happiness, while those who spent more on themselves did not.”

While money is only one issue in this complex makeup, the study does support the idea that the key to contentment is to get our eyes off of ourselves and onto the plight of others. Even better, turn them to Christ.

Southern Baptist Leader on Media, Southern Baptists, and Global Warning

Dr. Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, says the secular media has erroneously reported the intent of a document dealing with climate change that he and other prominent denominational leaders endorsed.

Above quote from "SBC president endorses stewardship, not global warming" found here. Supports CS post here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Time will Tell: Denying Truth does not Change Truth (or Consequences)

THE bill came due for Jason Perlow in October.

The above quote is from The Fat Pack Wonders if the Party’s Over Seems one of the charter members of egullet (an online group which gloats over gluttony) has received a wake up call. We read

...he heard the grim truth: He was diabetic. He weighed more than 400 pounds, his blood pressure was dangerously high and his blood was thick with glucose and cholesterol.

A doctor told him he would be dead in five years.

This is not surprising. CS was skeptical well before this news broke. See here.

I find it interesting Jason Perlow is quoted as saying
I wasn’t shocked... but...

Also worth noting is the statement
Among a certain slice of the food-possessed, to suggest that indulgence might put one’s health in peril is to invite ridicule.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

How it happened: The catastrophic flood that cooled the Earth

Interesting reading and indicative of how presuppositions influence evidence interpretation.

I'll let the reader draw their own conclusions.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Insight into the Debate between Creationism and Evolution: Links/Methodology/Motive of Disallowing Viewpoints

Hugo Chavez's Television Crisis

The Venezuelan government recently took over the nation's most popular TV station. Was it a move to return the airwaves to the people -- or political retribution for airing anti-Chavez programming?

A Secular Humanist Declaration
Issued In 1980 By The
Council for Democratic and Secular Humanism
(now the Council for Secular Humanism)

...we deplore the efforts by fundamentalists (especially in the United States) to invade the science classrooms, requiring that creationist theory be taught to students and requiring that it be included in biology textbooks. This is a serious threat both to academic freedom and to the integrity of the educational process.

...Is it a move to return to academic freedom and integrity of the educational process -- or philosophic and educational positioning for humanists' worldview and "programming"?

What's clear is that humanists do not simply oppose creationism being taught (incl: oppression of viewpoints) simply because of fear or because of scientific interests, but because they themselves intentionally seek to CONTROL and OVERTHROW the views and positions of those who stand in opposition to them by "covering up", "hiding", and disallowing exposure that not only threatens their position, but that THEY THEMSELVES ARE FOUNDATIONALLY COMMITTED TO OVERTHROWING.

Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana

Ms. Rice presents this miracle as she has the other biblical events on which her fiction is based: she decoratively embroiders the Gospels while fully respecting their message.

The above quote is from a New York Times article on Anne Rice's new novel entitled "Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana."

It's the phrase "... while fully respecting their message" that I beg to differ for the following reasons:

1. "...she gives him a crush on one of his relatives, a 15-year-old girl."

Reason: While this is a novel, there is nothing in the gospels to suggest Jesus had a crush on one of his relatives, especially on a fifteen year old girl when he was 30 years old. The focus of Jesus' life from age 30 on was clearly on the kingdom and communicating that kingdom his disciples and through them to the world. To suggest Jesus as what we today would term a pedophile is more than literary licence.

2. "So 'The Road to Cana' perches on the brink of blasphemy. But it succeeds in treating Yeshua’s humanity as an essential part of his divinity."

Reason: The treatment of Jesus' humanity as an essential "part of his divinity" is nothing but the herersy of eutychainism which was condemned in the fourth ecumenical counsel in Chalcedon in 451. It also has similarities to other heresies cuch as monothelitism, monophysitism and docetism.

3. "Since this book begins with the stoning to death of two young men said to be interested in each other (“What, two young ones under the same blanket on a winter night?”)"

Reason: While perhaps a good literary twist, one must note the O.T. ritual of coming under the same blanket or having the cover of a blanket placed over another (i.e. Boaz and Ruth) served as a bond or pledge, not the suggestion of sexual activity, especially illegitimate sexual activity.

4. "The first half of this book lingers eagerly upon its characters’ unfulfilled desires."

Reason: This tends to paint Jesus as one who was frustrated or perhaps one with unfulfilled lusts, whereas the Bible speaks both of Christ's sinlessness and desires for the fulfilling of God's perfect purpose and plan, wherein he experienced similar things as us, though remained without sin.

5. "In its opening scene, Yeshua’s thoughts of Avigail, his beautiful “young kinswoman,” lead him straight to a cold bath in a Nazareth spring."

Reason: The gospels nowhere picture Jesus as a sexually frustrated man, or pedophile.

6. "At the novel’s precise midpoint, Avigail throws herself at Yeshua with the steam heat of a Rice vampire, sobbing, “I am your harlot.” Yeshua fights back his desires in order to refuse her. “You’re really the child of angels,” she realizes, in a tone of disappointment."

Reason: The gospels and other N.T. books (i.e. Hebrews) present Christ as the Son of God and superior to angels, not the "child of angels.)

7. “I moved slowly towards what was at last going to separate me from all around me,” he says as he begins to feel the divinity within him."

Reason: Jesus' separation from all around him was not the result of his moving forward but the reason and motivation for it. In other words, Jesus was already divine and distinct, so that it was not what he did that caused him to be distinct and great, but it was because he was distinct and great he did what he did.

8. “Well, now I knew just what it meant to be the man who knew he was God.”

Reason: Jesus knew what it meant to be God before he was 30 years old. We see this even early on in his life when he was in the temple which he referred to as "my Father's house.

9. "The absence of wine at the wedding becomes calamitous, though the Bible describes it without alarm. 'It was a disaster of unlikely and dreadful proportions,' Ms. Rice maintains."

Reason: Culturally, running out of wine would have been socially significant and perhaps have even led to some shame on the part of the parents, but would have been noting on the level of "a disaster of unlikely and dreadful proportions."

10. “I’ve entered history for the whole of it. And I won’t be stopped.”

Reason: This taints the motives and attitudes of Christ, who while he knew God's purposes as revealed in Scripture would be fulfilled, his attitude was not one of arrogance, rather his success depended on his humility and dependence upon God.

For more, see article at Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Can Naturalism Justify the Preconditions of Science?

From Without a Doubt: Answering the 20 Toughest Faith Questions by Kenneth Richard Samples pp. 195-196.

If naturalism is to be accepted as an adequate worldview, then it must possess genuine explanatory power. But some difficult questions emerge to challenge the purported truth of a purely naturalistic worldview.

  • How can a world that is the product of blind, purposeless, random natural processes account for and justify the crucial conditions that make the scientific enterprise possible?
  • Aren’t the order, regularity, and uniformity of nature out of place (unaccounted for and valueless coincidences) in a purely naturalistic world which could as easily have been a purely random and chaotic universe?
  • What accounts for the existence of abstract, nonempirical entities such as numbers, propositions, the laws of logic, and inductive inferences in a world that is the product of a mindless accidental process?
  • If the sensory organs and cognitive faculties of human beings are the result of chance and accident, how can they be trusted to yield coherent data, much less objective “truth”?
  • Since naturalism implies a type of physical determinism (all things are the product of genetic, chemical, and environmental factors), then doesn’t that by necessity rule out such things as uncoerced, deliberate thought?
  • Since this determinism is incompatible with rational thought, free will, and moral decisions, wouldn’t naturalism be self-defeating?

Christian philosopher Greg L. Bahnsen has argued that far from justifying their underlying presuppositions, naturalists illegitimately rest their scientific operation on Christian theistic principles. The naturalist is borrowing Christian philosophical/epistemological capital. Naturalism appears unable to explain the assumptions that make modern science possible. It also seems at odds with the very practice of science. The discipline of science presupposes a biblical-like worldview. Physicist and popular science writer Paul Davies offers this observation:

"In the ensuing three hundred years the theological dimension of science faded. People take it for granted that the physical world is both ordered and intelligible. The underlying order in nature – the laws of physics – are simply accepted as given, as brute facts. Nobody asks where they came from; at least they do not do so in polite company. However, even the most atheistic scientist accepts as an act of faith that the universe is not absurd, that there is a rational basis to physical existence manifested as lawlike order in nature that is at least part comprehensible to us. So science can proceed only if the scientist adopts an essentially theological worldview."

Could science have arisen if the dominant metaphysical views of the time were naturalistic and materialistic in nature? And would naturalism be able to sustain the scientific enterprise that Christian theism birthed? A rational person can’t help but wonder.

Reason and the Battle of Creationism and Evolution

"Our students are given both sides...They need to know both sides, and they can draw their own conclusion."

Quote from here. It's taken from Dr. Patricia Nason, who has a doctorate in curriculum and instruction from Texas A&M University and serves as the
chairwoman of the science department at the Institute for Creation Research in Dallas.

Seems REASON (or at least reasonableness) does exist in the debate over creationism and evolution. Note which side of the argument it's found on. How can one object to her statement, that is, unless they are biased both in the process and the outcome.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Modern Reformation: The New Atheism

Christians who feel besieged by the atheist onslaught in recent years would do well to know their history.

Quote from Skepticism, Agnosticism and Atheism: A Brief History of Unbelief
by M. Z. Hemingway in Modern Reformation.

This article is only one of many in this months issue of Modern Reformation on "The New Atheism". For a list of all the articles, see HERE.

Here's a description the magazine provides:
In this issue of Modern Reformation, we set out to give you the tools you need to understand and interact with the so-called "New Atheism" that is flexing its muscles in our post-Christian societies. First up, our resident journalist Mollie Z. Hemingway traces the contours of atheism through the history of philosophy and spirituality. Next, Lutheran theologian Adam Francisco brings us up to date by introducing us to the primary proponents of the New Atheism: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. Then trial lawyer and apologist Craig Parton discusses the intellectual arguments atheists use to prove their point; Scottish Presbyterian pastor and apologist David Robertson takes us through his recent response to Richard Dawkins and shows us how to counter the arguments that they use against Christianity; and our editor-in-chief Michael Horton finishes up the issue by showing how our own versions of Christianity can short-circuit our apologetics and evangelism.

New Books by Rev. Al Mohler

New Books by Rev. Al Mohler

1. Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth

2. He is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World

While the World Tries to Cast Slurs of Irrelevance ...

"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those
who are perishing; but to us who are being saved it is
the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18

The whole world looked with contempt—indignant at the
audacity of a few humble Christians, thus affronting and
defying the "public opinion" of nations and ages; assailing
the religions of earth with the cross as their only sword;
striking down their idols with this as their only hammer;
and with this, as their one lever, proposing to turn the
world upside down!
From that day the cross became "a power" in the earth;
a power which went forth, like the light—noiselessly yet
irresistibly—smiting down all religions alike, all shrines
alike, all altars alike—sparing no superstition nor philosophy.

This power remains—in its mystery, its silence, its influence,
it remains. The cross has not become obsolete! The
preaching of the cross has not ceased to be powerful and

There are those who would persuade us that, in this modern
age—the cross is out of date and out of fashion, time-worn.
But this shakes us not. It only leads us to clasp the cross more
fervently, and to study it more profoundly, as embodying in
itself that gospel which is at once the wisdom and the power
of God.

Yet the cross is not without its mysteries.

It illuminates—yet it darkens.

It is life—yet it is death.

It is honor—yet it is shame.

It is wisdom—but also foolishness.

It is . . .
both pardon and condemnation;
both strength and weakness;
both joy and sorrow;
both love and hatred;
both medicine and poison;
both hope and despair.

It is Christ's humiliation—yet it is His exaltation!

It is Satan's victory—yet it is Satan's defeat!

It is the gate of heaven—and the gate of hell!

The cross is the key to God's character, His word,
His ways, His purposes. It is the summary of all
the Bible—the epitome of Revelation!

Words by Horatius Bonar

Monday, March 10, 2008

Blasphemy Law Upheld

Regardless of whether one believes blasphemy should be a law of the state or not, and regardless of whether the House of Lords voted to abolish their law on blasphemy or not, blasphemy continues to be on the books of the Lord and will remain there.

Southern Baptist Declaration on Environment and Climate Change

Declaration found here.

While Southern Baptist's business is their own, and while I was pleased after reading the headlines that this declaration did not go further than it did; it (along with other things I've read lately such as "The New Baptist Covenant",etc.,)raises some question in my mind on both the political involvement within the Southern Baptist denomination as well as the role the Southern Baptist Church is taking in regard to secular matters such as environment and climate change.

Overall, while the declaration spoke mostly in generalities and about roles the church is supposed to already be playing, and while I suppose it will relieve pressure off the SBC and perhaps even serve as "good PR" for the SBC in that it has spoken in regard to a present day issue, there are elements of it that still raise concern.

Let me state that on several levels I was glad to see the church distinguishing between the role and responsibilities of the church and that of other entities such as the government and private sector. The only problem is that it should have distinguished more than it did (or at least been more clear than it was).

For example, while statements such as the following were good:
1. We recognize that we do not have any special revelation to guide us about whether global warming is occurring and, if it is occurring, whether people are causing it.
2. We recognize that we do not have special training as scientists to allow us to assess the validity of climate science.
3. We must care about environmental and climate issues because of our love for God—“the Creator, Redeemer, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe ...
4. We realize that we cannot support some environmental issues as we offer a distinctively Christian voice in these arenas. For instance, we realize that what some call population control leads to evils like abortion. We now call on these environmentalists to reject these evils and accept the sanctity of every human person, both born and unborn.
5. Therefore, our motivation for facing failures to exercise proper stewardship is not primarily political, social or economic—it is primarily biblical.
6. We realize that the primary impetus for prudent action must come from the will of the people, families and those in the private sector
7. To abandon these issues to the secular world is to shirk from our responsibility to be salt and light.

At the same time, statements such as the following perhaps opened themselves to misinterpretation or misapplication, if not going too far for the following reasons:

1. "Yet, even in the absence of perfect knowledge or unanimity, we have to make informed decisions about the future."

Reason: While mankind and particularly those involved in science and the state (along with individuals and those in the private sector) must make informed decisions, the church must be careful not only to avoid overstepping their bounds, but even to give the appearance of doing so. For example, news articles related to this declaration may tend to give the impression that the Southern Baptist Church has weighed in and has sided in full agreement with those who espouse "green" and "global warming", etc., and do so even to a degree that I don't believe their declaration actually makes... (Note FoxNews Headline: "Southern Baptist Leaders Issue Surprising Call to Fight Climate Change.") Another example of this would be in the statements "...Poor nations and individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats. Therefore, “we should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy … [and] the helpless” (BFM 2000) through proper stewardship." Such statements could be taken to mean the SBC has agreed that global warming, etc., is validated and therefore our government should bear the brunt and give large amounts of money to "green" causes, while there are sufficient statements in the declaration to suggest this is or may not be the SBC mindset at this point.

2. "We affirm that “every Christian should seek to bring industry, government and society as a whole under the sway of the principles of righteousness, truth and brotherly love”

Reason: While this statement does not state the government should buy into arguments suggesting "global warming, etc." is true and therefore the government without continuing to hear and weigh arguments in making judgments, should act in keeping with some environmenatist agendas; to the causual or undiscerning reader it could be taken not as an affirmation to call these entities to principles of righteousness, but as an affirmation for believers to call government to act concerning climate change (... in keeping with climate change agendas, etc.). It most certainly could be construed by some as thinking the "church" should call government to become more involved, while this is not the role of the church, particularly when the state seems to be addressing the issue and debate continues to play out.

3. "...Indeed, some of us have required considerable convincing before becoming persuaded that these are real problems that deserve our attention. But now we have seen and heard enough to be persuaded that these issues are among the current era’s challenges that require a unified moral voice."

Reason: It's already clear in the scietific, governmental and public arena these are issues which present a challenge. The use of the words "persuaded", "considerable convincing", "real problems", can lead one to think the declaration is not suggesting it to be just a "challenge that requires a unified moral voice" but to be "real" problems, even ones that demand others be persuaded. It's not the role of the church to make scientific determination (as the declaration states in another part) but these statements can give the appearance the SBC is not simply evaluating the subjects of environment and climate change in regard to whether such issues are legitimate issues for the church to be concerned and involved in (according to it's theological and eccesiastical roles)but that the SBC has weighed in on the scientific question itself.

These things being said, it is best for the the church not to overstep and enter into the realm and business of the state (unless as some former Christians have stated the failure of the church to act and call the state to address issues of monumental significance and consequences involving things like the protection of life, etc. wherein the state has either refused or failed to address an issue or acted in the issue in ways not in agreement with the clear teaching of God's Word,etc. will have dire and significant or detrimental consequences, ...note others have worded this better than I have here).

This being said, let me affirm I continue to be grateful for my brothers and sisters in the SBC, their efforts in standing for Christ in society, and in honoring God in all of life.

Vatican and Wealth

The new deadly sins include ...being obscenely rich...

Quote taken from FoxNews article entitled: Vatican Adds Seven New Deadly Sins Including Abortion, Contraception and Drug-Dealing

Wonder if the Vatican's position on wealth applies to Abrahan, King Solomon, or even to God himself?

It's not the blessing or position of wealth that's sinful, but other things associated with wealth that can be sinful such as an inordinate desire for wealth, unrighteous attitudes and behavior to attain, keep, or hoard wealth; unrighteous management or use of wealth, etc. However, simply to possess a great deal of wealth is not sinful in itself.

Deadly Sin

The Catholic Church divides sins into venial, or less serious, sins and mortal sins, which threaten the soul with eternal damnation unless absolved before death through confession and penitence.

The above quote is taken from the FoxNews Article entitled "Vatican Adds Seven New Deadly Sins Including Abortion, Contraception and Drug-Dealing".

It raises the question "How Deadly is Sin?"?

The Bible states "the wages of sin is death". It does suggest that there are only "some" sins which threaten the soul with damnation (unless forgiven) while others are "less serious" and do not affect the soul, it's relation with God, one's spiritual state and condition, or one's eternal destiny. While it's true there are some sins more grievious than others, some sins with greater consequences than others, and some sins with greater guilt and deserving of greater punishment than others; that does not negate the fact that all sin causes one to be a law breaker and to fall short of the glory and righteous requirements of God. A holy God can look upon and turn his head to "any" sin.

Can you imagine one suggesting they have committed only venial sins and therefore believe it fine to reject Christ (because they don't need him) and think they will not only avoid eternal damnation but experience eternal life? Far be it from the truth, for the word says "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." The Scripture teaches that all sin (large or small) is an affront to God and violation of his law and results in falling short of God's righteous standard.

The article states "it holds mortal sins to be grave violations of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes.” What is the determination of "grave", who decides it, and upon what authority? Sin is any want, transgression or lack of conformity to the law of God. No matter how some seek to excuse it or reclassify it, it misses the mark and results in death, unless atoned for and forgiven through the atonement that comes by God's own Son, Jesus Christ.

Note for example:
"Venial sin weakens charity; it manifests a disordered affection for created goods; ... However venial sin does not set us in direct opposition to the will and friendship of God; it does not break the covenant with God... (C.C.C. # 1863)

Would "coveting" be considered a venial sin. It would be by the second phrase; however an inconsistency would be found when compared with the third phrase, for coveting does set us in direct oppostion to the will of God.

Additionally, while it's true that God's Word needs to be applied in all generations, and while it's true man continues to seek new ways to express and participate in sin, that is different from saying there is "new sin". The root nature and foundation of sin is the same in every generation as described by God's Word and addressed in the Ten Commandments. In other words, the Bible is sufficient and has defined sin, all sin (even though new forms or expressions of those sins arise), so that it is not necessary for the church to assume that role. While it's true the role of the church is to apply the truths of God's word to specific areas and practices in their day, that's different from suggesting there is "new" sin.

Interesting isn't it... the article states "...there is no definitive list of mortal sins..." Seems something as significant as this, if one could define them they should be defined. The truth is they don't define them because they don't exist on one level, but on another level all sins are "mortal" in the sense they violate God's law and deserve punishment if not atoned for.

As far as the reference to "environmental polluters", one must be humored to think that abuse of creation must not have been a significant sin until the Catholic church declared it to be so. It's as though they think they must make the Bible relevant to the present age (by putting something on a "list of deadly sins" ... as if the Bible itself were not always relevant.

Don't confuse whether or not I'm grateful for the Catholic church taking a stand against sinful practices in today's world, for I am; I only wish they would do so based on the right authority and characterize it as it really is.

Type rest of the post here

Friday, March 7, 2008

Caution by Calvin

We indeed know that when anything becomes customary, almost all become hardened and flatter themselves in their vice; for immorality is then counted almost as the law, and what is sanctioned by public consent seems lawful.

John Calvin (Commentary on Zechariah, ch 1, verse 4)

The Sermon Builder from the Shepherd's Fellowship

What an excellent and thorough-going resource!

See here

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Relative Law?

Iraq's new draft constitution, which has yet to be approved by parliament, contains an article under which family law would be replaced with a new system determined according to the religion or sect of those involved.

Quote taken from here. Does anybody see (or foresee) any problems with (or arising) from this?

Islam Legalistic?

While I recognize Wikipedia is not the most trustworthy source (but there are similar rules found in other sources) check out this article a friend showed me.

Interview with Tim Keller

ByFaith Interview with Tim Keller on his recently released book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism.

Christian Truth which Stands Over and Against Reponses to the Pew Report

While many responses to the Pew Report seem to suggest religion boils down to whatever a person wants to believe, or whatever a person wants to make God, or whatever combinations or attractions work for a specific person, (or don't work for a specific person), it should be noted that:

While idolatry is nothing new, true religion is not about man determining God, but man responding in relationship to the God who is.

While polls and reports may provide a picture of the religious landscape... and even shape the greater future landscape when it comes to things like politics, public policy, persuasion, etc., they do not change or retard but rather serve the work of the kingdom of God, as it matters not how many choices or changes unbelievers might select, exchange or convert from in their unbelief, but that God according to his timing and pleasure calls, converts and recreates the elect through new birth, regeneration and sanctification. While polls mean much to the world, and can be useful to some extent for man, one must not forget what matters most is the ongoing and unstoppable work of God who through the church is continuing to grow the body of Christ even in the midst of a changing and foundationless world.

Even as we know the certainty of the things of God, as the tides here on earth seem to come and go, we can be certain that the trends as we see them now will not continue forever, and who knows what the backlash or response will be ... either toward the things it has moved from, or to things altogether new, but this much we can be thankful for...

The present trends can be healthy and helpful to the true church in these ways: in identifying those who in the past may have been disguised under the cloak of religion though inwardly they held to unbelief, and in better distinguishing the true church from others as unbelievers experience and exercise greater freedom in expressing their own beliefs and practices.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Illustration of the present life in regard to the number of (and attitude of many) unbelievers

While it is the practice of certain unbelievers today to count and take comfort and pride in the number of unbelievers in the world, I suspect lack of proclamation of the realities of heaven and hell and all that is associated with them has much to do with it.
I know at this point, many might suggest that I might promote hell fire and brimstone preaching as if simply by "scaring" people they might enter the kingdom of heaven; but such is not the case. HOWEVER, at the same time, if other situations in life lend light to the truth, it's clear that many are prone not only to not take the truth seriously, but to even peddle and adopt that which is untruth in situations where they are either not confronted with the truth or are allowed to live as though the truth will not catch up to them. For this reason, it's important that the church not neglect preaching and teaching concerning the truths of heaven and hell and the differences between believers and unbelievers when it comes to death, the resurrection and the final judgment. This, along with teaching the truth that there will be degrees of punishment of the wicked serves to curb brazeness rebellion, though it will still be found among some who seek to cast off all truth and sanity.

To this end, I remind readers of truths pointed out in Thomas Vincent's The Shorter Catechism Explained from Scripture:

Difference between unbelievers and all the wicked world from that of believers at the last day
i. The condition of unbelievers, and all the wicked world, will be miserable beyond expression at the last day of judgment:
1. Their bodies shall arise, and come forth like prisoners out of the grave, and whatsoever strength and immortality shall be put upon them, will be only to make them capable of eternal torments and misery.
2. They shall, with horror and dreadful shrieking, see Christ coming in flaming fire, to take vengeance upon them.
a. Rev 1:7 ‘Behold, he cometh with clouds, and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him; and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.”
3. They shall stand before the throne and judgment seat of Christ, where the books shall be opened wherein all their sins are recorded – according to which they shall be judged, and sentenced to everlasting punishment.
a. Rev 20:11,12 “And I saw a geat white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and therewas found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, and the dead were judged out of those things which were ritten in th books, according to their works.”
b. Mt 25:41 “Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”
4. They shall then be driven away from the presence of the Lord into hell, where they shall be punished with extremity of anguish, and torment in soul and body, without any alleviation or intermission, unto all eternity.
a. Mt 25:46 “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment.”
b. Rom 2:8-9 “ Indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.”
c. Rev 14:11 “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day or night.”

Regarding Believers
a. Believers shall be made perfectly blessed in their full enjoyment of God to all eternity.
i. In perfect immunity or freedom from all evil, and that both of sin and misery
1. Eph 5:27 “That he might present it to himself a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
2. Rev 21:4 “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.”
ii. In their full enjoyment of God
1. They shall have the glorious presence of God with them.
a. Rev 21:3 “Behold, the tablernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them.”
2. They shall have the immediate and beatifical vision of his face.
a. Rev 22:4 “And they shall see his face, and his name shall be in their foreheads.”
b. 1 Cor 13:12 “For now we see through a glass darkly, but then face to face.”
c. 1 Jn 3:2 “We shall see him as he is.”
3. They shall have both a full persuasion and sense of God’s love unto them, and perfect love in their hearts towards him.
4. They shall have fullness and exceeding joy
a. Ps 16:11” In thy presence is fullness of joy.”
b. Jude 24 “Now to him that is able to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”

iii. In the Eternity thereof
1. 1 Thess 4:17 “And so shall we ever be with the Lord.”

Hobbits New Human Species Bites the Dust?

Everything is not always as first touted. See here. It appears now that "An Australian team claims the little people were not a new human species, but modern humans with a form of dwarfism caused by poor nutrition."

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Professor Benny Shanon: Israelites Hallucinating at Sinai (Extent Some Will Go to Argue Against the Truth)

In Moses was tripping at Mount Sinai, Professor Benny Shanon, professor of cognitive psychology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, suggests (or asserts) when the people of Israel perceived the voices at Mount Sinai, it was the result of a hallucinatory experience due to partaking of two plants in their religious worship. Shanon's theory suggests "The religious ceremonies of the Israelites included the use of psychotropic materials that can found in the Negev and Sinai." What's interesting is he goes on to state:

"I have no direct proof of this interpretation," and such proof cannot be expected, he says. However, "it seems logical that something was altered in people's consciousness.

Note, in Exodus, there is nothing in the immediate or broader context that suggests the Israelites partook of hallucinatory objects. Not only that, but:
1. The event is recorded as historical,
2. The people are said to have been sanctified for two days (pointing to their purity and consecration),
3. The sound was exceeding loud... so that ALL the people that were in the camp trembled (not just some... i.e., some who were hallucinating)
4. The assertion is that the children of Israel saw (or perceived) that God talked with them "from heaven", not through their own imaginations.
5. The account is referred to by others as both a historical and revelatory event.
6. The event is in perfect keeping with the rest of the unfolding of biblical revelation and redemption.

The point is this...rather than performing proper exegesis, one must come with their own presuppositions ...that this "cannot" mean what it seeks to say ... in order both to connive a theory that the Israelites were partaking of hallinatory plants (when one admits there is no evidence of that, nor can or should one suggest it to be proved).

Just as interesting, is that atheists delight in things of this nature as seen here.

College Campus and The God Delusion

Richard Dawkins is promoting his university tours to draw attention to his book The God Delusion. Hopefully, Christians on these campuses will see and take advantage of this opportunity to talk about the faith and lead fellow students and faculty to Christ.

To this end, I hope pastors will equip their students and that students themselves will study both to know and discuss the differences between what Dawkins presents and the foundation and hope found in Christ.

Christians from Arizona State, Berkeley, Stanford, University of Wisconsin, Columbia and NYU, University of Texas (Austin), make the most of this opportunity! I've heard about both the movement among young people in politics today as well as the attention being given to matters of the faith today... perhaps this can serve as motivation for students to get together for discussions prior to the presentation and then rally in evangelizing the campuses leading up to and following the presentation.

Such presentations should not alarm believers. The Scripture tells us false teachers will come. Presentations such as this ought to mobilize believers as they provide great opportunity for the elect to be revealed.

Type rest of the post here

Hitchens question

Christopher Hitchens, author of "God is not Great", asks this question: "What moral statement can Christians make that atheists can't?" Since most of his attacks on Christianity revolve around moral judgments of the Christian God and His followers, it seems to be a cornerstone of his atheistic faith.

The answer really, is quite easy, if not simple. For if we are to answer the question directly, then the answer is "None". There are no moral statements that Christians can make that atheists cannot. But before the non-believers break out the champagne and declare themselves the winners with Hitchens as the conquerer-in-chief, let's take it a step or two further. Because if the question is taken to mean "What moral statement can Christians make that atheists can't, and provide a logical, reasoned basis for making those moral statements?" then the answer is "All of them."

Now to be sure, there are a bunch of theories that attempt to explain morality. Some of them, from the noncognitivist side, deny that moral statements are indicative at all, i.e. that they have ontological meaning, and that they are either true or false. Moral statements are reduced to emotion or moral commands (if you love it, do it!).

On the congnitivist side, the subjectivists say that moral statements are really just statements about the one who is making the moral statement, i.e. the subject. That can extend into societies, where it may be a sociological statement to say that "our culture dislikes rape". The problem here is that this is not a normative statement.

The objectivists agree that moral statements are true or false statements of fact. This group can be further divided into ethical naturalists and ethical non-naturalists. Their disagreement arises around whether moral properties can be reduced to and identified with non-moral properties. By its nature, ethical naturalism is a reductionist theory which attempts to define or reduce ethical terms to physical natural properties, that are biological, sociological, psychological or even physical in nature. In my estimation, this is where Hitchens has to reside. He makes absolute moral statements about God, so he cannot be non-cognitivist, and neither can he be subjectivist.

So as a natural ethicist, his moral basis has to reside inside one of these frameworks that describe "right" from "wrong": 1. What is approved by most people, 2. what most people desire, 3. what is approved by an impartial observer, 4. what does the most good for most people, 5. what is best for human survival, 6. what is in the maximum interest of all people etc.

The noteworthy observation about this framework is that it is not morally irreducible, it is reducible to to the properties mentioned above. Science can then assign values to these properties, and it can be measured.

But how does ethical naturalism stand up to its own standards? Can we make statements about ethical naturalism that hold true, and are non-circular? Can we say that ethical naturalism is morally right, without first accepting ethical naturalism as the theory by which it should be judged as right or wrong? Of course not, it is absurd and viciously circular. That is because the ethical naturalist confuses "is" with "ought". Every moral statement carries with it a normative "how we ought to behave to be morally right". If an act is right, then one ought to do it. But here is the problem, physical properties, like the ones the ethical naturalist attempts to reduce moral acts to, carry no normativeness. They are simply natural properties that exist, regardless of how we ought to behave.

Secondly, the reduction of morality to the framework described above fails, because the reduction simply does not work. The majority may be wrong, such a thing as an impartial observer does not exist, and the most good for the most people depends on who is making the moral statement to begin with, i.e. who decides what is the most good for the most people.

Furthermore, ethical naturalism faces the problem of a personal internal infinite regress, since naturalism is wholly dependent on the senses to interact with the environment in which we live. But how would you then know that what you are doing is right or wrong? How do you "sense" it? And how do you know that that sensation of knowing that your act is right or wrong, is right or wrong? Do you "sense" that? How about that sensation? how do you know that your sensing of your sensing that your act is right or wrong, is right or wrong? And so it will continue, to the point of an infinite regress, and one may never know that what you are doing is right or wrong, when one starts the regress by reducing morality to physical properties and measurable sensations.

So while Hitchens may ask the question, and even receive an initial answer that satisfies him and his followers, the deeper investigation does not work for him, at all. He is firmly entrenched in fatal relativism and cannot escape infinite reduction.

Christians believe that humans are created in the image of God, and therefore have God's moral will to guide them. Even if atheists deny this, they cannot escape it. Even if they use this built-in morality to assault God and Christianity, they cannot do so without using that morality. I once heard it said that it is like a child slapping his father in the face while the father was carrying him across an alligator-infested swamp. An apt analogy, I think.

Morality is based not only on the will of God, but on His very nature. And since we all share a part of His nature, we are moral. Thanks be to God.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Oprah's Pluralism

I am amazed that so many actually believe that this woman is a Christian. However, this video should settle the issue of Oprah's religion once and for all.

Oprah is a nice person (as well as an excellent self-promoter), but she is clearly NOT a Christian.

BTW: See Chuck Norris's response to Oprah's latest "New Earth" course.

Oprah: A Course in Miracles (Repudiation)

As a former New Age follower and devoted student of A Course in Miracles, I eventually discovered that the Course in Miracles was—in reality—the truth of the Bible turned upside down.

Not having a true understanding of the Bible at the time of my involvement, I was led to believe that A Course in Miracles was “a gift from God” to help everyone understand the “real” meaning of the Bible and to help bring peace to the world. Little did I know that the New Age “Christ” and the New Age teachings of A Course in Miracles were everything the real Jesus Christ warned us to watch out for. In Matthew 24 Jesus warned about false teachers, false teachings and the false “Christs” who would pretend to be He.

Quotes from this website which tells of and repudiates a new program on Oprah Winfrey's XM Satelite Radio Program this coming year.

Science Alone - A Faulty Hope

Synthetic biology has the potential to dramatically change fields from agriculture to medicine to zoology. But how will society cope with the ability for a lone researcher to — for example — build a polio virus from scratch in a private lab?

Quote from this article.

As long as evil exists,
science can (and will) serve for both the good and detriment of man.

Those who put their hope in man (and science alone) err greatly. Only God can truly change man's sinful nature and bring redemption and restoration to this world. For more, begin with Romans 8:18ff, then read the rest of the Bible.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

How Do You Prove You're A Jew?

Today the meaning of being Jewish is disputed — a faith? a nationality? — but in Israeli society the principle of matrilineal descent remains widely accepted.

The above quote is from an article in the NYTimes entitled "How Do You Prove You're A Jew".

Seems the question of whether one is a true Jew or not has been around for some time. Reminds me of Paul's Words in Romans 9 "It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring."

The truth is that on a physical level, it will become more and more difficult to discern "Who is a true Jew?" and "Who is not?". However, on a spiritual level, the true children of Abraham are identified as those who possess the same faith of Abraham, who trusted not in his own ability to keep the law, but who trusted in the promise of God, who could raise the dead, and give life to those who in themselves were powerless and helpless (to bring about the things God had promised). We read in Romans 4 "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness" and again "Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all."

While physical ethnicity is of some use, what matters most is whether one is a true child of Abraham, trusting not in one's physical lineage for salvation, but in the provision of God that leads to salvation, namely Jesus Christ himself, who HIMSELF is the fulfillment of the imagery and statement referred to by Abraham when he said "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering..." (Gen 22) To be a true Israelite, or true child of God, one must look to Christ who is the fulfillment of the covenant made with Abraham. As is written "Consider Abraham: "He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith."

Romans 4

1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."
4Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. 6David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7"Blessed are they
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
8Blessed is the man
whose sin the Lord will never count against him."

9Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham's faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12And he is also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.
13It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.
16Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations."[c] He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.

18Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, "So shall your offspring be."[d] 19Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah's womb was also dead. 20Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness." 23The words "it was credited to him" were written not for him alone, 24but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Romans 9

1I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit— 2I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
6It is not as though God's word had failed. For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel. 7Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham's children. On the contrary, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." 8In other words, it is not the natural children who are God's children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham's offspring. 9For this was how the promise was stated: "At the appointed time I will return, and Sarah will have a son."

10Not only that, but Rebekah's children had one and the same father, our father Isaac. 11Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God's purpose in election might stand: 12not by works but by him who calls—she was told, "The older will serve the younger." 13Just as it is written: "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

14What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15For he says to Moses,
"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. 17For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.

19One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" 20But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " 21Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

22What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25As he says in Hosea:
"I will call them 'my people' who are not my people;
and I will call her 'my loved one' who is not my loved one," 26and,
"It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them,
'You are not my people,'
they will be called 'sons of the living God.' "

27Isaiah cries out concerning Israel:
"Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea,
only the remnant will be saved.
28For the Lord will carry out
his sentence on earth with speed and finality."

29It is just as Isaiah said previously:
"Unless the Lord Almighty
had left us descendants,
we would have become like Sodom,
we would have been like Gomorrah."

Israel's Unbelief
30What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; 31but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. 32Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the "stumbling stone." 33As it is written:
"See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall,
and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame."