Friday, August 21, 2009

Religious Freedom Request - Rifqa Bary

Powerful Video...

... as the world begins to see more (including the faces) of the truths and practices of the Muslim world, it's going to open eyes (and hearts)!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Reflection on "Rod Dreher: Against Atheist Fundamentalism" Article

Unfortunately, militant atheism in power has repeated all the crimes of religious regimes and, absent ethical restraints, made them vastly worse. Though their ideologies despised Christianity, both the communists and the Nazis justified their own monstrosities as "scientific." While religion's atrocities cannot be denied, today's atheist campaigners blindly refuse to accept that atheism's savage legacy is no accident.

There's a reason for that," Gray said. "If the New Atheists came to terms with it, they'd have to give up their basic faith. Their very project is flawed, ...

The religious sense – of awe, of mystery, of a need for meaning – is hard-wired into our species, which is why Gray, a nonbeliever, identifies a "funny sort of humanism ... He's certainly correct to warn that the attempt to repress the religious instinct (as with the sexual instinct) only means it will reappear in some other, degraded form ...

We ought to reject the shibboleth, advocated by both religious and secular fundamentalists, that religion and science are doomed to be antagonists.

Some good quotes worth reading from Rod Dreher: Against atheist fundamentalism One cannot help but notice some truths held by Christians (which atheists have outright refuted) now being acknowledged by some "free thinkers".

Besides the quotes themselves, it appears to me after reading the article and thinking about unbelievers forming "churches" and not only verbalizing their positions more but coming together in different groups arond those positions ...that before long, atheists will have to determine if their argument that "if Christianity was true, there wouldn't be so many different groups" actually applies to themselves!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Christian Apologists - Careful to Engage, not Exploit

Helpful words for the Christian apologist...

Schaeffer calls the exploiting of this intellectual tension, "taking the roof off" [p. 140], by allowing the weight of these non-Christian presuppositions to come crashing down on the non-Christian. It is like preaching the law--since it exposes a non-Christian's intellectual weakness. Schaeffer cautions us not to exploit this tension any more than is necessary because by destroying a non-Christian's presuppositions, we may leave them in despair. This would be like preaching the law to someone, without preaching the gospel afterwards--leaving them under condemnation with no hope of forgiveness.

Quote taken from here.

The Heartlessness of Unbelief: An Appeal to the Lost

'WHY will ye die? why will ye perish? why will you not have compassion on your own souls? Can your hearts endure, or can your hands be strong, in the day of wrath that is approaching? It is but a little while before all your hopes, your reliefs, and presumptions will forsake you, and leave you eternally miserable. Look unto me, and be saved;—come unto me, and I will ease you of all sins, sorrows, fears, burdens, and give rest unto your souls. Come, I entreat you;—lay aside all procrastinations, all delays;—put me off no more;—eternity lies at the door'.

...'This is the manner of the dispensation in the gospel, even to beg of people that they would be good to their souls. Christ, as it were, became a beggar himself, and the great God of heaven and earth begs our love, that we would so care for our souls that we would be reconciled unto him'

by Erroll Hulse

...worth pondering... How will you respond?

Euphemisms of Sin

The media and “right to die” advocates are calling it “compassionate assisted suicide.” There are always euphemisms to help us through the troubling practices we might not, under other circumstances, wish to pursue.

Quote from "A Right to Die"

Cal Thomas is right. It's always interesting to see how euphemisms are used to try to justify sin. (i.e., abortion: pro-choice, etc.)

... As an aside, I thought the following was insightful (from the article):

What is to stop them if life has only the value assigned to it by the state? As suicide, like abortion, becomes a “choice,” it will be done for reasons that go beyond the reason through which it is ushered in: the supposed “intolerable pain and suffering” and “lack of hope” of recovery. Abortion on demand was conceived through the bogus rape of an unmarried woman and now it can be had for any reason, or no reason. Crimes against humanity don’t begin in the ovens or on killing fields, but by small steps among civilized people.
These findings confirm previous research from the corporation that found that volunteers who serve with faith-based organizations are the most likely to continue serving. In fact, 70 percent of these volunteers continue serving from year to year, higher than any other type of volunteer.

Quote from: Faith Groups More Likely to Attract Volunteers, Report Says

Tweeting Prayers to be Tucked in a Wall

This month, a clever fellow in Israel made it possible for anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time, to tuck a scrap of paper with a prayer on it into the cracks of the Western Wall in Jerusalem— via Twitter.

If you "tweet" your prayers to the Twitter account @ thekotel, Alon Nil, the service's 25-year-old founder in Tel Aviv, will print them out on paper and have a group of kind souls in Jerusalem take them by hand and tuck them into the wall for you.

Quotes from here.

Ever wonder what the forefathers of the faith would have thought since they didn't have twitter (but offered their prayers to God whereever they were)?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Question on The State of Man's Will Before the Fall

I liked this so much that I completely lifted it for my records - well stated.

From here:

Visitor: Hello Sir, I would like to ask you a question that has picked my brain for a while now....

All of the human race was deemed guilty at the Fall, this I understand. Now not one single person can do anything good in the sight of God, because his nature is to do evil, and he can not determine his own nature, this I also understand. But what was mans nature before the Fall? If it was good, then how did he Fall? And if it was not good or bad, then....we arrive at the Arminian's argument for a supposed 'freewill.' If good tree produces good fruit, then how did Adam produce bad fruit if He was good?? I'm sorry if this is a question you cannot answer now, if you can't, then thank you for reading, but if so, I would greatly appreciate hearing your response to this.

Response: Hi, thanks for your inquiry regarding the question of free will. Up front we should clarify so we don't misrepresent anyone here, that both Classic Arminians and Calvinists believe in total depravity. That is, both positions affirm that fallen man is utterly impotent in his own strength to believe on the gospel. So neither of them believe in free will, apart from some kind of grace. Left to himself, man has no hope both would affirm. The difference becomes more apparent when we see that Arminians believe in a concept called "prevenient grace", which temporarily place humanity in a state above their depravity so they can choose to believe OR not. Of course this begs the question because if two people have the same grace then what makes them to differ? Jesus Christ or something else? The Calvinist/Augustinian/Monergist, on the other hand, believes that God grants a new heart to the sinner in regeneration effectually enabling him to believe and persevere to the end. This grace itself makes the will free ... i.e. it is no longer in bondage to sin but loves righteousness and believes the gospel.

So again, we see that for both parties, the natural man's will is in bondage to sin. So apart from grace he has no free will - he is impotent, unless God does something. We believe His Holy Spirit, in uniting us to Christ, must give us eyes to see and ears to hear.

Now that this is clarified, per your question regarding the state of man before the Fall ... we affirm that pre-fall man was not in bondage to sin. With Augustine we affirm that Adam was "able to sin, and able not to sin" (posse peccare, posse non peccare). His nature was inclined to good (thus making his sin all the more greivous), but as you can see, God did not create Adam and Eve sealed in righteousness, that is, like the unchangable state we will be when sealed in glory with Christ. So we could say that Adam and Eve were in a state that was free from the bondage to sin, but not free from its influences. They were being tested. In glory, of course, we will all be be completely free from sin's influences. The Westminster Confession, in Chapter 4 On Creation, says:

II. After God had made all other creatures, he created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls, endued with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness after his own image, having the law of God written in their hearts, and power to fulfill it; and yet under a possibility of transgressing, being left to the liberty of their own will, which was subject unto change. Besides this law written in their hearts, they received a command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; which while they kept were happy in their communion with God, and had dominion over the creatures.

Reading Romans 6 and elsewhere we see that the Bible defines freedom, not as "free to do otherwise" as Arminians do, but freedom from sin. Christ sets us free, and we have a small taste of it now, but will drink it fully at the resurrection. Consider, God is the most free and yet He is unable to sin. His very nature makes it impossible because He is holy. Yet we still consider He and the gloried saints as the most free. They actually have less 'libertarian freedom' (as Arminians define it) than we do, since they can only choose good. They dont have the 'libertarian freedom' to choose evil because they are sealed in righteousness by nature. The point I am making is that Arminains we importing a philosophical idea of freedom rather than letting the text of Scripture speak for itself about what freedom is.

So lets return to your original question. if we ask, did pre-fall man have a free will? We must first ask, "free from what?" If you mean was the will free from the bondage to sin, the answer is uneqivocally yes. But, was it free from God's eternal decree? Obviously not. Consider chapters 2 & 4 of the Book of Acts. Both chapters say that the crucifixion was ordained by God.

"this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." Acts 2:23 "...truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." Acts 4:27, 28

Notice that God actually ordained the most evil event in history to certainly take place through lawless men, yet the lawless men are fully accountable for their actions. They will be judged for them. The point is that God ordains all things to come to pass (Eph 1:11) and yet men's sins are imputed to them. One could say, He ordains sin, sinlessly. So while Adam and Eve were free from the bondage to sin (pre-fall), God still ordained all things that came to pass. And the Fall certainly did not take God by surprise. In fact, He knew that the Fall would take place even before He created the world. If His forknowedge is certain then these events could not be otherwise, no?

Hope this helps