Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Archeologists find 'Joseph-era' coins in Egypt

Interesting discovery. Whatever one may think of "evidential" apologetics, this particular discovery, if valid, throws a wrench into the "Exodus was a myth" theory.

From Archeologists find 'Joseph-era' coins in Egypt

"A thorough examination revealed that the coins bore the year in which they were minted and their value, or effigies of the pharaohs [who ruled] at the time of their minting. Some of the coins are from the time when Joseph lived in Egypt, and bear his name and portrait," said the report."

Over 350 Public Schools Teaching the Bible

More than 350 schools in 43 states have implemented courses on the Bible for the 2009-2010 academic year, a new report reveals.

See the report in The Christian Post here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Shorter Catechism and a tale that inspires me

We have the following bit of experience from a general officer of the United States Army. He was in a great western city at a time of intense excitement and violent rioting. The streets were over-run daily by a dangerous crowd. One day he observed approaching him a man of singularly combined calmness and firmness of mien [bearing], whose very demeanor inspired confidence. So impressed was he with his bearing amid the surrounding uproar that when he had passed he turned to look back at him, only to find that the stranger had done the same. On observing his turning the stranger at once came back to him, and touching his chest with his forefinger, demanded without preface: "What is the chief end of man?" On receiving the countersign, "Man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever"--"Ah!" said he, "I knew you were a Shorter Catechism boy by your looks!" "Why that is just what I was thinking of you," was the rejoinder.

It is worthwhile to be a Shorter Catechism boy. They grow up to be men. And better than that, they are exceedingly apt to grow to be men of God."

B. B. Warfield, "Is the Shorter Catechism Worth While?" in Selected Shorter Writings of Benjamin B. Warfield, Vol. 1, ed., John E. Meeter (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1980), pp. 383-84.
Click here for the Shorter Catechism in Modern English

Truth about Hell

It would be nice to think that hell does not exist, or that men and women may avoid it even if they do not have faith in Jesus Christ. But such thoughts are a delusion and, as J. I. Packer writes: "It is really a mercy to mankind that God in Scripture is so explicit about hell."

Derek Thomas addresses the question: Will a Loving God Condemn People to Hell?

Pastor on ECLA Fallout / Homosexuality

McDermott added, “The underlying issue is really the authority of Scripture. [Rejecting Scripture means] you have to come up with a different God, a different Jesus, a different gospel and a different salvation,” he said. “Homosexuality is simply the surface manifestation right now of that basic rejection. It will be different in the future.”

Quote from Gerald McDermott, teaching pastor at St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Roanoke, Va. See article here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Position Paper - Arminianism and Calvinism

There has been much controversy in the contemporary church around two doctrinal positions, Arminianism and Calvinism.

In a nutshell:

Arminianism (drawn from Wikipedia) is a school of soteriological thought within Protestant Christianity based on the theological ideas of the Dutch Reformed theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) and his historic followers, the Remonstrants. The doctrines' acceptance stretches through much of mainstream Christianity, including evangelical Protestantism.

Arminianism holds to the following tenets:
  • Humans are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation (see also prevenient grace).
  • Salvation is possible only by God's grace, which cannot be merited.
  • No works of human effort can cause or contribute to salvation.
  • God's election is conditional on faith in the sacrifice and Lordship of Jesus Christ.
  • Christ's atonement was made on behalf of all people.
  • God allows his grace to be resisted by those who freely reject Christ.
  • Believers are able to resist sin but are not beyond the possibility of falling from grace through persistent, unrepented-of sin.

Calvinism (drawn from Wikipedia) is a theological system and an approach to the Christian life. The Reformed tradition was advanced by several theologians such as Martin Bucer, Heinrich Bullinger, Peter Martyr Vermigli, and Huldrych Zwingli, but it often bears the name of the French reformer John Calvin
because of his prominent influence on it and because of his role in the
confessional and ecclesiastical debates throughout the 16th century.
Today, this term also refers to the doctrines and practices of the Reformed churches of which Calvin was an early leader. Less commonly, it can refer to the individual teaching of Calvin himself.[2] The system is best known for its doctrines of predestination and total depravity, stressing the absolute sovereignty of God.

Calvinist theology is sometimes identified with the five points of
Calvinism, also called the doctrines of grace, which are a
point-by-point response to the five points of the Arminian Remonstrance (see History of Calvinist-Arminian debate) and which serve as a summation of the judgments rendered by the Synod of Dort in 1619. Calvin himself never used such a model and never combated Arminianism directly.

The five points therefore function as a summary of the differences
between Calvinism and Arminianism, but not as a complete summation of
Calvin's writings or of the theology of the Reformed churches in
general. In English, they are sometimes referred to by the acronym TULIP.

The central assertion of these canons is that God is able to save
every person upon whom he has mercy and that his efforts are not
frustrated by the unrighteousness or the inability of humans.

Total depravity

The doctrine of total depravity (also called "total inability") asserts that, as a consequence of the fall of humanity into sin, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin.
People are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart,
mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own
interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God.
Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to
follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the
necessity of their own natures. (The term "total" in this context
refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person
is as evil as possible.)

Jacob Arminius himself and some of his later followers, such as John Wesley, also affirmed total depravity.

Unconditional election

The doctrine of unconditional election asserts that God's choice from eternity
of those whom he will bring to himself is not based on foreseen virtue,
merit, or faith in those people. Rather, it is unconditionally grounded
in God's mercy alone.

The doctrine of unconditional election is sometimes made to stand
for all Reformed doctrine, sometimes even by its adherents, as the
chief article of Reformed Christianity.

However, according to the
doctrinal statements of these churches, it is not a balanced view to
single out this doctrine to stand on its own as representative of all
that is taught. Unconditional election and its corollary in the
doctrine of predestination
are never properly taught, according to Calvinists, except as an
assurance to those who seek forgiveness and salvation through Christ,
that their faith is not in vain, because God is able to bring to
completion all whom He intends to save. Nevertheless, non-Calvinists
object that these doctrines discourage the world from seeking salvation.

Limited atonement

Also called "particular redemption" or "definite atonement", the doctrine of limited atonement is the teaching that Jesus' substitutionary atonement
was definite and certain in its design and accomplishment. The doctrine
is driven by the concept of the sovereignty of God in salvation and the
Calvinistic understanding of the nature of the atonement. Namely,
Calvinists view the atonement as a penal substitution
(that is, Jesus was punished in the place of sinners), and since,
Calvinists argue, it would be unjust for God to pay the penalty for
some people's sins and then still condemn them for those sins, all
those whose sins were atoned for must necessarily be saved.
Moreover, since in this scheme God knows precisely who the elect are
and since only the elect will be saved, there is no requirement that
Christ atone for sins in general, only for those of the elect.
Calvinists do not believe, however, that the atonement is limited in
its value or power (in other words, God could have elected everyone and
used it to atone for them all), but rather that the atonement is
limited in the sense that it is designed for some and not all. Hence,
Calvinists hold that the atonement is sufficient for all and efficient
for the elect.

Irresistible grace

The doctrine of irresistible grace (also called "efficacious grace")
asserts that the saving grace of God is effectually applied to those
whom he has determined to save (that is, the elect) and, in God's
timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel,
bringing them to a saving faith.
The doctrine does not hold that every influence of God's Holy Spirit
cannot be resisted, but that the Holy Spirit is able to overcome all
resistance and make his influence irresistible and effective. Thus,
when God sovereignly purposes to save someone, that individual
certainly will be saved.

Perseverance of the saints

Perseverance (or preservation) of the saints is also known as "eternal security." The word saints is used in the Biblical sense to refer to all who are set apart by God, not in the technical sense of one who is exceptionally holy, canonized, or in heaven (see Saint).
The doctrine asserts that, since God is sovereign and his will cannot
be frustrated by humans or anything else, those whom God has called
into communion with himself will continue in faith until the end. Those
who apparently fall away either never had true faith to begin with or
will return.
This doctrine is slightly different from the Free Grace or "once saved, always saved" view advocated by some evangelicals in which, despite apostasy
or unrepentant and habitual sin, the individual is truly saved if they
accepted Christ at any point in the past; in traditional Calvinist
teaching, apostasy by such a person may prove that they were never

Mosaic is a reformed church.  This is a
closed-handed (essential for Christian fellowship) issue.  By "reformed" we mean, we hold to the 5 "Solas", or foundational principles,
of the Protestant Reformation:

  • Sola Scriptura - Scripture alone is God's infallable, inerrent rule for Christian faith and practice.
  • Sola Gratia - only through God's unmerited favor are His people saved.
  • Sola Fide - only through a Spirit-delivered, saving faith and not through any works of merit are His people saved.
  • Solus Christus - only through the perfect life and sacrificial death of Jesus Christ may anyone be saved.
  • Sola Deo Gloria - everything - material or immaterial, temporal or eternal - exists to the glory of God alone.

(see more at Wikipedia)

These are required beliefs for leadership of any type at Mosaic.

An important point to consider is that to some folk,
"reformed"="calvinistic", which, as displayed above, is not historically accurate, as there
are some churches and doctrinal positions that fall within the reformed camp that are not
doctrinally Calvinistic.

Calvinism and Arminianism is an open-handed (not essential for Christian fellowship) issue in both the Acts 29 Network and Mosaic. The
leadership of Acts 29 is absolutely Calvinistic, but each church is
allowed to determine whether or not its leaders must be Calvinists or
whatever else.

Dustin Boles, our Sr. Pastor has defined his position:

"I am a Calvinist (if I had to choose a side).  Thankfully, I am not
required by scripture to choose.  I make no apologies for being a
Calvinist.  My teaching does and will continue to reflect this
perspective because I believe it is the most Biblical view of the two.
That being said, I will not work scripture over to fit into a
Calvinistic framework.  I try with all of my heart to teach the sensus
(plain sense meaning) of each passage.  I believe this approach
will naturally tend toward the Calvinist view without trying.

Also, our Mosaic Basics class will have very strong Calvinistic
overtones.  Basics is not an attempt to convert people to Calvinism.  It is
an attempt to teach people good theology from which they can build an
accurate and comprehensive theology."

At Mosaic we do not require our leadership to be Calvinists (they
must be reformed in the meaning stated above).  I do challenge all of
you to have an informed, Biblical opinion on the matter.  I became a
Calvinist over a long period of time as I surrendered to what was
becoming obvious to me in the scriptures.  It went against my will and
wants much of the time, but I found it to be true.

Arminianism versus Calvinism can never be a divisive issue in our
church.  We should not ever be proud that we are Calvinists (or
Arminians for that matter).  Remember, the first point of Calvinism is
"total depravity" which reminds me that no matter how right I am I
still have no upper hand on anyone with God.  His grace alone gives me
his favor.  It also reminds me that, because of my depravity I am
capable of being wrong.  Again, teach the truth (which for me is on the
side of Calvinism) in love.  God may be taking someone through a long
process like he did with me.  Do not apologize or try to hide my or
your view.  Allow room for the Holy Spirit to teach and correct and
reveal.  He will do it."

The Devil's Delusion

... we typically don't promote the works of agnostics, but...

In The Devil’s Delusion, Berlinski turns the scientific community’s cherished skepticism back on itself, daring to ask (and answer) some rather embarrassing questions:

Has anyone provided a proof of God’s inexistence?
Have the sciences explained why our universe seems to be fine-tuned to allow for the existence of life?
Are physicists and biologists willing to believe in anything so long as it is not religious thought?
Has secularism in the terrible twentieth century been a force for good?
Is there a narrow and oppressive orthodoxy of thought and opinion within the sciences?
Does anything in the sciences or in their philosophy justify the claim that religious belief is irrational?

Agnosticism vs. Atheism... and some good questions/critiques come out of it.
In The Devil's Delusion, David Berlinski explores the limits of science and the pretensions of the New Atheists.

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, by Stephen C. Meyer

And that’s what DNA does. It contains and transmits the extraordinarily complex, precisely sequenced chemical code of life—a code that atheist Richard Dawkins has likened to computer code. Indeed, Bill Gates has said that “DNA is like a computer program, but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.”

Could such an “advanced” code, or “software for life,” have happened by chance? Well, as Dr. Meyer shows, given the vast complexity of information required to create the 250 proteins necessary to sustain the simplest living cell, the probability that life originated in the primordial soup by chance is beyond astronomically slim—only 1 in 10 to the 41 thousandth power!

But here is your takeaway, and I’ll let Dr. Meyer do the talking: “Our uniform experience affirms that specified information—whether inscribed in hieroglyphics, written in a book, encoded in a radio signal, or produced in a simulation experiment—always arises from an intelligent source, from a mind and not a strictly material process.”

“Indeed,” Dr. Meyer concludes, “it follows that the best, most causally adequate explanation for the origin of the specified, digitally encoded information in DNA is that it too had an intelligent source.”

Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design came out this year but some may have missed it. Here's more information about the book.
About the Book
Commentary on the book

Awareness of Assisted Suicide Situation in U.S.

Two thousand and eight was a banner year for the assisted-suicide/euthanasia movement. It’s likely that no new states will legalize assisted suicide this year. But if the last 20 years prove anything, it is that euthanasia advocates are passionately committed, work hard, and feel that time is on their side. Are their opponents equally committed?

Wesley J. Smith's post A Myth Is as Good as a Mile is a good resource for assessment and understanding where this movement stands.

Mr. Smith is a Senior Fellow in Human Rights and Bioethics at the Discovery Institute and a consultant for the International Task Force on Euthanasia and

Justin Taylor on How Could God Command Genocide in the Old Testament

Justin Taylor provides an answer to that often asked question here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Bradford Wilcox: Skeptical of "Good Divorce"

Thirty years later, the myth of the good divorce has not stood up well in the face of sustained social scientific inquiry — especially when one considers the welfare of children exposed to their parents' divorces.

Taking into account both divorce and non-marital childbearing, sociologist Paul Amato estimates that if the United States enjoyed the same level of family stability today as it did in 1960, the nation would have 750,000 fewer children repeating grades, 1.2 million fewer school suspensions, approximately 500,000 fewer acts of teenage delinquency, about 600,000 fewer kids receiving therapy, and approximately 70,000 fewer suicide attempts every year (correction appended). As Amato concludes, turning back the family-­stability clock just a few decades could significantly improve the lives of many children.

While I do not know Bradford Wilcox (or his religious convictions), and do not suggest to stand behind all his research, his article entitled The Evolution of Divorce in National Affairs in not only informative but provides a good bit of evidence showing the "myth of good divorce" has been just that (a myth) ... and the consequences have been steep.

In the end, should we be SURPRISED at this??? Even more, should we expect anything better from the new marriage amendments and adoption policies? Time will tell!

Helpful Post for Christian Apologists

The Gospel Coalition (/Justin Taylor) has posted some notes from Peter Kreeft’s Socratic Logic. Read here.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Christian Post on Obama Seeking to Redefine Marriage

In June 2009, President Obama declared the month of June to be LGBT month and he bragged about his intention to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. Obama told the crowd at the White House, “I have called on Congress to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act to help end discrimination against same sex couples in this country.”

Christian Post columnist Dr. Tony Beam reveals the Defense of Marriage Act is being considered for repeal. See: Obama Administration Moves to Redefine Marriage

Atheist Delusions (New Book)

New Book coming out...
This one looks pretty promising to have some great insights and overdue points!

Here's a writeup: Reframing Human History

Here's a sample from the article:

If Hart is correct that "Christianity has been the single most creative cultural, ethical, aesthetic, social, political, or spiritual force in the history of the West," then we must ask ourselves: Why? Christian hands are by no means free of blood and wrongdoing. As Hart writes repeatedly, "human beings frequently disappoint." We are corrupt and callous, and the temptations of power and conquest have snuffed out the holiness of many. But through the darkness, a glimmer of hope shines, for unlike atheism, Christianity offers hope—a hope of transformation from beyond ourselves.

As we survey modernity's rewriting of history, we must remember this hope as we look to shape the future. For it is the life and death of Jesus Christ that has transcended the ages: for Christians, faith is not merely "a cultural logic but a cosmic truth."

Please read the article... for even the article provides enough to somewhat equip Christian apologists. Then read the book for greater depth.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

CS Response to "Letter to a Young Skeptic of Color"

In Letter to a Young Skeptic of Color, Sikivu Hutchinson in seeking to evangelize those of color to the side of atheism commits several errors:

1. She confuses the presence of continuing injustices to suggest God must either not exist or not care.

Job deals with this issue in depth in Job 24 and points out that while God sets his own times for judgment, and while God may even let the wicked rest in a feeling of security, they have no assurance of life, & God's eyes are upon them!

Point: We must not confuse God's timing with God's ability and intentions of bringing about justice/judgment!

2. She fails to recognize that that turning from God and embracing athiesm is not going to change the oppression and injustice, it will only be to surrender the foundation for true justice as well as the one who brings true and abiding comfort in the midst of evil and injustice.

3. Sikivu suggests God "justifies" the ritualistic killing of unarmed people, etc. This is false and nothing but a strawman.

4. Sikivu makes an emotional appeal asking "if the Lord will be your shepherd" as he was for those who have been killed; but one should ask the question - which is better: to have a Redeemer and eternal judge who will bring justice and give life, or to be in the grave as a result of injustice having trusted in oneself?

5. She insinuates that doubts raised by unrighteousness even in the church and among some clergy point to the truth of atheism and denial of religion's claims. To do so is to fail to distinguish between the sins of some and the truth of another.

Seems the atheists now are picking up on the practices of the Muslims and others in reaching out to and preying upon the impoverished and oppressed. Unlike Christians who have and continue to reach to similar groups (with Christ, who is wisdom and truth), the atheists will lead them from bondage to greater bondage.

Catherine Deveney on Richard Dawkins

Words like "wise" and "magisterial" appear of the front covers of his books, so don't even think about whispering: "Are you sure the emperor's wearing clothes?"

There are, after all, so many other great intellectual disciplines: literature, music, art, philosophy and even – dare I say it – theology. But you often get the feeling scientists secretly put themselves at the top.

The point is not whether he's right or not. The point is he assumed he was right. It's exactly the kind of reasoning he criticises in religious people.

The evidence doesn't square with his theory that nothing is beyond the rational – so he discards the evidence and jumps to conclusions.

A belief in a supernatural being that he has no specific evidence for and no absolute proof of? If you didn't know better, you might almost accuse him of a leap of faith

Quotes are from Catherine Deveney in an article in Scotland Sunday about an interview with Richard Dawkins. The article is an interesting read both from the side of journalistic query and quips as well as discovering more about Dawkin's thinking.

I suspect there are probably intelligences not only greater than ours but greater than anything anybody has ever imagined. I believe they probably exist."

Evolution, he goes on to explain, shows that what looks designed is not designed at all but came about gradually, therefore the existence of a creator is unlikely.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Al Mohler: Skeptical of WSJ and "Man vs God"

The Wall Street Journal may be an unusual venue for theological debate, but this past weekend's edition featured just that -- a theological debate of sorts. The "of sorts" is a necessary qualifier in this instance, because The Wall Street Journal's debate was not, as advertised, a debate between an atheist and a believer. Instead, it was a debate between two different species of atheists.

The paper's "Weekend Journal" section front page for the September 12-13, 2009 edition featured articles by Richard Dawkins and Karen Armstrong set in opposing columns. The paper headlined the feature as "Man vs. God: Two Prominent Thinkers Debate Evolution, Science, and the Role of Religion." Well, the feature at least looked interesting.
full article here

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jack Black leads a prayer to the Devil at the 2009 MTV Awards

Christian Press files this report from the MTV music awards, which describes how Jack Black leads the audience in a prayer to Satan.

"I was mortified when Jack Black lead everyone in a prayer to Satan. It was no joke." said Samantha Taylor of California. "The audience held hands and did it."

Jack Black is definitely no friend of Christians, as has been seen from his previous antics. In fact, he is one of the many Hollywood stars who think it fit to insult and belittle Christians. So what can be said about this "prayer"?
There are several answers to as to what his motive was. He could have meant it as a joke. He could have been semi-serious, meaning to offend Christians while not really believing in Satan, of course. Or he could have been 100% serious calling on the devil for help, and getting the audience to join in.

Regardless of his motive, his behavior is typical of what we see from Hollywood. It is no longer "edgy" to propagate casual sex, meaningless murder or homosexual homes. Those things are so embedded in our culture that no-one barely notices any more.

Christians and Christianity are the new targets, lead by blasphemy on almost every TV show and in every movie. And let's be clear, targeting Christians means targeting God.

The joke may very well be on Black. His pathetic attempts to ridicule Christianity may buy him some support and adoration from his equally perverted colleagues, but for the rest of us he remains a sad example of what happens when man is corrupted. His actions serve as encouragement for the non-intellectuals, as fun for the shallow and as praiseworthy for the kindergarten atheist movement.

The really sad part is that many young people watch that nonsense and learn to imitate such stupidity without realizing that actions hold consequences, and lead our country down a road of moral ineptitude and spiritual bankruptcy. Unfortunately people like Black has a pulpit from which to spout their arrogant ignorance, and while most Christians remain blissfully unaware or apathetically tolerant, it will continue.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Whining Entertainers

Can you imagine an industry that blames it's customers for not buying it's product? Imagine an ad saying "My product is great, and if you don't buy it, I'm not going to change it because there is something wrong with you for not buying it. Now get with it."

As the arts and entertainment industry degenerates into social and political debris at the expense of quality writing and acting, it becomes apparent that writers and singers feel like they have a right to our money. When the Dixie Chicks got "political" in their stage shows, former VP Al Gore complained that they were being denied a right to make a living when people stopped buying their music (Maybe they could get real jobs). Now, the producer of the Darwin biography film "Creation" is complaining that American "religion" has caused his film to flop in the US.

See 'Creation' Producer Blames American Evolution Flap for Film's U.S. Flop

"People have been saying this is the best film they've seen all year, yet nobody in the U.S. has picked it up,” he added. "It is unbelievable to us that this is still a really hot potato in America...It's quite difficult for we in the U.K. to imagine religion in America,” Thomas stated. “We live in a country which is no longer so religious. But in the U.S., outside of New York and LA, religion rules."

Mr. Thomas, you produced a flop. How about making a quality film that people want to see? It's your job to sell movies, not my job to buy them.

Friday, September 4, 2009

New Book Out: The Making of an Atheist by James Speigel

The Making of an Atheist by James Speigel

This quote was part of a blurb sent to me on this book:

Could it be that their opposition to religious faith has more to do with passion than
reason? What if, in the end, evidence has little to do with how atheists arrive at their
anti-faith? That is precisely the claim in this book. Atheism is not at all a
consequence of intellectual doubts. These are mere symptoms of the root cause-
moral rebellion. For the atheist, the missing ingredient is not evidence but obedience.