C.H. Spurgeon

Sinners, let me address you with words of life; Jesus wants nothing from you, nothing whatsoever, nothing done, nothing felt; he gives both work and feeling. Ragged, penniless, just as you are, lost, forsaken, desolate, with no good feelings, and no good hopes, still Jesus comes to you, and in these words of pity he addresses you, "Him that cometh unto me I will in no wise cast out."

Comment Policy: No profanity or blasphemy will be posted. You do not have to agree, but if you would like your comment posted, you will have to adhere to the policy.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Good and Bad verses Righteous and Wicked

On another blog, the person asks the question, “What Makes People Good or Bad?

My response to such a question, since the writer is not a Christian, was as follows:

As a Christian, I know you know that we would consider the sin nature of the person to be why one rebels from that which is good. But, as you said, this does not mean “good” people are always good nor does it mean “bad” people are always bad. It appears that some people are born with more desire to rebel compared to other people, for I see this in my own kids. There is also reason to believe if some children only receive attention (although negative attention) because they do something wrong, they will continue to do wrong things just to get any attention at all. Sometimes it seems it could be that people “stay bad” simple because they have been stereotyped as “bad”, everyone talks, acts, and treats them like they are bad, so they continue to act as people see them as. I believe everything plays a part, such as personality, upbringing, choices one makes, but the battle is truly inside the person, and although I think we may can help them in some ways, the ultimate choice is that they have to turn their backs on what is wrong and decide to do right simply because it is right. Sometimes we would like to turn our backs on them, other times we may want to shake sense into them, but ultimately all we can do is hope something inside of them changes. (As for a Christian, we hope for salvation.)

To expound a little more here, we should realize that what man sees as “good” persons and “bad” persons may not be in line with what God sees as righteous and wicked persons. Scripture gives great example to the total depravity of mankind, but at the same time shows that man can do both outwardly good and evil things.

Some important things to note concerning “good and evil” are that [1] although man now has knowledge of “good and evil” that does not mean we have the ability to do that which is good, for Christ said, “there is none good but one, that is, God”, [2] although man may perform outward “good” acts of kindness, charity, etc., “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” and “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it”, so where we may outwardly see an act as good, the inward look at the heart can be seen by God as selfish, prideful, and totally wicked.

Man is wicked because of his sin nature and desire to sin and rebel against God, yet a man can only be righteous by the repenting of his sin (to turn away from) and putting faith in the work of Jesus Christ and having His righteousness upon us. Even as Christians, we must battle the flesh and desires to sin, for God works within us to do that which is good and right.

So a lost person can be good and a saved person can be bad, but a lost person cannot be righteous nor is a saved person righteous by his own accord. Being good or bad does not determine heaven or hell for the person, faith or unbelief in the gospel of Jesus Christ, whereby one may repent of sin and put faith in the work of Christ for His righteousness, does.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Examine: Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, Preface and Chapter 1

As most of you know, or may not, Richard Dawkins has written the book The God Delusion. Since he is an open atheist, there is no reason to ponder why such a title. I do not personally know Mr. Dawkins, nor have we ever met, but I would like to take a look at his book to glimpse inside the mindset of one who openly, excitedly denies the existence of God.

What I shall present, continually in sections as I continue to read his story, is my questions and observations based on certain parts of his book. I will do my best to note the pages and places of each thought, based in Mr. Dawkins’ book so any owner of the book will easily be able to follow my thoughts, and so I will hopefully not be found guilty of taking things out of context.

RD = Richard Dawkins


P. 1
The very first page of the Preface RD speaks of “Imagine, with John Lennon, a world with no religion.” I can’t help but wonder if he also noticed that Mr. Lennon would have us remove not only religion, heaven, and hell, but also countries and possessions. How many ready to give up religion are equally ready to give up country and all their possessions right now, today, also? Interestingly, it isn’t country or religion why we are unable to live in peace, but it is the sinfulness of man, which may use country and religion as a means, but it is merely just an outward expression of man’s inward deceitful, prideful, lustful heart of rebellion against God and a desire to make oneself a god.

P. 3 - 5
Interestingly, on page 3, we find RD claiming, “Being an atheist is nothing to be apologetic about. On the contrary, it is something to be proud of, standing tall to face the far horizon, for atheism nearly always indicates a healthy independence of mind and, indeed, a healthy mind.” Yet, on page 5 he notes, “Indeed, organizing atheists has been compared to herding cats, because they tend to think independently and will not conform to authority.”

So, it appears that the same qualities (notably independence and pride) which RD says is “healthy” are equally detrimental to his cause. Not to mention that these very qualities were the cause of the fall of Satan [Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:12-19; Job 41:34], and the cause of every man, woman, and child rebelling instead of coming to Christ for salvation [Mark 7:21-23; 1 John 2:15-17]. A desire for independence from God and pride in oneself are not virtuous qualities.

Could you imagine a world run by atheists instead of religious persons (regardless of the fact that religious person are not always Scriptural or godly)? Can you “Imagine”?

Imagine there’s no Christians
Only atheists in sight
They reject all authority
For independence from each other they fight
Imagine all the people
Living for themselves…

(Now, don’t get upset, if you have read Dawkins book he enjoys poking fun at Christianity.)

RD also gives his opinion, on page 4 that, “Clearly we have a long way to go. But atheists are a lot more numerous, especially among the educated elite, than many realize.” On the surface this may appeal to the atheist readers as to give credibility to atheism simply because he claims some of “the educated elite” are atheists, but simply because “the educated elite” believe something to be true does not make it true (Isn’t this the very thing atheist claim of Christians?). Who exactly or what exactly are these “educated elite”, meaning are they “the educated elite” in all knowledge or merely their current field, whatever that may be?

To show that “the educated elite”, by itself, is not necessarily a fail proof policy to say “we should do as they do and believe as they believe”, Scripture declares Christ proclaimed, “O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.” Continuing by the moving of the Spirit, Paul declares, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.” We must remember, “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.”

Chapter 1

P. 11
At the beginning of Chapter 1, RD reminisces a moment about his past concerning his school chaplain, an Anglican priest. He recalls, “Why the same emotion [idea of nature/universe] should have led my chaplain in one direction and me in the other is not an easy question to answer.” He makes notes that looking at the universe and nature, “He [his chaplain] interpreted the experience in religious terms and it led him eventually to the priesthood”, whereas evidently it did not do the same for RD.

This again leads us to Scripture. [Romans 1]
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”

The Psalmist declares, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.” And Scripture declares the things are written upon our heart for while the law was given to the Jews, Scripture declares,“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;)”

So whereas RD’s chaplain choose to embrace the things of God which were within and without in nature, RD decided to rebel against them, therefore becoming a nonbeliever of that which is both inside of him and is observable in nature. It is simply acceptance verses rejection of the Truth revealed by God to every man, for Christ, “lighteth every man that cometh into the world”, but “men loved darkness rather than light”.

Clearly I haven’t covered all of my thoughts and objections, but here is a little to consider and I will continue as I have time, for I usually read more than one book at a time. If you desire to comment, whether agree or disagree, let's please try to stay within the current portion of the book presented. Currently the preface and Chapter 1. Thanks.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Forgiveness, Yes – Responsible, No


I am a Baptist, therefore, I would really like to know what the persons of First Baptist Church of Romeoville were thinking when they asked “convicted child sex offender” Jeff Hannah to “step into the pulpit until a replacement was hired” and “served in that role for three years and ever since has been a fill-in preacher, teacher and music minister at the church.”

1. “In 1996, Jeff Hannah was sentenced to nine years in prison for having sexual relations with four underage girls -- ages 15 to 17 -- while a married youth minister at Crossroads Church in Libertyville.”

2. “The Rev. Steve Farish, pastor of Crossroads Church, which has relocated to Grayslake, said he considered Hannah so dangerous that he warned the Romeoville church and a regional Southern Baptist official.”: “"We thought he could still potentially be a danger to women and children," Farish said. "He was never repentant and never told the truth."”

3. “In talking to the Sun-Times last week, Hannah, 42, was unapologetic about his crimes, saying his first marriage had been troubled and he'd had "urges." "I honestly believe that had I been a college pastor, I'd slept with college girls," he said. "But I was a youth pastor. It was less about age and more about who I spent all my time with."”

Although they fault Hannah for not being “the pastor of one wife”, since he has been divorced [although there is much debate as to the full meaning of this passage], I believe the disqualifying point is, “A bishop then must be blameless” and “he must have a good report of them which are without”. His report was not very good from without.

We are indeed to forgive one another and we are indeed to allow the repentant brother or sister back into the local church, but to allow one as noted to be the shepherd, I scarcely find Biblical reason. If I am wrong, please show me the Scriptural evidence.

Can God still use persons that have sinned greatly outwardly whereas the world has seen it? Sure, but to what extent is surely smaller than it once was.

I do somewhat disagree with Christa Brown: "When Southern Baptists put perpetrators into positions of spiritual trust again, it sends the message that this denomination doesn't care about victims." For the Southern Baptist Denomination is not in control (as the Catholic Church is) of the local churches, whereby they are able to call and dismiss pastors by a vote of Convention or something else.

First Baptist Church of Romeoville seems to have displayed forgiveness, but forgot responsibility.

In my opinion of course.

A Few Teeth and a Big Story

Based on “one canine tooth and eight molars”, some researches have determined it is “a 10 million-year-old ape” and that it “suggests that humans and African great apes may have split much earlier than thought.”

So based on only 9 teeth of a missing skeleton, “The Ethiopian and Japanese team named the species Chororapithecus abyssinicus and said it represents the earliest recognized primate directly related to modern-day gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos.”

Although they do seem claim that humans evolved from apes, they admit, “we know nothing about how the human line actually emerged from apes”. Doesn’t this merely prove there is no FACT of evolution from apes to man, but a suggestion, hope, desire, etc. that man evolved from apes, but we have no idea as of how or when. Hmmm…

Of course, there are still those which have doubts, but have no problem telling us what it MUST be anyway. As Gen Suwa of the University of Tokyo says, “If it’s not a gorilla relative, then it’s something very similar to what an early gorilla must have looked like”. Tell us, Mr. Suwa, how would you or anyone else know that, since this was supposedly 4 million years before humans? [According to the article, 10 million year old ape verses humans 6 to 7 million years old.]

Another wake up call to the idea that evolution of humans is FACTUAL is the lack of evidence again noted by, “Peter Andrews, a paleontologist at the British Natural History Museum and expert on human origins, called the discovery exciting because the fossil evidence from great apes, the closest living relatives to humans, is almost nonexistent.” Claiming great apes are human relatives with “almost nonexistent” evidence seems mighty interesting to me.

Of course there is still debate over where humans originated from. Interestingly, research suggest, “Past studies based on skull morphology have been weak and have supported both of the human-origin views.” Yet, ““You can’t find the origin of people by measuring the variability of their skulls,” Hawks told LiveScience.” You know what Hawks says is the main problem? “Assumptions”. [““The main problem with the paper is that it takes some assumptions from genetics papers of 10 to 15 years ago that we now know are wrong,” Hawks said.”] Hmmm…

Now consider “assumptions” has the ability to cause problems in theory, and consider the above article based on 9 teeth.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Hidden Gospel

3 But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:

4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.

5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake.

6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

We, as Christians, sometimes do not seem to understand why a person may not want to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, may even despise or viscously reject it, or simply file it into a category of legend and fairy tales, but we should not allow the rejection to enrage us to ungodly behavior of instant hate and equally vial speech towards them. A rejection of the call to the gospel is a rejection of Christ, not us; for we cannot give salvation or take away sin of anyone. All we can do is proclaim the gospel message as prescribe by Scripture.

We must take into account the above Scripture, that “the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not”. Why would Satan want to blind them? “Lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

We must pray that the Holy Spirit will convict them of sin and their need of Christ, for our preaching alone is not enough to save anyone, for it is written, “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

Scripture declares, God has said, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live”, so neither should we take joy in such, but should gladly proclaim the gospel.

Pray for the unbeliever that the Spirit will move them to repentance, and live your life as a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that others may see Him in you. Don’t help Satan hide the gospel.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Discovery Gives More Credibility/Validity to Christian Scriptures

Discovery Channel: Ancient Tablet Vouches for Biblical King

“Non-biblical evidence for individuals named in the Bible is rare, particularly for people who were not royals. But an ancient Babylonian tablet provides further proof that a king and his servant — both named in the Book of Jeremiah — existed in the 6th century B.C.

According to an announcement by Assyriologist Michael Jursa and the British Museum, the small clay tablet from the museum's collections bears the name of Babylonian officer Nebo-Sarsekim. In chapter 39 of the Book of Jeremiah, this individual is described as being with King Nebuchadnezzar II at the siege of Jerusalem in the year 587 B.C.”

“Brody thinks the tablet represents "further verification that certain historical elements within the Book of Jeremiah are valid."”

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

ELCA Openly Dismisses Scripture By Asking For Acceptance For Homosexuality

Article: Lutherans to allow pastors in gay relationships

“The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America passed a resolution at its annual assembly urging bishops to refrain from disciplining pastors who are in “faithful committed same-gender relationships.” The resolution passed by a vote of 538-431.”

“The ELCA, which has 4.8 million members, had previously allowed gays to serve as pastors so long as they abstained from sexual relations.”

“Since the ELCA was founded in 1988, the group has ordered three pastors in gay relationships to be removed from their ministries. The most recent case was decided in July when the ELCA’s committee on appeals voted to remove an openly gay pastor from St. John’s Lutheran Church in Atlanta.”

““The Church ... has just said, ‘Do not do punishments,’” said Phil Soucy, spokesman for Lutherans Concerned, a gay-lesbian rights group within the church. “That is huge.””

“A gay-lesbian rights group within the church”, hmmm…?

Before we quickly judge against the ELCA, we must first take a look at what they believe to make sure we are not holding them to a higher standard than that which they have placed on themselves.

First we will take a look at their belief concerning Scriptures, since most often Christianity considers this to be the Word of God.

According to their official website, concerning Scripture, “ELCA Lutherans confidently proclaim with all Christians that the authority of the Bible rests in God. We believe that God inspired the Bible’s many writers, editors and compilers. As they heard God speaking and discerned God’s activity in events around them in their own times and places, the Bible’s content took shape.

The Bible’s reliability lies not in reading it as science or proscription, but as humankind’s chief witness to God, reflecting on faith as it is to be lived. Again, ELCA Lutherans judge all Scripture through the window of God’s chief act - that of entering human flesh in Jesus of Nazareth - and they interpret Scripture by listening to the living Jesus in the context of the Church.”

The Bible is the only norm of doctrine and life -- the only true standard by which teachings and doctrines are to be judged.

The New Testament is the first-hand proclamation of those who lived through the events of Jesus' life, death, and Resurrection. As such, it is the authority for Christian faith and practice. The Bible is thus not a definitive record of history or science. Rather, it is the record of the drama of God's saving care for creation throughout the course of history.”

Since the official site displays the “NRSV”, I shall quote from it.

Romans 1:
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30slanderers, God-haters,* insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious towards parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32They know God’s decree, that those who practise such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practise them.

So, the ELCA claims to adhere to Scripture, whereas their respected NRSV clearly notes that the sin of homosexuality (whether by man or woman) is “unnatural”, “shameless acts”, “error”, and “deserve to die” (note “deserve to die”, not “go out and kill them”), so how can this same ELCA ask Christians to not punish acting or non-acting homosexual clergy but accept them, without violating the very Scripture they hold to and the very God they claim to love?

Could it be because of their misconception of sin? They conclude, “Lutherans believe that all people live in a condition which is the result of misused freedom. "Sin" describes not so much individual acts of wrongdoing as fractured relationships between the people of creation and God. Our every attempt to please God falls short of the mark. By the standard of the Law, of which the Ten Commandments are a classic summary, God expresses his just and loving expectations for creation, and our failure to live up to those expectations reveals only our need for God's mercy and forgiveness.”

My friend, every single act of doing that which God has said not to do and not doing that which God has said to do is every bit each an individual sin per person per time it is committed and thereby defiles the person more and more as their sin nature is shown to be at war against the Spirit.

Scripture declares, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!”

According to God, by Scripture, homosexuality is sin, and for the ELCA, any religious or Christian association, or any person to claim that it is okay or acceptable, is in clear volition of God and Scripture, in that they “call evil good”.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Can Prescription Drugs Do More Harm Than Good In Some Cases?

Headline: Why so many Americans today are 'mentally ill'

You decide….

I Am Sorry, BUT…

How often do we say or hear an apology quickly followed by a conjunction?

As long as we live among people here on earth, there will be times when we owe someone an apology and times when we are due an apology from someone. The fact is, we sometimes do things intentionally and/or unintentionally against others, and others do intentional and/or unintentional things against us during our lifetime.

Sometimes we are confronted or confront others with the need of apology, while other times it is left unsaid, but dwells still in the mind of the persons none the less. The person that needs to apologize can dismiss its necessity, and fail to understand why the other person seems to be different or somewhat disconnected from them, and why they can’t simply forget about the issue. The person that needs or expects the apology can dwell in self pity and/or become bitter toward the person simply because they believe they are due the apology, but never receive it.

What I want to ponder is the idea of do we merely pay lip service in apologies that contain conjunctions? Why are we, most often, unable to simply say, “I am sorry, I was wrong”, without having to also pass the guilt to another cause which apparently “caused” us to perform the way we did? By passing this guilt, seemly, from us to this other “cause”, are we really acknowledging our own guilt and asking forgiveness from the person we have offended, or are we really saying, “I am sorry, but this and this caused me to do it, so really it is not or not completely my fault”?

We will say things like: I am sorry, BUT
I had a headache.
I didn’t feel good.
You did it first.
They do it.
I didn’t know.

Here is the question, and by all means, one will answer it themselves, for only we know what we are thinking at the time of apology, whether given or accepted.

When you apologize, do you see your self as guilty (regardless of circumstance and/or other influence) and honestly feel sorry for your actions, or do you simply say the words for personal gain, to make the other person feel better, and/or see the circumstance and/or influence as the true guilty party and yourself as not so much?

Storks Don’t Bring Babies and Comets Don’t Bring Life

Just incase anyone was wondering if life came to Earth by comets, “For the first time, there are solid data to refute a popular theory that life came to the Earth aboard a comet, Rutgers researchers said Monday.”

I, for one, had/have no more belief that life came to Earth from comets than I do babies are brought by storks, but if one did/has, new research says you might have to drop that idea.

“Deteriorated DNA from microbes, frozen for millions of years in the Antarctic ice, shows that organisms could not have survived the bombardment of cosmic radiation during deep space travel from outside the solar system, said Paul Falkowski, a Rutgers biologist and oceanographer.”

“"It's almost an impossibility for comets to seed other planets with life after they've been in space for millions of years," Falkowski said.”

*Notice the word “almost” is used. Is this due to the idea of “no absolutes” or to leave an out incase they one day find life hitching a ride on the back of a comet?

“The Rutgers study refutes at least part of the "panspermia hypothesis" -- a theory from the Greeks, and popular among many scientists since the 19th century -- that microorganisms and biochemicals were carried to the planet by comets, meteors and asteroids.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Still Guilty Without Full Knowledge Of Good And Evil

The Scriptural account of Adam and Eve and their original sin and initial innocence in the Garden of Eden gives rise to some questions from certain persons.

The concern: “We were told that Adam and Eve were given the choice between good and evil, and chose evil by disobeying God... but at the time they did not know good from evil, not having eaten of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, so how could they possibly know it was evil to disobey God?”

Actually, what Scripture claims is that Adam was faced with the command of God, whereby God said, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” [Genesis 2:16, 17]

There is no mention of a good verses evil act, but of obedience verses disobedience. God tells Adam that he may freely eat of every tree of the garden, but the one known as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. There is no necessity to know good and evil to know obedience. For we teach our children obedience before they know good and evil, and give punishment to fit the age and transgression.

Adam knew that if he disobeyed God, and ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, that God said he would surely die. Sure, we can argue whether or not Adam knew what this meant by “thou shalt surely die”, but the fact remains, the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil immediately made one guilty of disobedience toward God.

Scripture declares, “sin is not imputed [to attribute to a person] when there is no law”. Innocence or guilt of a law is not based on the idea of good or evil, but on the obedience or disobedience of the individual toward the law from the law giver. God gave the command (law) for Adam to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God, being the law giver, determines what obedience is and what disobedience toward the law given is. Since the law was clearly given as not to eat, when Adam did eat, he was found in disobedience and was given the punished prescribed by the law giver, God, for his crime against the law. Therefore, Adam’s disobedient act of breaking the law of God, by eating of the tree, is labeled as sin and imputed to him as such.

By this, Adam became a sinner and spiritually died. From this, all of his offspring inherited his sin nature and broken fellowship with God. Whereby, the need of the Savior Jesus Christ to come in the flesh, to live in perfect obedience and holiness toward the laws of God, giving Himself ransomed for many, those that repent of sin and put their faith in Christ, shall receive forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

The lack of knowledge concerning good and evil does not remove the guilt of disobedient transgression against the law of God, nor the law of man; for to be found ignorantly guilty of the law(s) of man does in no way remove the guilt of the person, “for by the law is the knowledge of sin”. Claiming, “I didn’t know” or “I didn’t know if it was good or evil” really doesn’t matter when the question really is, “Did you obey or disobey”. For if the answer is, “I disobeyed”, you are guilty of breaking the law of God and therefore a sinner and therefore in need of a Savior.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Richard Dawkins’ “Scarlet Letter”

When I was growing up, we had to read and watch the story entitled, The Scarlet Letter, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, published in 1850.

In this story, “The scarlet letter "A" represents the act of adultery that she has committed and it is to be a symbol of her sin for all to see.” “She will not reveal her lover’s identity, however, and the scarlet letter, along with her public shaming, is her punishment for her sin and her secrecy.” “Dimmesdale, leaving the church after his sermon, sees Hester and Pearl standing before the town scaffold. He impulsively mounts the scaffold with his lover and his daughter, and confesses publicly, exposing a scarlet letter A seared into the flesh of his chest.” “When Hester dies, she is buried in "a new grave near an old and sunken one, in that burial ground beside which King's Chapel has since been built. It was near that old and sunken grave, yet with a space between, as if the dust of the two sleepers had no right to mingle. Yet one tombstone served for both." Even though the tombstone was decorated with a letter "A", the text does not indicate whether Hester is buried next to Dimmesdale or Chillingworth.”

So my question is this. Why did Richard Dawkins choose this similar marking to be the mark of his "The OUT Campaign" for Atheists?

The Scarlet Letter attained an immediate and lasting success because it addressed spiritual and moral issues from a uniquely American standpoint.”

Is this the point that Dawkins is trying to make? Is Atheism a “spiritual and moral” issue? I highly doubt it, since I have been told Atheists do not believe in spirits [the supernatural] or morals [relative with no absolutes]. I am not saying that Atheists cannot or do not act moral, as to what they consider to be right and wrong, but their idea of morals is somewhat different than Christians. *If I am wrong, please correct me.*

As for Christians, we do see this as a “spiritual and moral” condition, as we do also from the story of adultery in Hawthorne’s book. I realize Atheist starts with the letter ‘A’, but to also color it red and have it posted completely noticeable across the chest, I can’t help but ponder if there is more meaning behind the choice. Maybe the meaning has already come about; please share with me the story behind the mark. Note I am not comparing Atheism with Adultery, for it is not I who has chosen the scarlet letter ‘A’, which already carried the meaning.

So, why do I consider this a “spiritual and moral” issue?

1. A person that does not put their faith in Jesus Christ is spiritually dead. Meaning they are a lost person in need of the Savior.

2. A person that does not believe in God is immoral in this point, for God’s law has said that we are to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and might.

I am thinking about printing myself up some of these... Any orders?

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Humility: Who Really Has It?

7 Points to Watch for in Imposters of Expositional Preaching

Mike Gilbart-Smith covers 7 points of “Expositional Imposters” concerning expositional preaching.

The points:
1) The point of the passage is misunderstood: the ‘Unfounded Sermon’.
2) The point of the passage is ignored: the ‘Springboard Sermon’.
3) The point of the passage remains unapplied: the ‘Exegetical Sermon’.
4) The point of the passage is applied to a different congregation: the ‘Irrelevant Sermon’.
5) The point of the passage misapplied to the present congregation: the ‘Misfit Sermon’.
6) The point of the passage is divorced from its generic impact: the ‘Doctrinal Sermon’.
7) The point of the passage is preached without reference to the passage: the ‘Shortcut Sermon’

Do Recent Discoveries Support a Designed Universe?

Recently I came across an article entitled, “Is There Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God? How the Recent Discoveries Support a Designed Universe”. (Updated: 10 June 2004)

Dr. Walter L. Bradley claims, “My personal experience as a lecturer supports the growing openness to intelligent design theory in the academic world. Having given over 135 talks on this subject to more than 65,000 students and professors at over 65 major university campuses from 1986 to 2002, I have observed a dramatic change in audience receptivity to the idea that an intelligent designer of the universe may exist. I have noted a widespread acceptance (albeit begrudging in some quarters) that this growing body of scientific evidence demands an intellectually honest reckoning, as no exclusively naturalistic explanation seems capable of rising to the occasion.” (works sited)

Feel free to draw your own conclusions…

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Look at Young Church Drop Outs

According to BPNews, “A new study from LifeWay Research reveals that more than two-thirds of young adults who attend a Protestant church for at least a year in high school will stop attending church regularly for at least a year between the ages of 18 and 22.” LifeWay Research conducted the survey of more than 1,000 adults ages 18-30 in April and May.

Their findings: “According to the study, 70 percent of young adults ages 23-30 stopped attending church regularly for at least a year between ages 18-22.” But also, “Many of those who drop out do return eventually. Among former church dropouts who are now ages 23-30, 35 percent currently attend church twice a month or more. Another 30 percent attend church more sporadically. Thus, about two-thirds of those who leave do return at some level.”

What is this telling us as Christian parents and members of Christian churches? Are we effectively ministering to the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of our children as we raise, and teach them?

Another article reveals some ideas as to what can and needs to be done.

We need to ensure that our children/youth have a personal relationship with God. This means we need to make sure that we present a clear presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to each and every child, putting it on a personal level whereby we acknowledge our children (and adults) in church need Him just as equally as those outside of church need Him. Too often I fear we stress the importance of witnessing to the lost world, while we overlook the lost in our midst, or even teach our lost that the lost “out there” are worse off. No, we can’t make a person have a personal relationship with God, but a clear presentation of the gospel, a direct look at sin in light of the holiness of God and Scripture, and a good Christian example of our own personal relationship with God will go a long way to show our children what Christianity is all about. Bringing our children to church “to get” something we ourselves do not find important or wish to adhere to, is not the answer nor the testimony of Christianity to our children or the rest of the world, nor is it pleasing to God.

Some of the children/youth simply attend church because of obedience/fear of their parents up and till they are able to move out or make decisions on their own, never truly having it in their hearts. Some fallouts can be due to rebelliousness against their parents and/or God still bound within their heart which they have fed and nourished for years while waiting for the great day of “freedom”. Some can be due to the hypocrisy and careless attitudes seen in the parents at home, whereby the parents seldom come or merely put on a fake smile to appease the church folk, only to return home to have the pastor and members for lunch. Some may feel (or indeed are) hounded by the church folk and/or parents with legalism extreme which surpasses Scriptural basis and drives them to a point of “why try, when all I can do is sin” attitude or a rejection of such dictatorship discipline that is not Scripturally taught with Bible, but lecturally taught with hypocrisy and rebuke, where all individuals are judged and honored by merely what is on the outward appearance, though the wickedness of the heart may go unnoticed (by some, but not all).

Others may fall out of church by the joining of the military or moving away after high school graduation. Sometimes it is a gradual thing. I know myself, after joining the military, I was shipped to Germany. There were only the chaplain services that I knew of, and did not care much for them. So, basically, I was a drop out. Until one day I met an individual that attended a missionary’s Baptist church in Germany. I think we sometimes become so attached to the church, pastor, and/or members of the church we grew up in (or have attended for a while) that we feel as though we cannot connect to a new church body or continue to compare the new pastor to our old pastor without trying to create a new connection. We lose sight that as Christians we are all in the body of Christ, and though different, there is a lot more in common than we realize. Coming from the known and close relationship, going into the unknown with no relationship is sometimes hard, and for some more than others. I believe this sometimes occurs because we build OUR church, pastor, members up so high, that we consciously or subconsciously see all others as lesser. This is an incorrect view and can harm the stability of our Christian children/youth as they move in life to other cities, states, or countries where our perfect little hometown church is not located.

Have I rambled on, have I made any valid points at all? If nothing else, I hope I have brought it to our attention that indeed this is an important issue. “Sowing wild oats” and then returning to Christianity can cause a great deal of long term harm, leaving people with unnecessary baggage for the rest of their lives. A personal relationship with God, and the understanding that Christians around the world serve the same God, use the same Scriptures, and wish to be obedient to the same teachings can go a long way with our children/youth as they move from the transition of child at home to adult on their own. A godly example from us parents and church members would do a great deal of teaching them obedience to God, even in the face of the unknown or unfamiliar is what Christianity is all about.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Apologists Give 20 Arguments for the Existence of God

Located at Apologetics.com, there is a lengthy article entitled, Twenty Arguments For The Existence Of God.

The claim is:
A word about the organization of the arguments. We have organized them into two basic groups: those which take their data from without--cosmological arguments--and those that take it from within--psychological arguments. The group of cosmological arguments begins with our versions of Aquinas's famous "five ways." These are not the simplest of the arguments, and therefore are not the most convincing to many people. Our order is not from the most to the least effective. The first argument, in particular, is quite abstract and difficult.

Not all the arguments are equally demonstrative. One (Pascal's Wager) is not an argument for God at all, but an argument for faith in God as a "wager." Another (the ontological argument) we regard as fundamentally flawed; yet we include it because it is very famous and influential, and may yet be saved by new formulations of it. Others (the argument from miracles, the argument from religious experience and the common consent argument) claim only strong probability, not demonstrative certainty. We have included them because they form a strong part of a cumulative case. We believe that only some of these arguments, taken individually and separately, demonstrate the existence of a being that has some of the properties only God can have (no argument proves all the divine attributes); but all twenty taken together, like twined rope, make a very strong case.

The arguments are:
1. The Argument from Change
2. The Argument from Efficient Causality
3. The Argument from Time and Contingency
4. The Argument from Degrees of Perfection
5. The Design Argument
6. The Kalam Argument
7. The Argument from Contingency
8. The Argument from the World as an Interacting Whole
9. The Argument from Miracles
10. The Argument from Consciousness
11. The Argument from Truth
12. The Argument from the Origin of the Idea of God
13. The Ontological Argument
14. The Moral Argument
15. The Argument from Conscience
16. The Argument from Desire.
17. The Argument from Aesthetic Experience
18. The Argument from Religious Experience
19. The Common Consent Argument
20. Pascal's Wager

Taken from "Handbook of Christian Apologetics" by Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli. © 1994 by Peter Kreeft & Ronald K. Tacelli. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. www.ivpress.com

Monday, August 06, 2007

Blogger Suggest: 17 Evidences Against Evolution

I found an interesting list today, entitled 17 Evidences Against Evolution, which may have originated from here. I am fully aware of some of the rebuttals.

The 17 topics are as follows:


I realize that some of the readers of my blog may find fault with this idea (being supporters of evolution), but I believe these writers make some valid points. And I fully believe that if one disagrees with the presented information, they should be able to discuss civilly as to why they disagree, or simply dismiss what is presented.

Seeing Our Sin In Others

I initially thought of this concerning one point, but now I believe I have come to realize two observations which can be taken from this thought. Or, at least I have been thinking of the following:

1] Scripture speaks about getting the beam out of your own eye before trying to get the mote out of another’s eye [Matthew 7]. With this in mind, and the observation that most of us find it easier to locate, examine, and point out another’s faults (sins) over our own, I would like to consider the idea that maybe we could actually use this to our own benefit.

I realize, at first, this may sound contradictory to Scripture and that I might be suggesting that we should go around judging others and expounding to them concerning all of their sins that they need to repent of. Actually, what I am considering does include judging, but of self with the help of others.

My suggestion to myself is that when I see what I believe to be sin (or more importantly what Scripture deems as sin) in another’s life (by actions seen), I should first examine myself and see if I hold the same sin in my life. If, upon honest examination of myself, I find that I do indeed also have this sin (or thoughts/actions) in my life, I should take what I would rather tell/give the other person and apply it to myself first. By this, I should be able to bring myself to repentance, by reminding myself that I and the one whom I have mentally judged are both sinners and both need repentance toward God and forgiveness of sins we equally commit. This way, I can focus on the fact that I am not okay in my sin or simply better than this person whom I am quick to judge, but that we are both equally short of the glory of God in our thoughts and actions. We both need the grace and mercy of God found in the atonement for sin provided by Jesus Christ, through putting faith in His work and not our own.

2] Another thought I suppose is when we see sins in persons (children or adults) which resemble our own. What I mean is when we see the expressions, thoughts, and actions of children, teenagers, and adults which appeared to be close or (for some reason or another) look up to us as an example. Are we giving them the proper example, or are we causing others to sin because they are watching us and we fail (because we don’t study to know better, or know better but simply fail to act better). Basically are we teaching them to sin or do right by our example?

I realize that their eyes should be on Scripture and the example of Christ, but I dare say there is most likely no one among us that does not look to someone (whether truly consciously or not) and mimic their ideas and actions as our own if we, by chance, consider them to be above us in intelligence, prestige, spirituality, etc. (even though that may only be our personal perception based on nothing at all).

In both of these thoughts, I can’t help but see if we would first examine ourselves with the sin we easily find in others, we could not only help our own spiritual condition and Christian walk, but also find love and compassion to help others with the same.

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Few Brothers and Sisters

LITTLE ROCK — An Arkansas couple had a baby daughter Thursday — their 17th child and seventh girl — and the pair say they're still not ready to give it a rest.

"We are just so grateful to God for another gift from him," said Jim Bob Duggar, a former state representative. "We are just so thankful to him that everything went just very well."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Lust => Sin => Death

A new study, as if we didn't already know this.

James 1:
13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
16 Do not err, my beloved brethren.

A Discussion of God/Christianity/Scripture with BT

Warning: This is lengthy.

Carried over from my posts here and here, we have the following from a commenter, named BT. BT’s comments shall be in red and my reply in green for this initial post. All commenters are welcome to freely give their thoughts. All I ask is that we try to stay to the topic without name calling and unnecessary verbal slurs, and try to show a little respect for each other’s view, even if we completely disagree. This is to be a discussion and not a war. Let it be noted that I am by no means a Bible Scholar, so what one will receive here is my honest beliefs. I would hope that is what we are given by each commenter.

Shall we agree, then, for the sake of a more focussed discussion, that we are discussing the Abrahamic god? (As an aside, if you have any insight into why that god is not referred to as the Mosaic or Adamic god I would genuinely appreciate your sharing it!)

I am not really sure, as to I don’t think I have ever called God, Abrahamic God. Scripture seems to say “God of Abraham” about 17 times, but it also has “God of Shem”, “God of Isaac”, “God of Nahor”, and it also says “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” a few times. Where do you usually hear this phrase? It could be that Abraham is noted as the father of us all in faith [Romans 4].

If you prefer we can even exclude (or not, your choice) the Islamic view of that shared deity; I don't know your background but I will freely admit that I am far less familiar with the Koran and Hadith than with the Torah, Talmud, Mishnah and Midrash, and less familiar with any of those than with the Christian versions of the Old and New Testaments.

There is no need to include, Allah, the god of the Muslims, because this god is not the same as the God of Scripture, nor do they see Jesus Christ as a Savior of mankind from sin.

Since we are agreed that the non-revelatory deist god is not relevant to our conversation, we have to speak of oral or written religious traditions. I don't think either of us is heir to a predominantly oral tradition; you are a Christian, and I am an atheist of Christian (specifically Roman Catholic) extraction.

Even where there are unwritten 'grace notes' such as the Catholic Assumption of Mary heading straight into Heaven, the Christian faith like its Judaic forebears is primarily based on a written scripture. The only question, especially if we're relying on translations, is which undeniable literal written word of God we're to go by.

Since I am Baptist, Scripture is our authority over oral tradition, therefore I find no support of a “Catholic Assumption of Mary” contained anywhere in Scripture, so I am a little unclear as why you write of it and include, “primarily based on a written scripture”.

I'm not a linguist or archaeologist either, and I'm only truly familiar with the English translations. My greatest lack is the gift of tongues, alas... I do have a number of English translations of the Holy Bible, though, both Catholic and Protestant, as well as several of the apocryphal gospels.

What I don't have is access to the mind of your god to let me know which translation to use. If you could please pray and ask your god which one we should work with I'd be grateful. Should your god have a preferred version I don't already own I'll be happy to purchase a copy so that we'll be conversing about the same text.

Just let me know which one you and He likes. Oh, and not to be forward or anything, but while you're discussing the subject I wonder if you'd suggest he actually straighten that issue out for everybody else as well? It certainly would help tone down the violence due to misunderstandings in a number of places around the world.

This is where I find more sarcasm than actual discussion. The study of translations and manuscripts evidence and Greek Texts, etc. is a very broad topic which covers much more information than I have in my limited knowledge of all that encompasses the topic. I have done some reading on the subject, but am far from being an expert of it. You are free to view my section on Bibles/Translations and I have other information on the side bar under “Variants of Silver?”. As for me, I use the King James Bible. What “violence due to misunderstandings in a number of places around the world” comes from Bible translations?

Where exactly are you going with this line of questioning? Or, what exactly are you asking of me?

From the other post, you had the following:

The characteristics normally ascribed to that god, alone - omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence - cannot logically exist together. Omnipotence is self-defeating; an omnipotent being cannot create a force which that same being cannot defeat, i.e. God can't make a rock so heavy even He can't lift it. Omniscience is incompatible with any power at all, because it includes the ability to foresee an action which can then be prevented, meaning the prophecy was invalid. Omnibenevolence, in conjunction with omnipotence and omniscience, is incompatible with the world containing needless suffering; a god which sees the suffering, is able to prevent it and does not do so is obviously not loving in any recognizable sense of the word, unless you are a particularly talented sado-masochist.

Omnipotence –Your question/statement, “God can't make a rock so heavy even He can't lift it.”

"What the above "paradox" lacks is vital information concerning God's nature. His omnipotence is not something independent of His nature. It is part of His nature. God has a nature and His attributes operate within that nature, as does anything and everything else.

Omnipotence is not the ability to do anything conceivable, but the ability to do anything consistent with His nature and consistent with His desire within the realm of His unlimited and universal power which we do not possess.”

Omniscience – Your problem, “incompatible with any power at all, because it includes the ability to foresee an action which can then be prevented, meaning the prophecy was invalid.”

I don’t quite follow your problem. Why does the ability to foresee an action, which can be prevented, invalidate prophecy? The ability to act in no way demands an act, does it? If so, why and/or how?

Omnibenevolence – Your problem, “in conjunction with omnipotence and omniscience, is incompatible with the world containing needless suffering; a god which sees the suffering, is able to prevent it and does not do so is obviously not loving in any recognizable sense of the word”.

Actually I had to look up this word, for I don’t believe I have ever heard it used before, so for the sake of others, the definition can be view here. I did find it interesting that it says, “As such, there is little agreement over how an "omnibenevolent" being would behave.”

With that said, concerning your concern of a loving God, having the ability to see and stop suffering, but does not (at least not every time), how can God also be loving? Would that be a fair meaning of your question? Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Notice that it does not say, “all things are good”, but that “all things work together for good”. Notice it doesn’t say, “to the good of all”, but says, “for good to them that love God”. Yes, yes, I realize that bad things still happen to Christians. The issue is that it ultimately works out to their good and the good of others. One example is death. Death is the doorway for a Christian into a sinless, perfect, peace and rest without any sadness. It also moves others to consider their own souls and relationships with God and eternity, and how they interact with people each and everyday, etc.

I say suffering rather than evil because the doctrine of free will, which is the best answer theodicy has to offer, does not cover agentless suffering. In the specific case of the Abrahamic god, the distinction is largely superfluous, as most of the actions described as taken by the Abrahamic god in the sacred texts can only be described as deeply and directly malevolent. The unprevented agentless sufferings of humanity outside those texts are simply icing on the cake of disproving that notional omnibenevolence.

Freewill is a topic I usually find interesting, even when talking to Christians. One will argue freewill, demanding God allow mankind to make any and all decision in and of themselves without any (are merely initial or some influence by God toward salvation) direct persuading by God, yet when something bad happens (whatever each individual may deem as something bad enough God should have stopped) mankind demands that God should have withheld the freewill of the individual(s) which caused the incident to occur. Doesn’t that make us hypocritical? It is like saying, “Let me have my freewill, but limit their’s God.”

These are not new observations by any stretch of the imagination; the problem of suffering certainly predates Christianity and Islam, and probably Judaism but the archaeological record gets scarce that far back. Jewish, Christian and Muslim theologians have been struggling to answer the paradoxes for near enough the entire time the faiths have existed, and have not yet been able to do so.

The inability to explain fully all or some of the paradoxes of Christianity in no way allows mankind to completely dismiss the clear teachings of Scripture and the observance of God Almighty as Creator. God has many attributes besides your mentioned, (Omnipotence, Omniscience, Omnibenevolence) see here, and therefore they all work as one, not as individually contradicting each other. For example, God is love and merciful, but He is also holy and just. Scripture declares, God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust, but Scripture also declares that God punishes both the just and the unjust when we disobey. His love cannot override His holiness whereby He can accept sin. Christ is the atonement for sin, whereby one may be saved from unrighteousness unto righteousness.

In science, it is perfectly permissible for a theory not to explain everything; at this stage of our development it would be ludicrous to expect anything else. The best and most mature theories will explain an abundance of observable facts, and that is enough to make a theory credible but not useful; to be useful a theory must predict facts before they are demonstrated. A complaint many physicists have about string theory is that while it explains many things it has not yet provided any disprovable predictions. The theory of evolution by natural selection is an example of a theory which is both mature and useful, and not just for enraging creationists either.

What is not permissible is for a theory (or even a hypothesis) to be internally inconsistent or to directly fly in the face of the evidence. The technical term for a hypothesis that does that is false.

Why then are unexplainable paradoxes and/or full knowledge concerning God (the Superior Being, our Creator, which is high above the mental capacity of His creation) such a discount to Christianity, when you admit to the same issue with science? The lack of the ability to know all there is concerning God, in no way removes God, but simply acknowledges man’s finite intelligence of such matters. The Scriptures clearly give what we need to know of God and the Savior Jesus Christ for salvation. It completely gives saving knowledge, for the rest is just extra.

John Bunyan

To be saved is to be preserved in the faith to the end. 'He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.' (Mt. 24:13) Not that perseverance is an accident in Christianity, or a thing performed by human industry; they that are saved 'are kept by the power of God, through faith unto salvation.' (1 Pet. 1: 3-6) But perseverance is absolutely necessary to the complete saving of the soul…. He that goeth to sea with a purpose to arrive at Spain, cannot arrive there if he be drowned by the way; wherefore perseverance is absolutely necessary to the saving of the soul.