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Monday, November 28

Many Buckets

I’m back...for those of you who were wondering where I was, I was here on planet earth, at my desk, pounding my head on it, typing frantically for a paper due tomorrow, and studying for three major exams I have tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday.

I thought I would take a short break and write a follow-up to my last post.

I believe the fact that rational thought exists is strong enough to “prove” the existence of God. That is, there can be no consistency in an atheist’s thoughts if he does not reach back to the fountain of logic, God.

However, there are many other “proofs” to God’s existence on which we’ll now embark. But before we go forward, the best analogy I heard was in my Philosophy class this summer. Each one of the “proofs” I am about to present have a hole in them. Some may want to discount the “proof” right off hand simply because it has a hole.

On the other hand, when we have holes in buckets and begin to stack them, one inside the other, they strengths from the other buckets make up for the holes in the other. So, putting the arguments together begin to form a strong wall against fallacious arguments against the existence of God.

This point must be understood before we move on. There is no slam dunk proof for God’s existence. Each will find a sticky point somewhere. However, one after the other put together begin to make a solid standing place for those in doubt.

Friday, November 18

Existence of God and Rational Thought

I was trying to think through some things I would want to talk with you if I were to sit down with you over coffee. What are some things that I would want to share with you. And so I thought I would start as series of posts regarding the defense of the existence of God.

Many in our culture assume that God’s existence has been disproved. They call those who believe in one such a Being as retarded by way of superstition. If theology is the queen of sciences, has skepticism become the king? That is, people seem to a priori write off theology as a weak endeavor. They have no rationale for doing so. In fact, they must use some of theology’s teaching in order to have a comprehendible world-view. I mentioned in a post in August that someone who does not believe God exists is inconsistent.

Let me explain. If you ask them how they can know anything, they will say either because of logic or rationale. Ask where they got it and they will give some ridiculous evolutionary theory that begs the question. Actually, to attribute logic and reason to evolution is irrational. They might say the homo erectus after so many times of burning his hand on the flame decided that he should not put his hand on the flame.

Where did homo erectus’ logic come from? Trial and error can do nothing without synthesizing the information. This ability to reason and synthesize comes from a source that is perfect Logic and Reason. This is God. The atheist may balk at this, but he will concede once he is honest with himself.

Period. The atheist is inconsistent because he is not able to attribute anything to mere chance. There must be purpose and decisions. Nature teaches us this. Nietszche was inconsistent. He said that there was no purpose and no way to know anything. However, if he were consistent he would cease to argue and to write. Why? Because if it is impossible to know anything or if chance is the ruling king in the world then there is no need to try and persuade people. If chance dictates everything that happens, we might as well sit in a corner and stare at the wall. We cannot argue anything or try to prove that this is right and wrong (a principle of morals we will get into later). Make sense? I sure hope so. Otherwise, my logic has not been clear. And you have read this far either because you are very dedicated to things or because you see a stream of logic and are following it.

Either case, you have done what you just did because you were fashioned in the image of God. A beautiful and profound truth that gives not only meaning to life but also great strength.

Wednesday, November 16

Pressing Into the Kingdom

If you want to read a fantastic sermon regarding the things I am talking about go here and read Edwards’ sermon, “Pressing Into the Kingdom”. It is very thick treading, but it is worth the treasures.

Religious Affections and Saving Faith

I just finished Jonathan Edwards’ Religious Affections a few weeks ago and have been let it simmer in my mind for a while. I have written a sermon that summarizes it main parts, but do not know how to put it up for downloading. If you would like it before I figure out how to do this, send me an e-mail.

Here are some juicy quotes that are related to the topic at hand:

“For although to true religion there must indeed be something else besides affection; yet true religion consists so much in the affections, that there can be no true religion without them” (p. 243).

This is to say, emotions must be a part of true, saving faith. However, emotions are not the ground of our right-standing before God. Just because we feel warm and fuzzy when we’re at church does not mean that we are saved.

True saving faith consists of knowing with your mind and having your heart burn within you because of its truth. Like the sun. There is no light without heat and no heat without light. Both realities must be present. There are many who feel good or acquiesce to religion. However, their minds do not grasp the realities of God’s Word - they do not read the Bible which is the magnificent revelation of God for our benefit and his glory.

Others have much knowledge, but it merely puffs them up like a bull frog. They know many things, but their hearts are far from God. They have not grasped Proverbs 1.7: The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom. I will spend some more time on this phrase later. Suffice it to say, God must be the fountain and goal of a true, saving faith.

{If anyone knows how to put a .pdf file on the net, please let me know.}

Monday, November 14

More on Faith's Object and Substance

Last post I spoke about the show Lost and it’s contrivance of faith. I contended that what it is portraying in its series (remember, I like the show so this is not a bash, per se) is not Christian faith. It may be humanistic faith - that is, faith in what the human being can do - though I doubt this even. I tend to think that it is hollow and flimsy when it comes right down to it. And, according to my last post, could be classified as a mental condition in real life.

Well, today I wanted to fill out a little more on what true Christian faith is. Living in (or near for some people) the South, many people would call themselves Christian if you were to ask them. I equate this with the Northerner’s response of “Well, I am a good person.” This simply won’t do. As we saw last time, faith is resting in a sure reality. Exercising faith is resting in a chair. It is not attempting to live in your own strength.

More than this, Christian faith is more than one decision. Many have fooled themselves into believing that because they were baptized...Or because they go to church semi-regularly to regularly...Or because _________. This is not saving, Christian faith.

Baptism is not salvation. Walking down the aisle is not salvation. A decision is not salvific.

This morning I was struck hard by Hebrews 9 verse 28: So Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. The word “eagerly” is the Greek word “apekdechomai” which is equated with the kind of eagerness a mother and father when they are 2 weeks away from the birth of their first child (see Rom 8.19). They can be disappointed that he hasn’t come yet. They could be overwhelmed with excitement. They could be frustrated at the current state of things because they want him to be here. All of these things can be true of the Christian.

Those who will be saved when Christ returns will be those who have been eagerly waiting for him...If this doesn’t characterize your life and what you’re hoping for, you probably don’t know the full magnificence of what it means to follow Christ. In reality, not one of us will comprehend the magnitude of glory that is yet to be revealed. However, the Christian will grow more and more desirous of Christ’s return because he learns more and more of what it means to follow and love Jesus. It is not because they are like John Locke in Lost and just believe. No. They have tasted the sweet honey of God’s truth and long for more of it.

This is what I pray this blog does for many of us, myself included - that we grow in our knowledge and desire and eager expectation for Jesus’ return. You may feel like you have so much to learn. There is so much in the Bible that you have yet to learn to let this kind of waiting characterize your life. The best way to eat an elephant is to take one bite at a time. One day at a time. The people that know the Bible the best have given themselves to reading it every day of their lives. It didn’t just happen the next day they decided to do so. However, they earnestly desired to know God and love him better as he is revealed in the Bible.

For those of you that read this blog and have certain question, send me an e-mail [commentsonthewire -at- mac.com] and we could move through various questions together. If not, keep checking back and question by question could be answered.

Monday, November 7

Locke, Lost, and Faith

My favorite television show right now is Lost. Call me what you will, I enjoy the show. I may have hopped on a bandwagon, but I have enjoyed the company and the ride so far. I have been mulling over something that was presented earlier in the show - “Man of Faith, Man of Science”.

John Locke claims that he is a man of faith while the doctor, Jack, is a man of science. What this means, in essence, is that Jack must see things in order to believe (or at least have some kind of logical explanation for what is happening). On the other hand, Locke is able to believe regardless as to whether it makes any rational sense at all.

This is the plight of many who wish to define “faith” in our world today. “Faith” is seen as a blind jump into the unknown, and this is to be understood as virtuous? The Bible described “faith” as something very different. Listening to John MacArthur a few years ago rocked my foundation a little. Preaching from Hebrews 11.1 he said that Christian faith and hope is not what the world understands it to be.

We say all the time, “I hope I get this promotion” or “I hope the Cleveland Indians win the World Series”, but it is not based on any kind of solid evidence. Some might call this “faith“, but even the world would call this foolishness when all the evidence is taken into account. We know that the Indians are far from winning a pennant, let alone a World Series (though hopefully not too far away). If you found out that I was late for work everyday and cursed the boss to his face, you would not say that I had great faith...you would probably call me foolish. Why? All the grounds for which I could have any hope were non-existent. So it is with nebulous and ungrounded faith.

Many talk about faith, but they do not have it rightly defined. Hebrews 11.1: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. The chapter then enumerates a slew of people who had great faith. Their faith was not based on some empty religion, but it was based on the fact that they were convinced because of God’s word, verse 39: And all these, though commended through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.

This is to say, saving faith is not based on something unknown or unrevealed. It is based on God’s promises. We can rest on solid-rock assurance knowing that he who promised is faithful to complete that which he pleases (Psa 135.6). We get the joy of knowing that he will bring his purposes about and he gets the glory for being the strong man on behalf of the incapable.

Now I like Locke’s character, this wasn't a rant against the show per se. I hope Locke will be vindicated in his faith. I know he has seen something on the island (otherwise, why does it seem that he has such worry-free actions?). However, it is an admonition that we be more precise in our language...and more trusting in our faith. Our hope is not a what-if, but it is just as sure as my last breath.

Friday, November 4

Emergent Presentations at Princeton Seminary

If you want to try and get a better hold of what the Emergent Church is shooting for check these four video presentations given at Princeton Seminary. Doug Pagitt was gracious enough to share these.

Parisian Problems

Here is a helpful article in thinking about what is going on in Paris.
HT: Powerline

Thursday, November 3

Dinner Faux Pas

You are not supposed to talk about two things at the dinner table: Politics and Religion. However, everyone knows that the person passing the peas doesn’t agree with the one passing the salt. How are Christians supposed to think about these two hot potatoes in the public arena - especially as Christianity is increasingly unacceptable?

Is it possible to separate belief from politic? How is the Christian supposed to live in the public realm with those who don’t agree with their convictions? Probably the same way that people who are not Christians live, they debate their beliefs. It amazes me how people will put Christianity in its own category of acceptable on Sunday discussions but not on November 2nd. Secular humanism is a belief in the ability of man to redeem himself. A belief. It permeates people’s actions and politics. Yet, they are not told to keep it to themselves...that it has no place here.

Yesterday, I mentioned an article by Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason. I would recommend reading it...about 5 minutes.

So my question to you, reader, is how do you reconcile and explain how religion and politics intersect...and if they should. Maybe these snippets from the article will whet your thinking:

My problem with the two kingdom position, though the distinction is a fair one, is that I think it picks at nuances when we actually get into practice here. In other words, it's okay for a Christian to campaign against abortion if he's not identifying himself with a church building. It's okay with a group that's not associated with Christianity officially, but if he says it inside the church he's done something illegitimate. To me that seems to be an inconsequential distinction.

- The substance of Christianity is not a political viewpoint or even a moral perspective, even if the moral perspective is correct. The substance of Christianity is a narrow area of gospel that pertains to the truth about God, and the truth about Jesus Christ, and the truth about the work of the cross and how we enter into that. In this regard, I think it is very good that we clearly delineate between the kingdom of God in that sense and the kingdom of man.

- On the other hand, part of being a participant in the kingdom of God is that we are to be salt and light, and we are to encourage the appropriate role of government being a punisher of evil doers and a praiser of those who do right, and also seek for justice in the land...Now obviously making a better world is not going to save the world. And that's what I mean by not confusing my political viewpoints that are an expression of the dignity of man, and the image of God in man, and Christian morality, and the Gospel itself, because even by protecting unborn children we're not going to save their souls. That's a separate issue. Both are incumbent upon the church. Gospel and goodness. I think there are two extremes here that are out of balance because they don't take in the full counsel of God in integrating them. I'm concerned for both sides that speak in this fashion.

- Now I made a comment earlier this afternoon about clarifying the difference between gospel and political points of view. There is a relationship between the two, as I argued, but I think we have to keep them distinct so that we don't end up saying foolish things like if you believe in abortion you can't be a Christian, or that you couldn't be a Christian and a Democrat at the same time. Those are foolish things because they are not true.

Some Interesting News

I am not a politically-savvy person. However, I have convictions and vote from those. One of those convictions is to tell the truth and not to slander. I found some very interesting posts today that I think need to be shared. I don’t plan on this being a political site, but I do want to inform of heinous slander and lying when it is this obvious.

1. Michael Moore, director of controversial 9/11, owns a lot of Haliburton stock. A lot! He was the fellow who was on vendetta to vilify Haliburton...Michael Moore owns Haliburton stock! HT:Woodchips

2. Democrats who thought it would have been wise to disarm Iraq’s WMD Program. That’s right, George Bush and the Republicans weren’t the first and only to think we should do so. HT:Powerline

3. a la Powerline: “The fact is that the intelligence agencies' official consensus estimate expressed a high level of confidence that Saddam possessed both chemical and biological weapons. The U.N. didn't disagree, contrary to popular assumptions and Hans Blix's revisionist history. As we have noted here before, the U.N.'s UNMOVIC reports emphasized the large quantities of banned materials for which Iraq had failed to account.”

Just wanted you to know...By the way, I am not saying that there are no lying Republicans, but these are pretty ironic on my levels. As I said, with all the stir that happened as a result of these blasts, I thought it helpful to bring some balance to the charges.

I am reading this article by Greg Koukl at Stand to Reason to get a better understanding of how and where the Kingdom of God intersects the kingdom of man.

Tuesday, November 1

What Kind of Faith Is This??

I came across this quote today and wanted to exhort you to think about this. The last sentence is particularly powerful as I ask myself, “For what am I willing to be ripped apart?” In North America, it is easy to write this kind of quote off as extreme and ridiculous. However, what is it that you are willing to give your life for? The Roman authorities wished to squash Christianity by such horrific deaths in the arenas. Instead, Christianity spread like fire because of Christians’ willingness to suffer for the sake of the Name.

I write to all the churches, and I declare to all men, that willingly I die for God, if it be that you hinder me not. I beg of you, be not with me in the love that is not in season. Leave me, that I may be for the beasts, that by means of them I may be worthy of God. I am the wheat of God, and by the teeth of the beasts am I ground, that I may be found the pure bread of God. With provoking provoke ye the beasts, that they may be a grave for me, and may leave nothing of my body, that not even when I am fallen asleep may I be a burden upon any man. Then am I a disciple in truth to Jesus Christ, when the world seeth not my body. Intreat our Lord for me, that by these instruments I may be found a sacrifice to God. I am not commanding you like Peter and Paul, who are Apostles, but I one condemned... But if I suffer, I am the freedman of Jesus Christ, and I shall rise from the dead in Him free. And now, since I am bound, I learn to desire nothing. From Syria even to Rome I am cast among beasts, by sea and by land, by night and by day; since I am bound between ten leopards, which are the band of soldiers, who, even when I do good to them, the more do evil to me. But I, through their injury, an the more instructed; but I do not on this account justify myself. I rejoice in the beasts which are prepared for me, and I pray that they may be quickly found for me; and I will provoke them, that they may quickly devour me, and not like that which is afraid of other men, and approacheth them not, even if they should not be willing to approach me, I will go against them with force...Fire, and the cross, and the beasts which are prepared, cutting of the limbs, scattering of the bones, and crushing of the whole body, hard torments of the Devil, let them come upon me, and may I be worthy of Jesus Christ. (Ignatius’ Third Epistle to the Romans)
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