Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Proving God: The Transcendental Argument

Atheist’s always challenge me, “Where’s your proof that there is a God. I don’t want to hear about your experience. I want concrete evidence.”

There are a number of proofs for the existence of God. The Transcendental Argument is one of the less well-known, but it can be powerfully used. Here’s how it goes:

1. Logic and reason exist.

2. Logic and reason can’t exist without God.

Conclusion: God must exist!

Premise #1 doesn’t require any proof. It is self -evident. We all agree that reason and logic exist. In order to deny them, we must use reason and logic, the very things we are denying!

Premise #2 involves only two possible choices: 1) logic and reason are either the result of natural, unintelligent force(s) or 2) an intelligent, transcendent Being. If we can rule out the first possibility, we are left with God. Here are some considerations that would tend to rule out the first option:

1. There is no evidence that natural, unintelligent forces exist. Although we all agree that objects are subject to laws and respond in formulaic and predictable ways, there is no evidence whatsoever that these laws are natural, unintelligent and independent of one another. It is more likely that they find their origin and unity in the single Mind of God.

2. Reason and logic are unchanging. In an ever expanding universe of molecules-in-motion, naturalism can’t account for unchanging laws or principles.

3. Reason and logic are uniform, wherever we look and in whatever historical period. However, for a force or law to be natural, it must have a location from which it exerts its influence. (At least, that’s our experience with the “natural.”) The sun attracts the earth because it is in proximity to the earth. We find that this gravitational influence diminishes as the distance increases. Likewise, I’ve found that I can’t pick up the WQXR radio signals, which beam from a station in NYC, when I’m in Pennsylvania. However, the laws of physics (and reason and logic) seem to operate uniformly and universally, transcending the material considerations of location, matter and energy. Naturalism can’t seem to make such a leap.

4. Reason and logic require an adequate cause. There are so many other things that naturalism can’t adequately explain (life, DNA, fine-tuning of the universe, freewill, consciousness, moral absolutes, the unchanging physical laws). Therefore, there is no reason to believe that naturalism is adequate to account for reason and logic.

5. Our experience with causal agents informs us that the cause is always greater than the effect. If the effect was greater than the cause, it would suggest that some part of the effect is uncaused - a scientific impossibility!

If we can't account for reason and logic naturally, then we are only left with a super-natural explanation! God must exist!

Don’t be surprised if this doesn’t impress your atheist friend. He is just as committed to his beliefs as we are to ours. However, you can use this reasoning effectively when the atheist claims that logic or reason dismisses the notion of God. Here’s how:

  • ATHEIST: “You have no concrete reasons to believe that there is a god!”

  • CHRISTIAN: “Why do you trust in reason and logic? These unchanging laws cannot be explained from your naturalistic perspective. Unchanging laws must have an unchanging cause. However, your view of the world cannot account for anything unchanging, just molecules-in-motion. In other words, you are using that which can only come from God to disprove God.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Deadly Implications of Atheism

Does atheism lead to genocide? It seems to! Just look at Lenin, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot and the 100,000,000 they exterminated to accomplish their ideal progressive society. However, atheists claim that there is no association between atheism and the horrors committed by atheists:

  • Whenever an atheist points out that a lot of people have died in the name of religion, a theist’s first response is always that people like Mao Zedong and Pol Pot were atheists. Therefore, atheism is responsible for a shit load of deaths too. This would be a good point, if not for the fact that atheism simply doesn’t have enough to it in order to condone or encourage genocide.

  • Atheism is defined as a lack of belief in any deity or higher power. That’s it. There is nothing in that sentence that calls for atheists to murder anyone…Atheism simply doesn’t have enough in it to be a world view or something that can support a psychopath’s rage. http://godswillchurch.com/2013/08/atheism-actually-isnt-responsible-for-mass-murder/#sthash.XNRgY2Mj.dpuf

Truly, there isn’t anything in the etymology of the word “atheism” that translates into killings millions. However, when someone rejects the concept of God, it seems to create a worldview avalanche, a veritable mental tsunami. When the idea of God is rejected:

Naturalism takes the place of super-naturalism. Instead of God creating, a new creation myth is required – Everything came into existence naturally (even before the existence of natural law – go figure!) uncaused, and out of nothing.

Secular Humanism takes the place of theism. Instead of God defining meaning and morality, each human being becomes his own court-of-last-resort. Hence, each one of us becomes the creator of our own destiny – the captain of our own ship - and sole determinator of meaning and morality.

Moral relativism takes the place of immutable, universal moral law. This means that moral “truth” is relative to the way we might feel on a particular day. It also can be relative to whatever an authoritarian regime might deem as “good” or what the majority decide. If the regime or the majority decide to eliminate the capitalist as vermin, there is no reasoning left that can deter this action as “evil.” After all, evil no longer exists, but merely what is expedient. Therefore, it might be deemed expedient to destroy the “enemies of the state” and redistribute their money.

Lenin had been asked, “What constitutes morality?” He simply answered, “Whatever promotes the revolution is good; whatever interferes with it is evil.” This kind of pragmatic thinking can justify anything, and it did! Besides, there is no longer any objective moral rationale that can challenge this thinking!

Materialism replaces the Transcendent. Although atheists seek to elevate humanity, they have degraded him, esteeming him as no more than an animal, albeit a sophisticated animal. We are no longer esteemed as having been created in the image of God, full of glory and worthy of all protection and dignity.

Instead, we are regarded as purposeless bio-chemical machines, free perhaps, but free for no transcendent purpose. However, we are not even free. As bio-chemical machines, materialism deprives us of our freewill and freedom of thought. After all, such things are just the product of a serious of chemical reactions!

If we are simply animals living in an amoral, atheistic world, then there is no reasoning or rationale that can prevent us from being treated as animals to be used, manipulated and even destroyed for the “good” of the powerful. If we are machines, then the State is justified in getting whatever use it can out of us before it deposits us on the junk heap along with other useless machines.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Our Responsibility in View of the Genocide against our Brethren


Recently, I’ve turned on my fellow evangelicals for their apparent lack of concern about the growing genocide of Christians in Muslim countries. Here’s one exchange:

ME: Aren’t you concerned about the murder of Christians throughout the Muslim and Communist world, or do you believe in the same politically correct silence as our mainstream media?

EVANGELICALS FOR SOCIAL ACTION: We mourn the loss of life everywhere, no matter a person’s creed or political views. Every human is a child of God. God is the creator of all lives and each one is precious.

ME: But do you speak up on behalf of the many instances of genocide against Christians – crimes that the mainstream media refuse to acknowledge or acknowledge only in passing? Who can take your love seriously, when it is not reflected at home, among your fellow evangelicals?

While it is true that “Every human is a child of God…God is the creator of all lives and each one is precious,” don’t we have a special obligation to cry out about the genocide of our brethren? I think that we do:

For one thing, this special obligation is commanded:

  • Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Gal. 6:10)

We need to get our priorities straight. God’s world isn’t a communist world. Nor is the world of leftist Christians where “Every human is [equally] a child of God,” and therefore we have the same exact responsibility towards all humans.

Instead, we have a special responsibility for our own wives, children and parents. If our love doesn’t begin here, then our love for the rest of the world is hollow and seen as  hypocritical. It is a mockery of our faith if we love someone else’s children, wife and parents at the neglect of our own! Instead, it is our primary familial responsibilities that enables us to empathize with the familial responsibilities of others.

Our Lord wants all to be saved, by observing the special love we have for the brethren, for one thing:

  • By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:35)

Consequently, if we truly want to love the world, we will start by loving the brethren. By this the world will get a glimpse of the only source of transformational love. Similarly, the best way to love our children is by first loving their father or mother! Love filters down in this manner!

Therefore, Jesus prayed that His people would be one in love:

  • "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me...I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23)

Love is not necessarily about making communities more economically viable. In the long run, this can prove counter-productive. It can disrupt communities and make us proud and arrogant. Therefore, love is primarily about introducing people to Jesus, the Savior, allowing His love to percolate throughout our lives.

Besides preaching the Gospel (Mat. 28:18-20), the best way to accomplish this is through love – love of the brethren. It is in this way that “world know that you sent me and have loved them.” Therefore, our good deeds must always have this in view!

When we fail to extend ourselves to our brethren around the world, we fail to fulfill this command, and the world fails to see our oneness. When we fail to cry out for our brethren being martyred around the world, we simply communicate, “I am not concerned,” and we deny the essential unity that Christ wants us to display. We also deny the truth of the Gospel regarding the unity of believers, leaving our persecuted brethren to wonder, “Where are my brothers?”

I can do very little, but I want the persecuted to know that there are those on the other side of the Atlantic who are praying and crying out on their behalf.

We can also let our outrage be known to our congressmen. If we don’t, they will merely conclude that the genocide against Christians doesn’t matter to us. Here is some contact information:

My dialogue with this evangelical group continued:

EVANGELICALS FOR SOCIAL ACTION: I'd be happy for you to send me information…

ME: Thanks for asking! Here's one article that provides an overview:


Please let me know if you would like to see more.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Thinking about Human Dignity

Ultimately, the way we think about humanity is the way we will treat humanity. The late and renowned Swiss theologian, Emil Brunner, affirmed the impactfulness of our worldview:

  • The recent terrible years of the world war and of the preceding totalitarian revolutions have shown us that the understanding of man is the basis of all social order and of all culture…The denial of this dignity is equivalent to the total abandonment of man to the power of the state…The totalitarian state can arise, and is bound to arise, whenever the idea of human dignity has been lost. The idea of human dignity, however, is historically and, in principle, none other than the idea of man’s being created in the image of God. (The Scandal of Christianity, 69-71)

Most embrace an idealistic concept of the dignity of humanity and also acknowledge that, without such a concept, humanity is no more than an animal to be manipulated and used. But are there necessary preconditions for such an idealistic and dignified view of humanity? Brunner thought that there were:

  • [The] time of idealism has always been followed by one of materialism in which human dignity was denied. Such was the case after the idealist tide of the nineteenth century, which was followed by a terrible ebb of crudest materialism, which had nothing else to say of man but that he was the most differentiated and developed animal.

Sheer secular humanism cannot long retain this idealism. It lacks the necessary presuppositional underpinning and, therefore, belief in human dignity will eventually erode. If the human is no more than a sophisticated bio-chemical robot, eventually he will be treated in this manner. Robots are esteemed as long as they serve a purpose, and then are thrown on the junk heap.

Brunner concludes:

  • [The Christian] doctrine of man, which acknowledges the image of God as well as the depth of sin, is able to create a social order which has room for the dignity of man and at the same time provides for the necessary precautions against the terrible forces of evil which are slumbering in man.

These forces seem now to have been revived with renewed “progressive” vigor.

Persecution and its Inevitability

In my arrogant pre-Christian days, I continually reassured myself that I could handle anything that life would throw at me. However, after serving our Lord for 36 years, He has taught me otherwise. I need Him to get me through the most trivial trials.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about persecution. Darkness and threat seem to surrounding us with outstretched claws. Paul warned that this is inevitable:

·        In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  (2 Tim. 3:12)

Many of us don’t need this warning. We see it coming. Some of us are already engulfed by its rising waters. Meanwhile, others are in denial:

·        Former Archbishop Rowan Williams told Christians in the West who complain of mistreatment to "grow up" in a talk at the Edinburgh International Book Festival today. After years of meeting with others around the world who face "murderous hostility" for their religious beliefs, Lord Williams said complaints of persecution among Christians in the U.K. and the U.S. make him "very uneasy." (Jim Wallis, Sojourners)

However, it made me very “uneasy” to read this callous statement, and so I angrily responded:

·        ME: When Christians are deprived of jobs, licenses and even businesses and are told to "grow up," this is not modeling Christian love. This is playing along with a politically correct script that has nothing to do with Christ!

·        PERSECUTION DENIER: No political correctness here -- just the kind of perspective offered by Paul and others in the NT. The so-called "persecution" of Christians in the US pales in comparison with what Williams has in mind regarding certain other parts of the world. We need to own this, and let go of the self-pity.

·        ME: You might be right that our persecution pales in comparison to that experienced by Christians in many Muslim lands. However, it is grossly insensitive to dismiss any suffering, victimization, and deprivation in West with the words "grow up," because it doesn't measure up in our estimation. It means that we are to turn our uncaring back on those who lose jobs, reputations or businesses. It's like telling anyone in the West to "get over it," whatever their problem might be - depression, loss of a family member, or anything else, because it doesn't measure up to the suffering of someone else. Please don't try to justify this kind of insensitivity by invoking the Apostle Paul!

The persecution-denier might be somewhat sincere. He might not experience the persecution, because his faith has become compromised and virtually indistinguishable from the prevailing culture. Therefore, he rides the waves instead of standing against them.

There are many forms of persecution, and Paul gave us instruction about how to respond to it:

·        Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14)

While I am convinced that we must comfort the persecuted and expose the persecutor, we must do this in a way that reflects our Master. It has to be done in love, in the form of a blessing (Eph. 4:29), even as we use words that might cut to the core. But how can we endure the coming holocaust and remain other-centered? According to Jesus, it is indeed coming:

·        "They will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life.” (Luke 21:12-19)

Persecution is inevitable. However, embodied in these words, Jesus imparts necessary wisdom that we need in order to endure. Here’s what I see:

  1. We shouldn’t be ashamed when we are persecuted. It goes with being His children (John 15:18-20; 16:1-2). When we are hated, it doesn’t reflect any deficit on our part, but rather contempt for the Light that we share.

  1. We can’t handle persecution on our own. Therefore, we need not worry about how to respond. Instead, we need to depend exclusively on Him. If He will give us the words we need in the midst of persecution, He can also comfort our troubled hearts and enable us to endure.

  1. God is in control. He has a blessed purpose for allowing the persecution: “This will result in your being witnesses to them.” Consequently, I have to remind myself that there is great blessing in persecution:

·        “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. (Matthew 5:10-11)

This means that we are to regard persecution as a positive and not a negative. He also purifies His church through persecution (2 Cor. 4:10-11; 1 Peter 4:1-2). I think that this orientation will help us accept it. Nevertheless, although God works it for good (Rom. 8:28), the persecutor works it for evil, and therefore should be held accountable and the persecuted comforted.

  1. God’s plan may even entail our martyrdom (Rev. 2:10). However, Paul encourages us that the suffering in this life is in no way comparable to our eternal joy (Rom. 8:18).

  1. Nevertheless, “not a hair of your head will perish.” Evidently, Jesus speaks of our eternal destiny (Mat. 10:28-30). This must remain our focus – being with Him for all eternity.

How did Jesus endure the persecution? There’s a lesson in this for us:

·        Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2-3)

There is an eternal joy set before us. Upon this must we plant our eyes and dreams and leave the rest to Him!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Whose “Creation Myth” Makes the most Sense?

The late Allan Sandage, widely regarded as the father of modern astronomy and discoverer of quasars, wrote,

  • I find it quite improbable that such order [as exemplified by the laws of physics] came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence – why there is something rather than nothing.

In opposition to this, naturalism posits that there is a natural explanation for these laws. However, these laws pose a formidable challenge:

    1. THEY ARE IMMUTABLE: This is impossible to account for within a universe characterized by molecules-in-motion.

    1. THEY ARE SUPREMELY ELEGANT: Explosions – the Big Bang - can’t account for elegance.

    1. THEY ACT UNIVERSALLY AND UNIFORMLY: From where do they exert their influence? It would seem that they are transcendent. This would best explain their uniform influence.

Consequently, mathematician and scientist John C. Lennox concludes:

  • The world of strict naturalism, in which clever mathematical laws all by themselves bring the universe and life into existence is pure (science) fiction…a rather desperate refuge from the alternative possibility [God].

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Reality of Moral Law

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The first principle of value that we need to rediscover is this: that all reality hinges on moral foundations. In other words, that this is a moral universe, and that there are moral laws of the universe just as abiding as the physical laws.”

Raping babies is more than a cultural convention that changes as our culture changes. It’s also more than our biological conditioning. Rape is a transgression that doesn’t depend on culture or the way we feel about it. In our heart, we know that it is objectively wrong.

Our conscience is an alarm system. It not only tells us that rape feels wrong, it alerts us to the objective reality that rape is unchangeably and universally wrong! It violates moral law that transcends our feelings.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Can we Trust Atheists to be Honest when they don’t Believe in Honesty?

Today’s atheists deny that their beliefs are religious. However, this wasn’t always the case:

·        ATHEIST BERTRAND RUSSELL: “The greatest danger in our day comes from new religions, communism [one expression of atheism] and Nazism. To call these religions may perhaps be objectionable both to their friends and enemies, but in fact they have all the characteristics of religions…”

·        THE FIRST HUMANIST MANIFESTO (Paul Kurtz, 1933): “Humanism [the belief that since there is no God, it’s all about humans] is a philosophical, religious, and moral point of view.”

·        ATHEIST JOHN DEWEY, WHO SIGNED THE MANIFESTO: “Here are all the elements for a religious faith that shall not be confined to sect, class or race…It remains to make it explicit and militant.”

·        THE US SUPREME COURT (Torasco v. Watkins – 1961): “Among religions in this country which do not teach what would generally be considered a belief in the existence of God are Buddhism, Taoism, Ethical Culture, Secular Humanism [atheism] and others.”

Why are atheists singing a different song today?

·        By claiming they don’t have any beliefs, they can go on the offensive, while they put out nothing they need to defend.

·        This allows them to lump all of the other religions in one indiscriminate and contemptible bag, enabling them to damn Christians along with Muslims.

·        By claiming that atheism/naturalism isn’t a religion allows them to spread their religious beliefs in public settings – ie. schools – where atheistic naturalism is now considered synonymous with science. When Christians try to do that, they are shut down with the charge, “separation church and state.” However, by denying that atheism is religious, they can sidestep this charge.

Atheism and Ridicule

Atheists ridicule the idea of an omnipotent and beneficent God, citing the many instances of suffering. However, consistently absent from their dismal portrait are the blessed aspects of life.

People vote with their feet. We cling to life as long as we can, signifying that life is a good thing, worth living. Just think of it, we hunger, and God has provided food! We thirst, and He has provided water. We tire, and there is sleep. We need beauty, and this world is plastered with beauty. We need friends and family, and they are generously made available. Our needs are supremely satisfied!

If life is really such a bad deal, the atheist can sign out, but he doesn’t. He clings to God’s gift of life. What does this communicate?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Why is Life So Difficult, even with our Savior?

We usually don’t associate mercy with pain, frustration, and disappointment. Instead, we’re convinced that if God loves us, we will feel good and triumph. That’s been my expectation, even though Scripture continues to warn me against this thinking.

Hosea suggests that if God truly does love us, He will limit our rations. When He doesn’t, and treats us as if we’ve just won the Lotto, oddly, we rebel:

  • I [God] cared for you [Israel] in the desert, in the land of burning heat. When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me. (Hosea 13:5-6) 
We have a problem. We think that we know what’s best for us. As children of God, we know better than to pray for the Lotto or material fulfillment. However, we can’t understand why God allows us to continue to languish in the midst of certain sins. We pray:

  • God, if You really love me, why do I continue to struggle against these ugly lusts, fears, and irritations. Why don’t You make me more Christ-like so that I can show You off to the world. Instead, I’m struggling with myself.
Here are some reasons why we continue to struggle:

  1. Israel became proud when their needs were met and forgot about God. Even having our spiritual and emotional needs met would have this same effect.
  1. Our unmet needs bring us closer to God, teaching us to rely on Him. Paul wrote that he had suffered so that he wanted to die. However, this happened so that he’d trust in God and not in Himself (2 Cor. 1:8-9). He learned that it was only through his afflictions that he became strong in the Lord (2 Cor. 12:9-10).
  1. It is only through suffering and longing that we become more Christ-like (2 Cor. 4:10-11). King David thanked God for His afflictions, because, through them, he had to resort to God’s Word (Psalm 119:71).
  1. Afflictions make the mercy of God real (2 Cor. 1:5). The afflictions also equip us as ministers of the Word (2 Cor. 1:3-4).
  1. Afflictions are like oil. They spread grace and salvation. 
Actually, I trust that we are growing daily (Rom. 8:28). However, we don’t see it. Our Savior will not allow us to see it, lest we become proud. It is only upon His return that our eyes will be opened to what He has promised (1 John 3:2-3). Meanwhile, He will open the eyes of others, who might experience us as a sweet savor of our Lord (2 Cor. 2:14-15).

I have to admit that I often become quite disgusted with myself. However, there is a glorious purpose behind this. It serves as a growth hormone. Each time I become disgusted, I grieve over my sins. I am turned to His Word and am uplifted by what I see – that He loves me despite my unworthiness. His promises of forgiveness and love caress my heart as a chorus of birds in the fresh morning air. They encourage me to take the next step:

  • No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)
I might not see it, but He does, and that’s the important thing!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

If you Believe in Biblical Fundamentals, you are Mentally Ill!

Every day seems to bring us closer to the implementation of one State religion - a monolithic secular one. Kathleen Taylor, a neurologist at Oxford University, said that soon society will be able to treat religious fundamentalism and other forms of ideological beliefs potentially harmful to society as a form of mental illness. She informed The Times of London:

  • "One of the surprises may be to see people with certain beliefs as people who can be treated. Someone who has for example become radicalized to a cult ideology -- we might stop seeing that as a personal choice that they have chosen as a result of pure free will and may start treating it as some kind of mental disturbance."
We are progressing quickly from a high regard for religious conviction – even from the view that it’s essential for democracy - and the First Amendment guarantees to religion as a form of mental illness. And if we are mentally ill and deemed destructive to society – already, we are demeaned as “bigots,” “haters,” and those who deprive others of their civil rights – then why not medicate us, forcibly treat our mental disease, or just put us away as the media has already done!

This raises an interesting question: “Who is to decide who’s mentally ill?” If the Democrats decide, then it is the Republicans who are mentally ill and need to be silenced. If the gays are to decide, then everyone who is opposed to their agenda is mentally ill. If the atheists are to decide, then all people of a traditional religion are mentally ill.

Taylor is not limiting her comments to Jihadists:

  • "I am not just talking about the obvious candidates like radical Islam or some of the more extreme cults. I am talking about things like the belief that it is OK to beat your children. These beliefs are very harmful but are not normally categorized as mental illness. In many ways that could be a very positive thing because there are no doubt beliefs in our society that do a heck of a lot of damage, that really do a lot of harm."
We are becoming very intolerant even as we pride ourselves as the quintessence of tolerance. Are these beliefs really “very harmful?” Taylor is not simply talking about parents who send their kids to the hospital, but of any corporal punishment. In contrast, many express thanks to their parents for the firm discipline – even a good whack to the butt – they received.

Perhaps Taylor might have a case if she could statistically demonstrate how the termination of school corporal punishment has produced better schools and students, but she can’t. What then does she base her “very harmful” assessment on? Perhaps nothing more than the permissive, secular religion of today!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Freethinkers, Materialism and Worldview Confusion

When we reject God, we reject ourselves and our dignity. When we harden our heart and mind against the knowledge and awareness of God, we blind ourselves to life itself! Paul explained it like this:

·        They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts... Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:25-28)

When we reject God, we have to replace Him with something else as supreme. Some may call their God-substitute the “human spirit,” “the will to power,” or merely “captains of our own ship.” In any event, we have done the very thing that the Bible warned us against - We have “worshiped and served created things [namely ourselves] rather than the Creator.”

As a result, God has given us over to the very thing we wanted - a “depraved mind!”

Let me just offer one example of how we have mentally degraded ourselves and have reaped confusion. Atheists consider themselves “freethinkers.” Meanwhile, by rejecting God and any spiritual reality, they have condemned themselves and have adopted materialism – the belief that everything is merely energy and matter, the stuff of science. Consequently, their thinking is also just a matter of chemical-electrical reactions.

However, if thought is no more than chemical reactions, there is no room left for freewill, let alone, free thought! While they want to believe that they can think freely, they have denied this possibility when they rejected God. They have deprived themselves of any meaning, purpose and dignity when they rejected their Source!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Faith Healing: God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

Quite often, our secular media will drag into public attention a couple whose child had died because they believed that their faith required them to reject modern medicine.

I certainly believe in faith healing. We serve a miracle-working God. However, faith is not opposed human efforts to address problems. Rather than faith in God vs. our human responsibility, our walk with God should embody both!

If our son tells us, “I’m just going to trust God. Therefore, I will not seek a job. I’ll just wait for God to present one to me,” we’d think that he’s going mad. Knowledgeable parents would respond:

  • Well, if you trust God, you’ll do as He tells you to do – work hard! He rewards diligence not sloth!
This is because trusting also means doing. If we trust our Lord, we will do what He tells us to do! Somehow, faith and obedience go together, as the Apostle Paul indicated:

  • Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philip. 2:12-13)
Paul’s teaching is puzzling as is the rest of Scripture. On the one hand, he claims that we are responsible for “working out our salvation,” but then He adds that God is even more responsible. He works within us to accomplish His good purposes! Although God is in charge, this does not detract from our responsibility to do and to obey. Somehow these two truths go together! We call this the “doctrine of compatibalism” – human responsibility is compatible with God’s sovereignty or governance.

How do we get our minds around this bewildering truth? I don’t think that we can – not entirely, at least. However, if we don’t accept both truths, we will get ourselves into trouble, like faith healing parents who allow their child to die because they mistakenly rejected one side of the equation – human responsibility.

We cannot and should not separate God’s plan for our lives from our efforts to please Him, as Paul confessed:

  • But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. (1 Cor. 15:10)
Paul gave God the credit for his spiritual growth and fruitfulness. Yes, he worked hard and made the rights choices, but, at the end of the day, it was God’s work (James 1:17). Paul’s efforts and freewill choices worked in conjunction with God’s sovereignty over Paul’s life. We may not understand how they both go together, but, scripturally, it is clear that they do.

Peter recognized this same dual truth. On a number of occasions, he pointed his finger at the religious leadership, accusing them of crucifying Christ. However, he also acknowledged that they did this according to the plan of God:

  • This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. (Acts 2:23)
Both parties are responsible! We have to affirm both truths – human responsibility and God’s sovereignty – even though we might not be able to put them together. While we believe in prayer and God’s healing powers, we must not put God to the test by ignoring our responsibility or by acting foolishly. The devil challenged Jesus to jump off the cliff if He really is the Son of God, the Messiah. After all, God has a plan for His life and wouldn’t allow anything to disrupt it, right? However, Jesus answered:

  • "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" (Matthew 4:6-8)
If we act irresponsibly by trusting that God will compensate for our lack of wisdom, we are acting presumptuously of the grace of God. When we ignore medical matters, presuming that God will step in, our trust is misplaced.

Instead, Paul counseled Timothy:

  • Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. (1 Tim. 5:23) 
Timothy had to take responsibility for his health! This advice doesn’t negate the fact that God is the healer and that He has even ordained the length of our lives (Psalm 139). However, it does acknowledge that we too have a responsibility!

We certainly shouldn’t rush our child to the hospital whenever she has a cough. However, wisdom affirms that we, who are trusting God, also have our responsibility!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Love not the World

This essay is difficult to write. It is easier for me to take the world – the unbeliever – to task than to criticize my brethren. Besides, I want to lay bare a sin that is endemic to the church in the West – a sin that has taken control of nearly all of us. It is a sin that is so common and deeply entrenched that whoever reads this will want to attack me instead of engaging in any self-examination.

God had warned Israel against entanglements with the surrounding world:

  • Make no treaty with them [the Canaanites], and show them no mercy. Do not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord's anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you (Deut. 7:2-4).
Anything that turns us away from following our God is of the greatest import. Israel’s entire welfare depended upon abiding in His Word. Consequently, their Redeemer trained them to keep His Word foremost:

  • He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deut. 8:2-3).
Israel’s neighbors would continue to seduce Israel away from abiding in God’s every Word. How? We are naturally social creatures, easily influenced by our friends and neighbors. We want to be liked and accepted and don’t want to antagonize anyone with our scandalous doctrines and judgments. We idolatrously equate our value with popularity, professional respectability and social recognition. However, as Jesus explained, the antagonism between the children of this world and the children born from above is inevitable:

  • "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.” (John 15:18-20; 16:1-2; 7:7)
We wrongly and naively suppose that if we can just be loving enough and partake in the same things as our neighbors, we will be loved and accepted. If we act like them, they will want to be like us. If we love the things that they love, they will love the things we love. We hide our light and restrain our saltiness and become fit for nothing but to be trodden down by men (Mat. 5:13).

However, the Bible gives no encouragement for becoming a friend to the world. Nor can we retain friendship with our Savior if we pursue friendship with the world:

  • You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely? (James 4:4-5; 1 John 2:15)
When we allow the world to influence us, we become compromisers and adulterers! Well, what marriage vows do we violate? Our marriage to the Lord! When we are drawn away from a strict adherence to God’s Word, we cause Him to “envy intensely.” Why? He loves us intensely and wants to see nothing infringe upon His love for us!

How do we become a friend to the world? When we become inextricably entangled with the world:

  • Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?...What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people" (2 Cor. 6:14-17). 
Blessing requires us to remove ourselves from those things that will contaminate us. Therefore, we cannot become dependent upon the world. We cannot form any relationship with unbelievers from which we cannot easily unyoke ourselves.

Today, this teaching has become distasteful to believer and unbeliever alike. We think it arrogant, judgmental and chauvinistic to believe that there should be such a sharp distinction between the two groups. An entire body of the church has simply rejected this teaching. It’s just too divisive. It separates us from our colleagues, friends and family. It isolates us from the rest of humanity.

Brian McLaren, a key writer of the Emergent Church, charges that:

  • Christians have been taught to see in "us vs. them" terms for centuries, and it will take time to reorient faithful people in a new direction -- "us with them," working for the common good (Huffington Post Religion Blog, 2/19/03).
In support of his indictment, McLaren cites two like-minded students:

  • “People don't want to have to side with the church and against their friends who are Buddhist or Muslim or Jewish or agnostic." 
  • “We can't find a church that doesn't load a bunch of extra baggage on us. We tried, but they all had this long list of people we had to be against. It's just not worth it.”
Of course, these indictments are misrepresentations. We are not “against” the world; it’s just that we cannot allow ourselves to be so closely associated with the world. To quote the old saying, “We can be in the world but not of it.”  We can even have non-Christian friends as long as we know clearly what our boundaries are.

Scripture is clear that there is a radical distinction between the two. We should love our neighbor, but we cannot get entangled in such a way that it compromises any aspect of our heavenly marriage. And we are married to Him: 

  • If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:19)
  • They [Jesus’ children] are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (John 17:16)
Consequently, we are warned about the dangers of associating with the world:

  • Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character." (1 Cor. 15:33-34; 5:9)
While the church sends out missionaries into the world, many of us are unprepared for such up-close involvement. Knowing this full well, John warns a certain woman:

  • Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work (2 John 1:9-11) 
While it is true that our Lord will keep those who are His, we mustn’t put Him to the test by attempting to navigate interpersonal waters that are too deep for us. If we truly trust Him, we will obey these warnings.

Some will say, “Well, I just trust Jesus with my involvement in secular society.” However, according to John, trusting Jesus is also a matter of avoiding negative influences if we are unprepared. Sometimes, in our arrogance, we think that we are prepared when we are not. And we are not prepared. We haven’t meditated deeply and regularly on His Word (Psalm 1). We allow ourselves to compromise Scripture in order to accommodate our new relationships or careers. 

Christian professionals with advanced degrees have done this. Theistic evolutionists have adopted an entirely unbiblical distinction to enable them to have both Darwin and Jesus. They divide the world into the physical and the spiritual, foolishly claiming that evolution is only concerned about the physical, while the Bible is only concerned about the spiritual. With this distinction, they hope to silence any contradiction between Darwin and Jesus.

However, they kill their faith in the process. The physical can no more be separated from the spiritual than the theology of the cross (spiritual) can be separated from the death of Jesus on the cross (physical). The physical and the spiritual are inseparable! To separate them is to lobotomize the mind from heart. Thus they shipwreck their faith.

When we marry ourselves to the surrounding culture, we violate our ultimate marriage. This takes many forms - material, sexual, and spiritual. We have become consumers, just like our neighbors. We encourage each other to spend lavishly on ourselves, ignoring the fact that many thousands of Christians are being made refugees and even martyrs at alarming rates. However, John warns:

  • If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? (1 John 3:17)
We tolerate multiple forms of sin, claiming, “I can’t judge others,” conveniently forgetting that we are our brothers’ keepers. When a brother or sister sins, if we care about them and their eternal welfare, we will speak the truth in love.  We will not be silent or look the other way. Evangelical leader Albert Mohler described the church’s permissiveness this way:

  • “Evangelicals allowed culture to trump Scripture…the church largely followed the lead of its members and accepted what might be called the ‘privatization’ of divorce.’ Churches simply allowed a secular culture to determine that divorce is no big deal, and that it is a purely private matter.” 
Pastors are often so afraid of losing members that they don’t feed the flock with nourishing food.  Instead, Scripturally weak teachings and ideas abound.  Tolerance has become the supreme virtue. However, the Spirit warned the churches against this:

  • Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols (Rev. 2:20, 14). 
What’s the answer? The Church of Sardis had achieved “a reputation” by the standards of this world. However, the Spirit warned:

  • Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you (Rev. 3:2-3).
The Spirit instructs us to “remember,” “obey” and “repent” from our compromises and worldly standards. Our Savior alone must be exalted above everything else:

  • But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33) 
His Word alone must predominate, and when it does, He will take care of us far better than we can.

(Evidence of the depth of our compromise with the world: http://www.desiringgod.org/resource-library/authors-on-the-line/porn-pride-and-praise-an-interview-with-heath-lambert-22-minutes)