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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Jesus Wept

When I was a youngster in church activities, I was caught up in the competition. You know. We had "Bible drills" -- who could turn the fastest to a Bible verse. We had contests to see who could recite the books of the Bible the fastest. We had Bible memorization contests. Now, in these contests you were credited with "numbers of verses" or "numbers of chapters". So we learned tricks. If you had to memorize a chapter, volunteer to memorize Psalm 117. Two verses. Done! And our favorite Bible verse to memorize was John 11:35. "Jesus wept." Done!

To tell the truth, beyond it's memorization advantage, the verse has always been somewhat of an enigma. Why did Jesus weep? I mean, look, the text says, "So, when He heard that Lazarus was ill, He stayed two days longer in the place where He was" (John 11:6). He purposely delayed. And the text says that Jesus knew what He was going to do -- bring back a dead man from the grave (John 11:11, 23). It's not as if He was saddened by the death of Lazarus because He knew it was temporary. And still, when He saw Mary weeping and the Jews weeping, "He was deeply moved in His spirit" (John 11:33). Twice (John 11:38). Why?

This isn't the only place that Jesus wept. In the Gospel of Luke we read, "And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it" (Luke 19:41). Why? Was Jesus surprised by their lack of faith? Was He hoping that all Jerusalem would be saved and, too bad, couldn't accomplish it? Was God's Sovereign Will failing? Were His plans frustrated? No. Then why was He weeping?

Jesus wept because Jesus was a man. You know ... "fully God" and "fully Man". He experienced the sadness of those around Him. He saw the tears of those He loved and wept with those who wept. He understood the sad fact that most of Jerusalem -- the Jews, His people -- would not be saved and He wept. He raised Lazarus as proof of His divinity. He wept as proof of His humanity.

Beyond that Jesus wept for humanity. He felt their pain. He understood their hurt. He even anticipated the future torment of those who rejected Him. He was fully God, but connected emotionally with the humans of which He was part.

I don't know about you, but knowing that my Savior feels my pain is of great comfort. A God who couldn't appreciate my pain even though He is Sovereign, Loving, and Good wouldn't be really connected to me. He is. He calls for repentance and weeps for my tears. He plans for my suffering for my gain and feels my pain. He was tempted -- tried -- like we are. This is not a God like any other religion's God. This one was the God/Man, the one who, amidst His own Sovereignty, could also feel my hurt and empathize. A truly good God.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Marriage and the Government

There are more than one or two voices out there today suggesting that maybe the government ought to get out of the marriage business and leave it to the rest of us. The suggestion begs the question: Why is the government involved in marriage? What is the interest of government in the institution of marriage? It cannot -- is not allowed to be -- for religious reasons. So what is it?

Well, from the external, obvious answer given by so many the primary purpose of government involved in marriage is shared rights. Single people have no rights to other single people. Married people share rights. The State gives married people tax breaks and inheritance and health insurance benefits and such. Conversely, married people have State-enforced responsibilities. There is child support and spousal support and such possibly even including garnishing of wages by the State.

These, however, are barely sufficient to involve the government in marriage. These, in fact, are only the tip of the iceberg.

One primary concern of government is the function of family building with long term stability. Marriage provides the optimum environment for child-rearing (two parents, committed, opposite sexes). Sure, not all marriages result in children, but it is the general aim. And, sure, children can thrive in single-parent homes with distant mother or father or two adults of the same gender, but the question isn't survivability; the question is optimum. Common sense and scientific studies have demonstrated that a biological mother and biological father in a permanent, caring relationship provide the best possible environment for children.

Children, of course, are another primary concern of the government. Procreation -- the propogation of the species -- is an essential concern. It maintains any given society (and expands the tax base). And, while all children are capable of being loved, there is no doubt that there is a special, almost mystical bond of having offspring (versus adoption). A loving, biological mother experiences a connection to her child that even the most loving adoptive mother cannot, and so with fathers.

Not many will speak about it, but marriage provides an effect for males that I will call "the taming of the beast". Men are barbarians by nature, doing whatever seems right to them. Put into the environment of marriage, with its inherent lifelong commitment and the natural prospect of children, men settle down. They learn a new level of self-control, self-sacrifice, responsibility, and maturity. This only happens in the close contact of wife (versus "cohabitor") and offspring (versus no children or "someone else's children").

And, because it's considered "sexist" even if it is true, marriage provides a benefit for women that is tuned to their basic structure. Men, by nature, desire a sense of signficance. Women, on the other hand, want a sense of security. They want to be held, protected, nurtured. Only in a lifelong marriage relationship to a committed male is this effect optimized.

The alternative? Families are incoherent. They are without definition. Children are not given the optimum environment. Men are not provided with "taming" and women are not provided with security. The continuation of the society could be in question, and even if it isn't, families are not providing the best for their children. Responsibilities become vague. Costs rise in terms of caring for single parent families, abandoned mothers, and ignored or abused children.

Because it is in the interest of government to provide stable conditions for the two-gender marriage, the government, then, regulates marriage. It offers tax breaks, inheritance rights, family support, and shared rights to this fundamental building block of the society. Good, male-female marriages with children who are loved and nurtured stabilize and perpetuate society.

For some reason, no one seems to pay attention to the fact that none of this is accomplished in a same-sex union of any sort.

Friday, September 28, 2012

A Biblical Parallel

Here, let me give you a verse right from the Bible:

ος αν κοιμηθή μετά άρσενος κοίτην γυναικός βδέλυγμα εποίησαν αμφότεροι θανάτω θανατούσθωσαν ένοχοί εισιν

Well, I don't know about you, but that seems abundantly clear, right? What? No?!? Okay, maybe not. That is a Greek text from the Septuagint. You know the Septuagint, right? Well, Paul did. The Septuagint was the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible at the time that Paul lived. When Paul quoted Old Testament passages in his writings, his Greek-speaking readers could look them up in that book.

Now, before I explain that odd stuff, I'd like to put down another verse.

μη πλανάσθε ούτε πόρνοι ούτε ειδωλολάτραι ούτε μοιχοί ούτε μαλακοί ούτε αρσενοκοίται ούτε κλέπται ούτε πλεονέκται ούτε μέθυσοι ου λοίδοροι ουχ άρπαγες βασιλείαν θεού κληρονομήσουσιν

Now that one is from the Greek New Testament. Clear? Well, no, not if you don't read Greek. And I don't. So let's see if we can figure anything out. Here, let me take it out of the Greek lettering and into English transliteration:
kai ov an koimhqh meta arsenov koithn gunaikov bdelugma epoihsan amfoteroi qanatousqwsan enoxoi eisin

ouk oidate oti adikoi qeou basileian ou klhronomhsousin? mh planasqe; oute pornoi oute eidwlolatrai oute moixoi oute malakoi oute arsenokoitai oute kleptai oute pleonektai, ou mequsoi, ou loidoroi, oux arpagev basileian qeou klhronomhsousin.
There we go! No, wait. That's still not it. But let's look at what we might see anyway. Oh, look! There's kleptai; close enough to "klepto" to mean "thief", isn't it? Yeah, okay, but this still isn't getting us anywhere.

There is an interesting link between the two. Notice in the first one the phrase, άρσενος κοίτην, or arsenov koithn. Now look at the second one. There you'll see αρσενοκοίται or arsenokoitai. Now that's interesting.

Ummm, yeah, Stan, sure. (Humor him.)

Stay with me. Notice that the two are nearly identical. They are certainly of the same roots. In fact, they are similar enough to be synonyms. Since the second passage is from Paul, was he quoting from the first passage?

Well, let me reveal where all this is going. In the New American Standard version of the Bible, we read in 1 Cor 6, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9-10). From those who would like to deny that this is what we read in this passage, you will read that "homosexuals" is not in the text. In fact, it's an obscure word. It is used twice in Scripture (here and in 1 Tim 1:10). And most of the best scholars believe that Paul himself gave the first known usage of the term. What does it mean? The King James translates it "abusers of themselves with mankind". Young's Literal Translation uses the term "sodomites". Interestingly, the ESV eliminates "effeminate" and translates both terms as "men who practice homosexuality". (Think about why it is that the latest translation, the ESV, felt the need to put it that way.) The word is a compound word. The first part, arseno, references males (men), and the second, koitai, is a reference to the bed ... specifically, the marriage bed. (That is, it typically has sexual connotations.) Indeed, it is the root of the English word, "coitus". But, hey, what does that prove? So what does it mean?!

If Paul was a Pharisee Bible scholar, well educated and well informed on the Greek Septuagint, it would appear that Paul coined a term straight from the Greek Old Testament for this passage. And what was that verse from the Old Testament?
If there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, both of them have committed a detestable act; they shall surely be put to death. Their bloodguiltiness is upon them (Lev 20:13).
In that verse, the text translated "a man who lies with a male" is arsenov koithn. Hmm!

From the GLBTQ Encyclopedia on St. Paul, they say on the subject
The word is a verbal noun, and its earliest attestation is in this verse of Paul's. It is a compound of arsen = "male" and koités = "a man who lies with (or beds)." And so we have, describing Oedipus, metrokoités, "a man who lies with his mother," doulokoités, "a man who lies with maidservants or female slaves," polykoités, "a man who lies with many," and onokoités, "a man who lies with donkeys," said of Christians in a graffito from Carthage of about 195.

Arsenokoitai are therefore "men who lie with males," and the Vulgate's masculorum concubitores (where masculorum is an objective genitive), renders the Greek exactly to mean "men who lie with males," "men who sleep with males," "men who have sex with males."
In fact, that source indicates that the source for the term comes from both Leviticus 18:22 and Leviticus 20:13. Hmmm!

Is there really a question about what Paul meant when he used the term? Is there really a need to harangue "too-conservative Bible translators" for concluding that Paul meant exactly what it meant in Paul's own Bible? Is that really a stretch? Or is it just too clear to tolerate?

Thursday, September 27, 2012


In a discussion recently I was asked, "How can you know you're one of the elect?" A valid question worth exploring. The proof that you can't know was that even those who believe in election have a hard time with the question. Well, I'd prefer not to use contemporaries as the formation of my beliefs, so let's see what we can find in Scripture.

First, anyone who denies that the doctrine of election is a biblical doctrine is simply not reading their Bible.
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you" (John 15:16).

He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him (Eph 1:4).

God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth (2 Thess 2:13).
Lest you think that's all there is, just look up the explicit word (and concept) of "the elect" or "the chosen" or "chosen of God" and you will be inundated (e.g., Matt 22:14; 24:22, 24, 31; Luke 18:7; John 13:18; Rom 8:33; ll:5, 7; Col 3:12; 1 Thess 1:4; Titus 1:1; James 2:5; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 2:9; Rev 17:14). My point is not that my view of election is correct and those who disagree are wrong. My point is that election -- God's choosing of the saved -- is biblical and unimpeachable. We can discuss how God chooses or when God chooses or why God chooses, but the fact that God chooses cannot be discarded. It was the story from the beginning. God chose Noah and God chose Abraham and God chose Israel and so on. God has made a career (so to speak) of choosing a few out of the masses, and denying it would eliminate a good portion of Scripture.

It is, therefore, a given that some are "elect", "chosen of God". How, when, why, these are in question perhaps, but not that they are. So the question remains, "How can you know you're one of the elect?" What has changed, however, is who is being asked. The original question implied was, "How can those of you who believe in election know you're one of the elect?" It has to be "How can anyone who is a Christian know that he or she is one of the elect?" By definition those who are in Christ are "the elect".

Lots of people, in fact, aren't sure. Lot's of people question their "election" or their salvation (because, in the final analysis, these two concepts turn out to be the same). Can we even know? I think that the Bible is clear that we can. Paul wrote, "We know, brothers loved by God, that He has chosen you" (1 Thess 1:4). While some (most?) of us may question our election, Paul believed he could know. How about us? Can we?

Well, Paul offers suggestions as to how he knew that the Christians in Thessalonica were chosen by God. He started with "remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 1:3). The elect, the chosen, those who are in Christ, have a definite response. There is work and labor and steadfastness. There is love and hope. Paul went on to say that he knew God chose them "because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (1 Thess 1:5). Their response to the gospel wasn't academic. It was powerful. It was convicting. It had an impact on their lives.

This is the same sort of method that John uses in his first epistle. Read it sometime looking for the "if's" in the text. They are questions you can ask yourself. He specifies, "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life" (1 John 5:13). And be aware that "these things" are not simply matters of faith. Geniune believers -- people made new in Christ -- have genuine responses. Changed hearts make changed lives.

Peter, too, believed that you could know if you were one of the elect. In 2 Peter 1 he lists a series of linked attributes (2 Peter 1:5-7) that believers ought to have and ought to add. He says, "If these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 1:8), and if you lack them you're blind. He goes on to say, "Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall" (2 Peter 1:10).

Assurance is a comforting attribute of a believer. It doesn't come easy. If there is a Christian out there who has not questioned his or her salvation, I would be concerned. Being right with God is something of absolute importance to any genuine believer, and none of us have arrived at perfection. We are painfully aware of sin in our lives. But Scripture repeatedly tells us that we can know. We can know if we are chosen, one of the elect, saved. Whether you believe that God chooses based on Himself or that He chooses based on your right choices, all of us need to know that we can know if we are chosen, and that knowledge is a great comfort.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Not a Choice

"I didn't choose to be gay." That's the claim. That's the certainty. That's the given. "Gay" is "born that way". Everyone knows that. How could you question it? Why would anyone choose to go through that stigma, to endure that lifestyle, to suffer the prejudice and difficulties? No, no, it's not a choice.

That's the claim, and nearly everyone agrees except the hard-nosed ultra-conservative Christians who see it as an assault on God and an assault on Christianity and, therefore, by virtue of that attack status, cannot be so. I'd like to question the claim that it is not a choice, but I'd like to do it from a different direction. I've never seen it as a threat to the faith or to God, but I still need to examine the question. Is it a choice?

The problem for me is that we're making assumptions before we ask the question. What is "gay"? What is the definition of the concept (not the word -- I know what the word means, and it's not that)? To our current culture "gay" is defined as homosexual, a sexual attraction to the same gender. Merriam-Webster lists that as the 4th definition. Others put it right there at the top. Homosexual -- "same sex". But the culture has defined it as something more. A homosexual doesn't have simple attraction to the same gender; he or she is defined by it. It isn't a desire, but an "orientation". It is held distinct from "heterosexual", an attraction to the opposite gender, and "bisexual", an attraction to both genders. It is further confused by throwing in "transgender", a sexual identity confusion. (I don't mean to sound unkind here. Just pointing out that it's confusing. If a male sexually identifies as a female and is attracted to other males, is that homosexual or "heterosexual"? What makes him female ... or male? And so on.) And the American Psychological Association now argues that all of this is "normal". So at this point we have made the assumption that "gay" is a definition of a person.

Given that this is a definition of a person, we would then realize that persons have rights and some of those basic rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Thus, it would be a violation of human rights to prevent someone who is defined by their sexual attractions to be prevented from pursuing those attractions. Isn't that clear? Isn't that obvious?

I would beg to differ because I would not be willing to take the first steps. Let's assume for the moment without argument that people do not choose to desire sexually whom they desire. I'll let that stand. I certainly didn't choose to desire women sexually. But I'm afraid that's where I have to end the agreement. You see, all the rest is problematic. How, for instance, does someone get immersed in adultery, fornication, sexual sin? It is not "by birth". It is by choice. Conversely, we admire folks who control their sexual desires and limit them to one person, one spouse, regardless of where else their desires might go. Self-control is a virtue. And limiting those desires is assisted by not going places that would threaten those limits. A married man at a strip club is a recipe for disaster. A married man devoted to his wife would avoid those places. He wouldn't argue "I'm defined as being attracted to the opposite gender and, therefore, should be allowed to indulge those attractions as far as makes me happy." It doesn't work. I am not defined as "heterosexual". I'm defined in other ways, but I'm classified as "heterosexual" merely because "homosexual" has reared its head as a definition when it never was before.

Here, try this. Let's see if a simple substitution will work. If "gay" is morally neutral -- an accident of birth -- then this shouldn't work at all. Will it? "I didn't choose to be gay." Okay. Substitute something else. "I didn't choose to be adulterous." No, that doesn't work. But "adulterous" isn't an attribute, it's an action. So let's try something else. "I didn't choose to be lustful." Okay, fine. I buy that. But ... clearly you can see that the phrase demands another step. "I didn't choose to be lustful but I will choose how I respond to it." You see, "sexual attraction to the same gender" may indeed be outside of the choices and control of the individual, just as lust, greed, gluttony, or any number of other sinful desires might be, but that's not the issue, is it? The issue is what you do with the sinful desire. If you prevent it, stop it block it, don't feed it, don't allow it to define you, then it stops at the "temptation" level. If you indulge it (choice), feed it (choice), allow it to be your definition as a person (choice), then it reaches the level of sin.

I think, in fact, that this error will take people places we don't want to go. If "my sexual desires" is "my definition" and "my definition" gives me the right to pursue my desires as a matter of human rights, where does it end? If an adult has an uncontrolled desire for sexual relations with minors, ought we allow it on the grounds of human rights? Obviously the answer would be "No", but on what basis? How do you prevent one while allowing the other?

I will allow that the desires any individual has are not under their control. We all want things. We rarely want things by choice. Whether or not a given desire is sin or not is a key question. Indulging desires that please the Lord is a good thing to do. Fostering desires for that which He finds abominable is foolish. And it is not the fault of God, Christianity, the Bible, or judgmental Christians when we choose to feed desires -- any sinful desires -- that are opposed to His delights and suffer from it. At no time has God said, "As humans you should be allowed to indulge whatever your desires may be; that's your right." Nor does being born with (or acquiring them at a young age) sinful desires make them "of God" or "good". The choice is yours.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


"Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togevah today. Mawwage, that bwessed awwangement, that dweam wifin a dweam." My son and his wife had the pastor read this in their wedding, but I'm sure if you're familiar with this you know he didn't originate. It is from Princess Bride. The happy outcome of the story required that the princess never actually married the evil prince. She didn't. It ended well.

How important is marriage to us? Well, to those of us who love Christ, it should be considered absolutely essential. Consider this. The Bible, our sole authority in matters of faith and practice, begins and ends with the joining of a husband and a wife. In Genesis, while all that God made was good, the one thing that God considered "not good" was that man had no partner fitted to him (Gen 2:18). All the other creatures had male and female, but Adam was alone. To remedy that, God made Eve, and the grand joining of man and wife was created (Gen 2:23-24).

In Revelation, we are treated to a scene in heaven. Prefaced by, among other praises, the Hallelujah Chorus (Rev 19:1-6), we get a peek at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready" (Rev 19:7). It is the consummation of the relationship between Bridegroom (Christ) and Bride (the Church) at the consummation of the world as we know it and the beginning of the New Heavens and the New Earth. A magnificant scene, the grand joining of a Man and His wife.

Between these two bookends we find marriage celebrated throughout Scripture. It is the means by which Man was to "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth" (Gen 1:28), this joining of man and woman created explicitly by God to complete each other and imitate God's creative power by creating offspring. Finding the proper wife is a key issue throughout the Word. Even before specific laws were in place regarding who to marry, Abraham wanted to make sure his son married from his family instead of from the women around where they lived (Gen 24:3-4). It was Midianite wives that brought about the 24,000 deaths from plague for Israel in the desert (Num 25:1-9). It was foreign wives that brought about guilt to Israel after returning to their land after captivity (Ezra 10:10). There is almost an entire chapter of Proverbs devoted to the celebration of a good wife (Prov 31). The wrong woman for the wrong man was the wrong thing. The right woman for the right man was beautiful.

Marriage was the context for procreation throughout Scripture. Women who were pregnant outside of marriage were shunned. Wives who were barren were ashamed. Solomon sings, "Behold, children are a gift of the LORD; The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one's youth. How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them; They shall not be ashamed, When they speak with their enemies in the gate." (Psa 127:3-5). Children were the delight and the promise of marriage in Scripture.

In the New Testament, the very first sign that Jesus performs is at a wedding in Cana (John 2:1-11). In Matthew 19, the Pharisees try to catch Jesus in a conundrum on the topic. "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?" Jesus doesn't fall for the faulty thinking. Instead, He affirms that the joining of a man and a woman is the design of God and affirms that a man and his wife are united in marriage. "Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate" (Matt 19:6). So clear is this affirmation of marriage that the disciples are taken aback. "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry" (Matt 19:10). Jesus assures them that marriage is good and that the alternative to the joining of a man and a woman in marriage is celibacy (Matt 19:11-12).

Look for yourself sometime. I think you'll find that marriage -- the union of a man and a woman in common effort and procreation -- plays a major role from the beginning to the end. It is the start of human life and the culmination of God's plan for our present universe. It is always referenced as the joining of a man and a woman and never anything else. Despite today's dwindling, sad view of marriage, the Bible celebrates it. It is key. So when you hear that the Bible only mentions homosexual behavior in six (or so) verses, understand this. It misses the point. On top of the 6 verses opposed, it is the vast value of the marriage of a man and woman in Scripture that speaks volumes about God's view, God's definition, God's preferences, and God's values. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Not from either side of the question.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Support and Nurture

I received a generic offer via email the other day to attend "Safe Zone Training", a class and workshop offered to help lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and "questioning" (LGBTQ) folk feel safer, welcome, included. You take the training and become a source of support and nurturance for LGBTQ folk of all walks. You say, "I am available to talk about your concerns." And, you know, I thought about it. In fact, if it had been practical, I might even have pursued it. (The training was 3 hours away ... one way ... for a 5-hour course. Not practical.)

Of course, whether you agree with my views on the subject or not, I think you can see pretty quickly that, well, it just wouldn't work. I mean, they don't actually want someone to help that believes that such activities are a violation of God's moral code. The fact that I do care is irrelevant. The fact that I would be willing to talk to people about their concerns would be beside the point. What they ("they" being the people that are putting on the training, likely, as well as people with concerns who want someone to talk to) want is not someone who will tell them that God disapproves, but someone who approves. You can't be helpful, supportive, nurturing, or caring by calling a particular behavior "sin", now, can you? So there is, I think, a form of "religiophobia" or something like it going on there, a frank and open dislike (or worse) of those who would have a negative opinion of the morality of their behavior.

It made me wonder, though. Let's do a little hypothetical examination. What if it was actually true that God disapproved of homosexual behavior. Assume, just for a moment, that it really is something that God finds abhorrent. Now we have a group of people engaging in activities that God considers loathsome. So what does a caring person do? What kind of support should be offered? What sort of nurturing ought to be given? How would a trained, caring, concerned person counsel such a person? Indeed, if the response was "That's okay. Let's see if we can't make you feel better about continuing in your activities", wouldn't that be detrimental to their well-being rather than supportive?

Unfortunately, no one is asking "What is true?" The primary question is "What do I want to do?" followed by "How do I get the support of others to help me do it?" without ever considering the possibility that it will harm you.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

In Spirit and in Truth

Jesus told the woman at the well, "God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24).

What spirit?

Jesus said, "This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me; in vain do they worship Me" (Matt 15:8). Worship, then, is from the heart. Prayer, praise, confessions, and sermons without heart are vain. Valid worship is a heart issue.

"God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6). Worship is from humility, not pride. Humility is the universal response and the natural human response of those who come into the presence of the Living God. Isaiah was "undone" (Isa 6:5). Peter begged for distance (Luke 5:8). It made the disciples "very much afraid" (Mark 4:41).

What truth?

The truth is that Jesus wanted to get across the nature of God. "God is Spirit." The first truth required in valid worship, then, is the real God. Not some version you drum up. Not some unbiblical God who promises you only pleasantness or prosperity. Not some kindly old gentleman who would never intervene or some remote God who isn't concerned about sin. Not any God of our own making, but the One revealed in Scripture. Since God is Spirit, the truth is that we must worship Him as He is.

Genuine worship comes from a spirit inspired by the true nature of God. Worship fueled by a heart impassioned for God by God is true worship. This is a product of knowing who God is truly and in responding to His Spirit within us.

And true worship is contagious.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

I Asked

Some time ago I asked what the whole Occupy Wall Street thing was all about. The answers I got were inconclusive and incoherent. Apparently I now have my answer. According to an Occupy organizer, Harrison Shultz, the single unifying message of the Occupiers is ... wait for it ... wealth redistribution. (I know ... what a surprise, eh?) Shultz said, "What I’ve been working on specifically is presenting an actual plan ... to actually rapidly end the economic crisis and permanently alter capitalism ..."

Nice to know. The big plan, the solution to our problems, our salvation is the dismantling of capitalism and the taking of wealth from those who have and giving it to those who don't. According to Shultz, "There is plenty of money in this country -- there is no shortage of money -- it’s just in the wrong hands." I guess the "right hands" would be his?

Apparently no one ever told him that you can't legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of it. You don't multiply wealth by dividing it. And the simple fact that so many were involved in this for so long is, in all honesty, a bit frightening. They don't want solutions. They want revolution. With the numbers of people under the welfare state and the "class warfare" card the president and his side like to play so often, I suspect they'll get it.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Informed Consent

So, there I was, reading in Colossians, when I came across this little gem.
And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Col 1:9-10).
"So?" Yeah, sounds pretty simple. In fact, it's so simple that it's part of Paul's greeting to the Colossian church. But it struck me as not quite as simple as it sounds. Or perhaps just as simple as it sounds, but we've missed it.

If you ask or think about how it is that we please God, the typical response is "obey". We are fed concepts like "obedience" and "duty" and all that as pleasing to God. We are encouraged to "do" even when we're not fully convinced. "Act like a Christian." Indeed, it is biblical language. "Do not grow weary in doing good" (2 Thess 3:13). And that's all well and good. But I notice that Paul has a slightly different slant on it here, and perhaps it would benefit us to learn from it.

Paul wants the believers in Colossae to "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord", to be "fully pleasing to Him", to be "bearing fruit in every good work", to be "increasing in the knowledge of God" -- all those things that we associate with pleasing God. And they do. But Paul doesn't tell them to do all this in a vacuum. He bases it on something prior to obedience. Paul indicates that the way they can do all this is not simply to knuckle under and do, but by being "filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding." Now that's not what we often hear when we're being told to "act like a Christian."

Paul is telling his readers that genuine believers walk in a manner worthy of the Lord based on a growing knowledge of His will informed by spiritual wisdom and understanding. Pleasing God is accomplished rationally, with proper information, good understanding, and a deepening wisdom. It isn't a shallow obedience. It is an informed obedience. Christ's followers are not supposed to be blind followers, but trained, knowledgeable, understanding, wise followers. We are not asked to simply know what to do, but how and why to do it. That's a bit more than the normal instruction we're given to obey God. Perhaps we ought to get to work on that.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Jesus's Wife

None other than Smithsonian Magazine is running the story of Professor Karen King who unveiled "an ancient papyrus fragment" that "is sure to send shock waves through the Christian world." The claim? Jesus was married.

The hubbub is over a papyrus. Or, rather, a fragment of one. 33 words. 14 incomplete lines. And the papyrus is -- get this -- 1600 years old. That's right. Ancient. Certainly older than I'd ever care to be.

Oh, wait. That's not as old as we thought, was it? I mean, the texts of the New Testament are all more than 1900 years old. All were written within 100 years of Jesus's life. All others were rejected as unreliable. And, look, it's not just the Church that says this. According to the article, "King makes no claim for its usefulness as biography." Get that?

Still, Professor King is taking the "high road". It's a conspiracy, you see. "Why is it that only the literature that said he was celibate survived? And all of the texts that showed he had an intimate relationship with Magdalene or is married didn’t survive? Is that 100% happenstance? Or is it because of the fact that celibacy becomes the ideal for Christianity?"

Now, concluding that "celibacy becomes the ideal for Christianity" from biblical texts like "Let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband" (1 Cor 7:2) or the affirmations that Jesus gave of marriage in His attendance at the wedding of Cana (John 2:1-11) and His affirmation of marriage for life in Matthew 19:1-12 takes more "thinking" than I can muster. I mean, look, Karen, maybe there was some grand conspiracy where all texts were eliminated for an ideal that Christianity does not hold or maybe the only text that "survived" that said Jesus was married was because He wasn't. Maybe all the writers who wrote when Jesus was alive and all the readers who were alive when Jesus was and could critique those texts were liars or maybe the one document written long after all the rest without possible corroboration is less reliable? Maybe?

King is quite sure that the New Testament documents, written within "35 years after Jesus' death", were "heretics hornswoggled by the devil." (That's what the article said. I wouldn't think to use "hornswoggled" on my own.) Christianity for 2000 years has suffered from the "myth of origins". Luckily the Gnostics, a group soundly marked as heretics by Paul (the purpose of the Epistle to the Colossians), had the true story centuries later. Judas was no turncoat. Jesus did not rise from the dead. Paul was sorely mistaken on that point. Basic humanity included the Holy Spirit already, not requiring some obscure "faith" to receive salvation. Good thing we got that all sorted out, eh?

Does the papyrus she found say that Jesus was married? Well, maybe. Does this prove a conspiracy? Not really. Does it bring into question the Gospels? Not for me. Is it going to "send shock waves through the Christian world"? No. Not the Christian world. Like Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code, it might stir up some, but people of genuine faith won't be too disturbed about ambiguous texts written hundreds of years after the fact about, in all honesty, a topic that really doesn't much matter in the scheme of things.

Now here's a side question, connected to this and to current affairs. Given that the King and the Smithsonian believe that this will "send shock waves through the Christian world", that this will reveal Christianity as a religion designed by "heretics hornswoggled by the devil", does anyone really think that Christians are going to rise up, storm Harvard and the Smithsonian, and demand an apology or burn the places down? Does anyone actually fear that Christians around the country are going to start fiery protests outside schools of higher learning? And, on the other hand, does anyone believe that there will be a public outcry to "Stop attacking Christianity and just be tolerant"? Yeah ... I didn't think so.

One more good piece on the subject is here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Obama is NOT a Socialist

You'll hear it from the right all over the place. "You know the president is a socialist, don't you?" And that crowd will huddle together and nod their heads in agreement. They'll draw you in with innuendo and evidence. Did you know that his parents were socialists and communist sympathizers? Did you know that his mentor was Frank Marshall Davis, a self-professed member of the Communist Party of the USA? Did you know that he attended socialist conferences in school? Did you know that he is linked to Bill Ayers, a Marxist and co-founder of a communist, terrorist organization? Did you know that the Democratic Socialist party endorsed him back in Chicago? Did you know that his current motto, "Forward", comes from earlier socialist tyrants? See? Proof!

Please, people, stop. Think about it. Is that proof? Do you even know if it's true? Or is it propaganda? How can you tell? And if every single word of it is true, what does it prove? It proves connections, not status. You know, I grew up in California which once was Mexican territory. I must be a Mexican!! No, connections don't prove status. Think about it.

Socialism is an economic system contrary to capitalism. Socialism gives ownership of the means of production to the people, typically controlled by the government. The people share the wealth equally. Capitalism operates on a system of private ownership and competition. You earn based on your work. Socialism emphasizes equality apart from effort. Capitalism allows for the accumulation of personal wealth; socialism requires equal distribution of wealth. The market determines the economy in capitalism, while the government of the people determine the economy in socialism.

I don't doubt there will be denial of what I'm about to say, but I think it is abundantly clear that the above description of actual socialism is not in line with the efforts and aims of President Obama. He may agree with them, but he does so in private. There is no proof that he does. Actual socialists, in fact, deny that he is one of them. He is, indeed, a capitalist. The president is not a socialist.

I would, unfortunately, be incomplete and unclear if that was the end of the question. There aren't actually a lot of those socialists around these days. The more standard socialist is found in European nations. Take the Party of European Socialists (PES). They, for instance, were voted into power in France just this year. They're more of the socialism you'll see these days. What are they about?

You can get an idea of the mainstream version of socialism from their Declaration of Principles from November of 2011. They are very strong in their support for "the welfare state, universal access to education and to health care." They support free education from childhood through college. President Obama is in favor of the welfare state (taking more of the wealth of the rich to give to the poor), universal access to education and to health care. The PES holds that, in order to be a just society, "we must ensure that the wealth generated by all is shared fairly." The president concurs. The PES argues, "All members of society are entitled to protection from social risks in life." The president agrees and aims to use the government to reduce or eliminate that risk by bailing out oil companies, buying back mortgages, creating universal health care, and extending unemployment benefits. Very high on the PES agenda is environmental sustainability. The president has been working hard at subsidizing environmentally-friendly industries while cutting the assistance or permission for less "friendly" organizations. To the PES, "market forces" are the enemy. They are driven by greed and supported by finances. By subsidies or taxation, the president has tried to counter market forces and to encourage environmental sustainability, penalizing oil, gas, and coal (for instance) while subsidizing "green technology" like Solyndra.

I suspect, in fact, that if the PES were to compare the president's views and efforts with their own principles, he'd rate pretty high. While the country was founded first on individual freedoms that would then provide for an economy and a government, the president has moved to take back power from individuals and assume more control over the economy. He isn't a dyed-in-the-wool Soviet-style Marxist, a purebred socialist, but he certainly seems to align quite comfortably with their quieter, modern cousins.

Americans consider "socialist" a bad word. As such, it's probably not wise to throw that word at the president. It's like comparing someone to Hitler. There is a gut response before there is a mental response. The president is not a genuine socialist. At the same time, I don't think it is unfair to point out that he does seem to line himself up quite comfortably with the values found in many European countries today. It's a pity that they are termed "European Socialists" because that provides such negative connotations to Americans, but I do think it's fair to say that our president is often in line with the views that are held by that particular group of Europeans. Make of that what you will.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


"Whatcha doin'?"


Do a quick search of the news and you'll find trouble, strife, tension, fear, and, in the end, a lot of questions about what is and isn't true. There is no end to websites that will offer dramatic warnings about how the Democrats are going to lead us into socialism or worse and the Republicans are going to balance the budget on the backs of the poor and the elderly while pandering to the rich. Ask most non-whites if racism is alive or dead and I don't think I have to tell you the answer you'll get. Marriages are falling and failing. Families are being torn apart by abuse and disuse. The economy is in a pit too deep to fathom right now and the answers we're getting don't seem to be answers to the questions we're asking. Our political candidates are "bad" and "worse", but if you don't vote for "bad", you'll get "worse" apparently. Education is declining. The church is in trouble in so many quarters. It just looks so very bad.

And then I call to mind ...
Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Phil 4:8).
Where does all that stuff that discourages and oppresses and worries and frightens us these days fit in the categories of Philippians 4:8? I'm pretty sure they don't.

I'm not opposed to the news. I'm not opposed to being informed. I'm not opposed to knowing what's going on. Paul says, however, that we aren't to live there. Where are you spending most of your mind? Thinking on the world around us and its difficulties? Or pondering the true, the honorable, the just, the pure, the lovely, the commendable, the excellent, the praiseworthy?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Credulity and Faith

The other morning before dawn I was on my way to work. Suddenly, in the eastern sky, only beginning to show signs of a rising sun, there was a glowing white spot. The spot stretched to a line over a matter of seconds. Then the end of this line that had been drawn in the sky turned in an impossible (for normal aircraft) arc, spread a little, and stopped. Over the next few minutes, the bright white diffused itself, catching rainbow colors from the still-over-the-horizon rising sun. It was amazing. It was beautiful. It was strange. And, of course, everyone knew it was aliens. That's what the news said. There were calls into network news and police departments reporting "strange lights" and UFOs. Turned out, of course, that it was a missile launch from White Sands, but, hey, easy mistake, right?

You know that when something is "incredible", it's hard (or impossible) to believe. And when you have a "credible witness", you have a witness who can be believed. Thus, "credulity" and "believe" must mean the same thing ... and thus "credulity" and "faith" are the same. Well, not quite. Let me explain.

The dictionary says that "credulity" is not synonymous with "faith", but rather a "willingness to believe or trust too readily, especially without proper or adequate evidence" followed by the simple synonym, "gullibility". "And," the skeptic will say, "that's faith." Not quite.

In the original biblical documents the Greek word for "faith" is pistis (or some form thereof). Vine's Expository Dictionary says it's "'firm persuasion,' a conviction based upon hearing". Strong's dictionary says it means "to be persuaded (by argument)". (The parenthetical part is Strong's, not mine.) Thus, biblical "faith" includes a component beyond mere credulity. Credulity requires no reason, no argument, no evidence. With credulity you simply believe. With faith you are persuaded for a reason, by arguments, with evidence.

Is it possible to have faith in something that is false? Well, of course it is. Is it possible to experience credulity (belief without any evidence) for something that is true? Again, that can certainly happen. The question is not about the truth of the matter at hand, but how you come to believe it. The callers to news and police that morning were operating on credulity. There was no evidence, no argument, no persuasion. There was just a lit trail in the sky that led them to an alien invasion ... that wasn't happening.

Let me give a biblical example of faith. Remember the Israelites in Egypt? When Moses showed up to save them, they made him leave. Forty years later, they weren't better disposed to his efforts at God's command. So, given this particular group of bedraggled, beaten, disbelieving folk, standing at the edge of the Red Sea with Pharaoh and his army behind them, what would coax them to walk into the path with walls of water on either side? Why did this group of hardcore skeptics walk into what would look like certain death? Well, what they had was a series of 10 plagues, 10 events in a row produced by Moses at God's command. The account indicates that the events affected Egyptians, not the Israelites. In the final event, God prepared His people with the blood on the door frame and the Passover meal and every firstborn died in Egypt except for those of the Israelites. In other words, Israel had evidence. Thus, it was not credulity that caused them to walk across the Red Sea on dry land. It was faith.

You see, credulity and faith share a common basis. They are both a belief in something that has no proof, no test to demonstrate the reality. For those things faith is not required. The difference, then, between credulity and faith is that faith demands reasons while credulity needs none. Faith is built on reasons, evidence, arguments, and then goes beyond them. Credulity is built on whatever you want to believe. They are, then, similar, but not the same.

There is another primary difference between credulity and biblical faith.
To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of His calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by His power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess 1:11-12).
Faith says "This chair has always held my weight before, so without actually testing it, I can put my weight on it again" and does so. But Scripture says that God calls and God makes us worthy of that calling and God gives us resolve for good work and God gives us the faith that produces that good work. Now that is a real difference between credulity and faith.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

What About Wrath?

One of the attributes of God that is repeated over and over in Scripture is His wrath. Okay, enough of that. Let's move on.

The topic is largely one ignored today. Many deny it. Of the rest, many ignore it. Of the rest, many prefer not to speak about it. It is unpleasant. Okay, enough of that. Let's move on.

The wrath of God is one of the popular tools of the anti-theist. Oddly enough, they are either complaining that He's too wrathful or complaining that He's not wrathful enough. He's bad because the Bible says He ordered the execution of an entire group of sinful people or He's not powerful enough to strike me dead on the spot for blasphemy. Poor God. He can't win. So, hey, that's enough of that. Let's move on.

No, let's not. You see, the Bible believes in the wrath of God. The Bible isn't quiet about it, ignoring it, ashamed of it, or unwilling to talk about it. Indeed, it is a prevalent topic in the pages of Scripture. So, we have to ask, if God is good and God is wrathful, how do we put that together? What's good about God's wrath?

First, remember that God's wrath is not the same as Man's wrath. James wrote, "The wrath of man does not achieve the righteousness of God" (James 1:20). God's wrath, then, does achieve the righteousness of God.

Further, it's not quite accurate to call wrath an attribute of God. It is actually more of a response of God. It is the product of His own perfection, a necessary outcome of His own Holiness, the correct result of His Justice. Quite simply, God hates sin. And as a result of His own Holiness and Justice and perfection, He is willing to display His power and wrath on vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. God's wrath, then, is the proper response to sin, to the violation of His Holiness. It is right and good as just such a response. And the better we understand His Holiness, Justice, and perfection, the better we will see and appreciate that fact.

The Bible uses God's wrath for another excellent purpose.
It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Heb.9:27).

"I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish" (Luke 13:5).

"He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him" (John 3:36).

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience (Eph 5:6).

Do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God (Rom 2:3)?
Are you seeing a common theme? The Bible in general and Jesus in particular repeatedly uses the wrath of God as a warning instrument. "Don't go there! You won't like the consequences!" It is a CAUTION sign on sin, a red tag on the things that will bring about God's wrath. It is designed to keep us from straying into the minefield of sin. And that is a good thing.

We don't like God's wrath. It's a scary thing. Or, as the author of Hebrews put it, "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10:31). The right response to this unpleasantness is not to deny it or ignore it or even minimize it with silence. The right response is to repent and to encourage others to repent. The right response is to recognize with joy the perfections of God that demand such wrath when they are violated. The right response is a healthy fear of God that produces holiness. That's what's right with God's wrath.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Asking Questions

It was a dream. Or perhaps not. A daydream? Maybe. I stood in front of God and He was asking questions.

"So, Stan, I see you voted for Mitt Romney in 2012."

"Yes, Lord."

"Did you know that he supported the Brady Bill and other gun control issues?"

"Well, yes, but I don't know that that's a big factor."

"Were you aware that he refused to sign a no-tax increase pledge as governor, but signed it as presidential candidate?"

"Well, okay, but no one is perfect."

"Were you aware that Massachusetts became the sixth jurisdiction in the world to allow gay marriage when Mitt Romney was governor?"

"Uh, well, no. I missed that. But he is opposed to it!"

"Did you know that he has originally said that humans are causing global warming and now changed his tune?"

"Well, maybe, but everyone changes their mind."

"Were you aware that he was not opposed to abortion?"

"Well, now, Lord, he was in favor of overturning Roe v Wade."

"Yes, in order to leave it up to the states."

"Yes ..."

"So it's not okay for the federal government to approve killing babies, but it's okay for states?"

"Umm ... no, but ..."

"So, if killing babies wasn't your priority, what was?"

"Oh, Lord, you know that Obama was a threat. If he stayed in office, he would do damage to the economy, damage to the country, damage to society. It would have been very bad."

"So ... killing babies wasn't your priority, but a happier country and healthier economy was?"

"Umm ..."

I don't know. I'd personally have a hard time standing in front of my Lord and telling him that. Do I really have it in me?

I know, the scenario was limited. "Obama's threat to the nation isn't merely economic. He is connected to Marxists and terrorists. He tends overtly toward socialism." I know. And he is the most pro-abortion president we've ever seen. So it isn't simply about "damage to the economy" and "a happier country". On the other hand, I have a few questions. First, how much real damage can one president do? We have a government built on checks and balances. A dictator or a monarch could do a lot. But a president is limited. Second, how much real damage will he do? Obama, for instance, promised before he was elected that the very first thing he would do when he became president was to sign FOCA, the Freedom of Choice Act, making baby killing in the womb a national law rather than merely legal. He didn't. A lot of what he promised (threatened, if you're of a mind to think it so) to do he hasn't. A lot of what he has tried to do has been blocked. How much can he actually do? Finally, where is God in all of this? Is He just along for the ride, hoping that the president we elect doesn't do irreparable damage and push the country so far out that God can't fix it?

And, still, I don't know what I'll do when it comes to voting in November.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Acquiring Faith

Blaise Pascal is famous for his gambling problem. No, just kidding. He's famous for his "wager". Pascal's Wager goes something like this: "God may or may not exist. You have to choose which one you live by. Based on the gain of the existence of God and the loss of failing to live as if He exists (as opposed to little lost or gain if He doesn't exist), it would be better to choose to believe that God exists." Something like that. There are, of course, problems. Paul said that if our faith is not true, we are "of all people most to be pitied" (1 Cor 15:19). But the real problem is in the concept of choosing to believe. Actually, Pascal suggested choosing to live as if God existed, but that doesn't help. We are not saved by living as if there is a God. We are saved by believing -- faith. So in order to be of any value, we'd have to choose to believe. And that is a problem.

You see, we do not have the ability to choose to believe. I've heard people say it, but it's just not the case. Here, try this. Try, just for the next five minutes, to choose to believe that you have a unicorn in the room with you right now. I'll wait. You see, you can't. There are a variety of reasons you can't. No evidence. Violates rational thinking. Violates what you know. Okay. So, for various reasons, you cannot choose to believe.

What can we choose? What affects what we believe? Well, there are also a variety of things there. There is that which makes you feel a certain way. We would like to believe those things that make us feel good, make us feel like a part of a family or a group or a meaningful movement or some such thing. We want to believe things that make us feel good. That's an influence. Another is that in which we immerse ourselves. Children are immersed in the teachings of their parents. Until they get some contrary or divergent information, they believe whatever it is into which they are immersed. Opposing data will be required to change that. (And that opposing data is waiting at the doorstep. Don't doubt that for a moment, whatever you parents are teaching your kids.) Now, see how these two work together. I want to believe things that make me feel good, so I would choose to immerse myself in that which makes me feel good. Thus, I have influence on what I believe even if I don't have the ability to actually choose what I believe. And these two factors -- how it makes me feel and that to which I'm most subjected -- are only two of many others.

Here's the real problem, though. If it is true (as we certainly believe it is true if we believe the Bible) that we are saved by faith, and faith is not something we can choose, how do we come to it? What is it that brings us to believing in Christ if it is not, as is so often suggested, our choosing to do so? Faith is not generated by going through the will. How, then?

The Bible offers two answers to that very important question. First, "faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ" (Rom 10:17). Thus, all-important faith is acquired by hearing specifically the Word of Christ. Not good arguments. Not well-spoken presentations. The Word of Christ. Good speaking and rational arguments may be used to open doors or push aside obstacles, but faith is not arrived at by logic or oratory skills. It is by hearing the Word of Christ. But that's not all the Bible has to say on the subject.
For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake (Phil 1:29).

Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1).
According to Romans 12:3, God gives to each a measure of faith. It is a gift. Paul says that we are granted to believe. Peter says that we "obtain a faith". Jesus said, "A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven" (John 3:27).

We are, indeed, saved by grace through faith. That is not of ourselves. Not the salvation, not the grace, not the faith. It is a gift of God. We cannot be saved apart from faith. God demands faith in order to save us. But God doesn't demand from us that which He does not supply. He provides faith. He provides repentance (2 Tim 2:25; Acts 11:18; 5:31). God creates the new nature in us, then gives us the will and power to do as He asks (Phil 2:13). Faith is God's gift to us, granted through the means of the hearing of the Word of Christ. It cannot fail. And it doesn't depend on us.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"Not My will, but thine"

Someone recently pointed out that I was mentioned in someone else's blog. Hard to believe. (I didn't think I was noticeable.) Well, actually, he took Neil Simpson of Eternity Matters to task, but Neil was referencing something I said ... in a positive light. Somehow (I'm still not sure how) he went from "I'm pretty sure you can lose your salvation" to "God doesn't choose who will be saved." I have to admit I couldn't really follow the line of reasoning, but that's where I came in. You see, it is God's will that every human being gets saved, so the notion that God would choose some and not others is inconsistent with that fact. Or, to put it in the author's words, "So is it His will to pick and choose while willing that none should perish?" (answered, of course, with Paul's suggested "May it never be!").

So ... how does someone get saved? Well, he says that the Father draws, but doesn't choose. No, if God is to be consistent with His own will, He draws everyone. And He will cause "enough light [to] pass through a dirty window to light a room." Good work, God. Nice try. Too bad it isn't truly effective. Well, for a few, I guess, but not enough to accomplish Your will.

You see, this is where I get stuck. It is a popular view, but I can't seem to make it fit with the character of God. Apparently God's will is to save everyone but, well, He fails. He intends for everyone to come to repentance but is thwarted, apparently by His own creation. And I can only conclude that if it is God's divine will that everyone gets saved and it doesn't happen, then it cannot be truly said that God works all things after the counsel of His will (Eph 1:11) or that He does whatever He pleases (Psa 115:3; 135:6). Perhaps Jeremiah was speaking in hyperbole when he said that nothing was too difficult for God (Jer 32:17). Of course, that's problematic since God Himself said it about Himself ... twice (Gen 18:14; Jer 32:27).

So which is it? Is it God's will to save everyone and He is just stymied by His creation? Or is there another possibility here? You tell me. Do I suffer from a view of God that is too big, too grandiose? Is God too Sovereign in my view and, as it turns out, the real God is quite a bit less? Or what? Does God actually say "Not My will, but thine" to His creation? I'm trying to figure this out.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Values of Youth

This is a generalization, of course, but let's think about it for a moment. What are the typical characteristics of youth these days?

Well, clearly there is a culture of "question authority" and even "question the old", and not in a good way. No, what I mean is that they're not asking the elderly for advice or wisdom, but simpy beginning with the premise that "young is better" and learning from the old isn't too important.

There is certainly a sense of being rather than becoming. I've heard nearly every age group at some point or another say, "You still think I'm a kid!" The suggestion is "I have arrived. Why are you in my way?" Or, "I am ... I am not becoming."

The youth tend to have a sense of independence. They show it in obvious ways like appearance (hair, clothes, body piercing, tattoos, etc.), but that's only the outside. They also tend to believe they are independent thinkers, not reliant on those who went before or even each other. They like to think they are independent spiritually. They aren't tied down to a church or an organization or even a religion. They're spiritual, typically, but not limited to a particular type of spiritual. "I'll do it my way" is the typical attitude. Many longstanding institutions are in question for youth, including such things as marriage, family, sexual morality, church, government, and so on.

Youth tend toward creativity. Move forward. Progress. Change. Leave the old behind. Press on to the new. Don't stand still, for pity sake, or you'll get passed by.

There are more, but I think these are largely typical. Many young people today share these characteristics. They may even recognize them and value them.

We live in a largely youth culture. Our media tells us that the wisest people on the planet are the kids. A generation ago (or more) the mantra was "Don't trust anyone over 30." Churches cater to the young (where "young" is "not old" ... like me). They spend the money. They are the most outspoken. They are generally the most ardent.

Can you see, then, why retaining a biblical worldview would be difficult? Can you see why there is a push against conserving traditions, retaining traditional values, maintaining institutions? Can you see why it would be harder to lean to the right than to the left politically? And, given the world's natural animosity toward the things of God, it only gets harder to be conservative as a Christian. Is there really any reason to question why we see the disappearing belief that the Bible is God's Word, inerrant, infallible, the sole authority on matters of faith and practice? Stand where the saints of old have stood -- on the Word of God and the historical orthodoxy of the Church -- and you will very quickly be standing alone. You're not questioning authority. You're not being independent. You're not progressing. You're not "with it". Oh, wait ... I suppose that's outdated. Never mind. But you get the idea.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

An Ethical Dialog

This is not a statement. This is a question. I will offer it as a statement, but the hope is that you can dialog on the topic. I am not actually taking this position. I'm offering it for you to consider, think through, explain, comprehend, even deny.

There is very little in the world of ethics, it seems, that we can agree on. One side thinks homosexual behavior is obviously immoral and the other can't figure out why they would even think such a thing. Everyone used to understand that sex outside of marriage is wrong but those who still think so are very few. On the other hand, we are mostly agreed that killing human beings is wrong. Well, don't push that too far. Is it wrong to kill in war? Is it wrong to execute someone for a crime? No, no, murder is wrong. Yes, but some people define war as murder.

Slavery! Oh, yes, there's one we can all agree on. That's one that's fairly universal. Well, in the developed countries. Slavery is still considered moral in some less civilized societies. But let's just stick with the civilized societies. We all know by now, although we obviously didn't 150 years ago, that slavery is bad, immoral, wrong. Indeed, so convinced are we that it becomes an Achilles heel for Christians trying to defend the Bible. "Oh, yeah?" the skeptic will say, "Well, the Bible defends slavery. How about that?" And those who believe the Bible is God's breathed Word are now in trouble, trying to slip out from that one any way they can.

So here's the question. Why is it immoral? Let's think about it. "Slavery" is defined in various ways in the dictionary. One entry says, "the state or condition of being a slave." Oh, come on, dictionary! That's not helpful! Another says, "a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune." Okay, now, hold on a minute. While perhaps "absolute power" isn't there, an employer seems to have a lot of power over employees. And certainly parents come close to "absolute power" over their kids' life, liberty, and fortune. And that's not a bad thing. There should be something more, I think. So typically a slave is "a person who is the property of and wholly subject to another; a bond servant." Property. That's a key element. So, it is fundamentally wrong to own another person as property.

I would hope that the phrase that followed that definition caught your attention: "Bond servant". Interesting, isn't it? Because Paul repeatedly referred to himself as "the bond servant of Christ" or something very close. And he meant it in a good way. We are indeed owned by God, held under His absolute power. He is indeed the one who controls life, liberty, and fortune. So there is a slavery that is not bad. And that just begs the question. Why is slavery immoral?

So let's lay out the common answers. 1) "Obviously it's wrong because owning a person is wrong." Why? 2) "It leaves them open to mistreatment and abuse." Absolutely true. But, what if it didn't? I mean, what if the law required that slaves be well-treated and properly cared for? What if they had legal protections? We can all agree that abusing people (anytime) is wrong. I think we can also agree that abuse does not only occur in slavery and that being a slave does not guarantee abuse. 3) "It is dehumanizing to be owned." I'm not at all sure what that means. 4) "No one should lose their freedom. Freedom is a human right." I don't think that one will hold up, will it? I mean, aren't prisoners under the absolute power of the State who has complete control over their life, liberty, and fortune? Apparently it's not the case that "freedom is a human right".

Okay, I know, too long. Enough. I've made my point. Let's all agree that mistreating another human being is wrong. Eliminate that from the question. Assuming that the argument is that "slavery is moral if the slave is well-treated", on what would you base a denial? We all agree that slavery is wrong, but why is it wrong?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Some Call it Arrogance

Let's assume that we're all in agreement here. We are saved by grace through faith, not of works. Clear enough. No problem. But the question remains, how do we get there from here? That is, given the unbeliever, the non-Christian, how does that person change from unbeliever to believer, from separated from God to a child of God, from lost to saved?

It would seem to me that there are two possibilities:

Option #1: God offers me His Son, woos me to Himself, encourages me to come. He wants to save everyone. The question of whether or not I am one of those that actually gets saved is answered, in the final analysis, by me. I come to faith, choose Christ, and am subsequently transformed into a child of God, saved by grace through faith.

Option #2: God chooses whom He will save. At a time that He chooses, He unilaterally regenerates the person (me, for the sake of discussion). Endowed with a new heart, a new nature, and faith from God, I exercise that faith and place it in Christ, choosing Him as my Savior. I am now a child of God, saved by grace through faith.

I had a conversation with someone awhile back. He had heard for the first time of Option #2. He didn't like it. Not one bit. "If I actually believed it worked like that," he told me, "I'd join the KKK." I'm sure you get the inference. If God chooses me (remember, using "me" for the sake of discussion) and not someone else, then I must be special ... like the KKK believes white people are over other races. The ultimate racism, of sorts, except it's not a race but "the elect" who are special.

And I have to say I am baffled by this. My view (obviously Option #2) is that God chose me not from anything in myself of value -- not because of anything I would or wouldn't do -- but because of Him, "in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of Him who calls" (Rom 9:11). It seems to me that the alternative view (Option #1) makes me out to be quite special. Others don't make it. I do. God desperately wants to save everyone but I was smart enough or wise enough or obedient enough to come to believe, to make the right choice, to do the right thing. While so many others have cut God off from His desired goal of saving everyone, at least I was able to do the right thing for Him to save me.

I frankly don't get it. I believe that God's Sovereign choice and Omnipotent intervention brought me into His family. Nothing that I did. Nothing that I offered. Nothing in my hand I bring. And that is viewed as "arrogant". "No, no," they tell me. "God chooses whom He will save by seeing who will choose Him. Human free will, you know. Only those who properly exercise their human free will are good enough to make it into God's family. No, that's not right. 'Good enough' isn't right. But you get the idea." No. No, I don't.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Why We Are Here

How was church today? Did you go? (I hope so after that post last month.) Was it good? Did you get something out of it? Did you know that's the wrong question?

There is a sense today that religion is bad but spirituality is good. There is a sense that "organized" is evil but "feeling the presence of God" is good. There is a sense that our beliefs are a personal thing, that we should do what makes us feel closer to God, whatever that is. If it's church, well, then, good for you. But if it's not, well, no one judges you but God. So we toddle off to church if we find it entertaining enough or amusing enough or moving enough ... or not. Or we err on the other side of the coin, finding fault with the music or the drummer or the sermon -- too long, too short, too muddled, or, worst of all, too clear. There was too much drama or not enough. All of this points to the wrong questions.

Why are we at church? (If we're not at church, we already started with the wrong question -- "What pleases me most?" -- and it's not being in the presence of God with fellow believers.) We are commanded to "Offer a sacrified of praise to God" (Heb 13:15), to "Bear one another's burdens" (Gal 6:2), to "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God" (Col 3:16). We are to "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds" (Heb 10:23-24). We are to "strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble" (Heb 12:12). Shall I go on? All of this is what we give and none of it has an inward look, a sense of "What do I get out of it?"

Paul delighted in referring to himself as a "bond-servant of Christ". Being a slave to Christ is really not a self-centered thing to be. On the other hand, it is something that brings the utmost joy. Serving God and serving one another as we do so is a matter of great joy. I suspect that being in the presence of God with other saints in order to offer a sacrifice of praise to Him and serve one another is really much, much better than the meager returns we get when we seek to "get something out of" church. Or much else, for that matter.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Star Spangled Banner

On September 7, 1814, Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skinner boarded the British flagship, HMS Tonnant, on a mission to negotiate a prisoner exchange. After the discussion with the Major General and Vice Admiral on board, the two were held overnight since they had overheard battle plans. The British bombarded Fort McHenry through the night and Key didn't know the outcome until the next morning. That's when he wrote his famous song that was to become our national anthem -- The Star Spangled Banner. That was 198 years ago.

Any good American knows this song. Well, most. Well, some. Actually, I'd suggest that very few actually know it. I know I don't. You see, the song we sing is only the first verse. Key wrote four verses*. And it is in the best interest of "separation of Church and State" that this be forgotten. You see, Key had a very clear idea of how Fort McHenry survived the attack. It's in the fourth verse.
Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
What makes America great? Our wealth? Our military might? Our superpower status? No. America rose to its pinnacle because of the underlying belief that "the Power" (capital "P") "made and preserved us a nation." Even as forces within our nation try to rip us loose from the motto, Key was quite sure that "In God is our trust" was our only hope, our only just cause, and the only reason we succeed. Of course, he would never be allowed to hold such a view today in public. If Francis Scott Key (and the rest of Christendom that agrees) is right, America is headed down a rough path in its flight from the One who made it the great nation it was.
* Here are the lyrics to all four verses:
The Star Spangled Banner
Francis Scott Key
September 8, 1814

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Friday, September 07, 2012

"In God we Trust"

Here's the line from the wikipedia article: "'In God we trust' was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956." Did you know that?

There appears to be two primary groups of people. One side says, "Our motto was always 'In God we trust'." The other says, "That motto is new and never was part of the original structure of our nation." Of course, your view on this will likely have ramifications. "Yes, religious values have always been at the core of our nation" or "No, don't be ridiculous; we've always had a separation of Church and State." Or we could simplify it further: "Religion, good", or "Religion, bad." But is it true?

According to the Treasury Department, while the official motto of the United States didn't change until 1956, this motto was in place a long time before. The motto was added to coins back in the Civil War era "because of the increased religious sentiment." Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received requests to recognize God on U.S. coins. He then directed the mint in Philadelphia to prepare a motto for coins. He wrote, "No nation can be strong except in the strength of God, or safe except in His defense." Well, Congress controlled that, so after some deliberation they passed the Act of April 22, 1864, making the motto on the coin, "In God we trust."

Here's a twist. Do you know where the phrase appears to have originated? It was part of Francis Scott's Key's Star Spangled Banner. No, not the verse you know. In the last verse you'll find the line, "And this be our motto: 'In God is our trust.'"

Here's another twist. Apparently President Teddy Roosevelt tried to get it removed in the early 1900's. "Ah, see? Roosevelt wanted the separation of Church and State way back then!" No. Actually, Roosevelt thought that putting the motto on money cheapened -- commercialized -- God. He wrote, "My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege." Sorry, anti-religious folks. Roosevelt (a devout Christian) thought God was too important to be trivialized on coinage, not too esoteric to be included in national affairs.

The truth, then? Congress determined in 1956 to make "In God we trust" the official motto of the United States. Interestingly, as recently as 2011 Congress has affirmed that this will continue to be our motto. Before it became our national motto, however, it was on our coins. And before it was on our coins, it was on the minds of the people. And before it was on our minds, it was foundational to our nation in the thinking of our founders. Quibble if you want, but "In God we trust" is not something new in America. From all appearances it may look like it's getting to be something old, but that's a different issue.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

The Eyes of the Soul

I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin? (Job 31:1)
Silly question, of course. Job didn't have Facebook or the Internet. That's how, Job. Come on! Get with it!

There are three categories of men in modern America; perhaps four. The first is the group who struggle with or indulge in pornography. The second is the group who deny they struggle with or indulge in pornography, but do. The third is those who don't struggle with it at all; it's not a problem. I suppose the fourth group could be those men who live under a rock and have not the problem to deal with because they don't have the exposure that modern media has provided in the Internet, the movies, and the television. Of the group of "all men in America", I would guess that 95% fall in the first two categories which, if you were paying attention, turns out to be one category: Those who struggle with or indulge in pornography.

Knowing that Scripture says, "You may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Eph 5:5) (and says it repeatedly), I would think that Christians in that category would be men who are struggling with pornography (as opposed to those who indulge it without remorse -- unbelievers). Why it is such a struggle, however, can sometimes be a mystery? I mean, how hard can it be? Stop!

Well, it's not that simple, is it? It's not at all clear what the draw is once a Christian realizes that it's sexual immorality, that it's destructive to relationships both with people and with God, and that it's sin. And yet there is the draw. Men work at various plans, much like Alcoholics Anonymous, step programs to try to work their way out of it, and yet there is the draw, the repeated failures. What is this mysterious force? Why is it so hard to break? Why is Bob Newhart's approach so useless?

There is likely more than one reason, and you can probably suggest a few yourself, but I'd like to offer one that is commonly missed. Oh, you'll find it there at the top of the page!

Men are visual creatures. We are stimulated by sight. That's why female strippers are far more common than male strippers. That's why men's nudie magazines have always been more prevalent than, say, the Playgirl magazines of the world. Indeed, men don't need nudity to be stimulated. They need ... females. It can be a particular body type or a particular type of clothing or a particular hair color, but as long as it's a female's appearance, that's about all men need.

Still Christian men appear to miss this reality. They may avoid the porn sites but have no problem with the Victoria's Secret commercials. They may spurn the Victoria's Secret commercials but enjoy a day at the beach with the bikini-clad lovelies. The truth is that men aren't limited in their visual stimulation to nude or even scantily clad. A lovely lady, well-dressed, with an appearance that pleases, is about all we need. And we fail to make "a covenant with my eyes."

How many times have we heard "There's nothing wrong with window shopping as long as you don't buy" or "Why not look at the menu as long as you don't order?" or some other euphemism? What's wrong with it? It is the beginning. It is the starting point. It is a push toward the lust that Jesus classified as adultery (Matt 5:28-30). Indeed, Jesus's own recommendation for that problem was "If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell" (Matt 5:29). Hyperbole? Perhaps. But relegating that hyperbole to meaninglessness is not the right response to hyperbole ... or Jesus.

Ephesians 5 begins with the command to be children who imitate God. Paul goes on to say:
And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving (Eph 5:2-4).
"Sexual immorality ... must not even be named among you ..." God's people should be so far from sexual impurity that it couldn't even be suggested that we are guilty of it. Hearing "Hey, my eyes are up here!" from a woman is the suggestion of impurity. Pressing the LIKE button on a Facebook cutie's picture is the suggestion of sexual immorality. Even if they don't fall into the category of sin, they certainly fall into the category of giving Satan the opportunity (Eph 4:27).

How do we avoid sexual immorality? Stop! No, not just stop. Stop giving Satan the opportunity. Stop aiming our hearts where we don't want our eyes to go. Someone once said we shouldn't let our eyes linger where our hands shouldn't. Indeed. Stop going in our hearts where we ought not and allowing our eyes to lead us in. Replace that passion with another, a holy passion. Pornography is not simply a problem of self-control. It's a heart problem that isn't solved by lock and key, by Internet filters. And, as the eyes are the gateway to the soul, so are they the gateway to all sorts of sin, entered into before we ever see it coming. If we are to be imitators of God as beloved children, then holiness ought to be high on our list of positive traits to nurture.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Rocks in the Stream

Why is it that the topic of "same-sex marriage" comes up more than once in my writings? Some might suggest that I'm homophobic and that's why it's such a big deal. (I need to point out that I'm not at all sure what that word means. They keep using that word, but I'm really not clear that it means what they think it means.) Some would suggest that I'm just narrow-minded and fighting to hold on to my narrow view. I would guess that there are a lot of other possibilities as well. I would suspect that most would be wrong. The same question could be asked about abortion, sex outside of marriage, contraception, or divorce. These types of things seem to come up more often in my writing than they do in others. Why?

Allow me an illustration to make a point. Picture with me a stream. In this stream is a large rock (at least one). The water moves through the stream around this rock. Observing the rock, however, you will notice that things floating in the stream seem to collide with this rock. It is a rather prominent rock. And it just seems like things are running into it. Indeed, at some point you begin to wonder, "Why does that rock keep hitting all those things in the stream?" It is, of course, an illusion. The rock isn't moving. It's the stuff that is moving past it that is moving. And therein lies the problem.

Christianity is based on Christ and documented by the Bible. This Bible was God-breathed some 2,000 years ago. Thus, with few exceptions it doesn't move much. The same Jesus Christ that was the Savior in 65 AD is the Savior in 2012 AD. Salvation that was accomplished in Paul's day by the death and resurrection of Jesus is the same salvation that is accomplished in our day. We don't have a new form of salvation available to us that Peter didn't have. The Church throughout history has not aimed at moving or flowing with the times, but remaining true to the principles and doctrines of the original Christians. Oh, sure, there is superfluous stuff, outer trappings, things that don't really matter to the core, but at the base of the Church there is a solid, unchanging, unwavering Rock who is Christ and there is a tradition, doctrine that makes up Christianity without being affected by fluctuations or the vagaries of time.

Christians stand, then, in the stream of culture, on the Rock. We, in fact, are being formed into His image, acting as His representatives to a lost world. Like rocks in a stream, we are required to stand firm in the place that Christ and the Scriptures place us. So when the stream throws a pile of "same-sex marriage" branches at us, society will ask us to move out of the way -- to "go with the flow". We, however, need to stand where we are. It will look as if we're attacking the branches. It will appear as if we're "anti-branch", narrow-minded, opposed to culture. But all we're doing is standing where we are planted. In our day, the branches floating by are "same-sex marriage", "abortion", and the like. In other times they have been other things. The fact that they differ is not because we differ. It's because the stream of culture continues to flow around us, changing tactics and favorite sins.

So when the sin of the day is a denial of salvation apart from works, those bound by Christ will stand against it as they did in the days of the Reformation. And when the sin of the day is slavery, those bound by Christ will stand against it, as they did in the 1800's. And when the sin of the day is an assault on marriage, those bound by Christ will stand against it. We're not moving. We're not picking fights. It's the sin of the day and our requirement to stand firm, likes rocks in the stream.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Why, Bill Nye?

Bill Nye, the science guy, has worked hard at making science fun for kids. Now he's decided to move on. In a recent You Tube video (below), he decided to take on a much bigger audience -- anyone who believes the Bible. His premise is that evolution is fundamental to life science. If you deny evolution, you are holding back science, holding back reason, putting a stop to any intelligence at all, really.
I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems.
Really? Apparently he's unaware that modern science was forged by Christians who thought that a rational God would make a rational universe and humans wishing to know Him better ought to study His world to sort of "think God's thoughts after Him". Indeed, science itself isn't convinced. The headline reads, "Noted Atheist Philosopher Thomas Nagel: 'Defenders of Intelligent Design Deserve Our Gratitude'" and agrees that science is having a hard time coming up with answers to these big questions. Darwinism has already been trashed and replaced with neo-Darwinism which has its own set of problems. Indeed there is more than one well-educated scientist out there asking tough questions of the populist view of Evolution without getting satisfactory answers except the same type of thing that Nye offers here. "Believe what you want, but don't pass it on to anyone else." Or worse.

Bill Nye concludes with this:
You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I'm sure, will be, it just won't exist. There's no evidence for it.
Interesting call. Too bad he won't be around to find out if it's true. Unfortunately, there are only two possibilities here. Either he is right and Christianity with all its evidence and following is a 2000-year-old lie, or Bill is going to find out the hard way that he was wrong about that. I pray he will go with the other option -- a change of heart.

After you spend a moment praying for Bill Nye and others like him, take a moment to consider this question. Mr. Nye is concerned that we will need "scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future", which, by his definition, do not believe in Creation. Now, for more than 2 centuries this country has been voting and paying taxes with a largely Creationist belief system. So what is it, do you suppose, that Mr. Nye foresees will be voted on that requires an atheistic view of the origins of the universe?