No Apologizing

Christian Apologetic, and Social Commentary in a world gone mad

Category Archives: Theological Arguments

Faith, Reason or both?


Below is my submission to the field exam for my PhD application.  It is unaltered and unedited.  What you are about to read was produced in 2 hours and 20 minutes. All total it was 12 pages of content.  I will say up front if you have an ocd for grammar or punctuation…you may want to turn away as this is not my strength.  I tend to focus very heavily on content rather than grammar.  That is what editors are for…

What is the relationship between human knowledge gained through research in the social sciences (reason) and those truths gained through the study of the Word of God (Faith)?

Introduction

The debate between the integration of faith and reason has been going on for hundreds of years. By and large there existed a harmony between the two until the 19th and 20th century. During recent history a large divide has now separated both faith and reason and their individual pursuit of truth. This paper will take a look at the relationship between faith and reason. This includes a brief survey of the current positions, the author’s position on the relationship and the impact on ministry that integration of faith and reason would have.

Current Positions

In order to fully understand the relationship between faith and reason a brief survey will be conducted of the current positions. It should be noted that this specific topic has been discussed or debated for some significant time and most positions have not changed historically. Mankind has always struggled with the boundaries between faith and reason and the ability to strike a balance of sorts. The three dominant current positions can be defined as follows: faith and reason are compatible (compatiblism), faith and reason are incompatible (incompatiblism), and faith corrupts reason (post-modernistic incompatiblism).

Compatiblism

Compatiblism could be said to have its roots with Augustine. This view point has been slightly modified over time, and has had one or two deviations from its fundamental premise. The premise of compatiblism is that faith and reason are compatible. Compatiblism believes that there is a unique relationship between faith and reason that allows one to work with the other.

In this line of thought all truth is from God. Therefore, any truth that is discovered is of God whether it is discovered by science, or by faith. This also extends to the notion that an unbeliever, who seeks to discover a truth through reason and without faith, can indeed discover that truth. John Calvin stated “they are superstitious who dare not borrow anything from profane writers. For since all truth is from God, if anything has been aptly or truly said by those who have not piety, it ought not to be repudiated.”1 This view holds the position that man, though flawed is able to ascertain truth through human reason. However, that truth that he obtains is from and of God.

There are some fundamental assumptions with the position of compatiblism. Those who believe in compatiblism believe that there is an absolute truth that has been given by God. As a result, the search for that truth either through faith or reason will ultimately point to God. Thus, faith becomes a sounding board for reason.

Incompatiblism

The second position to be discussed is the position that faith and reason are simply incompatible. This line of thought can be dated back to Tertullian and can be seen as recently at Van Til. The premise behind incompatiblism is that man is fallen, and through a corrupt mind they are unable to reason truth for themselves. As a result, faith is required to be able to discover the truth.

In this sense the authority of scripture is more than enough and reason must be submitted to scripture, not vice versa. Van Til states “We cannot subject the authoritative pronouncement of scripture about reality to the scrutiny of reason because it is reason itself that learns of its proper function from Scripture.”2 This position views a humans ability to reason through the eyes of scripture only and that human knowledge cannot be obtained without the Bible.

The basic assumptions of this position are very similar to that of compatiblism. Incompatiblism believes that there is an absolute truth that has been delivered by God. However, incompatiblism places a heavy emphasis on the fact that man has a fallen mind and is thus unable to reason and discover God’s truth. This position no doubt comes from scripture similar to John 16 that states that Gods will lead us to all truth, and that His ways are beyond our ways.

Post-Modernistic Incompatiblism

The final position this paper will look at is the position where faith has corrupted reason. This can more adequately be described as a post-modernistic view of faith. This position holds that faith is a lack of, and requires no intellectual authority. As a result faith in anything is meaningless. They view faith as an impediment to discovering truth through the means a reason or human knowledge.

Richard Dawkins, a well-known critic of the Christian faith described faith as “the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”3 This clearly demonstrates a combative view of faith from a humanistic stand point. In this sense there is only one side to the ability to discover truth, and that is the human’s ability to reason.

The assumptions for the post-modernistic incompatiblist are that God simply doesn’t exist. They come to this conclusion based under the assumption that science has already proven that God does not exist. Therefore, they are able to draw a conclusion that faith in a God, that doesn’t exist, is a waste of time.

Faith and Reason

Prior to looking at the relationship between reason and faith it is important to set the appropriate definitions for each. The definition of faith can be found in Hebrews 11:1 where the author states “faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”4 This definition matches and perhaps is more refined than definitions that can be offered by secular scholars and dictionaries. Reason, can be defined as the discovery of truth through human means. Reason can be best described as a process to ascertain truth, with the conclusion being the discovery of irrefutable truth. Aquinas defines faith and reason as being two truths, “one to which the inquiry of reason can reach, the other surpasses the whole ability of human reason.”5 This notes the clear difference between the two from a basic definition perspective. Wilhoit comments on this further by stating that truth is “a question of origins – with faith representing the sphere of understanding as revealed by God in His Word, and learning representing the sphere of understanding as discovered and recorded by man.”6

There is a clear distinction between faith and reason in that one is obtained through human understanding, and the other is revealed by God.

Faith and reason most certainly have a relationship. The post modernistic view fails on the simple point that no matter what their own faith is, people will continue to have faith. The position of this paper is that faith and reason have three primary relationships: first, faith is dependent on reason; second, reason is not dependent on faith; and finally, faith can only exist in the absence of reason.

Faith is Dependent on Reason

When one looks at the very nature of faith it is belief in something that has not been seen. That being said there is a point in time where all faith will be revealed as either truth or not truth. In this sense we see that reason will ultimately provide a validation or invalidation of faith. Reason can serve in judgment of faith as long as the truth discovered by reason is absolute and without flaw.

John Locke concluded “reason is given the task of determining whether an alleged revelation is genuinely from God. Though it is certain that whatever God has revealed is true, reason must judge whether any particular revelation comes from God and a revelation should only be accepted if it has the backing of reason in this way.”7 This conclusion, while taken to an extreme can produce negative consequences, illustrates the point that reason will ultimately, in one day sit in judgment of faith. This is an unavoidable reality that ends with the second coming of Christ which at that point all will be revealed.

Faith can only exist without reason

This second point illustrates the reality that if a verifiable truth has been gained through reason, then there is no need for faith. To illustrate this point one need only look at the advancements in biblical archaeology and history. History now demonstrates to us that there was in fact a man named Jesus who walked around during the early first century. This requires no faith because human knowledge and reason has demonstrated this to be irrefutably true. This required an amount of faith on the part of those who lived in the 17th century (and others). In the 21st century it requires no faith to know that Jesus existed. However, it still requires faith that Jesus was the son of God, and that he arose from the grave 3 days after his crucifixion.

In this sense the need for faith will and always has been continuing to diminish as more and more truth is revealed by God. In Romans 1:18-23 Paul notes that God has made it clear to all so that none are without excuse. Aquinas stated in Questiones Disputatae de Veritate that truth discovered by both faith and reason are superfluous.8The truth of God has been available for us to find since creation. As we continue to find it through reason, it diminishes the need for faith and faith is replaced by God’s truth being revealed.

Reason is not dependent on faith

Scripture provides a clear picture that we all contain the faculty to reason and discover truth, and that it is not reliant on our faith in Jesus Christ. Looking at Matthew 16 we see Jesus talking to Pharisees about the red sky at night. The Pharisees are looking for a sign, and Jesus points out that their ability to reason is intact and working. They know that red sky at night is a sailors delight and that red sky at morning is a sailors warning. Jesus is able to rebuke them because they have the ability to reason and discern the truth, even without faith, yet they choose not to.

Those who argue that non-believers are unable to discover truth through reason are in denial as it contradicts the history of humanity. Mankind was given the ability to reason from God. Thus truth can, and has been discovered independently of faith. This demonstrates the nature of origins for the discovery of truth and the reliance of faith on reason for verification of that truth. Reason has the unique position of being able to validate faith, or theory. Faith is a belief that something is true, and reason is the process to ascertain the truth that one has faith in. As a result we see that reason is not dependent on faith, faith is dependent on reason and that faith can only exist in the absence of reason.

Fundamental Premise of Impact on Ministry

The integration of faith and reason is critical to the impact of ministry. It is important to note the author’s fundamental premise and presuppositions before discussing the impact on ministry.

The church should never lose sight of the fact that all truth is God’s truth, and that all truth that has been discovered whether through faith or reason will ultimately point to God. Holmes stated “if all truth is God’s truth and truth is one, then God does not contradict himself and in the final analysis there will be no conflict between the truth taught in scripture and truth available from other sources.”9 Additionally, one should take note that truth revealed by special revelation can only be attained by faith, and not through human reason. In this sense there are two truths, one discoverable by faith, and one discoverable through human knowledge.

Impact on Ministry

In reviewing the impact of the integration of faith and reason into ministry the author read through proposed methods to integrate faith and reason into ministry from Robert Harris. Harris concludes that in order to integrate the two we would need to bounce new knowledge off of the old verified knowledge. This would be to validate both faith against faith and reason against faith and reason. Harris also noted that it is important that truth and knowledge must transfer from one area to another. This is important in that there is one truth and that truth should be transferred from one area to another.

These two approaches offered by Harris provide a brief way to integrate both faith and reason in a way that will allow faith to be reasonably validated by reason and in a way that will trust that all truth that has been discovered will ultimately point to God and give Him glory.

Conclusion

The debate over faith and reason has heated up as of late with the New – Atheist movement. Their argument being that faith is a ridiculous notion that can never be compatible with reason. Hitchens stated “all attempts to reconcile faith with science and reason are consigned to failure and ridicule.”10 This author believes that Hitchens, and Dawkins statements must be taken with some validity and explored.

How does one draw a conclusion that so belittles the notion of faith? The author believes that it is because more times than not, these men have seen Christians express blind faith rather that reasonable faith. In fact, one could more than likely draw a comparison to Post-Modernism and New-Atheism to the downfall of intellectual Christianity. Atheists are able to draw the conclusions that Hitchens or Dawkins draw due to the fact that when challenged a number of Christians cannot express their faith from the perspective of reason, rather “you just gotta have a faith”.

Additionally, with tele-evangislm and a heavy emphasis placed on faith and spiritual revelation most Christians today do not feel the need to understand the historical background of Philippians or the arguments for law of first beginnings. This has lead to a dumbing down of Christianity and has validated the response from Atheists when Christians follow blindly.

Faith and reason do inevitably have a relationship that is organic and fluid. However both are dependent upon the one truth that has been delivered by God. This truth then should be extrapolated and applied where useful to benefit His kingdom. John 16 tells us that He will lead us to all truth. He will lead us with through special revelation or through His general revelation.

Reference List

Alexander Miller, Faith and Learning: Christian Faith and Higher Education in Twentieth Century America (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1977), p. 195 quoting John Calvin’s Commentary on Titus, Opera III

Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Contra Gentiles (Translated by Anton C Pegis) New York: Hanover House 1955-1957 (Book 1 Chapter 4)

________________ Questiones Disputatae de Veritate (Translated by James V. McGlynn, S.J. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1953.

Barth, Karl, The knowledge of God and the Service of God According to the Teaching of the Reformation. New York: Charles Schribers Sons, 1939.

Dawkins, Richard.  Untitled Lecture, Edinburgh Science Festival (1992)

_________________ The God Delusion, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company 2006 p. 346

Evans, C. Stephen Faith Beyond Reason Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998.

Harris, Sam, The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2005 p. 65

Harris, Robert J. Defining the integration of faith and learning. Virtual Salt 9/20/2003 http://www.virtualsalt.com/int/intdef.pdf

Hitchens, Christopher. God is not Great, New York: Hachette Book Group, 2007.

Holmes, Arthur The Idea of a Christian College Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975

______________ All Truth is God’s Truth (Downers Grove:

InterVarsity Press, 1977), pp. 53, 8, 14.

Jensen, Steven. 2009. “Faith integration and the irreducible metaphors of disciplinary discourse.” Christian Scholar’s Review39, no. 1: 37-55. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 14, 2013).

Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding er. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975 Book IV.

Paul II, John. “Encyclical Letter Fides Et Ratio”, 1998. http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_15101998_fides-et-ratio_en.html

Sproul, R. C. Defending your Faith an Introduction to Apologetics. Wheaton: Illinois, 2003.

Wilhoit, Mel. “Faith and Learning Reconsidered, the Unity of Truth.” http://www.iclnet.org/pub/facdialogue/9/wilhoit

Stott, John. Your Mind Matters. Leicester, England Intervarsity Press.

Van Til, Corenelius, The Defense of the Faith. Phillipsburg, New Jersey, Presbyterian and reformed publishing CO, 1955

1 Alexander Miller, Faith and Learning: Christian Faith and Higher Education in Twentieth Century America (Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 1977), p. 195 quoting John Calvin’s Commentary on Titus, Opera III

2 Van Til, Corenelius. The Defense of the Faith. Phillipsburg, 212. New Jersey, Presbyterian and reformed publishing CO, 1955.

3 Dawkins, Richard.  Untitled Lecture, Edinburgh Science Festival (1992)

4 All scripture quoted in the paper will be from the ESV version.

5 Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Contra Gentiles (Translated by Anton C Pegis) New York: Hanover House 1955-1957 (Book 1 Chapter 4)

6 Mel Wilhoit. “Faith and Learning Reconsidered, the Unity of Truth.” http://www.iclnet.org/pub/facdialogue/9/wilhoit

7 Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding er. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975 Book IV.

8 Thomas Aquinas. Questiones Disputatae de Veritate (Translated by James V. McGlynn, S.J. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1953.

9 Holmes, Arthur The Idea of a Christian College Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1975

10 Hitchens, Christopher. God is not Great, 64. New York: Hachette Book Group, 2007.

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A tale of two Christians


There are perhaps hundreds of examples (or even thousands or even hundreds of thousands) of when two Christians come to a different conclusion on the same topic.  Some of these differences could be as simple as disagreeing on who wrote the book of Hebrews, or something as complicated as the creation account in Genesis.  Having been in the apologetics game for a little over two years, I have had my share of disagreements with Christians on some theological matters.

Over the last two months we have had the ability to literally watch this unfold on national TV.  It was so subtle, that I doubt many of you tied these two events together to compare and contrast these two Christians.

What am I talking about?

About two weeks ago, President Obama, declared to the world that, based on his understanding of his faith, he believes homosexuals should be allowed to get married Here’s exactly what he said:

And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others.

But, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.

Compare and contrast this to Kirk Cameron, who stated the following when asked about same-sex marriage:

I believe that marriage was defined by God a long time ago. Marriage is almost as old as dirt and it was defined in the garden between Adam and Eve: one man one woman for life – ah till death do you part. So, I would never attempt to redefine marriage and I don’t think that anyone else should either. So do I support the idea of gay marriage? No I don’t.

Could there be a sharper contrast between two people when it comes to applying their faith?

One Christian is saying that same-sex marriage is okay because the Golden Rule says to treat others the way you would want to be treated, while the other affirms that marriage is defined by God, and is between one man and one woman.

These are mutually exclusive ideas, so one has to be right and the other wrong.  How are we to gauge which one is correct?  Since both claim to be Christians and because the Christian faith is rooted in the Bible we should look to what the it has to say about the topic, right?  Additionally, we have to assume that both hold the Bible to have some sort of authority, since both quoted it.

According to scripture (Specifically Acts 17:11) we should be like the Bereans and test everything that is taught against scripture.   Based on that, we have 3 specific points that we must review in order to come to an educated conclusion about these two different viewpoints: 1. What does the Bible say about homosexuality; 2. How does the Bible define marriage?, 3.  What does the Golden Rule mean?

So what does the Bible say about Homosexuality?  How does it describe God’s thoughts on it?

Lev. 18:22, “You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination.”

Lev. 20:13, “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”

1 Cor. 6:9-10, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Rom. 1:26-28, “For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper.”

So here we have two examples, two from the Old Testament and two from the New Testament.  All provide a clear example of what God thinks about homosexuality.  Please understand that I am not passing judgment on those that are homosexual.  This is God’s Word.  God’s Word is pretty clear.  Homosexuality is a sin, an abomination, and a detestable act.  There doesn’t appear to be any gray in this area.

How does the Bible define marriage?

There are several (and when I say several I mean numerous) Bible verses that speak directly to marriage.  A quick sampling includes Genesis 2:22 – 24, Proverbs 5:18-19, Proverbs 12:4, Matthew 19:4-6, 1 Corinthians 7:1-16, Ephesians 5:22-23, and Colossians 3:18-19.

The one that really sticks out is Hebrews 13:4 where the author writes Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”

According to the author marriage should be honored by all and the marriage bed kept pure.  God will judge those that do not keep it pure.  This includes those that are adulterers and the sexually immoral.  Adulterer is a fairly well defined and specific term.  Sexually immoral however, appears to be more general or a more encompassing phrase.  What does it refer to?  In the New Testament it typically refers to any sexual sin.  This would include homosexuality.  Here the Bible appears to be very clear that all must honor marriage (clearly defined as man and woman throughout the Bible) and to keep the marriage bed pure (excluding all sexual sin including homosexuality).

What about the Golden Rule?

This verse can be found in Matthew 7:12.  A basic summation of the Golden Rule is to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.  This is exactly as the President stated.  But what does it mean?  I found a great explanation of this in a commentary written by Matthew Henry.  From the golden rule we can derive 3 things: 1. We must do that to our neighbor which we ourselves acknowledge to be fit and reasonable; 2. We must put other people upon the level with ourselves; 3. We must, in our dealings with others, suppose ourselves in the same particular case and circumstances with those we have to do with and deal accordingly.

So what does all of this mean?

As Christians we are called to obey the word of God.  The Bible is considered the word of God thus we are called to obey it in its entirety.  This means that a Christian’s response to gay marriage must encompass all of the above, and not just one component.

It is clear from the scripture above that God considers homosexuality a sin.  It is also clear that marriage was designed by God to be a covenant relationship between a man and a woman for a lifetime.  We are also called to treat others the same way that we would want to be treated.  However, the way that Obama uses the Golden Rule redefines it in a way that basically says “I wouldn’t want someone else to tell me not to get married so I can’t tell someone else that they cannot get married”.  The use of the Golden Rule in this manner opens a Pandora’s box.  One could simply replace the “get married” with anything they like and the Golden Rule would apply (I wouldn’t want someone to tell me not to sell drugs to kids, so I don’t think drug trafficking should be illegal). I’m sure that President is a bright guy, but this line of “logic” is obviously absurd.

Where the Golden Rule does apply is in how we deal with those who are homosexual and support gay marriage.  We are to treat them with the same respect that we would want to be treated.  We would share a kind word with them in the same manner that we would like to have others share with us.  We would help them when they need help, be there for them when they need it…the list goes on.  Part of this includes loving them enough to tell them when they are doing something wrong.  This would be similar to a loving parent telling their child that what they are doing is wrong and they will get hurt if they continue to do it.

You see, it takes no love at all to condemn someone through silence or endorsement of something that is not good for them.  In the same way that silence can kill someone who is addicted to drugs, an open endorsement of something that is clearly wrong and sinful can be emotionally, physically and spiritually destructive.  That takes absolute love and the absolute application of the Golden Rule to tell someone that their choices are putting them in danger (see the Omega Study for empirical evidence as to why we are calling homosexuality and same-sex marriage “dangerous” – and that’s even ignoring the spiritual aspects of the issue).  The application of the Golden Rule here:  I would want/expect my friends and loved ones to tell me when I am doing something wrong, thus I would tell my friends and loved ones when they are doing something wrong.  The key here is to do it in a way that is loving and caring.  In this context a Christian who says to a homosexual, “I love you and I want what’s best for you… The lifestyle you have chosen is patently dangerous and because what you are doing goes directly against the Word of God, it is a sin…” demonstrates more love for that individual than the person who says “Do whatever makes you feel good…it’s all okay.”  The ability to stand in front of someone and state the truth is pure love and is the ultimate application of the Golden Rule.

We are not saying definitively that President Obama has rejected the Christian faith in its entirety – Whether the President is an evangelical Christian is a discussion for another time.  Specifically, in this post, we are simply pointing out that the logic behind his use of scripture as justification for affirming same-sex marriage is ignorant and misguidedly faulty at best and dangerously deceitful and manipulative at worst.

A detective who ignores evidence…is not much of a detective


So I have been studying the wonderful topic of hermeneutics.  If you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry, I am sure you are not alone.  If you have been reading our blog for a while, we have talked briefly about hermeneutics.  Stated simply hermeneutics is the study of the Bible.  Sure a textbook definition would be much lengthier, but this will work for now.  So I came across a topic while reading that I thought was interesting. You see, there are several wrongs ways of studying the Bible.  One of the more common wrong  ways  of interpreting the bible is called the selective evidence fallacy.  This fallacy occurs when we cite just the evidence that supports our favored interpretation or when we dismiss evidence that seems to argue against our view.  An analogy, imagine a detective going into a crime scene.  He dismisses the finger prints that clearly point to the person that did it, because he decided as he approached the scene that someone else did it.

The above example is something we hear of on several occasions.  Each time we hear about we are outraged that someone would do that.  The odd thing is that most people offer no outrage when people use this same approach when interpreting the Bible.

Take the book of Job for example.  Let me know show you selective evidence in practice from Kenneth Copeland.  This can be found at the following link:  http://www.kcm.org/real-help/article/acting-fear-look-jobs-life

We all know the Copeland has a favored interpretation that the book of Job has to fit into.  This would be an interpretation that would have to include the use of faith in some fashion.

The first point that Copeland makes:  The sacrifices that Job made were supposed to have only been once.  Since he did it multiple times, Job sacrificed in unbelief.  As a result, the thing he feared came upon him.

Here Copeland needs to find a way to blame Job for his misfortune.  The fundamental premise here is the Job no longer walked in faith, and as a result of this HE brought down this judgement on himself.  The reality is that there was nothing wrong with what Job was doing.  In fact the Bible mentions nothing about Jobs unbelief, rather we see God commending Job at the beginning.  As for the sacrifices… The author specifically mentions that this was his custom.  Another thing the Bible says is the Job was BLAMELESS, and UPRIGHT.  Initial Evidence here indicates that if Job was upright and blameless, and his sacrificing, must have been as well.  Remember it was his custom, something he regulary did.  If what Job was doing was wrong, would he be upright and blameless?  Probably not.  In order for Copelands theology to hold he must insert or read into some of the things in the Bible.  There is nothing in the beginning of Job which indicates that Job’s sacrifice is wrong.  Further more there is nothing to indicate that Job’s sacrifice was due to unbelief or a lack of faith.

The second point Copeland makes:  Job was not aware of a personal Devil.  Instead, Job believed that God was the reason for what happens to him.

Here Copeland again must fit the book of Job into his theology.  His theology regarding this is that God has no authority on Earth.  Here Copeland has to look for evidence to support his theology in order for his theology to hold true.  The book of Job however tells a different story.  Again, we see at the beginning of Job where God allows Satan to do things to Job to test his faith.  Copeland ignores key evidence at the beginning of the book where God grants authority for Satan to hurt Job in a test of his faith (Job 1:6 – 12 and Job 2:1 – 6), and where God explains how he is the Creator of everything (Job 38 – 42).  This evidence in the Book of Job is contrary to the evidence that Copeland submits (or lack of evidence).

The book of Job is an illustration of God’s authority on Earth.  This very point is contrary to Copelands theology which denies God’s authority on earth.  This is a perfect example of the selective evidence fallacy.

Can 2+2 = 4 and 5?


Is this really possible?

Really, we all know this is a rhetorical question.  We all know that 2+2 cannot equal 4 and 5.  It has to be one or the other, it cannot be both.  This principle can be found all over and really should be considered as solid as the law of gravity.  What I am talking about is the law of non-contradiction.  Simply stated an answer can be one thing and not another.  An apple cannot be an apple and an orange.  An oreo cookie cannot be a oreo, and a chips ahoy.  This is something that very few would take the time to argue.  However, when it comes to the Bible many people willingly accept the premise that it can be interpreted in a number of different ways.  Furthermore they accept that it is okay, and that those different interpretations should be acceptable…the phrase “we are all Christians” comes to mind.   However, this simply cannot be the case as it would break the law of non-contradiction.

A couple of points from the Bible.

Mark 11:23 has only one meaning.  Either Jesus is saying that we literally have the power and authority to make a physical mountain actually change locations, or Jesus was proving a point in a non-literal way.

Jesus is either God (part of the trinity), or He is not.

God is either King and Lord of this world, or He is not.

There is no middle ground. The point that I am trying to make is this, there are a number of church’s and religions that preach a different gospel, a different Jesus, and a different God from the one held to  in orthodoxy.  One of us is wrong, and the other is right.  The differences are so
vast, that there is no middle ground.

Trying to discern which is true can be a daunting task.  However, we have all been given the Holy Word, and have been given the singular truth.
What I am talking about is a little known word called hermeneutics.  Never heard of it?  Simply put hermeneutics is the study of
interpretation.  It is understanding the context of what you read in the Bible.  By context I mean using knowledge of the following items to determine what God is actually trying to say: who did God use to write it, who did they write it to, why did they write, what is the historical perspective and what light does other scripture (especially the surrounding scripture) shed on the passage.

The first thing you have to remember is that the Bible (though inspired by the Holy Spirit) was written down by men.  This is important to know as you read the Bible.  It helps to understand that Romans, was recorded by a real man named Paul…who had some of the same frustrations that you and I have, who got sick, experienced pain, and disappointment very much like we do. These things are reflected in his letters.  It is also important to remember that the letters of the New Testament were directed to a specific audience.  Very much in the same way that you would
write an e-mail to a dear friend, Paul wrote 1 Timothy to Timothy. Much like we’d write a memo or letter to a church, he penned Romans to a group of people in a church in Rome.

As you listen to sermons your radar should always be up to examine what your pastor is saying (cf. Acts 17:11).  Always compare what they are saying about a verse in the Bible with its context.  A good rule of thumb is: if a pastor pulls one line out of a Bible verse to illustrate a point, without adding context, there is a good chance that it has been taken out of context.  This is not 100% guaranteed, but it happens more often than you think (Especially with word of faith preachers).

Be sure that you are examining Scripture for yourself.  First and foremost I highly recommend gaining a better understanding of hermeneutics.
I would recommend a book called “how to read the Bible for all its worth” by Gordon D Fee and Douglas K Stuart.  This is the book I read when I began my journey.

Does Mere Christianity really represent Christianity?


Mere Christianity or Mere bunk?

In our 2011 Challenge we encouraged our readers to try their hand at reading and digesting a Christian book.  I recently read and reviewed C. S Lewis’  Mere Christianity (San Francisco:  Harper Collins, 1952, 1980. Pp. 227) for a class I took at Luther Rice Seminary and thought I’d share my thoughts with you here:

Sociologists have observed that the United States has lagged behind, or followed, the socio-political and cultural trends of Europe.  At times, in terms of things like fashion, for example, the lag-time is rather short, whereas in more foundational issues such as cultural and political trends, the time gap between progressive Europe and the more conservative America is quite broad.  This helps explain why a book that was written from radio-broadcasts given in Great Brittan during the 1940’s is still relevant in America today.  C. S. Lewis agreed to give the radio-talks, which were later edited and compiled as the book Mere Christianity (Click Here for a link to this book on Amazon.com), to explain and defend the Christian faith to a war-torn country “which had come to consider itself part of a ‘post-Christian’ world” (p. XIX).  Following that European trend, America is becoming increasingly post-Christian as well.  Mere Christianity has become a foundational classic in the field of apologetics. It has helped shape the way both apologists and Christians in general think and speak and set the standard for defending Christianity to a “post-Modern” or “post-Christian” world.  It is oft quoted by other apologists in their works; it has been used by others as a tool for thoughtful dialog with atheists and has served to strengthen the faith of Christians who have been confronted with their own doubts or by questions raised by atheistic family, friends and acquaintances.  Though it is not without its imperfections and some of the language, examples and illustrations given by Lewis are a bit out-dated, it is still useful for these purposes today.

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) taught at Oxford then later at Cambridge, where he was the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance English.  He was a prolific writer, credited with authoring more than thirty books including:  The Chronicles of Narnia, The Screw-tape Letters, and works such as Reflections on the Psalms.  Lewis’ understanding of literature, language and popular culture, as well as his high intellect and background as a staunch atheist, uniquely qualify him to produce this pioneering work.  He wanted to tell his country “in basic terms what the religion [Christianity] was all about” (p. XIX) not to “convert anyone to [his] own position” (p. VIII) but to help them understand Christianity’s reasonableness over other belief systems, including atheism.  Indeed, because he was formerly an atheist, Lewis was able to articulate and answer many of their common objections to Christianity in a gentle, respectful and convincing manner.  Additionally, Lewis felt being a layman helped him to better relay the basic tenants of Christianity to unbelievers in a more commonly understood way than a highly trained theologian (who may be tempted to expound upon issues that divide various Christian sects).

Lewis originally organized this book into three parts that reflected the formatting of the radio broadcasts.  In fact, the original work included contractions and italics designed to reproduce the conversational feel of the radio programs as much as possible.  The current revised and amplified edition still tries to maintain a “‘popular’ or ‘familiar’ tone” (p. VII) which allows Lewis’ logical case to shine through without the cumbrance of highly technical language. 

The book is now arranged into four sections that progressively take the reader on a journey of faith opening with the contention that there is such a thing as an absolute Moral Law that must originate from something outside this universe.  Lewis goes on to make the case that it is most reasonable to identify the origin of that Moral Law as the Trinitarian God of the Bible.  He used this foundation to demonstrate the need for man’s redemption to God through Jesus Christ.  Building off these notions, Lewis explains morality from a Christian perspective in the next “book”, and concludes that section with a description of what it means to truly have faith.  Lewis closes with a theological section that attempts to describe “what God is and what He has done” (p. 187) and how Christians should respond to that by becoming new creatures – something Lewis describes as being beyond human. The progression of his arguments throughout is logical and convincing and probably to the truly open inquirer, quite convicting.  It is likely that God has used this work to bring a great multitude of souls into His kingdom. 

This work is first and foremost an apologetic treatise.  Even though the final “book” seems more designed for one who has already made a decision to believe, the entire work contains a good amount of apologetic material.  It seems as though Lewis was doing his best to gently and respectfully walk people through a journey from ignorant unbelief to a reasoned understanding of Christianity that culminates in one placing their faith in Jesus and then living for Him – to put it in his terms, he is hoping that people will move from Bios (Biological life) to Zoe (Spiritual life) (p. 159, 177).  He goes about this by presenting a progressive, comprehensive and “common” view of Christianity.

In the preface Lewis stated that he wished “to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times” (p. VIII), but he strays from that goal as there are a few ideas that are expressly stated and others that are merely alluded to which many evangelicals would say at least partially depart from orthodox evangelical Christianity.  Some of these departures are perhaps caused by Lewis’ desire to present a universal or non-sectarian picture of Christianity while others are undoubtedly due to Lewis’ personal convictions. Either way, however, these notions that may even be viewed by some as heresy certainly do not represent the “common” Christian faith Lewis professed to be aiming to present.

One area where Lewis deviates from traditional-orthodox Christianity is that he betrays a belief in Darwinian evolution throughout.  Because Darwin proposed his theories in the 1800’s that cannot be a view held by Christians “at all times” (p. VIII).  Additionally, this view of creation undercuts a trust in biblical inerrancy, which is a core value shared by conservative-evangelical Christians.  It also seems that Lewis alludes to the doctrine of purgatory when he speaks of an “inconceivable purification… after death” (p. 202). This doctrine, of course, has been rejected by most protestant denominations and is a key point in one’s soteriology.  Lewis also seems to err in his soteriology by implying that one must clean themselves up prior to coming to faith in Christ when he said, “it is impossible for Him to show Himself to a man whose whole mind and character are in the wrong direction” (p164).  The final doctrinal error Lewis apparently held to is that he seemed to be at least partially an inclusionist. He said, “There are people in other religions who… belong to Christ without knowing it” (p. 209) – This is untenable from a “common” Christian perspective.

In spite of the teachings that are not common to all Christianity and/or are incompatible with traditional orthodoxy, there are several subjects where Lewis’ arguments are matchless.  Possibly the most useful of these from an apologetic sense is Lewis’ defense of Jesus’ deity (either He is a liar, a lunatic or Lord) (p. 52).  This is followed closely in importance by his convincing argument that our common sense of morality is strong evidence for the existence of the God revealed in the Bible.  Mere Christianity also begins a good preliminary discussion on the problem of evil (as Lewis presents the similarities between Christianity and classic dualism), and it contains an excellent response to atheistic objections that are rooted in the perceived hypocrisy of Christians.  These philosophical gems make wading through the theological problems and the difficulties created by the difference in time and culture well worth the effort.

The brilliance and impact of Mere Christianity cannot be denied; it is indeed a classic which has helped shape the standard for apologetics to post-Modern non-Christians, particularly with the issues listed above.  However, this work is far from the inerrant and inspired Word of God.  In fact, there are several significant topics in which Lewis does not hold to conservative evangelical Christianity.  If one just scans the table of contents they may be tempted to rely upon this book as a layman’s systematic theological handbook, but because of these issues, those wishing to fully understand orthodox Christianity should avoid employing Mere Christianity for that purpose.  Instead, one should learn to utilize the theologically sound arguments contained in this work as part of a more comprehensive apologetics repertoire, so that they may gently and respectfully “give an answer to everyone who asks [them] to give the reason for the hope that [they] have” (1 Peter 3:15).

What is it with laminin?


In our young history we have written 127 posts.  Of those, there is no dispute as to which are our top

A true sign from God?

two.  Both of them are on laminin.  Some statistics:  Laminin has been googled between 25,000 to 30,000 times in the last 30 days.  This seems to be a pretty steady statistic even beyond those 30 days.  Both of the laminin posts are the most shared posts that we have written as well.

I look at these numbers and think… “what is it with laminin?”  Why is this protein so interesting to people?

I get it.  The first time I saw Giglio’s presentation…in combination with the Corinthian scripture, chills went down my spine.  I believe that it is an illustration of the divine inspiration of the Bible.  Think about this for a second…there is no way that Paul could have known what a diagram of the laminin protein molecule would look like when he penned the words:

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (NIV)

That being said…

There are some who doubt that the design of laminin is intentional from God.  To be honest…there is no way for any of us to know the truth behind the design itself.  This is a topic that both Kevin and I have debated pretty regularly.  I think the design intentionally points to the cross… Kevin, on the other hand, is a little more skeptical.  The basis of the argument is really as simple as this…Is it intended as a message or sign from God?  All I can say is this…as Christians we believe in an intentional design, a specific creation.  God created the laminin protein…is it really impossible to believe that the imagery people have attached to it was intentional? 

Both of us answer this question with an emphatic NO – because with God all things are possible .  God is perfectly capable of doing this and sending messages any way He so chooses.  But the question remains… why is this protein so interesting to people?

After thinking this through, I believe the answer is simple:  people are, and always have been looking for a sign from God.  While some can look to creation and see it as the sign that God exists, others need to see something more explicit.  For some a true “sign” needs to be in your face and un-deniable.  All you have to do is look at how quickly people can find signs in everyday common items…like a piece of toast.  Laminin fits this category.

Don’t get me wrong.  I will not compare the design of laminin to a piece of toast.  One was created by God specifically (whether or not it was intended to “point to the cross”), and the other… well…it just exists. 

There is power in seeing a “sign” from God.  Many look at laminin as a sign…right, wrong or indifferent.  There are two things that can happen from this point: 

The first is that they look at laminin, and see a “sign” from God, and make no substantial life change.  They see the sign and cling to it as justification of their faith. This is not a good thing as they worship an image and not God himself.

The second is that they look at laminin, and see a “sign” from God, and use this sign as the springboard to their full fledged faith.  In other words, it is the catalyst that drives them to the next level.  This is what laminin should be. 

The cross signifies the sacrifice by our divine Savior.  The legal transaction that took place on that cross represents our sins, our transgressions AND it is the point in time where Christ won victory over Satan, sin and death.  We are free from punishment, because the punishment has been dealt…as long as we trust in the divine (resurrected) Christ and repent of our sins. 

Salvation cannot be achieved any other way.  Not only would worshipping an image (such as laminin) be violating the first and second commandments, but it would also short-circuit the type of abundant life Jesus said he wants for you in John 10:10. 

Laminin can be viewed as a reminder of the transaction.  Laminin is not THE transaction itself.  So while

Kevin and I can agree to disagree on the degree to which God intended the shape of laminin molecule itself to point people to the cross, we both can agree…that whatever you believe about laminin, it is not a replacement for salvation – and that is FAR more important.

Forget the Technicolor Dream Coat… What do we REALLY learn from Joseph?


If you’ve ever been to Sunday school or if you’re an Andrew Lloyd Weber fan, you are probably familiar with the Old Testament story of Joseph… You know, the favorite

Just a musical? Think again

son of Jacob, who at age 17 flaunted that he’d dreamed that his family would bow down to him one day. The one with the awesome (Technicolor) tunic… The one who had brothers that wanted to kill, but sold him into slavery to Egypt instead.  And when he got to Egypt, his master found out that he was quite a good administrator (because he was favored by God)… BUT he was thrown into prison because he rejected his master’s wife’s “advances” and she lied about who assaulted who… Then in prison, his administrative skills shine through again and he is placed in charge of the whole facility and then, one day, interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s baker and butler (one with good news – the other with bad), only to be forgotten by his new-found “friend”.  But when Pharaoh dreamed a couple of “funky” dreams, Joseph is called upon to interpret them… The news:  That the region was going to have 7 years of plenty followed by 7 years of devastating famine and that Pharaoh needed to get ready… Well, Pharaoh did get ready by placing Joseph in charge of the preparations and making him second in command over all of Egypt.  When the famine hit they were able to sustain the lives of everyone around including the treacherous brothers who came calling for food, but didn’t recognize their dear bro, Joe… Well, after a series of tests Joseph reveals himself to his family, reunites with them (including dear old dad) and sets them up for prosperity for the foreseeable future, by getting them jobs and homes in the lushest part of the land…

If you are unfamiliar with the story, let me encourage you to watch the musical (one of my personal favorites), or better yet read all about it in Genesis 37, 39-50.

But simply recounting the story isn’t my goal here (nor was it my goal when I preached on this yesterday).  Instead, let’s briefly look at what can be learned from this amazing story.

The way I (and others before me) see it, there are three basic over-arching lessons we can learn from the life of Joseph… Depending on their particular theological bent (Calvinist or Arminian), most protestants will find themselves gravitating toward either the first or the third of these lessons… But I believe that the truth lies somewhere between these two extreme positions and it is the second lesson that brings balance to the issue… I think it’s so cool how God has chosen to demonstrate this truth at the very beginning of the Bible – I wish more of us would recognize that and bring more balance to our theological grids and be more gracious and loving and cooperative with each other (but that, perhaps, is an argument for another day).

The first lesson we see in Joseph’s life is that God is in Control – at ALL Times & in ALL Circumstances (cf. Genesis 45:5 and 50:20). This is true even when things make little to no sense to us… When you’re brothers beat you up and sell you into slavery… When you’re boss’ wife makes passes at you and then cries “rape” when you reject her advances… When you are forgotten and rejected by the one to whom you did that huge favor… When you don’t know how you’re going to take care of your family… When you’re company down sizes… When you have to tolerate a boss that is unreasonable… When you unexpectedly lose a loved one… When disease strikes your family… When the national and global economy seems to be swirling down the drain… When you’re surfing and get your left arm bitten off by a shark!!! 100% of the time God is in control, He is sovereign. His ultimate plans will not be overthrown – He already is the victor over sin, death, Satan and demons and anything else that would dare to rebel against Him.  What’s awesome about this is that if we are His child then we too have been made more than conquerors with Him!

Why are we able to share in His victory and rest in His sovereignty?  Because of the second and most pivotal lesson:  He really does Love us – and always will no matter what it looks like (cf. John 3:16, 1 John 3:1 and Romans 8:37-39).  God cares for us not only as friends, but as His children… and He is NOT a dead-beat dad or disengaged father! He loves us immeasurably and perfectly and wants what’s best for us (even if that creates a great amount of pain and anguish for a season).  He wants to see us grow and He wants us to reflect His glory and share in His Kingdom, but to do that, we’ve got to be with Him in the fight!

That brings us to our third lesson: Our Choices Matter – Because God wants to use us (cf. Joshua 24:15; Romans 12:1-2). Because of the personal cost, many don’t want to join with God or be a part of His family, others who are on His team try to stay on the side-lines as much as they can… They’d rather bop along doing their own thing while giving deference and “worship” to Him once a week (or less) and the rest of their lives they act as if there is no God… This is much the same as was the case with Joseph’s family and this path has devastating consequences.  I told my church yesterday that because of God’s love and faithfulness, He was going to get Joseph (or someone else) down to Egypt to preserve the family (so that He could keep His promise to Abraham), but because of the horrible choices on everybody’s part (Joseph’s early arrogance, the brother’s jealousy and deceitfulness, Jacob’s favoritism, Potiphar’s wife’s lust, Potiphar’s indiscretion and lack of justice, etc.) Joseph was forced to travel just about the most painful road possible to save many lives and preserve God’s promise.  There are several points in the story where Joseph’s suffering could have been short-circuited had someone made a better choice, but they never did until the end.

You might be thinking, well, that stinks for Joseph, and those are nice lessons, but how do I apply them today?  First and foremost, we must Love Him and Trust Him with our whole lives (Past, Present and Future – Heart, Mind,  Body, Soul) (cf. Mark 12:30 and Proverbs 3:5-6)! Much like Bethany Hamilton did when faced with horrific tragedy (her wonderful story of faith and purpose is retold in the new movie Soul Surfer).

We then demonstrate our Love for Him through making right choices (unlike much of Joseph’s family and “friends”).  Of course, the first right choice, after we have trusted Jesus with our lives, is to choose to obey Him (cf. 1 John 5:2-4)! The next choice is also a matter of obedience to Him and that is to love other people (even the ones who are hard to love) (cf. Mark 12:29-31 & 1 John 4:7-8, 20-21)… and part of loving them is to forgive them when they fail you (even if that has massively painful consequences for you – cf. Colossians 3:13) – We see this played out beautifully in Joseph’s life when he forgave his brothers and chose to continue to walk in that forgiveness even after their father had died… I know that is no easy task.  In fact, CS Lewis once said “There is no use in talking as if forgiveness were easy… For we find that the work of forgiveness has to be done over and over again. We forgive, we mortify our resentment; a week later some chain of thought carries us back to the original offense and we discover the old resentment blazing away as if nothing had been done about it at all. We need to forgive our brother seventy times seven not only for 490 offenses but for one.

It’s never easy, but desperately needed because when we get on board with God’s program things far more amazing than a Technicolor Dream Coat happen!  Like, He will work out all circumstances for our good and for His Glory (cf. Romans 8:28)! Also, our hearts will start to change from unfulfilling selfishness to a life that overflows with our hearts’ desires… IF what we most love is Him and what we most desire is what He loves and desires (cf. 1 John 3:21-24)!

So, I guess what both stories (Joseph and Bethany Hamilton) boil down to is this: Because of His sovereignty and love, God is worthy of our trust and our Praise and our adoration, even when things don’t make any sense, and we get to choose to give it to Him!

What do you mean I’m a murderer!?


We have hit the 6th commandment mark in our series on the 10 commandments (link here to sermon).  Here is a commandment that is laced with controversy and unintended consequences.  Murder is a harsh word, that (in some circles) is politically charged and could cause many to recoil. And it should.  Our political climate and cultural climate has begun to desensitize us to the “condition” of human life.  I am not sure that a week goes by were murder is not shown on tv, or played out in video games.  This commandment covers the topics of war, abortion, manslaughter, and outright murder.

So when we look at the 6th commandment murder must be defined.  My pastor defined murder as the following “Any act of violence against an innocent human being out of hatred, anger, malice, deceit or for personal gain by whatever method that results in death.”  This is a definition that all of us (including most laws) will agree with.

 I want to talk about the elephant in the room that everyone can see, and I want to talk about the 800lb Gorilla in the room that very few see.

 First to the 800lb gorilla…all of us, at some point, more than likely have committed murder.

 I wanted to start here because if you ask the average Christian, atheist, or agnostic if they have ever committed murder they would all answer no.  They would be about 50% correct.  The truth is that 99.9% of those same people have committed murder and have no idea that they have…

 Jesus is known for ramping things up…so to speak.  He does so with the 6th commandment.  The point here is pretty straightforward.  The Bible says that anyone who is

We are all guilty...

 angry with his brother is guilty of murder (Matthew 5:21-22, 1 John 3:15).  So the act of physical murder is one thing, but anger and hate is murder as well?  Does that even make sense?  ABSOLUTELY!  The point that Jesus is making is that the intent in your heart matters!  God can see through to your heart and knows what your heart is saying….even if your exterior is smiling at the person you hate.  Let this soak in for a second…Every person you have hated…you have murdered…in your heart.  That would make some of us psychopaths. 

 The fact that this is a HIGH standard is intentional.  Raise your hand if you have hated anyone.  Okay know that all of our hands are up…including mine…would you have ever thought that the emotion of anger and hate was tantamount to murder?  This is undeniably a high standard and underscores the reason for our need for salvation.

Now to the elephant…abortion.  Abortion is, and has become a very politically charged issue.  Many argue that abortion is a moral issue.  What is the moral issue?  A woman has a right to choose what to do with her body.  However, I would argue that choice is not a moral issue.  Moreover, I would argue pro-choice is simply a position that could be applied to any issue where a choice is required…such as school vouchers (opportunity for parents to send their kids to a school of their choice), or the gun issue (my choice to have a weapon in the house).  The moral issue at play for the issue of abortion is this, is it right or wrong to murder?  Now, I can immediately envision the embolism that is taking place in the heads of pro-abortion individuals.  Hear me out.  Pro- Abortion and pro-life individuals both agree that murder is wrong.  No one on either side of that argument would defend murder as defined above.  The question then isn’t whether or not murder is wrong; because we all know that it is…the question then becomes when does life begin?  Is abortion in fact murder?  Check this out…In Roe v. Wade the US Supreme Court declined to comment on the issue of life.  Rather a neutral position was declared saying that it wasn’t necessary for them to know when life began.   Doesn’t that seem odd?  A court ruling that allows for the termination of a pregnancy ignoring the question of whether the fetus is in fact alive.  Now Planned Parenthood v. Casey does define when life begins (yes a court did this) however, the morality (which is where I am attacking here) was as vague if not more vague from this ruling. 

 Consider the following quote from the Casey case: “Some of us as individuals find abortion offensive to our most basic principles of morality, but that cannot control our decision. Our obligation is to define the liberty of all, not to mandate our own moral code…at the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”  Now that you have read this…re-read it while considering the following:  1.  The court mandated it’s own moral code, while stating that it could not. 2. Based on the above one could argue that a murderer defines his existence by murdering.  The above statement could be used to justify anything under the guise that it defines a person’s existence, and meaning.

 Now, in our small group we discussed this topic at length.  It was brought up that scientific studies show that the cells do not enter the womb until the 6th day  of pregnancy (yes this is relevant.)  Looking at abortion statistics from a 2006 CDC survey, 40% (487,000) of abortions take place AFTER the 9th week and 60% (755,000) less than 9 weeks.  We don’t know how many abortions take place from day 6 and before, but I am willing to wager not very many considering that most do not find out they are pregnant until the missed cycle (which could be anywhere from 3 weeks).  Consider the above statistics when reading the next paragraph.

 According to Psalm 139:13-16 God knit us together in the womb. He sees our unformed body.  He wrote out our history before we saw one day.  Psalm 139 offers instruction as to when life begins.  So there could be two sides to this argument… the Conservative, life begins at conception, or the liberal, life begins when God knits us together in the womb.  Both conclusion could be had from Psalm 139.  To rephrase…life begins at conception or at the time we enter the womb for knitting (day 6).

 To summarize…God has provided a timeline to when life starts.  The courts have been put into a position to try and define when life starts, but they relegate it to choice.  If life starts (even at the latest) 6 days after conception, then abortion at any point beyond that has to be considered murder, according the definition provided above. 

 While the argument about abortion is indeed heated, one must remove the cultural issue (choice) and focus on the moral issue at hand (murder).  When you focus on the true moral issue of murder, the only question that exists about abortion is, when does life begin.  If the argument for abortion looked specifically at that question…I have a feeling that the tone would be much different.

Earthquake in Japan


There is no doubt that all of us have seen images and video of the earthquake in Japan.  The death toll is rising.  The damage is unimaginable.  All of us should be praying or continue to pray for the people affected by this disaster.  Disasters like this seem to draw attention to God.  Some, will look at God and demand answers, while others will use it as another reason to not believe in God. 

God has provided those answers for you.  Below are some of our posts that deal with disasters.  We should be doing everything we can to help the people of Japan.  Be praying for mercy and grace for the people affected by this disaster.

Challenger Disaster Anniversary

Is God Evil?

Why does God allow bad things to happen?

Also please consider the urgency in which our lives need to change.  Do not delay any longer because YOU don’t know the time or the hour of your own death.  100% of us will die at some point.  There is no guarantee for tomorrow.  Disaster’s like this are a perfect demonstration of that.  We all need God’s salvation.  Repent from your sins.  Accept Christ as you Lord and salvation.  You cannot prevent death, but you can prevent eternal damnation.

 18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

Romans 8:18-21

It’s the FINAL COUNTDOWN!


D'Oh! Is it really?

Okay folks, I am sure many of you have begun to think about everything that is happening in the Middle East.  I certainly have.  Really how could you not.  We are feeling the impact in our pocket books from rising gas prices!  But there is something else happening here.  On Sunday my Pastor offered a brief comment followed by a call to prayer for our nation.  Basically, a lot of things are beginning to unravel or have the appearances of unraveling.  Of course, these comments get the wheels turning.  In December we had dead fish and birds…many thought that this was a sign.  While, I highly doubt that this was a sign…The things happening in the Middle East most certainly could be a precursor to the second coming.

Let me say this before I continue.  No one knows the time or the place of when Christ will return.  Least of all me.  However, the Bible does seem to offer indications of when the time is near, and certain events that take place just before the tribulation.  These are the signs that we should be looking for as Christians.  But folks, if you have friends that have not come to Christ…this would be a good time to begin share your faith with them.  The end may not come in our life time, but their end will most certainly come.  Whether it be from tribulation, old age, or a random accident…the truth is that 100% of us die.  I believe that God is very interested in whether or not we have fulfilled the Great Commission and we will most certainly hear about it as we stand before him.  The clock is ticking…what are you waiting for?

Before we get back to the Middle East let me take another quick detour.  Look at Galatians 4:4.  Paul says that Christ came when the fullness of time came.  Christ came into a world that was prepared and ready for Him, and the spread of the Gospel.  The time had to be just right in order for Christ to preach his word, be rejected and crucified, and for the Apostles to be able to go forth with the good news.  Now many things were needed to make this happen.  Here is a small list… Roman roads, Roman postal system , Israel returning to the promised land, and relative peace.  Overall it took about 500 years for the social, political and architectural circumstances to be prepared for what took place in the New Testament.  Without any one of the factors above… the fullness of time is incomplete.  And so it is today.

When we look at the events taking place throughout the world and ask the question “Are we near the end?”,  I believe that we have to look at it through the same prism.  Is the world in a place where the events depicted in the apocalypse can happen in a relatively short amount of time?  In short, it appears that the answer is yes.  There is a lot of speculation surrounding the timing around the tribulation, rapture and second coming.  The only thing we know for sure about the timing is that the Bible says he will come like a thief in the night and that people will be caught off guard.  This would lead many (including myself, after some convincing from KB) that the world will be caught off guard by the end of times.  However, there are some clues in scripture that allow us to know that certain parts of Revelation are possible NOW that haven’t been before.

 To be fair, many in the past (dating all the way back to the Thessalonians) have thought the end of the world was near.  They have never been right.  Why?  Because certain events depicted in Revelation would require (by our interpretation) certain technologies to easily occur.  This is not to say that God cannot make it happen simply because he wants it to, it is to say that God has made it happen through “invention inspiration”.  Here is an example to consider:  Revelation 11:1-14 talks about two witnesses with whom the whole world is familiar and over whom everyone gloats when they are martyred.  How is it possible that everyone will see their dead bodies and gloat?  Before the invention of satellite communications and global media this was not literally possible. However, consider that there is now no delay in news (such as what is happening in the Middle East) being delivered to your television, radio, computer or smart-phone.  We are able to see the events unfold in real time – no delay, making the prophecy in Revelation 11 a literal possibility.   

If you look specifically at the current situation in the Middle East, you see some very interesting socio-political events playing out.  To be more direct… do the events taking place in the Middle East set the stage for the tribulation?  I would argue/speculate, yes.  The situation we are looking for are circumstances that would lead to a need for a treaty with Israel.  When you look at a country like Egypt (which has been at relative peace with Israel) there is now a sudden power vacuum that has been created.  Much like post WWI Germany, many are positioning themselves to have the controlling interest of Egypt and Libya.  Some of these groups are openly hostile towards Israel. 

There is no doubt that the end is nearer now than it has ever been.  That is not to say that it is next year, or 5 years from now…but I believe these events are setting the table for a soon coming end.  This, of course, is speculation…I cannot definitively prove it beyond doubt.  Anyone that tells you that they happen to know the date and time is kidding themselves or straight up lying to you.  But as I stated before, start sharing Christ’s love with your lost friends right now.  Even if the end doesn’t happen in our life time…our death is certain.  We will all perish.  Tell them about the good news.  Tell them the reason for your hope!

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