Thursday, August 30, 2007

Book Review

"The Probability of God" (Stephen Unwin) - This book is largely a gentle introduction to Bayesian probability math. It is also surprisingly funny (there is a good comparison between the anthropic principle and the "You are here" sign in a mall). I have never been a fan of Bayesian probability (I'm a Lotfian fuzzy logic fan). This book did more damage to my faith in Bayesian math than it boosted my faith in God :).

He does make an interesting proposition:
Belief(P) = Computed_Probability(P) + Faith(P)

Belief(P) < 100% (because if Belief == 100%, then Faith(P) = 1 - Probability(P), therefore Faith = Logical_amount_of_doubt, so Faith is unreasonable).

Unwin should stick to math. He goes on to argue that there is no basis for religious disagreement. That is because some statements must be taken on faith. His example:

P1 = Jesus is the Son of God

If someone does not have faith in this statement, it does not mean that they have faith that Jesus is not the Son of God at 100%.

True, at that level. But I would argue that you do not need to take each statement from the Bible on faith. All you need is:
1. Genesis 1:1 (therefore God exists)
2. Psalm 33:4 (God's Word is right and He works in truth)

There are other fortifying statements, but these make a good foundation. The rest of the Bible then logically follows.

Similarly, I would assume that a Muslim would only need take a few core statements from the Koran, and the rest should follow. So the Koran says (Sura 19.88-89):
"And they say: The Beneficent God has taken (to Himself) a son. Certainly you have made an abominable assertion"

Hmm. That seems kind of contrary. I mean, only one of us can be right, right? Either God has a Son or He doesn't.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Book Review

"The Exemplary Husband" (Stuart Scott) - This is an excellent book for any man who wants to be a Godly husband. It starts with a Gospel presentation for the unsaved, and should be very convicting for any false converts. It then proceeds into very convicting Biblical arguments for how a husband should serve God. Scott provides counsel for husbands of both saved and unsaved wives.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Was Mother Terea Saved?

Only God knows.

Ok, having got that out of the way, Internet Monk has an excellent post reflecting on how God can seem distant sometimes. In that post, he references a review of the new book revealing Mother Teresa's own spiritual troubles.

These letters are highly personal, and selected from times of confession and vulnerability. So we can't form an opinion from them.

But they can serve as an example for when we "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith" (2 Corinthians 13:5a). If someone I knew, claiming to be a Christian, said these things to me, what would I think?

She says some disconcerting things, "I spoke as if my very heart was in love with God — tender, personal love," she remarks to an adviser. "If you were [there], you would have said, 'What hypocrisy.'" She claimed to have heard Jesus talking to her.

The question is, did she do what she did out of gratitude for what God had done for her? Or did she do what she did in order to try to earn God's favor (or some burden of debt)?

A similar question is, why does the world respect her? Because of her dedication to God? Or because she was "better" than anyone else at doing good works?

What is the example of her life? Is she someone to idolize? (while seeing her standard as impossible to reach, so we don't even try?)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Law

My last post might seem to come down pretty hard on God's law. I have actually been summarizing Paul's comments. So let me move to Galatians 3:21a, "[Is] the law then against the promises of God? God forbid".

So what is the purpose of the Law? It is not (directly) for our salvation. This is the misunderstanding of the legalist.

Psalm 19:7 "The law of the LORD [is] perfect, converting the soul". Galatians 3:24, "Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [to bring us] unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith." And there it is.

The Law has been compared to a mirror, which shows us our true selves. Our self-image is one of self-righteousness. "I am a good person." "I am much better than most people." "I'm not a murderer." "I try to live a good life." "Of course God loves me, I'm great!"

But when we look into the Law, we discover we are not good in God's sight. God sees everything we've done, and all our thoughts. Jesus said it is our thoughts which make us unclean, even more than deeds. Because our thoughts determine who we are.

Romans 3:12b "there is none that doeth good, no, not one."

If we agree with God that we are not good, we see our need for a savior. If we humble ourselves, cry out to God for what we have done, turn our backs on our old lives, and trust in Jesus to save us -- we can be saved.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Legalism vs. Antimonialism

Antimonialism is an old word you don't hear very often. Literally, it is "against the law". It is characterized by people who believe they do not need to change their lives as a Christian. These people deny the transforming power of the Holy Spirit and live in sin, contradicting their statements of faith.

Legalism is the opposite extreme. A legalist raises our works (actions) to the point of salvation. In other words, "follow our rules or you're not saved". We are all born under the crushing weight of the Law. A burden which we cannot carry, which ultimately leads to death. When we are saved, we are released from this burden. The legalist returns to this burden.

The Bible makes it clear the proper course is through the middle. Our lives are too complicated to be governed by a set of rules. As Christians, we have freedom. But not everything is good for us. And we must not use our freedom to cause others to stumble or to keep people from hearing the Good News. At the same time, we must place God's will first. We know His will by being steeped in His Word, and applying Biblical principles. We should not be breaking the Ten Commandments. We should be loving others.

Friday, August 17, 2007

New Tag: Tension

This tag will be similar to "Controversy". In a controversy, one side is right and one is wrong, but we can't tell right now. Tension represents a situation with two extremes, where one must maintain the middle road.