Friday, October 31, 2008

Looking a Horse in the Mouth

Today, I met one of the "four horsemen" of the New Atheism (Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and Dennett) - Christopher Hitchens. He was debating Douglas Wilson (of Blog and Mablog fame) at Martin's Tavern in DC.

First impressions: Doug seemed like a very down to earth guy. Hitchens was more aloof, sitting by himself at the bar, and drinking (a lot!). He was drinking before the debate, finished a snifter (brandy? whiskey?) early, and I saw him drinking a glass of wine before the end. Doug got through about a half a pint of beer in the same time...

On the topic, they largely talked past each other. Hitchens brought up the old complaints about "how can any intelligent person believe this stuff", while Wilson hammered away at Hitchens foundations (specifically, the lack thereof). That is, Hitchens has only himself to declare acts good or evil. When someone else (Hitler, Stalin, etc.) uses those same criteria and acts differently, by what authority is Hitchens superior?

I did respond to Hitchens directly at one point. He asked if anyone knew God's truth (or will, I forget the exact phraseology). I raised my hand, and he looked at me. I said, "the Bible". Wilson quipped, "There you have it." (or the equivalent)

I thought the crowd would be about 50/50 (atheist/Christian). It certainly felt stacked in favor of atheists. My table had three atheists and me. I stayed about three hours after, giving a good defense for the faith.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Colin Powell

By now, everyone should of seen that Powell has come out for Obama.

I thought it interesting that he brought out several points:
  1. The economy
  2. The Supreme Court
  3. Palin's experience
  4. William Ayers
  5. McCain's bad campaign
I think the first point is telling. That people could allow a downturn in the economy to change a close race to a clear margin for Obama says a lot about our priorities as a nation (me first, no matter what the sacrifice).

I was surprised to hear him mention the second point. More conservative justices is the only way to overturn Roe right now (Democratic Congress, if you want the single issue voters, address our issue! Pass the Right to Life act or an ammendment!)

I was also surprised to hear the Democratic talking point on Palin's experience. Palin has more executive experience than Obama! Is Alaska no America? Well, was Arkansas? No one said Bill Clinton didn't have experience.

He also mentioned Ayers. He held the party line on this. If Obama wanted to defuse this, he could say something. The fact that he ignores it is more damning, to me. Of course, for McCain to focus on it is silly. The people considering Obama don't care if he is a terrorist. He is promising what they want, they don't care who gets killed.

The last point goes without saying. McCain is not getting a lot of traction, and making mistakes. Of course, you don't have to vote for him. Just make sure Obama loses. I will vote Constitution party, because my state is blue. If your state is close, vote McCain, else go Green or Barr, or whatever. Otherwise, the blood of 800,000 babies per year is on your hands. Figure 20 years (one generation) for a reset of the court. Thats 16 million, or about 1.6 Hitlers.

There, I've said it.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Book Review

"The Sovereign Grace of God In Salvation" (John Roden) - This book was a gift for all the attendees at a recent conference held by my church, along with other local churches. It is an excellent overview of the Gospel, and basic Christian theology. It is suitable for Christians, new or mature, and even unbelievers.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Gay Marriage

It actually bugs me when people connect gay marriage and abortion as "Christian issues". Al Mohler does an excellent job of keeping them separate, but he has taken to a whole series of posts on it...

Abortion is an issue of our right to life. The Constitution, as currently interpreted, has no provision for a right to life. This should be disturbing to anyone who might find themselves "unwanted" by those in power (where are the tinfoil hats?).

Gay marriage is actually a silly idea. As Pastor Wilson points out, defining marriage as between any two people just makes bisexuals feel left out. I'm not sure if Wilson realizes that polygamy and "group marriage" are probably right on the heels of these decisions...

Far more damage has been done to traditional marriage by "no fault" divorce, and Hollywood relationships.

Furthermore, there is no logical reason that our government should care who is married to whom. Christians can be married, and define marriage Biblically, regardless of what society is doing. Society is sinful and worldly, we should expect them to do these sorts of things.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Book Review

"Why I am So Wise" (Friedrich Nietzsche) - I'm struggling to find a word to describe Nietzsche. "Greatest" atheist? "Most devout" atheist? I like what Ravi Zacharias says, Nietzsche followed atheism to its logical conclusion - he died alone and insane.

I was hoping for a short book that would provide talking points for Nietzsche's atheism. He is not comparable to today's "new atheists", who want Christian values (equality, freedom, etc.).

Sadly, this book is not it. It is more of musings on his other writings, and provides little insight into his philosophy.

I did manage to extract some interesting things:
page 21:
"If I wage war on Christianity I have a right to do so, because I have never experienced anything disagreeable or frustrating from that direction"
This, after describing his father as "a preacher in his last years". Interesting.

It's clear Nietzsche never heard the Gospel. This is clear from page 80:
"The most general formula at the basis of every religion and morality is: 'Do this and this, refrain from this and this - and you will be happy! Otherwise ...'"
The Gospel (Good News) is that God has made the way for us to be right with Him. There is Bad News (TM), that we have broken God's Law (think, the Ten Commandments). We are rebels and criminals, and God must uphold justice.

We are commanded to turn from our rebellion (sin), and to trust God. Then, our crimes (sins) are attributed to Jesus (who has paid the price, by dying on the cross). And Jesus' perfect life (attested to by the resurrection) is attributed to us.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

More Prosperity

(sorry for the pun)

I have in the past talked about how the "Prosperity Gospel" burns me up.

Now, the indefatigable Albert Mohler has weighed in on the issue, as it relates to the current mortgage debacle.

I think this quote says it best:
"God caused the bank to ignore my credit score and blessed me with my first house"
Mohler comes right out, guns blazing:
"Prosperity theology is a lie, and a false Gospel."
Yea, Mohler!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


There is actually some interesting stuff behind thirteen.

In the original twelve tribes of Israel, the tribe of Levi was set apart as priests (Numbers 1:49-50). This included the partition of land. The Levites received no land for themselves, they were supported by tithes on the other tribes.

So certain counts have eleven tribes (because Levi is set apart). Sometimes, there are twelve (not counting Levi).

This is because Joseph took a wife from Egypt, and had two sons: Manasseh and Ephraim (Genesis 46:20). These are sometimes referred to as "half-tribes". Sometimes the two half-tribes are counted with the other ten.

So sometimes, there are 11, sometimes 12, sometimes 13.

We see a similar occurrence with the apostles. There were twelve apostles, minus Judas. Judas was replaced by Matthias. But, Paul was also a replacement. So, sometimes 11, sometimes 12, sometimes 13.