Saturday, February 28, 2009

Offended

I've had people tell me proclaiming the Gospel is "hateful". Some find it rude, offensive, intrusive, unwanted.

Al Mohler tells of an interesting trend - politically correct editing of Christian messages.

Mohler is concerned with the "culture war" aspects of this story - even to the point where he agrees with arch-atheist Barry Lynn:
"The only thing worse than having these prayers in the first place is to have them vetted, because it entangles the White House in core theological matters."
"I rarely find myself in agreement with Barry Lynn, but I am with him on this issue -- at least with respect to his argument that this practice 'entangles the White House in core theological matters.'"
I am concerned more with the theological aspects. In particular, one statement by Dan Gilgoff:
"a black Baptist preacher delivered a prayer that carefully avoided mentioning Jesus, lest he offend anyone in the audience"
First, quickly, I am amused by the irony. If Jesus is a myth, or just a teacher (as atheists assert) - why the offense? No one complains about the mention of Zeus or Gandhi...

More importantly, the Scripture:
"even as it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense: And he that believes on him shall not be put to shame." Romans 9:33
Jesus is the rock of offense, the stone He spoke of in Luke 20:18 (c.f. Matthew 21:44):
"Every one that falls on that stone shall be broken to pieces; but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will scatter him as dust"
We must throw ourselves on this stone, and be broken, and repent - else, He shall grind us to powder at the judgment.
"You saw until a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon its feet that were of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken in pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing-floors; and the wind carried them away, so that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth." Daniel 2:34-35

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Resurrection

Pastor made a good point several Sundays ago. We need to be more thoughtful in including the fact of the Resurrection in our witnessing.

There is a point made in the "Two Ways to Live" audio. Christians are often divided about use the resurrection as a kind of "silver bullet". I myself am skeptical that a carnal man will understand or care about the resurrection. He rejects all miracles, what does this particular one have to do with him?

But it is shown repeatedly in the Bible, that the fact of the resurrection is simply stated (Acts 2:32, Acts 3:15, Acts 4:2/10 [Peter to the Jews], Acts 5:30 [all the Apostles to the Jews], Acts 10:40 [Peter to Cornelius], Acts 13:37 [Paul to the Jews of Antioch], Acts 17:3 [Paul to the Jews of Thessalonica]).

In none of these cases was the fact of the miracle used as proof or argument. It is simply stated. I think there is almost a logical or legal appeal happening. "God raised Him from the dead - showing that He did not deserve to die - death had no hold on Him - He has defeated death".

I am going to continue working on this. The resurrection needs to be proclaimed, and in a way which can have effect on people today (even if only to make them think about rejecting it). Not easy in a world that rejects miracles...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Suicide Attacks

Interesting article from Science Daily: "Collective Religious Rituals, Not Religious Devotion, Spur Support For Suicide Attacks".

The report comes from a survey of Palestinian Muslims. The conclusion is based on two facts:
"The researchers found that devotion to Islam, as measured by prayer frequency, was unrelated to support for suicide attacks. However, frequency of mosque attendance did predict support for suicide attacks."
This is an interesting analysis of the psychology behind this behavior. But it ignores the underlying phenomenon - bad theology.

There is so much interplay of bad theology here - I don't know where to start!

First we have the scientists involved. They cannot appeal to any sense of right and wrong (they're post-moderns). So, it is simply a matter of trying to figure out what is driving this "undesirable" behavior. They're also committed to an atheistic mindset: the idea that there really is a God - who gives explicit commands, which must be obeyed - is completely unimaginable to them.

Then we have the faithful Muslims. They are true to their theology - killing unbelievers (although there is some disagreement as to whether it is permissible to commit suicide while doing so). They must work to earn God's favor, and rigorously follow all of God's commands (as given in the Koran).

Finally there are the "cultural Muslims". Like there "cultural Christian" relatives, they have little knowledge or interest in theology. They are simply participating in common activities.

The researchers then try to wrap things up with some "all religions are the same", saying:
"In the last experiment, the psychologists surveyed members of six religious majorities in six nations (Mexican Catholics, Indonesian Muslims, Israeli Jews, Russian Orthodox in Russia, British Protestants and Indian Hindus)... These results also showed that support for parochial altruism was related to attendance at religious services, but unrelated to regular prayer."
Of course, it ignores the fact that Catholics, Jews, Orthodox [Christians], and Protestants do not condone killing unbelievers.

Also, I am unaware of any measure of Christians faithfulness that does not include both regular group attendance (Hebrews 10:25) and regular prayer (numerous references to "pray always").

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Soli Deo Gloria

Perhaps the least remembered "Sola", is "Only for the Glory of God". That is - all of creation, all of history, all of humanity - is for the glory of God.

Albert Mohler tackles head-on a common complaint of those who reject God's glory.

Once again, Mohler hits the nail on the head. If we were to behave as God does (doing all things for His glory), we would be megalomaniacal narcissists.

But we are not God.

That is the point most forget.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Chimera

A chilling story from Science Daily. I remember when Britain authorized the production of human-animal hybrids (sometimes called "chimera", NPR has a story from 2007).

Of course, these are not true hybrids. They are taking the nucleus from a human cell, and placing it into the egg of an animal. This is just human cloning, using an animal cell as the "structure". The animal cell contributes zero DNA (although the mitochondrial DNA is from the animal).

The primary danger of this research (besides the risk of creating an army of half-men/half-cow overlords!) is the notion that these embryos are somehow "not human". Then, it will be ok to destroy them.

The Science Daily article has shown this research to be a failure. We can be thankful.

The article reveals one of the unspoken problems with ESCR. The availability of human eggs.

You see, even if some miracle treatment were possible with ESCR - there are not enough human eggs to make it widely available!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stem Cells Again

According to this article, +1 for adult stem cells - embryonic cells -> still 0.
"This is the first time we have turned the tide on this disease"

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin and Slavery

CNN has an interesting take on Darwin's birthday.
"A major driving force behind Darwin's research was his own disdain for slavery, prejudice and human suffering."
"Disdain", really? I guess that comes from things Darwin said about slavery. But it doesn't follow from his books...

The first edition is available from Project Gutenberg. The original title is more informative: "THE PRESERVATION OF FAVOURED RACES IN THE STRUGGLE FOR LIFE".

In "Descent of Man", he says:
"At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilised races of man will almost certainly exterminate, and replace, the savage races throughout the world. At the same time the anthropomorphous apes, as Professor Schaaffhausen has remarked (18. 'Anthropological Review,' April 1867, p. 236.), will no doubt be exterminated. The break between man and his nearest allies will then be wider, for it will intervene between man in a more civilised state, as we may hope, even than the Caucasian, and some ape as low as a baboon, instead of as now between the negro or Australian and the gorilla."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

How Persistent is it?

An interesting article on "persistent vegetative state".
"four of the seven patients showed cerebral activation in response to sound"
"the researcher tells SINC 'although they look or cry, we do not know whether or not the patient is processing the information, whether they do it automatically or whether they do it consciously.'"
I'm not sure how "automatic crying" works... is that like "automatic writing"?
"Studies such as this one do not make it possible to conclude that the patients 'understand' language in the way that healthy people do"
I guess it depends on how you understand "understand"?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Roman Primacy

I can't help but read some Catholic polemics ("Journey Home" anyone?). It's like a train wreck - you can't look away...

The Ignatius Insight blog had an interesting link (the link has died, a search for "ravenna" at HPR can bring it back, or check the Google cache) on the "historical fact" of the Roman Primacy.

Of course, it is a fact, in terms of "something that actually happened".

An interesting quote:
"our Lord Jesus Christ gave the ministerial leadership of his Church to Peter and intended this office (like the Church itself) to continue permanently"
Peter had the office and gift of apostle. This is effectively a form of continuationism (the opposite of cessationism).

The Internet Monk recently commented on "The Coming Evangelical Collapse". In part 2, he sees a strong movement toward Charismatic-Pentecostal theology. This theology is also strongly continualist (I recently attended a church headed by an "Apostle").

Interesting times...

Monday, February 9, 2009

Prayer Breakfast

Doug Wilson has an insightful (as ever) view on comments from our President at the recent prayer breakfast.

Obama said:
"There is no God who condones taking the life of an innocent human being."
I'll repeat what I said there, here:

Obama's theology is clearly lacking.

First, there is only one innocent human being.

God had Him beaten and nailed to a cross.

Second, millions of "innocents" (as close as we can get) do die (many thanks to Obama and his ilk)!

So, is God powerless, or does God allow ("condone") it?

Why?

Or is there no God?

Does Obama know what theology is? Can he make a logical statement about it?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Humans and Apes

95% the same right? Well, 95% of 1%...

This is something I've known, but it is good to see it again.

Key points:
"compare the entire genome, not just a selected small fraction of the gene-containing portion known to code for proteins, which in the human genome is only 1 percent of the DNA." (emphasis added)
I'll not comment on the irony of applying an analysis of material created by intelligent agents (books) to analyzing DNA...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Why Aren't We Funding This?

Stem cells reverse paralysis in animals.

It's a really interesting read, when you are scanning for whether these are "adult" stem cells, or embryonic (ESCR). A careful read reveals:
"the presence of these stem cells in the adult human spinal cords"
So, one more cure for adult stem cells - still no application for embryonic stem cells.

I like what one commentator said - that ESCR is such a bad investment, only the government can be made to pay for it!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Duty to Die

Albert Mohler has been writing a series of posts on the type of reasoning that permits abortion. He has some excellent points in part four.

As always, Mohler gets right to the point:
"the Germans actually had a medical philosophy - Lebensunwerten Lebens - 'life unworthy of life'"
This is a point I have even heard from people who claim to be Christians! That these babies are better off murdered than to live an unhappy life.

Mohler takes the next step:
"the 'right to die' became a 'duty to die'"
I am reminded of a Star Trek the Next Generation episode.

There was a planet whose star was about to go nova. The planet had a mandatory euthanasia policy, and the lead scientist on the project to halt the nova was nearing the age limit.

At first, the crew convinces him to seek asylum, and continue his work. A tearful plea from his daughter convinces him to be killed. At the end of the episode, the planet is destroyed by the nova.

"all they that hate me love death" Proverbs 8:36

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Allowed to Die

The title at CNN "Woman in coma to be allowed to die".

Now this conjures up a strange image: a woman, in a coma, clamoring and arguing about how she should be permitted to die...

Of course, that is not the case. This woman's father is fighting tooth and nail to have his daughter starved to death ("take out Eluana's feeding tube" "the process of allowing her to die will take about 20 days").

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

All Religions are the Same

True.

Of course, it depends on what you mean by "religion". If you mean theology, then - of course not...

For example, Muslims believe God has no Son. Christianity hinges on Jesus Christ - God's Son.


Religion is "man's attempt to satisfy his notion of God". In this sense, all religion is works righteousness - "what can I do?"

In this sense, Biblical Christianity is not a religion. It is all grace (receiving an undeserved good).

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Global Warming, Again

Last time, I mused on the similarity between global warmingism and the sale of indulgences.

Science Daily has an article attempting to support the idea using an appeal to numbers.
"Two questions were key: have mean global temperatures risen compared to pre-1800s levels, and has human activity been a significant factor in changing mean global temperatures.

About 90 percent of the scientists agreed with the first question and 82 percent the second."

Agreement does not equal truth. There is also some nice ad hominem:

"Petroleum geologists and meteorologists were among the biggest doubters, with only 47 and 64 percent respectively believing in human involvement."

"The petroleum geologist response is not too surprising, but the meteorologists' is very interesting," he said. "Most members of the public think meteorologists know climate, but most of them actually study very short-term phenomenon."

Of course, climatologists are smarter than us, so we need to bow down (our economies) to them:

"They're [climatologists are] the ones who study and publish on climate science. So I guess the take-home message is, the more you know about the field of climate science, the more you're likely to believe in global warming and humankind's contribution to it."

Of course, there is no self selection here. How many people who doubt climate change are going to remain in a field dominated by climate change group think? How many people are jumping on the band wagon of easy funding and publishing? 'Cause that never happens...

Monday, February 2, 2009

Darwin Day

The two-hundredth anniversary of Darwin's birth is approaching (Feb 12). As part of the celebration, Science News has concocted an interview with him (based on his writings).

I could fisk the individual points, but there are a couple of key points:
"I cannot see as plainly as others do, and as I should wish to do, evidence of design and beneficence on all sides of us. There seems to me too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the Ichneumonid√¶ with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that a cat should play with mice.…" (emphasis added)
It is clear Darwin has no clue about sin or the Fall...
"By further reflecting that the clearest evidence would be requisite to make any sane man believe in the miracles by which Christianity is supported, — and that the more we know of the fixed laws of nature the more incredible do miracles become … I gradually came to disbelieve in Christianity as a divine revelation." (emphasis added)
This notion of miracles as violations of fixed laws is a common error. It is also clear that Darwin had no idea what Christianity was about at all. We believe the miracles, because we trust God to keep His promises (His Word). We seek after God because of the problem of sin.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Two and Two

An interesting point came up in Bible class today: the Olivet discourse (Matthew 24) contains two questions (from the apostles), and Jesus gives two answers. Confusion on this point is the main driving force behind non-dispensational eschatologies.

Jesus starts with a devastating statement (Matthew 24:2):
"But he answered and said unto them, See ye not all these things [the temple]? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
The apostles are stunned, they ask (verse 3):
"And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
  1. When shall these things be?
  2. What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
"These things" refers to the destruction of the temple. That was in AD70, when the Romans destroyed it - everyone agrees on that.

The remaining question addresses the end times. No need for spiritualized interpretations to make "they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (verse 30b) occur in AD70.

It is a future event.