3 Things to Remember When Leaders Leave Your Church

When Church Leaders are Led to Leavewalkingawaygrey

If you have gone to a church of your own volition for any length of time you cannot help but have that church become a part of you. You likely chose that church for one or more reasons, and you have grown to love the people, the teaching, the music, the fellowship, the various ministries, etc. I know I feel this way about my church for sure. If I didn’t I wouldn’t call it my church home. One thing we can sometimes forget is that the leaders in the church have not sworn a blood oath to remain at your church, and your church only. Things happen. They might start families. They might grow in a way that leads them in a new direction. They might find themselves with a decision to make based on what God is calling them to do, and one of the choices might include moving to a different church.

Now if you have never been a part of a church of your choosing for any period of time you might think, “What’s the big deal”? Trust me. This losing a leader in the church can be a very big deal to many members of a congregation. This type of transition surfaces all sorts of emotions. Sometime those who remain at the church may field betrayed, disappointed, angry, saddened, concerned, confused, and everything in between. These emotions, when not handled prayerfully, can lead to a number of negative reactions with the most common being gossip, and even slander. Sounds pretty unbiblical, right? Well, it is. This is why I thought it important to remember three important points if you experience a leader leaving your church to join another church…

1) It’s Not About You

Notice some of the emotions I listed that church members might feel when a leader leaves to go to another church. Do you see a common theme? If you guessed pride or selfishness then you guessed correctly. We are called to go. Go to the lost. Heal the sick. Give freely what was given to us. Take a look at Matthew 10:5-15:

5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold nor silver nor copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, nor two tunics nor sandals nor a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.

If you are feeling some of the emotions I listed above I understand, but prayerfully ask are you more concerned about what is going on in your church? Or should you be spending that energy praying that the leader that is moving to a different church reaches lost people in a staggering way, and has a tremendously fruitful ministry that glorifies God in the highest? Energy spent in unrighteous anger is energy spent with frustrating results. Energy spent in broken-hearted prayer for the lost is energy spent chasing after that which God desires. Now that is energy well spent.

So remember, it is not about you. It is about reaching lost people in a way that glorifies God.

2) The Church is Not the Building

It is hard not to be protective of your church. When you do church right you grow such a deep sense of connection with both the place and the people. So when something seems to threaten either of those things it is easy to feel like it is time to fight back. But what is the church really? Is it the place? The building? Or is it something more? 1 Corinthians 12:13 provides us with a foundation of understanding.

13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

We are all baptized into one body. That sounds like unity to me, but I don’t see any mention of a building or a place. Paul gives us a deeper understanding still when he writes of what God did for Christ in Ephesians 1:22-23.

22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

So we are all baptized into one body, and that body is the church. So what does that have to do with a leader leaving to go to another church? Here is the thing. That leader is not truly going to another church. He or she is still part of the body of Christ, which is to say he or she is still part of the same (Big “C”) Church that you are a part of. Same Church, different address. In this way we are called to encourage each other. Consider Hebrews 10:23-24.

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Should we be encouraging that leader? Absolutely! Can we still stir each other (that leader included) up to love and good works? Of course! Can we even continue to meet together with that leader? Why not? The church leader was not hit by a bus. There is no need to act like you can never possibly contact this person again. This is just a change of address.

3) God is Sovereign

God’s plan is not always your plan. In fact, I find more often than not God has something much better than I could have anticipated. There is something tremendously comforting in knowing that God has a plan, and that His plan will come to pass. We see support for this in Isaiah 46:8-11.

8 Remember this and stand firm,
recall it to mind, you transgressors,
9 remember the former things of old;
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like me,
10 declaring the end from the beginning
and from ancient times things not yet done,
saying, My counsel shall stand,
and I will accomplish all my purpose,
11 calling a bird of prey from the east,
the man of my counsel from a far country.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it.

God declares the end from the beginning. He shall accomplish His purpose. So, if a leader leaves a church to go to another church you better believe it is part of God’s plan. How do I know that? Because if it was not part of God’s plan it would not have happened. Read that last sentence again, and let it sink in. This is what it means for God to be sovereign. The frustrating part is facing the unknown. What is going to happen after the leader leaves? Who will fill that spot? Will he or she do a good job? Why not ask what you can do to help fill the gap in the interim. Why not just trust in God’s plan? This shouldn’t be a stretch for a believer. After all we are speaking of the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, omni-benevolent creator of everything. Chances are His plan is pretty solid. You’re plan… not so much.

Lost and Found

When a church leader leaves one church to go to another for reasons that were fueled by thoughtful prayer and biblical consideration it is not up to us as followers of Christ to condemn that person, and it is certainly not up to us to speak ill of the person or the church he or she is moving to. It is up to us to encourage, to pray, to continue serving. We need to take the focus off of ourselves, and place it squarely on the things of God. We need to pray that the church leader will go after the lost with Christ-fueled vigor. And we need to do everything we can to support our church through the transition, and to support whomever fills that position. We can take heart in knowing that God has placed that person there with a purpose.

Pope Francis, Creation, and Theistic Evolution

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Photo Credit: Angelo Carconi, EPA

Pope Francis on Creation and Evolution

I was reading a USA Today article covering some statements of Pope Francis during his address to the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. This particular quote from Pope Francies (which was also called out in the article) specifically caught my attention:

“God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” the pope said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

Pope Francis had indicated that the Big Bang theory was not inherently inconsistent with intelligent design. I take no issue with this particular part of his address. I do, however, take issue with his indication that evolution is also consistent with a biblical understanding of creation. There are Christians in the world that attempt to reconcile evolutionary theory with creationist views. This is referred to as “Theistic Evolution”. The following are some thoughts on theistic evolution, and how that view stacks up against the biblical account of creation.

Christianity and Science – A Match Made in Heaven

Some may take issue with the following statement: Christianity and science are not mutually exclusive. While this statement is true, one should not take the statement to mean that Christianity accepts all scientific theories of evolution. For example, the Big Bang Theory does not inherently conflict with Christian intelligent design beliefs; however, some portions of theoretical evolution do, in fact, conflict with the Christian view of creation. Keep in mind this particular post will not focus on whether or not evolution is true, rather I will focus on the question of whether or not “theistic evolution” is contrary or not.

Genesis, Original Sin, and Death

The book of Genesis provides the creation account from a biblical perspective. What we know, biblically speaking, is: God created man and woman (Genesis 1:26-27; Genesis 2:7, 21-22). God gave humans free will. We know this as God instructed Adam not to the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17):

but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die

We know that Adam and Eve had an understanding of the concept of death, as Eve expresses her concern in Genesis 3:2-3:

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

While Eve does not specifically call out the idea that she is concerned with a physical death, her words are quite suggestive of a physical death. As a new creation in direct communication with God it seems unlikely Eve would be referring to a spiritual death. Once Adam and Eve have eaten of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil the Lord doles out their punishment. Of specific interest is what the Lord says to Adam in Genesis 3:19.

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

The above passage makes it clear that a physical death is now in the cards for Adam. One should not take the fact that the above passage was listed as Adam’s punishment to indicate that Eve would not have to experience a physical death. How do we know Eve would also experience physical death? Based on evidence in Genesis 3:22-24, which reads:

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

It appears from the above passage that the tree of life is what would prevent the physical death of Adam and Eve; however, as punishment for their disobedience Adam and Eve would no longer be allowed access to the tree. Thus, physical human death is a product of original sin.

The Issue of Death as a Product of Original Sin

Theistic-EvolutionTheistic evolutionists hold to a theory of common descent with a twist. The twist comes in with the belief that God, in one way or another, used the evolutionary process to carry out His plan of the creation of man. Here is the rub. Universal common decent requires death – billions of years of it, in fact – in order to ultimately get to the point we have today with all of the various living beings across the world. Death, as a inherent component of the cycle of life is contradictory with what is presented to us in Genesis. The Genesis creation account is clear that part of Adam and Eve’s punishment for disobeying God is physical death. It would appear that theistic evolutionists are looking for a “have your cake and eat it too” type of theology. One might argue that the punishment described in Genesis is really alluding to a spiritual death, and not a physical death. Why then, would God place a guard at the tree of life to prevent Adam and Eve from living forever? Seems like a moot point if they were not slated for a physical death to begin with.

This point does not even touch on free will and divine revelation. If universal common decent is true, then at what point were humans given free will? And at what point did God reveal His will to humans, so they might be able to rationally weigh out options to decide if they were going to comply with God, or not? In the book Philosophical Foundations, author Surrendra Gangadean writes:

Naturalism (N) maintains that there is no soul which exists apart from the body. Historic Theism (HT) affirms that man is a body/soul unity and the soul survives the death of the body. Theistic evolution (TE), like (HT), maintains that man has a soul which survives the death of the body and, in addition, incorporates evolution by saying that a hominid became human when God infused a soul into it. TE’s view of the infusion of a soul requires saying that the life and the soul are not the same. But since the soul is the center of awareness, and since the hominid, without a soul, already had some form of perceptual awareness, having both life and soul would produce two centers of awareness, which is contrary to the unity of one conscious self. This would also permit the soul to leave the body and for the being to continue to be alive. Neither N or HT would find this compromise possible or plausible.

This idea of two centers of awareness presented by Gangadean is interesting, and points out a significant flaw in the theistic evolution worldview. Note that this passage points out that the concept of theistic evolution causes issues in both naturalism, and theism camps.

So Can Science and Christianity Still Coexist?

Yes. The reality is that science coincides with biblical accounts more than science conflicts with the bible. What we need to be careful of is mashing together contrary worldviews into an “I agree with everyone” mentality. Perhaps I am being too pointed here, but it occurs to me that Christians can be more hurtful than helpful when holding to views that are inherently contrary. Instead, we need to avoid reading the bible in an eisegetical fashion, and instead read the bible with a critical mind with the intention of understanding the text as it was meant to be understood. Theistic evolution fails at a fundamental level. As such, I do not hold theistic evolution to be true. The fact that Pope Francis (and other Popes before him) feels that evolution can be reconciled with a biblical view of creation is disconcerting to say the least.

Why Do Many Christians Worship on Sunday?

keep-calm-it-s-sabbath-dayA commonly held perspective across Christianity, and other religions is that the Sabbath is Saturday, but what is the Sabbath, and why do many Christians worship on Sunday instead of Saturday?

A Little Background on the Sabbath

Genesis 2:2 tells us:

And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.

And so began the premise for the Sabbath. It was the Lord who commanded us to observe the Sabbath when He gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Exodus 31:12-17 reads:

12 And the Lord said to Moses, 13″You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, “Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you. 14 You shall keep the Sabbath, because it is holy for you. Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death. Whoever does any work on it, that soul shall be cut off from among his people. 15 Six days shall work be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, holy to the Lord. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day shall be put to death. 16 Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.”

The lord was quite specific about His expectations for us with regard to the Sabbath. You might have noticed that the Bible never mentions that the Sabbath is on Saturday. In fact, the Bible never mentions the names of any days of the week as we know them today. Instead weeks were broken into seven days with the Sabbath being the seventh day of the week. So how do we know the seventh day of the week is on Saturday? Pastor Doug Batchelor offers a nice explanation for the Sabbath being on Saturday in this audio clip: Sabbath Question. The transcript of this audio file can be found here. OK, so let’s say – for the sake of argument – that the Sabbath is on Saturday. Why would so many Christians worship on Sunday?

Why Worship on Sunday?

Very generally speaking Muslims worship on Friday, Jews on Saturday, and most Christians on Sunday. Based on information found on Islamicweb.com Muslims worship on Friday because Allah sent Muhammad

informing both the Chrisitans and the Jews that they should take Friday as a holy and a sacred day.

Jews worship on Saturday based on the commandment from God to do so, as in the passage from Exodus above.

So why do many Christians worship on Sunday? Jesus was crucified on what we would consider today to be Friday. Evidence for this is found in Mark 15:42, which reads:

And when evening had come, since it was the day of Preparation, that is, the day before the Sabbath,

As we have already seen that the Sabbath is on Saturday the day before would, of course, have to be Friday. Jesus rose from the borrowed tomb on Sunday (when the Sabbath was past), as we see inMark 16:1-2.

1 When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb.

The most reasonable reason I have found for Christians to worship on Sunday is to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Sunday. From a personal perspective, I cannot think of a better day to worship the Lord than on the day of the week Jesus conquered the grave to redeem us from our sins!

Isn’t Worship on Sunday Against God’s Commandment?

In short, many Christians believe the answer to this question is – no. This belief is based on the New Covenant. The New Covenant is first spoken about in Jeremiah 31:31-34, which states:

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

This New Covenant does not give Christians a free pass to sin. The New Covenant was brought about by the sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice through which all of our sins are forgiven. This New Covenant is referenced in several books of the New Testament including: Luke, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Hebrews.

Romans 14:5-6 tells us:

5 One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.

Essentially, which day of the week we choose to worship the Lord is irrelevant. But how could that be? Jesus offers us some insight by way of Mark 2:27.

27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

In Conclusion

You may have noticed I have been using the phrase “many Christians” when referring to worshipping the Lord on Sunday. Some Christian sects still choose to worship the Lord on Saturday. I will not dispute that Saturday is the Sabbath; however, I will say there is no “correct” day to worship the Lord. In reality, the Lord should be worshipped every day although I do find benefit in having a specific day of the week set aside for devotion to the Lord. In closing I offer that of all of the differences we might debate about across the various religions the day on which we are “supposed” to worship the Lord is hardly among the most important. Regardless of the day of the week I am…

Believinforareason!

Salvation Lost, or Salvation Never Had?

SavedWithoutADoubt

How Saved Can a Person Be?

I have been reading Saved Without a Doubt by John MacArthur. In his book he mentions Hebrews 6, which is often cited as evidence for the idea that one can lose his or her salvation. Hebrews 6:4-8 reads as follows (ESV):

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.

At first glance this passage would see to indicate that if, once someone is saved, that individual turns from God, then his or her salvation is lost forever. Can this be true?

MacArthur Adds Clarity

With regard to those who believe it is possible to lose one’s salvation MacArthur writes in Saved Without a Doubt,

Because they believe that warning is addressed to Christians, some interpreters think Hebrews 6 teaches that salvation can be lost. If that interpretation were true, however, the passage would also teach that, once lost, salvation could never be regained – that the person would be damned forever. There would be no going back and forth, in and out of grace, as most people who believe you can lose your salvation seem to assume. But Christians are not being addressed, and it is the opportunity for receiving salvation, not salvation itself, that can be lost. It is unbelievers who are in danger of losing salvation – in the sense of losing the opportunity to ever receive it.

So what leads MacArthur to believe that it is not followers of Christ who are being addressed? Notice the language used in the passage: those, them, they. The author is no using inclusive language such as us or we. It sounds as though the passage is referring to individuals who have come close to being followers of Christ, but never made the full commitment thereby essentially remaining unbelievers.

Author and Pastor Bob Deffinbaugh offers a rather famous example of such a person in Judas Iscariot. Here is someone who was in Jesus’ inner circle, but still remained ignorant who Jesus really was, and what He came to do! This makes me think of the times I have heard non-believers spout “if only” statements to indicate the type of evidence that would be sufficient for them to believe in Jesus (“If only God would write his name in the sky…”; “If only God would appear to me, even if just for a moment…”; etc.). Judas had first hand witness to Jesus’ ministry, and he still missed the point.

Can a Christian Lose His or Her Salvation?

Billy Graham does a much better job of answering the question of whether or not a Christian can lose his or her salvation that I likely would, so I have provided his answer below:

Only God knows if someone has truly and sincerely repented of their sins and given their life to Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, but if they have, they now belong to Him forever, and their salvation is secure. The Bible says that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39).

Remember: When we come to Christ, He comes to live within us by His Spirit — and He will never depart from us. And when we come to Him, God adopts us into His family and we become His children — and He’ll never disown us or disinherit us. If He did reject us, it would mean our salvation depends on how good we are. But we can never be good enough, for God’s standard is perfection. Our salvation depends solely on Christ, Who died to take away all our sins.

Does this mean it doesn’t matter how we live? Absolutely not! If we live sinful lives, it may well mean that we haven’t given ourselves to Christ after all, and we’ve even deceived ourselves into thinking we are saved when we really aren’t. The Bible warns, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).

Make sure of your commitment to Jesus Christ, both as your Savior and as your Lord. Then thank Him that you now belong to Him forever — and ask Him to help you live a life that reflects His love and purity every day.

I really appreciate Graham’s perspective here, and I think there are a few key takeaways:

  1. Only God truly knows our hearts (God knows if we are committed, or just trying to fake it ’til we make it)
  2. Once His, always His
  3. Our salvation is evidenced by our fruits (Please do not misinterpret this to mean our salvation is because of our fruits or works)

You might notice some Calvanistic theology here (i.e. perseverance of the saints). At one time I was not a fan of Calvanist views; however, as I grow in my faith and understanding I admittedly find myself agreeing more and more with those views.

So How Can We Be Sure of Our Own Salvation?

How do we know? I mean how do we really know that we are saved? I offer as suggestive evidence of salvation the following criteria:

  • The individual affirms basic Christian doctrine such as: The Holy Trinity, the death and resurrection of Jesus, inerrancy of scripture (John 8:24; 2 Timothy 3:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
  • You can see it in an indvidual’s fruits (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Matthew 7:17)
  • The individual is guided through conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:13)

This is not, of course, meant to be a checklist. As Graham mentioned in his writing above only God truly knows our hearts. God is perfect in his judgement. It occurs to me that if we are truly honest with ourselves we know what our true intentions are. Every time I sit to write a blog post I ask myself who I am writing for. Am I writing for myself? Or am I doing what I can to further His Kingdom? Pride can be tall tree, and truth a sharp ax (Hebrews 4:12).

We cannot be sure of our salvation if we are resting in our own deeds. We can only be sure of our salvation if we rest in Christ. As Graham mentioned, if we could lose our salvation then salvation would depend, at least in part, on how good we are. Here is the hard truth… we are all sinners. None of us is good. No, not one (Romans 3:10). That is the bad news. The good news is our salvation is not dependent on us. Christ is sufficient. It is in this fact that I take great comfort in knowing that I have been, am, and always will be saved.

Can God Create a Weight He Cannot Lift?

I have heard this question a lot lately… “Can God create a weight He cannot lift?”. In fact, I have heard the question so often as of late I thought the question warranted a post, so that I might help put the question to bed by addressing the question with a bit of logic. This question is generally asked to prove a point that God is not omnipotent. The question, however, fails in three ways:

  1. The question is logically contradictory.
  2. The questioner has made false, naturalistic assumptions about God.
  3. The questioner has incorrectly attributed specific constraints to God. Continue reading

Stand to Reason Blog: Challenge: Does God Have Free Will?

Stand to Reason Blog: Challenge: Does God Have Free Will?.

Stand to Reason has bi-weekly question whereby readers of the blog can post questions for other readers to respond to. I found a recent question interesting. The question posted is as follows:

If morality is in God’s nature, then He is omnibenevolent, right? Does that mean that God cannot choose evil? So, if God cannot choose to do evil, does that mean He doesn’t have free will?

I have linked to the blog above. We should keep in mind when responding to this question that the Bible states that things do exist that God cannot do. For example, Hebrews 6:18 tells us God cannot lie.

Hebrews 6:18

so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
Does this mean that God does not have free will? I suggest taking a look at an article on letusreason.org before answering the question, which gives a list of things God cannot do. If you prefer the Cliff’s Notes version I can summarize as follows: God cannot do anything that is against His nature. So what is against His nature? Here are a few examples:
  • Sin
  • Deceit
  • Evil in general
  • Speaking falsehoods

I could go on, but I will not. God is good. The very basis of objective moral truths and duties. As such, anything contrary to God’s nature is not good, but let’s get back to the question. Does God have free will? The answer is, absolutely, yes. After all, how can a being without free will create beings with free will. Seems contrary in nature. Additionally, God makes choices all throughout history in a free fashion. God is both omniscient, and omnipresent. As such, God is in a unique position to exercise His free will with the benefit of knowing what the outcome of those choices will be until the end of time.

Let us take one more look at this from a different angle. Let’s take me. for example. I cannot throw a 1983 Chevy Malibu across the street. Does that mean I do not have free will? Certainly not. This does, however, speak to my limitedness, whereas God is unlimited. If God cannot do certain things doesn’t that limit Him? I contend that the fact that God cannot do the types of things listed above speaks to God’s power rather than perceived weakness. Items such as sin, deceit, evil,  and lies show a tremendous amount of weakness. The fact that God cannot engage in such activities means that God is so powerful that His power cannot be lessened by the issues of the world that plague mankind. How else can we have faith in God unless He is the ever-constant, omnibenevolent, omniscient, omnipotent, ever-graceful being that we know Him to be? I could never worship a God who is subject to the same weaknesses that I am through my sin-nature. Consider Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2 Corinthians 12:10

For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
A weak God could not give us strength in the times of our weakness. Only a God who cannot do things such as those listed above can provide strength, as one additional thing exists that God cannot do… God cannot be weak. God is good/strong/benevolent/awesome, and that is why I am…
believinforareason

Ask a Christian Part 2: Tower of Babel

I received another interesting question from a long-time friend. My friend asked the following:

 When the people were building the Tower of Babel, and back then everyone in the world spoke one language. God came down and saw the tower and was impressed so to stop it he scattered the people around the world and made them no longer speak the same language. Now I’ve been wrestling this for some time now and though of a few reasons but why do you think God would keep them from cooperating and finishing the tower.

Option 1

The Bible does not offer any specific reason, so far as I know, for God taking the measures He did to prevent the tower from being built, so what I am presenting here is pure conjecture. My first thought on the subject is that God was making a point that the path to eternal salvation in Heaven will not be based on works. This message, I imagine, would have been quite clear.

Option 2

Genesis 11:4 reads:

And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let us make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth”.

I find this verse interesting. My first impression was that “let us make a name for ourselves” was intended to mean that they were seeking glory. Of course the only true glory is that of the Lord, and the confounding of the people may have been God’s way of proving this point. The curious portion of the quote is, “otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth”. Seems foretelling in a very specific way.

So which is it?

Maybe both. Maybe neither. Maybe something completely different. The reality of it is, at least from my perspective, that the tower would obviously never have actually reached Heaven. So what was the ultimate reason behind God’s actions?

I am open to suggestions.

Ask a Christian Part 1: Biblical Contradiction, Sinful Judgement, and Religious Fish Magnets

FAQ – Friends Ask Questions

I was thinking of what the topic of my next post should be when I had an idea. Why not make an offer, on my personal Facebook page, for anyone who knows me to ask any question they would like regarding Christianity or God? If you know me personally, or have read my post you know I am not a biblical scholar of any kind; however, I do have a passion for deepening my relationship with God through better understanding of my Christian trust. I figured worst case scenario I would have to do a tremendous amount of research to answer something deeply complex… which is a good thing really! Well, one of my high school buddies obliged. I have posted each of his questions below, in his words, along with my response. So begins “Ask a Christian Part 1”:

“OK, why does the bible contradict itself?”

James Warner Wallace (a cold-case homicide detective, former atheist, and current Christian Apologist) has a great article about perceived biblical contradictions on his site pleaseconvinceme.com. While I have provided the link to the article in this post I will summarize here as well. Wallace offers 10 principles that are helpful in understanding that perceived contradictions are not actual contradictions:

  1. Approach the scripture with a fair (i.e. open) attitude. While we (believers and non believers alike) are all biased in one form or another we should read the Bible with as much objectivity as possible.
  2. Find out what the original said. Wallace explains that while we obviously do not have the original manuscripts, we have very accurate translations. We should check out the various translations to get a full understanding of the intent of a passage.
  3. Find out what a particular verse or piece of scripture means by understanding the context, and additional biblical references. We get a lot of twisted scripture (scripture taken out of context, and its meaning altered) by folks unwilling to go the extra mile on this.
  4. Imprecise does not equal wrong. Yes, the Bible rounds some numbers… just like nobody actually waited in line at Wal-Mart for like a million years!
  5. Quotes are not meant to be verbatim. Oftentimes the author is just indicating that someone referenced a specific part of the Old Testament.
  6. Multiple perspectives do not equal contradiction. The various books of the bible were written by a variety of individuals respectively. Perspectives may vary slightly, but the facts remain the same.
  7. Though divinely inspired, the Bible was written by earthly people, so common language is used.
  8. Just because the Bible describes something, it doesn’t meant that God approves it. the Bible is actually quite clear about the types of human behavior God commands.
  9. Don’t sweat the copyist errors. Wallace explains his point by explaining 2 Samuel 8:3-4 states David took 700 horsemen, while 1 Chronicles 18:3-4 states David took 7,000 horsemen. Really though, how important is this piece?
  10. God is omnipotent, omnipresent, and perfectly good. Only He is in a position to make decisions such as those described in the Old Testament.

I would be happy to address any specific perceived contradictions to the best of my ability, but I thought J. Wallace’s (thank you to J. Warner Wallace for doing all of the heavy lifting on this one) article gave a nice summary of why the Bible is non-contradictory.

“Why are the people who live by the bible the ones quickest to judge. Isn’t that a sin?”

OK, we have a two part-er here. I am going to start with the second part first.

2 Timothy 4:1-2 states:

1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

As Christians we are called to judge… especially fellow Christians! However, we are also warned not to criticize the sins of others when we are committing the very same sins, or worse! This is why Jesus said:

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye (Matthew 7:5 ESV)

With that said, I would assume my friend is referring to those who are calling themselves “Christians”, but not actually living the life of a Christian. Thus, we have one of the top “reasons” (i.e. excuses) why people do not go to church. The truth of the matter is we are all imperfect sinners. Regardless of your worldview you will be able to find folks who fail to see the proverbial log in their own eye. You will see this in a far lesser degree from true Christians.

“What’s with the fish? What is that a symbol for?”

Elesha Coffman wrote a decent article on this topic at christianitytoday.com. Coffman explains the fish symbol has theological overtones, such as when Jesus fed the 5,000 with 2 fish and five loaves of bread. Coffman goes on to further explain the following (which I believe is the reason the fish symbol took off like it did):

Greeks, Romans, and many other pagans used the fish symbol before Christians. Hence the fish, unlike, say, the cross, attracted little suspicion, making it a perfect secret symbol for persecuted believers. When threatened by Romans in the first centuries after Christ, Christians used the fish mark meeting places and tombs, or to distinguish friends from foes. According to one ancient story, when a Christian met a stranger in the road, the Christian sometimes drew one arc of the simple fish outline in the dirt. If the stranger drew the other arc, both believers knew they were in good company. Current bumper-sticker and business-card uses of the fish hearken back to this practice.

Pretty interesting really.

In Closing

That is all of the questions my buddy had for me. Hopefully this shed some light on the questions he posed. As always, I am up for further discussion on any of the above topics. I hope that others will follow suit, and post some additional questions for me. If so, I look forward to writing Ask a Christian Part 2! Until then I remain…

believinforareason

The Morality of God in the Old Testament Part 3: The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah

Genesis chapters 18 and 19 tell of God’s destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Does this show that God is immoral for killing the men, women and children in these cities? What about free will? Did God override our gift of free will out of wrath?

Background

Three men visited Abraham. As it turned out these men were the Lord and two angels. The Lord was en route to Sodom  as the Lord had heard the outcry that the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were sinning gravely (See Genesis chapters 18 & 19 for the full text). Abraham attempted to intercede asking the Lord if He would spare the cities if 50 righteous people were found, then 45, then 40, then 30 until Abraham went as low as 10 righteous people. Each time the Lord agreed He would spare the cities if the number of righteous people Abraham suggested were found within. The Lord then sent the angels ahead to Sodom. Once the angels arrived in Sodom Abraham’s brother, Lot, took them in, and was hospitable, as was the strict custom in the region during this time.

Map of Sodom and Gomorrah locations by bibleatlas.org

Before the angels laid down for the night Lot’s house was surrounded by the men of Sodom, who insisted that Lot release the men (in this case, angels, but the men of Sodom were unaware of this fact), so the men of Sodom could have sex with the strangers. Lot refused, and even offered his own virgin daughters to the men of Sodom instead! The men of Sodom refused the offering of Lot’s daughters and rushed Lot, but the angels pulled Lot inside, and blinded the men of Sodom, so they could not find their way inside. Lot was allowed to leave Sodom with his two daughters to Zoar (his son-in-laws-to-be refused to leave), and the Lord rained sulfur and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah thereby killing all of the people in the two cities.

What does the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah say about the morality of God in the Old Testament?

The short answer is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is demonstrative of two attributes of God: His pure goodness, and His grace. Consider that God said the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were “very grave” (ESV), or “extremely serious” (HCSB). For the Lord, in His purity and goodness, to give special attention to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah the immorality and sinfulness of the people of the cities had to have been outstandingly heinous. Further, the Lord’s omniscience allows Him to see what will happen in the future should the gravely sinful acts of the people of the cities be allowed to continue unchecked. Certainly we have evidence of what could have occurred (albeit on a much larger scale if the cities were not destroyed) recorded in the book of Numbers, which we will get into briefly in a bit. The Lord was outraged at the people of the cities in a way that no other being could be based on His own pure goodness. The Lord showed His grace by destroying the people of Sodom and Gomorrah thereby eliminating the possibility of the grievous sins of the people infecting others who may have come in contact with the people of the cities.

Did God directly impede His gift of free will by destroying Sodom and Gomorrah?

No, God certainly did not get in the way of the gift of free will the people of Sodom and Gomorrah were enjoying so frivolously. The impediment of free will should not be confused with consequences borne of the choices one makes. All choices have consequences. In this case the choices made by the people of Sodom and Gomorrah led to their ultimate demise. Any individual living today faces the same danger. While we may not see the Lord rain down sulfur and fire we certainly could face an eternity spent in a similar environment should we make choices in life that separate us from the Lord.

A taste of what could have been

We got a peek into Lot’s twisted sense of right and wrong based on the influence of Sodom when lot offered his own daughters to the men of Sodom in order to protect his house guests. The moral corruption does not stop there. After fleeing Sodom, Lot’s daughters executed a plan to get Lot drunk on wine, so they could have babies by him. Their plan worked, and each of the daughters birthed a son.

37 The older daughter had a son, and she named him Moab; he is the father of the Moabites of today.

If you recall in my post, The Morality of God in the Old Testament Part 2: Would a Moral God Condone Genocide and Rape?, it was the daughters of Moab and Midian that seduced the Israelites in an effort to curse the Israelites. Imagine this type of corruption on a much larger scale if two full cities of like-minded sinners were allowed to continue.

God alone can forgive us our sins, but only if we truly seek Him to do so. God is the ultimate good. Ask yourself, would you do anything less for your children? When you ask yourself that question bare in mind that our human anger is more often then not, unjustified. God’s anger is righteous and just, as He knows all and sees all. Without God no objective moral truths or duties can exist, as we have no ultimate good on which to base such objectivity. God is good, and that is why I am…

believinforareason

The Morality of God in the Old Testament part 2: Would a Moral God Condone Genocide and Rape?

The Morality of God in the Old Testament part 2Intro

Welcome to part 2 in a series of posts on the morality of God in the Old Testament. In this post we will discuss the Israelite conflict with the Midianites.

Numbers 31 tells of God speaking to Moses with instructions that the Israelites should:

2 “Avenge the people of Israel on the Midianites. Afterward you shall be gathered to your people.”

What was so bad about the Midianites?

Vengeance may, at face value, seem like a concept outside of God’s character; however, the commands given to Moses did not stop at vengeance.

17 Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man by lying with him. 18 But all the young girls who have not known man by lying with him keep alive for yourselves.

This is where this chapter of Numbers really gets a lot of questions. The two most frequent questions I see are as follows:

  1. Does this account go so far as to constitute genocide?
  2. Does God really give instructions to the Israelites to keep the virgin girls for themselves for the purposes of rape?

Before we address these two questions we should likely first answer the question: What was so bad about the Midianites?

Numbers 25 tells us:

1While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. 2 These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods

In this case, the people of Moab and Midian specifically sought to curse the Israelites at the direction of Balak. Instead, however, of direct assault against the Israelites the daughters of Moab and Midian were used to seduce Israelite men into committing acts of sexual immorality, and worshipping pagan Gods. Considering this type of behavior is in direct conflict of the laws given to the Israelites by the Lord through Moses. This was the gist of why the Lord was angry with both the Israelites and the Midianites.

Equal Opportunity

Prior to the Lord striking the Midianites through use of the Israelites the Israelite transgressors were first dealt with – the leaders of the transgression more severely, and the remainder with a plague that took the lives of 24,000 Israelites. Of course, no one today should be surprised that the Lord disciplined His chosen people. After all, Hebrews 12:5-6 tells us “… “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves and chastises every son whom he receives”.

The discipline of the Israelites did not, however, mean that the Midianites would not have to pay a price for purposefully leading the Israelites into sin.

Back to the Questions

  • Does this account go so far as to constitute geonocide?

The short answer is, no. Dictionary.com defines genocide as “the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group”. Thus, by definition this event does not constitute genocide, as a portion of the Midianites were spared. Certainly this event is not akin to the Holocaust.

  • Does God really give instructions to the Israelites to keep the virgin girls for themselves for the purposes of rape?

To be fair, the text has no indication that God gave a specific command to rape the Midianite virgins. Secondly, God commands those who were in battle, and any spoils from that battle to remain outside the camp for seven days to go through a purification prior to reintegrating with the camp (Numbers 31 19-20).

 19 Encamp outside the camp seven days. Whoever of you has killed any person and whoever has touched any slain, purify yourselves and your captives on the third day and on the seventh day. 20 You shall purify every garment, every article of skin, all work of goats’ hair, and every article of wood.

Sexual relations with any of the women captured would have caused further impurity thus disallowing the soldiers back into the camp for an extended period of time. The text makes no reference of such instances. Clearly, no evidence exists to assume the Midianite girls were kept for the purposes of rape. One may ask why only the virgins were kept. Logically, the virgin Midianite girls could not have been part of the plot to curse the Israelites through seduction since those girls had not laid with any man. As such, these girls were spared punishment.

Still, was all of this really morally correct?

The difference between God’s anger or vengeance and our anger or vengeance is God is always just. Our anger more often then not stems from our sin nature, and is therefore not righteous anger. Furthermore, God is omniscient. He knows all outcomes, everything that was and everything that will be. God is in the ultimate position to make decisions involving human life. We owe God everything, yet He owes us nothing. In the case of the Midianites we had a people attempting to corrupt another group of people in a very specific manner. We can hardly attempt to consider the Midianites innocent in this matter. Certainly the Israelites that fell victim should have had the fortitude to turn away from Sin; however, despite being the chosen people of God the Israelites were still human. As humans we will sin. This is not an excuse for the Israelites – just a statement of fact.

The bottom line? God is just. God is morality. God is good.

And I am believinforareason.

The Morality of God in the Old Testament Part 1: Would a Moral God Kill Children?

Intro

I have debated with several atheists regarding the morality of God. These debates inevitably focus on events described in the Old Testament. This blog will be the first in a series commenting on typical Old Testament scripture cited when atheists are railing the alleged immorality of God. The first Old Testament scripture I would like to dig into is found in the book of Exodus, and is regarding the final plague against Pharaoh, and the people of Egypt – death of the first-born child.

Background

In this book of he Bible God speaks to Moses, and gives him instructions to go to Pharaoh with his brother Aaron with a plea to let the Israelites leave Egypt to go into the wilderness, so they might worship God. Gd directs Moses to give Pharaoh an ultimatum with each refusal from Pharaoh yielding an increasingly worse plague set forth by God. The tenth and final plague involves the death of the firstborn child of every Egyptian. Admittedly killing children is shocking enough, but the piece that really hangs folks up is the mentions of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart, which, at face value, is oftentimes interpreted as God purposefully precluding Pharaoh from letting the Israelites go. Further, this then inevitably invokes the notion at God wanted to kill he firstborn children of the Egyptians – an absurd notion, but I understand the confusion.

Hardening of Hearts

The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is spoken of many times throughout Exodus. One of the earlier mentions is in Exodus 4:21. In the ESV of the Bible Exodus 4:21 reads, “And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in y our power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go” (youversion.com). The next reference occurs in Exodus 7:3, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the in the land of Egypt [7:4] Pharaoh will not listen to you” (youversion.com). Ah, but in Exodus 8:15 it reads, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was a respite, he hardened his heart and would not listen to them, as the Lord said”, and in Exodus 8:32, “But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go” (youversion.com). So who is hardening whose heart here anyway? Again, in Exodus 8:12 we are back to the Lord hardening Pharaoh’s heart. But in Exodus 9:34 Pharaoh is said to have hardened his heart. By the time we get to Exodus 10:1 the Lord says He has hardened not only Pharaoh’s heart, but the hearts of his servants as well.

In the article by Dr. Dave Miller and Kyle Butt, Who Hardened Pharaoh’s Heart?, the question posed by the title of the article is addressed in two ways. I will attempt to summarize:

  1. The first point explains, “In his copious work on biblical figures of speech, E.W. Bullinger listed several ways that the Hebrew and Greek languages used verbs to mean something other than their strict, literal usage. He listed several verses that show that the languages “used active verbs to express the agent’s design or attempt to do anything, even though the thing was not actually done” (1898, p. 821)”. I may, for example, say someone made me look ridiculous; however, in reality, I looked ridiculous due to my own actions.
  2. The second point explains, “Bullinger’s fourth list of idiomatic verbs deals with active verbs that “were used by the Hebrews to express, not the doing of the thing, but the permission of the thing which the agent is said to do” (p. 823, emp. in orig.)”. In this sense God allowed the circumstances for the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart (read, “free will”), but did not actively harden Pharaoh’s heart.

To answer the question, Pharaoh hardened his own heart while God allowed the circumstances (through human free-will) for Pharaoh’s heart to be hardened.

OK, But Why Kill Children at All?

Let us not forget that the Egyptians were not innocent in the book of Exodus. Look at Exodus 1:8-16, for example:

8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.”

Pharaoh, in this case, made the first move in attempting the kill the firstborn of the Israelites as a matter of oppression, and population control. It is important to note here that the term “firstborn” refers specifically to the first male child born. Exodus 21:23-25 provides an example of the “eye for an eye” laws set forth with regard to slave ownership (similar to the code of Hammurabi). Early in Exodus the Israelites are certainly slaves to the Egyptians.

23 But if there is harm,t then you shall pay life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

So we have an established premise for the 10th plague. Certainly not just killing kids for the fun of it. Glenn Miller of Christian Think Tank crunched the numbers in his response to a reader inquiry entitled Was God being evil when He killed the firstborn in Egypt?. In summary, Miller estimates: Innocent Egyptians killed in the tenth plague: 69,000; Innocent Hebrew infanticide killed in the infanticide program of Pharaoh (and successors): 2,750,000. The Egyptians are really beginning to look less innocent by the minute here.

OK, but still… killing children? 

Were it not for God taking the lives of these Egyptian children a few things would have happened:

  • Hebrew firstborns would have continued being slaughtered by the millions
  • Egyptian children would have been raised in a culture that supports infanticide and physical oppression
  • The Lord would not have fulfilled his promise to the Israelites

In this case the Lord actually saved more children’s lives then he ended. Additionally, the Bible does not indicate that the Lord tortured these children. The children’s physical lives were ceased; however, the souls of the children would have been allowed to live for eternity with God in perfect peace – a far cry from the horror brought by the Egyptians against the Israelites.

Conclusion

No doubt that this particular event in Exodus does not show the Lord as immoral, but as graceful, loving, fair and just. Ultimately, the frequent misconception regarding this event is due to a misconception of God’s nature… His essence. God is good – the basis for all objective moral truths and duties. Without God we have no basis for objective moral truths and duties, as everything becomes subjective. Something may be perfect relative to imperfection, but when we compare our lives to Jesus how far we have fallen becomes abundantly clear. The morality of the Old Testament God is identical to that of the New Testament God, as the two beings are one and the same. No line in the sand exists.

God is good, and this story found in Exodus is just another example of why I am…

believin’ for a reason!

The Notion of Nothing is Quite Something

Image
I have been reading quite a bit lately about the evolution-creationism/intelligent design debate. Certainly I am not a preeminent scholar, or am I a published (or unpublished) scientist. I am simply a relatively reasonable guy who likes to ask questions. With regard to the argument for evolution it seems only one question is really needed… “what created that?”. No matter how far back we can allegedly trace the common descent theory at some point the “first thing” had to be created. We have yet to determine how to create something (especially a living something) out of lifeless nothingness. I cannot get past that idea. The idea of nonliving nothing creating living something is completely nonsensical to me.

In addition to this I was reading through a Callie Joubert article, “The Unbeliever at War with God: Michael Ruse and the Creation-Evolution Controversy”, and Joubert brings up an interesting point. Arguing favorably for evolution can be called a religious worldview just as easily as arguing favorably for creationism. So why teach one over the other in a classroom? Even if, for the sake of argument, this was a religious debate The Washington Post reported that a 2005 U.S. poll estimated atheists to represent approximately 5% of the total U.S. population. Hardly an overwhelming sampling to justify ignoring creationism in the classroom. If we are to raise our youth to be critical thinkers we have an obligation to present these youth with unbiased options, and allow viewpoints to follow.

Back to the worldview vs worldview topic. Many atheists tout science as practical, and steadfast with regard to “knowing” things. These same folks oftentimes accuse believers of assuming and interpreting all too freely. The fact of the matter is that science makes many assumptions when testing hypotheses. With regard to evolution, for example, scientists oftentimes use a technique known colloquially as carbon dating. This technique works basis the assumption that the ratio of 14^C in the atmosphere has always been constant. If this assumption is false the carbon dating technique is useless. Furthermore, science uses philosophy to test hypotheses. The philosophy of mathematics, for example. If 1+1 does not equal 2 we have a problem! Of course, I am not by any means a disbeliever of science. In fact I am a huge fan of technology, and I submit that science has brought us a plethora of fantastic things from smartphones to medicine. I do, however, believe that science has boundaries, and one should not make assumptions where even the circumstantial evidence does to point to the alleged truth he or she is pushing as fact.

This circles me back to the notion of something coming from nothing. To create something requires a creator, or, at a minimum, a catalyst. Even if a simple catalyst is required to create I have to ask, who or what created the catalyst? And then who or what created the thing that created the catalyst, and so forth. I simply cannot buy into the fact that something came from nothing. It just makes logical sense to me that an omnipresent creator was the catalyst that created the something that eventually led to the somebody that is writing this blog.

God is good.

Aside

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine

At least you will still have a job…

Howard Camping, President of Family Radio, felt strongly that on May 21, 2011 the Raptue would occur. The rapture is the first stage in a string events leading to the end of times as described in the book of Revelations. Not only was Camping convinced, but many of his followers were equally as sure. So sure in fact that many of these individuals sold some or all of their worldly possessions to advertise for the event similar to a major sporting event. Many of these folks got rid of worldly possessions thinking that such items would no longer be needed. It is not the 22nd of May, and either I was not deemed worthy to take up to Heaven, or Camping’s math is off. Here is my question though: if you are going to do things differently in your life knowing that the Rapture is happening soon, then have you been living your life as you should to begin with? A friend of mine mentioned she saw a plane flying around Coolray field for a couple of hours with a sign about 5/21 last Friday (5/20). Why would someone pay for that advertisement just because they were convinced the Rapture was about to occur? Why would that same individual not pay for an advertisement like that to spread the word of Jesus regardless of how near or far the Rapture was?

Don’t get me wrong here. I am lightyears from perfect, but the whole thing just doesn’t make sense to me. As Christians we should live every day as if were were going to face judgement tomorrow. I know I would still have plenty to answer for, but I also know that I am heading in the absolute right direction. I recently heard the phrase “directionally correct”. I believe that explains my current walk toward Jesus… not without flaw, but directionally correct. I will pray that those who lost everything due to the teachings of Camping find it in their hearts to forgive him for his misguidance, or better yet, to realize he is not to blame for their misdirection. I pray that Camping will spend less time trying to find the calculation to Heaven, and more time in an evangelical capacity. I pray the Lord guides me to make wise choices despite myself as I continue my path to His house. In the mean time, and in the words of the 90’s phenom band, “It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine”.

How Good is Good Enough?

Not too long ago I finished reading Andy Stanley’s book “How Good is Good Enough”. I wish I would have read this book prior to the conversation with my close friend I mentioned in an earlier post. This is a question I struggled with when asked why God would let “good” people go to hell simply for not accepting Jesus as Lord and savior. One point Stanley brought up is the lack of a specific metric to indicate what equals “good”. Good to me may very not mean good to someone else. Is good just never killing anybody? If so, that is an easy one! Does good mean never comitting adultery? No sweat! The Bible throws a wrench into the “I am a good person” theory. Jesus explains in Matthew 5:28, “But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. Say what?!? So if you even think about lusting after another woman you have already sinned. For some, this point alone makes the “good” thing not so easy. Let’s look at extremes. Is the meaning of “good” in the mind of Hitler congruent with the meaning of good to Billy Graham? Not likely. The New Testament is chock full of occurrences of Jesus forgiving people who were far from the average individual’s definition of good. Jesus forgives prostitutes and tax collectors and people who were routinely cast from society.

So why would God allow good people to go to Hell? Keep in mind that good compared to woldly people is not much of an accomplishment. Everyone is full of sin of one kind or another. The key to Heaven is striving to be good relative to Jesus. The Bible gives very clear instructions on how to achieve this. Not necessarily easy instructions to follow, but instructions nonetheless. I suppose following the instructions laid out in the Bible has got to be easier than attempting to conform to some human definition of good with no specific set of guidelines or boundaries. Ultimately, being good just isn’t good enough, but we have a pretty decent “how-to” book on doing what it takes.