Thursday, 31 July 2008

A God Bigger Than We Can Imagine

From John Calvin’s, Institutes of the Christian Religion,
Mingled vanity and pride appear in this, that when miserable men do seek after God, instead of ascending higher than themselves as they ought to do, they measure him by their own carnal stupidity, and neglecting solid inquiry, fly off to indulge their curiosity in vain speculation. Hence, they do not conceive of Him in the character in which He is manifested, but imagine Him to be whatever their own rashness has devised. This abyss standing open, they cannot move one footstep without rushing headlong to destruction. With such an idea of God, nothing which they may attempt to offer in the way of worship or obedience can have any value in His sight, because it is not Him they worship, but, instead of Him, the dream and figment of their own heart. [I.4.1]

From Here...

It has always been man's tendency to create a god of his own liking, a non-threatening god in his own image. It extends back to the garden when we were told, "You can be like God." It continues widespread today, and only God Himself, by His Holy Spirit, can open our eyes to see the falsehood and futility of such thinking. Without God Himself bringing us to a knowledge of the truth, we can never imagine a God who is, after all, bigger than we can imagine.

Take Care

Take Care

Monday, 28 July 2008

Todd the "Bam"tist?



Todd Bentley has the latest "rivival" going in Lakeland Florida. The video above should make any discerning Christian wince. This is not the first such, "revival," nor will it probably be the last. I went to the "Toronto Blessing" a number of years ago and found it completely contrived. I watch televangelists like Morris Cerullo, Don Stewart and Peter Popoff and wonder how anyone can be easily taken in by such shenanigans. In fact, while I was writing this post, I Googled, "green prayer cloth" and found the Rev (!!!!!) Don Stewart advertising his "Biblical point of contact prayer cloth" (he names as his precedent, Acts 19:11-12) on a Franchise rating site!

Correction: The inclusion of the Don stewart prayer handkerchief on the franchise website was by the owner of the site (see comment below), as a satire (and a clever one, I might add), not by Don Stewart himself or his organization. My apologies to anyone who might have been misled.

H/t 2 Worlds Collide

More video on Todd Bentley here...

Take Care

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Statement of the Sudanese Bishops to the Lambeth Conference

In view of the present tensions and divisions within the Anglican Communion, and out of deep concern for the unity of the Church, we consider it important to express clearly the position of the Episcopal Church of the Sudan (ECS) concerning human sexuality.

We believe that God created humankind in his own image; male and female he created them for the continuation of humankind on earth. Women and men were created as God’s agents and stewards on earth We believe that human sexuality is God’s gift to human beings which is rightly ordered only when expressed within the life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman. We require all those in the ministry of the Church to live according to this standard and cannot accept church leaders whose practice is contrary to this.
Read it all here...

This from Christians in the Sudan, far from the comforts we have in North America, and undergoing persecution we could never imagine. Here is an exerpt from Voice of the Martyrs on the situation in Sudan,

Using money from the oil industry developed by western companies, the government purchased weapons in increasing number and sophistication to use against the southern people. Government forces and militia have destroyed entire villages, as well as attacking hospitals and relief organizations trying to meet the needs of the people. Women have been frequently raped and children sold into slavery.

Sudan’s casualties as a result of Khartoum’s war against its own people number in the millions. Because of the war, famine has also plagued the country.

While the conflict was officially about control of land and wealth, it had a strong religious factor in that the government of Khartoum was strongly Islamic and the people of the south were predominantly Christian or animist. The Muslim government declared a jihad against the people of the south. Churches and Christian relief agencies were specifically targeted for attack.

In May 2003, an Anglican pastor in Khartoum meeting the needs of refugees from southern Sudan was ordered to destroy the chapel he had built out of straw. He was sent to prison indefinitely until he agreed to destroy the church.

And yet the more "progressive" North Americans, with their suburban homes and their comfortable cars will happily ignore the pleas of the "backward" African churches and self-righteously press on with their agenda to "modernize" the Christianity for which others are dying, to conform to their own whims and desires.

You can be sure that the plans are already set in motion. I believe you will see the Canadian dioceses of Huron, Niagara, Ottawa and Montreal, later this summer or in the fall, procede apace with the blessing of same-sex unions. I may be cynical, but I believe they are merely (and very dishonestly) waiting to get Lambeth, "out of the way," for the road ahead to be wide open for what they already know they are going to do.

I would love to be wrong, but...

Take Care

h/t: Anglican Essentials Blog

Monday, 21 July 2008

Peter Hitchens on Rowan Williams

Here is an article by Peter Hitchens, brother of the world famous atheist, Christopher, on Archbishop of canterbury Rowan Williams.
In my experience, Muslims aren't in the least bit 'offended' by Christianity.
I've argued with them about it, in places as different as Peshawar, on the North-West Frontier, and Whitechapel, in the East End of London. And I had the impression they were relieved to find someone from the West who didn't fawn all over them.

H/T Doug Wilson
As in C.S. Lewis' famous observation from The Abolition of Man, we laugh at honor and then are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings to be fruitful. Examples of this myopia can be found everywhere, in every field of human endeavor -- at least in every field of human endeavor that the wooly thinkers have gotten to. For example, envious whiners on the left want everyone in the world to have access to middle class wealth, no poverty anywhere, yay, but they have nothing but contempt for those middle class values that would make such a desirable thing possible.

Liberal Anglicanism has become a laughingstock to both ends of the belief spectrum, and rightly so, I'm afraid. One can only hope that it will wither away into the irrelevance it so richly deserves, and seems to desire.

Take Care

Sunday, 20 July 2008

A Problem With Narnia

I just finished rereading the Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, and found them generally satisfying (if a little simplistic to an adult reader) adventure stories. But that is perhaps an unfair criticism and aside from the point of this post. As many are probably aware, they are written as a Christian allegory, with the lion Aslan representing a Christ figure. There are similarities, of course, if not exact parallels between Aslan in the stories, and Christ as God and Saviour.

But one detail in the final story, "The Last Battle" made me uncomfortable. It is that Emeth, a Calormene, seems to be, "saved," even though he worshipped Tash, a false and evil god, as opposed to the true God, Aslan. The Calormenes seem, in the story, to be somewhat parallel to Muslims, and therefore Tash might be thought to be a parallel to the Allah of Islam, but at various times in the stories he is more akin to Satan.

Now this opinion of mine may seem strange, in light of some of my writing in the past, and my discussions with other Christians in which I have expressed the opinion that God may indeed offer salvation to those who have never heard of Christ. But let me try to clarify here.

What I am definitely not saying is the popular liberal saw that all religions lead to God. Not at all. Nor am I saying that I believe that people can be saved by other religions. (It would be closer to the mark to say that God can save people in spite of their religion.) Of course, the truth is that no one is saved by any religion. They are saved only by the sovereign grace of God, by trusting in Him only, not by their own works or merit, but by the work and merit of one man and one man only, God the Son, Jesus Christ.

Here, then, is a quote from, "The Last Battle;" Emeth the Calormene relating his encounter with Aslan,
"But I said, 'Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash.' He answered, 'Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me...
..Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites -- I take to me the services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him...'"

It seems to me that anyone, even in another religion, who somehow comes to an awareness of God, would or could not continue to worship or seek the false god or teachings of his own religion. I believe he would have to come to a realization that the god he had heard about through his own religion was not the true sovereign God of the universe, and that the teachings learned in his own religion were not the entire truth. I was once asked in a Alpha course if I thought a good Buddhist might be saved. My reply was, "I don't suppose he could, but a bad Buddhist might."

I think Chesterton is closer to the point when he writes,
The savage who thinks nothing of tossing off such a trifle as a tale of the sun and moon being the halves of a baby chopped in two... will then retire to secret caverns sealed against women and white men... where... the priest whispers the final secrets, known only to the initiate: that honesty is the best policy, that a little kindness does nobody any harm, that all men are brothers and that there is but one God, the Father Almighty, maker of all things visible and invisible. (The Everlasting Man)

Much of the nature of God can be deduced through reason. A Muslim, for instance, should be able to reason that one cannot be saved by good works. If salvation is just a matter of tilting some kind of balance by more good works than bad, how can one ever know what the tipping point is? How can any number of good works please a god who demands perfection. A Jehovah's Witness should be able to reason that Jesus must be God, elst how would his sacrifice be sufficient. A polytheist must be able to deduce that there can only be one Supreme Being, a God above all other gods, and the only one truly deserving of worship. And any atheist or agnostic should be able to deduce that there must have been a Source of all that we see, and that Source must be outside the universe and precede its existence.

But reason can only go so far. Reason might lead us to an awareness of God, but to know Him can only be because He allows us to, and only by His own revelation to us. Even reason can only make use of His common revelation, that of Romans 1 and Psalm 19 that is given to all. Those who have become born-again children of His will know that it was by no accomplishment of their own that they were saved. It was God alone, and by His sole prerogative, who opened the eyes of our hearts, filled us with His Holy Spirit and gave us new life.

But back to my original subject. I am not saying that a person in Emeth's religion could not have been saved. I am also not insisting that they can; I just don't rule it out. But I think they could not, in all conscience, have continued to worhsip Tash. They would have to have doubts. They would then have to have believed there was another; a One True God. They would then have to have begun to seek the Him. And that One True God might then, if their seeking was genuine, have rewarded them. (Hebrews 11:6, Deut 4:29, Jeremiah 29:13

Take Care

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Pro Life, Pro choice

That is how I attempt to explain my position on abortion. I mentioned on a comment on another site that I would not enforce my pro-life stance on anyone, and I guess my position might require some clarification. What I meant was that although I am personally against abortion, and could never counsel anyone to have one, I would also not forbid the procedure to any woman who did want one, even though I believe it is unquestionably the taking of a human life.

Abortion is not illegal in Canada. And that is according to the will of successive governments. We live in a democracy, where the government reflects the will of the majority of the citizens. Not only do we get the government we vote for (some would say the government we deserve), we get the government that it is God's will for us to have (eg. Romans 13). No government, however good or evil, has any power that God does not allow it. That means that people like Morgantaler have the right to provide abortions and women who want them have the right to undergo them. Is it the taking of a life? Yes. Is it wrong? Absolutely yes. I believe that we as Christians have the obligations to speak out against them, to try to get others to see the wrong in them, but we don't have the right to prevent them when the majority of citizens seem (and I'm afraid I believe they are) in favour of them.

Personally, I couldn’t counsel abortion in ANY case, including rape, incest or even the danger to life of the mother, and I really don’t believe any woman who truly trusts God and seeks His will in the matter could have one. To put things into perspective, ask anyone to choose between their own life and that of one of their children. A life yet unborn is still no less a life than an infant, a toddler, or an older child. What would be the answer?

But I believe every little baby who has lost it's life through abortion is with Jesus right now. And every woman who has sacrificed those lives, and every abortion provider who took them will see them again. Those who have come to a saving relationship with God through Jesus Christ will join them. Those who reject this offer of salvation will be judged by them (1 Corinthians 2,3)

Again, I quote from Revelation 22,
Let him who does wrong continue to do wrong; let him who is vile continue to be vile; let him who does right continue to do right; and let him who is holy continue to be holy. Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.

We live in an age of Grace. God has given everyone the freedom to make choices. Evil may seem to flourish for a season, but those choices will not go unjudged forever.

Take Care

PS: I hesitated to post this, wondering, after some thought, about the consistency of my position. In other words, if one saw a child in danger, would one not do one's best to safe its life? What, for instance, is the difference between rescuing a child from being hit by a truck and preventing an abortion? I can't really give a consistent answer. Thoughts anyone?

Monday, 14 July 2008

Giving Liberally?

From Here...
Ananias and Sapphira Must Have Been Liberals (Acts 5)

Liberals are generous with other people's money, and they make their generosity known at the polling places. And, having voted for the next in an endless series of proposed social programs, they brush their hands together as though they have done their duty. This is their equivalent of saying "I gave at the office," although what they really did at the office was vote for someone else at the office to give...

...But the data shows (actually, mountains of data show) that conservatives are overwhelmingly more generous to the needy than liberals. Conservatives donate far more money than liberals do, and when you examine the recipients that each donating group is likely to select, you see that liberals are far more likely to give to arts groups, film festivals, or museums -- at wine and brie fundraisers -- while conservatives are far more likely to give to medical missions, hurricane relief, etc.

Liberals are like Ananias and Sapphira -- they wanted to have the reputation of being far more generous than they were actually willing to be.

I wouldn't be surprised to see that conservative Christians are more generous givers than liberal ones. In fact, I would be almost positive they are. Why? There are probably many reasons, but I will hazard one guess. I think it follows point by point.
1) They see themselves as basically good, rather than inherently sinful.
2) Therefore they don't feel so great a need for forgiveness.
3) Hence they have less appreciation of the meaning of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.
4) They don't have a full realization of just how great a debt has been paid on their behalf.
5) So they are not as thankful as a person who realizes the greatness of God's grace.
6) Giving is a sign of both obedience and gratitude, and the liberal feels obligated on neither count.

Just my take on it.

Take Care

Saturday, 12 July 2008

No One Comes... Except Through Me (John 14:6)

I have been re-reading C.S. Lewis's Narnia series. One of my favourite moments occurs in "The Silver Chair." A young girl, Jill, is thirsty and comes to a stream. But the lion Aslan (the Christ figure in the Narnia stories) lies between her and the stream.
"If you are thirsty, come and drink,... are you not thirsty?" said the lion.
"I'm dying of thirst," said Jill.
"Then drink," said the lion.
"May I -- could I -- would you mind going away while I do?" said Jill.
The lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bilk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience.
The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
"Will you promise not to -- do anything to me, if I do come?" said Jill
"I make no promise, said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
"Do you eat girls?" she said
"I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emporers, cities and realms," said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
"I daren't come and drink." said Jill
"Then you will die of thirst." said the Lion.
"Oh dear!" said Jill, coming another step nearer. "I suppose I must go and look for another stream then."
"There is no other stream," said the Lion.

There is only one Way, only one Truth, only one Life. No other Name.

Take Care

Here is what our daughters are hearing

I Kissed a Girl (And I Liked It)- Katy Perry

This song is all the rage on the pop charts right now. I didn't post the video because I found it even less suitable for its intended audience than the lyrics.
This was never the way I planned, not my intention
I got so brave, drink in hand lost my discretion
It's not what I'm used to just wanna try you on
I'm curious for you caught my attention

chorus:
I kissed a girl and I liked it. The taste of her cherry chap stick
I kissed a girl just to try it, I hope my boyfriend don't mind it
It felt so wrong, It felt so right, don't mean I'm in love tonight
I kissed a girl and I liked it. I liked it.

No, I don't even know your name, it doesn't matter
You're my experimental game, just human nature
It's not what, good girls do; not how they should behave
My head gets so confused, hard to obey

chorus

Us girls we are so magical; soft skin, red lips, so kissable
Hard to resist so touchable, too good to deny it
Ain't no big deal, it's innocent

This sexualization of young girls is not new, of course. My own two daughters were at the young and impressionable 'tween and early teen years early in Madonna's career. Madonna was one of the first artists to so blatantly, by her music lyrics and her videos, apply what I always felt was undue and premature sexual pressure on teen and pre-teen girls. One of the greatest jokes of irony, in my opinion, has been Madonna's joining the fight against AIDS, all the while promoting, by her words, actions, songs and videos, the very behaviour that most greatly leads to its spread. But she just doesn't get it. Her message seems hardly to have been diluted by time or maturity. Her videos are as blatantly sexual now as ever, in spite of her getting, "religion."

But Madonna and her "religion?" That's for another post.

Take Care

Monday, 7 July 2008

Happy Birthday Ringo


I just like this song. It's the simplest of songs, a catchy tune with absolutely no pretentions to "greatness."

Take Care

Morgentaler's Order of Canada

From Musings from the Muse
The award committee seems to be making a statement about Morgentaler - we think he's a great guy and deserving of this honour. Morgentaler agrees, in an interview he stated that he "deserved" the award (which should automatically disallow him)...

...The award was not made on the basis of anything he achieved, but rather to celebrate the place of death in western culture.

I guess this should not be a surprise - since our culture has an unhealthy addiction about death, the commercial availability of abortion fits nicely with that idea, as will the legalizing of euthanasia which is just around the corner. What better way to celebrate our fixation with death, than to name the man the media called 'Dr Death' to our country's highest order?

The next medical recipient should probably be the Dr who challenges the laws [against] physician-assisted suicide at the Supreme Court and has them struck down - thereby allowing our medical system to administer 'compassionate' and 'caring' death.

I wonder why the person who invented the 6-49 lottery should not be also named, as they've had a far larger impact on more Canadians that Morgentaler.

Take Care

Evening Sky Over Edson

July 6, 2008, 10:30 PM, facing northeast

These are storm clouds at twilight. (Yes, for you in more southern climes, twilight here is between 10:30 and 11:00 PM. For those more northerly, no big deal, right?)Much more impressive in reality. I guess you had to be here.

Take Care

N.T. Wright on GAFCON

Bishop N.T. Wright gives a generally negative opinion of the recent GAFCON conference Here...
One point he makes that particularly leapt out at me was this,
The problem is that GAFCON is addressing (at least) three quite different issues:
b. The African sense that it’s time for leadership to come from black Africa rather than white N Atlantic;

It is either naive or disingenuous to paint this as a geographic issue. The issue is the defense of the unchanging truths of the Christian faith. The “white N Atlantic” (British, Canadian or American) leadership is rapidly demonstrating itself either unwilling or incapable of doing so. Leadership, therefore, MUST come from elsewhere… somewhere… anywhere!

Take Care
h/t & cross comment from Here...

Sunday, 6 July 2008

40 Years


Today was our 40th anniversary. 40 years ago, in Toronto, an incredibly goofy-looking guy and a wonderfully gorgeous girl promised to spend the rest of their lives together. And today I believe I can say with confidence that this still goofy guy and this even more beautiful woman, after a few ups and downs over the years, are still on their way to making those promises a reality. The adventure continues. Love and feelings change over time, and I take more naps now, but I can honestly say that I don't think I could ever have loved her more than I do now.

Happy Anniversary Eva. I love you.

John

Saturday, 5 July 2008

KJS on Emissions

From Here...

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori of the American Episcopal church has responded to the Global Anglican Future Conference with a statement which included the following,
Much of the Anglican world must be lamenting the latest emission from GAFCON.

Her choice of the word, "emission" is interesting. It was obviously carefully chosen, because it is not the obvious word to use. She has gone out of her way to use that particular term. It is obviously meant to give a derisive tone to her statement, and to indicate her revulsion toward those who would hold to a more traditional Christianity than the one she and others of a similar mindset embrace.

Hills of the North has an excellent analysis of her response Here...

The liberal North American church does indeed retain an attitude of colonial superiority toward people of "lesser" races and cultures, doesn't it?

Take Care

Friday, 4 July 2008

Six Faces of New Paganism

From Tim Challies...
...this new paganism has six faces and [each]one proceeds from the one before it.

1. The common worldview of the Western world since the time of the enlightenment has been materialism. This philosophy says that matter and its motions constitute the entire universe. Everything in the universe has to be regarded as due to material causes.

2. There is an implication to materialism. Since everything is material, ideally and theoretically, everything is subject to empiricism. Here he quotes Alan Reynolds who says, “empiricism, which insists that all knowledge is based on observation, experimentation, and verification, has led to belief in a self-sufficient universe that can be understood on its own terms, without any need of the transcendent or of God.”

3. Together materialism and empiricism entail a belief in an inherent coherence within nature between cause and effect. This, in turn, has led to belief in determinism, which understands reality as mechanical and without inherent value. Life’s origins and the nature of humanity have natural rather than divine causation.

4. Secularism is a political or social philosophy that embraces each of these “-isms”—materialism, empiricism and determinism. It embraces natural causation and and rejects religious faith and worship in the public square. Nature, society, and government become instruments dedicating only to fulfilling our material desires which masquerade as “rights.” This is fast becoming the dominant worldview among Western intellectual elites.

5. Secular humanism is a system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values and dignity are predominant. This leads to a kind of intense pragmatism that calculates everything in terms of its benefit to humanity. There is no acknowledgment of God and his rule of the created order.

6. Post-modernism or New Ageism marks what is really a return to old-fashioned paganism, though with a distinctly modern twist to it. New Ageism takes distinctives of Eastern religion and distorts them with Western concepts. Post-modernism replaces the objective reality of God as revealed in special revelation with subjective deifications of individual expressions of spirituality. Waltke says, “it rejects the notion of a revealed moral code and instead tests truth by its therapeutic value.” In this worldviews there are no better or worse cultures but merely differences between them.

Point number 5 sounds for all the world like it could refer to any number of liberal churches of our modern and enlightened Western society.

Take Care

But It's OK to Put A Crucifix in a Glass of Urine

Headline from UK's Daily Mail:

"Muslims outraged at police advert featuring cute puppy sitting in policeman's hat"



Here's an example of what seems to me to be an increasing cowardly and fawning submissiveness, not only to Muslims, but to any whiny minority group in our western society who feel their rights have been violated, which often means, "whose feelings have been hurt." We seem to be so obsessed with not offending anyone that we bend over so far backwards we fall over.

Everyone involved in this issue seems to be apologizing all over the place for offending Muslims. PLEASE PEOPLE... get over it. It's just a picture... of a #%*&%@# puppy! Why should anyone have to apologise for that?

Take Care