Friday, 26 December 2008

War is Over if You Want it?


I have posted on this song before, but recently I have been thinking about it's connection to today's latest fad issue. It seems that every generation has its pet causes. At the time John Lennon wrote this song (which I rather like) it was war. Today it is climate change (as it is now called because 'global warming', its previous label, seemed unconvincing in the midst of cold snaps and record snowstorms.)

But the chorus from the song betrays the same human tendency to arrogance that we now see in the whole climate debate -- that is, the feeling that something we do can actually change things significantly, other than wasting a whole pile of money that ends up in someone else's (or some other nation's) pockets.

"War is over... if you want it." War is not over, despite the naive optimism of the '60s. Not that I am defending war. We all would like all war and suffering to be over. But to think that any of our actions will end it is,unfortunately, simplistic at best. As long as the human heart is selfish and human nature self centered, wars will continue in series around the world.

So it is with climate change. We have whole movements indoctrinating whole sections of society, especially our children, into thinking the issue is, for one, much larger than it probably is, and for another, more controllable than it probably is. We have Barack Obama, for instance, calling for more biofuels, while a recent report stated that the amount of corn required to make just one tankful of fuel for one of our cars could feed a third world family for a whole year. In the meantime, the amount of potential food being used for fuel is driving up its price so the poor of the world can no longer afford it.

Not that I am either denying some kind of problem or that we must not aim for some kind of solution. We all must do our best to conserve the planet and its resources and surely we all should do our part. But meanwhile the rich, the high profile and the celebrities leading the bandwagon continue in their profligate lifestyles, buying 'carbon credits' and thinking they are doing anything but assuaging their own consciences so they can continue to be wasteful and pay others to compensate for them.

I have two questions: Has Al Gore moved to a smaller house, one that uses less than twenty times the energy of the average house, and have all those Hollywood stars on the bandwagon turned off the air conditioning in their mansions to conserve power? Once they do that, perhaps I's start believing they are sincere about their pet issue.

Interesting link Here...

Take Care

Responses to Canadian Pragmatist and Anonymous

I tried to respond to the comments on my, 'Bill Maher - Religulous' post, but the comments section would not accept the link to another site, so I will post them here.

Pragmatist, thanks for your thoughtful replies.

You are correct in saying we cannot comprehend the beginning of the universe. But still, we must either explain or imagine how something we might call ‘stuff’ came to be, either from nothing at all, or from some kind of ‘non-stuff.’ However, saying we will never know it, is a bit of a leap of pessimism that cannot with certainty be made.

The plurality of worlds explanation is certainly no less fantastic than the theistic one, and actually compounds the question by requiring how the many universes began as opposed to just the one we know.

The difference with the, ‘god hypothesis’ is that although God cannot be ‘proven’ to the satisfaction of one who will not acknowledge Him, He is ‘knowable’, and has made Himself known to millions of people throughout history in every part of the world. Not acknowledging Him does not disprove Him.

Regarding free will, it is naturalism that truly denies free will. If all our thought processes are merely random pulses of electrical energy, following paths in our brains according to merely natural laws, then how can we explain consciousness and the ability to make free decisions. By what mechanism are we to control these purely natural impulses? Regarding Gods foreknowledge as it impacts our free will, this is a debate to which there seems to be no answer satisfactory to all. In my own opinion, I see foreknowledge as separate from fore-ordainment. God can know what our future decisions will be and still give us the ability to make them. It’s a matter of seeing time panoramically rather than chronologically, if I can put it that way.

Anonymous,
I don’t know if you are the same anonymous that left the comment I deleted from another post. I hadn’t seen anything so clever since junior high, and I say that not wanting to insult anyone in junior high. But perhaps I’m being too generous. Maybe you’re not there yet. If it was not you, I do apologize.

Your point about Christianity being founded on various other mystery religions is itself a well-worn myth, based on ‘research’ completely out-dated/ People propagating such nonsense should be embarrassed. Here is a link that answers most of their arguments.

Pragmatist,
On your second comment, these are the types of objections that I consider secondary because any answer I give will be contingent on my theistic worldview and probably unacceptable a priori to anyone unwilling or unable to comprehend a sovereign God. But, so as not to leave you feeling ignored, here goes.
1. Oral history perhaps?
2. What archaeological evidence would you expect? They did not build stone buildings and tents and clothing do not preserve well.
3. Irrelevant.
4. Not quite sure of your meaning and/or it’s significance.

Take Care

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Halleluiah!


I always love to play Handel's Messiah" on Christmas day. Every word from the entire composition taken exclusively from Scripture, and this is the chorus most familiar to the majority of people. The words are from the following three verses from the book of Revelation.
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. (Revelation 19:6)

And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.(Revelation 11:15)

On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.(Revelation 19:16)

Halleluiah! Have a blessed Christmas

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Christmas Sunday at +29 (Celsius)


Greetings from sunny Mazatlan. We went to church here today and sang Christmas carols. I felt odd singing about, "... a cold winter's night that was so deep," in the sweltering heat. This Vineyard Church is in a former bar, and has a number of ministries in the city, including a program of making sandwiches and taking them to the children who scrounge out an existence at the city dump.

More Here...

Sorry to all my friends suffering at -29 or so, but we'll be back home Christmas eve, and I understand it's not going to warm up at all for us.

Take Care

Saturday, 20 December 2008

How Much Knowledge is Necessary?

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:3-4)

These thoughts occurred to me in connection with the theoretical question, "Can a Jehovah's Witness (or, I suppose, someone in any other religion) be saved?" It is not my intention here to attempt to give a firm answer (as if one could even be given) or even express a firm and final opinion, but merely to raise and discuss some questions on the matter.

My first response to such a question would be, "I don't really pretend to know. God can, I suppose, save anyone He wants." But my thinking was drawn to the verse above in particular.

Now, leaving aside the first part of the verse, about God wanting all men to be saved, and the meaning of which is itself the subject of endless debate, what I wanted to do is to notice the parallel between the two concepts, that of salvation and coming to a knowledge of the truth. Obviously, there is a connection. To be saved somehow involves coming to a knowledge of the truth. More endless debate is possibly here about the "ordo salutis", the order of salvation, but at the very least, God tells us that salvation will involve our realizing certain truths of which we were unaware before our being reborn to this new life. The question is, as I entitled this post, how much knowledge of which truths is enough.

There is enough disagreement on certain matters of the Christian faith in any group of believers to make one wonder. It is not my intent to give an exhaustive list, but one of the areas where there seems to be one of the greatest variety of views, is in eschatology, or end times. Another area, with fewer views, perhaps, but no less firmly held, is in the matter of baptism (not whether baptism is commanded, it is, but in its manner and timing.) Now we are all indwelt and guided by the same Spirit, so how can we differ so greatly in these and other areas. It occurs to me that these areas must not be essential to our salvation, but secondary matters, no matter how passionately we may believe our own position to be correct.

But back to my original theoretical question, can a JW, for instance, be saved? Well, first, I would rephrase the question to be, "Can a person be saved and still retain the beliefs of the Jehovah's Witnesses?" And my short answer would be, "I don't think so." There are certain fundamentals that are so necessary to our faith that I believe their acceptance is a necessary condition of our salvation.

Again, not to attempt an exhaustive list, but one of these is the divinity of Christ, and consequently, the doctrine of the Trinity. In short, if Christ is not God, we are not saved, for the death of a mere man, or other created being, is insufficient to accomplish our salvation.

Another area a JW would have to change would be to fully accept the concept of salvation by grace through faith and not by our works, because if we think that in any way we can earn God's favour by our own strength or goodness, we diminish Him and place ourselves in some way in a position of equality, if not superiority, to Him.

These are just a couple of areas of my own thoughts on the matter, but in the end, all knowledge of truth comes from God anyway. Some of it He gives at the moment we are saved, and some is a learning process in our Christian growth.. In any case, He will make sure that we know what we need to know.

Take Care

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Why Was Jesus Born Anyway?

My wife and I are leaving for a couple of weeks of holidays -- back Christmas day -- so probably not too much blogging. I intend just to bake in the sun for a while. In the meantime I leave you with this, again from Handel's, "Messiah":
As we look forward to celebrating our Lord's coming, let's reflect on why he came in the first place.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

Read More...

Take Care

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Bill Maher - Religulous

You may have heard of Bill Maher and his movie, Religulous. I have not seen the movie -- I'll wait until it comes to free TV. It may sound like a silly principle, but I'll not give Bill my ten bucks, at least not for this piece of work. There is what I suppose is a fairly balanced and honest review of the movie Here...

That having been said, I really like Bill Maher. I wouldn't necessarily recommend him to others because of the language and content of some of his material, but I consider him a clever and highly intelligent comedian.

I have seen clips of the movie, and what I saw was him putting people of faith, mainly Christian, on the spot by trying to defend what he would paint as the "caricatures" of religion, such as the story of Noah's ark. Frankly, if he had asked me about this particular story, my reply would have been, "It doesn't matter." What I mean is this; Christians can be drawn into trying to defend their faith in areas in which the questioner has no desire at all to hear a reasonable answer. Their entire motivation is to make the Christian look silly, or so they think. And too often, I think, they succeed, in the eyes of the world.

So what I would say to him is that it doesn't matter. He is beginning with secondary things, when he should be starting with first things. I would say to him, "Ask me if I believe the first verse in the Bible, 'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," And if he asked me that, I would reply, "Good question, Bill. Glad you asked it. Yes I do believe it." Because it makes sense that all we see came from somewhere, and that it came from God makes just as much sense, to a thinking person, as that it just appeared from nowhere. In fact, the more one does think, the more sense it does make.

I saw Maher on Larry King Live, where he is a not infrequent guest, and this point came up. Bill admitted that stuff had to come from somewhere, but he questioned whether the God of religion had to be the source. I remember him saying, "I don't know where it came from, maybe my belly button lint created it all." Now to this I would have to say, "Bill, I've given this a lot of thought, and I really don't think your belly button lint created the heavens and the earth. Because your belly button lint is stuff, and whatever brought the first "stuff" into existence had to be some kind of non-stuff, or else what it created wouldn't have been the first stuff, would it?" Then I'd say, "But don't take this personally, Bill, because I don't believe mine did either."

Then I'd go off on a tangent by posing another of life's great questions, rivalling, in my opinion, the mystery of the origin of the universe itself. It is this: why, no matter what colour of clothes you wear, belly button lint is always the same colour? You can wear the purest white shirt, shorts and pants, but your belly button lint will always be the same dark colour. Why is that? I expect the answer to the origin of the cosmos will be answered before this one.

But again, what Bill meant as humour in his answer to Larry King, illustrates the inevitable failure of atheists to Ask the next question ... and ultimately the failure of atheism to answer it.

Take Care

Friday, 5 December 2008

Judgment - All Roads Lead to the Cross

Doug Wilson refers to C.S. Lewis regarding judgment
In his book on the psalms, C.S. Lewis commented on the difference between the Jewish view of judgment and the Christian view. The Christian, he said, thinks of judgment as a criminal trial with himself in the dock. The Jewish mentality thought of it as a civil proceeding, with himself as the plaintiff. This explains why the Christian instinct is to avert judgment, to seek a solution for it, which of course is ultimately found in the cross. The Jewish instinct is to pray for judgment to come, for God to intervene, and the sooner the better.


Our last Wednesday night's bible study was on the grim little book of Nahum. Pastor Terry noted these points, speaking of Nahum 1:4-10, where God comes across alternately as a God of love and compassion, and a God of wrath, anger and judgment:

This destruction of the wicked is not as black and white as we sometimes make it out to be. We can make equal and opposite errors here:

  • Minimize or deny the wrath of God on the wicked and make a "pink" god of our own imagination
  • Self-righteously call down wrath on all the sinners, "out there" and delight to imagine God wiping out the wicked.

His reference to a "pink" God comes from G.K. Chesterton, speaking of Christianity's ability to keep two seemingly opposite notions held in tension.
It has kept them side by side like two strong colours, red and white, like the red and white upon the shield of St. George. It has always had a healthy hatred of pink. It hates that combination of two colours which is the feeble expedient of the philosophers. It hates that evolution of black into white which is tantamount to a dirty gray. (Orthodoxy)

In this case, I think of the God who has revealed Himself as a God of both judgment and a God of mercy being replaced by a bland and insipid god. A god like the effeminate teacher who threatens discipline but never carries it out.

Justice and mercy. Neither can be compromised. Both are necessary. How can they be reconciled? I have heard it said somewhere that Justice is God giving us what we deserve. Mercy is His not giving us what we deserve. But between these two, separating these two, if you like, as a membrane or a force-field between two incompatible and potentially explosive reactants, is grace. Grace is His giving us what we don't deserve, and that is mercy. Justice, mercy, grace -- God is a God of all three, and all three meet at the cross.

Because judgment, for the Christian believer, has already taken place -- at Calvary. The sentence, a sentence of death, was passed; the penalty was assessed and borne by Christ on behalf of all who would believe. Without Christ our own death would have been permanent, our eternal future hopeless. But because of his resurrection we too have been raised to newness of life. This is perhaps hard to put into words, but when we are reborn by the power of the Holy Spirit; when God brings us into a relationship with Himself, we become a new person. Everything is new; everything is different. We die to ourselves and our old life, and are made new and alive in Christ.
...if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)


But the one not covered by Christ's sacrifice needs to be careful in asking for justice. The human tendency is sometimes to yearn for God's judgment upon the wicked. We long to see injustice punished. But the final judgment is just that -- final. Judgment will come. It will come in God's own time. But come it will -- it is inevitable. And when it comes, that's it. As C.S.Lewis said, "...when the author walks on to the stage, the play is over."

We as Christians know that the final judgment will determine everyone's eternal destiny. That is why we should be reaching out to all we can with the good news of Jesus Christ -- the good news that they may have eternal life, starting now, by placing all faith and trust in him.

We may yearn for this world to be over, but we must realize that when it is, there is no further hope for those, even those we may know and love, who do not know Christ. We should be careful what we wish for.

Take Care

Isaiah 40:1-11

A reading for the Second Sunday of Advent, and more from Handel's, "Messiah":



Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD's hand double for all her sins.
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. (Isaiah 40: 1-4, KJV)


And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. (5)


Take Care

Thursday, 4 December 2008

How to Have Some Fun at Work

These are from our latest Raven Truck Accessories newsletter,

  • At lunch time, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.
  • Page yourself over the intercom. Don't disguise your voice.
  • Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.
  • Put your garbage can on your desk and label it, "IN BOX".
  • In the memo field of all your cheques, write, "for sexual favours."
  • Reply to everything someone says with, "That's what you think."
  • Finish all your sentences with, "in accordance with prophecy."
  • As often as possible skip rather than walk.
  • Specify that your drive-through order is to go.
  • When the money comes out of the ATM, scream, "I won! I won! 3rd time this week!"
  • When leaving the zoo, start running toward the parking lot yelline, "Run for your lives! They're loose!"
  • Sing along at the opera.
  • Find out where your boss shops for clothes and buy exactly the same outfits. Wear them one day after your boss does.


Monday, 1 December 2008

Scott posted Bach's Magnificat on his blog today and it got me thinking of my own favourite Christmas peice, Handel's Messiah. Here is my second favourite movement from it -- probably most of your churches included this verse in yesterday's service, the first Sunday of Advent.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Enjoy, praise God and Take Care.