Friday, 31 December 2010

God Does Not Exist and He is a Big Meany

I was watching this episode of the Michael Coren Show
It is a debate between two theists and two atheists on the the subject of the existence of God. I had a couple of thoughts.

First of all, I noticed that one of the atheists introduced a common and irrelevant distraction into the discussion; that the God of the Old Testament was a genocidal maniac. This is totally beside the point. The debate is whether God exists, not the nature of His personality. I suppose one could argue that once the atheist introduces God's personality into the discussion, he is at the very least admitting the possibility of His existence. But as in a discussion of the truth or falsehood of evolution, any such discussion is pointless until one acknowledges the existence of a sovereign and omniscient creator God. Acknowledging His existence changes everything, including one's view of His interaction with His creation in the OT. Until one is agreed upon His existence, any discusssion of His personality is purely hypothetical and superfluous.

Another aspect of the discussion touched upon the existence of rational thought. Now, this may not be an argument for the existence of God in itself, but certainly the pure materialist must consider it. The ability of humans to think rationally and hold and change opinions certainly argues for something beyond the purely natural, that is something supernatural. If naturalism is true, for instance, then everything in the uiniverse, including even our own thought patterns are strictly the result of atoms, molecules and electrons travelling in a way, and along paths instigated by the big bang at the beginning of the universe. But we have the ability to control our thoughts, which indicates to me something beyond pure naturalism.

I picture a huge billiard table with many billiard balls on it. Imagine there is no friction and that it is perfectly flat, so that any ball moving will move in a straight line until it hits a bumper or another ball. Without even getting into the, "first cause" argument, imagine one of these balls set in motion. It strikes another, which strikes another, and so on, until all the balls are moving. None of these balls has a choice about which direction to move. That is controlled completely by how it was struck. So absolutely every movement of every ball is forever subject to forces put into play by the initial movement of the initial ball.

So how can we form opinions, or change our minds, or think of the colour pink when it is suggested to us? Surely there is something beyond mere mechanistic naturalism, which opens the possibility of some kind of, "beyond naturalism," which admits the possibility of the existence of God.

Just thinkin'

Take Care

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Well... Isn't That Interesting!

From Here
..JERUSALEM - Israeli archaeologists said Monday they may have found the earliest evidence yet for the existence of modern man, and if so, it could upset theories of the origin of humans.

What's this? The theory that is considered so airtight might have to be rethought? Go figure.

A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in central Israel said teeth found in the cave are about 400,000 years old and resemble those of other remains of modern man, known scientifically as Homo sapiens, found in Israel. The earliest Homo sapiens remains found until now are half as old.

I don't count myself a young-earth creationist. I don't think it's necessary, biblically, so I don't mind hearing that these teeth are as old as they say. What I do believe, of course, is that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and that when He created humans, he created them as humans. Where?...

The accepted scientific theory is that Homo sapiens originated in Africa and migrated out of the continent. Gopher said if the remains are definitively linked to modern human's ancestors, it could mean that modern man in fact originated in what is now Israel.
... in the middle east. Now we see that commonly accepted scholarship may have been mistaken, at least regarding the area of origin. Well, (palm to forehead) who'da thunk it?

He stressed that further research is needed to solidify the claim. If it does, he says, "this changes the whole picture of evolution."

I don't claim that this proves anything, but it gives pause; it casts doubt in some areas. It reminds us that majority opinion at any given time is not necessarily proof of truth. And anything that is not the truth is open to revision. Anything but the truth is open to being proven false.

(Update)
What's my bottom line here regarding the Christian faith? I guess it's this; if the Christian story is true, it cannot be proven false, however damning any evidence may seem. If it is false, then those of us who put our faith in it are surely to be pitied above all men. You know where I stand.

Take Care

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Here is Why

Here is why the split in the Anglican Church of Canada is inevitable and necessary. Check out This story in the Anglican Journal. The story is one with which we are familiar, but pay attention to the comments, particularly those of John (not me) and Geoff. They are starkly indicative of the great chasm that separates the two factions in our current dispute.

In them, personal opinion is categorically presented as indisputable fact. Subjective emotional feelings are treated as superior to Scripture. One commenter accused me of quoting, "Bible school" proof texts (even though I actually did no such thing), but no Scripture was given to support his case. It is wrong to exclude gays, it seems, because it is wrong to exclude gays, and that's it! And that's not even the "orthodox" position. We do not intend to, "exclude gays," we just feel that love compels us to point out wrong and dangerous behaviours, whatever the context, and separate ourselves from anyone who unrepentedly insists on continuing in them.

But it's as if "the other side" is determined to hold fast to their position just because it is their position. Trying to carry on a reasonable discussion is like trying to deal with children, when they hear something they don't like, sticking their fingers in their ears and screaming, "na na na na na na."

Take Care

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Is It Good?

Pastor Terry Stauffer links to This Post... at the The Gospel Coalition regarding the recent debate between former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and renowned atheist Christopher Hitchens. The subject of the debate was whether religion was a force for good in the world.

Which rather misses the point entirely. Whether 'religion' is or is not good for the world is a completely subjective mattter, depending upon one's definition of, "good." Often, in a circular way, one's very definition of, "good" is formed by one's religion (or lack of it) itself.

So Mr Hitchens says, in his opening remarks,
Is it good for the world to worship a deity that takes sides in wars and human affairs? To appeal to our fear and to our guilt, is it good for the world? . . . To terrify children with the image of hell and eternal punishment, not just of themselves, but their parents and those they love?

To which the author of the post insightfully notes,
Behind each of these questions lies Hitchens’ conviction that none of these claims corresponds to truth or reality. From his perspective, there is no deity who takes sides in human affairs or holds people accountable after death for the decisions made in life.

It seems unlikely that he would ask similar questions about hard realities he believes to be true. Is it good for the world to listen to journalists who takes sides in wars and human affairs (as Hitchens has done time and again)? To appeal to our fear and guilt by informing us that unless we prioritize care of the earth, we will be guilty of its destruction—is it good for the world? To terrify children with the images of nuclear war and the risk it poses not only to themselves, but also to their parents and those they love? If good means nice or safe, then none of these topics is good for the world. If good means true or real, then we must address them. (emphasis mine, JK)

I emboldened the section in the quote above because that is exactly what is happening. A recent news story out of Quebec tells of the prohibition of any religious content in government subsidized day cares. But our children are being brainwashed with all sorts of terrifying propaganda regarding global warming, or, "climate change" as it must be called when things sometimes seem to be cooler (like this year in much of the world) rather than following the prescribed pattern. Is that good? I suppose, "good" is decided by who holds the power.

As a sidebar, do I care about the banning of religious instruction from schools? Well, not particularly. The Christian faith began without official sanction by government and it grew very nicely, thank you very much. Perhaps we'll just have to do it again, without a government sponsored platform and even without (my ANiC brothers and sisters?) buildings, at least for a time.

But back to my original point. The question is not necessarily whether religion is good, but should be about whether it is true. In this sense, as I have mentioned before, with thanks to G.K. Chesterton, Christianity is not a religion at all, in the sense that we might refer to all other world, "religions" as such.

Christianity is not a religion as such, but a record, a statement, of facts. Historical facts at that. It is a fact that God created the heavens and the earth, and everything in them, including human beings. It is a fact that mankind then turned away in rebelllion from Him. It is a fact that mankind, ever since, has been trying to reach back to Him, to control Him, to ignore Him, to do without Him, or to reinvent Him in his own image. And it is a fact that none of these attempts are possible. It is a fact that God came to earth in the person of His Son, Jesus of Nazareth to pay the price necessary for the forgiveness of sins, the shedding of blood, in this case His own. And it is a fact that through this sacrifice, we can, through faith in Him, come into a relationship with Him by which we may be with Him forever. That is, enjoy eternal life.

And whether that is good depends on whether or not you believe it. But I would say to Christopher Hitchens what Nicholas Cage said in the movie, "City of Angels,"
Some things are true whether you believe them or not.

And so, all the best to you and yours this Christmas season.

Take Care

h/t New Lumps

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Ban Dihydrous Monoxide!

Many of the delegates at the UN climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, have signed a petition to ban dihydrous monoxide, a key ingredient in climate change, acid rain and... fatal if inhaled...

...A group of college students called Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, or CFACT, circulated the fake petition at the conference this week.

I hope I don't get in the same kind of trouble here as I did with my post regarding Obama and Keynesianism, but it's just that I hate stupidity, (yes, even if it is my own), and the hysteria over climate change seems to be a particularly fertile field for it.

Dihydrous monoxide, if you haven't guessed or figured it out, would be two hydrogen atoms (dihydrous) combined with one of oxygen (monoxide), in other words H2O, or water. Now I don't look down on anyone who didn't know that, but what on earth are they doing signing a petition when they don't know what they are signing.

From Here...

Take Care

Monday, 29 November 2010

Baptism: Is Immersion in Water Necessary to Receive Forgiveness of Sins?

I took the title of this post from the blog of Steve Finnell, a commenter on the previous post. In it he states categorically that yes, immersion in water is necessary to receive forgiveness of sins. I must state equally categorically that I believe he is completely wrong. His arguments seem, to me, to be characterized by non sequiturs and going, "...beyond what is written." (1 Cor 4:6)

I don't pretend to able to elucidate completely the Baptist position on baptism, even though I attended a Baptist church for 7 years and having only received infant baptism myself. I must also state that I could not have been more warmly received by the Baptist congregation I attended, in spite of our obvious differnces in this matter, nor could I think of a more Godly congregation of saints. But I understand that at the very least, they see baptism as a sign and a public declaration of one's faith in Jesus Christ after coming to faith in him.

Nor will I attempt to argue the issue at length. A couple of links
Here...
and Here...
...explain things very nicely. That is not to say they will convince anyone holding the Baptist position, but they attempt to explain why those who baptize their infant children feel it is not an unreasonable postion.

What I would like to do is address the one passage often used as a proof text to by proponents of believer baptism, and just ask a few questions about it. The passage is Acts 2:38.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

I have had people take this verse to the point that Peter's words, "...repent and be baptized..." are to be understood as a chronological requirement for all time. You have heard the saying that a text without a context is a pretext. So let us ask the questions.
Q. To Whom was Peter speaking?
A. He was speaking to God-fearing Jews from every nation (Acts 2:5)
Q. When was he speaking?
A. He was speaking on the day of Pentecost, the first pentecost after Jesus' death and resurrection, and upon the occasion of the first ouptouring of the Holy S[pirit; what we now recognize as the birth of the Church.
Q. How many of his audience would previously have baptized in Jesus' name?
A. None.
Q. Is it necessary, in light of the order in which Peter mentioned things, to be baptized before receiving the Holy Spirit?
A. No. Even Baptists would agree that one must have received the Holy Spirit before being baptized. No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (1 Cor 12:3)
Q. Is it necessary, in light of the order in which Peter mentioned things, to repent before receiving the Holy Spirit?
A. No. In fact, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts of sin, so one cannot truly repent apart from the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit must come first.
Q. Had any of those who received the Holy Spirit that day, including the apostles themselves, been previously baptized in Jesus' name?
A. There is no evidence to indicate so.

In other words, it was a first on many levels; an occasion unprecedented and never to be repeated -- a one time occurrence. Now, we Christians would all agree that someone who has never been baptized, and who comes to faith in Christ, should indeed be baptized. And frankly, every one of Peter's audience would have been in that position on that day, so every one of them should have been baptized. But to take Peter's command in such a wooden, literal manner without really thinking it through; insisting on the chronology of repenting and being baptized, but ignoring that, in the passage, both precede the giving of the Holy Spirit, does it an injustice, and lays upon those who would be followers of Christ, a burden they do not need to bear. In short, it is a proof text that doesn't prove what they want it to.

Take Care

PS: Just a couple of more things.
1. In the very next verse, (Acts 2:39) Peter tells his audience, an audience of adult men, that this is for their children as well. What did he mean? I just ask the question, even if my tongue somewhat in my cheek.

2. This is anecdotal only, but I have been told by a pastor friend who has been to the place in the Jordan River where John is said to have done his baptizing, that the river is so shallow that total immersion was most probably impossible. Christian groups do baptize there today, but apparently an area had to be dug out deep enough for the purpose.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Poverty is a Matter of Immorality

Not that poverty, as some would have it, is immoral in itself. Rather, poverty, as I have said many times before, is to a great extent a result of immorality. Here is more evidence from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, as if any more is needed.
...the large majority—80 percent—of poor, unmarried couples were romantically involved at the time of their child’s birth. In fact, 50 percent of the couples were living together. Fathers almost always visited the mothers and children in the hospital and usually gave financial support. Even better, most of these new parents said that there was a 50/50 chance that they would eventually marry each other. They spoke highly of their partners’ commitment to their children and of their supportiveness.

But within five years, a tiny 15 percent of the unmarried couples had actually taken wedding vows, while a whopping 60 percent had split up.

Read it all here...
The problem is, of course, that the liberals and the left will never, indeed can never admit, that this type of sexual immorality, or what they might euphemistically call sexual freedom, (that is, a sexual relationship of any kind outside of marriage), is the primary cause of child poverty in our culture.

But the evidence is clear, and until it is recognized and addresssed, our Western culture and society will continue to circle and eventually go down the drain.

Take Care

Thursday, 25 November 2010

How Long, O LORD...?

Some of my freinds in the Anglican Network may be feeling rather devastated over the recent court decision against them in BC regarding their church buildings and property. The BC decision may well, and probably will be, used as a precedent in lawsuits in other areas. I won't get into a great discussion of the issues here. I have made my thoughts clear. But for any who feel betrayed; for any who feel unjustly treated, by their former church or by the courts, I have been thinking of Habakkuk, and offer the following excerpts:

A plea...
Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails. The wicked hem in the righteous, so that justice is perverted. (Hab 1: 3-4)

The LORD's answer...
...watch— and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.(5b)

Another plea...
LORD, are you not from everlasting? Your eyes are too pure to look on evil; you cannot tolerate wrongdoing. Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? (12a, 13)

And again, the LORD's answer
"Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.
For still(E) the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. (2:2b-3)

Then follow a number of woes which may or may not apply. I leave it to the reader to decide for himself.

But then the assurance...
The LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before him. (v20)

And finally the author's own prayer of trust and confidence.
Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. (3:17-18)

Read the whole book. It's only three chapters. Read it again, and rejoice at what the LORD will do.

Take Care

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Offensive Images


Photograph by: Greg Southam, The Journal, File, Edmonton Journal

Read More...

This story brings a number of thoughts to mind. Barb Tarbox died of lung cancer a few years ago and even up to death was unable to kick her cigarette habit. But she became a campaigner against smoking, delivering her message in schools and to all who would listen, continuing to do so courageously and selflessly until the very end. As the story relates, it was even her wish that pictures of her, as ugly as possible, be taken and shown to demonstrate the evil results of her smoking habit.

Apparently the U.S government is considering putting these pictures on cigarette packages. The Canadian government has been hesitant to do the same. Frankly, in my opinion, rightly so. Why? Because, although I don't take a particular position on the pictures themselves, I believe they will do no good whatsoever. Smokers don't care what pictures are on the pack, they will buy them anyway -- the addiction is just that strong. Even Ms Tarbox smoked right up to the end of her life, unable (or unwilling, if I may be forgiven for presuming) to quit. Government do-good social dictators forcing manufacturers to put offensive pictures on cigarette packs, a legally saleable and heavily taxed product, is just a joke, in my opinion.

And of course the other thing is that pro-life demonstrators at Carleton University in Ottawa and elsewhere around the country, are arrested for showing images of the results of abortion, because they may be offensive to the public.

Just as history is written by the winners, so is what is offensive, decided by those with the power to declare it.

I'm not sayin'... I'm just sayin', y'know?

Take Care

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

This Is So Funny

Especially the strident lady in the red jacket who just keeps digging herself deeper and deeper into embarrassment (I gather someone eventually explained the meaning of, "Keynesian"Although in this case it is at the expense of who would probably be on the liberal side of things, such silliness is not exclusively theirs. It's just that I find it funny when someone so headstrong wades in on something they know nothing about. A number of years ago I remember a similar survey with members of the American public being asked the question, "Did you know that Ronald Raegan is a self-confessed heterosexual?"

By the way, I'm not completely familiar with economic theory, but I suspect he is Keynesian, isn't he?

Thanks to The MCJ

Take Care

Friday, 29 October 2010

More Pre-Trib Dishonesty?

I hate to keep dwelling on this, but some people just will not let me let it go.

I was listening to David Hocking the other afternoon. Mr Hocking is, of course, a committed pre-trib rapturist, and he addressed the one passage I have often quoted that I believe disproves that very position.
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 KJV)

Mr Hocking went on to explain that the falling away (Gr. apostasia) merely meant, "departing," and applied it to the rapture, as in, the church, "departing." In fact, Strong's Concordance, as referenced in the Blue Letter Bible gives no such definition. In fact it gives only one,
1) a falling away, defection, apostasy

He then said, plainly as you can hear in his radio broadcast, that, at the temptation of Christ, when the angels ministered to Christ, "...it then says they departed..."

Well, first of all, I could find no reference in the Biblical text to the angels departing. The closest reference is the devil departing (Luke 4:13) and secondly, in any case, the word used is not apostasia. In fact, apostasia is used only twice in the entire New Testament, and never in the sense of a mere physical departing.

I have e-mailed Mr Hocking for clarification. Hopefully he will reply, but I'm afraid that, unless I stand to be corrected, this is another case of naivety, myopia or just plain fudging of Scripture on the part of someone clinging to an end-times pre-tribulation rapture position.

Take Care

Friday, 22 October 2010

Good Things We Did Not Provide

I was listening to Charles Price on one of my favourite radio ministries the other morning on my way to work. In fact, his program comes on from 8:30 to 9:00 AM every morning. So I have arranged to start work at 9:00, I leave the house at 8:30, and I make sure it takes me exactly half an hour to get there.

The other day, in his series on Abraham, he touched on the following passage;
When the LORD your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, be careful that you do not forget the LORD, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. (Deuteronomy 6:10-12)

I never knew quite what to make of this or similar passages. Was God being unfair to those who actually did build, or plant? Was He like an overly doting parent, spoiling his children, removing their motivation to provide for themselves?

But then it struck me like a ton of bricks! This is a picture of God's amazing grace! This is a foreshadowing of what he has done for us in Jesus Christ! He has given us a salvation we did not deserve and could never provide for ourselves. What was a new land for the ancient Israelites is a picture of our new life in Christ.

I can never again think of the Israelites critically for accepting something for which they did not work, because this is what each and every Christian, born again by the Spirit of God, has received as well: a salvation for which we did not work, and which we did not deserve.

And of course, this passsage is immediately preceded by one many will recognize, and which I will quote just because it is there and cannot go unquoted:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deut 6:4-9)

Take Care

Thursday, 21 October 2010

David Jeremiah Does it Again

Just finished listening to David Jeremiah's show on the radio.
Dr Jeremiah is, of course, a committed pre-tribulation rapturist. But on his show last night he quoted the very passage to make his point that I firmly believe refutes it.
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for (that day will not come) until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness[a] is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. (2 Thes 2:1-3)

He said that the first verse is clearly speaking of the rapture which, if I were in his camp, I would agree with. But then he leapt to the conclusion, and I am basically quoting him here, that this passage proves that the church will be gone before the antichrist appears! My response was an incredculous, "What ??????"
He walked word for word through the passage and then insisted on his point. What am I missing?

I'm afraid I just can't understand how someone could be so blind. Either he is seeing something I don't, and I am blind, or he is so overtaken by his pre-trib position that he, at least in this case, just doesn't see the clear teaching of Scripture. The passage clearly states that our being gathered together with Christ (the rapture) does not occur until after a rebellion (a falling away or apostasy) and the revealing of the man of lawlessness (the antichrist) is revealed.

As I have said before, there are a lot of well-known and high profile Christians in the pre-trib, or "left behind" camp, and I think that this is a most dangerous teaching, even if one subscribes to a premillenial return of Christ.

Because even if the pre-mil position is true, then teaching that the church will be gone when the man of lawlessness is revealed leaves their followers wide open for deception. If the antichrist arrives on the scene, and believers are still on the earth (as I believe is the logical Scriptural conclusion of the pre-mil position, proven by this very passage), then all those who have believed the pre-trib position will not believe that he is, indeed, the antichrist, because they will have been told all this time that he couldn't be. They will have been told by teachers they admire that they will be gone when he comes.

I believe these teachers should be careful about how adamantly they preach their beliefs, and acknowledge that their position may not be quite the certainty they insist it is.

Take Care

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

The Gospel Conspiracy Theory

Atheists, skeptics and others who attempt to debunk various areas of the Christian faith have long insisted that the four Gospels we have in the New Testament are there only because a certain faction, "won out" over others and, supported by the Emperor Constantine, finally imposed their views regarding the canon of Scripture at Nicaea. They say it is an illustration of history being written by the winners. This of course was quite arguably not at all the case.

I came across an interesting article on the subject at, of all places, the Huntington Post website, in a post by Charles E. Hill.
There once were, of course, other Gospels...

...Yet before there were the many Gospels, there were only the four. Not that the four were necessarily the very first writings about Jesus ever scribed, but they are the earliest which we now have. And they are the earliest whose existence we are actually sure of.

Read it all here...

It brought to mind something I had written when one of my liberal seminary professors questioned the authorship of the Gospel of John;
The earliest tradition of the Church held John to be the author. Culpepper [R. Alan Culpepper, author of the course textbook] and others have made the accusation that the superscription, "According to John," was added some time in the second century, but Martin Hengel [in his book, 'The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ'] gives, in my opinion, a convincing argument otherwise. His position is that

1. The superscriptions were not secondary additions, but part of all four Gospels as originally circulated, and
2. The Gospels did not first circulate anonymously.

Hengel says, "Nevertheless, the fact remains that it is utterly improbable that in this dark period (the first half of the second century) the four superscriptions of the Gospels, which had hitherto been circulating anonymously, suddenly came into being and, without leaving behind traces of earlier divergent titles, became established throughout the church. Let those who deny the great age and originality of the Gospel superscriptions give a better explanation of the comletely unanimous and relatively early attestation of these titles, their origins and the names of the authors associated with them. Such an explanation has yet to be given, and it never will."


Interesting stuff. Once again, the orthodox Christian need not apologize to his critics for holding to his faith.
Take Care

Friday, 15 October 2010

A Theological Question

My youngest daughter is planning her wedding for next spring and has asked me to be involved in planning the service, form a Christian perspective. I have found wedding services form two church denominations that include the following:
One says, "Spirit of God...," the other says, "Amighty God..., in whom we live and move and have our being." Something didn't quite sit right with me, and I wonder what I should think on the matter.

This phrase, of course, comes from Acts 17:28, where Paul is speaking to the men of Athens and informing them of the One they refer to as the Unknown God. It is a quote, according to my NIV Study Bible notes, from the 7th century B.C. Cretan poet Epimenides.

My question is this: Is it acceptable and accurrate to use this phrase in a Christian prayer, even though it came from a pagan source? Does Paul quoting this poet appropriate it and make it suitable for Christian purposes? Does Paul quoting this poet make it inspired Scripture?

I still haven't quite made up my mind on the issue. What does anyone think?

Thanks

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Is the World Nuts?

Just compare these stories and judge for yourselves.
From Australia...
because conscientious objection by medical staff was now illegal, the hospital could employ only people who endorsed late-term abortions.

From Minnesota, USA...
Muslim cashiers at some local Target stores who object to ringing up products that contain pork are being shifted to other positions where they don’t need to, the discount retailer said Saturday.

And from Britain... harassing people engaging in outdoor public sexual acts has become a, "hate crime..."

I'm not sayin'... I'm just sayin', y'know.

Take Care
h/t David

Monday, 13 September 2010

One More Word on Koran Burning

From Here...
...we wouldn’t be fretting like this if there weren’t something very special about Islam. You could announce plans to burn a stack of Bibles, or the Bhagavad-Gita, or the Dhammapada, or the Book of Mormon, or Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, or a truckload of copies of The Watchtower, or any other non-Muslim religious text without making the White House and Pentagon call emergency meetings and put embassies around the world on alert.

...in recent years Muslims around the world have burned countless American flags, not to mention the flags of pretty much every other Western democracy. Since 9/11, we’ve grown used to seeing the revered symbols of Western democratic values routinely desecrated in the Muslim world.

And we’ve also grown used to the fact this is most assuredly not a two-way street. American flags can be burned by the hundreds, by huge crowds, in the major squares of Muslim capitals, and that’s apparently hunky-dory with us. But when a guy in Gainesville whom nobody ever heard of decides to burn a few Korans, everybody from the president on down begs him to reconsider. Obama to the contrary, this isn’t about “our values as Americans”; it’s not about “freedom and religious tolerance.” It’s about fear. Nine years after jihadists murdered 2,977 people on American soil, the sight of American leaders quaking in their boots at the thought of some clown’s offending the Muslim world is nothing less than obscene.

The Imam intending to build the mosque near ground zero was on Larry King Live last night. He sounded quite reasonable and moderate. Among the comments at the site referenced above is one defending most Muslims as moderate people. Well I would like these moderates to stand up BOLDLY and condemn directly and without equivocation, all acts of violence and terrorism committed in the name of their god or their religion. Until they do, they cannot be taken seriously.

'Nuff said.

Take Care

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Arrogant Liberal Nonsense?

Not quite sure what to make of this
From Here...
A fly bothers me, I kill it: you kill what bothers you. If I had not killed the fly, it would have been out of pure liberalism: I am liberal in order not to be a killer.
Is whoever wrote this trying to say that conservatives kill what bothers them and liberals don't? If so, what an arrogant lie!

In addition to the reference in the article to euthanasia, I raise the even more obvious issue of abortion. What better example of killing what bothers you than that. Is a baby inconvenient? Get rid of it. That is the epitome of the liberal position.

It was the "liberals" a couple of generations ago who were behind the eugenics movement which, if not outright killing, was at least motivated by the attitude of, "getting rid of the less desirable."

It seems to me that liberals are the lest tolerant of all people. They are tolerant until someone disagrees with them. They can't seem to handle disagreement. Their arrogance is such that they see themselves as so right that they can't fathom how anyone could possibly challenge their thinking. Anyone who differs must be somehow less informed, less discerning, less intelligent -- even less human.

I'm sure that deep down, liberals would be quite happy to get rid of everyone who "bothers them." Wish that all who differ with them were just gone. Meaning all who do not share their agenda.

Take Care

Friday, 10 September 2010

Well... Whatever!

Is it just me...
A statement from the Primate on the threatened Koran burning
Dear friends in faith,
I join bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and other church leaders in calling on Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fl, to maintain a commitment to refrain from a public burning of the Koran on Sept 11th, the 9th anniversary of terrorist attacks on the United States of America. That day, it seems to me, should be marked by gatherings for prayer, and expressions of mutual respect for our various faith traditions and the texts we all regard as sacred. This appeal is grounded in our love for God and neighbour, and our deep desire for peace among all people.
In abiding hope, I am
Sincerely in Christ
+Fred
Archbishop and Primate

In addition to what seeems to me to be overly complicated grammar,
...to maintain a commitment to refrain from a public burning...
I can see why some might want to gather for prayer on this particular day. But frankly, I have no desire to set aside a day to express my mutual respect for various faith traditions, even though I in fact may respect other people of faith, as opposed to those of no faith. And I respect their right to hold whatever faith they hold, even if I think them wrong. But I also feel no great need to express my respect for the texts they hold sacred, even as I respect their right to hold them sacred.

And what did I think of the pastor's plan to burn Korans? Was I offended? No. And not being a politician I felt no need to feign outrage and take righteous offence. But I think it was just a completely dumb idea.

I'm glad he changed his mind.

Take Care

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Stupid? Sad? Ridiculous?

All of the above?
From Stand Firm

Hartford (Connecticut) City Council To Begin With Muslim Prayers
The Council announced Tuesday that it has invited local imams to perform Islamic invocations at the beginning of the Council meetings in September.
An e-mail from the Common Council called it "an act of solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters."
The email even referenced the ongoing issue in New York. "One of the goals of the Council is to give a voice to the many diverse peoples of the City, which is especially important given the recent anti-Islam events throughout the country."
"I feel it is very important that, as a Council, we project a culture of inclusiveness in the City of Hartford. Too often it is our differences that divide us. In my opinion, it is our combination of differences that makes us strong," Winch said.

A couple of points from the comments:
1. From a Christian perspective, Muslims are not our brothers or sisters. We may have Muslim friends or neighbours, but, aside of course from our secular families, only fellow members of the Body of Christ are our true brothers and sisters.
2. Hopefully the ACLU and all other secular, "separation of church and state" advocates will be all over this. They certainly would be if the council meetings began with Christian prayers.

Take Care

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Reincarnation = Bad Math

A story on the religion page of yeaterday's Edmonton Journal (to which I can't find a link) says that interest in reincarnation is growing. It seems many believers in such things remember being a peasant in 18th century France, or a Roman soldier, or some other such character. It's odd that no one remembers being a pig, or a caterpillar or some other ignominious being.

But I got to wondering this: according to Wikipedia, the population of the world in 1800 was around 1 billion people. Now it is approaching 7 billion. Well, if everybody alive now was someone else in the past, where did all the extra people come from? There just don't seem to be enough former slaves, or peasants, or countesses or Roman centurions to go around for everyone today.

Or am I missing something? Perhaps, even though no one seems to remember, we all weren't people in our former lives, but bugs or animals. Perhaps extinct animals! That might explain the present absence of mastadons, dodo birds and sabre-toothed tigers. They have all become people. So mourn not species today that seem to be endangered. Perhaps they will all return as people in some future, even more gullible, generation.

Take Care

Saturday, 28 August 2010

What About Other Religions?

This is a follow up, with further thoughts, to my previous post. The question obviously arises, "What about good people following other religions -- will they be saved?"

I was once asked, during an Alpha discussion, "Can a good Buddhist be saved?" My answer was this: "I don't think so, but a bad Buddhist might." What did I mean by that?

I believe, as I have stated constantly, that God has revealed Himself to all mankind, throughout all history, both through an inner awareness and external evidence, sufficiently enough that no one has any excuse for not realizing His existence. In fact, I believe that this innate awareness is the basis for all religion. Various religions are either an attempt to reach, or please, or satisfy, or mollify this Entity, or an attempt to avoid Him by focusing on something else often most notably our own inner self or strengths, which is the oldest lie in the book, "...you will be like God,..." (Genesis 3:4). Christianity, on the other hand, I believe is the first and only, "non-religion," completely unique among the panoply of faith or belief systems, in that it is principally a record of something that has happened in history. The term, "gospel" means, "good news," and that is what Christianity is. It is a reporting of what this God has done for the salvation of His people: He has come to us, because nothing we can or could do could enable us to reach Him, and He has paid the price necessary for us to be in a true relationship with Him forever. Yes, there is much theology beyond that, but basically Christianity is a record of how God accomplished something on our behalf that we could never do on our own.

So what about this ,"bad Buddhist"? Well, first of all, let me say that I believe, along with my Calvinist friends, that salvation is all, 100%, of God. God draws us (we could not even seek Him if He didn't) and it is He, and He alone who regenerates us, fills us with His Holy Spirit, and brings us into His kingdom. I don't believe at all in, "decisional regeneration," that by making a decision for Christ, we are saved. I believe the only legitimate decision we can make to follow Him is made after He has already given us new life, in response to our realization of what He has aready done.

But let's say God is revealing Himself to a practising Buddhist, or one of any other faith. Buddhism may be all the religion this person has ever known. He may have been reaise from childhood in it. But if God is truly drawing this person, even though he might continue all the rituals of his religion, he would have to, I believe, begin to have the dawning of doubt that what he was practising was true. I believe he might, after performing the prescribed religious rituals in public, return to the privacy of his room and pray to the God he somehow knows is there, saying something like, "Whoever You are out there, I know that You are something more than what I have been taught. Thank You." In other words, he would have to begin to believe that his own religion, whatever it is, is wrong. It does not have all the answers. It is not bringing him closer to fulfilling his need to know and worship the true Creator of the universe and all that is in it.

Can people be saved through other religions? I would have to say no. People are not saved by religion, but by God Himself. But can He save people of other religions? Why not? I suppose one could say that God can save people out of other religions, just as He can out a wooden and dead professed Christianity.

Now I know I will be accused by some of arrogance for my conviction that Christianity is true and all other religions false. Believe me it is not arrogance, but just the opposite. My true sense is one of great humility and thankfulness. One will remember the saying that communicating the truths of Christianity is just one beggar telling another where to find bread. And that's all it is. I am doing my best to communicate what I believe, and to do it with gentleness and respect, as we are commanded to do.

We can only then pray that those with ears to hear will hear.

Take Care

(h/t G.K Chesterton; The Everlasting Man)

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Inclusive or Exclusive: What about Those Who Have Never Heard?

What happens to those who have never heard the gospel? We discussed This sermon in a recent Wednesday night Bible study. It involves one of the most frequently asked, and hotly debated questions of Christians and skeptics alike. What it comes down to is this:

Is conscious faith in Jesus Christ necessary for justification or can God apply the benefits of Jesus' sacrifice to someone who either has not heard about it, or does not fully understand it?

I'm afraid I take the somewhat inclusive view that perhaps He can. I'm not stating categorically that He does, because I can't say that I know for sure, but I also believe that no one can say categorically that He can't, or doesn't, because neither can they know for sure.

Then, on Stand Firm I came across This from R.C. Sproul on the very same subject; What about the innocent native? Listen to it all; it is less than 20 minutes.

Sproul makes some valid points;
- that there are no innocent natives in far-off corners of the world. "All have sinned..." of that there can be no doubt.
- that no one is off the hook because they have not heard of Jesus. They may not have rejected Jesus, but they certainly have rejected God the Father.

But here, I think, is where he actually begins to contradict his own position. He cites Psalm 19
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.

and Romans 1
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him,

... as evidence, and quite rightly, that God has revealed Himself to all people everywhere, and no one can claim, when they stand in judgment, they were not given enough evidence. I would add Acts 17 to the body of Scriptural evidence.

But it seems to me that if God has given all mankind enough evidence to condemn those who reject Him in spite of it, He has also given, by corollary, sufficient evidence to save those who might turn to Him and trust Him because of it. And who's to say they can't. Abram did -- and every other 'Old Testament saint,' even those before Abram, before there were 'Jews,' God's chosen people. And those are just the ones we read about in the Bible. Could there have been others, even in other parts of the world? Well... why not?

There can be no doubt that no one can come to the Father except through Christ. That is indisputable. But how narrowly or broadly is John 14:6-7 to be interpreted? Certainly, if not for the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, there would be no hope of salvation for anyone.

But can God apply the benefits of that sacrifice to those who have not heard, but trust Him according to the extent He has revealed Himself? Can He apply those same benefits to those incapable of understanding; the mentally ill or infants?

Again, I do not say that he can't. I like to think I allow God a little more sovereignty than those who claim that He doesn't.

Take Care

(Just a further thought)
Someone might say that people before the time of Christ were saved because they believed in God's promise of a coming Redeemer, and of courst, that is true. But the first promise was given to Adam and Eve, from whom all humanity has descended. So presumably, in addition to God's common evidence of Himself, all their descendents, (and ultimately, all descendents of Noah and his family, through whom the human race was begun anew), which includes all mankind since, has had access to, and awareness of this same promise.

Just thinkin'.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Why?

Giving not just limited to the faithful
Atheist movement encourages generosity Beyond Belief


An atheist, Dale McGowan, executive director of the Alpharetta, Ga.-based Foundation Beyond Belief, wants to encourage his fellow non-believers to give more to charity.

He apparently thinks that the reason people of faith give more to various charities, both religious and secular, is that by giving to their religious institution once a week when the plate is passed, they form a "giving habit" and therefore are more likely to give even to other causes. The obvious question is, "What???" It is as if a person drives the same route everyday from home to work. Then meaning to go the drug store instead of work, they inadvertently turn left instead of right at a given intersection and end up at work instead of the store. So a person of faith who gives to a secular organization, the Cancer Society, let's say, must then pound their forehead in frustration and say, "Opps! I didn't mean to give to cancer research, but I give every Sunday at church and it's just become a habit! I can't seem to break it."

The article closes with Mr McGowan saying,
"The most important human calling is to care for each other, this world, and this life,"
And the obvious question, to me, is, "Why?" On what basis does he make this statement? On what grounds does he consider it to be true? Once again atheists try to whistle past the graveyard. Once again they attempt to pretend that the total illogic of their thinking doesn't exist, or at least will go unnoticed.

There is no objective reason why atheists should think that charitable giving is good. There is no reason why they should think that anything at all is good, because they have no other standard for their opinion than, well,... just that -- their own opinion. Now I'm not saying that charitable giving, religous or secular, is not good. I'm just saying that the atheist really has no basis on which to insist it is good, other than some warm and fuzzy feeling.

In the end, logical thinking is to the atheist as clothes were to the emperor -- just not there.

Take Care

(Updated to address comment #1, and an attempt to clear up any misunderstanding, based on my comment #2)

I am not saying that atheists do not do good. Many atheists may indeed do more "good" than many Christians. I am not talking about doing good; I am talking about defining what good is, and ultimately, the atheist has no objective basis for his definition other than his own opinion. Without an objective standard; that is, one from an authority above and outside of ourselves, "good" becomes only a subjective concept, subject to individual opinion. If he claims societal standards, these are nothing more than the sum of a number of individual opinions. If he claims "the benefit of humanity" (or the greatest part of humanity), that too is nothing more than an opinion. And without an objective standard, one person's opinion can not be claimed to be any more or less valid than any other.

I am not trying to be arrogant; just realistic.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Thank You Edson, Thank You God

Today was my final Sunday as a regular attendee at Edson Baptist Church. I can still remember the evening, about seven years ago, when I looked in the local paper to find that Edson Baptise held a Bible study on Wednesday evenings. I can remember joining for the first time a group of strangers who would become a new family to me.

Today was a day of mixed emotions. We have sold our house and move back to the Edmonton area this coming Friday, so next Sunday will be our first Sunday back at the church home we left those years ago in Edmonton. I am now officially a senior citizen, so am stepping back somewhat from my current position (store manager here in Edson), even though I expect to stay with my current employer in some capacity back in the Edmonton area. The move back to Edmonton is an answer to much prayer for God's will to be accomplished in our lives, and trust that it would be. Ever since we left, I have been unable to shake the conviction that God still had work for us back there. It certainly turned out to be His timing and not ours, but I am grateful that my wife and I, over about the past two years, actually came to a place of complete trust in His goodness and sovereignty.

I am truly thankful for my time in Edson, especially for my time attending Edson Baptist. What a joy and an encouragement to sit under solid Christ-centered teaching, in a fellowship free of the controversies of creeping liberalism. Now I find myself stepping away from the security of complete orthodoxy, back into a world controversy. Why? I don't know. What are we stepping into? Again, I don't know. But I am convinced that we are returning to whatever it is God has called us to do; however He has called us to serve.

I said to the congregation today, and I hope I was not misunderstood, that little Edson, a small town on the Yellowhead highway in west-central Alberta, and particularly Edson Baptist, is blessed beyond what they may know to have a pastor like Terry Staufffer, who preaches Christ unabashedly and uncompromisingly. One thing I will take from my time here is a reinforced conviction of the absolute centrality of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Terry and I had many discussions on various aspects of theology; Calvinism, election and the sovereignty of God come to mind in particular. I found that such discussions helped either form, transform or reinforce my own thinking in these areas. In some I found my view modifying toward his, in some solidifying my position in some of our differences, but in any case, the interaction was invaluable. I link to both Pastor Terry and Edson Baptist Church at the bottom of my blog, and those links will stay.

So thank you Edson, for my time here, and Thank you God, for bringing me here.

But thank You too, for taking me back home.

Take Care

Islam Means "Peace?"

From the Q'ran,
[Sura 2.256] There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error;

In other words, Islam should be able to stand on its own, in its own defence. There should be no need to kill or convert others by force, or to fear proselytising by other faiths. Muslims must have enough confidence in the rightness of their faith to believe it can stand on its own strength against any attack, or any other belief system...
But apparently not...
Eight volunteer medics shot dead in Afghanistan
Unarmed team called 'Christian missionaries' by Taliban
Gunmen shot dead eight foreign medical-aid workers in the remote forests of north Afghanistan, their charity said Saturday as the Taliban claimed it killed them for being "Christian missionaries."
The bullet-riddled bodies of five men, all Americans, and three women, an American, a German and a Briton, were found in the northeastern province of Badakhshan on Friday, said the provincial police chief.

This action by the followers of the, "religion of peace" makes a mockery of their own holy book. It demonstrated vividly their own insecurity regarding the religion they profess to be true.

These Islamic extremist have been promised paradise, but how surprised will they be to wake up and find themselves in hell.

Take Care

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Tony's Story

Have you heard this commercial,
The brewers of Canada would like you to listen to Tony's story...

A parent (Tony) tells how he always told his son that if he was at a party and needed a ride, to call his dad and he would pick him up. then he says how he himself was out the other night and decided he was alright to drive. His son was home when he got ther and, Tony says, "Boy, did he ever give it to me!"

Frankly, I think this message is completely wrong-headed. First of all, Tony's concern seems to have been, not that he drive while impaired, but that his son was angry with him.

But the greater thing, in my mind, is that this is an indication of much of what is wrong in our world today. That is, the parents are no longer in control of their kids. They are no longer the authority figures. Rather, they are victims of their children's opinion of them. The parent seeks the approval of his children. The kids are in charge. The kids have control. It drives me crazy when I hear a parent, even of a very young child, ask them to do something and then tack on, to the end of the request, "OK?" As in, "Pick up your things and put them away, OK?" It just seems to me that it makes the parent a wimp, asking the kid permission for the request.

Our children need firm guidance and instruction and many parents today seem fearful of providing it. What they do not need is the kind of empowerment and fearful kow-towing that turns the parent/child relationship upside down.

Take Care

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Roman Catholics & Protestants

Here is last Sunday's sermon from Edson Baptist Church. I was not there; I was at St Pauls Anglican in Edmonton, but I listened to Pastor Terry's sermon online and found it quite good; interesting and, from a Baptist point of view, quite gracious. You may not agree with all of it (or any of it) but if you have just under an hour to spare, give it a listen.
Listen here

Take Care

Saturday, 3 July 2010

A Libertarian View of Gay Marriage

From Stand Firm
This is a very good article - a little long by most blogs' standards, but once you start reading, it goes quickly, and I found myself wanting more.

The article is a very good one, but in my opinion, it addresses not so much the specific issue of gay marriage, as the general deterioration of the institution as a result of, or at least in parallel to, the general decline in the areas of morality and personal accountability and responsiblity, along with the increase in sexual freedom (or licence) and the growing sense of entitlement of many people.

Included in the article is a lengthy quote from GK Chesterton, which includes this gem, edited slightly for context:
There are reformers who (assume) that all their fathers were fools; but if that be so, we can only say that folly appears to be a hereditary disease.

This expresses, in true Chestertonian fashion, my own disdain of what I call, "cultural," or, "chronological arrogance." It is the tendency of may liberals, or reformers as Chesterton calls them, to assume that we, "moderns" have now got it all together where our predecessors in previous generations somehow missed the point. It assumes that we are somehow more intelligent, or culturally superior to anyone who has come before us. Today it manifests itself in the areas of sexual morality (I suppose the Playboy Philosophy started it all), the rampant epidemic of drug abuse and the call for the legalization of marijuana (the desire for self-satisfaction, stemming from self-centeredness probably contributing greatly) and the sense of many that they should be rewarded by society for their very existence; owed a living whether they want to work for it or not.

There are those in the Christian community who preach that various disasters, natural (hurricanes, earthquakes, etc.) or by the hand of man (9/11), are judgments from God for our turning our collective backs on Him. I do not go that far, but I believe there are consequences for our abandoning God, as much of our western society has done. There are consequences for putting ourselves ahead of Him. There are consequences for the type of radical selfishness we see all around us. But these are nothing new; they go right back to the beginning. They are a manifestation of the natural human tendency to be the most important thing in the universe, and the refusal to accept that we are not.

Throughout history, empires and civilizations have risen and fallen, each one probably thinking theirs would be the one to last forever. Ours is no exception, and ours, I expect, will at some point go the way of all the others.

Take Care

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Turbo Buicks (Grand National Ranch?)





I now am the proud possessor of another Grand National, the newest one a highly modified '87 to go with my stock '84. I also bought this one on e-bay, from south of Tuscon. I put the decals on myself. I bought it to be a drag car -- a ministry or an outreach, hopefully involving youth, at the racetrack. It's amazing how many people approach me at gas stations etc. about it. Invariably they ask me what, "Boanerges" means. I have a story prepared. I tell them it is from the Bible. It is the name Jesus gave two of his disciples, James and John. Then I tell them what it means. I will not mention it here. If you don't know what it means, turn to Mark 3:17 for the translation. I joke that even back in his day, Jesus would have known Grand Nationals were coming, and he came up with the perfect name for a drag race car.

I have raced it a couple of times and frankly, I have been disappointed in my performance. The previous owner, south of Tuscon, was able to run in the 10's. I haven't been able to crack the 12's. I think it needs reprogramming for the altitude. Plus it needs a more skilful driver.

Some of my friends accuse me of trying to emulate This... if I come by a few more.

Take Care

Is Province Liable for Foster Mom's Live-in Partner?


From Here...
We'll call her RD.
Her new foster mother, M, it seems, was going through difficult times of her own. She was a single mom, newly divorced, raising two children of her own as well as four foster children.
M also had a new live-in boyfriend, a 27-year-old unemployed auto mechanic and car thief named Thomas Svekla.
Svekla had a drinking and drug problem -- he'd been in and out of court-ordered rehab at AADAC's Henwood Treatment Centre. Svekla had a criminal record, though not a long one. He'd amassed convictions for drinking and driving, property theft, and, more ominously, assaulting a prostitute in downtown Edmonton.

This story is symptomatic of the crisis in our society that most people just don't recognize, or at least acknowledge. There is a general moral breakdown, a degenerating moral attitude that is much deeper than most people will admit.

In the above story, the root of the problem is not that this guy (since convicted of killing a prostitute) had such a record. It is that this foster mom had a live-in boyfriend. That in itself should have disqualified her from being a foster parent.

I have said before, on this blog and in personal conversations, that the most devastating moral issue today is not the increasing acceptance of the gay rights agenda. It is the acceptance of common law, or live-in, or shack-up relationships as equivalent to marriage. This accepting attitude, whether it is a symptom, a cause, or a result of society's decreasing adherance to a right sexual morality, has, and will continue to have, devastating results -- results that many will not attribute to the real cause. So called (or actual) child poverty, for instance, is a cause celebre in many circles, often liberal, but they cannot admit that the real root of the problem is single parenthood, which often results from of sexual improriety of one kind or another, either, may I opine, sexual activity outside of true and proper marriage, or the ending of a sexual relationship where one or both partners were not committed enough to each other to stand up before God and witnesses and vow to remain together for life.

So I sympathise with RD. I suspect others do as well. But the anger is directed toward the wrong people, at least it is for the wrong reason. The moral outrage is not that this particular foster mom had this particular live-in boyfriend, but that she had one at all.

Take Care

Monday, 14 June 2010

"A watershed moment," "Church has undergone a rebirth

So says archbishop Fred Hiltz following the recent General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada. This follows the synod's affirmation of a fairly fuzzy sexuality discernment report

In my opinion, the report, as well as the two stories referenced in the title above, here and here, are an exercise in typical Anglican verbosity, sound and fuzzy, signifying nothing.

Rather than a, "watershed moment," the adoption of the sexuality report is more of a sedative, intended to lull existing orthodox members remaining in the organization to sleep. It maintains the status quo in the ACoC which, while not officially endorsing same sex blessings, allowing those dioceses who proceed with them to go ahead unchallenged and unpunished. I believe the liberal leadership and laity in the ACoC is sitting back and sighing with contentment, feeling they have silenced their critics by not adopting an official liberal policy, full knowing that their desires are going to be met anyway.

But the freight train of the liberal Anglican church of Canada is barrelling down the hill, toward the inevitable wreck at the bottom. Lord haste the day!

Take Care

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Couldn't Have Said it Better Myself!

From Matt Kennedy at Stand Firm regarding the consecration of Mary Glasspool, a partnered lesbian, as a bishop in the Episcopal church. (and yes, I deliberately didn't capitalize the word "church.")
That the Episcopal Church--an evaporating pond already overstocked with committed Muslims, witches and wizards, Sufi dancers, labyrinths, cosmic techno masses, Buddhists, John Spong, Marcus Borg, John Chane, and, yes, many people who engage in sex acts with members of the same sex--tosses an episcopal lesbian into the stagnating water just isn't news. Its sadly obvious that they desperately wanted the attention.

Ranks as one of the great paragraphs in the history of English literature, IMHO.

Take Care

Christ Took Away Our Excuses

The music leader at this morning's service at Edson Baptist spoke about a book he was reading by Dr Martin Lloyd-Jones, a good Anglican. Actually, for a Baptist church, I am amazed and rather encouraged at how many Anglicans are held in high regard here; J.I. Packer, John Stott and the aforementioned Dr Lloyd-Jones among them. Our Pastor attended the recent ReFocus conference in BC where he said he enjoyed hearing Charlie Masters.

But I digress. The point our music leader was trying to make concerned those who may think that whatever sin they have had in their life may be too much to be forgiven.

So I condensed it into a couple of soundbites regarding Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.
His sacrifice was necessary, but it was sufficient.

But the train of thought proceeded to go further. It occurred to me that it not only took away our sin, it also took away our excuses. Because it may be that this, "woe is me, my sin is too great for God to forgive" lament, might just be an excuse to avoid facing accountability. John the Gospel writer says,
This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (3:19)

When Jesus took our sin upon him on the cross, he also took away any excuse we might have to reject his freely offered opportunity for salvation.

Take Care

Sunday, 9 May 2010

The Paranoia of Marci McDonald

From Ezra Levant's blog
Marci McDonald writing about Canada's "Christian right" is about as convincing as Ted Byfield would be if he ever wrote a book about the nuances of the Quebec sovereignty movement. It's just not within their field of expertise -- or even the language they speak. That's a gentle way of saying McDonald doesn't know what the hell she's talking about.

Here are some excerpts form the Toronto Star Article:

Amid the stormy U.S. health-care debate of 2009, most Canadians were stunned to discover that one of their own was the star of a $2 million television campaign warning Americans about the perils of this country’s publicly funded medical system. Shona Holmes, the poster girl for that attack, turned out to be fronting a lawsuit against Ontario’s health ministry spearheaded by a Calgary-based Christian advocacy group named the Canadian Constitution Foundation.

Of course neither the commercial nor Ms Holmes had anything to do with Christianity. Nor, as Ezra points out on his blog, does the Canadian Constitutional Foundation.

Regarding the seeming reversal in public opinion on abortion she whines;
That blatant attempt to raise the emotional temperature in an already volatile debate comes as two U.S. polls show that, for the first time since 1995, opposition to abortion is on the rise while support for it is slipping even more sharply.

Of course, here is the typically liberal attitude that counts majority public opinion only when it agrees with them. If it goes against their own holy grail of thought, it is deluded, discounted and in need of correction.

At a New Brunswick press conference in the midst of the 2008 election campaign, Stephen Harper staked out his political legacy, arguing that under his government, the Canadian public had already become more conservative. Although he seemed to be referring to fiscal attitudes, social conservatives like Joseph Ben-Ami did not disagree. “In the real world, you measure success not so much on whether you won or lost but where the centre of gravity is,” Ben-Ami says. “And I think in this country, it has shifted somewhat to the right.” (emphasis mine, JK)

Here we see an ad hominem on Stephen Harper turned into an underhanded insinuation against the "religious right;" a totally manipulative amd disingenuous licence.

Writing of the expectations of said religious right upon his election, and their supposed disappointment at the lack of results, she says.

...those measures he did proffer seemed born of calculation, not conviction, many came across as awkward and opportunistic, executed under a veil of secrecy and withdrawn at the first sign they might exact too high a price at the voting booth.

It would be nice for her to present some examples of these withdrawn measures.

...the Prime Minister now sends his public blessings to prayer rallies where Christian nationalists brandishing Canadian flags are calling for a Bible-based theocracy.

Not disputing this, but just who is realistically calling for a "Bible-based theocracy?" Who are these people the Prime Minister is blessing? I'd like to hear.

In their idealized Christian nation, non-believers — atheists, non-Christians and even Christian secularists — have no place, and those in violation of biblical law, notably homosexuals and adulterers, would merit severe punishment and the sort of shunning that once characterized a society where suspected witches were burned. (????!!!!) Theirs is a dark and dangerous vision, one that brooks no dissent and requires the dismantling of key democratic institutions. A preview is on display south of the border, where decades of religious-right triumphs have left a nation bitterly splintered along lines of faith and ideology, trapped in the hysteria of overcharged rhetoric and resentment. (incredulous punctuation mine, JK)

Reading the above paragraph, one wonders just who is guilty of the "hysteria of overcharged rhetoric."

The whole article reveals a liberal in fear of her sacred agenda and past victories being threatened. One can imagine the exact opposite scenario; that of a social conservative rueing the creeping influence of liberalism and sexual immorality. In which case Ms McDonald wou be quite pleased with the direction things were going.

Read the whole article here.

Take Care

PS: Oddly enough, I think I may have gone to High School with Ms McDonald, if she is the same Marci McDonald who attend Saltfleet District High School in Stoney Creek Ontario in the late '50's and early '60's. I recall her being a top student, always at the top of the class, while I was somewhere in the middle. I sent her an e-mail once, asking her that very thing, but I post a link to my blog on my e-mail, so if it was her, that may be why she didn't reply.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Only One Way

I was watching a Hindu program the other day on television. I don't remember the name of the program, although I have seeen it before, and I probably couldn't pronounce it properly if I did. I involves a shaved-headed teacher sitting in front of what reminds me of some kind of padded headboard teaching on various spiritual matters from a Hindu point of view. He actually mentions God quite a bit.

On this particular program he mentioned a question that was asked to, I think, a Buddhist. He obviously considered this question quite important because he paused, repeated it, and spoke quite slowly and emphatically as he spoke. The question was, "What is the best religion?"

And then he gave the Buddhist's answer... "The best religion is the one that brings you closest to God." Now, it seemed he considered this answer quite profound, because again, he repeated it, and repeated it slowly for emphasis. He said that he was surprised at the answer. One would expect a Buddhist to answer that Buddhism was the best religion, but instead, he answered that the best religion was the one that brought you, "...closest to God." And this Hindu teacher felt that this was quite a wonderful answer. It sounds quite wonderful, doesn't it?

Except that it is completely wrong! And it is exactly what is wrong with all the world's "religions." Because no religion brings you closer to God. It is the arrogance of religion to think that anything its participants can do can enable us to approach God at all. In fact, if all other religions are defined by the term, "religion," then Christianity (as Chesterton says) is not a religion at all. The thing about Christianity, and the very different thing, is that Christianity is not an attempt to reach God, but rather a communication of truth; the truth that, although we cannot on our own, or through anything we do, get close to God, God has indeed reached down to us. It is a declaration that God, in Jesus, came to us, for the very reason that we could not approach Him.

Other religions tell us we can get close to God through their system. Christianity realizes we can't. Some religions try to avoid God by saying we don't need Him, or that He doesn't exist, or everything we need is within us, or He is so loving that He accepts everyone and their behaviours just the way they are. They say there need be no accountability for sin. Christianity acknowledges that need, but also declares the forgiveness that is available as its antidote. Every other religion says, "This is what you must do." Christianity says, "This is what God, in Christ, has already done.

But in spite of what any other religion might say, there is only one way; only one truth; only one life. Only one way to God.

Take Care

Saturday, 1 May 2010

C'est a Rire

Which, translated, if I am not mistaken means, "It is to laugh!"

Where is the liberal press on this one...

Iran has won a seat on the UN Commission on the Status of Women...
In Iran, women are required to be covered from head to toe in public, and may be beaten for dressing in what is considered an “immodest” manner. Earlier this month a top Iranian cleric blamed immodest women for earthquakes. Women also possess fewer rights in the areas of marriage, parenthood, inheritance and career.

Would that it were indeed, only a joke.

Take Care

Abortion and... Maternal Health?

This is what some would have us foist on Africa in the name of maternal health.

Depression and substance abuse plague about half of American women who reported having an abortion, according to a new University of Manitoba study.

The study, published in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Psychology, suggests there's an association between mental disorders and abortion and that doctors should screen for a history of abortion in women who present symptoms of anxiety, mood disorders and substance abuse.

However, local researchers are adamant the findings do not conclude that abortion causes mental disorders or drug abuse, saying the study did not examine other contributing factors -- including whether the mental abdisorder existed before a woman had an abortion.
Read more:

I'm not sayin'... I'm just sayin', y'know?

Take Care

Sunday, 25 April 2010

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory...

All these came up in various contexts this morning.

The Kingdom. The question came up in a discussion after church this afternoon; what is the Kingdom of God? The way it was put, I thought it might have been a trick question, but basically the questioner and I agreed on our answer. The Kingdom of God is here now. It consists of all that and all those who are under the rule and reign of God. It includes all who have been born again by the Spirit of God into a new relationship with God as His children. There are two separate and contrasting kingdoms, and only two; the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of God. The kingdom of the world consists of all that is opposed to God. Jesus said that anyone who is not for him is against him.

Frankly, I take a fairly radical view of the separateness of these two kingdoms. If we are in the Kingdom of God; more accurately, if God has transferred us into His kingdom; if we have bowed the knee and confessed Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, then the kingdom of the world is foreign territory to us. Therefore, I don’t, when all is said and done, put too much worry into what happens in that kingdom. Do they allow same-sex marriage in the kingdom of the world? I don’t really care. Is there sexual immorality in the world? Again, so be it. In my mind, the only concern we Christians need to have about the world is how what happens there affects or impedes people from being brought into the Kingdom of God. Yes, we are called to defend and help the sick, poor and the defenceless, but I think the ultimate goal, even in that, is to bring glory to God and people into His Kingdom. The Kingdom.

The Power. As our music team prayed before service today, we prayed, as we always do, that our music would be honouring to God and that He would be with us and use what we do to draw people to Him. But sometimes we think that it’s all up to us. As if what God determined to do depended on how skilfully we played our music; ultimately, to put it rather crassly, what kind of mood we set. Whether we played it spiritually enough. Our team leader was, as he put it, rather stressed, taking, I think in a sense, the whole burden of results on his own shoulders. One of the songs we played was Matt Redman’s, “The Heart of Worship,” and it brought to my mind the intent of that song: that it’s not about the skill or professionalism of the musicians, it’s all about Jesus. If God chooses to touch hearts and open eyes and bring people to Himself, He will do it by whatever means He chooses, whether through the reading or the preaching of His Word, through a particular word or prayer, or through, even in spite of, the music. Yes, it’s important to use the gifts He has given us to the best of our abilities, and there is no place for music played badly if it is done short of our best, but when all is said and done, the power is His and His alone. He will accomplish His will in His own timing and at His own pleasure. We have no power to change lives. Only God does, by the power of His Holy Spirit.

And the Glory. Our morning class for the last couple of weeks has studied John chapter 11, the death and raising of Lazarus. One point revolved around verse 4,
...Jesus said, "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it."

Jesus deliberately delayed his response to the news of Lazarus’ illness so that God and himself could be glorified through it. (By the way, it seems pretty hard on Lazarus to be used in such a way, but it occurred to me that, if we believe that to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord, the cruellest thing was not to let him die but to bring him back.) We see a similar incident in John chapter 9, where Jesus tells his disciples that a man was born blind so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.

Yesterday the question arose, “Why does God want us to pray to Him, if He already knows what we want, and He already knows how He will answer it? What, in other words, is the point of prayer at all?” And it occurred to me that perhaps, in light of these studies, that the ultimate purpose of all prayer is to glorify God. Answered prayer gives glory to Him. The giver gets the glory, as our pastor has said. But if He just granted all our desires without our asking for them, without our expressing them to Him in prayer, where would be the glory? And that is why we present our requests, not our demands, in prayer. Otherwise God would become our servant, not our Master. That He deigns to answer our prayers keeps things in perspective and shows us Who is in charge and who is not; Who shows mercy and who receives it, Who gives grace and who receives it. To God be the glory.

All of it.

Take Care

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

I Thought I was the Only One

My daughter linked me to this video. For years, as my daughters were growing up, we would make it a game to try to get inconspicuoulsy into the background of various people's photographs. On visits to Niagara Falls, or Disneyland/World, or some other tourist hotspot we would casually stroll to a position behind the object of the photo and try to look (unlike the guy in the video) like we weren't really trying to be there. I like to claim we are in people's photo albums all over the world.
Maybe even yours.

Take Care

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

The Singer and Dawkins Comedy Show.

I first found this video through the Anglican Samizdat blog. I commented there, then pasted basically the same comment on the Youtube site, hoping to start some discussion. This is the Peter Singer that feels it is alright to kill handicapped children, and Dawkins agrees that this is perfectly logical. Watch the whole thing if you can do so without suffering permanent neck damage from shaking your head. It's about 3/4 of an hour long.




Here is my first comment, and those by myself and others that followed, interspersed among various other comments about vegetarianism and other things. Some of mine are slightly expanded.

Me: I watched the whole thing. How can anyone see this as anything other than a pathetic joke? They are blind men who think that reality is the fantasy they see projected on the inside of their own eyelids. They talk of logical consistency. Logical consistency based on wrong premises is one thing, but they follow false premises with leaps of head-shakingly faulty logic and pat themselves on their backs for their brilliance.

wedingo: what do you mean by "wrong premises" ?

Me: A logical argument can be developed using false premises, but these guys don't even do that. The false premises, IMO are the denial of the existence of God and the unquestioning acceptance of Darwinian naturalism. But even given their premises, their logic continues to be faulty. Why is suffering wrong? Why, logically, is it necessary to get relatives' approval to eat human roadkill? Why is it any less moral for a human to kill a pig than a lion to hunt a gazelle? Their entire case is personal opinion upon personal opinion, subjective judgement upon subjective judgement.

richi3mass3: The point is that a lion doesn't have the capacity recognize the gazelle's suffering, therefore could not be held accountable when considering the permissibility of the action of "killing a gazelle". Most humans are able to recognize the suffering of others, therefore have a responsibility to consider the morality of their actions toward others. Logically: IF it wrong to kill humans for selfish purposes THEN it is wrong to kill animals for selfish purposes. Peace.

Me: But you need first to explain, indeed to prove, why suffering is morally wrong, assuming the premise of Darwinian evolutionary naturalism.

brightsuperstition:
Keep on trollin'.

Me: Trolling? I was hoping to find some intelligent discussion, but apparently this is not the place for it.

We'll see if there are more responses and I will update.

Update April 25:
IAmTheCthulhu: suffering is morally wrong due to the premises of empathy. I wouldn't hit you, unless you hit me first. Factory farmed animals I doubt have ever hurt a human being, therefore human beings shouldn't hurt factory farmed animals. Its called empathy. Its supposedly what makes us better than all the other animals, but it really doesn't look like the case anymore. I think greed has trumped over it and now a black cloud hangs over our humanity. Isn't humane deriving from the word human?

Me: But it still begs the question, "Why is suffering wrong?" What does empathy have to do with Darwinism? Or, what, in Darwinism, declares suffering to be wrong, empathy or no? I am not questioning or trying to insult your own beliefs, but trying to find someone to explain the rationale of Singer and Dawkins in theirs.

Take Care

Sunday, 18 April 2010

the New Pharisees

Each Sunday morning, as I prepare for church, I have the TV on in the background. The program is a word of faith ministry, who I listen to just to see what they say, and with what I can disagree. Today's message was more of the usual, about how if we have enough faith we can move mountains, live in prosperity and cast out all sickness and disease. Their, "positive confession" message warns about using any words that would indicate any unfortunate reality in our lives, like debt or illness, but to confess over these things words like, "You are gone! Get out of my life!"

Even the other night in our Bible study, I mentioned that my wife and I are praying for the sale of our house (we feel called, for various reasons, back to Edmonton.) We had just finished a discussion on baptism (this being a Baptist church, I was the only one baptized as an infant) when one member said, jokingly I hope, that perhaps the house wasn't selling is because I was being disobedient in this area. I thought, but didn't say, (as usual I think of what to say afterwards), that there was enough unanswered prayer around that very table to go blaming it on disobedience. Now I agree that sometimes our sin or our disobedience can indeed separate us from God, and if we are being deliberately disobedient, why would we expect God to answer our prayers.

But I think that the word of faith movement goes to far. Because that is the very heart of their message; that our own negative words or even thoughts can prevent God from answering prayer. That if our prayers are not answered, or don't seem to be, that it is automatically becuse we don't have enough faith, or we have unconfessed sin in our lives. What a burden to put on people. Peoples' lives and trust in God have been destroyed by this callous attitude.

So why do I call them pharisees? I am reminded of this statement of Jesus to the pharisees of his own day:
They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. (Matthew 23:4)

Every time I hear their teaching this verse comes to mind.

Take Care