Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The grinches are at it again...

Over at the Beratta Blog, Dr. Glen Peoples, took up the issue several years ago of whether or not Christianity is a copycat religion.  In other words, Did Christianity construct a fake myth from pagan religions around it and fool everyone with it?  In a post called "Merry Mithras," Peoples writes...

The grinches are at it again. Every year at Easter and Christmas the tired old wheels start squeaking and some of the detractors of Christianity start wheeling out a few predictable canards, all connected to the idea that Christianity is just a copycat religion and that the accounts of the life of Jesus of Nazareth that we have in the New Testament were just borrowed from other older religions. 
Generally these attempts are now limited to personal websites and message boards on the internet, as they are so discredited that bringing them up at, say, a conference on New Testament studies, would get one laughed all the way home. But, unhappily resigned to the fact that some people only know what they know about theology or biblical studies because they read it at a website, it’s worth addressing some of these claims. 
I’ve already dealt with the claim that the virgin birth was borrowed from Buddhism and the claim that Jesus’ life is just a re-hashed version of the life of Osiris. Another common “copycat” theory that floats around online is the claim that Jesus is a mythical character copied from Mithras.
Read the rest here.

You may also be interested in these links...

  • Is Jesus Christ a Mythical Entity Prefigured by Osirus-Horus Mythology? (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3)
  • Did Christianity Invent Stories by Borrowing from Pagan Religions? (with links to two debates with William Lane Craig on the issue)
  • Jesus, the Resurrection, & Borrowed Myths
  • Bart Ehrman of Emory University: "I don't think there is any serious historian who doubts the existence of Jesus. There are a lot of people who want to write sensational books and make a lot of money who say Jesus didn't exist, but I don't know any serious scholar who doubts the existence of Jesus.... We have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period. I'm not saying this as a believer. I'm not a believer, but as a historian you can't just dismiss it and say 'I don't know.' I mean you have to look at the evidence. There is hard evidence. "  Check out this interview...

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Ehrman: chasing the ghosts of his evangelical past...

Michael Kruger of Reformed Theological Seminary has a good review of Bart Erhman's latest book:  Forged:  Writing in the Name of God.   Kruger concludes, 
In the final analysis, Forged is a book with a mix of positives and negatives. Ehrman’s helpful overview of the various kinds of early Christian forgeries and his excellent treatment of early Christian views of pseudepigraphy are bright spots in this volume. However, Ehrman’s level of confidence that the NT definitely contains forgeries is not commensurate with the arguments he puts forth to prove that thesis. In this regard, he regularly goes beyond what the evidence can sustain. For this reason the book, like many of his others, comes across as more autobiographical than academic; more polemical than historical. Ehrman still seems to be chasing the ghosts of his evangelical past. One wonders how many more books he will need to write before they go away.
My guess is, as long as he keeps making money from folks who are eager to listen to only one side of the debate.   

Read the full review here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Medved on homosexuality in the West

Michael Medved has an illuminating article in a recent USA Today on the issue of homosexuality entitled, "Does it matter if only 1.4% of people are gay?".  He writes,  
The nation's increasingly visible and influential gay community embraces the notion of sexual orientation as an innate, immutable characteristic, like left-handedness or eye color. But a major federal sex survey suggests a far more fluid, varied life experience for those who acknowledge same-sex attraction.
Within the article, he states,
While pop-culture frequently cites the figure of one in 10 (based on 60-year-old, widely discredited conclusions from pioneering sex researcher Alfred Kinsey) the new study finds only 1.4% of the population identifying with same-sex orientation.

Moreover, even among those who describe themselves as homosexual or bisexual (a grand total of 3.7% of the 18-44 age group), overwhelming majorities (81%) say they've experienced sex with partners of the opposite gender. Among those who call themselves heterosexual, on the other hand, only a tiny minority (6%) ever engaged in physical intimacy of any kind with a member of the same sex These figure indicate that 94% of those living heterosexual lives felt no physical attraction to members of the same sex, but the great bulk of self-identified homosexuals and bisexuals feel enough intimate interest in the opposite gender to engage in erotic contact at some stage in their development.
Read the article here.  

Brooks: It's Not About You

David Brooks has an excellent op-ed piece in the NYTimes regarding the narcissistic message that most graduates will hear these days.  He says,
Worst of all, they are sent off into this world with the whole baby-boomer theology ringing in their ears. If you sample some of the commencement addresses being broadcast on C-Span these days, you see that many graduates are told to: Follow your passion, chart your own course, march to the beat of your own drummer, follow your dreams and find yourself. This is the litany of expressive individualism, which is still the dominant note in American culture.
But, of course, this mantra misleads on nearly every front.
College grads are often sent out into the world amid rapturous talk of limitless possibilities. But this talk is of no help to the central business of adulthood, finding serious things to tie yourself down to. The successful young adult is beginning to make sacred commitments — to a spouse, a community and calling — yet mostly hears about freedom and autonomy.
 And he concludes his piece,
Today’s grads enter a cultural climate that preaches the self as the center of a life. But, of course, as they age, they’ll discover that the tasks of a life are at the center. Fulfillment is a byproduct of how people engage their tasks, and can’t be pursued directly. Most of us are egotistical and most are self-concerned most of the time, but it’s nonetheless true that life comes to a point only in those moments when the self dissolves into some task. The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself.
And I say, "Amen."

But, who has ears to hear among both the graduates and the culture who has discipled them to believe that "the self is the center of life?"

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The end is near (again). No, for real this time....


YAHOO News is reporting...
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – With no sign of Judgment Day arriving as he had forecast, the 89-year-old California evangelical broadcaster and former civil engineer behind the pronouncement seemed to have gone silent on Saturday.
Family Radio, the Christian stations network headed by Harold Camping which had spread his message of an approaching doomsday, was playing recorded church music, devotionals and life advice unrelated to the apocalypse.

Camping previously made a failed prediction Jesus Christ would return to Earth in 1994.

Al Mohler has a good read if you are wondering if the end of the world as we know it will happen today.  In a post entitled, "The End is Near?  The False Teaching of Harold Camping", Mohler writes,
Harold Camping is now warning the world that the Day of Judgment will begin at about 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 21, 2011. The 89-year-old founder of Family Radio has made such pronouncements before, most recently in 1994. He now says that he simply miscalculated then, but he is absolutely certain that he has the right calculation now. You have been warned.
Despite the long tradition of people who claimed special secret knowledge about the return of Christ, and despite the fact the Camping has got it wrong before in 1994 (yes, this isn't the first time; yet he's been given a pass and scores of people still follow him and give him money--his ministry is worth $72M), Camping remains undaunted.

But Mohler has the right perspective....
First, Christ specifically admonished his disciples not to claim such knowledge. In Acts 1:7, Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” In Matthew 24:36, Christ taught similarly: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
To state the case plainly, these two verses explicitly forbid Christians to claim the knowledge of such dates and times. Jesus clearly taught that the Father has not revealed such dates and timing, but has reserved that knowledge for himself. It is an act of incredible presumptuousness to claim that a human knows such a date, or has determined God’s timing by any means.
Second, the Bible does not contain hidden codes that we are to find and decipher. The Bible has been given to us in order that we might know the truth, and the truth is clearly revealed in its pages. We are not to look for hidden patterns of words, numbers, dates, or anything else. The Bible’s message is plain and requires no mathematical computation for its understanding. The claim that one has found a hidden code or system in the Bible is an insult to the Bible as the Word of God.
Third, Christians are indeed to be looking for Christ to return and seeking to be found faithful when Christ comes. We are not to draw a line in history and set a date, but we are to be about the Father’s business, sharing the Gospel and living faithful Christian lives. We are not to sit on rooftops like the Millerites, waiting for Christ’s return. We are to be busy doing what Christ has commanded us to do.
In Hebrews 9:28, we are taught that Christ will come a second time “to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” That is the faithful Christian response to the New Testament teachings about Christ’s coming. The church is not to be arrogantly setting dates, but instead to be eagerly waiting for him. Of that we can be truly certain.
Read the full article here.

For years, Camping has convinced untold numbers that the visible church is evil, so they should follow him.  And with all of this hullabaloo, scores more will be convinced that Christianity has nothing to offer because of con-artists like Camping.

So after today, can we please make Camping's name synonymous with "heretic"?

Like at 6:01pm to be precise?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday, Mr. Hubble Telescope

April 24th was the bday, but I'm thank for this telescope and the beautiful pictures of our universe that it has given to us.

NT Wright deconstructs Hawkings deconstruction of Heaven

In case you missed it earlier in the week, the otherwise brilliant scientist, Stephen Hawking, ventured out of his narrow specialized field of theoretical physics to pontificate on why Heaven is a fairytale for scaredy-cats (the topic of "Heaven" being properly the realm of meta-physics).  

Illustrating the old dictum that "the man of science is a poor philosopher," theologian & NT scholar, NT Wright deconstructs Hawking's stinkin' thinkin'.
Hawking is working with a very low-grade and sub-biblical view of ‘going to heaven.’ Of course, if faced with the fully Christian two-stage view of what happens after death -- first, a time ‘with Christ’ in ‘heaven’ or ‘paradise,’and then, when God renews the whole creation, bodily resurrection -- he would no doubt dismiss that as incredible. But I wonder if he has ever even stopped to look properly, with his high-octane intellect, at the evidence for Jesus and the resurrection? I doubt it -- most people in England haven’t. Until he has, his opinion about all this is worth about the same as mine on nuclear physics, i.e. not much.
 Read the rest here.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Nature of Nature

I'm super grateful for my friend, Catherine, and her Easter gift to me:  The Nature of Nature:  Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science.   The book is edited by her son, Bruce Gordon (see "Coffee with Dr. Bruce Gordon"), and his collegue, William Dembski.

The mammoth book (917 pages excluding endnotes) is a collection of essays by both Christian and non-Christian thinkers on the issue of naturalism, the belief that nothing exists outside of physical matter or nature.   Some notable non-Christian thinkers include Michael Shermer, Francis Crick, Roger Penrose, David Berlinski & Michael Ruse.  Noteable Christians include Bruce Gordon, William Dembski, William Lane Craig, JP Moreland, Alvin Plantinga, & Stephen C. Meyer.  

The debate?  Bruce Gordon explains in his introductory essay:
"A central issue in this interplay between presuppositions and conclusions, one made all the more pressing by recent scientific advances, is whether the universe is self-existent, self-sufficient, and self-organizing, or whether instead it is grounded in a reality that transcends space, time, matter, and energy.  More pointedly, does our universe find its ultimate explanatory principle in matter or mind?"
Some of the articles are way out of my league (e.g., articles on Quantum Physics which, just perusing them is enough to make ones head swim--unless of course, you speak that language), but most are right up my ally in terms of my interests in philosophy, cosmology, & ethics.

What am I looking forward to reading the most?
  • "The Rise of Naturalism & Its Problematice Role in Science and Culture" (Bruce Gordon)
  • "Sauce for the Goose:  Intelligent Design, Scientific Methodology, and the Demarcation Problem" (Stephen Meyer)
  • "Evolution versus Naturalism" (Alvin Plantinga)
  • "Must Naturalists Be Realists?" (Michael Williams)
  • "On the Origins of Life" (David Berlinski)
  • "DNA:  The Signature in the Cell" (Stephen Meyer)
  • "Life's Conservation Law:  Why Darwinian Evolution Cannot Create Biological Info" (William Dembski & Robert Marks)
  • "The Limits of Non-Intelligent Explanations in Molecular Biology" (Michael Behe)
  • "The Chain of Accidents and the Rule of Law:  The Role of Contingency and Necessity in Evolution" (Michael Shermer)
  • "Naturalism and the Origin of the Universe" (William Lane Craig)
  • "Habitable Zones and Fine-Tuning" (Guillermo Gonzalez) 
  • "On the Origins of the Mind" (David Berlinski)
  • "Evolution and Ethics" (Michael Ruse)
  • "Naturalism, Science, and Religion" (Michael Tooley)
As you might guess, this will keep me busy for a long while.  Now, if I only had a reading group to discuss these articles....

Do you like mysteries?

Dr. Holly Ordway has a nice, succinct post on mystery novels and the Christian worldview. 
Mystery novels, taken as a whole, reflect at a deep level the truth of the Christian worldview. And yes, I mean mystery novels in general, not “mystery novels by Christian writers.”
Here’s why.
In any normal mystery novel (notice that I am omitting weird literary or experimental ones; those are the exceptions that prove the rule), certain ingredients are essential:
1. A crime.
2. An investigation of the crime.
3. A resolution of the crime.
All three conditions point ineluctably toward a moral universe, one in which right and wrong, good and evil, have objective meaning. Let’s consider each point.
 Read more here.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Great Debate: Is there evidence for God?

 Well, we of course believe there is overwhelming evidence for it.  But tonight there will be a debate between two well matched opponents:  Dr. William Craig (pro) & Dr. Lawrence Krauss (against).  You can get the a preview of the debate here at Wintery Knight, and you can watch the debate online, 7pm EST.

Last day for free audio download

Have you downloaded RC Sproul's "The Holiness of God" from yet?   Today's the last day to do so.  I encourage you do get this free download.  Sproul's classic work is one of the top 5 most influential books in my life. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Science & Faith

"Once upone a time, back in the second half of the nineteenth century, it was certainly possible to believe that science and religion were permanently at war...This is now seen as a hopelessly outmoded historical stereotype that scholarship has totally discredited."

~ Alister McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion:  Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ideas have consequences....

Does one's worldview matter?

"I see no reason for attributing to man a significance 
different in kind from that which belongs 
to a baboon or a grain of sand?"

~ US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes

I wonder if those who hold to such a worldview finding it shocking when someone goes on a shooting spree?

"How," one wonders given Holmes' view of human life, "could such an incident be no more significant than exterminating ants?"

[qtd. in Time Magazine: “The Nation: A Clearer Voice?” (Sept 21, 1953)]

Rome burns football idolatry

You've probably seen the commercials of the guys who have "never missed a super bowl."  If not, check it out here:  Bob, Tom, Larry, & Don.  Sports commentator Jim Rome surprisingly takes them to the shed in his typical cut-to-the-chase style.   Check it out:

For the record, I need to hear Rome's rebuke as much as these guys do.   As one who has allowed his weekend to be ruined by what a bunch of 20 year olds do on the grid iron, I need to be reminded of what is truly important as well. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How prone is the heart to call this into question...

Memorable words from Jedi-master, Jonathan Edwards,
“There is no one thing whatsoever more plain and manifest, and more demonstrable, than the being of God. It is manifest in ourselves, in our bodies and souls, and in everything about us wherever we turn our eye, whether to heaven, or to earth, the air, or the seas. And yet how prone is the heart of man to call this into question! So inclined is the heart of man to blindness and delusion, that it is prone to even atheism itself.”
From Man's Natural Blindness in Religion
Qtd in James Spiegel's The Making of an Atheist, p. 9 

Amazon makes me smile!

Just arrived...

What was in it?

Amazon makes me smile!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Free Audio: Adopted for Life

Christian Audio is offering Russell Moore's Adopted for Life for free during the month of February.   Be sure to download it.  

Reading Log for January 2011

Below is a record of what I read in the month of January 2011. And to understand the ratings, here is my standard.

5 stars -- I loved it; highly recommended
4 stars -- A great read; recommended; will most likely read it again
3 stars -- Average read; most likely will not read it again
2 stars -- Didn't care much for it
1 star  -- Painful, waste of paper

1.  Hearing Jesus Speak Into Your Sorrow, by Nancy Guthrie.   This is an excellent book by a mother who lost several children.   She doesn't sugar coat the pain of living in a broken world, and she certainly doesn't spout platitudes.  Here you will find a sure guide for journeying through pain and loss, and still seeking God in the process.  While I have a few quibbles with how she worded a few things, I have a much more than a little admiration for the ways in which she worded so much of what she says.   4.5 stars

2.  Servant Leader, by Ken Blanchard.  A good little book with some practical advice about leadership characterized by servanthood.   He strained some of the biblical texts, I thought, to support what he wanted to say, but he had some good things to say.  3 stars

3.  Children of Men, by PD James.   I went into this book wanting to be intrigued by the story.  The first chapter is excellent as James sets up a world in which humanity has lost the ability to have children.   Fascinating premise.  But after chapter 1 it went downhill.  My wife has a hundred page rule on a book--if the author doesn't do it for her by then, she puts it down.  I have a 50 page rule.  I gave James about 85 pages and then started skimming desperately looking for the story to pick up.  Note to James:  I don't care about what a man's earlobes look like, nor the kind of eyelashes he has, nor about his lips, his chin, his eyebrows, etc.  Get on with the STORY.   I'll probably give James another shot with a different book down the road, if only to make my wife happy.  Sum:  1 chapter = brilliant.  Next 10 chapters = painful. Remember, I wanted to like this book.  1 star

4.  The Five Dysfuntions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni.   I started this in December & finished it on the first day or two of the year.   A good little book about leadership that is told via the form of a narrative followed by a section explaining the principles.  Much more entertaining than James!   And the narrative wasn't that great.   He talks about the absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, & inattention to results.  Good stuff that I'll using in team building.   3 stars

5.  Who Made God:  Searching for a Theory of Everything, by Edgar Andrews.   Let me just start by saying 10 stars (okay, I know I'm using a 5 star rating standard, but I really enjoyed this book).   Edgar is a brilliant man (with the credentials to back it up) who takes the whole issue of metaphysics, physics and biology and makes it accessible to the non-philosopher & non-scientist.  And that's no easy task, but Edgar does it with wit & humor.  His chapter introductions are worth the price of the book.   While showing that the New Atheists are offering nothing new but repackaged silliness, he takes on the fairytale of Darwinian evolution and has some critical comments for the Intelligent Design camp as well.   Check out Edgar's website as well as Challies' review.   I will read this one again, and soon.  5 stars

6.  The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission, by John Dickson.  This is an excellent book--one I wished I had written because he says everything I would have wanted to say about the issue of 'promoting the Gospel with more than our lips' (the subtitle of the book).   Dickson contends that it is every Christian's duty to promote the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but not all do it in the same way.  Here are some of the many ways he suggests:  promoting the Gospel with our prayers, our money, through the works of the church, through Christian behavior (being beautiful, he says, and he means by that something like 'living a beautiful and attractive life), through our public praise, through our daily conversation.  Endorsed by all the right people (NT Wright, Christopher Wright, Alister Begg, Ravi Zacharias, Richard Bauckman, Jim Belcher, Tremper Longman, Timothy George--and now yours truly), this book is a must-read for believers (I know, the phrased is over used, but I plan to implement this book in my own ministry and leadership training).  5 stars

7.  Of Mice & Men, by John Steinbeck.  I haven't read this classic story since high school.  I enjoyed it this time around, even though I knew the ending that came all too quickly.   Who cannot love Lennie and his dream of feeding rabbits with his buddy George.   Tragic story, but good story telling nevertheless.   4.5 stars

My wife brought home the library (she's a great wife) the DVD with Gary Sinese (George) & John Malkovich (Lennie).  I somehow didn't get the memo that it was released in 1992.   While some of the transitions were a bit wooden & I wished some of the scenes were a bit more fleshed out, this was a good film.  Sinese is one of my favorite actors (since I first saw him on the silver screen in Forrest Gump), and Malkovich played Lennie to perfection.  4 stars 

Scripture completed:  Genesis, Daniel

Piper: If they say, “Are you a Calvinist?” say, “You decide. Here is what I believe . . .”

John Piper gives some good advice on answering the question, "Are you a Calvinist?" 

He says, "If they say, 'Are you a Calvinist?' say, 'You decide. Here is what I believe . . ."
  • I believe I am so spiritually corrupt and prideful and rebellious that I would never have come to faith in Jesus without God’s merciful, sovereign victory over the last vestiges of my rebellion. (1 Corinthians 2:14; Ephesians 3:1–4; Romans 8:7).
  • I believe Christ died as a substitute for sinners to provide a bona fide offer of salvation to all people, and that he had an invincible design in his death to obtain his chosen bride, namely, the assembly of all believers, whose names were eternally written in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain. (John 3:16; John 10:15; Ephesians 5:25; Revelation 13:8)
This is good advice, and it's a line of thought that I've used for years.  People like to use labels, and often people mean different things with labels.  I once encountered a university student who was enraged when she learned that I was a Calvinist b/c that meant--in he mind--that I endorsed burning heretics.   That was rare, but in my experience in talking to people about these issues over the last 20 years, most people mean 'hyper-Calvinism' when they use the terms 'Calvinism.' Very few people accurately defined Calvinism. 

To read Piper's entire post, click here.

Sometimes, you should just call it quits....

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snowflakes evidence of Intelligent Design?

After having temps above freezing this last week melting much of the snow that had accumulated so far this winter, it started falling from the sky this afternoon.   I love the beauty of falling snow.   But what you can't see with the naked eye can be photographed with high power equipment.   Check this out...

Paul Burwell,
Evidence of intelligent design, or random chances processes at work in a meaningless universe?  

How do you account for the symmetry & beauty?  

Art in nature points to the nature of the Artist.  

Check out more photos online at the Calgary Herald.

Paul Burwell,

Living for experiences is like chasing vapors...

Here's a great quote from Michael Horton on seeking experiences vs. lived experience in light of truth...
"... manufactured and prepackaged "experiences" are incredibly short-lived. I cannot remember most movies I have seen. For whatever brief moments or even hours that I am wrapped in the cocoon of a space ride at Disneyland or am overwhelmed with intense emotion at a concert, the experience leaves as quickly as it came. However, my most enduring experiences are identified with events in which the goal was something other than having an experience. I will never forget hearing the minister say, "I now pronounce you husband and wife." Just words, right? They are words that change our life. "You have cancer." "We got all of the cancer - you're free and clear." "You're pregnant." "You got the job." Reports grounded in objective facts - outside of us and our experience - are the most significant experience generators in our lives.
"Each week, as I join my brothers and sisters in a public confession of sin and our particular sins to God in silence, Christ's ambassador declares that I am forgiven in Christ's name and on the authority of his Word. Regardless of what I feel inside, God's external Word assures me that I have peace with God in his Son. This is not a subjective experience - a peaceful, easy feeling - but an objective announcement. And precisely because of its objectivity - the fact that it is announced to me even when I am not overwhelmed by it emotionally - I get the experience of forgiveness thrown in as well. Living for experiences is like chasing vapors. It is sunsets, not "the sunset experience"; actual expressions of love, not "the love experience"; the Triune God, and not "the worship experience," that turn out to deliver the most important and lasting experiences."
- The Gospel-Driven Life: Being Good News People in a Bad News World, p. 224
[HT: routundus]

Friday, January 28, 2011

Alcorn on proving the accuracy of the pro-life position

Randy Alcorn has a great post on proving the accuracy of the pro-life position by the use of photos of aborted children.   This issue is an emotional, often heated one in which many Christians are divided.  

I remember our years of ministry at Texas A&M when pro-life groups would display giant pictures of the horrors of abortion.   It always produced conversation and debate, even among the believers that I knew.  

Alcorn brings clarity to the issue, IMHO, even if it's uncomfortable.
I’ll never forget years ago when a pro-life candidate ran television ads showing aborted babies, and people were outraged. A CBS Evening News reporter declared the abortion debate had reached a “new low in tastelessness.” Strangely, there was no outrage that babies were being killed... only that someone had the audacity to show they were being killed.
The question we should ask is not “Why are pro-life people showing these pictures?” but “Why would anyone defend what’s shown in these pictures?” The real concern about pictures of unborn babies isn’t that they’re gory, but that they prove the accuracy of the pro-life position.

The Holocaust was so evil that words alone couldn’t describe it. Descriptions of Nazi death camps had long been published in American newspapers, but when these papers started printing the pictures of slaughtered people, the American public finally woke up. If not for the pictures, even today most of us wouldn’t understand or believe the Holocaust.

I visited a college campus where a pro-life group had set up displays of aborted babies alongside the victims of the Nazi death camps, the killing fields, American slavery, and other historical atrocities. Signs with warnings about the graphic photographs were posted clearly, so all those who looked did so by choice. I witnessed the profound effect on students and faculty, including those who didn’t want to believe what they were seeing.

Animal rights advocates argue that in order to make their case they must show terrible photographs, such as baby seals being clubbed to death. If there’s a place to look at such pictures, isn’t there a place to look at pictures of abortions? And if abortion isn’t killing babies... then why are these pictures so disturbing?

Was the solution to the Holocaust to ban the disgusting pictures? Or was the solution to end the killing?

Is the solution to abortion getting rid of pictures of dead babies? Or is it getting rid of what’s making the babies dead?
 What do you think?

Can believers please God? Can we displease Him?

Thanks to Justin Taylor for posting this very helpful response to the question, "Does God get disappointed in believers when we disbelieve or disobey."

Dr. David Powlison - Does God get upset when we disobey? from CCEF on Vimeo.

I've been saying this for years. Glad to see David Powlison taking the issue on and speaking with clarity.

Also, for further study, you may want to see the chapter "Pleasing God by Our Obedience: A Neglected New Testament Teaching" by Wayne Grudem in For the Fame of God's Name.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Tale of Two Presidents

A comparison of two presidents on the single most important issue of social justice in America today.  First of all, President Obama's recent words:
"Today marks the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects women's health and reproductive freedom, and affirms a fundamental principle: that government should not intrude on private family matters.
"I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.
"And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opporrtunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams."
 Next, President  Reagan:

Reagan also wrote "Abortion and the Conscience of a Nation" in 1984, well worth checking out.  In it he writes,  "Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the Court's result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right."

When Reagan penned these words, some 15 million lives had been taken by abortion on demand.   As of today, 50 million.  Today, according to the National Abortion Federation, 35% of women will have had an abortion by the time they are 45 years old. 

Praying today for prophetic voices like Reagan's to speak anew against this social injustice in my home country of the US & my adopted country of Canada, where there are no legal restrictions to abortion on demand.

A Visual Q&A on the Big Questions

My favorite Reformation Creeds are the Heidelberg Catechism & the Westminster Confession of Faith.   The latter has it's own catechism, which you can now explore visually with this cool, artsy project:  Q&A:  An Exploration of the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

This is a work in progress, so you can subscribe RSS to follow the project as more Q&A's are completed.   Hopefully, when they finish Westminster, they'll move on to Heidelberg!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Great Resources: Apologetics 315

Apologetics 315 constantly provides great resources to those interested in defending the faith. From interviews to links, this is a great site.

Typical FB & online debates....

This is precisely why I try to avoid online debates....

Go ahead, I double-do-dare-you to debate this one!

[HT: Z / 22]

Monday, January 17, 2011

Blogging through JE's resolutions

My peruvian amigo, Francisco, is blogging (in excellent English, I might add) through the resolutions of my favorite American philosopher & theologian, Jonathan Edwards.  It would be well worth the time to think through Edwards' resolutions with Francisco...

He's completed the first 10:

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Destroying evil without destroying us...

    Why did Jesus have to die?  Couldn't God just forgive?

    In his excellent book, The Reason for God, Tim Keller argues that forgiveness always means bearing the cost instead of making the wrongdoer do it.   "Forgiveness means absorbing the debt of the sin yourself."  
    "It is crucial at this point to remember that the Christian faith has always understood that Jesus is God.  God did not, then, inflict pain on someone else, bur rather on the Cross absorbed the pain, violence, and evil of the world into himself.  Therefore the God of the Bible is not like the primitive deities who demanded our blood for their wrath to be appeased.  Rather, this is a God who becomes human and offers his own lifeblood so that someday he can destroy all evil without destroying us."  
    Jesus is both the priest and the offering.   He said, "I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep...No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord" (The Gospel of John, 10:11, 19).

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    What is "apologetics?" Are you sayin' you're sorry for something?

    apologetics |əˌpäləˈjetiks|
    Apologetics is the defense of the Christian faith.   "Apologetics" is a term that comes from the Greek work apologia that means simply, 'defense.'  It is not to apologize for what you believe in or to apologize if someone's offended at our proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ, but to make a defense for it.   In Peter's first letter to the churches of Asian Minor, he wrote these words:
    " your hearts set apart Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense [apologia] to anyone who asks you for the reason for the hope that is in you...." (1 Peter 3:15)
    More specifically, I believe Christian apologetics is a defense of the proclamation that Jesus is Lord--the King of kings and the Lord of lords.   Believers are called to make a defense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is in part a proclamation of His lordship.   We are not called to make a defense of personal opinions or personal preferences on religious topics, but rather "to set apart Christ the Lord" and to give an answer for that.   That is, we are devoted to His Lordship.

    Christianity at its basic level is just this proclamation.   This confession, says the late missionary to India, Lesslie Newbigin,
    “ distinguished in that it is a commitment to a belief about the meaning of the whole of human experience in its entirety--namely, the belief that this meaning is to be found in the person of Jesus Christ, incarnate, crucified, risen, and destined to reign over all things.”

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    I "Heart" Atheists

    I came across this website,, listening to an Unbelievable podast.  The creator of the website found out in debates with atheists that the same arguments kept coming up.  So with a desire to collect answers, he made this website to be his personal answer key.

    The website features a "Top 100" list of challenges that are often posed by atheists, with answers given by iloveatheists' creator, Todd Pitner.

    Check it out.   And love an atheist.

    Saturday, January 8, 2011

    Wars & rumors of war

    Foreign Policy online has an article they published before the new year signaling a number of hotspots around the world that are on the brink of war, or could easily be pushed that way.
    Across the globe today, you'll find almost three dozen raging conflicts, from the valleys of Afghanistan to the jungles of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the streets of Kashmir. But what are the next crises that might erupt in 2011? Here are a few worrisome spots that make our list. 
    1. Côte d'Ivoire
    2. Colombia
    3. Zimbabwe
    4. Iraq
    5. Venezuela
    6. Sudan
    7. Mexico
    8. Guatemala
    9. Haiti
    10. Tajikistan
    11. Pakistan
    12. Somalia
    13. Lebanon
    14. Nigeria
    15. Guinea
    16. Democratic Republic of the Congo
    Thankful for the relative peace in which we dwell (despite living in a secular state), but also praying that the Prince of peace will come and bring His kingdom and set everything right.

    Prayer Bootcamp for Urban Mission

    Back in November, my wife and I had the opportunity to attend the "Prayer Bootcamp for Urban Mission" in Vancouver put on by our Grace Church Planting Network. Justine Hwang & Pastor John Smed led the bootcamp. John writes,
    "The secret to effective prayer is to connect the gospel to prayer and prayer to mission. This is the essential character of Jesus’ prayer. The upward priority of worship, the kingdom values of preaching grace and doing justice, and the inward practices of forgiveness and spiritual warfare are all contained in the Lord’s Prayer. This workshop is applied prayer. We put Christ’s teaching into immediate action as we pray together for each others’ churches and cities. The outcome of this workshop is ‘prayer trainers’. With prayer resources and instruments in hand, participants put into practice what is learned."
    Here is a short video highlighting that project.

    Grace prayer from Peter Jordan on Vimeo.

    John & Justine are looking to expand this ministry.   We would definitely endorse the bootcamp.

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    Moses was maybe smarter than you think

    It is common to hear that the writer of Genesis--Moses--was a doofus.   With our modern assumptions about how we would have written Genesis (e.g., we would have used the same name for God in Genesis 1 & 2), we look back with a chronological snobbery that insists the ancients were too primitive to have any sense.  [Of course, there are still some who cling to the JEPD theory of the composition of Genesis, but that's another story.]

    At any rate, in prep for teaching on Genesis 6-9 (the account of Noah), I came across these examples of chiastic structures in the story.   A chiasm is a literary device used in ancient literature which highlights certain truths at the center of the structure.  A typical chiastic structure follows a pattern of ABC CBA.

    Check out these chiasms, the first of which highlights how the story of Noah was carefully written to highlight God's covenant 'remembering' of Noah.

    The second one is a chiasm within the above chiasm.

    Moses a doofus?  Yeah right.

    Get your game face on, but don't waste your sports

    Game day.   God.  Do they have anything to do with one another?  

    I love sports.  I can't imagine the world without sports.  I'm so thankful that God has created us a culture builders, and one of the ways in which we build culture is by sports.   Granted, as with anything in creation, we can twist it for our own selfish ends, worship it giving it too much significance, and we can use it to abuse others.   

    But, sports is inherently a good thing because it's part of created life.   From the grace of a "Hail Mary" pass caught in perfect stride, to the complex performance of a high platform diver, to the strength and elegance of a race horse, sports is at once a highlight of humanity's abilities and potentials, and an excuse to give God glory.  Eric Liddell, the Scottish Olympic runner immortalized in Chariots of Fire, knew this well when he said, "I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure."

    Is it possible to "feel God's pleasure" while enjoying sports?  I believe the answer is not simply "yes," but a resounding "YES!"  

    Christianity addresses all areas of life, including our sports lives.   

    Below is a list of resources--books, videos, articles--that are helpful in thinking through sports to the glory of God. 

    Don't Waste Your Sports, by CJ Mahaney (book | website)
    Game Day for the Glory of God, by Stephen Altrogge (amazon | google | article)
    The Reason for Sports: A Christian Fanifesto, by Ted Kluck (amazon)

    *  A Theology of Sports, by James Spiegel
    CJ Mahaney's "Thanking God for Sports"

    CJ Mahaney's, "Don't Waste Your Sports"

    Don't Waste Your Sports from Sovereign Grace Ministries on Vimeo.

    Stephen Altrogge: Victory (1:23)

    Stephen Altrogge: Defeat (1:43)

    Stephen Altrogge: Sidelines (0:50)

    Get your game face on, but don't waste your sports.

    Thursday, January 6, 2011

    Is it possible there are no coincidences?

    So we had a mid-week family movie night last week, and we decided to watch M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs." It's one of my favorites.  If you haven't seen it, go get it.

    Mel Gibson plays a priest (Graham Hess) who has lost his faith after the tragic death of his wife.   But strange things start happening when crops signs show up in the field next to their house.   As it turns out, people start freaking out when it gradually dawns on people all over the world that these signs are markings for an alien invasion.

    This is a great scene between Graham and his brother, Merrill (played by Joaquin Phoenix).  In it, Graham explains to his brother that there are two groups of people in this world.... 

    "People break down into two groups. When they experience something lucky, group number one sees it as more than luck, more than coincidence. They see it as a sign, evidence, that there is someone up there, watching out for them. Group number two sees it as just pure luck. Just a happy turn of chance. I'm sure the people in group number two are looking at those fourteen lights in a very suspicious way. For them, the situation is a fifty-fifty. Could be bad, could be good. But deep down, they feel that whatever happens, they're on their own. And that fills them with fear.
    Yeah, there are those people. But there's a whole lot of people in group number one. When they see those fourteen lights, they're looking at a miracle. And deep down, they feel that whatever's going to happen, there will be someone there to help them. And that fills them with hope.
    See what you have to ask yourself is what kind of person are you? Are you the kind that sees signs, that sees miracles? Or do you believe that people just get lucky? Or, look at the question this way: Is it possible that there are no coincidences?"

    What say you:  Is it possible that there are no coincidences?

    Wow, need a dose of racism to sober you up?

    It's not everyday when you hear such calloused racism, at least not for me.  That's not to suggest that it's not there, and everywhere, but to go on record in a public forum stating your racism, well...

    From Collive Community News Service, "Neoconservative thinker David Horowitz was put on the spot by a Muslim student during a speech at the University of California San Diego. His comeback revealed her true goal."

    Come, Prince of peace.  

    Wednesday, January 5, 2011

    God, Time & Eternity

    My friend, Joshua B, posted this quote on his facebook page.   I had to re-quote it here so I wouldn't lose it.  
    "Time is the succession of thoughts in the mind of rational, created beings. God, being eternal, does not have a succession of thoughts, but rather His thoughts persist at once in their entirety, or put otherwise, they are immediate. God "interacts" with time insofar as every action of creation (including the succession of men's thoughts) is the result of God's thinking them so. Therefore time is an aspect of the created order and not an aspect of God's essential nature. Therefore time is subject to the will of God, and not God to the nature of time." (HT Aurelius Augustine, Gordon Clark)
     Thanks, Joshua, for posting this.  Beautiful.

    Coffee with Dr. Gordon

    Yesterday, I had the privilege of having a four-hour conversation with Dr. Bruce Gordon, associate professor of science and mathematics at the The King's College in New York City and co-editor (along with Dr. William Dembski) of the forthcoming collection "The Nature of Nature:  Examing the Role of Naturalism in Science."

    Dr. Gordon loves the intersection of philosophy, apologetics, and science, as do I.  Plus he loves mathematics, which I don't, but am thankful that people like him do.   Along with his lovely wife, Mari-Anne, we enjoyed a great conversation over Starbucks coffee covering topics from his work as a senior fellow with the Discovery Institute in Seattle, his current work at Kings College, his work in Intelligent Design plus topics from the age of the universe to the Flood to biological determinism.

    By way of introducing him to you, here is an article in the Washington Times by Dr. Gordon critiquing Stephen Hawkin's new book.  The article is entitled, "Hawking Irrational Arguments:  Theoretical Physicist Takes Leave of His Senses."

    Check out this video (9:59) below of Dr. Gordon teaching on "The Absurdity of the Multiverse & Materialism."

    We've enjoyed having Bruce & Mari-Anne worship with us at New City Church while they have been in town visiting family. I look forward to following his career, plus having him potentially do some teaching for us at NCC on the area of Intelligent Design.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    New Focus for the Blog

    Over the past few months I have clarified & narrowed what I want the focus of this blog to be. My few faithful readers over the years will have noticed posts ranging from sports to family to politics to theology. These will probably still make appearances from time to time, but the focus of this blog beginning in 2011 will be on the intersection of apologetics, mission, & culture with an aim to providing resources, links, and commentary to my (hopefully) growing spheres of influence. There is a big need in Canada to equip followers of Christ in defending and proclaiming the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

    So, stay tuned. I hope it will be helpful.