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Archive for February, 2009

Lutheranism vs Calvinism.  An excellent podcast from Issues Etc, in which two pastors discuss the differences between the main streams of the Reformation.

Real Christianity by William Wilberforce.  The next Reading Classics Together from Tim Challies.  Anyone want to take part in this with me?

The greenhouse effect from Anthony Watts.  A good “primer” for those who want to understand it better than the press does.

What is Lent? Allen Yeh from The Scriptorium gives a good reminder of what Lent is and is not.

Cloud streets.  A great satellite image of some perfectly aligned cloud streets off of greenland.

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The resurrection of Jesus is

much more than a historical, philosophical issue…It is that, but it is much more.  If it happened, it changes our lives completely. (Timothy Keller,  The Reason for God, p. 202)

Is it not interesting that these simple statements can be so a part of our routine as Christians but yet feel like news (as in something new/fresh) when you hear it?  After reading this yesterday morning I went about the rest of my day meditating on it and recalling it over and over.  Every time it came to mind, it felt new, fresh, and restorative.  Let these words have some weight to them and settle into the heart and mind: “If Jesus rose from the dead, it changes everything.”

I think the reason these words of Keller have so much weight to them with me is because I am unfortunately inclined to think of the resurrection as only in a spiritual sense.  When I do this, I limit the gospel to being only therapeutic, meaning, seeking to be relieved from sin, guilt, and insecurities and waiting for eternal life to begin after death.  But if Jesus rose completely, spiritually and physically, then hold on!  This means that the entire course of the world, the universe, and everything physical and spiritual within it is part of the redemption process.  N.T. Wright says it better:

The message of the resurrection is that this world matters!  That the injustices and pains of this present world must now be addressed with the news that healing, justice, and love have won…If Easter means Jesus Christ is only raised in a spiritual sense – then it is only about me, and finding a new dimension in my personal spiritual life.  But if Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead, Christianity becomes good news for the whole world – news which warms our hearts precisely because it isn’t just about warming hearts.  Easter means that in a world where injustice, violence and degradation are endemic, God is not prepared to tolerate such things – and that we will work and plan, with all the energy of God, to implement victory of Jesus over them all.  Take away Easter and Karl Marx was probably right to accuse Christianity of ignoring problems of the material world.  Take it away and Freud was probably right to say Christianity is wish-fulfillment.  Take it away and Nietzsche probably was right to say it was for wimps. (For All God’s Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church, pp. 65-66)

Does anyone else feel the weight and freshness of these words?

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Manstra,

Our friends, the secular humanists, are so enthralled with their own pursuit of explanation and reason that they are not fit to understand the implications of their statements to their fullest extent. The claims of “autonomy” are my favorite. One need not do more than lock them in a gas chamber to demonstrate their dependence on oxygen. Their most basic faculties are either maintained by outside factors beyond their control, or automatic function, such as the heart pumping blood and the brain maintaining it’s moisture. We know those things do not function apart from the designer’s will to sustain them. I shudder, but the humanist’s snicker, at the order and purpose evidenced by the intergalactic and intercellular sciences. One of their still-living fathers said the chaos and unpredictability demonstrated by what exists is exactly what we should expect from a universe with no purpose or design. Kudos to whoever is in on that.

If a human’s self-sufficiency is not possible on the most basic level how do they figure as they climb the ladder to bigger things in life, such as hurricane control or how long they will live, that somehow they can create their own destiny? If destiny is so far out of control and unpredictable how can they call it their own? Again, kudos, to whoever has done work in that area.

Ironically, freedom places its recipients in a false sense of autonomy. How many POWs and inmates have we seen cry out to a giver when they see how empty their hands really are and then reach out to a world that has nothing to give them? Many. Therefore, if seems best to keep the secular humanists warm in their beds, with their refrigerators full and with abundant provisions and toys. Be a gracious host, make them feel at home. Convince them that the choices they get to make about how they live puts them on a route only determined by their independent choices and personal gumption. It is here phrases like “self-made men” and “independent women” come up. A person who thinks they are ruler of their own life is the one that thinks it is their obligation and right to chase and conquer their own passions.

Remember “their passions” are merely the ones we have imagined for them. Keep in mind, a “good time” on a scale of human gratitude is our ally. We need not go spinning complex webs; thoughts tainted by wayward sensuality and alcohol-driven illusions are still the best suspenders to rational, Enemy-like reasoning.

The mystery that the Enemy stipends His virtues to all- even the pernicious- is peculiar. He dispenses quantities of goodness which, when received by those who know no better, seem sufficient enough. We know that the Enemy withholds the kind of everlasting ecstasy, but those that don’t know that try to get as much as they can in this life because, as is the nature of life teaches; “nothing lasts.” It’s all about perspective.

Even though not sustaining, we can make the comforts of this life seem like they are worth dedicating one’s life to. To them, ability to reason feels like it is sufficient enough. Ability to formulate their own destiny seems realistic enough. The doses of comfort appear to be enough on the exterior- not leaving a particular visible hole. Little do they know, “what seems right” and “what feels right” can indeed disagree with what is right. We know the law is uncompromising, making not even the slight allowances for statements like, “it seemed right, therefore it was right” or “it felt right, therefore it was right.”

One of our heroes, Darwin, said he grew cold while gazing at the anatomy of the human eye. If a person questions whether an evolutionary process was responsible for such a multifaceted mechanism it can drive the most secure atheist batty…or cold. The wintry madness scarcely leads to re-birth, on the contrary, it often expedites death by suicide or toxic vices. This doctrine must be instilled in our subjects: out of chaos comes order. They must never believe that only order can give birth to order. And they must never take it a step further and say, “only something personal could make such a thing as a person.”

Surround that curious boy, who gazed upon the President of the council who lay in his coffin, with the most persuasive atheists in the group. When he lay in his coffin with his immaculate computer (brain) parched and his marvelous engine (heart) brought to a halt they must not be able to ponder beyond his knotted knuckles and willful mug. Say to them, “According to his destiny he was not ready to die, but should we say we are not subject to human nature?” Human nature, mother nature, lucky stars, horoscopes, signs and father time are all subtle, guiltless references that infer a foundational denial to the Enemy’s sovereignty. Any subscription to our terminology is to be encouraged.

It is in your best interest to dwell at their next meeting, “Inquiries for the non-religious.” This discussion should prove to gain a foothold on the vulnerable boy if played right. And make sure he gets to the meeting on time, and does not bump into a Christian on his way. By the way, I find it a bit odd that they must define themselves by what they are not: “non-religious,” rather than by what they are. When the “Christians” call themselves “non-atheists” we know we have gained some ground.

Your elder, Utooth

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A great way to listen to Scripture.  I’m really liking this…download your favorite verses, chapters, or books to your ipod (or other mp3 device) to aid in your study/meditation/memorization of scripture.  B.C. has a really nice site, by the way. (HT: JT)

Why I’m Not Emergent.  An excellent essay on the Emergent Church by Allen Yeh from The Scriptorium Daily.

Are taking Vitamins worth it? “The public’s belief in the benefits of vitamins and nutrients is not supported by the available scientific data.” An article from NYT.

Who are the NeoReformed? Part 1, Part 2.  2 articles from Scot McKnight that I’m not sure how to make use of – especially his comment: “the NeoReformed are those who are obsessed with God’s holiness and grace and have not learned that grace makes people gracious.”  I thought obsessing over God’s holiness and grace was a good thing…maybe I’ve missed the point.

Regulating CO2 as a pollutant. Roger Pielke lists some articles if you want to get more in depth with the issue.  If not, just read his brief comments and you’ll realize the implications of such a move from our government.

Finally Alive. Tim Challies gives a great review of Piper’s new book.

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Random notes (questions and quotes) from TH 501 with Dr. Craig Smith, Denver Seminary, 2-16-09

-God did not flip a coin to decide if faithfulness or unfaithfulness would be a virtue. Faithfulness flows from His nature. God creates consistent with His own nature.

-Could God, in his nature, have been unfaithful (rather than faithful, as He is)? If so, would unfaithfulness be a virtue?

-There are moral principles that transcend human cultures. For example, no culture eats or tortures babies. This is a moral argument for the existence of God.

-“An infinite regression of causes would be another actual infinite, so there must be an ultimate cause for the universe (who we call God).”

-“Anything which had a beginning had a cause.”

-If one part of the system (there are several) of the eye did not function the whole eye would not be able to function and would be a waste of matter and energy. This type of “design requires a designer, therefore a designer (i.e. God) must exist.” This intelligent design is evident on an intergalactic and intercellular level.

-Imagine a person who longed for something that didn’t exist. We would not know to long for something if we did know what it was. “The desire to know God is a natural human desire.” “For every natural desire, a legitimate satisfaction for that desire exists.”

-One of God’s incommunicable (not passed onto us) attributes is non-contingency. Meaning, He is not dependent or reliant on anything, like we are oxygen, food, water, etc.

-God is not His attributes. His attributes flow out of who He is.

-Is God required by His nature to love us?

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More great words from Timothy Keller in The Reason for God.

Evolutionary theorists all agree that our capacity to believe in God is hardwired into our physiology because it was directly or indirectly associated with traits that helped our ancestors adapt to their environment.  That’s why arguments for God appeal to so many of us.  That’s all there is to it.  (Chapter 8, p. 136)

However, the theory of natural selection is limited in that it only produces what survives.  It has no capacity to give an account to what is actually true or make a statement on reality, but it can only “be trusted to give us cognitive faculties that help us live on,” or survive.  So if evolution can only be accurate in telling us what survives, rather than the truth, then can our reason we’ve used to deduce evolution be trusted as truth rather than what has actually merely survived?

Keller says it better:

Evolutionists say that if God makes sense to us, it is not because he is really there, it’s only because that belief helped us survive and so we are hardwired for it.  However, if we can’t trust our belief-forming faculties to tell us the truth about God, why should we trust them to tell us the truth about anything, including evolutionary science?  If our cognitive faculties only tell us what we need to survive, not what is true, why trust them about anything at all?

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Weekly Notables (6)

Indulgences Return.  Article from the NYT

Indulgences 101.  Justin Taylor’s excellent response to the article linked above.

24 Things About to Disappear in America.  Who still has these things anyhow?  HT: JT

Thoughts on Social Networking.  Albert Mohler weighs in some thoughts on the value of Facebook, etc.

C.J. Mahaney interviews John Piper.  My favorite: when asked to share the best constructive cousel he has received he answers, “Don’t preach in a way that a Muslim would approve.  Preach a divine crucified Christ.”

A Shortened Religious Affections experience.  Have Jonathan Edwards’ classic on the reading list but intimidated by the breadth and length?  Fred Sanders outlines the books most important 125 pages.

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