Sunday, July 25, 2004

Have a good week! 

Well, it's been a fun couple of days, what with the debates that have sprouted over the last couple of posts.  But I'm off to South Dakota for a week or so.  Have a good week, all, and I'll see you when I get back.

Friday, July 23, 2004

The Morality of the Bible 

This is a response to Ed from Dispatches from the Culture Wars.  Ed took me to task for not responding to him in an article which was not written in response to him.  Odd.

Anyway, Ed thought I didn't really answer his objections to Christianity in this article, but then as I said, I wasn't trying to.  Since Ed apparently really wants to hear such an answer, so much so that he criticized me for not answering him when he hadn't asked me to and I never said I would, I guess I'll oblige and try to answer.

You, like DarkSyde, keep switching the argument in the middle.  If Moses simply claimed that God told Him to destroy the people of Canaan, but God did not tell him to, then Moses is just another bloodthirsty madman.  Make that argument all you like.  It won't convince anyone of anything. The whole difference comes down to whether or not you accept that God told him to.  Half the time in your argument, you’re trying to prove that the moral system of the Bible is repugnant, and therefore assuming for the sake of the argument that God actually did tell Moses that.  The other half of the time you assume that God didn’t tell Moses that, and we should just judge Moses like we would any other bloodthirsty maniac.

If God commanded Moses to destroy them because of their great idolatry and cruelty, just as He has destroyed other wicked people at different times and in different ways, then God is perfectly within His right to do so, and no moral relativity is suggested, since it is always God’s right to destroy wicked people and He does it all the time.  There is also no moral relativity suggested by saying Moses was correct to obey God since it is always right to obey God and always wrong to disobey Him.  Genocide is not right sometimes and wrong other times.  It is always God’s right to save whoever He chooses and destroy whoever He chooses.  All of us are guilty of terrible sin in His eyes and therefore worthy of annihilation.  And if it’s right for Him to destroy an entire nation, it’s also right for Him to destroy an entire nation except for some subset of the people in that nation such as the virgin women whom He decides to have mercy on.   

Now you can object to that if you like, but if the God of the Bible actually exists, and has created all and commanded all people to worship Him and Him alone, then He is perfectly within His right to destroy all who oppose His rule of the universe.  I’m not asking you to see that as being consistent with your own particular moral beliefs.  I’m asking you to recognize that it is internally consistent.  There’s nothing relative about it.  If I were Moses and God commanded me to do what God commanded Moses to do, I’d do it, and not concern myself with substantiating that claim to the people I’d been commanded to destroy.  There is no ‘evolution’ of morality- if God commanded it, it would be just as right today as it was then.  If God didn’t command it, it would be just as wrong then as it would be today.  Now the issue of slavery is a different one, and one that I haven't addressed here.  I'm aware of that.  I'll take that one up another day.

The question you're trying to ask is, does the God of the Bible act in a moral way?  And my question in response is, by what standard could you judge?  If He exists, will you judge Him, who were created by Him?  There is no external standard of righteousness that we could use to judge what God does.  He is the standard.  We act as He has commanded us.  That never means that we can do whatever He can do.  All life is in His hands, because He has created all.  But nobody's life is in my hands, or yours.  So there isn't the slightest relativity in saying it's always right for God to give life or to take it away, whether by the sword (or the AK-47), or by disease or famine or flood or any other means.  It's never right for me to do the same thing.  I have no right to decide who lives or dies.

If on the other hand, the God of the Bible does not exist, and you're trying to convince people of that by impugning the morality of the Bible, then you need to demonstrate that the moral system of the Bible is internally incoherent, that is to say, contradictory.  You haven't done that yet.  All you've done is to say that modern sensibilities don't approve of the God of the Bible, and my answer to that is I don't care two figs about modern moral sensibilities.  Modern moral sensibilities have taught us to look the other way while we slaughter 45 million babies and excuse any kind of sexual perversion and quibble over a few words in a speech while Iraqis got murdered and raped by the thousands.  We've been standing by watching Sudanese get massacred and North Koreans get massacred and how many other groups suffer horribly while we worry about whether we've got enough UN resolutions passed to help.  Our own degeneracy funds the slavery of thousands of women and girls every year in conditions far more horrible than what the slaves of Israel would have experienced.  Our courts tell us that we can't protect the right of a Texas high school to say a prayer before a football game, but that we have to protect the rights of people to publish pictures of little boys getting sodomized on the Internet, and protect the rights of people to pull their babies halfway outside their wombs and have their brains sucked out through a straw.  You'll pardon me if I think modern moral sensibilities aren't up to the task of judging God.

So if you can show me that the moral system of the Bible is itself contradictory, fire away.  If all you've got to say is that you don't approve, I'll bid you good day, sir.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Judging God 

This is a response to a commenter on a New Covenant thread.  I was going to put it in the comments, but ran out of room.  It dovetails nicely with a previous article anyway.

I am personally glad that I worship a God who destroys the wicked and mercifully protects His people. I don't feel the need to apologize for His actions, and I don't think He's a God that changed in the New Testament. You don’t get to decide whether or not God fits your standards of morality. What you get to do is to decide to submit yourself to His standards of right and wrong, or rebel against Him and destroy yourself in the process.

I don’t claim to understand everything that God commanded in the Old Testament, any more than I understand everything that He ordains today. But the people of the earth are in His hands to do with as He pleases, and I’d much rather be in His hands than in the hands of the philosophers that the modern age has given us. What is it, do you think, that gave you such a high view of morality? It sure wasn’t atheism, or relativism, or naturalism, or any other philosophy that’s come along in the last couple of centuries.

If the people that God commanded destroyed were innocent, then God took them off to heaven with Him, and they’re better off. If they weren’t innocent, then no harm no foul. Ed's wrong, by the way, when you say no human dictator has ever commanded the destruction of whole peoples. Hitler with the Jews, Stalin with the Ukrainians, Mao with anyone who looked foreign. It’s happened over and over, and I’d submit to you that there’s a major difference when the God who created them commands such a thing, and when man commands such a thing. I’m not saying I’m always comfortable with God as He actually is, but then nobody ever told me I ought to be.   Job wasn't comfortable with how God was, and God answered, "Where were you when I created the world?"  When Paul hypothetically poses the question in Romans 9, the answer is, Who are you, O Man, to reply against God?"

So go ahead and invent a God that’s more to your liking, if it makes you feel better. Or just write Him out of the picture altogether. But you might find Him knocking at the door one day, and you might not like what He’s got to say.


Monday, July 19, 2004

The Problem of Evil 

I have just recently finished reading The Problem of Pain.  This is probably CS Lewis’ least satisfying book for me.  I have long heard, and believed, that Lewis wasn’t much of a theologian, and it is in this book where I see that most vividly on display.  There’s a lot to be admired in this book, and I would probably speak more positively of the book if the writer were someone without Lewis’ impressive credentials.
A lot of my difficulty with this book has to do with my own theological approach to the Problem of Evil, and the inadequacy I see in the traditional approach that many theologians take to that issue.  In The Problem of Pain, CS Lewis suffers from the same deficiencies that the traditional arguments suffer from.
The book addresses one of the oldest problems in philosophy, the problem of evil (called the problem of pain by Lewis, but not really a different issue).  The problem of evil is simply this:  How can a good God allow evil to exist?  In syllogistic form, one might look at it like this:
1.                  A good and loving God must wish to abolish evil.
2.                  An all-powerful God must be able to abolish evil.
3.                  But evil exists.
4.                  Therefore, a good and all-powerful God must not exist.
If God allows evil to exist, then He must be either not good, or not all-powerful.  If He were good, surely He would desire to eliminate evil.  If He were all-powerful, He would be able to do so.  Since evil exists, a good and all-powerful God must not exist.
I find the typical Christian response to this deeply unsatisfying, mostly because it is profoundly unscriptural but also because it is essentially a concession to the argument.  This is the free will defense, and it states basically that God was unable to create a world that was good and that also lacked free will, and therefore free will had to be included.  With this free will present, man chose to exercise that free will and chose evil instead of good.  Therefore it is man’s fault that evil exists, not God’s.
I say this is unscriptural because in at least two of the main places where the question is actually discussed in the Bible, the free will defense is not invoked.  These two places are the book of Job and in Romans 9.  In Job, God’s defense is essentially, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” This is God’s answer to Job’s question to why these evils have been allowed to come upon him.  God never ducks responsibility, invokes the free will of Satan, or uses any such weasel words as “allowed”.  God accepts full responsibility and claims full right.  We know from the story that God decreed these occurrences in Job’s life in order to vindicate His glory to Satan and the angelic hosts.  He never apologizes for doing so.
In Romans 9, Paul anticipates the question, How can then God find fault with man, for who has resisted His will?  This question comes in response to Paul’s argument of God’s complete sovereignty in salvation and damnation.  This is essentially the problem of evil- if God is in control of all things, how can we call anything evil?  Paul’s answer has two parts.  The first (Who are you, O Man, who replies against God?) question’s man’s right to ask the question in the first place.  The second graciously provides the answer, despite the impertinence of the question: 
What if God, willing to show His wrath, and to make His power known, suffered with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; and that he might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy... even us, whom he has called…?
That is to say, the destruction of God’s enemies and the merciful salvation of God’s chosen reveals and glorifies God, and is therefore good.  Once we understand this, the problem of evil essentially goes away.  All is for God’s glory ultimately, therefore nothing resists His will.  The term “evil” simply speaks of our own subjective rebellion against God’s will for our lives, not any actual violation of His eternal will, since that is impossible.
The free will defense, on the other hand, weakens God by saying that evil exists ultimately because God was powerless to prevent it.  God somehow was ‘required’ to create a world that had free will.  He was unable to create a world where men would freely choose to worship Him, without them falling into sin, but was still compelled to create such a world, again presumably to fill some need.  But if a good world cannot exist without free will, then what of heaven?  Christian theism posits the existence of heaven, where we will serve God forever.  Will we be free there?  If not, by this argument heaven must not be good.  If so, by this argument it must be possible for us to fall from perfection all over again, even in heaven.
Because we are subordinate to God in the very deepest, most metaphysical respect, I am comfortable saying we can freely choose to serve God or to rebel against Him, and yet never depart from His sovereign plan for all things.  This also solves the problem of evil.  The only problem it creates, I believe, is that it forever denies any hope man could ever have of being truly independent and self-ruling.  But this is not a Biblical problem; only the problem of the man who rebels against God his Creator.
By the way, I've addressed this problem more thoroughly, from both perspectives, in an essay I wrote recently.  Download a copy here, under "My Documents".  

Using Illustrations in Sermons 

Rusty at New Covenant relates a story about a pastor using an illustration in a sermon that turned out to be an urban legend.  He asks the question:

Still, what concerns me is just how many people in the congregation, if told about the story's lack of authenticity, would care? Would they be more concerned with whether the story helps make the point the pastor is delivering, or would they think that the story's veracity is more important? Would people accept the story, simply because it made them feel better?

A story told as an illustration can be used for a couple of different purposes.  I can use a story to illustrate a particular point I'm making.  The parables of Christ, for example, don't need to be true in order to serve the purpose that Christ was putting them to.  There didn't need to be any Good Samaritan or any man who fell among robbers in order for that story to serve His purpose.  Nothing in the story provided proof for Jesus' teaching there.  The story was used to illustrate a point Jesus was making, and to use the hearers' own moral judgment, judo-like, against them.
But the parables of Christ are never presented as factual stories.  They are simply what they are- stories used to illustrate a point.  A story like this will always be fundamentally unlike the issue at hand, in all ways except the relevant issue.  A parable is basically an extended simile.  If I say "My love is like a red red rose", I am comparing two unlike things.  A rose and a woman are unlike in most ways, except that they are both beautiful.  This is the comparison being made.  Likewise, the Christian walk is not much like a farmer's field, except in this one way- some ground produces a great deal, and some ground, because of various obstacles, fails to produce at all.  This is how we recognize similes, or parables- the things being compared are very different.  The lessons of the Good Samaritan can be seen to apply to my moral sense, despite the fact that I may never be confronted with the same situation.  Jesus is not at all like a door, or a vine, except in the narrow way that the comparison implies- Jesus gives us access; Jesus gives us life.
On the other hand, a story used as evidence of something is an entirely different matter.  When Jesus refers to the fact that the Jews' fathers ate manna in the wilderness and yet died anyway, the factual occurrence that He is referring to is fundamental to His point.  If it didn't occur, then His story makes no sense.  Likewise when He provides as evidence for His Deity the fact that David calls the Messiah (who is the son of David) "My Lord", the historicity of the occurrence is vital.  How can the Son of David also be the Lord of David?  Only if the Messiah is also God.  But if David never said that, then Jesus' point makes no sense.
The story that Rusty relates appears to be used as proof of something.  The preacher is using this story to show the congregation that something like this can happen to them too, since it happened to this Olympic diver.  This is not an illustration per se, but an example of the sort of thing he is talking about actually occurring to someone.  It is therefore evidence that such things can occur.  It is presented as proof of the saving power of God; proof that the Cross can save you from disaster; etc.  These things are all true, but if the story did not occur, then it is not proof of those points. 
Sadly, I think the answer to Rusty's question is that many of the hearers would not care at all whether the story is factually true or not.  They would, as you say, accept it because it made them feel better.  It seems to me that to say this is to tacitly accept the postmodernist view of religion, that the important thing is the effect the message has on me, not its factual truth or falseness.  

I think this is the worst thing I've read in a while 

Seriously, don't read this if you're pro-life and not prepared for a shock.

The shock is, that apparently many women know their babies are human beings, and are being encouraged to deal with them as human beings, before they then go on to abort them.
Here's the link.  I'm not kidding- I was not prepared for the blow of reading a mother's love letter to her child while she was preparing to murder him.  You're warned.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

Photoshop fun 

Thanks, Michele.

(sometimes Allah cusses.  Oh yeah, so does Michele.  Sometimes.)

Latest "liberal" initiative for "freedom" 

A county in Washington, at the behest of the environmentalists, may enact the most restrictive land use ordinance in the country.  They say it's for the larger community.
Here's an easy way to judge whether this is really in the interest of the larger community:  do land prices go up or down?  If down, then the market has voted against it.
But then, that actually may be a point in favor of it to these people.  If the market's against it, it must be a good thing.  If it destroys wealth, they're in favor of it. 
And if this ordinance makes land prices go up, then black is white, the sky is bright green and liberals in America today really do stand for freedom.

The Real Enemy 

Via The Belmont Club, David Warren discusses the urgent need to call this enemy what it is.  One suspects that we're not really going to get at the heart of this problem until we stop with all this "religion of peace" nonsense.
One also suspects that perhaps, just perhaps, 2000 years after Christ was crucified, God is forcing the world to finally recognize that religion really does matter.

Friday, July 16, 2004


Probably you all know about this already, unless I am the only blog you read (in which case, shame on you!)  It's a pretty amazing story.  Whether overall it's good or bad news, I'm not sure.  It shouldn't be a surprise that the terrorists are trying to do something.  What should be surprising is that they haven't succeeded yet.
It's that yet that I worry about sometimes.  And thanks to Lileks for the link, and some insightful comments.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Anti-Jewish attacks not racist? 

Look at this story about an attack against a woman because some teenagers thought she was Jewish.

Now look at this attempt at moral equivalency:

The Interior Ministry said the woman was not Jewish, and police said she no longer lives in Paris' 16th district. That the attackers mistook their victim's identity did nothing to soften the horror in France, where assaults both Jews and Muslims have escalated over the past several years.

So see, there's no anti-semitic problem per se, just really your typical interfaith antagonism. Everybody just needs to get along. Attacks against both Jews and Muslims are occurring, so we don't need to worry about anti-semitism in particular.

Then look at this:
The Interior Ministry said Friday it had recorded 135 anti-Jewish acts in the first six months of this year, as well as 375 threats. The figure was nearly as high as the numbers from all of last year, when a total of 593 anti-Jewish acts or threats were registered.

Racist attacks, often against Muslims, also rose. There were 95 attacks and 161 threats through June, compared to a total of 232 such crimes reported last year.

So anti-Jewish attacks are in a different category than racist attacks in general? Further, 135 anti-Jewish attacks are supposed to be somehow equated with 95 attacks against all other racial groups combined?

Europe, and France in particular, has a pretty major anti-Semitic problem brewing, and you'd think with their history, they'd be a little more concerned about it. They sure don't seem to be. They'll express horror at this attack, but they won't actually name the enemy what it is, and they won't actually do anything about it.

I found out from another site that the attackers were of North African origin. If they were of North African origin and hated Jews, would it be reasonable to suspect they were Muslim?

Yet the AP identifies the suspected race of the victim, and mentions Muslims when it wants to point out that they are the victims of attacks too, but won't identify these attackers as Muslims or even "of North African origin." If they'd been whites attacking Muslims, do you suppose there would have been any hesitation?

Apparently the AP cares as little about the French Jew hating problem as they do about reporting the real story.

The AP article also is sure to point out that both Jewish and Muslim leaders condemned the attack. The Jewish leader is quoted. Then later in the article, here's the Muslim leader:
The president of the umbrella group the French Council for the Muslim Faith, Dalil Boubakeur, called the attack "sickening" and "low-grade banditry." But he warned against blaming Muslims.

Why should we not blame Muslims, if it was Muslims that did the attacking? Who do you think perpetrated the attacks? Do the Zoroastrians hate the Jews? Was it the many North African Catholics who have immigrated to France, you suppose, that drew a swastika on her stomach? Are the Buddhists calling the Jews 'pigs and dogs'? I know the Muslims aren't the only group who have treated the Jews very poorly, but they're pretty much the only ones from North Africa, living in France, doing it now.

I would be a lot more willing to believe that moderate Muslims were a significant factor in Europe if we'd hear a few more denunciations of these kinds of things, without all the weasel caveats. Will this organization start expelling all the imams in France who call for the destruction of Israel every Friday?

I suppose I might as well wait for the AP to start reporting fairly.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Imprecatory Psalms and the Enemies of God 

A question from a reader:
Hey Matt,

I was reading this email and part of me was like "RIGHT ON!" and another part of me was wondering if these verses are being used correctly in this article. I mean they definitely seem to say what this author is saying and I don't necessarily think it would be a contradiction to what Jesus taught, would it? Different responses for different situations? Just curious what you think.

This is in regards to this email:

Printer-friendly version
Imprecatory Prayer: The Intercessor's Elephant Gun
Doug Giles (back to web version ) | Send

July 3, 2004

I hate to ruin your light summer beach reading, but America and much of the world are still in deep yogurt when it comes to the war on terror. As much as postmoderns want everyone to sing "We are the World" in some all-religion-encompassing global hand-hold and just move on, I'm afraid radical Islam is not going to be a part of pomo's desired altruistic music video.

Radical Islam is incorrigible, period. So... face it and embrace it. We are not going to convert or appease these cats. We have nothing they want. There is nothing to negotiate. They want us exterminated. Capisce?

That said, what do we, Christians in particular, do when faced with an implacable radical enemy? Just sit around sing "Kum Ba Yah" and hope these bad guys will leave us alone? That's what a lot of five-watt light bulb, spiritually neutered believers are doing. Just sittin' around... hopin' and wishin'... or worse yet, ignoring the viable millennial threat of militant Islam. I, for one, will not take a passive stance against this aggressive enemy. You cannot be lame and win this game with these guys. So, as a Christian, I suggest the following...

...[some policy suggestions]

Five: As people of faith, dust off and use what's afforded to the believer within the Old and New Testaments, namely the imprecatory prayers.

What is an imprecatory prayer?

It is a prayer asking God to crush a clear enemy of His, an enemy which is an aggressive adversary of freedom and peace loving people. Yes, Mr. and Mrs. Precious Moments Figurine Collector, the Bible is filled with maledictions prayed by saints and speedily answered by God against violently impenitent enemies of liberty and righteousness. Here are a couple examples:

"Break the teeth in their mouths, O God; tear out, O Lord, the fangs of the lions! Let them vanish like water that flows away; when they draw the bow, let their arrows be blunted. Like a slug melting away as it moves along, like a still born child, may they not see the sun... The righteous will be glad when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked." Psalm 58.6-10.

"Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them. May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents. For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt. Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous." Psalm 69.24-28.

Given the soft-focused, effeminate condition of evangelicalism, I'll bet the great majority of Christians have never even heard of an imprecatory prayer, much less prayed one. More than likely, the above God-inspired texts aren't on their refrigerator scripture magnets either. I'll go a step further and venture to guess that the majority of evangelical and Catholic clergy don't even know what an imprecatory prayer is and have probably never taught on them or prayed them from the pulpit (Please investigate and report back to me.)

If my assumption regarding your typical congregation and clergy is true, then this is sad, unbiblical and a prime reason why militant Islam continues to march on. We are not using the spiritual big guns of imprecatory prayer against the beast of militant Islam.

My ClashPoint is this: Most religious people are familiar with Christ telling us to "bless our enemies" in prayer and to "love our enemies." We should do both. But seldom to never do we hear about "the other" prayers for our enemies, prayers to be prayed when our enemies become gun-, bomb- and airplane- wielding idiots. Yes, there comes a time when the intercessors' gloves must come off and enough is enough and we pray the "not so nice prayers." It's simple: when our enemies move from being foes who have personally wronged us, or have made fun of our bad combover, or have flamed us in a TBN chat room, to becoming jihadic death jockeys wanting to eradicate our memory from the earth, then it is time to stop praying the "Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep" stuff and start asking God to thwart and stamp out these bug eyed terrorists who want to hijack the planet and make it conform to their jacked up view of "life."

So... start tossing imprecatory prayers heavenward and watch what God does to militant implacable Islam. The celestial spanking of terrorists is no big deal for God. And our prayers could save thousands of our soldiers' lives, our citizens' lives and the lives of innocent, moderate Muslims and others who get caught in the freak boys' villainous crossfire.

Let us pray.

Well… some of the policy suggestions are interesting.

But as far as the Biblical use goes, I think that the imprecatory Psalms certainly do apply today, in that they describe the appropriate attitude towards God’s enemies. But the problem is, we don’t know who God’s enemies are. We were all God’s enemies at one time, and we were won by the sword of the word, not the sword of flesh and steel. God’s kingdom today is a spiritual kingdom. Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this earth, or His servants would fight. An implication of what Mr. Giles says above is that some nations are victorious in battle and others are crushed because of a lack of faith and prayer. Does that mean the Christian Sudanese who are getting stomped right now are less good Christians than us here in the US of A?

Much Old Testament language is just that- OT language, phrasing spiritual truths in carnal clothes, so that the people of God are promised land and a prosperous garden and a boot in the teeth of their enemies, and we understand those kinds of things in terms of Spiritual blessings.

We ought to treat all people as potential brothers and sisters in Christ. This is the upshot of Christ’s commands to love our neighbors, love our enemies, love all men. God doesn’t love all men, but He knows who’s elect. We don’t. And so we ought to behave towards all as if they are, potentially. We should be praying for the conversion of the Muslims, not their destruction. We don’t have anything to worry about from them physically. God will protect us.

Note that none of this means we shouldn’t be going to war, hunting terrorists, prosecuting criminals, or closing our borders. The sword is given to the magistrate for justice. But there’s a difference between the magistrate’s role in a secular environment, and how we as Christians ought to be thinking towards our fellow man. Even if I were in the military or police or CIA or whatever, I would try to maintain on the one hand the commitment to do my duty to my country, and on the other to good to all men, and especially the household of faith, which I think at a minimum would mean to desire and pray for the conversion of my enemies.

The writer below has a really uncomfortable tendency to equate the enemies of America with the enemies of God. It is true that there are many who happen to be enemies to both, but there are also many enemies of God in America. We cannot really expect God to go to war for us when we war against Him all the time. Perhaps the Muslims are being sent against us as punishment for our wickedness just as the Babylonians and Assyrians were sent against Israel (Isaiah 10).

He also seems to equate strength with physical force and a desire for conversion of others with weakness. This also is not too consistent with what Scripture teaches us. It is not strength for me to wish pain and death on my enemies. Strength is me wishing their good. Anyone can love their friends. It's loving your enemies that's hard. And we don't get to stop loving our enemies when they get dangerous.

The wise man is not too quick to pray for the judgment of God (Amos 5:18, 2 Peter 3:9). The wise man is content to let God be as patient as He wants to be. The day of judgment will be darkness and not light.

I should also note that I don't really buy this doctrine of prayer. I don't think we pray in order to make things happen, but in order to align our hearts with God's will. But that's a different subject.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

A helpful suggestion 

At least we could get a new Secretary of State...

Friday, July 02, 2004

New sermons 

The last two sermons are posted. They are on the ministry of the deacon Philip. The first, "Another Kind of Opposition", talks about the opposition the church has faced from within, the opposition of the opportunist and infiltrator. An excerpt:
A smart man recognizes opportunity when he sees it, and there is much opportunity in Christianity. There always has been. The Apostles had attained a great deal of power over the lives, attitudes and property of a great many people in a very short period of time, and the potential for abuse was immense. The average person within the church is vulnerable to this kind of abuse to a certain degree, although knowledge of true doctrine and practice will be a defense against this. But there are many within the church willing to be fooled by appealing-sounding doctrines and enticing words, and there are always men ready to take advantage of such people. We might wish to dismiss such people to their fate, but the challenge for the whole church is that true Christianity can thus become difficult to distinguish from false, especially to the uneducated and those on the outside, and the name of Christ is brought into disrepute and the enemies of God are given cause to mock the church.
Christians must be humble and loving in all things. We must always remember that. We must be loving and humble even when confronting heresy. But we do have the knowledge to recognize false teaching and false teachers, and we have the authority to keep it out of our churches. We cannot allow false notions of Christian charity or non-judgmentalism to prevent us from standing up for truth and attacking heresy, even if it costs us financially, as it did the Apostles here, or even if it costs us far more. We must fear the one that can cast both body and soul into hell, and that one has tasked us with guarding the purity of the church, as much as our great limitations will allow. And this is not just a job for the leadership of the church, but for every member of the body.

The second sermon is on the subject of Philip's encounter with the Ethiopian Eunich and addresses the topic of evangelism. I discuss what the difference between evangelism and apologetics is, and when one or the other is appropriate. I also talk about what the example of Philip tells us about what the goals of the evangelist are, and how he accomplishes them.

The "Sermons" link is on the sidebar.

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