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I So Meant to Post this on Sunday

This song, an old hymn, really spoke to me this past Sunday.  I meant to post it then, but I forgot.  Ooops.  So, here it is now:

Read the history behind this song carefully.  Horatio Spafford suffered immense loss, first with the Great Chicago Fire and then the shipwreck of all four of his daughters.  Despite this, he didn’t waver in his faith (as far as I know).  He certainly would have been justified had he done so.  He and his wife then became missionaries to Jerusalem.  It would have been at his lowest point, passing the watery graves of his daughters, that he wrote “It is Well with my Soul.”

Contrast that with this:

I received a letter a month or so later telling me that they could not recommend me for ordination at this time. They did however, outline a process I should work through in order to clear up the issues in my life and with my theology. They provided a long list of books I should read and asked that I meet with Doughboy on a monthly basis for further counseling.
So let me vent for a moment.

I’m living in a town 10 miles from the church I once pastored and they want me to attend the sister church of that congregation because my choice to attend a Baptist church shows that I have unresolved theological questions. I drink wine on rare occasions and smoke a good cigar on a quarterly basis so I am obviously morally bankrupt. I can go out and spend $19.95 online to get ordained but these wind bags have decided I don’t meet their criteria.

Have I told you that I hate Christians. . . ?

I don’t really think it would have mattered what I said to them because what small minds these folks possessed were already made up before I arrived.

This is one of the episodes that cemented my position as highly critical and pessimistic about the Church. (source)

So, petty in-fighting and stupid inter-denominational bickering causes this guy, going by Slow Break, to lose his faith and resign his pastorate (elsewhere in the article, he’s clear about not being a Christian anymore). On the other hand, Horatio Spafford loses all his material goods followed closely by 2/3 of his family, but remains firm.

Obviously, Spafford had it rougher.

Though, in the interest of full disclosure, Slow Break is having a difficult time making a living since resigning his pastorate.  He’s currently working in a crime-ridden part of town as a car salesman but can’t make any sales and so lacks two pennies to rub together.  He admits this is a low point for him.

Some may fail to see the difference between Spafford and Slow Break, but there is a huge difference. The fix Slow Break finds himself in is his choice. He voluntarily resigned, and so far as I gather from the article, could have taken another church but refused. Spafford’s circumstances were a matter of events beyond his control, seeming to conspire against him.

What happened to the ex-pastor was his own doing.  He chose to leave his post.  He chose not to accept an alternative one.  Spafford did not set the Chicago Fire. He did not pilot the opposing vessel which sank his daughters’ transport.  God, however, was always in control of those things.  Knowing this, Spafford muscled on and did not blame God for his troubles.  He remained faithful to God, and God mightily used him in missionary work.

I wonder if Slow Break blames God for all his trouble?

Does the Lunacy of WWGHA Ever End????

The lunacy of the twin websites Why Won’t God Heal Amputees and God is Imaginary never seems to end. In drafting my answers to their issues regarding God’s plan (there’s a video, a chapter of WWGHA, and a proof on GII), I discovered an unpublicized page of WWGHA. It reads:

Therefore, here is an open challenge to James Dobson, Rick Warren, Pat Robertson, George W. Bush, Antonin Scalia and other prominent leaders in the Christian community:

Appear with me on national TV to read the Bible.

It is that simple. This will be a tremendous opportunity for you to spread the power of God’s word directly to the nation. The Bible is the book that contains the Ten Commandments, the revelation that Jesus is our resurrected savior and the story of our creation. This is God’s holy word to his children. You will simply read aloud from this sacred text. I ask only one thing: Allow me to choose the verses that you will read.

I will not interrupt you or provide any commentary during your reading, nor will you. We will simply allow God to speak for himself through his holy scriptures.

Interesting. It becomes clear what our anonymous friend is up to when he states that he is going to pick the verses. And, in case the naive reader still hasn’t figured out what he’s up to, this should make his agenda very clear:

The problem with the Bible is simple. What God says in the Bible is, in many places, quite offensive to us. As soon as we read the offensive parts of the Bible in public, we all realize that the Bible has serious problems and should have no place in our society.

This is a seriously flawed argument. The problems that would result if this argument were applied consistently throughout society should be obvious. Free speech would be out the window, because we would no longer be allowed to offend anyone. No one who offends people should have a place in society according to the author of Why Won’t God Heal Amputees!

The second problem is defining offensive. My mother-in-law hates the Harry Potter series. She once flew into a rage at the mere mention of J.K. Rowling, and confirmed hating Rowling as the “logical” extension of hating Harry Potter.

I’m a Christian, and I love Christ as much as she does. Harry Potter doesn’t offend me. I’ve read and enjoyed the series, and I like the majority of the movies (#3 and #6, despite being the cream of the crop for the books, were the worst movies). So, my mother-in-law is offended by the Harry Potter series, while I am not. Which one of us is right?

What about Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series? I was hooked on that series from page one of The Golden Compass, and quickly purchased the remaining two before I was halfway through that book so that there would be no interruption in reading the series. It is perhaps my favorite trilogy of all time, and I’m sorely upset that the proposed movie series was a dud.

The books declare that the universe winked into existence from nothing-nothing (H/T to Francis Schaeffer for that term); that “God” was really just the first angel (perhaps a corruption of Col 1:15?), claiming to the inhabitants of the randomly-formed universe that he created them; that “God” is evil and Satan is good, since Satan is fighting for freedom from divine subjugation; and The Amber Spyglass features the death of “God” and the success of Lord Asriel’s rebellion, the purpose of which was to destroy God and set up a new heaven. Should I be offended by this, given that it is the complete antithesis of what I believe?

Many Christians are offended by those books. But I happen to love the series and plan to reread it someday–and I never reread books. I hate rereading and never do it unless the book is beyond awesome. The only other book I have ever deemed worthy of rereading is The Hound of the Baskervilles, which I have read three times already and likely will read again someday.

Who’s going to decide if I’m right to love His Dark Materials? Who’s going to decide if my mother-in-law is right in deriding Harry Potter?

Who decides what is offensive and therefore has no place in civilized society?

The critic may retort that we just know without the need to rely on an outside judge. Really? Well, under an atheistic worldview, there is no ought; only what is. Admitting that we will just know that the Bible (or anything else, for that matter) is offensive presupposes an objective moral standard which binds us all to certain sensibilities. Such a thing is a natural consequence of the theistic viewpoint, but is a serious obstacle to pure naturalism–which the atheist often argues. To argue that society will just know that the Bible is offensive presupposes theism and works against atheism.

Without presupposing an objective moral standard, it is impossible to appropriately define offensive. Therefore, this challenge is based on seriously faulty grounds, and should be dismissed.