Blog Archives

A Proud Moment in My Ministry

A user on the social bookmarking site Delicious.com has tagged my article defending the ordering of mass genocide in the Bible by God. His brief description of the article is: “Genocide. Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit! Infants?” (His Bible page is right here.)

That certainly refuted my article. I’d love to engage this guy, but I can’t find a way to contact him.

How to Make Your Christian Writing Anything But, part II

In my previous post, I took a peek at six of the twelve points that the Resurgence cites as ways to turn Christian writing into anti-Christian writing. Unfortunately, I’m guilty on some points. Let’s look at the final six.

Hell is real, but don’t let that concern you or your hearers and readers. It’s more important to have a good theology of evangelism than to actually tell others about Jesus, his cross, and his resurrection.

Actually, I think that it is more important to talk about the cross and the Resurrection than it is to mention hell. I don’t think that hell is really the best way to evangelize. It shouldn’t be avoided completely, but neither should it be over-stressed.

People just aren’t comfortable with a judging God. Most likely because people know, at the core, that they have sinned and are under condemnation. Instead of browbeating them with that, let’s focus on what God has done through Christ.

But we’d just be unkind if we didn’t talk about hell at all. People also need to understand the consequences of their choices.

Talk about technique a lot, because techniques are concrete. Miracles like regeneration, God turning haters into lovers, and the fruit of the Spirit are too abstract to be helpful.

Here we see Christianity capitulating to culture. Scientism seems to be creeping its way into the popular culture. People are believing the lie that they can only know what they can touch, taste, smell, or see.

Scientism is a philosophy, not a scientific conclusion. Since philosophies can’t be proven, only believed, scientism refutes itself. If you believe scientism, you’re already being inconsistent.

Everyone believes something on the basis of pragmatism alone, in the absence of empirical evidence. Everyone. Our minds are capable of knowing and understanding things in the abstract, without requiring evidence of their existence.

That means that speaking of love, hate, or the fruits of the Spirit are helpful. Speaking on technique is good, too, but sometimes it is necessary to speak of the abstract.

Guilt is a great motivator. Use it wisely.

I think we all know someone who falls into this category. I’ll move on.

In their sanctification, people should fake it till they make it. Tell them how.

Believing something on the basis of pragmatism is vital to constructing a coherent worldview. Obviously, you can’t see some of the abstractions that underlie your philosophies. If you hold to a theistic worldview, where the material plane is a battlefield for angels and demons influencing the minds and hearts of humans, you can’t see the immaterial beings nor can you see the deity, so pragmatism comes to the forefront in determining the rationality of your suppositions.

But pragmatism is not a good measure of the effectiveness of the gospel, nor is sanctification ever going to work if you fake it until you make it.

The New Testament consistently refers to the church as “the Bride of Christ.” In marriage, you are giving yourself wholly and completely to your spouse; that goes for husbands as well as wives. It is expected that you will put your bride first in all your considerations. Everything should change, and this is meant to be a permanent change.

So it should be in giving yourself to Christ. It should bring wholehearted change into your life. You won’t be the same person afterwords. The Bible declares the faithful a new creation. Just telling people to “fake it until you make it” doesn’t do justice to the gospel, and it trivializes Christ’s promises to make you whole.

Be condescending. Make sure your theology is un-gracious in content and tone.

Yeah, I know, this is my deepest sin in writing this blog. Anyone who wants to throw it in my face, go ahead. Search some past posts. I’m sure you can find plenty of examples of me being ungracious to commenters. But I’m going to really try to move past it, and give my apologetic answers with gentleness and reverence. No more sarcastic bite.

People really want Good Advice instead of Good News, so be a people-pleaser and only give lots of advice.

Yes, Joel Osteen, we are looking at you!

How to Make Your Christian Writing Anything But, part I

The folks over at the Resurgence have a great article on how to turn Christian writing into anti-Christian writing. They’ve itemized twelve errors, some of which I’ve fallen into. Let’s take a look at the first six.

Downplay the law of God and his grace. Tell people God is not that angry about cosmic treason, and grace isn’t that amazing.

It’s nice that they’ve started off with something that I, too, have railed against. It’s fairly common among skeptics (and far too many Christians!) to get really bent out shape when we mention God’s Law. Most of the resistance comes when we talk about punishment (hell is discussed later in this list). But the revulsion is inevitably there.

We can’t let that deter us.

It’s really important that our hearers understand both law and grace. The Law exists, and we ignore it at our peril. Both Paul and Peter charge us to act like we’re called by God to do great things! Simultaneously, we have to understand that the great things we’re called to do do not add anything to our salvation. We do them because they are the moral thing to do, and acting in accordance with our new, heavenly nature brings glory to God.

Don’t mention God the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. Assume that people already know enough about them.

I’ve probably fallen into this trap. I tend to mention “God” without actually defining that concept in a particularly trinitarian fashion. God isn’t a nebulous concept, but a personal being with whom we can have a real, dynamic, give-and-take relationship with. I should mention the relationship of the divine Persons more often so that readers get a better grasp on who’s who in the Trinity.

“The Little Engine That Could” should be the foundation of your theology.

Another one that I’ve railed against: you can’t possibly read the Bible and come away with the understanding that you can do it on your own, if you only think positively! The Bible wants us to depend more on God, and less on ourselves.

This is Word-Faith theology, or Name-It-and-Claim-It. If you believe enough in yourself, anything is possible! Makes a great self-help book, but it isn’t biblical Christianity by any stretch of the imagination.

Remember that God is passive, so you better be really active… or else.

Orthodoxy (right belief) is very important. Orthopraxy (right practice) is also very important. But a balance must exist. Only Jesus can save you.

If you think that God saves only those who remain faithful to the end of their days under their own power and who do their own good works, you have Pelagianism: salvation by works.

This is related to the next error, which leans on orthodoxy to save you.

Remember, no other Christians get it right except for your tribe, of which you should be chief.

Yeah, I’ve done this. A lot. I resisted Calvinism at first because I thought that Calvinists were intellectual snubs. Then I realized the biblical truth of Calvinism, and became a passionate Calvinist–and an intellectual snub!

The rub of it is that I should consider myself a Christian first, and a Calvinist second (if at all). I was saved from the moment that I professed faith in Jesus for my salvation, and renounced the use of my own faculties to obtain God’s favor. I didn’t become “more saved” the day I read Chosen by God and realized the Sproul was conveying the absolute biblical truth.

A Christian relies only on Jesus for salvation, and seeks a cooperative sanctification by God in order to become like Christ. Nothing more, nothing less.

If a person believes that only the Calvinist is saved because he properly understands predestination as an unconditional choosing of God’s people by God for God, then you have gnosticism: salvation by secret knowledge.

All denominations (including we Calvinists) seem to lean to far one way or the other. Orthodoxy is important. So is orthopraxy. But they are designed to compliment each other, not to compete with each other. Striking a balance is important to the life of the Christian.

Only use Scripture as a proof-text—don’t actually teach it.

Now this is an error that I fall into quite often. I tend to propose most of my own philosophies on this blog, and back them up by using relevant Scripture passages. Never do I exegete a passage from the text.

I’ve been considering for a while doing just that. From time to time, maybe each Sunday, selecting a passage of text from Scripture and actually run through it verse-by-verse and expound on the deep, spiritual meanings of it. Kind of like a written sermon.

I could even “preach through” an entire book, section by section, each Sunday. That would help me understand it better, and it would definitely give my unbelieving readers a more through understanding of Scripture.

So far, it looks like I commit as many errors as I rail against. So I’m coming out nearly 50-50 after six. Tomorrow, I’ll look at the remaining six, and I’m hoping that I do better!

Answers to Tough Questions #1-3

In my recent podcast, I told a lie.

I said that the first three videos in the series answering Shawn, aka “azsuperman01” were up. That’s because when I recorded the introduction, the videos were written but not recorded or produced. I had planned to record and produce those videos prior to the podcast “airing.” Well, that didn’t happen.

So, finally, I have gotten around to producing the videos. Here they are:

Question #1: When Can God Forgive?

Question #2: Crimes of Mankind

Question #3: Free Will

The Invention of Religion

Cults and new religious movements in literatur...

Image via Wikipedia

A new blogger arriving on the scene, badcatholic, imagines himself back in time as a fly on the wall during the invention of religion.

Caveman 1: Bro, these mammoths are frightening, and I don’t know why it rains.
Caveman 2: Yeah, sounds like we need some supernatural explanation for natural phenomena for which we are not yet advanced enough to understand.
Caveman 1: Right. So we’ll need a god…
Caveman 2: Nice.
Caveman 1: And let’s have no adultery with beautiful women…
Caveman 2: Uh-
Caveman 1: And in with the concept of eternal, unimaginable torment-
Caveman 2: Slow down-
Caveman 1: And moral obligations, and no more of this survival of the fittest. We’ll not be able to lie, or steal, or cheat, or mastrubate-
Caveman 2: Are you sure you-
Caveman 1: Or eat too much, or drink too much, or be lazy, or be prideful… (source)

It has always fascinated me that atheists repeatedly assert that religion is a human invention, yet a quick study of religious vices and virtues reveals that we’ve set an impossible standard for ourselves. Religions, not just Christianity, speak of the evils of acquiring and hording material possessions, lust, adultery, pride; and extol an others-centered attitude as well as exhorting adherents to not even think about bad things. Religion asserts that humans are broken and need to be fixed, either through a set of ritual behaviors or by a quickening of the spirit by the hand of God, and those who refuse to comply will face eternal destruction, shame, and humiliation. Who would invent that?

On the other hand, if God is the author of religion, that makes much more sense. A divine being who  stands in judgment of humanity warning us against adultery, lust, and evil thoughts makes more sense than a bunch of primitive humans with no motivation to make monogamy the preferred form of marriage, adultery a grave sin, and forbid masturbation and all forms of lust as the standard of behavior.

If mankind invented religion, I think we’d see a much different picture than we do now.

Animated Mischaracterization of Calvinism

I read the blog of James White’s sister, Patty Bonds, quite frequently. Through it, I discovered this video. It’s amusing.

Patty feels that it accurately represents Calvinism. She writes:

I was probably one of the most radical Calvinists of all. I would and did stand flat footed and state unwaveringly that all five points of the TULIP were infallible and that those who were not elect were going to glorify God simply by their depraved lives and their eternal damnation. I had also come to the conclusion that even unborn babies that perished were subject to God’s capricious picking and choosing. I had been taught that since it was Tradition that taught us that children were not guilty of actual sin until after an age of accountability that we should reject that idea along with the whole of Catholic Tradition. So if a child was still born, it was entirely up to God whether that child would die with his sinful human nature and suffer damnation for it or if he would somehow become “regenerate” and be saved. If your head is spinning right now, don’t feel alone. I can’t believe I once believed this rubbish either.

So, while Jim’s folks have a cow about this video and bluster about bearing false witness and all, I have to say I found the video not only funny, but also an accurate representation of my own former Calvinist beliefs. I’d say they were also Jim’s but he would just tell me I’m wrong like everyone else is wrong when they find fault in him. Whatever. (source)

Of course, the video does not accurately represent Calvinism. I was toying with the idea of picking through this video and showing how badly it misrepresents Calvinism, but TurretinFan has done that for me. He said everything that I would have said, so enjoy his short but excellent refutation of the video.

Object Lesson in Why Some Hate Calvinism, part II

Mike from the blog Finding Bliss has objected to Calvinism. He says, “I find it spiritually abusive,” calls it “reckless [sic] doctrine”

In my previous post, I showed that Mike isn’t objecting to Calvinism proper. In that vein, I will answer some of the objections he then comes up with in the latter section of his post, most of which can be defused by appealing to what Calvinism actually teaches, not what Mike thinks it teaches. First objection:

How many nights have people laid awake at night questioning whether or not God chose them first? Or if like me you first believed and then you fell then that could very well mean that I was never truly saved in the first place. Read the rest of this entry

Can Ontological Discrimination Be Justified?

Vjack of Atheist Revolution asked his Twitter followers whether they thought atheism was a choice. Most responded that it wasn’t; rather, it was a conclusion reached after the analysis of the available data. They didn’t consciously choose atheism; they arrived at it naturally.

So atheism is part of their ontology. To that, Vjack says:

Suppose we decide that one’s initial discarding of theism and one’s continued lack of belief in gods are not conscious decisions and instead reflect one’s appraisal of the available data. This has a number of important implications. For starters, it would make anti-atheist bigotry even less tenable. If atheism was not something one chose, bigotry directed at atheists would indeed resemble anti-gay bigotry or even racism and would be equally difficult to justify. (source)

This presupposes that ontology is inherently good, and that something considered a part of one’s basic nature can’t be bad or harmful by definition. That’s faulty reasoning.

Addictive patterns of behavior are known to be inherent to one’s ontology. Heart disease is often caused internally. Certain folks are predisposed to types of cancer. These things are all hardwired into DNA; i.e., they are inherent to the nature of the person. Is anyone going to try to argue that those things are good, despite their origins?

Of course not. So why would we just automatically assume that homosexuality or atheism is good just because it is in the person’s nature to be that way? No one would try to argue that alcoholism, compulsive gambling, cancer, or heart disease are good things even though they are also part of a person’s nature.

Why, then, is atheism good just because it is in someone’s nature?

As an aside, my previous post took a look at the errors of Mike from Finding Bliss in regard to Calvinism. Experential evidence, though typically disregarded by atheists as proof of God, can be helpful in worldview debates. What we see here is an example of predestination at work: the unbelievers have convinced themselves that there is no evidence for God, and are therefore justifying their lack of belief by crying, “It’s my nature!”

Of course it is! First and foremost, humans are bonded to sin. It’s inescapable, and Vjack has perfectly illustrated it right there. Though this blog post points it out, it will not be regarded as evidence validating my Reformed worldview by any atheist.

Object Lesson in Why Some Hate Calvinism, part I

Mike of the Finding Bliss blog demonstrates why some people hate Calvinism. They hate a strawman caricature of it, and they don’t understand what the five points really teach. This is why I plan to make my musings on the topics of the five points of Calvinism available as an e-book.

Let’s look at what Mike got right, and what he got wrong. Mike writes, “I’ve attempted to present the 5 points as a Calvinist might present them which is not easy to do, I don’t agree with it and what’s worse I find it spiritually abusive.” It’s important to note that Mike is attempting to present these points accurately. He failed in a few places. Read the rest of this entry

Satanism Wrongly Used at Trial?

This is an interesting article. Apparently, the defendant is arguing that his religion, Satanism, shouldn’t be used against him during the sentencing phase of his capital murder trial.

That amuses me. If he had converted to Christianity, he would have been trumpeting it from the mountaintops for everyone to hear, and acting pious and prayerful. But, since he converted to Satanism, he wants it hidden so as not to prejudice the jurors.

And, the judge, the prosecutors, and the defense attorney are all ignorant. LeVey Satanists practice individuality and hedonistic sex, not human sacrifice. That, and they’re atheists! They don’t worship Satan because they don’t think he exists.

DISCLAIMER: All LeVey Satanists are atheists, but not all atheists are LeVey Satanists. I am not saying that all atheists practice individuality and hedonistic sex. Comments suggesting I have said this will be deleted. You’ve been warned.