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Sometimes, some things are so stupid that I don’t think they really warrant a serious reply.  Case-in-point:

Then I remember the horrid truth.  Most people have so little discernment that stuff like this would actually convince them that the critics of religion have made some kind of point.

Does that crucifix qualify as making a god out of cast metal?

In one sense, yes.  Jesus is God, and the maker of the crucifix has manufactured an image of Jesus out of cast metal.  Therefore, he has sinned.  But does that feel right to you?

The passage forbids us from making a god out of cast metal.  The real Jesus, of course, is cut from the same cloth as the Father and as the Spirit.  He’s not made of cast metal, but this crucifix is a symbol designed to remind us of the Savior.

So, what this passage is actually forbidding, for example, would be me designing an elaborate Staunton-style chess king out of brass with some custom engraving and decorations.  Then naming it George.  Then worshiping George as an all-powerful God of Chess, who has endowed me with both the interest and the acumen to play the game of kings.

Get it?

This passage is forbidding inventing a god out of workable materials.  God isn’t a being you manufacture from earthly things, he is one that you seek through heavenly things.  God is to be sought, not invented.

Convincing Skeptics to Believe

John W. Loftus discussed what it would take to convince him to believe. The discussion was prompted when Jayman, a Christian, asked  Loftus if he witnessed a bona fide miracle, would he then believe in God? Let’s look at the hubris displayed in the answer:

I have said that it would take a personal miracle for me to believe. I didn’t say what kind of miracle nor did I comment on the other things that would have to accompany that miracle. Let me do so now. . . .

Let’s say the miracle was an anonymous one, like the resurrection of my cousin Steve Strawser, who died at 58 alone in the woods of a massive heart attack, or the skeptic Ken Pulliam who died in October. I would believe in a supernatural reality, yes, but an anonymous one. I don’t think I could conclude anything different. But it would be an anonymous god who did it. I could not conclude much about this god other than that he could raise the dead. (emphasis added)

Once telling us that a miracle would convince him, he qualifies that by saying that a miracle is only evidence of a supernatural entity, but the identity of said entity is still open for conjecture. Then he backtracks:

So I would need more than a miracle, even though that scenario is already far fetched to begin with. (emphasis added)

After the miracle, Loftus wants God to take credit for it, by making a personal appearance (of course). Loftus further considers that proposition:

But let’s say that along with such a miracle I am told by this deity to believe exactly the way Jayman does about Christianity. That presumes even more than that a miracle occurred, since there are so many brands of Christianity around, some accusing the others of heresy. Would I believe then?

Assuming that the miracle came, the worker of the miracle has shown himself and taken credit, then he tells Loftus to believe exactly as a specific Christian believes. Meaning God’s power has been demonstrated, and then asserts his authority. Does Loftus submit?

So, if I experienced a personal miracle I would require more than just that to believe in Jayman’s god. I have so many objections to the Bible and the biblical god I would have to reconcile what I know with what this deity told me to believe. I cannot even understand why any god would require me to believe in the first place! At that point I would be forced to chose between Jayman’s god and a trickster conception of god, and the trickster god would have to be my choice given what I know. (emphasis added)

Wow. Don’t miss Loftus’s  this:

  1. An incontrovertible miracle occurs.
  2. God himself appears to Loftus and takes credit.
  3. God tells Loftus which Christian denomination is correct in all doctrinal points.
  4. However, Loftus doesn’t think that any branch of Christianity is correct.
  5. Loftus assumes that the deity who appeared and worked the miracle is now tricking him.

In conclusion:

If I was convinced Christianity is true and Jesus arose from the grave, and if I must believe in such a barbaric God, I would believe, yes, but I could still not worship such a barbaric God. I would fear such a Supreme Being, since he has such great power, but I’d still view him as a thug, a despicable tyrant, a devil in disguise; unless Christianity was revised. (source, emphasis added)

This is quite educational. My conclusion: John W. Loftus is an arrogant and unrelenting narcissist who has put himself in place of God. In his own words, Loftus has said, “Even if God himself proved his existence beyond a reasonable doubt and told me that Christianity is true, I’ll believe it but I’m still not going to worship God.”

Literally, John Loftus has just told us that he knows better than God. Only on the Internet can you witness egos this big first hand.  And, this proves that no one is in hell kicking, screaming, and crying to be let out (as I’ve frequently argued).  Loftus would rather be there then to bow down and worship God.

I don’t think I can add anything further. This speaks for itself.

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?

In Christ Alone

Great song. We played this at church today and I really got caught up in the music and pondered the lyrics. I challenge everyone to at least ponder the lyrics.

I like the more upbeat version of this tune, though Natalie Grant did an excellent take on this track with her amazing voice.

Should Christians Celebrate Halloween?

Guest Post by Nate Reid

My brother-in-law, Nate, associate pastor and youth leader at my church, originally wrote this article for my short-lived e-zine. Many Christians, including Nate and I, don’t think that Christians should celebrate Halloween because of its association with the devil and other malevolent entities. Here is Nate’s original article, written in October of 2008 and originally part of this e-zine.

For the Christian today, our diverse American culture poses many real
challenges in determining what he or she should and should not partake in. There is such a blending of belief systems and melding of cultural practices that for those who try to follow closely to the teachings of Jesus Christ, it can be a daunting task riddled with humanly perceived “gray areas.”

In keeping with the season, I would like to address the Christian’s response to the celebration of Halloween. I do not want to go into an exhaustive background, but Halloween began with ancient Druid beliefs that this time of year the souls of the deceased could and sometimes did come back to pester and possess the bodies of the living. Therefore, many of the customs that are still performed today have roots in actual Druid ritual. Carving Jack ‘o’ Lanterns and dressing up in frightening costumes was an attempt to scare away evil spirits. Building giant bonfires (derived from “bone-fires”) was intended to do the same and also eradicate anyone who was believed to be possessed by an evil spirit. Furthermore, today the “holiday” is celebrated by neo-Pagans, Wiccans, and even Satanists as somewhat of a high holiday.

So, if this is the case, what is a Christian to do? What’s so terrible about dressing up as a princess or a pumpkin and going door to door begging for candy? What possible harm can come from carving a pumpkin or bobbing for apples? I would venture to say that these things in and of themselves are not wrong and definitely not the point. The bottom line is this: Halloween today in our culture, no matter how any individual celebrates it, glorifies death, evil, and fear. As a Christian, we know that Jesus came to overcome the power of death, defeat evil, and eliminate fear. Why then would a Christian partake in an event that, no matter what their celebration includes, glorifies the very things Christ came to abolish?

If you argue that our customs for Christmas celebration have pagan roots and therefore would be wrong to partake of according to my argument, then you are right on the first part at least. Many Christmas customs do indeed come directly from pagan practices—the lighting of a tree and the yule log, just to name two. However, I would argue that you are incorrect on the second part of your statement. What, today, does Christmas stand for? Does it not still mark the celebration of the birth of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ? You would be correct in noticing the need to eradicate the disgusting overemphasis of commercialism and the blatant substitution of the true meaning of Christmas with a certain “Santa Claus.”

Therefore, my analogy goes like this: Celebrating Halloween in the sense of celebrating the harvest and honoring the Saints that have gone before us would in theory be acceptable as a Christian, just as celebrating Christmas as the commemoration of the birth of Christ is acceptable. (The Catholic Church unsuccessfully tried to replace pagan meanings of Halloween, thus “All Hallow’s Eve,” which morphed into “Halloween” with “hallow” having the meaning of one who is hallowed or holy. Think, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy Name…”). Both celebrations go wrong when the pagan is celebrated over the Christian.

In the case of Halloween, glorifying death, evil, and fear is akin to placing the myth of Santa Claus in place of the real Jesus Christ while prioritizing the giving and receiving of gifts over glorifying the Giver of the Greatest Gift of all at Christmas time. I believe it is simply summed up in the following verse: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 The 5:19-22, ESV).

As a Christian we have the responsibility to ensure we are thinking through everything we do in general, and specifically in this case with celebrations to make sure we are glorifying God, holding to only that which is good, and keeping far away from anything that is associated with evil. I cannot personally get around the fact that Halloween glorifies death, evil, and fear. It should be obvious that this is the clear meaning behind this day.

Halloween movies more often than not feature brutal massacres, witchcraft as fun and acceptable, and glorification of the demonic side of the very real spiritual realm. The fiction that has been created about ghosts, zombies, and the like have their roots in reality and can only be demons as described in the Bible. There is a spiritual realm that features very good and very bad spirits.

We should not, especially as Christians, make light of this and consequently behave as if the evil is “cute” or “harmless” or anything else other than a terrible offense to God and contrary to everything He is.

We suffer from an epidemic of Christians that behave exactly the same, or at least nearly the same as their non-Christian counterparts without regard for taking a stand for what is pure and holy. We need to not be afraid of looking weird or irrelevant when we speak out against or abstain from celebrating overtly pagan and evil “holidays” such as Halloween. It is time we did as the writer in Hebrews describes when he writes: “…Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Heb 12:1, ESV).

I challenge every Christian who reads this article to examine the Word of God, pray specifically, and carefully consider what I present to you even if you initially disagree with my stance. I believe that any Christian absolutely must treat any and all matters of life, not exclusively the “hot button” issues like the celebration of Halloween, in this manner. We cannot afford to slog through life accepting or rejecting doctrine, lists of right and wrong, and in this case celebrations based on our culture at large, what someone we care
about or respect said, or whatever happens to fit our personal references.

There is absolute truth out there, and we all must strive to find it and understand it to the best of our imperfect human ability and live our lives accordingly. Ultimately, we will be held accountable for our actions and what we supported or fought against in the end.

I do not say all this to suggest that a true Christian cannot celebrate Halloween and still be “right with God.” There are godly men and women I know and respect and whose salvation I would not question who advocate at least portions of current American Halloween customs. I do not have a problem with disagreeing with them and personally choosing to abstain, but I only continue to respect their opinion if they have demonstrated that they are convinced that they are doing what is pure and holy to the best of their ability. I do, however, strongly infer that a true Christian will examine their hearts and motivations for celebrating it or not celebrating it and ensure that they have a solid set of reasoning and specific purpose for everything they do.