Monday, December 28, 2009

Update on the Scandal

The Scandal of The Evangelical Mind--15 Years Later

On Friday, October 2, Gordon hosted a day-long conference on the theme “The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind: 15 Years Later.” The keynote speaker was Mark Noll, a leading historian of American Evangelicalism and longtime professor at Wheaton College; more recently he has taught at the University of Notre Dame. Speakers from the Boston area joined Noll in taking stock, 15 years on, of his book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (1994), a carefully reasoned case for why intellectual endeavor is a necessary component of our service to God. The conference sessions amounted to a report card on how Evangelicals are doing in this area, with results both sobering and inspiring. The impression made on this observer was simple: Noll’s book is as important and relevant as ever. Highlights from the conference suggest why this is so.

The morning session examined American Evangelicals’ longstanding faith in popular authority figures as opposed to scholars trained in elite centers of learning. Speakers presented examples of self-proclaimed experts who command outsized influence in today’s evangelical churches on subjects ranging from American history to the earth and biological sciences. Unfortunately, through books, lectures, and Internet websites, these Christian pundits often point their audiences away from the best available scholarship. Although amusing at times, these presentations were ultimately disturbing. A related point was made by David Hempton, an historian of British Methodism who teaches and maintains an evangelical presence at Harvard Divinity School. A native of Northern Ireland, Hempton noted the historic tendency on the part of American Christians to be activists, to turn compassion into practical ministry—a tendency that has earned respect even from extreme liberals. Yet Hempton also noted a discrepancy: Evangelicals have thus far had little influence on the theoretical analysis of major social problems.

Are there role models that illustrate what a Christian intellectual should look like? Several conference speakers pointed to the 18th-century American pastor Jonathan Edwards. Not only was Edwards the premier theologian of the Great Awakening—the revival that swept the American colonies in the 1740s—but he also grappled with the most advanced scientific and philosophical ideas of his day. Surely Edwards would be dismayed to see how his spiritual descendents have largely failed to engage with and contribute to learning in our own time. On a more hopeful note, the Canadian scholar James C. Wallace of Boston University’s Institute of Culture, Religion and World Affairs, spoke on the topic “American Evangelicals: Smarter than People Realize? The Growth of an Evangelical Intelligentsia.”

Mark Noll challenged the Gordon community as a whole at Friday convocation. Intellectual endeavor is necessary, he argued, if Christians as a body are to glorify God. Talented young people should be encouraged to consider dedicating themselves to this high calling. Surely Gordon College should continue its own dedication to helping prepare a new cohort of Christians to become cutting-edge scientists, scholars and social thinkers in addition to training activist “doers” in all walks of life and ministry. Thus we fulfill a key part of our vocation as a Christian liberal arts institution.

Watch an interview with Mark Noll, and his Nov. 6 Convocation address, "Faith Seeking Understanding: The Evangelical Imperative for Evangelical Intellectual Life," both on Gordon's Youtube channel.

Stephen Alter, Ph. D., is associate professor of history at Gordon, where he has taught for nine years. His courses focus on modern America and Britain, including the history of science and scholarship. His latest book is William Dwight Whitney and the Science of Language (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005).


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Laboring Together, Life!! Life!! Life!!

Last night (December 20) the Whiteriver Clinic was broken into and set on fire. We don’t know much. It was the work of more than one guy. Before they set it on fire, they opened the Fatherhood Store and took most everything out.The area around the clinic was strewn with things from inside. They also took T.V.’s, VCR’s and other items and threw them about outside. They then set fire in the back of the building in the Mommy Store. The fire did not bring down the building (why I will never know as it is so old) but it gutted the inside of the back area and caused extreme smoke and heat damage to the rest of the rooms. A.T.F. is investigating and they were bringing up a specialist from the valley to gather evidence. This is a Federal offense. The agent very gingerly asked if we were involved in “anything controversial” in our ministry. You can imagine what they hear about Crisis Pregnancy Centers, abortion clinic bombings and the like. I assured him that even though we are a CPC, our work was mostly pre-natal and parenting and that the culture in Whiteriver is very Pro-Life. One amazing thing that happened was after they started the fire and took off running someone living behind the clinic ran after them, tackled one and held him down until the police came. He is now in jail. This is amazing…people just don’t take those personal risks down there. It was a bright spot for us.

When we think of everything we had in there it is a bit overwhelming. We had just gotten two new computers. We had a new ultrasound machine a large (very large) screen T.V. and of course our beautiful, huge Mommy Store. But these are things that can be replaced. One greater challenge will be where do we go from here?

Available buildings in Whiteriver are very, very scarce. You have to go through the tribe to rent anything. This building was perfect (with the exception of the terrible plumbing and the inability to adequately heat such a huge area) and our program down there grew because we had so much area to expand into. Our staff of six are amazing. They have 400 to 600 visits a month and both our men and women go into the jail to teach parenting classes. We were really making an impact. And the devil could not tolerate that. Our staff will continue doing classes from the Assembly of God church but without a mommy store which provides so much needed assistance to the moms and dads.

As our staff stood outside the building, clients would come and cry as they looked at the devastation. This ministry is so loved by so many there. We are looking at our options, one which is to lease a large lot and build or place a modular on it. Whatever we do, build, remodel or use a modular, we feel strongly that the people of Whiteriver are the ones who should do it. As I stood there a man and wife came by and he said, “I’m a carpenter, what can I do to help?” The one thing they can’t do is raise funds so the ministry will be doing this. But the work will be done by the Apache people.

Please join us as we seek God’s plan in this. His plan was so evident when Whiteriver got started that we know He has many blessings to come out of these ashes. In the busyness of CHRISTmas, please say a prayer for this situation when you think of it. When I first heard I cried hard, but I do believe all will be not just well, but much better. We’ll keep ya posted! God bless you all.

Dinah Monahan

Kimberley Hash
Executive Director
Living Hope Women's Centers
(928) 537-9032 Office
(928) 205-5202 Cell
1000 E. Huning
Show Low, AZ 85901


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let's Keep Christmas

Let's Keep Christmas
A Sermon by Peter Marshall
Changes are everywhere. Many institutions and customs that we once thought sacrosanct have gone by the board. Yet there are few that abide, defying time and revolution.
The old message: "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord" is still the heart of Christmas. It can be nothing else. And this message can neither be changed - nor quite forgotten although there are many things that tend to make us forget.
The idea of Santa Claus coming in a helicopter does not ring true. No interior decorator with a fondness for yellow or blue could ever persuade me to forsake the Christmas colors of red and green.
I must confess that modernistic Christmas cards leave me cold. I cannot appreciate the dogs and cats the galloping horses the ships in full sail . . . or any of the cute designs that leave out the traditional symbols of the star . . . the manger . . . the wise men on their camels.
Angels there must be - but not modernistic angels in evening dress with peroxide permanents.
There is no need to search for stories new and different. There is only one after all - and no modern author can improve it:
" And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night, And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they where sore afraid.
"And the angel of the Lord said unto them, Fear not, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord."
We all fee the pressure of approaching Christmas. The traffic is terrible. You can't find a parking space . . . The stores are crowded . . . Mob scenes make shopping a nightmare.
You are thinking about presents - wondering what in the world to get for so-and-so. You can think of friends and loved ones who are so hard to shop for. You can't think of anything they need (which is rather strange when you take time to think of it).
Maybe there is nothing in the store that they need. But what about some token of love- what about love itself . . . and friendship . . . and understanding . . . and consideration . . . and a smile . . . and a prayer? You can't but these things in any store, and these are the very things people need. We all need them . . . Blessed will they be who receive them this Christmas or at any time.
Let's not permit the crowds and the rush to crowd Christmas out of our hearts . . . for that is where it belongs. Christmas is not in the stores - but in the hearts of people.
Let's not give way to cynicism and mutter that "Christmas has become commercialized." It never will be - unless you let it be. Your Christmas is not commercialized, unless you have commercialized it.
Let's not succumb to the sophistication that complains: "Christmas belongs only to the children." That shows that you have never understood Christmas at all, for the older you get, the more it means, if you know what it means. Christmas, though forever young, grows old with us.
Have you ever been saying, "I just can’t seem to feel the Christmas spirit this year"? That's too bad. As a confession of lack of faith, it is rather significant.
You are saying that you feel no joy that Jesus came into the world . . . You are confessing that His Presence in the world is not a reality to you . . . Maybe you need all the more to read the Christmas story all over again, need to sit down with the Gospel of Luke and think about it.
I thank God for Christmas. Would that it lasted all year. For on Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day, all the world is a better place, and men and women are more lovable. Love itself seeps into every heart, and miracles happen.
When Christmas doesn’t make your heart swell up until it nearly bursts . . . and fill your eyes with tears . . . and make you all soft and warm inside . . . then you'll know that something inside of you is dead.
We hope that there will be snow for Christmas. Why? It is not really important, but it is so nice, and old-fashioned, and appropriate, we think.
Isn’t it wonderful to think that nothing can really harm the joy of Christmas . . . Although your Christmas tree decorations will include many new gadgets, such as lights with bubbles in them . . . it's the old tree decorations that means the most . . . the ones you save carefully from year to year . . . the crooked star that you've been so careful with.
And you'll bring out the tiny manger, and the shed, and the little figures of the Holy Family . . . and lovingly arrange them on the mantel or in the middle of the dining room table. And getting the tree will be a family event, with great excitement for the children . . . And there will be a closet into which you will forbid your husband to look, and he will be moving through the house mysteriously with bundles under his coat, and you'll pretend not to notice . . .
There will be a fragrance of cookies baking spices and fruitcake . . . and the warmth of the house shall be melodious with the lilting strains of "Silent Night, Holy Night." And you'll listen to the wonderful Christmas music on the radio, some of the songs will be modern - good enough music perhaps - but it will be the old carols, the lovely old Christmas hymns that will mean the most.
And forests of fir trees will march right into our living rooms . . . There will be bells on our doors and holly wreaths in our windows . . .
And we shall sweep the Noel skies for their brightest colors and festoon our homes with stars.
There will be a chubby stocking hung by the fireplace . . . and with finger to lip you will whisper and ask me to tip-toe, for a little tousled head is asleep and must not be awakened.
And finally Christmas morning will come. Don't worry - you'll be ready for it - You'll catch the spirit all right, or it will catch you which is even better.
And then you will remember what Christmas means - the beginning of Christianity . . . the Second Chance for the world . . . the hope for peace . . . and the only way. The promise that the angels sang is the most wonderful music the world has ever heard. "Peace on earth and good will toward men"
It was not a pronouncement upon the state of the world then nor is it a reading of the international barometer of present time . . . but it is a promise - God's promise - of what will come to pass.
The years that are gone are graveyards in which all the persuasions of men have crumbled into dust. If history has any voice, it is to say that all these ways of men lead nowhere. There remains only one way - The Way - untried, untested, unexplored fully. . . the way of Him Who was born a Babe in Bethlehem.
In a world that seems not only to be changing, but even to be dissolving, there are tens of millions of us who want Christmas to be the same . . . with the same old greeting "Merry Christmas" and no other.
We long for the abiding love among men of good will which the season brings . . . believing in this ancient miracle of Christmas with its softening, sweetening influence to tug at our heart strings once again.
We want to hold on to the old customs and traditions because they strengthen our family ties, bind us to our friends, make us one with all mankind for whom the Child was born, and bring us back again to the God Who gave His only begotten son, that "whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
So we will not "spend" Christmas . . .nor "observe" Christmas.We will "keep" Christmas - keep it as it is . . .in all loveliness of its ancient traditions.May we keep it in our hearts,that we may be kept in its hope.
Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 14, 2009

How contemptuous!!

Yes, Woods has fallen. Yes!! He has sinned.

The travesty of the sin committed in the Woods peccadilloes has been enormous, as pointed out by Albert Mohler. But, take note of the Media and their action in orchestrating the stoning. These Pharisees of the present hide behind their social self righteousness, personal agendas and hate. I have not read one article or heard one tube commentator who offered a cup of kindness, reconciliation efforts or forgiveness paths. The media passed out the stones and cheered the killing. How contemptuous!!


Thursday, December 10, 2009

UPDATED: Syncretism Rules the Day

The Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life released their latest report on December 9. You might have caught a brief overview on ABC News on Thursday evening. Here's an excerpt from the opening paragraph of the report.

A new poll by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life finds that large numbers of Americans engage in multiple religious practices, mixing elements of diverse traditions. . .Many also blend Christianity with Eastern or New Age beliefs such as reincarnation, astrology and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects. And sizeable minorities of all major U.S. religious groups say they have experienced supernatural phenomena, such as being in touch with the dead or with ghosts. (Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Many Americans Mix Multiple Faiths, 2009, p. 1)

Stephen Prothero is the chair of the Department of Religion at Boston University and the author of numerous books, including American Jesus: How the Son Of God Became a National Icon (2003) and the New York Times bestseller, Religious Literacy: What Americans Need To Know (2007). Prothero also sees the flexibility and wavering of Americans' beliefs:

Christians traditionally, as they've shaped Jesus, have been worried about getting it wrong. Americans today are not so worried. There isn't the sense that this is a life-and-death matter; that you don't want to mess with divinity. There's a freedom and even a playfulness that Americans have. The flexibility our Jesus exhibits is unprecedented. There's a Gumby-like quality to Jesus in the United States.

It's never safe to make specific predictions about the future, but back in 1994, Gene Edward Veith made a general statement of where worldviews and religions would be headed in the 21st century:
The next major new religion, however, will probably not be one of the old forms of overt paganism, but rather a [syncretistic] hybrid. In a postmodernist and increasingly consumer-oriented world in which truth is relative, people will pick and choose various aspects of the different faiths according to what they "like" (Veith, Postmodern Times, 1994, p. 200).
It looks as though Veith's prediction is coming true. That means it's more important than ever to be familiar with the various worldviews in our culture. The people you encounter in class, in your jobs – even in your own family – will most likely hold to some version of a worldview different from your own.

And of course, it's more important than ever to know your own worldview - and be able to explain and defend it.

Monday, December 7, 2009

New Age Cinema

Last Sunday night I caught most of the film, All of Me, starring Steve Martin and Lilly Tomlin, on TV - a film which I hadn't seen in several years. It's a very funny film, but I've learned a few things about competing worldviews since I last saw it.

In this 1984 comedy, one is never quite sure if the ideas of the New Age movement are being held up to ridicule or are being promoted in a humorous piece of propaganda.

Tomlin's character, who is on her death bed, believes basic New Age tenets such as "becoming one with the universe." Further, upon her death, she plans to have her soul transmigrated into another woman's body, who is perfectly willing to give up her own soul so as to join the cosmos.

Martin's character (and others) ask "you don't really believe that stuff, do you?" and refer to Tomlin's character Edwina as wacko and bananas.

But . . . the basic premise of the film is that transmigration works – it just doesn't work out the way that Edwina had planned.

So is All of Me promoting New Age mumbo-jumbo? Or making fun of it? I won't ruin the story for you; I'd just encourage you to find it and rent it to see for yourself. (You can watch the trailer here).

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Islam and Liberties

This past week I reviewed two positions on the Islamic or Muslim intentions. One extended comment by Newt Gingrich concerning his concern about Islamic terrorism and the other a blog article by Albert Mohler concerning the Swiss vote to ban minarets. I believe each article centered on the subject of national and religious liberties.

“... a blunt and chilling answer to a serious question posed to Newt Gingrich on CNN. It's a clearly worded warning that I have not yet heard from any public figure concerning the state of world affairs. This is one the most powerful and articulates summaries of the dangers of our current situation that I have ever heard, and a mystery to me why this is not painfully aware to every American and a subject of constant discussion.”

“Though political correctness limits open discussion, citizens clearly fear the growing influence of the Muslim populations in their countries.”

“The Muslim minaret is the central architectural symbol of Islam, as recognizably Muslim as steeples with crosses are recognizably Christian. Any nation that is truly committed to religious liberty cannot sustain a ban on one religiously significant architectural symbol or structure in this manner.”

We in the United States stand true to the ideals of liberties and not violating those of others, especially religious liberty. Is there any foundation to think the Islamic movement will cause a problem now or in the future? Is Gingrich concerns justified and is Mohler position justified?

I would weigh in the view of Oriana Fallaci.

“I do not see Islamic terrorism as the main weapon of the war that the sons of Allah have unleashed upon us. Terrorism is only the bloodiest and most barbarous aspect of this war. The most pernicious and catastrophic aspect is the religious war,” are:

  1. “Immigration, not terrorism is the Trojan Horse that has penetrated and transformed Europe into Eurabia. Citing Bernard Lewis, she warns that by 2100, the whole of Europe will be numerically dominated by Muslims.”
  2. “Fallaci warns that multiculturalism will not moderate Islam and certainly not the fib of integration. In Europe-Eurabia, the other immigrants more or less integrate. Muslims don't. They don't even care to learn our languages. Glued to their mosques, to their Islamic Centers, to their hostility, better yet their abhorrence and contempt for the West, they only obey the rules and the laws of the Sharia (pp. 301-302).” {Imposed presence does not allow another view, p. 301 The Force of Reason}
  3. “Moderate Islam is another invention of ours. Another illusion fabricated by naivetor Quislingness or misplaced realpolitk. Moderate Islam does not exist.”

Reason is the key to human freedom and dignity. Although she fears that the force of reason in the West is succumbing to the force of unreason - Islam, her books are a precious legacy of the human spirit and therefore a promise that Reason will ultimately prevail.”

I am convinced of Fallaci’s insights into what the Muslim movement is doing are true. Being convinced I have to consider how to sustain the religious rights of the Muslim and the rights of the Christian.. Since the Muslim position is an imposed presence, what will be done? What should the defense of the Christian faith be? I believe that this is only the tip of the problem.

Will reason solve the problem?


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Media has Spoken, Man is Made in the Image of God

The other night my wife and I watched the movie "My Sister's Keeper." Also, on a regular basis we watch extreme home makeover on Sunday evenings. What does the movie and the tv show have in common? They make no sense unless Genesis is correct and God created man in his image. A host of movies and shows could be added to the list. Any book, show or movie that dignifies mankind or considers mankind to be valuable, declares the truth of The Imago Dei (image of God).

When anyone has their emotions stirred up watching a family get a new house, they testify to themselves that they are watching something more than a product of an impersonal, directionless universe receiving something from other products of an impersonal directionless universe. That includes many Eastern religions that just believe in an impersonal force. A force, even a supernatural force, cannot have a direction because direction and purpose only come from a mind i.e. something personal. Furthermore, a force cannot bestow dignity on mankind no more than a powerful river could.

I would also contend that the emotional stirrings testify to something more than products of a universe formed and governed (I use that word loosely) by a multitude of gods who often times do not agree with each other and therefore are often seeking after very different purposes or goals.

I am thankful that most of the world's population assigns some kind of dignity to mankind, but I am struck that such dignity is often given without even an eye blinks worth of wonder where that dignity comes from. The Bible is right, man will suppress the truth of God until God rips out that heart of stone and puts in a heart of flesh.

Things to consider from the Word of God.

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; [fn] it was full of bones.
And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry.
And he said to me, "Son of man, can these bones live?" And I answered, "O Lord God , you know."
Then he said to me, "Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord .
"Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath
[fn] to enter you, and you shall live.
"And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord ."

Ezekiel 37:1-6

Then God said, "Let us make man [fn] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God blessed them. And God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth."

Genesis 1:26-28

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Manhattan Declaration

The Manhattan Declaration

A Call of Christian Conscience

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are:

1. the sanctity of human life
2. the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife
3. the rights of conscience and religious liberty.

Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defence, and to commit ourselves to honouring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Shall Cesar prevail?


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Odd Thomas: Broken people need to fix themselves and others.

I like to listen to books on CD. I wish I could tell you that I put on a CD of someone reading one of the big J's (Edwards, Owens, Piper, Bunyan), but that would be a lie. I like to listen to fiction books on CD. Recently I listened to the whole Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz ("Odd Thomas", "Forever Odd", "Brother Odd", "Odd Hours"). Beyond enjoying listening to these books, I found the worldview they express to be interesting. As I mentioned in my last post, I am taking a break from critiquing atheistic worldviews, and while I do not know about Dean Koontz himself, the Odd Thomas series does not express an atheistic worldview.

Introducing Odd:

Odd Thomas is your average 20 year old fry cook except that, Aside from cooking, Odd has some other talents as well. Odd has the ability to see dead people, supernatural creatures called Bodocks, and he has intuition strong enough to put him on the edges of the psychic category. Odd considers his abilities as a gift that come with the obligation to do what he can to combat evil and injustice.

Before I outline, allow me these two caveats. One, I have only listened to this series on CD once through while I was driving between meetings for work. While I typically keep an amateur ear open for worldviews in my entertainment, I am not claiming to be an Odd Thomas expert. Two, my post contains several spoilers for the series (read at your own risk).

Odd Thomas series outline:

1.) God:

God does not have any direct role in this series. The Metaphysics of the book (see below) would certainly imply God, but he does not get a whole lot of direct attention. In book three, "Brother Odd", the villain is accused of trying to play God, while ironically, he [the villain] attempts to work on a quantum physics formula to prove God. That is, as I remember it, as close to a direct reference to God that the series has. God will be mentioned in passing or as an aside, but He does not have a central role. However, implications of God abound in the metaphysics portion of the worldview.

2.) Metaphysics:

- Three possible things happen after death.

A.) All evil souls are taken immediately to hell (though I cannot remember if the word hell is ever directly used). Furthermore, I use the word taken because of one quick vignette in the last book, "Odd Hours", which details one of the evil souls being grabbed by a figure who comes out of a mirror, and is subsequently taken into the mirror. I think that maybe Odd, while witnessing this incident, might have seen some fire in the mirror for a brief second (but I cannot remember for sure). Otherwise, the evil souls just go with the assumption that they cross over to the evil side of the afterlife.

There was one exception to this rule in the first book where an evil soul wanders around for a while. The exception is important to the story, but was not reconciled, to my satisfaction, with the series stance on evil souls after death.

B.) Some good souls linger on earth because they do not want to "cross over." The reasons these good souls do not cross over vary. Elvis, for example, does not cross over because he is worried what his mom will think of the decisions he made after she died. A lot of the ghosts Odd sees do not want to cross over because they were murdered and want justice.

C.) Some of the good souls cross over automatically. There seems to be an unspoken dividing line in the books regarding the crossing over rules. If a ghost is on the evil side of the dividing line he is taken immediately to the evil side of the after life (see note on the exception above). If a ghost is not immediately taken to the evil after life, then it is understood that he is on the good side of the dividing line, even if he chooses to linger on earth. Therefore, the ghosts that remain are only prevented from crossing over by their choice, and not by some divine judgement that makes them stay on earth until they are good enough e.g. a kind of purgatory. Part of what Odd Thomas does, other than to seek justice for the murdered ghosts, is to help the ghosts like Elvis to realize that it is better to cross over than to stay lingering on the earth.

- Two views of what the good side of the after life entails: The books, although presented from the first person perspective of Odd, have two views of what the good side of the after life may be.

A.) Odd's view: The after life is a place of final rewards and final rest. Odd's view of the after life is basically the popular view of heaven. Gaining the good afterlife and the rewards of the after life are based upon how one lives life here on earth.

B.) Stormy Llewellyn's (Odd's girlfriend and "true love") view: The after life is actually "service" where good souls are called upon to once again fight for good in order to defeat evil. After service, good souls get final rewards and rest. The reaching of the final good afterlife and final rewards are based on ones actions on earth and in service. So, first life is on earth, second life is in service, then one reaches what could be called heaven.

- Souls: The book presents a clear understanding that people are not just their physical bodies. The "Odd Thomas" series does not portray a naturalistic worldview. People exist after their bodies die. There is, however, no notion in the books that the non-physical existence after death will ever become a physical existence again. In other words, there is no concept of resurrection.

-Gifts: Odd Thomas considers his ability to see dead people and his souped up intuition, which he calls "psychic magnetism", to be gifts. The books never mentions from who, what, or where the gifts come, however, it could be consider an implicit concession to God (god, gods, or the force).


The ethical rule of the book could be summed up as do what you can to help others, and do not harm others. In the third book, "Brother Odd", the head nun hangs up a picture of Odd because of his humility (it makes sense if you know the rest of the context). Humility, therefore, is also considered a virtue (no surprise there). Odd and Stormy are also extremely honest in an almost passing manner. In other words, honesty comes off as being a part of who they are, not something they do.

To sum up, the Odd Thomas series does not have anything in the ethics category that would be considered unusual or unexpected. There is no concept that ethics flow from the nature or will of a creator God. Elvis' drug use and overdose were considered to be mistakes in his life, but there was no real sense that Elvis had sinned. Actually, the only time anything is considered morally wrong is when it is over the top e.g. participating in a plan to nuke a city or killing people. However, the books do at least maintain an objective sense of good and evil.


In my unprofessional opinion, I find that epistemology is usually the most subtle part to sift out of fictional entertainment. The book never affirms knowledge gained by scientific means i.e. through repeatable experimentation. However, considering the books do not deny that as a valid means of knowledge, it is probably safe to assume that the books affirm that means of knowledge to some degree. Still, the books delineate some other interesting ways of gaining knowledge.

Odd Thomas realizes at one point that he had made mistakes in the past because he did not trust his intuition enough. In fact, a lot of the main propositions from the book e.g. the existence of the after life, is based upon what the proverbial heart says or feels. Odd believes in the after life because he can see ghosts, however, many of the characters in the book believe in the after life without that benefit.

In the third book, "Brother Odd", the antagonist is a quantum physicist who believes in God because he has developed a mathematical model of the very base make up of the universe which the physicist says only makes sense if it is a representation of the way the "mind of God" works. However, in the end, the book rejects the quantum physics model as a valid way of knowing that God exists. "Brother Odd" concluded that faith is the only way to know God exists. Faith, in the books, is the idea of belief without reason.

In the first and last book "Odd Thomas" and "Odd Hours", respectively, Odd knows things that will happen in the future based upon visions that he has in dreams. The series also contain some loose examples of Odd knowing things based upon communication from the supernatural world. For example, in the first book, Odd, in a way, receives loose knowledge of what will happen based upon the actions of Elvis' ghost. In the second book Odd receives communication from his departed, true love Stormy, who speaks to him through a brain damaged child. Odd can also see "Bodocks". Bodocks are some kind of shadow creatures which only Odd can see that probably feed off fear and violence. Odd, therefore, can surmise that something evil is going to happen based upon Bodocks gathering in large numbers. Again, since the books are from Odd's perspective, the readers (or listeners) are not given much information in regards to how other people without Odd's talents or gifts come to know things (or affirm that they know things).

Stormy knows/believes Odd can see ghosts etc based upon the trust she has in Odd. Her trust is in turn based upon their love and intimate relationship. The police chief believes Odd because he has never been wrong when he has helped the police solve a murder case as well as the trust developed from their relationship. It seems that maybe Ozzy believes Odd because of their deep connection to each other, which, in my opinion, was meant to be seen as a result of two souls in pain finding companionship. To simplify, it seems that the series affirms the common idea that some things are known through relationship with others.


I found anthropology to be the most interesting part of the series' worldview. The books present a clear picture that mankind is not all our modern culture tends to think that mankind is. There are "good" people in the book, however, people are often presented as greedy, sadistic, weak etc. The books show us examples of what people are really like when the chips are down. I realize that most books give us examples of people at their worst, but this particular series normalizes the idea that people are inherently bad more than is common. I appreciated the more honest characterization of mankind, but I also found it at odds with the weak view of what constitutes moral wrong.

In the end of the second book "Forever Odd", Odd Thomas is explaining to the police chief that he has figured out what is wrong with the world. Odd explains that through humanities misuse of the will, they broke themselves. Furthermore, Odd explains that people did not just break themselves, they broke time and the world as well. I know that it is not the Biblical doctrine of the fall, but I thought it was a refreshing break from the typical "humanity is really good at its core" spiel.

The problem is that Odd's overall solution to the problem seems to be that people need to stop being bad, start being better, and fix the world one step at a time. The discontinuity between the nature of people and the good results people are supposed to be capable of producing struck me as quite astounding.


I think the Odd Thomas series is very entertaining. I think people will quickly fall in love with the kind, quirky, and witty character of Odd Thomas. There were times when I was listening to these books in the car that I was either laughing almost hard enough to pull off the road and there were times when I was on the verge of tears. I think I would give the series about a 8 and half out of ten on the worth reading scale. If you are only going to read one of the books, I would recommend either the first "Odd Thomas" or the last "Odd Hours." There is also a graphic novel version "In Odd We Trust" that I have not read so I cannot comment on that particular book.

I do want to give a word to the Parents. All of the books contain quite a bit of violence, some language, and mature content. The second book contains obvious sexual references and innuendos. The last book revolves around a theme of Terrorism (that Odd is working to stop), and the antagonists of the first book are satan worshipers. If you were to ask my opinion, I would say that the first, third and fourth books would be okay for older teens (16 and above), but I would be leery about recommending the second book to anyone under eighteen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Belonging To One Another 2

Well, here we are again.

Have you given any thought about, “belonging to one another”? What is our relationship with one another as believers in the Body of Christ? What does it means to belong to each other – i.e., to live in right relationship with each other?The “One-Another” Verses of ScriptureThe New Testament has much to say about our relationships with one another as fellow-members of the Body of Christ. Here is a collection of these “one-another” verses.

11. We are to LIVE IN FELLOWSHIP with one another

1 John 1:7. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

12. We are to LIVE AT PEACE with one another

Mark 9:50. Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.

13. We are to LIVE IN HARMONY with one another

Romans 12:16. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

14. We are to BEAR WITH one another

Ephesians 4:2. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

15. We are to INSTRUCT AND TEACH one another

Romans 15:14. I myself am convinced, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, complete in knowledge and competent to instruct one another.

16. We are to PRAY for one another

James 5:16. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

17. We are to SHARE with one another

Romans 12:13. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

18. We are to ACCEPT one another

Romans 15:7. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

19. We are to AGREE with one another

1 Corinthians 1:10. I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

20. We are to BUILD UP one another

Jude 1:20. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

Compiled by Wayne Becker for the Agape Class at Fort Myers Evangelical Free Church in the winter of 2008


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Out with the Nones!

A 2009 report by Trinity College researchers based on the American Religious Identification Survey 2008 profiles the “no religion population” and finds that they are no longer a fringe group. The no religion segment of the U.S. population, or “Nones,” far exceed the combined total of all the non-Christian religious groups in the U.S. and is likely to increase as non-religious young people replace older religious people. This report aims to profile the Nones and try to predict their likely impact on where society is headed.

Among the report’s more interesting highlights were:
· 1 in 6 Americans is presently of No Religion in terms of Belonging (self-identification).
· 1 in 4 Americans is presently of No Religion in terms of Belief and Behavior.
· 15 percent of the total adult U.S. population self-identify as Nones or 34 million adults.
· 22 percent of Americans aged 18-29 years self-identify as Nones.
· 660,000 the annual increase of adult Americans joining the ranks of Nones since 2001. The number has halved from 1.3 million annually in the 1990s.
· 59 percent of Nones identify as agnostics and deists rather than atheists or theists.
· 61 percent of Nones believe in human evolution while 38 percent of the general American public believes in human evolution.
· 60:40 the gender ratio among male and female Nones (19 percent of American men are Nones while 12 percent of American women are Nones).
· 32 percent of current Nones report they were None by age 12, making most Nones first generation.
· 21 percent of the nation’s Independents are Nones.
· 16 percent of the nation’s Democrats are Nones.
· 8 percent of the nation’s Republicans are Nones.

1 in 6 Americans is presently of No Religion in terms of Belonging (self-identification). Why? Do the Nones represent the dying gasp of organized religion? (The Week November 6, 2009 p.13) Belonging, what does that mean? Is belonging subjective in character?

I know someone who has recently joined the Nones. Comment from the person, “I hate the politics and the favoritism in the church I use to attend. I did not belong.” The person went on to tell me that there was a singing out for voicing concerns about protocol.

I have been reading about the Nones for two years and have watched there growth. What is at stake? The character of the nation, a secular culture, a rise in liberalism, religious indifference as is in Europe, etc.? (The Week November 6, 2009 p.13)

Belonging!!?? What does it take to belong?


Friday, October 30, 2009

How Do Zombies Impact Your Worldview?

With Halloween right around the corner, we've seen zombies popping up all over. Well, not really, but in pop culture, books, films, etc. Just to name two: there's the recent movie, Zombieland and the literary mash-up, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which hit the top of several best-seller lists.

Then last night I came across this intriguing question on Andy Crouch's Making Culture website:

What do zombies assume about the way the world is? Well, there are
several kinds of zombies. . . For this discussion, I will stick with. . . pop-culture zombies of page and screen
And here was one reader's response:

For me, zombies are a metaphor about the way we live. They don’t have cognitive ability, and we act like we don’t. They don’t have souls, and we act like we don’t.

Look around most churches on Sunday morning and you see a fair number of zombies.
~ Marcus Goodyear

And in case you're interested, there are more questions and comments about zombies, their worldview, and how they reflect the worldview of our current pop culture:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Questions Continue and the Answers Remain the Same Part II

Last Thursday I answered questions 4-6 of a You Tube video which asks Christians ten questions and starts by claiming that Christians only have "...silly excuses for God" in answer to the questions. The video concludes that the only reasonable answer to these questions is that "God is imaginary." I warn parents that the video is intended to bring doubt upon the Christian worldview.

Here is the video:

Question Number 7 - "Why didn't any of Jesus' miracles in the Bible leave any evidence behind?" I have to admit that I am not really sure what the point is of this question . What kind of evidence would one expect to be left behind that we could find today from someone being healed of blindness, raised from the dead, or a lame man made to walk? It seems to me that the video is arguing that it is unreasonable to believe in miracles if they happened before video cameras were invented. Other than people following Jesus with cameras capturing all of his miracles, I am not sure what the naturalist would acknowledge as evidence. Honestly, I would wager that if video footage of Jesus' miracles existed, the naturalist would not be willing to accept the video footage as authentic evidence.

I wonder if the naturalist honestly expects someone to dig up a stone tablet with the inscription "April 4th year 26 Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding, all of the undersigned here vow that they are eye witnesses to this event." I have heard atheists say that even if the Gospels - except for Luke - were eye witness accounts, they would not consider the Gospels as evidence for miracles. Furthermore, any video footage of Jesus' miracles would probably be explained away with special effects and talented editing. Worldview will determine how one interprets any evidence. Presuppositional apologists are not against evidence, but they do believe evidence will be interpreted through one's worldview grid.

Question Number 8 - "How do we [sic] explain the fact that Jesus has never appeared to you [Christians]?" Again, I find it difficult to take this question seriously. The video's argument seems to be that Jesus never appeared to you; therefore Jesus does not exist. I am sorry, but that is definitely a non sequitur, and therefore a weak argument. The argument would carry weight if the Biblical claim is that Jesus is guaranteed to appear to you. However, anyone with a passing familiarity of the Bible would know that is not the Biblical teaching.

Question Number 9 - "Why would Jesus want you to eat his body and drink his blood?" Since I was raised in a Christian home I understand that this statement of Jesus is ultimately meant to be understood in context of his death on the cross and the covenant sign and seal that is carried out in communion. When Jesus begins the sacrament of communion at the last supper, he uses bread and wine to symbolize his body and blood. The Bible does not teach that the bread and blood are actually the body and blood of Christ. Catholics, who believe in Transubstantiation (the bread and wine become the body and blood of Christ), still hold that the bread and wine do not become the body and blood of Christ in the form of a piece of flesh and actual blood. The Bible does teach that Christ is Spiritually present in the Communion but the bread and wine never cease being bread and wine. I understand that the naturalist could be ignorant of this, however, if I were to make arguments against naturalism that did not seek to understand what naturalists believe, and accurately represent their belief, I would be inviting scorn and contempt upon myself from the naturalist. It is important to note that the early Christians were continually having to correct the accusation of the wider culture that they were cannibals.

Question Number 10 - "Why do Christians get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians?" This argument falls under the fallacy of arguing from the character of persons who hold to an idea and not the idea itself, otherwise known as an ad hominem (to the person) argument. However, let me say that there needs to be a call to professing believers to submit themselves to the will of God as revealed in the Scripture rather than follow their own desires. In the end, the will of God will be more satisfying. Furthermore, I also believe that there needs to be a call to the church to practice Biblical discipline. The video does put together an actual (if weak) argument after the question. The argument states:

1.) God is all powerful

2.)God has joined married couples together

3.) Jesus declared that what God puts together "...let no man put asunder (separate)."

4.) Men do put asunder what God has joined together.

5.) Therefore God cannot be all powerful.

I will assume that the video really believes this argument to fit the context of the passage where Jesus says "what God had joined together let no man put asunder (let no man separate) Matt 19:6" otherwise it would seem the video was grasping at straws. Jesus is explaining to the pharisees the basis for life long marriage. Jesus goes on to explain that Moses gave certificates of divorce because the hardness of the Israelite's hearts but that it was not that way from the beginning. Clearly we are talking about a moral category. God has joined the two people together in what is meant to be a life long covenant but people in there sin can break that covenant. The language the Scripture uses exhorts men to not separate what God has joined together not that man is unable to do so by sin.

The Video concludes with the claim that the only way to make sense of these questions is to assume that God is imaginary. However, I say that the only real way to make sense of these questions is to assume that God exists. If He does not exist, then the questions are meaningless.

Next week I am going to put a hold on critiquing the atheistic worldview. I am hoping to do a worldview analysis of Dean Koontz's "Odd Thomas" and "Frankenstein" series.

Monday, October 19, 2009


This is too good to pass up. Mohler hits the nail on the head again. When you have a Christian Worldview as a Life View, be ready!!


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Belonging To One Another

Have you given any thought about, “belonging to one another”. What is our relationship with one another as believers in the Body of Christ? What does it means to belong to each other – i.e., to live in right relationship with each other?

The “One-Another” Verses of Scripture

The New Testament has much to say about our relationships with one another as fellow-members of the Body of Christ. Here is a collection of these “one-another” verses.

1. We BELONG to one another as fellow-members of the Body of Christ

Romans 12:4-5. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.

2. We are to LOVE one another

John 13:34-35. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

3. We are to SERVE one another

John 13:14. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.

4. We are to be HOSPITABLE to one another

1 Peter 4:9. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

5.. We are to ENCOURAGE one another

Hebrews 3:13. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.


Hebrews 10:24. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.

7. We are to COMFORT one another

2 Corinthians 1:3-4. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

8. We are to SUBMIT to one another

Ephesians 5:21. Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ

9. We are to CONFESS OUR SINS to one another

James 5:16. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

10. We are to FORGIVE one another

Colossians 3:13. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Compiled by Wayne Becker for the Agape Class at Fort Myers Evangelical Free Church in the winter of 2008


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Questions Continue and the Answers Remain the Same Part 1

I wanted to finish addressing the You Tube video that asks ten questions of Christians and concludes that the only answers the Christian has to the questions are "silly excuses for God." If you go back and read my earlier posts that dealt with the first three questions (which were posted quite a while ago) you will notice that my answers to each question are very similar. The answers are similar because the questions make very similar mistakes. The natures of questions 4-10 are also similar enough that I am able respond to all of them in two posts. I will give a general answer to begin with, and then I will address each question and apply the general answer in more specific ways. I would also like to warn parents that the questions are intended to cause doubt concerning the Christian faith.

Here is the whole video:

General Response:

Most of these questions make a basic worldview mistake. They attack the Christian worldview with questions that have no meaning if there is no God. So the video has to assume the Christian worldview in order to attack the Christian worldview. The unbeliever must use the very Truth of God to attack God's existence. Hopefully, as I apply the general principle in specific ways, the idea will become clearer.

Applying the General Principle to the Specifics:

Question 4 - "Why does the Bible contain so much anti scientific non-sense?" The problem here is that the naturalist worldview cannot consistently give an account for scientific reasoning. Scientific reasoning requires that the universe operate under consistent universal physical laws. Starting with consistent physical laws, science relies upon the inference that the past will be like the future. The sun has always come up before so it will come up again (I realize the earth goes around the sun not the other way around). However, there is no basis in the naturalistic worldview to infer that the future will be like the past. Why should the future be like the past? Why should the sun come up tomorrow? In a naturalistic worldview, where there is only physical matter, why attribute consistency to that physical matter? The naturalist could argue that people have always observed the laws of nature to be consistent. That argument only begs the question of how do we know they will be consistent tomorrow?

The Christian is able to say that the future will be like the past and the sun will come up tomorrow because the universe in governed by a consistent, all powerful God, who maintains the laws of nature. The naturalist may want to argue that God cannot be known to be consistent Himself, therefore Christians have the same problem. However, this fails to recognize, that in the Christian worldview God is a person who has revealed Himself in His creation and through special revelation, and can therefore be known. Furthermore, God, as a person, is a mind and can therefore organize and maintain. Leaving the epistemological question of knowing God aside, the Christian worldview, at the very least, is consistent in affirming regular natural laws while the naturalistic worldview is not. Even if the natural laws were eternal, they can at best only be brute forces, and therefore have no ability to ensure consistency.

I do, however, need to say that the Bible is full of non-scientific accounts. I do not mean the Bible is full of accounts that are not historically accurate. I mean the Bible has true accounts of events that happen which are outside the bounds of science. Miracles, by definition, are outside the realm of natural law. I would have used the account of God stopping the sun for Joshua, but the video gives different examples. The video gives examples of: 6 day creation, Jonah in the belly of the fish, and Adam being created from the dust of the ground. The video claims that those things could not happen. However, the video must assume the truth of naturalism for the criticism to make any sense. If God exists, then He can create in six days, sustain Jonah in the Belly of the fish, and create Adam from dust. The video's argument at this point is essentially: Adam could not have been created from dust without God; therefore there is no God. Does that really make any sense as an argument? At this point the naturalist is doing the same thing he often accuses the Christian of doing, assuming the conclusion (there is no God) to argue the conclusion (there is no God).

Question number 5 - "Why is God such a huge proponent of slavery in the Bible?" The kind of slavery that the Bible talks about (especially Old Testament Jewish slavery) is far different from the kind of slavery that the video assumes (i.e. slaves are not people they are possessions). Old Testament slavery was a means for someone to work, provide for themselves and their family, and to pay off debt. There were strict laws governing the treatment of slaves that maintained their humanity and person hood. The Old Testament had to make allowances for slaves that chose to remain with their master's instead of going free. I have yet to interact with a naturalist who is willing to look at the Old Testament in depth and discern the vast difference between what the Old Testament conception of "slavery" is and the modern conception of slavery which is rightly seen as abhorrent.

If the New Testament explicitly condemned slavery (setting aside the many differences to modern day slavery), when all the nations were practicing slavery, the spread of the Gospel would bring anarchy and chaos. There would be civil war after civil war. "My name is Spartacus." The New Testament, instead, addresses the reality of finding oneself as a believer who is a slave, and the importance of honoring Christ in slavery.

This, also, is not the first time that the video has fallen under the naturalistic moral dilemma. The video will declare some action to be immoral (slavery), however, the naturalistic worldview cannot provide a standard to base the accusation of moral evil upon. Why? Because the naturalist believes that there is nothing but the physical universe. Are moral standards physical? No they are not. However, Let us give the naturalist the benefit of the doubt and assume that universal non physical moral laws are consistent in a naturalistic universe. Whose morality applies? If morality is subjective then it would be pointless to condemn God for "condoning slavery", since according to God's own subjective morality, slavery may be perfectly okay. If morality is objective, from where does the objective standard come? It cannot come from gravity, protons, electrons and neutrons. It cannot come from people, because people do not agree on morality. Even when a majority of people agree, does a majority make morality? And why does the majority have the authority to force their morality on the minority who disagree? The existence of a personal lawgiver, who is the creator, is the only logical foundation for objective morality.

Question 6 - "Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?" In the Christian worldview there are no good people. All people are rebels against God unless God changes their hearts of stone to hearts of flesh. All of mankind lives in a fallen world. Mankind lives in a post Genesis 3 world. As a result of sin, injustices and sufferings are inevitable. I do not want to downplay people's sufferings and the need to weep with those who weep, and feel the emotional impact of someone who cries out against God because of evil and suffering. However, I do want to expose the faulty line of reasoning the video is using at this point. Also, note that this question once again assumes that there is an objective standard of morality so that there can be a category of "good people."

I am going to stop here and post the responses to Questions 7-10 next Thursday. The responses are already complete so, God willing, they will be posted next Thursday. I just wanted to give the reader a little mind break.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A Fist and a Blow

The information was bitter, the pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church was accused and a meeting of the congregation called to decide his fate as a pastor.

All of this is paraded before a pagan culture and those who have no idea of what this is all about. The Church is besmirched and so is one of the Lord’s anointed, a pastor.

There is a guiding Scriptural principle that has been neglected here by the attackers and should always be in front of us as leaders, teachers and parishioners. DO NOT attack the Lord’s anointed. (or any other person)

There are three interesting accounts in Scripture involving the relationship of Saul and David. Each incident accents the principle: the Lord’s anointed are not fair game for us to destroy, mar, and batter, castoff and attack.

Consider: Incident 1: The wilderness of Engedi: 1 Samuel 24:1-22

(1 Samuel 24:6 NIV) He said to his men, "The LORD forbid that I should do such a thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, or lift my hand against him; for he is the anointed of the LORD."

Incident 2: The wilderness of Ziph: 1 Samuel 26:1-25

(1 Samuel 26:9 NIV) But David said to Abishai, "Don't destroy him! Who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?

Incident 3: Ziklag; 2 Samuel 1:1-16
(2 Samuel 1:14 NIV) David asked him, "Why were you not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?"

"anointed one." A word that is important both to Old Testament and New Testament understandings is the noun mashiach, which gives us the term messiah. As is true of the verb, mashiach implies an anointing for a special office or function. Thus, David refused to harm Saul because Saul was "the Lord's anointed" (1Sa_24:6). The Psalms often express the messianic ideals attached to the Davidic line by using the phrase "the Lord's anointed" (Psa_2:2; Psa_18:50; Psa_89:38, Psa_89:51).
Vine: OT

What I would like to remind us:
Our pastors are called of God and are appointed by us to serve.
They are to be in our prayers, especially while they preach.
Should there be an issue, there is redress which must involve love and reconciliation.

The folks at Coral Ridge or any church where there is an issue, need prayer. Pray for reconciliation and restoration.

Pray for your pastor.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Shout On

Coming into the sanctuary on Sunday morning for worship, I believe that I should take time to reflect and acknowledge one or more of the following concerning God:
“That He is an eternal, immutable God without beginning of days, or end of life, or change of time.
That He is present in all places, and there is no place in which He is confined, or from which He is excluded.
That He has a perfect knowledge of all persons and things, and sees them all, even that which is most secret, with one clear, certain, and unerring view.
That His wisdom is unsearchable, and the counsels and designs of it cannot be fathomed.
That His sovereignty is incontestable and He is the Owner and absolute Lord of all.
That His power is irresistible, and the operations of it cannot be controlled.
That He is a God of unspotted purity and perfect rectitude.
That He is just in the administration of His government, and never did, nor ever will, do wrong to any of His creatures.
That His truth is inviolable, and the treasures of His goodness are inexhaustible.
That when we have said all we can of the glorious perfections of the divine nature, we fall infinitely short of the merit of the subject.”
J. Ligon Duncan III, A Pocket Outline for Scriptural Prayer

I believe I should take time. Take time! No interruptions please!


Monday, September 21, 2009

Grumbling and Complaining

9We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction. . .
[1 Cor. 10:9-11]

Paul says we must not grumble. Why is grumbling so bad? Is it really a sin to complain a little when things don’t go my way or if I simply am having a bad day? Besides, aren’t some of us just wired to be “glass-half-empty” types of folks?

A friend and I were discussing this after church last Sunday, when our pastor had just preached through First Corinthians 10. Her comment was that our grumbling is a sign that we are not trusting God.

My response was that it’s really much more serious than that. It’s not that we don’t trust God, but that in our minds, God is not trustworthy. Our grumbling is evidence of our defective theology. Oh sure, we say that we trust God, and that God is trustworthy, but our actions are much more reliable indicators. And what we say when we’re not proclaiming our trust in God is more instructive about our real attitude, our real worldview, our real theology. By grumbling and complaining, we are proclaiming loudly what our God is really like.

Maybe we see him as deceitful; maybe we feel that he’s let us down too many times, maybe we see a weak and impotent god. Chances are, we see a god who’s far more human than divine. We have re-made God in our own image.

In these early verses of First Corinthians 10, Paul gives examples from the Israelites’ time in the wilderness. In Numbers 14, the Israelites grumbled and complained:

2And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3Why is the LORD bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?" 4And they said to one another, "Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt."
[Numbers 14]

And why were they complaining and grumbling? They had chosen to listen to the spies who were "glass-half-empty” types, who said “the people who dwell in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large. . .We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are" (see Number 13:25-32).
  • How quickly they had forgotten what God is like. God had already dealt with their enemies the Egyptians in a little thing called the Red Sea incident. “God can not conquer this land for us; it’s up to us and our own limited resources.” What were the spies really saying? God is not here with us; it’s up to us. We’re on our own, and we can’t win this battle. And even if God were here, He’s not strong enough to help us.
    What is God like? Is one of His attributes OMNIPRESENCE? One of His names is Immanuel, God with us.
    Is one of His attributes OMNIPOTENCE? The all-powerful God surely could conquer the Promised Land on their behalf.
  • How quickly they had forgotten the promises of God. He had promised to give them the land. “God, You said that you’d give us the land, but you lied to us! What were the Israelites really saying? God is not trustworthy; he is a liar. What is God like? Is one of His attributes FALSEHOOD or TRUTH? Christ said, “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.”

But Joshua remembered what God is really like:

6And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes 7and said to all the congregation of the people of Israel, "The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. 8If the LORD delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. 9Only do not rebel against the LORD. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the LORD is with us; do not fear them” (Numbers 14:6-9).

Joshua also understood that grumbling is a form of rebellion; he warned the people “do not rebel against the Lord.” The Lord agrees: "How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me” (Numbers 14:11). God saw their heart attitude was one of disbelief in His true character.

Joshua and Caleb’s theology was better; they understood Who God was, what He is really like. “Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, "Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it." “He will bring us into this land . . . and the LORD is with us.”

God is able. God is trustworthy. He’s our provider and sustainer. He is sovereign. That’s why grumbling is so much worse than simply “having a bad day.” Grumbling is saying that the God that I claim to believe in, the God that I worship, isn’t really much of a God after all.

Grumbling is an offense to God’s true character.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Christians and the Arts

In his 1986 classic, Culture in Christian Perspective: A Door to Understading & Enjoying the Arts, Leland Ryken wrote

If Christians are to be a force in shaping the contours of their society and evangelizing people in it, they will have to come to grips with the culture in which they inevitably live and move and have their being. They will have to know where to draw the line between becoming assimilated into a secular culture, lest they lose the quality of being separate that the Bible attributes to true believers (Ryken, Leland 21).
One place we have to "come to grips" is the arts and entertainment arena. Far too much "Christian art" (most of which is sold in the local Christian bookstore – I mean kitsch and knickknack store ["kitsch: sentimentality or vulgar, often pretentious bad taste, especially in the arts” and "knickknack: curio, peculiarity, oddity"] is far from artistic.

Far too much "Christian art" is heavy-handed, literal, and syrupy-sweet. . . unlike real life, which is ofen subtle, figurative, and harsh (at least at times).

What the church needs is a reformation of its understanding of the arts - the purpose of the arts, their place in the Christian's life (and the life of the church), and a better understanding of what makes art good art.

One place where the arts and entertainment industries are being restored/redeemed is in Los Angeles. (Hard to believe! Isn't that home to the Hollywood elite and all those evil secular humanists ;~)?)

Arts & Entertainment Ministries (AEM) is a ministry based in L.A. which exists to equip and educate artists, creative professionals, churches, and educators to embrace the gospel and become agents of redemption for the arts, the culture, and the world.

AEM ministers directly to artists in the mainstream culture, and provides solid teaching about the relationship between the Bible and the arts so Christ might be glorified through men and women working with integrity in the mainstream art world, media, and entertainment industries. They hold to the Biblical view that Christians are "to be in the world, but not of it" and that we are called to engage the culture in which God has placed us . . . instead of

1) retreating into a Christian ghetto or
2) living in the mainstream culture without discernment or

Join us Oct. 2-3 as we see the work of AEM first-hand at their fifth-annual Evening of Arts and Entertainment, a juried art exhibition showing some of the best artists working today from a Christian worldview.

Refering to 1 Corinthians 10: 31, Leland Ryken also wrote:

". . . every dimension of the artistic enterprise -- creativity, excellence of technique, artistic content, the enjoyment of works of art -- can become a way of glorifying God" (Ryken, Leland 21).

Our road trip to L.A. is a chance to do just that: glorify God through the enjoyment of the arts.
May that be our focus and purpose of ALL we do!

And feel free to join the discussion of the church and the arts on our Facebook discussion page:

Ryken Leland. Culture in Christian Perspective: A Door to Understading & Enjoying the Arts. Portland: Multnomah Press, 1986.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Holy Manna

“Do we ask for 'holy manna' from above when we preach? Michael Ross says that asking for holy manna from above seems foreign to a generation of preachers reared in an age of church growth methodology and pragmatic church programming. [Related to this] William Moore put George Atkins words to music in 1825:

Brethren, we have met to worship and adore the Lord our God;
Will you pray with all your power, while we try to preach the Word?
All is vain unless the Spirit of the Holy One comes down;
Brethren, pray, and holy manna will be showered all around.”

“This is one of America's revival hymns. For it was authored during the middle years of America's Second Great Awakening ... God will work through a human agency to bring man to salvation in Christ and to renew a slumbering sin-sick Church...God works through His ordinary means of grace with extraordinary power when these normal means of grace are baptized with the unction of the Holy Spirit. Worship, preaching, prayer and fellowship can be empowered by God the Spirit so that sinners are converted, the lethargic are enlivened in soul and the Church is revived.”

One of my goals as a musician (the mountain dulcimer) has been to play the old folk hymns during the worship service. These hymns are rich in there music, some having the pentatonic scale and some were written in the beautiful shape note form. Brethren We Have Come to Worship is one such hymn.

Enjoy and praise God.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Creepy or Liar

Recently I commented on other comments made on Facebook by a former political contender. The contender had referred to Vice President Biden as “creepy”. My response:
“Contending does not necessarily involve being contentious; but it involves avoiding compromise, standing forth for what we believe without welching at any particular moment. Now Mr. Biden may not be my favorite VP but calling him “creepy”. Higher ground man, higher ground.”

Interesting at this very same time frame the national media was also referring to a sex offender as “creepy Phil”.

During this Facebook episode another commenter went on to defend “creepy” and minimize “civility”.

Last evening during the President’s speech a Legislator broke decorum or civility with an outburst that in essence called the President a liar. No excuse for this and no excuse for any name calling particularly by those of us who call Jesus Christ our Lord,

Name calling appears to be very fashionable; it must be unfashionable for Christians. I believe we must contend on issues, whether it is our faith or politics, but not be insulting.

“We are called upon by the Lord to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). That does not necessarily involve being contentious; but it involves avoiding compromise, standing forth for what we believe, stand­ing forth for the truth of God—without welching at any particular moment.”
Roger Nicole

Forgive me Father where I sin!

Milt Carpenter

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Let me write the songs of a nation.

“For a long time now, I’ve been convinced that what happens in New York (finances), Hollywood (entertainment), Silicon Valley (technology), and Miami (fashion) has a far greater impact on how our culture thinks about reality than what happens in Washington D.C. (politics). It’s super important for us to understand that politics are reflective, not directive. That is, the political arena is the place where policies are made that reflect the values of our culture--the habits of heart and mind--that are being shaped by these other, more strategic arenas. As the Scottish politician Andrew Fletcher said, “Let me write the songs of a nation: I don’t care who writes its laws.” Tullian Tchividjian, Unfashionable, p. 95.

Think on the above.

I agree with the above and say, Christians have made a mess of the individual worldviews by being stuck on politics and obtuse on all that makes a worldview. A war is not won by attacking one gate in a fortress and fortresses are monuments to the idiots who think that they can keep the enemy out. We must attack the entire fortress and burn each gate.


Sunday, August 30, 2009

Where it is written!!

“It saddens me that I live (and raise children) in a world where we rely so heavily on the interpretations of others. We look to TV and movies to give us interpretations of books. We look to books to give us simplifications of other books (Cliff notes or abridged versions, anyone?). We get our news in sound bites and bullet points. All this because we either lack the time (or aren't willing to make the time) to deeply experience and process these things for ourselves. When I make these choices, I'm cheating myself (and sometimes my children as well).

What I find more grievous in my own life is when I take the same tactic spiritually. I've often found myself relying on sermons and books about the Word, rather than taking the time to experience the Word myself. While both sermons and Christian books are good things, unless I'm grounded in the Word, I'm not only cheating myself out of the richness of experience that the Lord has for me, I'm setting myself up to be caught up in the vain and foolish philosophies of the world that twist the Word and snare the undiscerning.”
Red-headed rants and rambles

Sometime ago I read the above from a portion of a blog delivered by a friend of mine. This past week I was led back to this very insightful observation as I read Tullian Tchividjian’s book, “unfashionable”. I am annoyed at the marginalization of the continual study of God’s Word. Tullian Tchividjian’s again piqued my annoyance.

The standard for Christians is the Bible and yet as my friend observed, “I've often found myself relying on sermons and books about the Word, rather than taking the time to experience the Word myself.” Tullian Tchividjian writes, “We have no problem affirming its’ (the Word) perfect truthfulness. But most of us struggle when it comes to the Bible’s timelessness, its relevance. That’s because God and His Word have been relegated to the fringe of what is important and defining in our society, a process identified by the term secularization.” (36)

I believe that the act of relying on those who speak for our Christian culture without studying the Scriptures or before consulting Scriptures is a substantial error. For me it is essential to have built my Christian worldview on the standards and principles of Scripture before consulting extra biblical forms. I cannot frame my worldview on the insights of others and I believe that we should not ask any Christian to do so. Scripture is first and continual. After Scripture let us then glean the wisdom of those who have also studied the Word and relish the truths observed.

Tullian Tchividjian writes, “The Bible teaches that Christians are called by God to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), to think Biblically about everything. It means developing a Christian mind to analyze what’s going on around us, to understand how the world thinks, and then to offer a distinctively Christian alternative.” (39) When we are involved in the above process, it is the Word and our study of the Word that is needed, NO, demanded.

“Lord, help me to always be in love with the Word as your Spirit impresses my heart, not as others interpret it for me. Help the richness of richness of reading Your Words forever "spoil" for me the dim shadow of eternity that this world is and keep me hungry for the reality of eternity with You.” Heather Nations

The above is also my desire.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Supporting Our Youth

The greatest natural resource that the United States of America has is its youth. This stands true also for the Biblical Protestant community in our country.

In order to conserve and preserve the youth of the Biblical Protestant community the individual churches and denominations should consider financial support of a sacrificial dimension to send our youth to Christian liberal arts and technical colleges. The central core of the educational focus of these institutions should be a Biblically worldview focus.

What prompts this point of view?
1. The profound lack of overt action by the Protestant churches in the United States to financially support our college bound students in a substantial and consistent manner.
2. A substandard United States National Public School System
3. A lack of a consistent viable local financial option for both home schooled, private schooled and public schooled students to continue being educated in a Biblical worldview
4. The pagan teachings of the Nations universities and colleges
5. The bias and prejudice causing discrimination that is resident in our Nations college system and particularly by members of the teaching cadre.

The results of neglecting our youth is already in place and the avoidance of solving our educational problem neglects our youth and kills the Biblical Protestant natural resource spiritually and intellectually. When it comes to our natural resource, our youth, there is no benign neglect, only malignant procrastination and with that procrastination an opportunity for pagan evil to corrupt.

James 1:18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of first fruits of all He created.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Poly what?

Try this for reading and worldview evaluation.


Early Marriage

Thank you Albert Mohler,


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Belonging to God

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe
that—and shudder.” James 2:19

“How do you know if you belong to God? We see in these words what some people depend on as an evidence of their acceptance with God. Some people think that they are all right before God if they are not as bad as some evil person. Other people point to their family history or church membership to show that God approves of them. There is an evangelism programme in common use that asks people certain questions. One of the questions is, “Suppose you were to die today. Why should God let you into his heaven?” A very common response is, “I believe in God.” Apparently the apostle James knew people who said the same thing: I know I am in God’s favor, because I know these religious doctrines.
Of course James admits that this knowledge is good. Not only is it good, but it is also necessary. Nobody can be a Christian who doesn’t believe in God; and more than that, the One True God. This is particularly true for those who had the great advantage of actually knowing the apostle, someone who could tell them of his first-hand experience with Jesus, the Son of God. Imagine the great sin of a person, who knew James, and then refused to believe in God! Certainly this would make their damnation greater. Of course, all Christians know that this belief in the One God is only the start of good things because “anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Heb. 11:6.)
However, James is clear that although this belief a good thing, it is definitely not proof that a person is saved. What he means is this: “You say you are a Christian and you are in God’s favor. You think God will let you into heaven, and the proof of it is, you believe in God. But that is no evidence at all, because the demons also believe, and they are sure to be punished in hell.” The demons believe in God, you can be sure of that! They not only believe that He exists, but they believe that God is a holy God, a sin-hating God, a God of truth, who has promised judgments, and who will carry out his vengeance upon them. This is the reason the demons “shudder” or tremble— they know God more clearly than most human beings do, and they are afraid. Nevertheless, nothing in the mind of man, that devils may experience as well, is any sure sign of God’s grace in our hearts.
This reasoning may be easily turned around. Suppose demons could have, or find within themselves, something of God’s saving grace—proof they would go to heaven. This would prove James wrong.”

Enjoy Jonathan Edwards.

It is an excellent point to remember there are demons and a Devil. Thanks Vishal Mangalwadi for the reminder. The Devil and demons are not just “undigested potatoes” or an illusion exposed by a humanistic psychotherapist,


Sunday, July 26, 2009


In constructing a worldview there are two primary ideas that I believe must be considered: first, soul sorrow (pain and death) and second, reality (one and the many).

How do you solve soul sorrow? Soul sorrow can be approached in four ways: 1. Leap off a cliff (suicide), 2. Ignore soul sorrow and go on living as if life had meaning (indifference), 3. Make the best of a bad situation (confident despair) or 4. Question the pessimistic interpretation of soul sorrow and seek a solution (real).

The solution is in the real: Mat 11:28-30 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

How can reality be known? I believe there are two worlds of realty, the world of the many and the world of the one. The world of the many is verified in empirical proofs of the death and resurrection of Christ. The world of the one is verified in Christ, the principle of the one and the author of the many.

Col 1:16-17 “for by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together”.

Possession of the knowledge of Christ is the possession of the highest form of reality.

Thanks to the thoughts of Edward J Carnell.