Monthly Archives: March 2008

Update: Madeline Neumann’s Siblings Wisely Removed from Parental Custody

The three siblings of Madeline Neumann, the young lady who died tragically as a result of her parents praying instead of seeking medical attention, have been removed from their parents’ custody.

In the original article, the authorities had not made that decision yet since there were no signs of abuse or neglect.  I’m very glad that those kids were removed.

While I agree with the principle that all healing comes from God, as Leilani Neumann told the press, I don’t believe that prayer is the sole vehicle by which God works.  I believe that He works through the competent doctors and nurses, all of whom He calls to do that work.  No legitimate church would see seeking medical attention as a sign of unbelief or as having a lack of faith.

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Been Blogging Lite for too Long

I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’ve been going through a lot in my personal life.  My grandmother, Virginia Tucholski, passed away last week.  She went quickly and painlessly, which is an answer to prayer.  It isn’t like I’m never going to see her again; we will meet again in the resurrection, but that is still no consolation for the present.  Between the showing, the funeral, and just plain dealing with this tragedy, I haven’t had much time to blog.

Fortunately, now all is over and done with, and I will be able to return to my regular blogging schedule.  So stay with me and more updates will come soon.  I’m still looking to answer Rook Hawkins’s reply to me, but I still need to do some more research.  Look for that reply sometime next week.

Faith Healing

God is not a gumball machine–you can’t just pop in a prayer, turn a cosmic crank, and expect God to answer the prayer in exactly the way that you expected Him to.

God promises to listen to prayer, and listen only. Despite the dramatic hyperbolic language (such as Mark 11:24 and others) used by Jesus, each and every prayer is not going to be answered affirmatively. It will be answered in God’s way and in His time.

So, if you’re sick, seek help from a doctor. Don’t shy away from praying for health or gathering the elders of your church to anoint the sick (Jms 5:14). But don’t expect that God will automatically reach down and heal the sick person. A prayer is only a request, not a demand and it will not always be answered affirmatively.

That means that I think Dale and Leilani Neumann of Weston, WI are guilty of negligent homicide, a statement which will undoubtedly surprise many people generally acquainted with my position that prayer is a very powerful thing. It is. But I believe that prayer is a way to offer yourself to God, not a way to get anything you want from Him.

According to a March 25th article in the Wausau Daily Herald, the Neumanns prayed for their daughter Madeline to get well, but never sought appropriate medical attention. This is just plain stupid. God doesn’t call only ministers into service, God calls people of every profession into their respective services, which includes doctors. He uses doctors as instruments of His healing. How did they expect their daughter to get better if they gave her no help whatsoever?

God’s preferred method of operation is to work through people. So don’t stop going to doctors when you’re sick, Christians! And as for the rest of the children in the Neumann household, GET THEM OUT OF THAT SITUATION FAST!

Reader Comment

In a comment posted here, a reader named Daniel F. writes:

I grew up in a devout very loving Christian family. I love my family, but the Christanity stuff fortunately did not stick. As I grew up, I noticed a lot of Christians were definite in their conviction, but confused on the details. I appreciate your courage in being open to sharing your thoughts. In today’s world, that definitely takes a lot of courage. And so… help me understand this.

How would we think of someone who decided to slaughter a larger portion of a class of preschoolers? That is, take a gun out and shoot execution style a portion of them? We would consider this person good? Should we praise this person and seek his approval?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I certainly wouldn’t. I would consider that outright evil. How would you feel if that story broke on the news? I hope really upset because it went against your moral fabric.

The problem with Christianity and other religions like Islam is that they very much promote moral corruption. You said, “God has chosen the elect and will draw them to Himself.” For what reason does God not choose everyone to draw to himself? Why would God create people only to torture them? By the way, who invented evil? If God is all powerful and created the universe, then He did. My dad says hell is the absence of God. Why define an absence? Why define evil?

In this context, is he no different than the murderous, evil human who slaughters the preschoolers?

I’ve e-mailed my response to Daniel, but I thought that I would make my response public since I think that it will help many of my readers who might not have had the courage to write in with the same problems or concerns. Read the rest of this entry

Rook Hawkins is Right: I Write for a Specific Audience

Rook Hawkins makes this claim right off the bat:

Cory has written a very interesting blog article in response to my positions.  He has written to his reader’s satisfaction, and although he makes grandiose claims, he should be applauded by known apologists such as Josh McDowell and Lee Strobel for the erudite quality of his response.  But did he really answer the problems or represent my position accurately?  I do not think he did, but that can only be shown after examining the article he has written.   (source, emphasis added)

It is the boldfaced portion that I will address first.  Before I do that, I would like to publicly thank Rook for his compliments and critique on my work.  I consider my writing my craft first, and take it very seriously.  He has also put me in company with men that I admire and thinks that they would appreciate my work.

I would also like to point out that Rook does the old manager’s trick of softening the blow with a compliment before the criticism.

Rook has taken some criticism as a writer from my fellow apologists (such as Frank Walton).  Rook, however, is the best of the RRS writers.  He sticks to his subject matter and he knows his history inside and out.  I can usually tell when people are faking it–a skill everyone who has been in management learns lest they receive an ugly demotion.  I don’t get the faking-it vibe when I read Rook’s writings.  He is someone as passionate about his beliefs as I am about mine.

As for the boldfaced portion of Rook’s opening paragraph, he is absolutely correct.  I will explain why.

When I first started doing apologetics, I had a “save the world” complex.  I believed with all of my heart that I would succeed where others had miserably failed–I would convert people like Rook Hawkins to Christianity with the power of my unflappable argumentation and my passion for the Lord.  Rook would see that and have no choice but to convert, even despite his doubts.

I could only ever see myself winning arguments with atheists, since I had truth and the Lord on my side.

Well, after a while that “save the world” complex faded and I realized a few important things.  First, mankind is truly dead in sin and wants nothing to do with God.  God has chosen the elect and will draw them to Himself–I can only pray that He will see my ministry fit to use for that purpose.  The point isn’t fatalism; the point is that, like the Bible clearly states, God will have mercy and whom He will and harden whom He will, and I can’t change that.  But I can be a part of His plan to draw the elect through this ministry and prayer.

What does any of this have to do with Rook Hawkins?  Well, the reason I write for my audience is that I’m probably not going to convert a hardened skeptic like Rook.  However,Rook’s writings may have planted a seed of doubt in an honest Christian or in someone considering the conversion to Christianity.  It is those hypothetical people that I plan to reach by dialog with Rook, not Rook himself.

Mind you, it isn’t that I don’t want to see Rook pledge his life to Christ.  I think that would be an amazing testament to the drawing power of God the Father, and we could use someone like Rook on the winning team.  It’s just that I think Rook is too firmly entrenched in his beliefs to ever convert.  At best, converting Rook is my “C” priority here.  It’s on the map, but I won’t be disappointed if it doesn’t happen.

I think that both Rook and I are guilty of writing only for our respective audiences, and I think that we have similar motivations–to sway the honest seeker who is still on the fence.  Rook and I both believe that one of our essays may just swing that person onto our side for good.  We’re not really writing for each other–which is unfortunately why we have, so far, talked past each other.

I admit to being out of my element with the historical aspects of the early church and with Hellenistic Greece.  I could use a Christian writer with Rook’s knowledge to help me out here.  But I’ve got a few online articles bookmarked on Hellenistic literature from Christian Think-Tank, and a book by a scholar that I believe Rook will respect (but not agree with) that I’m working through.  A full reply is forthcoming but will take a while.

Two Down, One to Go

As of today, I have been mentioned on two of the three core Rational Response Squad member blogs. I was mentioned by Sapient in glowing terms for my series of articles dealing with the unchristian behavior of Frank Walton. Now, I have the dubious honor of being “refuted” by Rook Hawkins, the historian of the group.

I will read this piece and prepare my response as quickly as time allows.

Now all I need is a mention on Kelly’s blog and I will have been mentioned on the blog of all three core RRS members. Do I get a medal for that? Or a call from the President? Probably not, but I should at least get a cookie!

God is REAL!

I’m up to proof #45 on God is NOT Imaginary (http://weknowgodisreal.wordpress.com) for those of you that follow that site.  Check it out!

I should be able to finish the remainder of the proofs either tomorrow or Thursday.

Quest for the Historical Jesus

Liberal scholarship has agreed on one point and one point alone: the Jesus of history is not the Jesus presented in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Rook Hawkins, co-founder and self-styled ancient texts expert of the Rational Response Squad, has utilized this as the starting point for his article, “Which Jesus: A Legend with a Multiple Personality Disorder?” The foundation of this article is a prior article in which Rook examines the genre of the gospels and concludes that they were never intended to be read as biographies. It is with that article that I will start, because if an argument is based on a faulty premise, then its conclusion is nothing more than fruit from a poisoned tree.

Are the gospels ancient biographies or not? Apologist J.P. Holding asserts the fact that they are is “beyond dispute.” Rook disagrees, with the following three objections: Read the rest of this entry