Monthly Archives: September 2008

PowerPoint Answer to “10 Questions Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer”

The ridiculous website God is Imaginary has a video entitled “10 Questions Every Intelligent Christian Must Answer.” I’ve taken the time to write a lengthy response to it here. I have jazzed it up with a summary PowerPoint Presentation.

I plan to make PowerPoint responses to all of the God is Imaginary videos in the very near future. Stay tuned!

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Another Reply to Matthew Bellisario

Matthew Bellisario replied to this post with a lengthy diatribe found here. In his reply, Mr. Bellisario goes to great lengths to prove that “co-” doesn’t imply an equal share. I said:

“Co-” does mean “with,” and implies (at least to me) an equal share in the action. Cooperate. Coworker. Both terms imply an equal share of action, and this is what is so reprehensible about the title.

Mary participated in God’s plan, but not in an equal share. Remember that the term “Co-” implies equal participation.

He replies:

This shows everyone that Corey will go to any lengths to justify his opposition to God’s salvific plan of salvation. Where on earth does the definition of co have to mean an equal share? This is absolute nonsense. Does the co-pilot share equal responsibility or action with the actual pilot? Co means with, not necessarily equal to. If you look in the dictionary you will see it defined just as commonly as, “Subordinate or assistant: copilot”. You can see that Corey has a one track mind to degrade God’s chosen plan to actualize the incarnation of Christ. No one has ever said that Mary has an equal share in God’s salvific plan. In fact the Church has over and over stated this, yet those who oppose Christ and His will reject the Gospel for their own preferred version. You can see this apparent personal pride here by the mere fact that Corey stated, “(at least to me)” in referring to the definition of the prefix co. It doesn’t mean what the dictionary says it means, or in the context that the Church uses it in. Its all about Corey and what he thinks.

The prefix “co-” doesn’t have to imply an equal share, as in Mr. Bellisario’s example of a copilot. But in many cases it does imply equal share. I restate my two examples of cooperate and coworker. My old job title at Wendy’s was co-manager, and I was expected to operate the store as the actual head manager would, and I functioned as an acting store manager on several occasions. The copilot would do the same thing: function as pilot with full and equal responsibility in the absence of a pilot. Read the rest of this entry

A Theology of Homosexuality

C. Michael Patton has an excellent post on homosexuality here. I recommend reading it, especially if you struggle with this sin or know anyone that does.

A Theodicy on Natural Disasters

Jeffery Bruce over at Christians in Context had an excellent thought on why natural disasters occur. He doubts that it is a very original thought, and it probably isn’t, but it’s something that I’ve never considered and is very valid.

Bruce points out that all of creation was cursed along with Adam and Eve. Undoubtedly, humans wouldn’t be able to tolerate the resplendent perfection of what God himself terms “very good,” and so all of creation must be made imperfect along with us. It is from this imperfection that things like natural disasters occur.

A Response to Matthew Bellisario about Mary

I finally got around to writing a response to Matthew Bellisario about my article regarding Mary, the “Blessed Mother.” Let me just state for the record that I believe Mary is to be held in high regard as an example of Christian obedience and humility, but I do not believe that she is to be held in the esteem that Catholics hold her. I don’t believe in offering prayers to her, I don’t believe that she is in any sense “Co-Redemptrix,” I don’t believe that she had anything to do with the Atonement nor does she play any role in salvation either today or in years past.

That said, let’s dive in:

Does the term co-mediatrix or co-redemtrix imply we are equating Mary as a fourth person of the Trinity? Obviously not, because the term does not imply anything of the sort. Co means with. If Mary participated in God’s plan of salvation, (which anyone who would deny this fact cannot call themselves a Christian) then she can be titled obviously a co-redemptrix, because she participated in God’s plan. I will say this plainly, it seems that [James] White is just (pardon my French) too damn stupid to understand what co means. Aside from all of this, this terminology has not been defined by the church as of yet.

Once again, a broken record. He repeats exactly what he said in the initial article but fails to clarify it. “Co-” does mean “with,” and implies (at least to me) an equal share in the action. Cooperate. Coworker. Both terms imply an equal share of action, and this is what is so reprehensible about the title.

Mary participated in God’s plan, but not in an equal share. Remember that the term “Co-” implies equal participation.

Yes he like James White follows a heresy condemned by the Church [Calvinism]. I never said Mary was divine as Cory here writes, “Whatever you believe about Mary, she was a mere human and not divine.” Well we all know that you do not have to be divine to participate in God’s redemptive plan of salvation. Anytime we pray or lead someone to the faith we become participants of God’s plan to save other people. So his argument here is nothing more than pure rhetoric. (emphasis added)

Then why are we not all termed “Co-Redeemers?” Because we do not participate in the plan of salvation in equal footing with God’s action in salvation. We are merely a cog in the wheel of the ultimate plan, doing our role defined by God when we lead someone to the Lord (Eph 2:8-11). Why does Mary get special consideration and her own title? She, too, is a cog like us.

What? 6th century is not early? Says who? I find it quite amusing that the only argument this guy can provide is that this writing just isn’t early enough for him. Yet none of these guys have anything from this period attesting to their heretical beliefs. I have given a source from the 500s attesting to a Catholic practice and it just isn’t old enough for this guy. Is this the best this guy can do? Well as we know that is about par for the likes of James White’s fans don’t we?

But I can provide Scriptural evidence for my beliefs, which dates back to the apostles. He’s providing non-inspired writings 500 years after the fact. I think that I am justified in asking him for earlier attestations. Asking me for earlier attestations is just deflecting the question, not answering the charge.

I have posted my video. I don’t need to go on his radio show to refute White. My video is on the web for all to see. By the way, this guy can’t even spell my name correctly either.

Chicken? I’d like to see some actual interaction between you and White. I think that everyone would. So what do you say? Are you up to the challenge?

By the way, I corrected all of the misspellings. Sorry, won’t happen again.

Personal Testimonies

Although atheists disagree, I think that personal testimony of encounters with God are some of the most powerful pieces of evidence in favor of God’s existence. Although personal experiences are subjective, each run through the filter of one’s own previous experiences, education, and background, the foundation of the Christian religion itself is based upon personal experience.

Moses had several personal encounters with God. First, at the burning bush, then later atop Mt. Sinai. It is through these personal encounters that we got the Law. The apostle Paul had such a personal encounter with God that it changed the way he thought about Jewish Law and made him an ardent defender of the faith that he persecuted.

I remember a good friend’s grandfather telling me about his own personal encounter with God. It was at that friend’s wedding three years ago. He told me that he had died, but that God sent him back for the express purpose of telling everyone that story. And he does; that story is one of the first things he tells everyone new that he meets.

This man is rational and sane, yet he claims to have had this profound encounter with God. Are we just going to dismiss his experience as a hallucination? As the product of a broken mind? Or can we accept this story as true, as an encounter with the living God?

Personally, I favor the third option. An otherwise sane person would know the difference between a hallucination and reality. A crazy person would manifest other signs of insanity. No, I think that the third option best fits the facts as they stand. I believe that he had an encounter with the living God.

Most encounters with God aren’t so dramatic as meeting him face-to-face, as in the above examles. Most, I believe, are had through other people and circumstances in our lives. For example, my wedding was a gift from God. We planned it in less than a month, and everything came together with no fuss whatsoever. Normally, something of that magnitude would have caused numerous snags and problems, but not this time. I believe that that was an encounter with God.

I have a friend who prayed for a sign and drove past a church with a single neon sign that said “HOPE.” He passed that same church each and everyday at the same time and had never noticed the sign before. Maybe it was just a coincidence that he did this time, but I think otherwise. I think that this was an encounter with God.

My wife and I have fertility problems. I was also very sick (and thus faced considerable difficulty) during her ovulation, yet we were able to conceive our daughter on the first try. Maybe that is also a coincidence, but knowing what I know about the human body and how many things have to fall into place for conception to happen, I believe that this is also an encounter with God.

Once I remember feeling unappreciated at work. Even more than normal. An older lady happened to be the only customer around, and she told me what a great job she thought I was doing taking care of her and that she knew I would go far in this life because of my work ethic. She gave me a hug before she left. I felt energized and happy–this was exactly what I needed. This was an encounter with God.

Most encounters with God are just what I have described above–events and people that touch us in a way that we need at that moment. What about you, readers? Have you any personal stories about encounters with God? Would you like to read more personal encounters with God? Sign up for the message board Is God Imaginary and share them in this thread, or just read the stories that others have posted. Comments are disabled here to encourage your visit to the message boards.

Dave Armstrong Makes a Fair Assessment

When I read the title and the opening letter to this piece, I expected a different reaction from Dave Armstrong:

I am coming to believe that this [good works are the inevitable result of saving grace] is one of the most dangerous teachings within the Reformed tradition, because it makes sin to be of little significance. After all, if all your sins have been forgiven – Past – Present – and Future, and nothing can change that – then where is the fear of God within such a teaching? Can one fear to sin because it displeases a Holy and Righteous God if one thinks that no sin can separate them from God? Can’t this kind of belief cause one to treat God as a doormat? . . . This attitude of “its all been done for you by Christ on Calvary” and there’s nothing expected from the Christian, nothing that he can or should do to grow in righteousness and holiness, makes our lives as believers in Christ, our witness to the world as lights shining in the darkness of no consequence. If I think nothing is required of me to continue in the grace of God, I will live haphazardly and not care a hoot about living a godly, faithful life unto Christ my Lord.

I expected him to immediately agree with the writer and denounce Protestantism. However, Dave is full of surprises, as it turns out. In this case, he actually lauds Protestantism for getting something right. He makes a stronger case for the organic whole formed by good works with God’s grace than I ever could, and he makes it from Calvin’s writings. Read the entire piece here.

Matthew Bellisario and Mary

Matthew Bellisario’s love for Dr. James White, a friend of this blog, is well documented. His attitude toward Dr. White is always charitable, so it is no wonder that Dr. White has never offered a reply to Bellisario’s comments. I will offer an answer for Dr. White in this short article to the latest diatribe by the Catholic Champion.

Bellisario has this to say about Mary:

Does the term co-mediatrix or co-redemtrix imply we are equating Mary as a fourth person of the Trinity? Obviously not, because the term does not imply anything of the sort. Co means with. If Mary participated in God’s plan of salvation, (which anyone who would deny this fact cannot call themselves a Christian) then she can be titled obviously a co-redemptrix, because she participated in God’s plan. I will say this plainly, it seems that [James] White is just (pardon my French) too damn stupid to understand what co means. Aside from all of this, this terminology has not been defined by the church as of yet.

Let’s first assume an Arminian perspective on salvation for the sake of argument. By virtue of human free will, we all would participate in our salvation by making a decision to follow Christ. Therefore, are we not all Co-Redeemers in salvation by this logic?

But, like James White, I follow the Reformed view of salvation, which means that salvation is solely God’s work. We mere humans do not participate in it. Whatever you believe about Mary, she was a mere human and not divine. Therefore, she does not participate in salvation in any way–to suggest otherwise is blasphemous.

White says that it is blasphemous to ask the Blessed Mother to pray for us, to intercede for us. Is it? Then I ask why in the world does every ancient Liturgy have petitions to her? You see, White knows that when it comes to the Church and her Liturgies he has no defense of for his outlandish heretical rants. The Liturgies of the Church show us plainly that Christians of the early centuries gave the Blessed Theotokos praise, and they asked for her intercession.

Livias in the 6th century wrote, “Raised to heaven, she remains for the human race an unconquerable rampart, interceding for us before her Son and God.” Theoteknos of Livias, Assumption 291(ante AD 560),in THEO,187

Sixth century isn’t “early.” Bellisario offers nothing in his entire post earlier than this quote to back up his assertion that the early Christians paid special attention to Mary. Prayer to Mary, and the Marian dogmas, are simply not traceable to apostolic times in any form. I have no doubt that Mary was held in special reverence, but I doubt very much that prayers were offered to her the way that the Catholic Champion suggests. Dr. White need not offer a defense for something that the other side has not sufficiently established as a fact.

Now lets also call out James White on his video regarding the liturgy and Transubstantiation in which I posted responses to a few months back? I flat out called him on his erroneous conclusions he formed from his “12 century” arguments on the tabernacle, the host elevation etc. He loves to attack Catholics and mock them on his blog and his radio show, yet he cannot defend his own foolish arguments. Where is he and his arrogant response on this? We are waiting.

If Bellisario is so anxious to call James White out, why doesn’t he call The Dividing Line? If Dr. White’s assertions are so foolish and easily refuted, why not embarrass him on his own podcast? That would prove once and for all that James White is not worthy of as many followers as he has and it would show all of his listeners that Catholicism is the way to go. Alas, I doubt that that will ever happen because we all know how it would really turn out and who the loser would be. We know that Dr. White would make Matthew Bellisario look like a complete idiot, and look good doing it.