Monthly Archives: October 2008
The November Newsletter is hot off the press. You can download it here.
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This proves that, no matter how many times an issue is explained to the atheists, they ignore us and move on. I’ve addressed the issue before, and I know that many other apologists have also addressed the issue as well. Here we go one more time:
Atheists, listen up! Christians are NOT polytheistic. We are monotheists. We believe in one God. The Bible affirms that God is one being. Father, Son, and Spirit are separate persons, functionally different but ontologically the same being. No one understands or can explain the doctrine of the Trinity fully. So no one expects you to understand it. But to repeatedly mock it as polytheism is childish. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean that you get to explain it the most convenient fashion for you, and ignore everything that knowledgeable people keep telling you about it. To do so impedes rational discourse.
Since no one fully understands the Trinity, atheists assume that it must be false. Permit me to draw a parallel. No one understands how life began on this planet. It could have been seeded from outer space says one theory, or it could have originated from non-life says another theory. God could have created it says a third theory. Just because no one fully understands the origin of life doesn’t mean that it never happened. Atheists permit that we will understand this mystery one day, but mock theists who say the same thing about the Trinity. For now, like the origin of life to an atheist, the Trinity remains a mystery to the Christian.
As for praying to angels and saints or the Virgin Mary, praying to anyone other than God is expressly forbidden in the Bible. Only Catholics practice this. Christians pray only to God.
Why is it that no matter how many times it is explained that Christians are monotheists does the charge of polytheism remain?
Regular readers know that I’ve been working out rebuttals to the sites Why Won’t God Heal Amputees and God is Imaginary. I have discovered recently that those sites run a blog where a person going by the moniker “Johnson” posts regularly about religion and all of its “evil.” The focus of the sites WWGHA and GII is, purportedly, all monotheistic religions. But when a person looks at the categories of the blog and the numbers of posts within each category it becomes readily evident that Christianity is the prime, if not only, target.
Recently, Johnson critiqued the newspaper advice column “God Squad” for their answer to this question:
I’m having a hard time keeping my faith. I was raised a Christian, yet we didn’t attend church regularly. I consider myself blessed, yet I’m having trouble accepting that God had anything to do with it.
I can seemingly explain my good fortune by a combination of science and hard work. I very much want to believe and have God be a daily part of my life, but my heart doesn’t feel the same way. Can you help?
Almost Godless in Florida
The God Squad concluded that this person’s real problem was a lack of gratitude for the blessings that God has dispensed upon him rather than a lack of belief in God. Johnson makes this a deeper and more philosophical proposal than it needs to be by reversing the coin: If God blesses some people, it means that he also withholds blessings (or curses) others. Johnson says:
Here is where rationality comes in. According to the God Squad, God is the cause of all blessings. There is no reason to thank God if he is not the cause. Therefore, all the people who live in an unblessed state – the thirty thousand children who will die of starvation today, for example, or the thousands who will die of cancer, or the billions who live in stark, abject poverty – must of necessity be in those situations because God has cursed them. If you happen to live in Ethiopia and starve to death today, it has to be because God has failed to bless you.
In other words, God curses everyone who is suffering on earth. The suffering must come from God’s withholding of his blessings of health, food, rain, etc. Meanwhile, over in the United States, God blessed Bill Gates with another billion dollars today, and Bill should be grateful to God for that since God made it happen.
When you think about it rationally, you cannot escape this obvious problem. If we are supposed to thank God because he is the cause of all blessings, then it means that the lack of blessings (starvation, cancer, poverty, etc.) is caused by God as well. And this means that God is the most twisted, capricious, biased, despicable creature in the universe. 30,000 innocent children will starve to death today specifically because God withheld blessings from them. (source)
What this assumes is that equality of possessions is the ideal condition. We call that communism, which is not an ideal condition at all, as evidenced by the catastrophic failure of the regimes that used it. Instead, the ideal condition on earth is the inequality of possessions, so argues Wayne Grudem in Business for the Glory of God.
Grudem says that because of the Fall and the curse on the productivity of the earth, inequality of possessions is necessary. Grudem also echoes the biblical teaching that to whom much is given, much is expected. That those who have a lot of wealth and possessions are expected to give a lot to serve the needs of his fellow man.
Now what do we actually see on earth? Do we see those having a lot giving a lot, or do we see the opposite? That the haves horde for themselves and the have-nots just end up with less? Yes, I’m afraid that is exactly what we see.
Inequality of possessions gives people varying levels of accountability, which is exactly what God intends. This means that inequality of possessions in and of itself is a good thing, and is intended by God for his own glorification. What the WWGHA Blog is talking about is the distortion of that good; the hording of wealth by people and the callous evil that the haves display in allowing the have-nots to starve to death. Grudem cautions:
But the distortions of something good must not cause us to think that the thing itself is evil. The evils of poverty and excessive, self-indulgent wealth must not cause us to think that God’s goal is total equality of possessions, or that all inequalities are wrong. Inequalities in abilities and opportunities and possessions will be part of our life in heaven forever, and they are in themselves good and pleasing to God, and provide many opportunities for glorifying him.
The obvious objection to this is that I’m just resorting to the Free Will Defense–man causes his own pain, not God. But I believe that, in some cases, there is something to this Free Will Defense. Not all cases. Obviously, a natural disaster isn’t explained by free will. In his book God’s Problem, Bart Ehrman’s mistake is looking for one answer to satisfy all cases of suffering. I don’t believe that there is one pat answer to suffering, but suffering in all its forms creates opportunities to glorify God. Because of the bondage of our wills to sin (a topic I’ve explored in some detail), we are bound to screw these opportunities up. Sometimes, we screw up royally.
Because of inequality of wealth, the curse on the productivity on earth, and the bondage of our wills to sin, those statistics that atheists often quote are true: 30,000 people will starve to death today. But God created this as an opportunity to glorify his name by giving these people some food from your own plate. But most people, realistically speaking, aren’t going to do that, are they? Why does that become God’s problem? Shouldn’t we make an effort to solve that problem ourselves?
We’re not going to, and we all know this. The 30,000 people dying isn’t what grieves God; the millions of people who are in a position to stop it but don’t give a damn is what grieves him.
The Homosecular Gaytheist, known to his fans as the Rev. Reed Braden, has graced my blog once again with his trademarked snarkiness. Normally, I don’t answer him because I’m afraid that it will inflate his already overly-large ego, but I don’t want to risk him thinking that he’s won again. I stopped posting during our last round of debating because his tone is too sarcastic, even for me. Not because he demolished my arguments.
I will answer his second comment first, then dive into his meatier first comment.
OH MY GOD! I just realised you’re Cory Tucholski! I had so much fun completely obliterating your arguments last time we met online. So good to see you and smack down your arguments again! Have fun with your six readers!
Six RSS readers. I generate over 1200 hits per month. And my blog has been graced with comments by “famous apologists” such as James White. This statement is just childish. Onto the real argument: Read the rest of this entry
Lee Shelton, the Contemporary Calvinist, has an excellent visual post here. It truly demonstrates the bankruptcy of atheist arguments when it comes to explain the design of the universe. Enjoy!
The Rev. Reed Braden over at Homosecular Gaytheist (and friends!) thinks that he’s captured the Christian mindset with this quote from Christopher Columbus’s writings:
Many of the men I have seen have scars on their bodies, and when I made signs to them to find out how this happened, they indicated that people from other nearby islands come to San Salvador to capture them; they defend themselves the best they can. I believe that people from the mainland come here to take them as slaves. They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them. I think they can very easily be made Christians, for they seem to have no religion. If it pleases our Lord, I will take six of them to Your Highnesses when I depart, in order that they may learn our language. […] I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men, and govern them as I pleased.
In its pure form, Christianity would tolerate no such mindset. This isn’t the mindset of a Christian; this is the mindset of a typical European of the 15th century.
Mentioning the conversion of the natives to Christianity is typical of what Lee Camp calls the “Constantinan Cataract” viewpoint: after the Roman Emperor Constantine, Christianity took on a rather militant manner of converting people. It tended to do conversions by force rather than allowing people to hear the gospel and pledge their lives to Christ of their own accord; trusting that God will draw his elect to himself as the Bible promises. Christianity by coercion isn’t Christianity. The apostles would be horrified. Jesus would be grieved.
I share the outrage of Mr. Braden, but I do not agree that it has anything to do with Christianity. Columbus’s mission was to evaluate foreign lands for conquering and bringing under Spain’s control. His primary goal wasn’t to be a Christian missionary. Sorry, Reed, you lose.
I know that I very seldom read comments on people’s blog posts, so for the benefit of those who are like me and would have otherwise missed Nate’s insightful comment on my naked mass article, here it is:
A couple of thoughts: I agree that the reaction by Christians is unfortunate, as it often is. We need even-tempered, well thought out responses that respect others and ourselves. Secondly, I wholeheartedly agree that nakedness was the original intention as it is made evident in Genesis. And thirdly, I agree that naked worship can actually happen without a sexual element. But consider this:
God made Adam and Eve clothing (Gen. 3:21) once they realized their nakedness and were ashamed of it due to their fall. Thus, the purity of nakedness has been tainted for mankind in general, whether there is a small group that has no problem with it or not. Furthermore, we see that in Romans 14:19-21 is says,
“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a man to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.” (NIV)
Judging by the overwhelming majority of people in the world who almost certainly equate nakedness outside of changing your clothes or taking a shower (by yourself, of course) as sexual, I would say that nakedness is a potentially huge stumbling block for Christians and non-Christians alike.
I for one, given past and present struggles, could never attend a nudist church celebration and completely block the sexual. I also believe that a male body is designed to seek and appreciate female beauty and that this mechanism has also been tainted, causing men to struggle with objectifying women as objects of their own gratification. In our sex-driven society in this country as well as the rest of the world, I cannot imagine that naked church would bode well with any considerable number of people.
Just because it is possible and perhaps permissible, we are not to do things that will cause our brothers (and sisters) to stumble and thereby destroying the work of Christ on account of our freedom. Therefore, I think that pure nakedness with no sexual connection unfortunately is one of the many casualties of the fall of mankind and consequently, that naked worship sinful, only because it undoubtedly causes many people to stumble in their faith.
Even though I disagree with your stance, I very much appreciate your looking into the issue closer and examining scripture instead of simply rejecting ideas based on Church tradition and norms. It is important to do this in any situation. You are free to disagree with me.
Actually, I had come up with a similar line of reasoning at work this evening. It just goes to show two things: 1) I have too much time on my hands at work, and 2) even I miss the mark sometimes.
My church has a very relaxed dress code. It would be unusual to see our pastor in anything more fancy than a button-down shirt and khaki pants. Most people in the congregation wear jeans. You can always spot the newcomers to our church by the suits and skirts that they wear. As relaxed as our dress code is, at least one church has taken it a step further.
In the Netherlands, a group of naked (yes, you read that right: naked) celebrants held a church service in a nudist park. They had to cancel the second planned service and temporarily take down their website after threatening phone calls and other unfortunate backlash from other Christians.
I’m used to relaxed dress codes, but this… well, is this as ridiculous as some people make it out to be? I’m not so sure.
I don’t see anything wrong with this. It surely isn’t for me–I know I would never attend a nude service–but for nudists, this is the perfect way to meet. The Bible exhorts us to worship God in everything that we do. So, if people like to go around naked, why not turn that into an act of worship as well?
People get all bent out of shape over the silliest things. If you don’t like it, don’t go. It’s as simple as that.
It turns out that that is very biblical advice:
Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. (Rom 14:1-9)
If someone considers nudity a sacred act of worship, who are we to condemn that person? For if he is naked, he is naked to the Lord, if he is dressed, he is dressed to the Lord. None of us lives or dies for our own selves, we live and die to the Lord. Again, if you don’t think that a nude church service is for you (I know it isn’t for me), then don’t go. It’s as simple as that.
My prayers are with the nudists; I pray that they can worship in peace without other Christians passing judgment.
That brings up another point. As a group, Christians are awfully judgmental. We all serve God, whether we realize it or not (take heed, atheists: even you serve the Lord). And the Bible clearly teaches that we are not to judge another master’s servant. So why then do Christians get so darn judgmental over silly things like this?
That, I suppose, is the subject for another post.
This is a PowerPoint presentation answer to the video “Proving No One Can Get to Heaven.” You can download the presentation here. Enjoy! As always, feel free to drop a comment to my e-mail or leave feedback below.
This month, we are launching a new feature: the Josiah Concept Ministries monthly newsletter. In this first issue, read about my daughter’s first steps, some commentary on the debate with Matthew Bellisario, how the Pope is realigning the Catholic Mass, and Todd Bentley stepping down from ministry. All that and more packed into four pages!
To print, set your printer to print like a book. Then load two sheets of legal-size paper and go. You’ll need a PDF reader.
Download the file here.
E-mail any comments, positive or negative, on the newsletter to me or comment on this post. I look forward to hearing any and all feedback you may have!