Monthly Archives: May 2009
Since I haven’t written in a while, I was surprised to find that Rey had posted an entry in his blog, since his posts generally respond to my own. This time, it looks as if things will be the other way around.
Normally, I ignore Rey but this time he has posted something that is such an obvious error that I can’t pass it up. He says that Hebrews 11:6 is proof that Calvinists cannot be saved as long as they are Calvinists. That simply isn’t true, and if Rey did his homework on the Reformed position, he’d know that. Far from disproving Calvinism, this verse actually solidifies the Reformed position!
First of all, faith is a gift from God. Don’t believe me? Check Galatians 5:22-23, which lists the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Those who have the Holy Spirit produce the listed fruits, which are gifts from God. Notice that faith is on that list! Unless God grants you faith, you can’t have it in the first place.
The Reformed position grants that people can seek God, but not apart from his drawing us (Jn 6:44). Those that are seeking God apart from that drawing (the non-elect, in other words) are seeking God for selfish motives. They don’t want to know God, they want the benefits of knowing God. This is not really diligently seeking God.
Regeneration, which precedes salvation and always produces a saving faith, is monergistic (i.e. it is God’s work only, with no human involvement). However, once regenerated, the sanctification process is synergistic (i.e. requires human involvement). This means that the person has a saving faith, and now will diligently seek God (having his heart inclined to God).
So far from disproving the Reformed position, this verse is actually perfectly consistent with it.
It only took the jury four hours of deliberation to convict Leilani Neumann, mother of Madeline “Kara” Neumann, of second degree reckless homicide in the death of her daughter from untreated diabetes.
I believe in the power of prayer, but I believe that it is supplemental to competent health care. God works with and through our efforts, not in spite of us.
Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O’Connor, on a recent radio interview, made the comment that he thinks atheists are less than human:
What I think that the Cardinal is trying to say, badly, is that atheists haven’t embraced the fullness of their own humanity. It doesn’t make them less than human; on the contrary, they are as much human as any Christian. In some cases maybe even more so. But there is, and until they embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, always will be something missing from their soul.
However, saying it in the way that he did, the Cardinal has effectively shut off dialogue with the atheist community, and has crippled the Roman Catholic Church’s ability to reach atheists.
It seems I can’t even take a day off from blogging without something major happening. It appears as though I’ve been issued a challenge, and Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O’Connor said that atheists are less than human! More on the Cardinal in another post.
There are three fallacies with the challenge. First, Rey wants to know how Calvinism can be true and Wesley’s words false. When was the last time we assigned infallibility to Wesley? We believe that the Bible only is infallible, therefore Wesley is simply wrong, which brings us to the other two fallacies.
What obligates God to save a sinner in the first place? Arminian theology assumes that everyone starts with an “A” in class and by our sins we move to an “F.” But that isn’t the case. Humankind is born into sin, and we start with an “F.” We have no desire of our own to move to an “A,” and we don’t live our lives with that intention. Natural man, in his natural state, supresses the knowledge of God and tries to live for himself. The wonder of it all is that God saves any of us rebellious, undeserving sinners! Nothing obligates him to do so; he would be just to let us all burn in hell for the sins we commit everyday. But that isn’t what he’s done; instead, he lovingly predestines some to glory. The Bible’s focus is never on the ones that perish, but always on the ones who are saved. That’s where we should keep our eyes: on the ones that God will save.
Which is why Calvinism believes in evangelism as strongly as it does. Since we don’t know who the elect are, we should never lose an opportunity to reach out to someone with the gospel. God might use you to draw one of his elect to himself. Some might ask, as Wesley does, why bother if the elect are already decided? To that I say, turn your Bibles to Judges 3:28, where it is said that the Lord has given the enemy into Ehud’s hands. That doesn’t mean that Ehud and the Israelites simply sat down on the ground and said, “Why bother? God already gave us the enemy.” No, they fought the battle anyway, even knowing the outcome.
With Arminianism, we have no confidence that anyone can be saved. It is up to the reprobate sinner to decide to let Christ into his heart. Apart from that invitation, God can do nothing. Calvinism teaches the opposite. With Calvinism, we have confidence that many will be saved because God promises to save his elect, fully and completely.
Bottom line here is that God acts with and through us, not over and against us. Ehud still had to fight the battle, even though God gave the enemy into his hand. We still have to preach the gospel, because that is the means by which God will bring his elect to himself. We still have to fight the good fight, just like Ehud did. The Israelites saw no contradiction here, and neither should we.
Finally, what necessitates that God love everyone equally? Are you telling me that God loves Christopher Hitchens–a man who wrote a book entitled God is not Great and is outspoken in his rebellion against God–with the same love as a Christian who loves God first in his life and tries to keep his commands? That reduces God’s love to subhuman capacity. Humans are able to love at different levels. God commands it! I’m supposed to love my wife as Christ loved the church. However, I’m not supposed to love my neighbor’s wife that same way. The love I feel for my wife is very different than the love I feel for my daughter. If humans, made in the image of God, are able to love at different levels and intensities, why can’t God? Why can’t God love some of his creations more than others; so much more, that he elects them and saves them for eternal life with him?
Predestination is not a doctrine of hate, despite how Wesley and others see it. Predestination is God’s ultimate expression of love for the sinner. We love him because he first loved us.
I’m issuing a challenge to Rey. I want to know what he does with the following Scripture:
When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.
20“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” (Jn 17:1-26, emphasis added)
As much as I love Jesus Christ and Christianity, we live in a secular world with secular values. I have to begrudgingly admit that VJack from Atheist Revolution is right.
Apparently, the U.S. Army is promoting Christianity as the solution to soldiers who threaten suicide.
Before I say why I think VJack is right, I should remind my readers that studies have been conducted that show a causal connection between suicide and atheism. Further, suicide rates among the religious are lower, as are stress levels. Time Magazine recently published an article that links regular prayer with the ability to heal faster and better. No matter what the atheists say, religion is a good thing.
Unfortunately, living in the society that we do, it is illegal to promote one religion over another. Therefore, VJack is right in the sense that we shouldn’t promote Christianity alone to soldiers. What about the rights of the non-Christian chaplains who will be forced to present that material?
Here’s the giant “but.” BUT, what about promoting religion in general as an answer to suicide? That is not illegal, and it even has benefits (outlined above). It should satisfy everyone concerned–except the atheist, of course.
There is another reason why I would be against promoting only Christianity as the alternative for suicide. Christianity is not a coerced religion; it is a religion which one must freely choose to follow. If the military is forcing its soldiers to follow Christianity, then a major point of the Christian faith is lost. Suddenly someone is a Christian not by choice or by preference, but because the military says they are.
This problem is the same facing the Roman Empire under Constantine. Constantine forced people to adopt Christianity as the state religion, and all discipleship was lost. Discipleship is one of the keys to Christianity; a person must learn what it means to be a Christian as a disciple to someone who already knows. The link to the left on Discipleship 101 should help any readers with that point.
Bottom line: Christianity is a journey and it requires the Christian to be willing to undertake the journey. If Christianity is coerced by the Army, it isn’t Christianity anymore.
This is one of the ten most viewed posts of all time. To read all ten, download this free e-book.
Imagine my surprise when I found this post in my list of the most popular posts of the moment. A skeptic who goes by the moniker “The Beattitude” posts a few verses that seem to indicate that the Bible commands us to kill unbelievers. I suppose that commands like that make him nervous, being an unbeliever himself he doesn’t want to end up a bloody smear under a pile of rocks.
I can confidently say that that is not going to happen, because the commands given were directed at the ancient Israelites under the Mosaic Law, which is not in force anymore.
But moreover, I’ve refuted this crap already. Don’t atheists pay attention to what Christians say? That would be a lot of effort, and of course the fact that reasonable replies exist to their charges would shatter their comfortable God-less worldview.
Last February, I did two podcasts that generated no interest whatsoever. I thought I’d take the time to repost them, now that they are downloadable from the Web, to see if they generate any interest this time.
Show #1 was on the Tom Cruise Scientology speech that scared a lot of people. I gave a Christian reaction and contrasted Scientology with Christianity. Download here. Download here.
Show #2 was on women in the Bible, and how the Bible uplifts rather than denigrates women. I thought this one would generate much interest, but so far nothing. Download here. Download here.
If you like the shows, let me know either in a comment below or fire off an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com. If I get enough interest generated, I might start podcasting again. I had fun with it, but there was no sense in doing it for an audience of none.
Many Christians deny the doctrine of original sin on the basis of Ezekiel 18:19-20:
Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.
The question before us is this: are we held responsible for Adam’s sin? If so, why? Does it not clearly say in Ezekiel 18 that the soul that sins shall die, and that the wickedness of the wicked will be on himself?
I stumbled onto a little-known YouTube video (it only had 95 views at the time of writing) and thought I would share it, as it demonstrates a point I’ve been trying to make to Rey about compatibilism: the truth is that God’s eternal decree and man’s free will interact in such a complex way that we may never understand the mind-bogling truth! What a mystery it is. And if God can create all of the complex cycles that we observe in science (like the Krebs cycle), then surely he can create a universe in which he has the final word, but man is still responsible for his free will decisions.