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Monthly Archives: October 2011

Fishing for Compliments

In his most recent post, John Loftus said, “In the sidebar it may look as if I think highly of myself.”

I stopped reading after that because I was laughing too hard.  No, the appearance of John thinking highly of himself is not limited to the sidebar:

  • Its [The Christian Delusion] content is so daring and controversial that a desperate and hostile response from defenders of the faith is inevitable. (source)
  • Because of that book [Why I Became an Atheist] I was able to gather together some scholars to write chapters for The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails which is helping to significantly change the religious landscape. (source)
  • If you’re a Christian thinking about entering [an apologetics degree] program then simply ask them if they deal with my books. Any program worth it’s salt should do so. (emphasis in original, source)
  • [The End of Christianity is] an excellent book, which combined with its predecessor (The Christian Delusion) makes a decisive refutation of the Christian religion. (source)
  • Debating William Lane Craig: “What is Bill afraid of? He’s afraid of introducing me to his fan base. This is what I really think. He’s scared of me.” (emphasis in original, source)

And those are just a few examples.  I know more exist.  I believe the introduction to The End of Christianity contains a gem along the lines of “the gavel has come down, the case is closed, Christianity stands completely debunked.”

So John’s contention in that post that he isn’t now nor ever will be a celebrity is nothing more than false humility, the same sorts of mind games that insecure people fishing for compliments stoop to.

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Suspicion Confirmed: Why America Loves to Hate Tim Tebow

I had always suspected that the reason that quarterback Tim Tebow seems to generate so much negativity is his Christianity.

And I’m not alone in suspecting that.

I didn’t see Tebow’s recent game against Miami.  I have, however, seen Miami’s recent Monday Night outing and can tell you that beating Miami is not an achievement (apologies to my mother-in-law, but she knows it too!).  Miami is absolutely horrible this year.

Worse, I understand Denver was behind the entire game, and Tebow only pulled it together in the last few minutes to send the game into OT.

So, you can hate Tim Tebow because he’s a mediocre quarterback.  Fine.  But there are plenty of mediocre quarterbacks in the NFL, why does Tebow draw so much more venom from fans and commentators?

Erik Manning, quoting George Weigel, put the problem into focus.  Tim Tebow gets so much negativity because he wears his Christianity on his sleeve.

If Tim Tebow never put Bible verses on his eye black, never appeared in Super Bowl ads with a pro-life message, and never evangelized or went on mission trips, then he would draw the average amount of fire an in-over-his-head-in-the-NFL quarterback would typically see.

But his Christianity seems to triple the shots he takes in the media and from fans.

Christohobia at its finest.

God Commanded Terrible Stuff!

In regard to God defining morality (part of a reply to this post), Alex wrote:

Right, so I guess then that slavery is fine, that homosexuals should be killed, that it’s ok to kill people who pick up sticks on a Saturday or Sunday, that child sacrificing is perfectly fine, that a tooth for a tooth is perfectly fine and on and on?

This has all been answered before, so here’s the round-up of replies:

Amazingly, no mention of God commanding genocide.  That’s the only atheist talking point missing from Alex’s short list.

Hopefully, I won’t have to answer any of these charges again, but I kind of doubt it.  All of these are atheist favorites, despite repeated correction by many, many Christian apologists.  I’m sure we’ll keep seeing these brought up over and over again, until Christ’s triumphant return.

What is True Christianity(tm)? (part 3)

In part 1, I talked about how skeptics and atheists often complain when I (or another apologist) make the comment that such-and-so Christian is wrong.  The skeptic usually says it means I have found “True Christianity™” and every other Christian who disagrees is going to go to hell.

Not so.  And there’s no such thing as True Christianity™.

In part 2, I discussed degrees of wrong, using a traffic light as a guide.  Green light is 99% of Christianity; just denominations hashing out some differences of procedure.  Yellow light redefines core doctrines.  Red light denies core doctrines and is strongly associated with a central figure who receives his own divine revelations.

Paul talks about agreeing to disagree, to welcome everyone and to not make the work of God void over what we should eat and drink.  So can we ever fight for the faith?

In green light situations, there is no reason to fight.  My own denomination is the United States branch of a German group, so it isn’t its own denomination proper.  However, we’ve split twice in the last 30 years.  In the mid-80s, Grace College and Ashland College split over the classic Calvinism (Ashland) versus Arminianism (Grace) battle.  In the early 90s, a Grace professor split over who to welcome into churches.

These aren’t worthwhile fights, but I know they happen anyway and will continue to happen until Christ returns.  We should just let these green light situations be, and live as peaceably as possible with them as it depends on us.

Yellow light and red light situations are totally different.

In the case of Ergun Caner, an example of a yellow light situation, it kills me to see Christians not care that he lied about his background to win Muslims to Christ.  All these Christians care about is that Caner won them.  What does that say about their moral character if they are willing to excuse (I can’t believe I’m about to use this derided expression) lying for Jesus?

The ends do not justify the means.  I know that God has called Christians to a higher standard than that.  Which means that we should win people with the truth to the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  And when we see lying like this, we should repudiate it and the supporters of it (I’m looking at you, Norm Geisler).

A bona fide red light situation, such as Harold Camping’s Family Radio, should be addressed expeditiously.  Today, October 21, is allegedly the end of the world according to Harold Camping.  Yet I’m here to write this and I presume someone is reading this.

Camping and his Family Radio movement deny the presence of the Holy Spirit within the universal church and have fixed today somewhat arbitrarily as the end of the world.  That, together with the strong association with Camping, gives this the earmarks of heresy outlined in my previous post.

This error needs to be addressed, and Camping called to repentance.  (I already did back in May.)

I hope that this series of posts have cleared up what True Christianity™ is, and is not.  God has promised to preserve his church on earth, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.  So whether we identify as Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, Reformed Baptist, Grace Brethren, or Anglican, we should welcome each other with open arms in our churches and celebrate our differences rather than be divided by them.

When redefinition occurs, we should point it out.

When denial occurs, we should repudiate it.

Above all, we should join with Jesus in prayer that we be one, as he and the Father are One.

What is True Christianity(tm)? (part 2)

I did part 1 of this a long, long, time ago but never quite got to part 2.

In the last post, I basically said that we should bow to the weaker brother and let him have his ritual.  If he thinks that we must be baptized by triune immersion in a lake, then let him get baptized that way.  If he thinks all Christians should abstain from alcohol, then don’t crack open an ice-cold Corona with a lime wedge in front of him.

In the non-essentials of faith, let the weaker brother abstain.  Don’t try to talk him out of it.  Don’t insist on giving him a glass of wine, stay clear of it in front of him as well.  Don’t force him to use a baptismal, offer to drive him to a lake yourself.

But, there are times when you have to come after fellow Christians and tell them they are wrong.

For example, in my extended review of John Shelby Spong’s Sins of Scripture (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5, part 6, part 7), I handed the good bishop his butt.  I fought for the traditional deposit of faith, above Spong’s redefinition of all the terms.  I did that because, as James White often says, the gospel is ours to proclaim, not to edit.  Spong completely changes what it means to be a Christian, and how a Christian ought to approach the Scriptures.

Spong basically denies every fundamental of the faith that I listed in the previous post, to wit:

  • Existence of God as a Trinity
  • Preeminence of Christ over his creation
  • Mankind fell into sin, and is now utterly enslaved to it
  • Death of Jesus making atonement for the sins of mankind
  • Resurrection of Jesus on the third day
  • Future return of Christ to judge the living and the dead

Currently, a Christian is doing this same thing to me, here.  I might be wrong, because I’m not infallible.  I believe that faith is more than belief, that it is also good works.  In other words, faith is loyalty to God manifested by both belief and good works.  Mike, however, doesn’t think so.  We are both trying to come to some sort of common ground with each other.

Which raises the question: When do I get to call an error “error?”

I think there are three categories of theological error.  Let’s discuss them. Read the rest of this entry

The Articles Page is Back

I took it down long ago to do some maintenance, but never actually did the maintenance.

Well, it’s still a work in progress, but I’ve got most of the articles back up and running.  So you can check out my new articles page in all its glory right here.  Hopefully I’ll get some more to add to it real soon.

Lack of Posting

It’s been a while since I’ve last posted, but I’ve still been hard at work.

Back in May of 2010, John W. Loftus began what he called a “reality check” series:

I’m going to start a series of posts describing what must be the case if Christianity is true. When done I’ll put them all together so Christians can see the formidable obstacles there are to their faith at a glance. (source)

In other words, assume:

  • Christianity is false
  • Naturalism is true
  • Liberal interpretations of archeology are accurate and they prove the Bible 100% false

Those, of course, are all prospects that must be argued rather than assumed, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves.  Loftus ended up with 30 propositions in that series and promised more as of 7/2010, but none materialized.

I had planned on answering all 30, even though I have noted several are not arguments and have no bearing on the truth of Christianity, nor on anyone’s interpretation of reality.  I think Loftus believes all are self-evidently nonsense, and once stated immediately show how false they are.  Which leads to a few questionable items, such as #2 — which is neither an argument nor a physical impossibility.  Rather, it is one possible interpretation of God, most often associated with open theism.

I had copied all 30 into an open document text file, did some fancy bells and whistles with formatting (I’m particularly proud of the cowboy hat graphic that accompanies each of the top-level headings, since Loftus’s trademark is the cowboy hat), and prepared to answer them.

Then did absolutely nothing.

Now, over a year later, I decided to dust off the e-book file and actually complete it.  I’ve been answering one or two at a time, and posting them on the e-book sharing site Scribd, under my account.  A link now appears under promotional links on the right, but here are the documents so far:

  1. Nature of God
  2. God’s Eternal Decree
  3. Nature of Satan
  4. The Fall
  5. Existence of Similar ANE Mythology Disproves the Bible

That’s what I have so far.  I may not have been active here, but I’m always writing.  Check those out and give me some feedback, as when I complete all 30 I’m planning on releasing a final e-book copy, collating the full collection.  Updated, of course, to reflect criticisms of my replies.

On the Desire to Erase Hell from Christian Doctrine

God has the right to do WHATEVER He pleases.

If I’ve learned one thing from studying hell, it’s that last line.  And whether or not you end up agreeing with everything I say about hell, you must agree with Psalm 115:3.  Because at the end of the day, our feelings and wants and heartaches and desires are not ultimate — only God is ultimate.  God tells us plainly that His ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than ours (Isa. 55:9).  Expect then, that Scripture will say things that don’t agree with your natural way of thinking.

— Francis Chan, Erasing Hell, p. 17

Best Poster Ever . . .

Because I didn’t take enough flack from the Vox Day quote debacle, I now give you the most awesome poster ever constructed: