Cannot Be a Believer Litmus Test

From a post on my personal Facebook account:

Facebook postThis article is especially troubling for two reasons. First, it implicitly establishes a religious test for a government appointment, which is unconstitutional. Second, Russell Vought is unable to flat-out say that you are lost without Jesus (although, in fairness to him, he does mention, multiple times, the centrality of Christ to salvation).

It is pretty much taken as fact that now that faith equals blind faith. That if you don’t believe in scientism and materialism…and instead have a worldview that includes the supernatural…the reason and logic portions of your brain are either shut-off or so heavily degraded that you cannot be trusted to lead in the public realm. Yet, given throughout history, scientists and other great thinkers frequently (most often?) have believed in something beyond that which we can taste, smell, touch, hear, or see…that which we can measure…it proves faith does _not_ equate to illogic and/or unreason. If anything, belief in a God of order (versus randomness)…and a Being who reveals Himself…aided in scientific discovery by adding confidence that the Lord’s ways in the physical realm could also be discovered, converted into scientific theories and laws, and be used as a foundation for more discoveries, theories and laws.

Faith is _not_ equivalent to blind faith. Even in our little church here in Strasburg we stress individual research and reason. The great principles of science are a boon to theology, and theology is not hampered by the philosophical (not scientific) rule that the supernatural is off-limits. We can truly allow the evidence to lead us where it may…instead of setting arbitrary boundaries that hamper truth, not aid it.

Finally, nobody but God knows the eternal salvation of any individual. I have often said we’ll be surprised by who we see in heaven…and who we don’t. But logic and reason also say that, for instance, Islam and Christianity cannot both be right (although they can both be wrong). If Christianity is right, everything that points people away from its God…whether it be Islam, Buddhism, scientism, or <fill in the blank here>…is an impediment to everlasting salvation. Does that mean every atheist or Hindu or Muslim is damned? No. However, it would be quite unloving (and unreasoned and illogical) of me not to tell non-Christians the path they are on leads to eternal death, not eternal life.

However, as Vought tries to point out during his testimony, that does not mean that on this side of eternity I will treat anyone differently based on what path, as horrible as it may be, they have chosen. We are all afflicted with the same disease (sin)…and we are all navigating this troubled, chaotic world together.

God is love. He has so much more to do to my heart to make my love even 1% of His, but I do love you regardless of your faith.

And don’t let anyone fool you…we all have faith in something.

http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/448393/watch-bernie-sanders-unconstitutionally-impose-religious-test-public-office

Thoughts? Please comment below…

“On Atheism” from a Non-Believer

Although I prefer a less caustic tone, this article about atheism, written by a non-believer is worth a read:

“On Atheism”

This part is especially interesting:

Atheists will argue that atheism is the opposite of religious belief, but that’s what is called a gratuitous assertion. The atheist believes there is no superior being. They have no proof of this as there can be no proof. In that regard, atheism is illogical as it is something that can never be proved. Christianity, in contrast, can be proved. Christ could show up and confirm the tenets of the faith. The same is true of Islam or Judaism. In other words, even though there is no proof now, there could be proof. That’s not possible with atheism.

I do disagree with this earlier thought though:

The believer is willing to accept, without evidence, the truth of some statement, while the skeptic is unwilling to accept statements without proof.

Emphasis mine.

That is blind faith, not faith. There are probably plenty of “blind faith” believers, but Christianity is not devoid of evidence. It is just not convincing for everyone. Additonally, I am definitely a skeptic…including of much of what Christians often believe…and am convinced that is what the Bible teaches us to be (e.g. see Acts 17:11)…not to mention what a God who gave us brains expects.

Happy New Year (2017)

2017 in blocksI suspect I was not the only one to start off 2017 staying up way too late, but after about six hours of sleep I began the new year in one of the best ways possible.

Reading Scripture.

Many of us at the Strasburg Church of Christ are taking the blessed trek through all 66 books together in 2017, and today’s reading was Genesis 1-3. Because the kids will be joining us on this journey, I am at least beginning it in the version they are using, the New Revised Standard Version. I am glad I did, because in the first chapter of the Bible there was a very cool pairing that happened frequently.

“God said” and “And that’s exactly what happened.”

If there is one thing that history has proven, it is that when God says that He is going to do something, or that something is going to happen…well…

That’s exactly what is going to happen.

My prayer for you is that you will have faith in the One who is so reliable, even when what He promised was at such great cost to Himself.

That is, when He said He would provide a Savior and sent His only begotten Son to die on the cross so we could spend eternity with Him.

Happy New Year everyone! Grace, peace, and love to you all.

2017 New Year's clock

Merry Christmas (2016)

Magi pointing to the starIt is past midnight here in Strasburg, Colorado…so we have crossed into Christmas Day. In a world where minute-by-minute (and overall) life can seem quite askew…Christmas reminds us of a Savior that came to set everything right. To bring peace on earth and goodwill to men.

Merry Christmas and our love to all! 

Who Is Your Father?

Justice with scalesThe Internet provides many blessing, but it also comes with destructive curses. One of its banes is the ease by which it allows damning accusations to proliferate. Most common today are charges of “isms” and their equivalents, e.g. racism, sexism, and nativism. I’d like to propose some understandings when it comes to accusations in general, but especially on social media. They are an attempt to combine logical and biblical principles.

The burden of proof is on the accuser

Whether you are the first one making an accusation or just passing it along (with or without commentary), the burden of proof is on you. “Innocent until proven guilty” is important because, otherwise, our government could arrest anyone they wanted, charge them with a crime, and then say, “Prove you didn’t do it.”

We would consider that tyrannical and backward if our government did it. It is equally tyrannical and backward for you to do it. [Read more…]

Acting Like Romans

Roman soldierI ran into a really interesting article tonight thanks to Instapundit about “How Roman Central Planners Destroyed Their Economy.” Although not all enacted by today’s progressives in the United States (yet)…it does seem like Romans created a progressive’s playbook. (Just read the article…think Venezuala…you’ll understand.) Strangling, escalating, damaging control of people and markets.

What got me really thinking, however, was when I recognized the most intrusive emporer’s name because of another reason. He is the same one known for the most extreme persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire:

The Diocletianic Persecution (or Great Persecution) was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman empire.[1] In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding the legal rights of Christians and demanding that they comply with traditional Roman religious practices.

I couldn’t help but wonder, does this anecdotally show a correlation between the progressive affinity for totalitarianism and their persecution of Christians? They’ll tell you how every part of your life is to be lived and will not allow you to worship any other God than theirs. (For instance, it would not be far-fetched to compare “demanding that they comply with traditional Roman religious practices” and basically banning businesses that won’t bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.) As Dennis Prager says, leftism is a religion.

Either way, random Friday night thought…

Failure to Communicate

Video snapshotWeeks ago I heard Guns N’ Roses’ “Civil War” again, which starts off with this famous quote from Cool Hand Luke:

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate. Some men you just can’t reach. So you get what we had here last week, which is the way he wants it. Well, he gets it. I don’t like it any more than you men.

In this Hollywood case, it is a tyranical, evil prison warden who is saying it to rationalize mistreating a prisoner (played by Paul Newman). However, I cannot help but think that, replacing an evil man with a good God, it can be used to illustrate some biblical truth.

  1. Between God and man, there is a failure to communicate
  2. The issue is on man’s side, not God’s, because…
  3. Some men you just can’t reach
  4. God ultimately gives men what they want
  5. God takes no pleasure in given men what they deserve

(Of course, in this case I am using “man” and “men” in its traditional form, representing humans regardless of gender.)

With the first one, I hope I don’t have to prove it. From the moment Eve first trusted the devil more than our Lord, that failure to communicate has been pretty obvious. As for the problem being on our side (versus God’s), here is an interesting example from just before the first Christian martyr, Stephen, gets stoned:

You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you (Acts 7:51, English Standard Version).

Throughout history, it hasn’t been for a lack of effort on our Lord’s part that men haven’t heard…it’s because we resist. Today, we have even less excuse, because the Ultimate form of communication came:

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world (Hebrews 1:1-2).

Yet, there is still a failure to communicate. [Read more…]

Rainbows and Skittles

Rainbow in HonoluluWork has brought me to Honolulu multiple times this year, and I type this in a Hawaii Prince Hotel room.

You feel horrible for me, don’t you? 🙂

One thing I love about Hawaii is how often I see rainbows (thanks to sporadic rain showers). The photo in the top left of this article is from this morning, taken as I walked back from a quick swim at the Ala Moana Beach Park. Last week I posted the image directly below on Facebook and kidded that “driving to work in Hawaii is always rainbows and Skittles!”:

Rainbow on the way to work in Honolulu

And, as luck would have it, yesterday I could confirm the same going the other direction with, “It’s all rainbows and Skittles in Hawaii on the drive home too!”:

Rainbow in Honolulu during the drive home

But, none of the pictures I’ve shared so far were the first rainbow that stood out during my Hawaii visits in 2016. Instead, going to the local Costco to get a Hawaiian shirt (on the advice of locals), this greeted me in its parking lot:

Rainbow seen from Costco parking lot

Amazing, eh?!

“Always rainbows and skittles” probably seems a little childish or naive, but it hit me this morning that life is full of rainbows, if only we keep our eyes open for them. To and from work I can focus on the horrible traffic lights and people driving erratically, or…

Ditto with life. With 24 hour cable news, social media, and other forms of information overload we can be engulfed by negative news and miss the fact that no matter how dark the world is…

God’s rainbows break through.

Yes, I am being euphemistic here. 🙂

We’ve done a lot to darken the world, but evil never completely overcomes good. For me, the most sure rainbows are children. Their laughs are infective and their smiles are balm for my soul. However, life’s rainbows aren’t just children, and if I were to start listing all of them this post would become ridiculously long.

Stop staring at the ground in front of you or at the troubles around you and always watch for rainbows. When you see one, be sure to tell someone else! I did that this morning with an older couple and you should have seen the smiles on their face when they stopped, looked behind, and saw it.

Smiles that were another rainbow for me.

P.S. The Lord has also blessed me by having a home where rainbows frequent the horizon:

Rainbow seen from backyard

 

“The Great Question” About Our Faith

Andrew Klavan begins his “The Great Question” with…

Islamism is the great evil of our age, and the great question of our age is whether this foulness is the natural child of Islam itself or a cancer on its body.

Given the continual, regular atrocities done in the name of Islam (but that we are always told have nothing to do with the “religion of peace”)…

Islamic symbolThis seems an especially apropos query.

Are the terrorist acts of self-proclaimed Muslims an evil aberration or a natural extension of Islam and its holy book? Were the millions purged in Russia and China in the 20th century a natural child of communism? Is the corruption and complete breakdown of the economy in Venezuala (and resulting chaos) a natural result of socialism?

Was the Inquisition a natural extension of Christianity? How about other evil done in the name of Christ the last 2,000 years?

A very wise man said, “We become like the god we worship.”

And everybody worships a god, whether they realize it or not. I’ll unhesitatingly choose Jesus over Allah, Lenin (or Stalin), Mao, or Chavez (or his weaker replacement Maduro). There is no foulness in Christ nor in the pure faith He founded with His blood on the cross.

Can you say the same of ______? When its followers “become like the god [they] worship,” is the result more love and life or more corruption and carnage?

Another “question of our age” I suppose…

Orlando (Jesus Wept)

Jesus wept.

The shortest verse in the Bible (John 11:35) seems especially apropos given the carnage in Orlando. Those two words remind us that the sinless Son of God deeply cares about the pain we feel. In context, Christ knew He was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, yet…

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled (John 11:33, English Standard Version).

And…

Woman weepingJesus wept.

There are friends…brothers…sisters…mothers…fathers…children…

Weeping in Orlando.

Jesus weeps with them.

So should we.

Avoid politics. Avoid finger pointing. Avoid judging.

There is plenty of time in the future to do all that where appropriate.

For now, we should just have the heart of Christ…

And weep…

While looking forward to the day when God…

…will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away (Revelation 21:4).

Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

Disbelief Versus Unbelief

Skeptical womanYesterday I ran into a link to an article I think every Christian, especially budding theologians, should read:

“Learning skepticism, an essential skill for citizenship in 21st century America”

Contrary to what some might argue, doctrine is important. For instance, Jesus is the Son of God; if you do not believe that, you are not a Christian and are not saved. However, I would posit that, by sheer volume, most Christian doctrine is neither as clear nor as important as “Jesus is the Son of God.” That is not the same as saying it is unimportant (although some of it isn’t), but doctrines to place in your “castle keep,” that are a “hill to die on,” etcetera are few compared to the total.

Which leads to the article:

Regretfully, the term “skeptic” today is being used by many who adopt that label for themselves in a misleading way. To many, it is falsely equated with the term “rationalist.” The dictionary meaning of the term indicates that a skeptic is one who raises doubts. Thus the word is meant to reflect nonbelief rather than disbelief. But when we look at those who trumpet that they are skeptics towards claims of anomalies, we find disbelievers and debunkers rather than those who express uncertainty or doubt. The public “skeptics” of today present us with answers rather than questions.

It is important to distinguish between disbelief and nonbelief– between believing a sentence is false and merely not believing it true. Disbelief is a case of belief; to believe a sentence false is to believe the negation of the sentence true.

With everything in life, especially that which we cannot confirm with our five senses, we should be skeptical. As the article notes, however, skepticism is not the same as disbelief; it is nonbelief. An atheist should be skeptical of the claims of Christianity, because they are incredible! Having said that, and continuing with Marcello Truzzi’s post, they also would be wise to consider these words from James H. Hyslop: [Read more…]

“Be Nice”

"Be nice. Jesus said so."Augie and I were out getting mom birthday cards and gifts…and at the Hallmark Store I couldn’t help but purchase what is pictured here.

Now, Michelle liked it so much that instead of it ending up in my office, it’s in her hutch. 🙂

But, how biblically correct is it?

Well, I suppose it all depends on how you define “nice.” Searching for “Jesus ‘be nice'” on Google, the top three hits were:

Two vote down and one votes up, but says it is not enough…

My Mac’s dictionary’s first definition of nice is: [Read more…]

LGBT and the Church

Jesus loves you blocksA friend of mine on Facebook linked to this article:

“Homosexuality: We Need A Posture Shift”

You should read the whole thing to ensure you aren’t basing your opinion on my post, but it starts off with:

Jesus’ radical love toward the marginalized and outcast is shocking. Not just that he loved, but how he loved them. Jesus rarely started a relationship with the law, and he never offered his “stance” on political issues. He usually began the relationship with love and always showed acceptance, especially with those rejected by the religious elite. And this has massive Jesus-shaped implications for how Christians have (mis-)treated the unchurched LGBT community.

From there it uses a centurion and a tax collector (Matthew) as examples of how we should treat LGBT people. He wraps up with:

Religious people always got upset whenever Jesus befriended people who they thought were terrible sinners. If you’re a Christian who is trying hard to love LGBT people, and if this ticks off a lot of religious people, perhaps even those really close to you, then take comfort. You’re in good company. Jesus knows exactly how you feel.

After reading his article, what are your thoughts? These were mine (which I added as a comment): [Read more…]

“Nonsense Remains Nonsense Even When We Talk it About God”

The Problem of Pain book coverI started C.S. Lewis’ The Problem of Pain today on a flight to Honolulu. Now, before you get envious, it is for work. However, I sill stipulate that there are far worse places and things to do for work. 🙂

In either case, it is yet another thought-provoking work by him, and I am sure it will generate a good number of posts here on Traditores…this being the first. Getting on with that…

How many of you have ever heard someone ask, “Can God create a rock so large He cannot lift it?”

To them, hopefully with kindness in your heart and voice, you can respond:

[God’s] Omnipotence means the power to do all that is intrinsically possible, not to do the intrinsically impossible. You may attribute miracles to him, but not nonsense. There is no limit to His power. If you chose to say “God can give a creature free will and at the same time withhold free will from it,” you have not succeeded in saying anything about God: meaningless combinations of words do not suddenly acquire meaning simply because we prefix to them the two other words “God can.” It remains true that all things are possible with God: the intrinsic impossibilities are not things but non-entities. It is no more possible for God than the weakest of His creatures to carry out both of two mutually exclusive alternatives; not because His power meets an obstacle, but because nonsense remains nonsense even when we talk it about God.

It is easy to see how this quote from chapter two applies to the rock question, but we humans fall afoul of this far more often than we realize; whether as believers building a self-contradictory systematic theology, or non-believers rationalizing our rejection of the Divine through an intrinsically impossible standard for an acceptable God.

Nonsense remains nonsense.

I Am Ordinary


Ordinary.

I’ll never walk with God like Enoch.
I’ll never be as righteous as Noah.
I’ll never match the meekness of Moses.
I’ll never show the fearlessness of Daniel.
I’ll never develop a heart like David.
I’ll never attain the wisdom of Solomon.
I’ll never have a voice in the widnerness like John.
I’ll never turn back as whole-heartedly as Peter.
I’ll never teach theology like Paul.
I’ll never know love like John.

Until.

The cry of command.
The voice of an archangel.
The sound of the trumpet of God.

Then.

I’ll be quite extraordinary.