Does God Regret or Relent?

Cloud of the word regret

Do You Regret?

Do you ever regret something you said or did? Or something you should have said or did…and didn’t?

I think any human with a conscience regrets over time…hindsight has a way of ensuring that. We are not like Adolf Eichmann, a major player in the Holocaust, who (while on trial in Israel), said:

To sum it all up, I must say I regret nothing.1

Of course, he may have just been pretending…but one would have to have a totally seared conscience to have been heavily involved in Nazi atrocities. Instead, I am like Letitia Elizabeth Landon, who may have only lived 36 years in the early 1800s, but lived long enough to pen this in her poem Despondency:

Were it better to forget

Than but remember and regret?

It is better to forget than regret in my opinion…as someone who, when he looks back, regrets much. You?

Omniscience and Immutability

How about God? Does God regret? Also, does relent?

[Read more…]

Anthony’s Sermon on Why and How Is God…God (Part 3)

Cross out of blocks spelling God LoveCatching Up

Welcome to “Anthony’s Sermon on Why and How Is God…God (Part 3).” Before we wrap up this three part series, we need to review what we learned about God in the previous two installments. Do you recall the multi-syllable words we discussed to describe God?

  • Uncaused cause — God was not created; He has always been and will always be.
  • Incorporeal — God does not have a body and is not made of matter.
  • Omnipresent — God is everywhere at the same time.
  • Omniscient — God knows everything.
  • Omnipotent — God can do anything.
  • Immutable — God does not change.

Ready for the last three divine characteristics? Let’s dive back in with immortal! [Read more…]

Anthony’s Sermon on Why and How Is God…God (Part 2)

Flying doveLast Week

Last week’s sermon was too long for one aimed at children, so I’m going to try to behave this week and limit this one to just three characteristics of God. Before we can do that, however, we need to quickly remind everyone of what we learned about the Most High in part one of this series.

Kids, the first thing we learned last Sunday was God is omnivorous, right?

Not exactly, eh? 🙂

Actually, the first thing we learned was that God is the uncaused cause. Nothing created God, because He was never created. He has always been and always will be. The great I Am just is.

Do you remember the other two things we learned about God? That He is…

  • Incorporeal — God does not have a body and is not made of matter.
  • Omnipresent — God is everywhere at the same time.

Now on to our first divine characteristic of God…

Omniscient

What does “omniscient” mean? Heading back to my Mac’s dictionary:

knowing everything: the story is told by an omniscient narrator.

[Read more…]

Anthony’s Sermon on Why and How Is God…God (Part 1)

Cloud with glowing crossText Messages

I think I may have mentioned before that I am never quite sure if it is Augustine or Elisa who is texting me when a message comes from their family. 🙂 Maybe after church today I’ll write down each of their phone numbers and put them in my iPhones contact list so it’ll keep track of who is texting me…but recently one of them sent a message saying:

Anthony wants me to ask why and how is God…God?

Great question Anthony!

So, today I’ll be preaching “Anthony’s Sermon on Why and How Is God…God (Part 1)” Anthony, it’s a awesome question, but so as not to break the second rule of preaching to children, I cannot fit its answer into one sermon.

And kids, to you remember the three rules for preaching to children?:

  1. Use simple words.
  2. Keep it short.
  3. See #1 and #2.

I’ll break rule #1 a little bit…but promise to explain all the “not so simple” words. However, as I mentioned, this will be a three part sermon so as not to break rule #2!

Why God? [Read more…]

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…]

Church Discipline in the Internet Age

Man in stocksIn yesterday’s post, “In Defense of Braxton (I.E. What I Think About Ergun Caner),” I stated:

However, I don’t think Christendom has come to terms with applying Matthew 18 in a Internet world where, it seems, pretty much everything we do is in public.

This is what I was referring to in the Book of Matthew:

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17, English Standard Version).

Of course, that’s not the only place Scripture discusses the how and when of church discipline: [Read more…]

A House of Cards

Man pulling a card out of a house of cardsToday (and maybe yesterday) I ran into multiple links to “Pope Francis wants Catholics to doubt the Church. He’s right.” by Kyle Cupp. I would posit it is two articles in one.

The first theme is what led to the title of this post (“A House of Cards”) and has to do with infallible belief systems:

According to Catholicism, the core doctrines of the church express absolute truth and therefore cannot be altered, but paradoxically this premise doesn’t preclude changes to its teaching. In the parlance of the church, it only means that a previously proposed understanding wasn’t really unchangeable doctrine. Still, a big deal. By merely entertaining doctrinal development, the church entices believers to question its authority and the exact content of its faith.

Catholicism isn’t the only church that claims inerrancy (at least in aspects)…think of even more recent pseudo-Christian denominations like the Church of Latter Day Saints and Jehovah Witnesses. When a group that has claimed to have a corner on truth changes truth…well, it’s a house of cards. Pull one out (the first wrong “truth” as proven by changing it) and the whole thing crashes down.

Not that folks will not find mental ways to avoid that fact.

The second main point I gleaned out of Cupp’s piece is that, when it comes to God, there really is no way to completely “know” Him: [Read more…]

Is There a Baby in the Charismatic Bathwater?

Interesting talk by Phil Johnson at the Strange Fire conference:

One Man, One Vote…One Time

I remember Charles Krauthammer talking about how tyrants believe in "One man, one vote."

"One time."

Which, of course, is the time they get voted into office.

I think a similar thing happens in Christianity. Someone realizes that denomination(s) have gone outside the Bible for doctrine (or have misinterpreted it)…and (rightly) decides with like-minded people to learn what Scripture really says.

Then, of course, they document their conclusions, fully convinced that this time they’ve got it right, and anybody else who concludes something different is wrong.

I imagine God is sad every time…but not surprised. 🙁

5 Solas

5 Solas TattooNot sure what your feelings toward tattoos are, but…

  • Sola Scriptura — By Scripture Alone
  • Solus Christus — By Christ Alone
  • Sola Gratia — By Grace Alone
  • Sola Fide — By Faith Alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria — Glory to God Alone

If you click on the thumbnail, you will see a larger image…

(Credit for the tattoo goes to Alana from Main St. Tattoo and Body Piercing in Merced, California.)

Why I Am a Heretic

I am no longer going to update this post. Instead please see the Beliefs page to read the most up-to-date list of what I believe.

AKA, "What I Believe"

Guy preaching with a staff and a stone tabletI had an interesting conversation with a Twitter friend, and after he agreed to an uncomfortable implication of his belief system I commended him on being willing to admit it. I then suggested that someone else who held that same belief system would not be willing to make the same admission, to which he replied:

Yes, I believe he would. I probably wouldn’t just throw that out there in the public forum of twitter. He may not be comfortable with saying

To which I replied:

Why not? If it is true it’s to God’s sovereign glory isn’t it?

My response would seem a whole ‘lot more apropos if you understood what belief system it was in response to. 🙂

Either way, although I can understand choosing a proper forum for airing one’s beliefs, I kind of was taken aback at the idea that someone who has no problem debating for his theological worldview then wouldn’t be willing to lay all his cards on the table.

So, here are all my cards. Traditional Christians will find plenty to consider me a heretic, but I’m not going to do a bait-and-switch on you. (Most of this is from a post I did a couple years back on fahrner.us. All biblical quotes are from the English Standard Version. Oh, and I reserve the right to modify this post at any time, so if you want to beat me over the head with my own words, be sure to grab a screenshot. :-)) [Read more…]

What Was Tried

Dispensationalism

How many people here have heard of the term "dispensationalism"?

My short definition of it would be "God dealt with people differently through the ages." However, I don't have the intelligence gained from a Masters of Divinity, so I suspect that won't show up in any scholarly work, whereas this definition from There Really is a Difference!: A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology by Renald Showers is a bit more erudite:

In light of the usage of the word for dispensation in the New Testament, the term dispensation as it relates to Dispensational Theology could be defined as a particular way of God's administering His rule over the world as He progressively works out His purpose for world history.1

I don't know about you…but that isn't entirely clarifying to me. Luckily Showers continues:

In order for each dispensation to be distinct from all other dispensations, it must have three essential characteristics. First, it must have a particular way of God's [sic] administering His rule. Each dispensation is characterized by a unique ruling factor or combination of ruling factors. Second, it must involve a particular responsibility for man. Each dispensation makes man responsible to obey God in accordance with its unique ruling factor or combination of factors. Third, it must be characterized by divine revelation which had not been given before. In order for man to know God's new way of ruling and his new responsibility, he must have these things revealed to him. Each new dispensation requires new revelation from God.2

Does it make a little more sense now?

If not, perhaps an example of how history has been divided into dispensations will make it clear.

[Read more…]

The Invisible Materializing (Colossians 1:15-23)

Star Trek

Perhaps others here today also spent too much time while growing up…perhaps even now…watching the original Star Trek series. Assuming you did, when someone mentions “Scotty,” what comes to mind? Do you remember him, after Captain Kirk ordered him to push their engines past their limits, saying something like, “I don’t know how much longer I can hold her together”? Perhaps, instead, his rather rotund figure as movie sequels were released?

Something else?

One of the things that stands out most to me was Scotty’s expertise with the Enterprise’s transporter.

Now, technically it only proves that he is known for operating it, but how many here have heard the phrase…

“Beam me up Scotty”?

Or maybe even said it humorously when you are in a less-than-desirable situation? 🙂

It’s a trekkie’s version of, “Stop the world, I want to get off.”

Even beyond the (fictional) skillful operation a starship transporter by an affable Chief Engineer…there is just something cool about the idea of stuff materializing out of thin air. The invisible…the immaterial…become material.

And as we continue through Colossians in this third sermon (of eleven) in the series, “Dear Least Important Church…,” we (in part) are going to see the most incredible case of that that has ever happened…even more incredible than dissembling all of a person’s atoms in point A and reassembling them in point B. No transporter. No Scottish Engineer.

Just God.

[Read more…]

Indubitably

Power outage

I don’t know if anyone noticed, but last week’s sermon was shorter than normal. Good news for those of you who prefer briefer talks…this one will likely be too.

The kids are probably praying it becomes the norm. 🙂

Either way, assuming you all were in the area this past Thursday, what did you think of the lightning storm we had? Michelle got a great picture of the menacing clouds that she posted on the Monadnock Region – NH Facebook page…and if you check out my Facebook page, you’ll see a short video of how the winds were mercilessly whipping the trees just before the rain became heavy. Talking to our neighbors, we actually had what seemed a bit of tornado-like activity…trees behind our house were being blown one way, trees behind his the other. To give you an idea of just how wild it was, a large piece of metal that covered the front edge of our home just below the roof was ripped off and was deposited in the dog pen on the other side of the house. That either means up-and-over or…tornado-like…around.

[Read more…]

Poof!

Within some Seventh-day Adventist circles there is a joke connected with how strict Adventists are unlikely to wear jewelry (even a wedding band is avoided). The only jewelry allowed has to be functional—for example, a watch. (To be fair, although I might come to a more tempered conclusion, they have valid reasons for their aversion to bling.)

So…the story goes…these Adventists get to heaven and everyone gets a crown but them. Obviously they are a bit perplexed, but God quickly explains that they get a special one.

And then He reveals crowns with a clocks in their centers. 🙂

Now, for some reason that joke comes to mind when I think of another humorous hypothetical celestial situation. We all know that pride is one of the seven deadly sins (see Proverbs 6:16-19)…so one time I was thinking of a scenario after a saint arrives in heaven. He's really, really excited to finally see Jesus face to face…and (of course) he isn't disappointed. [Read more…]