“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: Continue reading Disbelief Versus Unbelief

“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: Continue reading “Be Nice”

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): Continue reading LGBT and the Church

“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.

When Your Death Shows God’s Favor

Men carrying casketI’m reading through the Bible again this year and a couple weeks ago I ran into an interesting section. My instinct is to consider God having a person die early is a bad sign…e.g. Ananias and Sapphira (see Acts 5). Basically, early death by God’s decree = bad.

To quickly catch you up for a clear exception to that rule we’ve got Jeroboam, who, after God made him king of Israel, deciding it would be good to make sure his subjects didn’t head to the Lord’s temple to worship: Continue reading When Your Death Shows God’s Favor

Arguments from Silence

Bible with candle and crossA couple days ago a friend of mine tweeted this:

I know there are many faithful men who have “multi-campus” video churches,I just don’t see Scripture that allows for pastor who’s not there.

My response was:

But it also doesn’t directly speak against it. I think, however, it goes against the scriptural motif.

Personally, I would argue that the Bible doesn’t specifically speak to anything that equals a modern day full-time, paid pastor…let alone one who has multiple campuses via video hook-up. I am not saying that the Word gives no guidance…for instance it does say people who preach full-time should get paid (see 1 Corinthians 9:12-14) and it’s pretty logical that a minister should meet the qualifications of an elder (see 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9). However, just because the Bible does not directly define the existing positions in Christendom does not mean they are wrong (or, for that matter, that they are right). We have to be very careful not to make “arguments from silence.” Continue reading Arguments from Silence

Polls Won’t Matter When You Stand Before God

Scientist with scientific iconsI suppose you could consider its title trolling, but I clicked through on “Science Is a Good Substitute for God.”

The article’s final line (other than a disclosure from the author that he’s been an atheist since his teens) is:

It turns out that people who rely upon the efficacy of the human intellect to solve problems have a greater chance of living satisfying lives than those who cling to the supernatural hope that an unseen sky-God will somehow save them from their troubles.

This is based on polling described in Ronald Bailey’s post…and it may be true. However, if Christians are right, God exists, and there is an eternity beyond our earthly life then…

So what? Continue reading Polls Won’t Matter When You Stand Before God

Defining Sin So You Cannot Commit It

Funny looking man thinkingThis post is a collection of musings based on how the world seems to be interacting right now, especially on social media. Hopefully it won’t seem too disjointed. 🙂

#1 — If you are a Christian, everything else is secondary to our Lord and His commands.

That statement is the most important thing you’ll read in this article. Many of the problems I implicitly point out below wouldn’t happen if we put into action what we are taught by God through Scripture.

For instance… Continue reading Defining Sin So You Cannot Commit It

An Exclamation Point Society (and Church)

Exclamation point of fireAs I was driving Augie to our monthly-ish haircut and our weekly Saturday morning breakfast together and reflecting on a Twitter friend saying a popular pastor committed blasphemy…

It hit me that, at least on social media (and it seems elsewhere), we are an “exclamation point society.”

Nobody just misspeaks, they LIE!!!

Nobody just interprets the Bible differently, they BLASPHEME!!!

Nobody just errs, they COMMIT HORRENDOUS, UNFORGIVABLE SINS!!!

Now, don’t get me wrong, people do lie…blaspheme…and commit horrendous sins (although the Bible makes it clear that pretty much anything can be forgiven). However, we seem to have lost any ability to wait until we have all the data to judge, to assume the best, and to give an iota of grace to our “opponents.”

To slow and temper our accusatory tongue.

Considering our Example…Jesus Christ…why do we rush to (emphatically) condemn? Also, when it becomes clear that our initial judgment might have been a bit overboard (or perhaps completely wrong), why can’t we just admit it versus arguing until the cows come home that the nuance doesn’t matter…or change the subject to some other wrong the bad guy has unarguably committed?

It pains my soul.

Especially since it has infected the church as much as larger society…

To wrap up, some scriptures to consider… Continue reading An Exclamation Point Society (and Church)

“Is It Okay to Be Mean to a Bad Person”

Angry manA month or so ago my little guy, Augie, asked me, “Is it okay to be mean to a bad person?”

How would you answer that? Not just “yes” or “no”…but what would be your reasoning for your response?

I cannot remember exactly what I told him (my memory is not that good), but it was no. I wouldn’t be surprised if I connected my response to the Sermon on the Mount, which, for instance, says:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:44-45, English Standard Version).

As much as we might get satisfaction out of an evil-doer suffering, it is impossible to read Jesus’ words above and think that “it is okay to be mean to a bad person.” Jesus Himself is our perfect example. Whether “What would Jesus do?” or “What did Jesus do?” — our Lord never returned kind for kind…even when He was suffering most:

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments (Luke 23:33-34).

Jesus was the epitome of “two wrongs don’t make a right.”

No, Augie, it is not okay to be mean to a bad person.

But a kid without a mean bone in his body probably already knew that. 🙂

Merry Christmas!

Happy Holidays lights

The stockings are emptied; the gifts are open. What remains is more important: time with loved ones.

Merry Christmas signPerhaps the greatest gift the Lord gave us in 2015 is a new home in a new town. From the first day we visited Strasburg, Colorado, we have seen the beauty of its land and its people. That beauty is what inspired, and continues to inspire, Strasburg Rocks!

Happy Holidays lights by the Strasburg Convenience StoreWe are slowly unearthing all that Strasburg and the surrounding area has to offer; it is like unwrapping magnificent gifts year-round. One of the more recent discoveries was the annual Christmas celebration downtown. We were remiss then in not photographing the beautiful decorations along Strasburg’s main thoroughfare, but hopefully have made it up with a video of driving through the town late Christmas Eve (or early this Christmas morning, depending on your perspective):

[youtube=https://youtu.be/9wMl4I8s6Qg&rel=0&w=512]

Wooden carolers in front of the Strasburg Post OfficeNow, we stated that the greatest gift God blessed us with in 2015 was a home (not just a house) in Strasburg…but, of course, it pales in comparison to the greatest gift ever bestowed; one that was for all who will accept it. The 50th anniversary of “A Charlie Brown Christmas” makes it apropos to remember that sacrifice from above with the same words that Linus used when Charles Shultz bucked precedent and included these verses in a Christmas special: Continue reading Merry Christmas!

The First Tree?

TreeLast Saturday, heading to breakfast at Burger King followed by a haircut, Augie (my eight year-old) and I were chatting…and…I can’t remember exactly why…but the subject of trees came up. That led to a question of the first tree, and Augie said the first one created by God was the Tree of Life.

What do you think? Was he right?

Now, the Bible doesn’t really say what the first tree was. Instead, trees were created at the same time as other plants:

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so (Genesis 1:11, English Standard Version).

Assuming this part of Genesis is chronological (which it may not be), the Tree of Life came into the picture after man was created…which was after trees already existed:

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:8-9).

However, I have to admit that Augie’s childlike view that the first tree was the Tree of Life appeals to me…and I think it makes sense. This is what was said by Paul about the God who created that tree…well, all trees:

This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3).

Our Lord wants all people to be saved. Even after our original parents (and we) sinned, He wants us to live eternally.  Personally, I think God always intended us to do so, and as such it would make sense that He’d have the Tree of Life ready from day one to help with that. It was only our rebellion in the Garden that prevented ready access to it.

Was the Tree of Life the first tree created? Probably not…but it wouldn’t surprise me given how much God has shown His heart for us from day one. Now, that’s a God I would like to live forever with!