Saturday, April 30, 2011

Around the Web: Links for Your Weekend - 4/30/11

What's Best Next - 6 Things Christ Accomplished By His Death | This is a helpful article that every Christian should understand and apply.  Each accomplishment of the atonement (climaxing in the substitutionary work of the cross) is practical and needed in ministry and life.  Apply the cross.  The 6 accomplishments are:

Expiation
Propitiation
Reconciliation
Redemption
Defeat of the Powers of Darkness
Substitution


Ross Douthat - A Case for Hell | The debate over hell will simply not go away and Rob Bell's book continues to sell and drive the conversation.  Recently New York conservative columnist, Ross Douthat, wrote an article on the subject.  Here are some of the highlights:

These debates ensure that earthly infernos get all the press. Hell means the Holocaust, the suffering in Haiti, and all the ordinary “hellmouths” (in the novelist Norman Rush’s resonant phrase) that can open up beneath our feet. And if it’s hard for the modern mind to understand why a good God would allow such misery on a temporal scale, imagining one who allows eternal suffering seems not only offensive but absurd.

Doing away with hell, then, is a natural way for pastors and theologians to make their God seem more humane. The problem is that this move also threatens to make human life less fully human . . .

In this sense, a doctrine of universal salvation turns out to be as deterministic as the more strident forms of scientific materialism. Instead of making us prisoners of our glands and genes, it makes us prisoners of God himself. We can check out any time we want, but we can never really leave. 

The doctrine of hell, by contrast, assumes that our choices are real, and, indeed, that we are the choices that we make. The miser can become his greed, the murderer can lose himself inside his violence, and their freedom to turn and be forgiven is inseparable from their freedom not to do so.

As Anthony Esolen writes, in the introduction to his translation of Dante’s “Inferno,” the idea of hell is crucial to Western humanism. It’s a way of asserting that “things have meaning” — that earthly life is more than just a series of unimportant events, and that “the use of one man’s free will, at one moment, can mean life or death ... salvation or damnation.” . . .

Is Gandhi in hell? It’s a question that should puncture religious chauvinism and unsettle fundamentalists of every stripe. But there’s a question that should be asked in turn: Is Tony Soprano really in heaven?


Trevin Wax - Urban Legends:  The Preacher's Edition | Author and blogger Trevin Wax offers a number of Urban Legends that pastors and preachers use frequently.  This is a good list and I have heard all of them growing up from preachers.  Here is his list:

1.  The 'eye of the needle' refers to a gate outside Jerusalem.
2.  The high priest tied a rope around his ankle so that others could drag him out of the Holy of Holies in case God stuck him dead.
3.  Scribes took baths, discarded their pens, washed their hands, etc. every time they wrote the name of God.
4.  There was this saying among the sages: "May you be covered in your rabbi's dust."
5.  Voltaire's house is now owned by a Bible-printing publisher. 
6.  Gehenna was a burning trash dump outside Jerusalem.
7.  NASA scientists have discovered a "missing day" which corresponds to the Joshua account of the sun standing still.


The Gospel Coalition - Watch TGC11 Plenary Sessions | The folks over at the Gospel Coalition have made the video of each session available online for free. 


Smoking Gun - Will Release of Obama's Purported Gift Certificate Give Rise to the New "Certer" Movement | It didn't take long for people to start wondering if there is a conspiracy behind Obama's birth certificate release.  Consider the following (and the author rejects all of this but is trying to get ahead of the curve):

• If the original document was in a bound volume (as reflected by the curvature of the left hand side of the certificate), how can the green patterned background of the document's safety paper be so seamless?

• Why, if Obama was born on August 4, 1961, was the “Date Accepted by Local Reg.” four days later on August 8, 1961?

• What is the significance of the smudges in the box containing the name of the reported attendant?

• David A. Sinclair, the M.D. who purportedly signed the document, died nearly eight years ago at age 81. So he is conveniently unavailable to answer questions about Obama’s reported birth.

• In the “This Birth” box there are two mysterious Xs above “Twin” and “Triplet.” Is there a sibling or two unaccounted for?

• What is the significance of the mysterious numbers, seen vertically, on the document’s right side?

• Finally, the “Signature of Local Registrar” in box 21 may be a desperate attempt at establishing the document’s Hawaiian authenticity.  Note to forgers: It is spelled “Ukulele.”


OneNewsNow - Technology Speeding Up Bible Translation | The spread of the Word of God continues:

The Translation Acceleration Kits, which are similar to a modem, include a small, portable netbook computer, a satellite communication terminal, a solar panel, battery, and power supply. Once fully implemented, they could potentially shave years off the Bible-translation process, says the Wycliffe spokesman.

"They're actually smaller than a laptop computer; they're very lightweight and portable and can be run on solar power," Smith explains. "We have a solar panel system, and in a remote location, within about three minutes you turn this on, tune it in to the satellite, and you can have an Internet connection first time every time."


He adds that the units, which cost about $3,500 apiece, are constructed to withstand extreme conditions like heat and dust
.


Breitbart - April Deadliest Month for US in Iraq Since 2009 | From the war that almost everyone has forgotten.  It is a testament to how far we have come in Iraq that this isn't news though it should be.  Between Libya, Afghanistan, and the countless national issues facing us here, no one is talking about Iraq. Anyone remember what 206 was like?  A different political climate for sure.

The killing on Friday of an American soldier made April the deadliest month for US forces in Iraq since 2009, according to figures compiled by AFP. 
  The soldier "was killed April 29 while conducting operations in southern Iraq," a US military statement released on Saturday said, without giving further details. 

The death brought to 11 the number of US troops to have died in Iraq in April, according to an AFP tally based on data compiled by independent website www.icasualties.org.

That is the highest monthly toll since November 2009, when 11 soldiers also died, starkly highlighting the risks American soldiers still face even after combat operations were officially declared over last summer.



A number of these videos have been produced and each have their good and bad about them.  The following is a video in the spirit of Rob Bell's promotional video for Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived only from a different, more orthodox, perspective.  Love without justice is not good.  Justice without goodness is not love.





HT: Randy Alcorn

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pro-Life Libertarianism?: Ron Paul Makes His Case

One of my biggest complaints about libertarianism is its views on moral issues including segregation, abortion, gay marriage, prostitution, drugs, etc.  The leading voice of libertarianism, again announcing he is running for President, Ron Paul, has recently written on the subject of abortion from a libertarian perspective.  The following quotation is taken from his book new book Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom and his argument might surprise you.  Usually, libertarianism come on the side of liberals when it comes to social issues.  Their firm belief in government staying out of our personal lives trumps everything; thus marriage ought not be a political issue as it regards the freedom of two individuals.  Likewise, what a woman does with her business is her own business and government has no right in interceding.

But consider the following argument from Ron Paul.  His argument is quit simple:  if murder is legally wrong and government has a responsibility in protecting innocent life.  Thus, abortion ought to be outlawed.  If infanticide is legally wrong and the child is a separate human being at conception, there choice isn't reason enough to eliminate life.  He's right.

Here's a sample of his argument:


Some people believe that being pro-choice is being on the side of freedom. I’ve never understood how an act of violence, killing a human being, albeit a small one in a special place, is portrayed as a precious right.

To speak only of the mother’s cost in carrying a baby to term ignores all thought of any legal rights of the unborn. I believe that the moral consequence of cavalierly accepting abortion diminishes the value of all life.

It is now widely accepted that there’s a constitutional right to abort a human fetus. Of course, the Constitution says nothing about abortion, murder, manslaughter, or any other acts of violence.

There are only four crimes listed in the Constitution: counterfeiting, piracy, treason, and slavery. Criminal and civil laws were deliberately left to the states.

It’s a giant leap for the federal courts to declare abortion a constitutional right and overrule all state laws regulating the procedure. If anything, the federal government has a responsibility to protect life—not grant permission to destroy it.

If a state were to legalize infanticide, it could be charged with not maintaining a republican form of government, which is required by the Constitution.

Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our FreedomIf we, for the sake of discussion, ignore the legal arguments for or against abortion and have no laws prohibiting it, serious social ramifications would remain. There are still profound moral issues, issues of consent, and fundamental questions about the origin of life and the rights of individuals.

There are two arguments that clash. Some argue that any abortion after conception should be illegal. Others argue that the mother has a right to her body and no one should interfere with her decision.

It’s amazing to me that many people I have spoken to in the pro-choice group rarely care about choice in other circumstances. Almost all regulations by the federal government to protect us from ourselves (laws against smoking, bans on narcotics, and mandatory seat belts, for example) are readily supported by the left/liberals who demand “choice.”

Of course, to the pro-choice group, the precious choice we debate is limited to the mother and not to the unborn.

The fact is that the fetus has legal rights—inheritance, a right not to be injured or aborted by unwise medical treatment, violence, or accidents. Ignoring these rights is arbitrary and places relative rights on a small, living human being.

The only issue that should be debated is the moral one: whether or not a fetus has any right to life. Scientifically, there’s no debate over whether the fetus is alive and human—if not killed, it matures into an adult human being.

It is that simple. So the time line of when we consider a fetus “human” is arbitrary after conception, in my mind.

It’s interesting to hear the strongest supporters of abortion squirm when asked if they support the mother’s right to an abortion in the ninth month of pregnancy. They inevitably don’t support such an act, but every argument that is made for abortion in the first month is applicable to late pregnancy as well.

He then goes on to make another important argument; one that has been made here repeatedly.

Another aspect of this debate needs to be resolved: If an abortion doctor performs a third-trimester abortion for whatever reason, a handsome fee is paid and it’s perfectly legal in some states.

If a frightened teenager, possibly not even knowing she was pregnant, delivers a baby and she kills it, the police are out en masse to charge her with a homicide. What really is so different between the fetus one minute before birth and a newborn one minute after birth? Biologically and morally, nothing.

We must also answer the grim question of what should be done with a newborn that inadvertently survives an abortion. It happens more than you might think. Doctors have been accused of murder since the baby died after delivery, but that hardly seems just.


The real question is, how can a human infant have such relative value attached to it?


Read the rest of the argument here. Though I don't agree with everything Paul makes in this section of his book, one must admit that it is refreshing to see a strong libertarian with the conviction that government does play in moral issues.  Certainly those who like libertarian economics (and maybe even libertarian foreign policy - a type of isolationism) but have concerns for their social issue convictions will find Paul a little more attractive.  It will be interesting to see where this goes.


CNN - Rep. Ron Paul announces his presidential exploratory committee; writes about abortion


For more:
Blogizomai - Morality and the Role of Government:  Libertarianism vs. Conservatism -  What Rand Paul Has Taught Us 
Blogizomai - Morality and the Role of Government:  The Danger of Libertarianism 
Blogizomai - To Legislate or Not:  Condelezza Rice, Libertarianism, and Morality 
Blogizomai -  Legislating Morality:  We All Do It, But Only a Few Get Blamed For It  
Shortblog - The Short-End of Libertarianism
Blogizomai - Alcohol Today, Marijuana Tomorrow:  When Money Changes Our Values 
Blogizomai - Fox News and 9/11 Truthers

Repost Friday | Morality and the Role of Government: Libertarianism vs. Conservatism - What Rand Paul Has Taught Us

One day a libertarian and a conservative were having a conversation.  The conservative said, "I am distressed by the idea of fornication in public parks."  The libertarian responded, "I am distressed by the idea of public parks."*  This is the primary difference between conservatives and libertarians.  The battle cry for libertarians is freedom and liberty (hence the name) and thus sees a free society to be a right society.  In other words, libertarianism is primarily a political theory of government that believes that when a society is free (and yet not quit anarchical), society will be better off.

Conservatism argues otherwise.  Conservatives believe that maximum freedom is economically best it can however be morally is dangerous.  A conservative and a libertarian together fight against a growing government, tax hikes, and increase regulations in a society, but they primarily differ regards the limits of government.  In other words, libertarianism is primarily economic (and only vaguely political primarily in sense that the government protects individual liberty) whereas conservatism is primarily moral seeing a limitted government as best, but not perfect.

The real difference, as is the case with most political, moral, theological and economic theories, regards one's view of man.  Libertarianism assumes each individual is virtuous.  Virtuous individuals populate and create virtuous societies.  To believe that man is good does not mean that they never do wrong, but a collection of virtuous people will likely lead to a virtuous society.

This is why libertarians are against the drug wars and want to legalize all illegal substances.  They argue that by making it illegal only creates a black market which encourages crime.  This is the problem that Prohibition created in the 1920's.  By making alcohol illegal, gangsters like Al Capone became rich and powerful and opened the door to more illegal actions beyond the making and selling of alcohol like murder and robbery.

Conservatives, on the other hand, argue that man is flawed and corrupt.  Thus, to leave man free to do whatever he wants will only lead to depravity for sale.  Likewise, a big, powerful government will only increase corruption in soceity for itself will be corrupt.  So though conservatives favor small government, they do not favor a government as small as libertarians because conservatives give government some (but limited) responsibility to prevent rampid evil and depravity in society.

Take pornography and sexual vice for example.  If society were as free as libertarians would want, the porn industry would be larger than it is now.  It is no secret that sex sells and people are willing to spend billions of dollars a year on it.  The reason mankind is obsessed with sex is because he is flawed.  Libertarian economics seeks to legalize prostitution believing that it will make prostitution less profitable and people will move on to something more virtuous (not to mention the crime that oftentimes surrounds illegal prostitution), whereas conservatism understands that to legalize prostitution will endanger young women and embolden perverted men.

This is the problem that recent Republican nominee-elect Rand Paul ran into while appearing on MSNBC (anything but a conservative or libertarian news station) following his electoral victory in Kentucky.  Dr. Paul is the son of libertarian Republican Ron Paul who ran for President in 2008 raising libertarianism out of its cultural slumber.  Like his father, Dr. Paul seeks to shrink government and limit the regulations the government currently holds over its citizens.

While on the Rachel Maddow show, Dr. Paul was asked a question regarding the Civil Rights Act.  On the surface it appears that he is not in favor of the landmark law that ended segregation throughout the United States.  Maddow asked Paul is he thought "that a private business has the right to say, 'We don't serve black people?'"  Paul responded:

Yeah…I’m not in favor of any discrimination of any form. I would never belong to any club that excluded anybody for race. We still do have private clubs in America that can discriminate based on race. But I think what’s important about this debate is not getting into any specific ‘gotcha’ on this, but asking the question: What about freedom of speech? Should we limit speech from people we find abhorrent? Should we limit racists from speaking? I don’t want to be associated with those people, but I also don’t want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that’s one of the things freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized.

On the surface it sounds as if Paul is in favor of private businesses that segregate based on any form of discrimination whether it be race, gender, religion, nationality, wealth, etc.  But in fairness, here is the libertarian view: Government has no right to tell a free person who they can and cannot serve.  If the entrepreneur wants to predetermine and limit his customers, then he should have the right to do so realizing that by doing so, he is limiting his ability to maximize his wealth opportunities.  By not allowing an entire race to eat at his restaurant, for example, he is preventing his business from profiting from an entire population of society.  As a result, the owner will eventually open his business to everybody without any segregation.

One should admit that on the surface this is a logical belief, but the reality simply isn't true.  Our history shows that many business owners were willing to take the economic hit of not serving particular groups knowing that they would continue to profit from those who (im)morally agreed with the owner.  So in the case of racial segregation, owners who barred blacks from their place of business were financially rewarded by the continued business of the white customers who wanted and enjoyed that policy.  The entrepreneur's learned that their happy, racist customers balanced out the missing business from the black community.

This is where conservatism comes in.  Conservatism understand government to play the role of protector in society.  It must protect its citizens from outside forces (thus they have a military, diplomats, etc.) and from inside threats (thus they have police, judges, and law).  One of those threats is moral wrongs like racism and segregation.  Therefore, conservatives see the Civil Rights Act as a moral law that is just and right.  It is an example of when government should have intruded on the freedom of racist business owners.

Take Paul's argument here and apply it to something else.  He has repeatedly said that he is against racism and segregation and believes it to be immoral.  But his libertarianism prevents him from using the law to condemn and prevent segregation in society.  So his argument runs thus:  "Though I am personally against racism, I, nor the government, has the right to intrude on the individual rights of another person."

To apply such an ethic to racism is dangerous, but many are using that same faulty logic today especially in regards to other social issues like abortion and homosexuality.  How many people have said, "Though I oppose abortion and would never have one, I cannot tell other women not to have one.  That is their right and choice."  Oftentimes this argument is clouded in the, "if you make abortions illegal, women are going to have them in unsterilized alley's which will lead to the deaths of many women."**

As a Christian (and as one with conservative and at times libertarian leanings) I am appalled by this argument.  Because I believe that humans are flawed, I have a firm belief that where the gospel is ignored, government should have some (limited) role in preventing ramped immorality. Conservatives (and even liberals) rightly understand that the law is a moral document that defines our morality.  Every law is legislated morality.  Legalizing everything will not make immorality go away.  The continued slaughter of unborn infants proves the point.  Instead of the numbers dropping to the point of oblivion, abortion has become a source of birth control for sexually promiscuous couples and in the process more forms of infant murder are being debated like embryonic stem cell research, eugenics, and infanticide, not to mention euthanasia and other forms of state-sponsored murder.

Christians must be aware of these arguments.  Though Christians (especially Baptists) have held to a belief of limited government in recent centuries, we must understand that the Bible views government as one who protects its citizens and ensures a just and moral society.  There is the danger of bigger government (like what liberals and socialists promote) which only leads to an immoral society and also of a very small, limited government (like what libertarians want).  Small government seems best, but it should not be so small as to not protect the unborn and the discriminated against.***

I do not believe that most libertarians (and even liberals) are anti-moral.  However, I do believe that their political theory is flawed in its understand of the human nature and in the role of government.  Government, when given too much power, can become oppressive and history is littered with many examples of that.  But when given virtually no power, government and the broader society can turn a blind eye to injustice, bigotry, racism, sexism, hatred, and evil and American history has unfortunately illustrated.

So was banning (and therefore intruding on the individual liberties of many Americans) segregation just?  Yes.  Should government have stepped in.  Yes, for many were denied their rights.  Likewise, until the gospel takes hold of our society, government ought to step in and prevent the murder of untold millions of our fellow Americans and prevent the sexualization of women in our society (among other moral issues).  Freedom is a wonderful thing and is God-given and yet we can easily turn freedom into a license to sin in abundance.

So though I applaud Dr. Paul's concern for governments growth for it has become too bloated and unsustainable as it continues to increase our debt and intrude on our personal liberties.  At the same time, however, I am equally concerned with how far libertarians like the Paul's want to shrink our government to a point where immorality means taxable income.****


*Taken from Dinesh D'Souza, Letters to a Young Conservative, 12-13.
 **  Former first lady Laura Bush (whose husband was very pro-life) made this same argument recently on Larry King Live!
***  I know that at this point many will point to my belief that homosexuals should not be allowed to get married.  Before you scream at my hypocrisy, note that my firm belief against same-sex marriage is a moral argument.
****  Before closing, a quick word should be mentioned how a left-leaning media likes to pick at libertarians like Paul.  If you watch the interviews Paul did following the Maddow interview, many of the journalists begin to ask him questions that they would never ask a conservative like, "do you want to repeal minimum wages?" "do you want to get rid of the federal reserve?' etc.  However, the point remains, libertarianism has its many dangers even if they are at times mistreated and poked at by the media (much in the same way as conservatives are).






Denny Burk - Why I Can't Stand Libertarianism
Alex Chediak - Rand Paul Blows It On The Rachel Maddow Show 
ABC News - Rand Paul Says He's Being 'Trashed Up and Down' by 'Democratic Talking Points' 


For more:
Blogizomai - Morality and the Role of Government:  Libertarianism vs. Conservatism -  What Rand Paul Has Taught Us 
Blogizomai - Morality and the Role of Government:  The Danger of Libertarianism 
Blogizomai - To Legislate or Not:  Condelezza Rice, Libertarianism, and Morality 
Blogizomai -  Legislating Morality:  We All Do It, But Only a Few Get Blamed For It  
Shortblog - The Short-End of Libertarianism
Blogizomai - Alcohol Today, Marijuana Tomorrow:  When Money Changes Our Values 
Blogizomai - Fox News and 9/11 Truthers



Thursday, April 28, 2011

Love Debated: Bell & Warnock Debate 'Love Wins'

Below are the videos released by Premeir Christian radio of the recent debate between Rob Bell and Adrian Warnock regarding Bell's new book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.  Its a lively debate and clearly Bell is all alone.  This will probably be the only chance we have to hearing Bell defend his book directly being challenged by an Evangelical.  In most interviews, Bell escapes with caricatures, slogans, and softballs thrown to him by the media.  He wasn't so lucky here.















For the full audio interview, click here (HT:  Denny Burk)

I have listened to the majority of the interview and Warnock holds his own.  Bell at times appears clueless and doesn't have an answer.  It is amazing how he has written a book on the subject of heaven and hell and when asked if he believes in hell after death he doesn't have much of an answer beyond ambiguous contradictions.  I encourage you to give the interview a watch/listen.


For more:
Theology - MSNBC Takes on Bell . . . Or At Least Tries Too
Blogizomai - Freud's Wish Fulfillment: Why Atheism Can't Explain Atheism
Theology - Driscoll:  Hell is the Wrath of God in Effect  
Theology - McLaren and McKnight:  Conversations on Being a Heretic 
Theology - Piper on Hellless Preaching

Theology Thursday | The Immutability of God: Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Challenges

Previously we laid out the Scriptural foundation for the doctrine of God's immutability.  Admittedly, there are some texts that seem problematic and in this post I want to address some of them.  Like before, each passage and the context will be given in order to drive home a proper interpretation and how it affects the important doctrine of God's Immutability.

The major challenge to the Immutability of God centers on passages that suggest that God "repented" or at least changed His mind.  The argument goes that if God changed His mind, then He cannot be immutable.  To be immutable means to be unchanging and if it can be demonstrated that God has in the past clearly changed His mind, then the entire argument over God's immutability falls apart.

Genesis 6:6The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.  And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.  So the LORD said, ‘I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.’  But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.

This passage is quit troublesome.  The context introduces us to the story of the worldwide flood and how God preserved mankind through Noah and his family.  Genesis 6:1-5 describes how the "sons of God" mixed with the "daughters of men."  Regardless of how one interprets the meaning of those phrases does not affect its point:  mankind has become completely and totally depraved in all that they do, say, think, and believe.  God has only one choice:  judgment.

But the text doesn't just leave it at that.  It not only says that God will judge due to the debt of sin, but is sorry that He had even made man.  So much so that He was grieved in His heart.  The language suggests that God changed His mind regarding His plan and purpose in creating man and wished He could go back in time and not create man in the first place.

Certainly this is a troubled text.

1 Samuel 15:35And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul.  And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.

This passage presents the same problem as the one before.  The context regards God's rejection of Saul as King (and thus anointing David as the next king).  God clearly here regrets making Saul king over His people, and like before, suggests that if He could do it all over again, He would anoint someone else.  Again, we are confronted with a text that makes God apologetic for His actions and limited in His abilities.  If God could change His mind regarding the past He would.  And since He can't (apparently), He has decided to take away His anointment of Saul as king and give it to another - David.

Jonah 3:10When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

The third and final verse comes from the book of Jonah.  Upon seeing Nineveh's repentance, God refused to destroy the city (as He had previously promised He would) and instead spared them pouring out His redemptive grace.  Jonah responds in anger.  Like a child, Jonah complains that He shouldn't show such love and mercy to a heathen people like them.  But regardless of the prophets complaint, God relents of His judgment and instead of pouring out His wrath, He pours out His grace.

Put together, these three passages make a very good argument contrary to the one we have been arguing.  Since it appears from the text that God has changed His mind should we conclude that God is not immutable?  No.

We should, in response, point out two things these texts share.  First, each passage uses anthropormorphic language.  This is most clear in Genesis 6:6,

Response – the change is not in God’s nature but in man’s actions.  If God did not judge sin, then He wouldn’t be immutable for His unchanging holiness demands He judge sin.  At the same time, if he did not grant mercy for the repentant, than He wouldn’t be immutable.  The text clearly says that YHWH was sorry that he had made man on earth, and it grieved him to his heart.  Before we can analyze God's apparent mutability, perhaps we should ask ourselves if God has a heart.  Does God literally have a heart?  To say that God has a heart is to use human descriptions as a means to describe God.  God is Spirit (John 4:24) and thus such descriptions are not to be taken literally, but figurativly.  The author is trying to convey to His readers, using common human language, to convey something about God.

The say is happening with the language of repentance and grief.  God is not literally wishing He could change the past.  He is God, He can do whatever He wants.  To say that God is mutable in these passages is to say that God disappoint Himself and cannot change His previous decrees and decisions.  And to say that God wished He had never made man literally is to make one wonder why He saved Noah and his family.  Wasn't Noah part of the evil and wicked mankind?  And what does this say about the cross.  If God wished He had never created humans, then why the cross?  Did men become less wicked?  Jesus would disagree.  Jesus says in Luke 11:11-13:

Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he?  Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he?  If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (emphasis mine)

Clearly Jesus understand us to be evil much in the same way people during the age of Noah were wicked and yet, like Noah, Jesus saved the human race.  If God changed His mind during the days of Noah, are we to concluded that He changed His mind back the other way in the days of Christ?

Secondly, in each of these passages, God is not the one who changes - the situation changes.  In other words, the change is not in Gods nature but in man's actions (and reactions).  If God did not judge sin, then He wouldn't be immutable for His unchanging holiness demands He judge sin (Genesis).  At the same time, if He did not grant mercy for the repentant, than He wouldn't be immutable (Jonah).

So instead of these passages arguing against immutability, they actually arguing in favor of it.  If God still destroyed Nineveh in spite of their repentance then we would have evidence that God is not immutable because Scripture is clear that God grants mercy to those who are truly repentant.  Or if God did not judge the sins of Saul or of the people in the days of Noah, then we would have evidence that God is not immutable because Scripture is clear that God is holy and cannot ignore sin.  Instead, what we have is God responding to repentance the same way He always does and responding to sin the same way He always does.*

James P. Boyce sums up these two points in his systematic theology text:

In reply to this objection, it may be stated that these are merely anthropopathic expressions, intended simply to impress upon men his greater anger at sin, and his warm approval of the repentance of those who had sinned against him.  The change of conduct, in men, not in God, had changed the relation b/t them and God.  Sin had made them liable to his just displeasure.  Repentance had brought them within the possibilities of his mercy.  Had he not treated them differently then there would have been change in him.  His very unchangeableness makes it necessary that he should treat differently those who are innocent and those who are guilty, those who harden themselves against him and those who turn toward him for mercy, with repentant hearts.  -Boyce, Abstract of Systematic Theology, 76

So at the end of the day, these "problem" text only reinforce our argument:  God is immutable.  He does not change.  And as we will see in future posts, this gives us great hope.


*It should also be pointed out that in Genesis 6:3 God declares that He would offer man 120 more years to repent before destroying the Earth.  The people didn't repent, and so He flooded the Earth in judgment.




Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction (Part 1)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundation (Part 2)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Challenges (Part 3)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theological Challenges (Part 4)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Practical Implications (Part 5) 
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Theological Applications (Part 6) 


For more:
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Introduction (Part 1)
Theology - The Immutability of God:  Its Truth and Relevancy - Scriptural Foundation (Part 2)
Sermon Podcast - April 26, 2010 - The Immutability of God 
Sermon Podcast - November 29, 2009 - The Transcendence of the Gospel
Commentary - Accomodationism Breed Irrelevancy:  Why Liberalism Fails and the Transcendent Gospel Triumphs
Theology - A Fad Within a Movement:   What is the Emerging Church and Where is it Going
Theology - SBTS and McLaren:  A Response to SBTS Panel Discussion
Reviews - "Manifold Witness" by John Franke

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jesus Was a Socialist Who Supports Progressive Income Taxes: MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell Tries to Makes His Case

I'm not even willing to respond to the crazy rant Lawrence O’Donnell went on his show about what Jesus would do regarding taxes.  As title suggests, O'Donnell is convinced - very convinced - that Jesus would have lobbied for socialist-like tax structure on everybody.  His support?  Mark 12:43-44:

Calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on.

Again, responding to his exegesis (or rather eisegesis) isn't worth the time and would only insult our intelligence.

To make matters worse, O'Donnell seemingly warns conservatives like Rush Limbaugh who supports lower taxes of eternal damnation.  In other words, heaven is for those who pay their "fair share."  I am somewhere between "is this a joke?" and "this guy has his own show?"

O'Donnell does make me reconsider one thing:  maybe the disciples were unionized?  I sure hope so.  Their eternity security may have hung in the balance.





HT: The Blaze


Didn't I just write an article about why pundits should stick to punditry?   Add this one to the list of what foolish things are said when pundits enter the realm of theology, especially when they mix theology with politics.


For more:
Blogizomai - Jesus Was Not Political:  The Danger of Equating Jesus With Our Political and Economic Policies  
Blogizomai - Have We Forgotten the Gospel?  Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ    
Blogizomai - The Gospel and Pulpit Freedom Sunday:  How Christians Have Missed the Point 
Blogizomai - Why I (Hesitantly) Signed the Manhattan Declaration   
Blogizomai - To Build or Not to Build, That is Not the Question:  Where is the Gospel in the Ground Zero Debate? 
Blogizomai - To Build or Not to Build, That is Not the Question:  Where is the Gospel in the Koran Burning Debate?
Blogizomai - What Would Jesus Do About Illegal Immigration?:  Confusing Jesus' Message With American Policy   
Blogizomai - Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition:  The Gospel and the Shameful "Guns in Churches" Message

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Why Punidts Should Stick to Punditry: Universalism, Inclusivism, and Freud's Wish Fulfillment

This is that happens when those who spend most of their time discussing politics decide to take on theology.  Several days ago MSNBC host Chris Matthews tried to discuss Rob Bell's new controversial book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived and the result was rather pathetic.  Matthew's clearly had not read the book and may not have even read the TIME magazine article on the book.  On his panel were a number of progressive Catholics and Jews who were anything but theologians.  Matthews' questions only added to the collosal ignorance to the issues.

The other political spectrum, Fox News and its number one host Bill O'Reilly also took on the issue and the result wasn't much better.  O'Reilly, like Matthews, spends most of his time discussing politics and cultural issues and, like Matthews, when he entered the world of theology and the doctrine of hell revealed his own ignorance.

O'Reilly's guest, in the video below, began by presenting what many Evangelicals believe:  those who reject Christ stand condemned by God and will spend eternity in torment and constant rebellion.  I know nothing of O'Reilly's guest and he seems far from orthodoxy who may be more of a universalist than Rob Bell.  But following this introduction explaining exclusivism O'Reilly suggests that such a view is "extreme."

Extreme?  Orthodox Christian doctrine extreme?

O'Reilly does not, however, reject the doctrine of hell.  In fact he makes clear in the video that Hell is for the Hitlers of the world.  But when presented with the doctrine that those who reject Christ, whether they are "good" persons or not, will be judged O'Reilly rejects it as "extreme" and "insane."  He seems to endorse inclusivism that says that good people, including persons like Gandhi (yes him again) and Holocaust victims, will be with God in heaven after death.

O'Reilly, who is apparently Catholic and quotes from the Catholic Church, argues that belief in Hell is a biblical belief and yet ignores the simple fact that Scripture is clear that rejection of the gospel demands judgment.  This is why pundits like O'Reilly should stay away from theology.  He is as selective with Scripture as the universalist he interviews.  Neither have any credibility on this issue.

But one good thing was pointed out in the interview.  The guest acknowledges that he wishes that conservative Evangelicals held more to a view like his (that there is no literal hell), but would be content with O'Reilly's message that only the worse sinners and criminals will be judged.  O'Reilly then asked the man point blank if his guest believed in hell.  The answer:  not in a literal one.  But what about heaven, is there one?  The answer:  a clear yes.  Interesting how eager we are to dismiss what is uncomfortable and yet embrace what is pleasant.  The universalist argument isn't based on logic, justice, love, or Scripture, but on convenience and personal desire.  If Hell is not literal, then why not heaven?  The answer isn't about Scripture, but in human depravity.

This gets us back to an important philosophical point about hell.  As I have noted before and argued in my book Logizomai: A Reasonable Faith in an Unreasonable World, hell is more logical than heaven.  Sigmund Freud argued that religion is nothing more than wish fulfillment and the belief in heaven was his primary proof.  We all want a perfect world after this one and it brings great (superficial Freud would say) comfort to those dying.  Thus, we wish there were a heaven free from crime, depravity, poverty, disease, natural disasters, pain, and betrayal.

Freud would be right if it wasn't for that pesky biblical doctrine of hell.  Heaven alone makes sense, but if Christianity and religion in general is nothing more than wish fulfillment, then what do you do with hell?  Certainly there are those, like Adolf Hitler, we want judged, but eternal torment whereby God is caricatured as a kid with a magnifying glass torturing an ant?  How is that a wish fulfillment?

So instead of orthodox Christianity being a wish fulfillment, atheism is.  Deny God and you are free to eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow you die.  No judgment.  No hell.  No accountability.  Live how you want.  Atheism is oftentimes a moral decision than a theological or philosophical one.  But universalism doesn't escape the same accusation.  If hell doesn't exist but heaven does, then why not eat, drink, and be merry too? God is so loving he would never judge free human beings, they say.  And to argue that we create our own hell's is j a cop out.  Universalism is more of a wish fulfillment than anything.  We all wish for heaven, but none of us wish for hell.  After all, if there is a hell, there is the fear that we may be subject to go there.  Who wants that?

But inclusivism doesn't escape the accusation either.  O'Reilly has a skewed understanding of human nature and sin.  He seems to think heaven is for the good, not just the Christian.  How convenient.  Such a belief avoids the harsh reality of what Scripture actually says about hell, sin, human nature, and God.  Its easy to say that Hitler will get his just deserts (as CS Lewis would say), but to say that a good non-Christian might go to hell is just to hard to stomach.  Inclusivism, too, is more of a wish fulfillment than orthodoxy.  We all wish for heaven, but none of wish for hell for so-called good people.  After all, if there is a hell that may include "good" people, there isthe fear that we may be subject to go there.  Who wants that?

This ought to make complete sense coming from political pundits.  It is the art of politics to not offend and the notion that people we might love might suffer for eternity is political suicide. This is why pundits should stay out of theology and stick to political punditry.  Letting politics drive our theology or fear of offending someone makes for bad theology.

That really leaves us with the orthodox doctrine.  Hell makes sense of the paradox of God's Love and His Justice.  If exclusivism doesn't come from human wish fulfillment, then perhaps it comes from somewhere else.  The Word of Truth:  Scripture itself.  And if that is true, then let us not be functional universalists who stand by while the rest of the world hears nothing of the pure gospel.  Let us instead proclaim with boldness and fulfill the Great Commission.

But at the end of the day, perhaps we can at least say, pundits stay away from theology!








For more:
Blogizomai - Freud's Wish Fulfillment: Why Atheism Can't Explain Atheism
Theology - MSNBC Takes on Bell . . . Or At Least Tries Too 
Theology - Driscoll:  Hell is the Wrath of God in Effect  
Theology - McLaren and McKnight:  Conversations on Being a Heretic 
Theology - Piper on Hellless Preaching 

Repost - April 24, 2011 | Romasn 6:1-14 - Three Wooden Powerlines: Why the Cross & Resurrection Transacts and Transforms (Easter 2011)

I really enjoyed our time together this past Resurrection Sunday.  The breakfast was great (thanks men!), the sunrise service went well in spite the raining/stormy weather, and the rising creek didn't keep us from gather together for Sunday School and morning worship.  I pray that God was glorified and we were reminded of why we worship on the day of the week in which Jesus was raised.  Let us live the cross and resurrection, not just believe in it.  Let the cross and the resurrection transform us.  If we let the cross and the resurrection truly transform us, God will do great things through us.





Audio 
Notes


For more:
April 4, 2010 - Mark 15:1-15: I Am Barabbas and So Are You (Easter 2010) 
Easter 2009 Message - John 20:19-31 - From Doubting Thomas to Eternal Life - audio
Easter 2009 Message - John 20:19-31 - From Doubting Thomas to Eternal Life - notes
April 5, 2009 | Mark 15:21 - Simon of Cyrene & the Meaning of Christianity
God's Wonderful Surprise: The Glorious Resurrection
 "In Christ Alone" by Keith & Kristyn Getty
The Miracle of the New Creation: CS Lewis on the Resurrection 
Blogizomai - Theology, Atonement, & Technology:  Some Easter Videos 

 Reviews - "Raised With Christ" by Adrian Warnock   
Theology - Did the Resurrection Happen?: A Debate Between Craig and Erhman 
Theology - Rob Bell and the Resurrection 
Theology - Calvin and the Redemptive Necessity of the Resurrection 
Theology - Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 4
Theology - The End:  John 20:31 or John 21:25  
Theology - A Consensus That We Can Believe: The Lost Tomb of Jesus Is A Hoax, Scholars Say 
Blogizomai - Even Environmentalists Need an Easter:  What Christians Can Learn on Earth Day 
Blogizomai - What Did the Cross Accomplish?:  Eternal Hope or Internal Reformation 
Blogizomai - D'Souza:  Did the Resurrection Happen? 
Blogizomai - The Illegitimate Birth of Christ:  Another Wild Claim Falling on Deaf Ears 
Reviews - "The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster   
Reviews - "The Case for Easter"

Monday, April 25, 2011

Theology, the Atonement, and Technology: Some Easter Videos

Over the past few weeks I have received countless articles, blogs, and videos regarding Resurrection Sunday, Good Friday, etc. celebrating the substitutionary work of our Savior on the cross and the triumphant victory of the resurrection.  I want to post just a few of some of my favorites that I have seen and consider worth watching.

I want to begin with a portion of a sermon that Paul Washer preached on propitiation.  Washer is a straight forward guy and preaches the truth of the gospel without any apology as he does here.  It is refreshing to hear such preaching that is absent in most pulpits today.  It is critical for Christians to understand this critical doctrine, but it will only happen when pastors and teachers embrace it and begin to regularly articulate it.

But one word of caution.  We cannot have propitiation without expiation.  Both are necessary.  Christianity is a religion of balance.  Jesus is both God and Man.  The Bible is both written by God and written by Man.  Etc.  So too, Christ's atoning work is both propitiatory and expiatory.

Washer's words here are appropriate for the recent debate over Rob Bell's book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.  Liberals hate talk of justice but do so at the cost of love.  A God who is not just is not love.





HT:  Lane's Blog  


Also, the following video of Ravi Zacharias is really powerful. I particularly like the beginning question: how do you scare a man whose already faced death and has met He who has conquered death and been raised from the dead?  Zacharias needs no introduction to most of us.  He is very articulate and well worth listening too on a regular basis.





HT:  Adrian Warnock


The following video is another attempt to use ryhme and technology to articule the gospel.  What I like about it is how the entire gospel story is given, not just our favorite nuggets.  The cross and the resurrection is the climax of the story.  We must be able to articulate the entire story.






Also consider the question of where Jesus was between His death and resurrection.  Did He go to hell as the Apostles Creed suggests or did He go to paradise as He promised the repentant thief?  I have gone back and forth on this subject and am leaning towards the conclusion that He was definitely in paradise.  Below is Mark Driscoll's argument.  He makes some great points.






HT: Kyle McDanell  


For more:
Reviews - "Raised With Christ" by Adrian Warnock   
Theology - Did the Resurrection Happen?: A Debate Between Craig and Erhman 
Theology - Rob Bell and the Resurrection 
Theology - Calvin and the Redemptive Necessity of the Resurrection 
Theology - Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 4
Theology - The End:  John 20:31 or John 21:25  
Theology - A Consensus That We Can Believe: The Lost Tomb of Jesus Is A Hoax, Scholars Say 
Blogizomai - Even Environmentalists Need an Easter:  What Christians Can Learn on Earth Day 
Blogizomai - What Did the Cross Accomplish?:  Eternal Hope or Internal Reformation 
Blogizomai - D'Souza:  Did the Resurrection Happen? 
Blogizomai - The Illegitimate Birth of Christ:  Another Wild Claim Falling on Deaf Ears 
Reviews - "The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster   
Reviews - "The Case for Easter"

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Meaning & Implications of the Resurrection

One of my favorite books is Raised with Christ: How the Resurrection Changes Everything by Adrian Warnock.  The main reason I like it is because there are few books like it.  There is plenty, and rightfully so, on the cross and the atonement.  But the resurrection is as central to Christianity as the cross.  After all, did Paul say that unless Christ is raised from the dead, our faith is in vain?  We are still in our sin?  And if so, then why don't more Christians talk about the resurrection?  Isn't Easter on the day Christ was raised from the dead?  Don't we worship every Sunday because that is the day Christ was raised?

Recently on his website, Warnock posted this video back from when he was still promoting the book following its release.  It is a good interview and summarizes the argument and purpose of the book.  What I want us to gain from it is the meaning and implications of the resurrection.  Below, Warnock and Justin Taylor lay out why the resurrection is necessary, how it affirms our salvation, and how it is practical for our everyday lives.



Justin Taylor Interview: Adrian Warnock, "Raised With Christ" from Crossway on Vimeo.


HT: Adrian Warnock


For more:
Reviews - "Raised With Christ" by Adrian Warnock   
Theology - Did the Resurrection Happen?: A Debate Between Craig and Erhman 
Theology - Rob Bell and the Resurrection 
Theology - Calvin and the Redemptive Necessity of the Resurrection 
Theology - Where Theology and Life Intersect: A Theological Case for Christus Exemplar and Why It is Necessary - Part 4
Theology - The End:  John 20:31 or John 21:25  
Theology - A Consensus That We Can Believe: The Lost Tomb of Jesus Is A Hoax, Scholars Say 
Blogizomai - Even Environmentalists Need an Easter:  What Christians Can Learn on Earth Day 
Blogizomai - What Did the Cross Accomplish?:  Eternal Hope or Internal Reformation 
Blogizomai - D'Souza:  Did the Resurrection Happen? 
Blogizomai - The Illegitimate Birth of Christ:  Another Wild Claim Falling on Deaf Ears 
Reviews - "The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster   
Reviews - "The Case for Easter"  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Repost | This is Who We Are: What a Baptist Is and Believes - The Lord's Day

Sunday is not the Sabbath.  But before you think I’m a heretic, let me explain.  Saturday is the Sabbath – the last day of the week. Just check your calendars.  The Jewish day of rest in Scripture is Saturday. After a week of work, the Jews, as commanded in the Old Testament, rested on Saturday, the Sabbath. So what is Sunday all about?  Why do we, as bible-believing Christians, worship & rest on Sundays if the Sabbath is on Saturday? Are we breaking one of the Commandments?

No.

For one, we must be careful in turning the Sabbath into a legalistic rule that offers salvation or threatens us with separation from God post-salvation.  The 10 Commandments primarily identify idols & aren’t just rules.  In this case, the primary idol identified here is work, greed, accomplishment, & unhealthy drives.

Secondly, we must ask why the change has taken place?  Why did the “Sabbath” go from Saturday in the Old Testament & Sunday in the New Testament?  The answer is simple: the resurrection.  Since the founding of the Church, Christians have always set Sunday aside as a day of worship.  When the first Church was made up primarily of Jews they still rested on Saturday as the Jewish law required, but made Sunday a day of worship whereby they would remember & commemorate the day of Resurrection.

This is an important point.  The resurrection was & is so central to the Christian gospel & the Christian Church that it has altered our calendars.  The substitutionary death & the triumphant resurrection of our Lord is central to Christianity & without these events there would be no Christianity, no salvation, & our faith would be in vain.  Jesus is not dead, but alive!  And that is worth worshiping.

This fundamental fact forces us to make a slight shift in our understanding of the day of rest.  I do believe we ought to rest on Sundays (especially since our schedules are so full that Sunday may be the only day to take a nap!), but in a post-resurrection world, Sunday should be a day of resurrection.  Sunday is the day we commemorate & remember the historical fact that Christ died in our place for our sins & was raised for our justification three days later.  Thus we worship, not as a ritual, but with joy.  Sunday is more than a day to sleep, it is a day to celebrate.  Easter – Resurrection Sunday – ought not to just be a holiday, but an everyday reality whereby live as raised souls.  Like Christ, we are not dead.  Christ has raised us & will raise us.

In this light, the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 says regarding the Lord’s Day:

The first day of the week is the Lord’s Day. It is a Christian institution for regular observance. It commemorates the resurrection of Christ from the dead & should include exercises of worship & spiritual devotion, both public & private. Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.*

The point made in the confession is the same as made above.  Notice that the Lord’s Day is an institution not a law that points us to Christ.  It ought to be regularly observed not in the hopes of salvation, but because of our salvation. 

It’s the last sentence that could cause trouble for some: Activities on the Lord’s Day should be commensurate with the Christian’s conscience under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.  In other words, each person’s conscience ought to dictate what is & isn’t work on the “Sabbath.” The point here is to avoid being Pharisees-like with endless religious rules regarding the Sabbath. What the BF&M 2000 does is guard against such legalism.  The Lord’s Day ought not to be a burden, but a joy.

So what ought we do in terms of rest on Sunday?  Again we must be careful not to turn a day into a law.  Sunday is a day of rest for sure, but it ought to primarily be a day of worship.  We are encouraged in Scripture to gather together with other brothers & sisters in Christ & celebrate our risen Lord.  Let that set the tone for the rest of the week.  We are a resurrected people who serve a resurrected Lord.  We must guard against both legalism & libertarianism & the gospel offers the right balance.

All of this is to say that Sunday ought not to be a burden on the people of God, but a day in which to look forward to by the people of God.  Certainly we ought & better rest, but more fundamentally let us worship.  In fact, the rest we enjoy on the Lord’s Day is itself an act of worship wherein we trust in the Providential care of our Father who has given us His Son.  Why worry about tomorrow?


*  BF&M 2000 offer the following references:  Exodus 20:8-11; Matthew 12:1-12; 28:1ff.; Mark 2:27-28; 16:1-7; Luke 24:1-3,33-36; John 4:21-24; 20:1,19-28; Acts 20:7; Romans 14:5-10; I Corinthians 16:1-2; Colossians 2:16; 3:16; Revelation 1:10.


This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - Introduction
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - Scripture
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - God
This is Who We Are  What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Father
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Son
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - God the Spirit
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - Man
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - Salvation
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes -  God's Purpose of Grace
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - Church
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - Baptism
This is Who We Are:  What a Baptist Is and Believes - The Lord's Supper 

Around the Web: Links For Your Weekend - April 23, 2011

Rachel Held Evans - 12 Ways to Make Arminianism Cool Again | Regardless of where you fit in the Arminianism vs. Calvinism debate, this is pretty funny.  The best ones are the top 3:

1.  Petitition Microsoft to make Arminian an actual word so that bloggers ranting about the pros and cons of Armenians don't sound like complete racists.


2.  Create a Stuff Arminians Like blog.  Entries could include:  love, freedom, and 'secretly wondering if we're not elect.'

3. Three words: Driscoll. Boyd. Cagefight!


ABC News - Who Will Go to Hell? Debate Ignites Christian Firestorm | Here is yet another article regarding Rob Bell and his book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived.  This one includes quotes from Scot McKnight, Trevin Wax, and others.  I really like what Wax had to say in the article:

Trevin Wax, 30, another rising evangelical, argued that Bell's "judgmentless" God is no god at all. 

"People who are upset with God for allowing suffering are the same people who are upset that God judges," said Wax, author of another new book, "Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope."
 
"You can't have it both ways," said Wax, editor of LifeWay Christian Resources in Nashville, Tenn., and a former associate Baptist pastor. "The God who purges evil has to declare something right and wrong. Judgment and justice are two sides of the same coin." 

"What kind of 'love' is this?" he asked. "A god who is never angered at sin and who lets evil go by unpunished is not worthy of worship." 

Bell writes that because God is merciful, those who don't believe in Christ will find their way to him in the end. All are saved except those who outright reject God's love.

That, said Wax, is contrary to 2,000 years of Christian teaching and is "biblically unsustainable." 

The heaven-hell discussion is the "bird in the eco-system," said Wax, quoting another traditional Christian preacher, Tim Keller. "If it goes extinct, it throws off everything. People say you can have a disagreement on eternal punishment and everything else is OK. You really can't. The doctrine of hell ties into the magnitude of what sin and idolatry is, and if you take away eternal punishment, it diminishes God in the process." 

"I don't remember a debate of this magnitude in the last 10 years," said Wax. "Maybe it's because Rob Bell is so popular a teacher and his videos are so enormously successful and he is pastor of a growing well-known church."


Theology in the News - Barna Group:  What Americans Believe About Universalism | This is not encouraging.

Broadly defined, universalism is the belief that all human beings will be saved after death. On balance, Americans leaned toward exclusive rather than inclusive views. For example, 43% agreed and 54% disagreed with the statement, “It doesn’t matter what religious faith you follow because they all teach the same lessons.”

Similar splits in public opinion emerged for the statements, “All people will experience the same outcome after death, regardless of their religious beliefs” (40% agreed, 55% disagreed) and the sentiment, “All people are eventually saved or accepted by God, no matter what they do, because he loves all people he has created” (40% versus 50%).

However, even as millions of Americans believe God saves everyone, most still place strong responsibility on human effort and choice regarding their ultimate destiny. Nearly seven out of 10 adults agreed with the idea “in life you either side with God or you side with the devil; there is no in-between position” (69% versus 27%). And about half of adults concurred that “if a person is generally good or does enough good things for others, they will earn a place in heaven” (48% agreed, while 44% disagreed).


Do we have free will?  Scientists are increasingly saying no.