1 John 3

1j3.jpgGreetings!

3     How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

God has adopted us as children.  Some people say that everyone is a “child of God,” but as I explored here that is not the case.  We should live in joy that God has adopted us and share that with others.

4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness. 5 But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. 6 No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him.

7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. He who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

That is a challenging passage at first glance, because it makes it appear that if we sin we aren’t Christians.  But that can’t be reconciled with many other passages.  There is a deeper meaning that appears to distinguish between our sinful nature and our new nature in Christ, such as in Romans 7:20 – Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

Love One Another

11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.

We are often desperate to be liked, but the message of the Gospel will offend people.  We don’t want to add to the offense with ill manners and the like, but it is more important to make the truth about God known than to try to win the world’s approval.  In the end they won’t approve of you anyway.

14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.

16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19 This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence 20 whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 24 Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

We are commanded to believe in Jesus and to love one another. 

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Best thank-you ever

I taught an economics lesson for a 4th grade class at the school where my wife is a librarian.  I combined some old Junior Achievement lessons and did a chocolate chip cookie taste test.  I explained a lot of financial and decision making principles along the way, and we discussed how advertising works and what we can do to avoid being tricked. 

The kids were great.  They enjoyed the cookies and asked lots of good questions.  I’ve taken a couple years off after teaching JA classes for various grades for about 12 years.  It was a lot of fun, and I’m thinking about starting it up again.  JA classes are proven to reduce drop-outs.

The teacher had the students write thank-yous, and they were all sweet.  But this one was the best (emphasis added):

Dear Mr. Simpson,

Thank you so much!  You are the best!  You saved me probably more than $100!

Now I know that Mrs. Simpson is very lucky to live with you.

With care,

John

That’s what I’ve been saying all along!  Finally, someone agrees with me.  Be sure to tell Mrs. Simpson (actually, she read the note before I did and was equally amused).

Evil

evil.jpgI think the existence of evil in the world does more to prove God’s existence than to disprove it (see this for more on that idea).

Some consider the existence of evil as proof that a loving God doesn’t exist.  But while such philosophical discussions are important, there is an element of silliness to it.  If I created a model universe with all the complexity of ours, and one of my little sentient creatures on my model earth determined that since he couldn’t fully understand everything about me and the universe I created and concluded that I must not exist – even after I wrote my moral code on their hearts and clearly revealed myself to them- I would find it amusing and irritating. 

The end of the book of Job is there for a reason (as well as other passages). 

Job 42:1-6 Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

The question of evil is typically offered as a challenge to Christians, as if it is only a problem for us to explain.  But how does the atheist explain it?  It is an even more difficult question for them to answer.  They can’t provide a foundation for the morality that they constantly reference.  There is no redemption of evil in their worldview.  That isn’t what makes their view wrong, of course, it just shows how the problem of evil isn’t the trump card against Christianity that many make it to be.

God permits evil, restrains evil and will ultimately redeem evil.  He already defeated sin and death at the cross.

Here are some terrific YouTube videos on the issue of evil.

1 John 2

1j2.jpgGreetings!

As always, it is important to read the context of Bible passages.  If you just take the first part of verse 1 you would have a false teaching that we might never sin again.  But reading on you see that sin is still going to be in our lives and we have Jesus in our defense when Satan accuses us. 

Also, while Jesus died for the sins of the “whole world,” one shouldn’t conclude that all are saved.  Countless other passages show that without faith in Christ we will still be accountable for our sins ourselves. 

2     My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. 2 He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

3 We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. 4 The man who says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.

7 Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. 8 Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining.

9 Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.

We can claim to love Jesus and be in the light, but it is so easy to hate others. 

12 I write to you, dear children,

because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.

13 I write to you, fathers,

because you have known him who is from the beginning.

I write to you, young men,

because you have overcome the evil one.

I write to you, dear children,

because you have known the Father.

14 I write to you, fathers,

because you have known him who is from the beginning.

I write to you, young men,

because you are strong,

and the word of God lives in you,

and you have overcome the evil one.

Do Not Love the World

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

V. 15-16 are great to memorize.  It is a constant challenge not to get pulled into the world’s perverted system of right and wrong. 

Warning Against Antichrists

18 Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.

20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. 21 I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. 22 Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist—he denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also.

People who deny Jesus are also denying God the Father.  This is one of the many passages (roughly 100) in the New Testament that demonstrate that Jesus is the only way to Salvation.

24 See that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is what he promised us—even eternal life.

26 I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

Children of God

28 And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.

29 If you know that he is righteous, you know that everyone who does what is right has been born of him.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Buddhists make lousy postmoderns

pluralism.jpgBuddhism has an eightfold path which should be followed when trying to avoid and reduce suffering.

  • Right View
  • Right Thinking
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Diligence
  • Right Concentration
  • Right Livelihood

Sounds kinda dogmatic and preachy to me.  There are a whole lot of truth claims there. 

Not that there is anything wrong with that.  It just shows that Christians aren’t the only ones making truth claims, and that there is nothing inherently wrong with making truth claims.  There is something self-refuting about making truth claims about why it is bad to make truth claims. 

1 John 1

1j1.jpgGreetings!

This is a short but powerful chapter.  John jumps right into an apologetic (a defense of the faith) by noting how they heard, saw and touched Jesus.  He was fully human and fully divine.  Some false teachers held that Jesus wasn’t really human, because they thought material things were essentially evil and needed to be abandoned.  Others taught that Jesus was not God.

John heard the message “from him,” that is, Jesus (v. 5).

Why did John write this?  To “make our joy complete,” not to pile burdens on us.  Sometimes we share the “Good News” (the Gospel) as if it were bad news that needs to be apologized for.  Not at all!  The bad news is that we are sinners before a Holy God and rightly deserve punishment.  The Good News is that Jesus died for our sins and we can have salvation by trusting in what He did for us.

John expands on the “light” imagery he used in his Gospel (John 1:4-5 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.)

 Those who claim to be without sin lie to themselves and about God.  Praise God that He is faithful and just and will not only forgive us but purify us.  But John wasn’t saying that we can’t be obedient to God.  He also says that we should walk “in the light.”  One way to look at it, which I concede could be an oversimplification, would be to say that as authentic believers we won’t be sinless but that we will sin_less.  And if we have trusted in Christ then all our sins – past, present and future, are forgiven. 

We are forgiven not because of righteous things we have done, but because God is faithful to his promises.

1 John

The Word of Life

1     That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

Walking in the Light

5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The worst church growth program ever?

acts-5.jpgA comment on the Yoko Ono post referred to this portion of Acts, and I wanted to clarify a few things.  It relates to how believers treated their possessions in the early church.  It could be called “the worst church growth program ever.” (I’m kidding, of course.  The church grew dramatically even with this not-so-seeker-sensitive approach.)

Acts 4:32-5:11

The Believers Share Their Possessions

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Ananias and Sapphira

5     Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.”

5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

In the midst of the dramatic church growth we read this cautionary tale.  Some people read it as the early Christians being communistic, but that isn’t the point at all.  As always, we must read carefully and in context.

The passage describes the general behavior of believers but it doesn’t say God commanded this (“No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had.”). 

Peter didn’t say that Ananias and Sapphira were obligated to donate anything at all: “Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal?”

The sin wasn’t in not giving enough, it was lying to God.   This was a serious thing, especially when the church was forming.  They needed purity and honesty, just like we do today.  Just because we are in the age of grace doesn’t mean that God doesn’t take sin seriously. 

We don’t need deception to spread the Gospel.  We need the truth.

Satan was defeated at the cross in an ultimate sense, but he was and is still active in tempting Christians and non-Christians. 

Despite this event, the church continued to grow.  Consider how lax church discipline is in the U.S. today.  I’m not wishing for judgments like those again Ananias and Sapphira, but the lack of discipline has let all kinds of false teachers in the church and corrupted our witness. 

Again, this passage was not a Biblical command to be property-less.  Saying your possessions aren’t your own doesn’t mean anyone can come take them.  It is recognizing that ultimately they all come from God.  We aren’t giving him anything He didn’t give us in the first place.

Other passages round out the New Testament guidance on giving, notably 2 Corinthians 9:6-7:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

If you live in the NW Houston and like fine arts . . .

OK, this might qualify as a niche post, but the Houston Repertoire Ballet is performing a variety of pieces at the Tomball High School auditorium on Saturday, April 26.  It is a mix of a classical ballet, a few contemporary pieces and a storybook piece that little ones will love.

My daughters have various roles and two of the best dancers in the world will be visiting from New York’s American Ballet Theatre (one of them used to dance with this company).  No, I’m not in this production . . . you’ll have to wait for the Nutcracker for my crowd scene role.

Guys, it will impress your wife/girlfiend if you take her.  Go out for some culture!  It is your best fine arts value. 

Order tickets here and pick ’em up at the door.

Imagine no possessions . . . except hyper-strictly enforced copyrights

First she ruins the Beatles, and now this. 

I am starting to wonder if the EXPELLED producers are some kind of evil-super geniuses a la President Bush.  How else could they provoke people to give them all this free publicity?  Seriously, the fair use doctrine is not that complicated.

EXPELLED Producers to Yoko Ono: Let it Be

(Dallas, TX) – A new front has been opened in the culture wars. Ben Stein’s EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed stunned detractors by opening as the nation’s #10 movie last weekend. Out for less than one week, it has already become one of the top 25 documentaries of all time.

Opponents of the film have attacked everyone and everything in it. They have attacked the producers, the star, the music, and film itself. They have even attacked those who have seen it. Now they want to change the Constitution.

Yoko Ono and others have now filed lawsuits challenging the film’s use and critique of John Lennon’s song Imagine. One of the suits seeks to ban free speech through preliminary injunctive relief which essentially means that they are trying to expel EXPELLED as it is now being shown in theaters.

“If you really listen to the lyrics of Imagine then you realize that it represents everything that the Neo-Darwinists want. ‘Imagine there’s no Heaven…No hell below us…Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too…’ That’s exactly what the Darwinist establishment wants to do: get rid of religion. And that’s what we point out when we play less than 15 seconds of the song and show some of the lyrics on screen,” said Walt Ruloff Executive Producer and CEO of Premise Media.

Executive Producer and Chairman of Premise Media Logan Craft explained, “The fair use doctrine is a well established principle that gives the public the right to freely use portions of copyrighted materials for the purposes of commentary and criticism. While some may not like what we have to say or how we say it, we have the free speech right to do so – just as other political and social commentators have been doing for years.”

Premise did not pursue a license for the song and had no obligation to do so. Unbiased viewers of the film will see that the Imagine clip was used as part of a social commentary in the exercise of free speech. The brief clip – consisting of a mere 10 words – was used to contrast the messages in the documentary and was not used as an endorsement of EXPELLED.

But the irony of this lawsuit was not lost on the film’s star Ben Stein, “So Yoko Ono is suing over the brief Constitutionally protected use of a song that wants us to ‘Imagine no possessions’? Maybe instead of wasting everyone’s time trying to silence a documentary she should give the song to the world for free? After all, ‘imagine all the people sharing all the world…You may say I’m a dreamer But I’m not the only one I hope someday you’ll join us And the World can live as one.'”

For more information or to book an interview, please contact Megan Erhardt (ext. 136) or Mary Beth Hutchins (ext. 105) at 703.683.5004.

Weekly roundup

roundup.jpg The debate Richard Dawkins would like to forget.

Nancy Pelosi promised that the Democrats had a common sense plan to reduce gas prices.  They have gone up $1.18 since then.  McCain and the Congressional Republicans should send her a thank-you note.

She has also been running around with fake Bible quotes.  I’m used to politicians misquoting it, but making something up from scratch is less common.

A thorough review of Eckhart Tolle’s book (Oprah’s new religion)

According to Tolle, Jesus, like the Buddha, was an “early flower” in the evolution of human consciousness whose message was misunderstood and distorted (6). . . . Where Tolle got his “inside information” about a non-distorted version of Jesus’ message that predates this he unfortunately does not tell.

Yes, live in the now! But do it in loving relationship with God rather than by believing you are God.

10 ways Darwinists help Intelligent Design.  Thanks, guys!

Chelsea and the Red Dress Party – gotta read it to believe it.

 

I John – III John introduction

1j.jpgGreetings!  The Bible includes three short letters that the Apostle John wrote (in addition to the Gospel of John).  The first has five chapters and the next two only have one chapter each.

They were written to encourage Christians everywhere in their faith and to combat false teachings.  The church wasn’t very old but was already fighting a two front battle: Externally, against the Romans and other persecutors, and internally against false teachers.  Depending on where you live in the world, those battles continue to this day.

Some people were teaching that Jesus was just a spirit.  John shows how Jesus had a real body.

John mentions love a lot, but he also teaches clear and important doctrines such as the exclusivity of Christ:

1 John 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

1 John 5:11-12 And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Read and enjoy these wonderful books!

Hyperbole gone mad

universe.jpgI realize that part of the New Atheist approach is to crank up the volume on old arguments, so some of what we hear from Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, etc. is not a big surprise.  But some of their arguments and those of their followers, are so over the top that they lose credibility. 

At an atheist blog one of the commenters insisted that the evidence we offer for the existence of God was equivalent to that for pink unicorns (I have no idea why they are always pink), even though I pointed out cosmological (“first cause”), teleological, moral and other reasoning.  Then there is this jewel of a comment: 

God is about as unlikely as fairies, angels, hobgoblins, etc.

Richard Dawkins, from Expelled

Now I don’t adhere to materialist arguments, but I wouldn’t be smug and dismiss their questions by saying they had no more reasoning behind them than there is for pink unicorns or hobgoblins.

And keep in mind that Dawkins is the fellow who thinks it is possible that aliens came into being on another planet and evolved faster than we did, then seeded human beings here.  If Mr. Science Person has empirical evidence for this view then he is holding out on us.  The irony that he sees the need for an Intelligent Designer, albeit an alien one, speaks volumes.

The blogging on Expelled is a great example.  Virtually every commentary I’ve seen – usually from those who haven’t seen the movie – is just a series of personal attacks and poor reasoning.  Saying that ID is just “creationism in disguise” isn’t an argument.  Calling people liars because you disagree with their points while simultaneously encouraging people to pirate the DVDs and pay for a ticket to a different movie while sneaking into Expelled is incongruous at best. 

And watch how the New Atheists treat someone like Antony Flew, a famous scientist who “converted” from atheism to deism (almost there!) based on his extensive research.  He wrote There is a God – How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

We have lots of evidence for the existence of God: Cosmological (”first cause”), teleological (design), morality, logic, the physical resurrection of Jesus, archeological support and fulfilled prophecies of the Bible, etc.  If atheists don’t find that compelling, then so be it. I’m on the Great Commission, not the paid commission. But to insist that we have no evidence is uncharitable in the extreme and makes reasoned dialogue virtually impossible.  When they trot out the unicorn argument I just treat that as the Atheist Concession Speech.  I’m confident that true seekers will realize which side is more credible.

Here are a few arguments for the existence of God.   Also see the apologetics links in the blogroll in the right-hand column.

 

Existence of God

Cosmological Evidence

In Defense of the Kalam Cosmological Argument – William Craig

Adler’s Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God– John Cramer

A New Cosmological Argument – Richard Gale

A New Look at the Cosmological Argument– Robert Koons

Aquinas’ Third Way Modalized – Robert Maydole

The Kalam Cosmological Argument Neither Bloodied nor Bowed– David S. Oderberg

Some Recent Progress on the Cosmological Argument– Alexander Pruss

A Scotistic Cosmological Argument Remixed – Joshua Rasmussen

Mind, Cosmology, and Sufficient Reason as a Vindication of Rational Theism – James Sennett

The Cosmological Argument: A Defense – Richard Taylor

.

 

Axiological Evidence

Two Kinds of Moral Arguments Concerning the Existence of God – Anthony Anderson

Robert Adams’ Demoralization Argument – Anthony Anderson

Why Be Moral? Social Contract Theory vs. Kantian-Christian Morality – Kelly James Clark

The Indispensibility of Theological Meta-Ethical Foundations for Morality – William Craig

Do We Need God To Be Moral? – John Frame

Can We Be Good Without God? – John Hare

The Argument from Conscience– Peter Kreeft

Does Ethics Require Theism? – Michael Murray

The Argument from Inalienable Rights– Victor Reppert

q

Noölogical Evidence

Arguments from Reason for the Existence of God– John DePoe

An Argument From Consciousness and Free Will– Stewart Goetz and Charles Taliaferro

Sentiments of Reason and Aspirations of the Soul – John Haldane

Does the Argument from Mind Provide Evidence for God?– JP Moreland

The Argument from Persons – Joshua Rasmussen

The Argument from Reason– Victor Reppert

.

Fine-Tuning Evidence

The Fine-Tuning Argument – Robin Collins

Does the Many-Universes Hypothesis Really Explain the Fine-Tuning? – Robin Collins

Universes Galore: Where Will it All End? – Paul Davies

Post-agnostic Science: How Physics is Reviving the Argument from Design– Robert Koons

Our Place in the Cosmos – John Leslie

Toward a Rational Reconstruction of Design Inferences– Timothy McGrew

The Cosmos as a Work of Art– Alexander Pruss

Shaken Atheism: A Look at the Fine-Tuned Universe– Holmes Rolston

The Universe, Design, and Fine-Tuning– Michael Sudduth

A Design Argument from Cognitive Reliability– William Vallicella

.

Experiential Evidence

The Experiential Basis of Theism – William Alston

The Intuitive Conception and Knowledge of God – William Alston

Re-Identifying God in Experience– Jerome Gellman

Epistemic Virtue, Religious Experience, and Belief– James Montmarquet

A Religious Experience Argument for the Existence of a Transcendent Holy Being– Alexander Pruss

.

A Priori Evidence

Conceivability, Defeasibility, and Possibility: A Defense of the Modal Ontological Argument– Trent Dougherty

The Ontological Argument– Alvin Plantinga

Samkara’s Principle and Two Ontomystical Arguments– Alexander Pruss

Reflections on Godel’s Ontological Argument – Christopher Small

The Conceptualist Argument for God’s Existence – Quentin Smith

.

General

Evidence for the Existence of God– Shandon Guthrie

Twenty Arguments for the Existence of God– Peter Kreeft and Ronald Tacelli

Hume, Kant, and Rational Theism– Hugo Meynell

Two Dozen (or so) Theistic Arguments– Alvin Plantinga

The Existence of God – Richard Swinburne

Response to Dawkins – Richard Swinburne

Language, Being, God, and the Three Stages of Theistic Evidence – Dallas Willard

.

The Nature of God

Omnipotence

On Two Alleged Conflicts Between Divine Attributes– Torin Atler

Maximal Power – Thomas Flint

Omnipotence and God’s Existence – Gregory Rich

Omnipotence– Edward Wierenga

Omniscience

Middle Knowledge, Truth Makers, and the Grounding Objection – William Craig

Truth, Omniscience, and Cantorian Arguments – Alvin Plantinga and Patrick Grimm
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Omnibenevolence

Is it Coherent to Suppose that God is Both Morally Good and ‘Above Morality’?– Michael Sudduth

God and Time

Divine Timelessness and Personhood – William Craig

Is Timeless Divine Action Coherent?– Michael Sudduth

God Inside Time and Before Creation – Dean Zimmerman

General

Divine Responsibility Without Divine Freedom– Michael Bergmann

The Coherence of Theism – Part I – William Craig

The Coherence of Theism – Part II – William Craig

God’s General Concurrence with Secondary Causes: Pitfalls and Prospects– Alfred Freddoso

Divine Transcendence– Jonathan Kvanvig

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Philosophical Theology

Divine and Human Dialogue – William Alston

Abba, Father: Inclusive Language and Theological Salience– Harriet Baber

Feminism and Christian Ethics– Harriet Baber

God and Counterpossibles – Richard Davis

Haecceities, Individuation, and the Trinity – Richard Davis

Logic, Ontology, and Ockham’s Christology – Alfred Freddoso

Human Nature, Potency, and the Incarnation– Alfred Freddoso

What Difference Does Heaven Make?– Peter Kreeft

Hell– Jonathan Kvanvig

Heaven and Hell – Jonathan Kvanvig

Split Brains and the Godhead– Trenton Merricks

Does Prayer Change Things? – Michael Murray

Simplicity and Creation – Timothy O’Connor

Prophecy without Middle Knowledge– Alexander Pruss

Love and Obedience– Alexander Pruss

The Metaphysics of Original Sin – Michael Rea

Understanding the Trinity – Michael Rea

Is Divine Immutability Compatible with the Practice of Petitionary Prayer?– Michael Sudduth

Is Human Language Adequate to Talk about God?– Michael Sudduth

I Look for the Resurrection of the Dead and the Life of the World to Come– Peter van Inwagen

Proverbs 16

pr16.jpgGreetings!  Here is another major dose of wisdom from the Lord.

16     To man belong the plans of the heart,

but from the Lord comes the reply of the tongue.

2 All a man’s ways seem innocent to him,

but motives are weighed by the Lord.

People are really good at rationalizing away their sins.  I know I am. 

3 Commit to the Lord whatever you do,

and your plans will succeed.

4 The Lord works out everything for his own ends—

even the wicked for a day of disaster.

God constantly makes good come out of bad.  He is permitting evil for a time, but will eventually punish it.  And He redeemed it through what Jesus did on the cross for us.

5 The Lord detests all the proud of heart.

Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

6 Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;

through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.

So many things we teach kids (and adults) revolve around not doing things because of personal consequences to us.  But we forget that the main reason to obey is because He is God.

7 When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,

he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

8 Better a little with righteousness

than much gain with injustice.

9 In his heart a man plans his course,

but the Lord determines his steps.

10 The lips of a king speak as an oracle,

and his mouth should not betray justice.

11 Honest scales and balances are from the Lord;

all the weights in the bag are of his making.

12 Kings detest wrongdoing,

for a throne is established through righteousness.

13 Kings take pleasure in honest lips;

they value a man who speaks the truth.

14 A king’s wrath is a messenger of death,

but a wise man will appease it.

15 When a king’s face brightens, it means life;

his favor is like a rain cloud in spring.

16 How much better to get wisdom than gold,

to choose understanding rather than silver!

17 The highway of the upright avoids evil;

he who guards his way guards his life.

18 Pride goes before destruction,

a haughty spirit before a fall.

V. 18 is a famous reminder of the dangers of pride.  Pride is at the root of virtually every other sin.  When we put our interests above others we can rationalize all sorts of evil. 

19 Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed

than to share plunder with the proud.

20 Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,

and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

21 The wise in heart are called discerning,

and pleasant words promote instruction.

22 Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it,

but folly brings punishment to fools.

23 A wise man’s heart guides his mouth,

and his lips promote instruction.

24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb,

sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

25 There is a way that seems right to a man,

but in the end it leads to death.

There are so many “hollow and deceptive philosphies” in the world (Colossian 2:8), but they lead to misery and Hell.

26 The laborer’s appetite works for him;

his hunger drives him on.

27 A scoundrel plots evil,

and his speech is like a scorching fire.

28 A perverse man stirs up dissension,

and a gossip separates close friends.

29 A violent man entices his neighbor

and leads him down a path that is not good.

30 He who winks with his eye is plotting perversity;

he who purses his lips is bent on evil.

31 Gray hair is a crown of splendor;

it is attained by a righteous life.

32 Better a patient man than a warrior,

a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.

33 The lot is cast into the lap,

but its every decision is from the Lord.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Will the Methodists learn from the Episcopals?

umc-cross.jpgI really hope they do.

Kudos to the local church that is leaving the Episcopal denomination.

From an “orthodox” point of view, [Rev.] Gerber said, “The culture has begun to influence the church, rather than the church influencing the culture.”

I wish them well and hope they thrive in their new surroundings.

Now if the Methodists could just learn from that.  In an interesting juxtaposition, the Houston Chronicle religion section highlighted the expected debates on homosexuality and abortion at the upcoming General conference on the same day they reported on the Episcopals. 

There won’t be consensus at the conference in the sense of harmony, but hopefully they will continue to have a large majority on the Biblical sides of these issues.  There are literally hundreds of petitions that propose to keep the stance on homosexual behavior and to get back to a Biblical model on abortion (including stopping all support for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice). 

The Methodist stance on homosexual behavior is quite sound and balanced, but it is constantly attacked.  The protestors will be out in force again this year, making a nuisance of themselves and selfishly disrupting the procedures instead of following the proper process.  They are always trying to get themselves arrested so they can play the martyr card.

The denomination’s position on abortion is something only a committee could love. 

I’m really hoping that the attendees learn from the Episcopals and get more firm with this.  By extending the dialogue it gives false credibility to the bankrupt pro-gay theology.  We’d be doing everyone a favor by telling them to just move on and quit trying to destroy the denomination.  Or at least let them know that we’re tired of the bullying.  Either follow the established change process, or get arrested.  Yes, it will give them their TV sound bites but we can at least let the convention proceed in an orderly manner.

Honduras!

I was disappointed that my oldest daughter and I couldn’t go on a mission trip to Kenya this year because of the political instability there.  We’re praying that things will settle down and that we can go next year. 

I’ve been looking for other possibilities but with summer ballet camps (uh, for the girls, not me) and all it is very hard to find dates that work.  My wife is keen on going on a mission trip as well, but having to start school a week or so before the kids get there complicates things for now.

The good news is that my youngest daughter and I will be going on a trip to Tegucigalpa, Honduras!  She loves to speak Spanish and may get to to assist with some medical-mission activities that interest her. 

I’ve had a heart for Kenya in part because we’ve been corresponding with one of our World Vision sponsor children there for almost 10 years.  Visiting Dennis and his family in person has been one of the great joys of my life. 

We also have a sponsor child in Honduras, so we’re hoping that we can arrange a meeting with her and her family.  Details are currently a bit murky.  One letter said they were 10 hours from where we’ll be staying, which would make the visit unrealistically long.  I’m hoping they meant 10 hours of walking and that with a vehicle we can get there and back in a day.  I’d really like for my daughter to be able to meet Sindy.

Here’s a little background:

A few of our activities will be a daily feeding program, house construction/dedication, children’s Bible class, women’s class, youth class and loving on people.

Tegucigalpa is the capital city of 1.2 million people located in the mountains at 3250′ above sea level. The weather in August will be in the mid 80’s during the day.

Why: Even though Honduras’ official religion is Catholic, there are few people who actually practice or attend church at all. After fleeing Hurricane Mitch in 1998, many people were forced up the mountainside where they built homes with whatever materials they could find.

We will be working along side missionaries, Ron and Shelley Jones, in the small colonia of Mogote, where we will get the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We will be reaching out to a community where the average weekly wage is $5. Jesus calls all of us to go.

Isaiah 52:7 says, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!”

Also see Hope for Honduras