Thursday, March 26, 2009

STR: Logic vs. Atheism

Great article here.

“Religion is capable of driving people to such dangerous folly that faith seems to me to qualify as a kind of mental illness.”  So says Richard Dawkins, author of the God Delusion and godfather to the New Atheists.  This recent breed of atheist is no longer satisfied to pronounce religion as mistaken.  Believers aren't merely wrong, they're irrational.  And to such a degree that they very likely suffer psychological disorders.

 

But is it the believer who is irrational?  I don’t think so.

 

In February, I took the high schoolers of Crossline Community Church in Mission Viejo on their first Berkeley mission trip.  For students and staff, it was a rational test of Christianity’s truth claims.  It was also an occasion to humbly yet confidently demonstrate the utter irrationality of atheism.

 

The laws of logic govern human thought and communication.  We haven’t created them, we’ve discovered them.  Logic is part of the furniture of the universe.  These laws of thought assist us in evaluating the rationality of various truth claims.  And we employed them in Berkeley with atheists we met with.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On Small Churches

Great article by Chuck Warnock here.

Let's face it: small churches, like Rodney Dangerfield, get no respect. Or at least very little. Small congregations typically are viewed as stodgy, dead, or sick—that last one according to a very prominent church consultant who will remain anonymous.

I am sure we could find small churches that would live up to each of those perceptions. But I have also seen larger churches exhibit the same characteristics. Why is it, then, that small churches get such a bad rap? Numbers. Small churches don't have the numbers to validate their success, and our culture is all about numbers, even in ministry.

Here's an example: last year a prominent denomination offered a "small church" conference. Just offering a small church conference was a minor miracle, but guess who was asked to speak? You guessed it—large-church pastors. The clear message to those small-church pastors who attended was, "Come to this small church conference and we'll teach you how to make your small church into a big church.

Great article. Go read it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Americans With No Abilities Act

This gag article is funny – very funny.

Unfortunately, it’s also not too far removed from the realm of possibility with our current leadership (I’ll use that term for lack of a better one) in the federal government.

But it is a very funny read…

"As a non-abled person, I can't be expected to keep up with people who have something going for them," said Mary Lou Gertz, who lost her position as a lug-nut twister at the GM plant in Flint, Mich., due to her inability to remember righty tighty, lefty loosey. "This new law should be real good for people like me." With the passage of this bill, Gertz and millions of other untalented citizens will finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Said Sen. Dick Durbin: "As a senator with no abilities, I believe the same privileges that elected officials enjoy ought to be extended to every American with no abilities. It is our duty as lawmakers to provide each and every American citizen, regardless of his or her inadequacy, with some sort of space to take up in this great nation and a good salary for doing so."

The Other Side of Church Growth

Bryon Mondok reviews an article by Phil Johnson, The Other Side Of Church Growth, which is a very interesting (and I would say important) read.

A very great deal of what characterizes the Western Church – and American Christianity in particular – is somewhat unique to our experience and is not in any way universal to the entire Church.  Much of what is American Christianity, for instance, does not translate well in other contexts without either ignoring those contexts entirely or imposing Americanism on them.  For instance, the triumphalism of the Word-Faith Movement does not translate well into the context of the suffering church (which is, by the way, the majority experience of the church through the world and through history).  Likewise, the seeker-sensitive movement does not translate well into other contexts where Christianity has not materially impacted and shaped the culture to the extent that it has and continues to do in America.

Church Growthism is another peculiarity of American Christianity which does not necessarily translate well into other contexts.  The Growthinista maxim that “healthy churches grow” (always with the unstated but strong undercurrent of “invariably driving their presuppositions) only works in (many but by no means all) Western contexts.  Perfectly healthy churches can, in fact, experience decline.  Not only in the large context of regions and nations, but in local contexts as well, and for a quite possibly innumerable number of factors.

The article is very much worthy of reading (even though it is published in “Christianity” Today – you know the old adage, even a stopped clock is right twice daily); I give you, however, one quote in particular:

As I was writing this book, I became very conscious of one question, which is how you measure the success of a church. I am tempted to measure it in terms of numbers, whether it's 5 percent of the population, 40 percent, or whatever. But I suppose an argument would be made by somebody from a Mennonite or Anabaptist tradition that that's not the question—that the question is not numerical success but quality of witness, that the New Testament does not guarantee worldly success or growth or megachurches.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Retrosexual

There’s a lighthearted debate going on on another blog of which I am occasionally a part about the silliness of the whole metrosexual girly-man thing.

You know…individuals who claim the male gender while wearing girl pants, deep-v-necked blouses that are designed to show off cleavage, coiff their hair with more attention to detail than a teenage girl, and wear eyeliner.

::shudder::

To the metros of the world, I say – Behold the RETROSEXUAL.

As this article points out, a card-carrying retrosexual’s only motto is, “DEAL WITH IT.”

{{insert Tim the Tool Man Taylor man-grunting here}}

Cold War, Part II

Al-RIIIIIIIGHT

The University of Michigan will host the MSU Spartan hockey team at Michigan Stadium on Saturday, December 11th, 2010…a rematch of the great Cold War of October 6th, 2001 which resulted in an epic tie between the two Frozen Four titans.

Must…get to…Ann Arbor on…that Saturday…must…muuuuuuuust…

Driscoll on Time on the New Calvinism

Mark “Blankety-blank” Driscoll comments on Time Magazine’s having named New Calvinism the third biggest idea that is changing the world at this particular time.

He then names four ways in which “New Calvinism” differs from “Old Calvinism.”

I couldn’t help but to comment on his fourth point:

Old Calvinism was fearful and suspicious of other Christians and burned bridges. New Calvinism loves all Christians and builds bridges between them.

Yeah.

Like calling non-Calvinists “Semi-Pelagian.”  That builds lots of bridges, to say nothing of goodwill.  I feel incredibly loved.

;D

Seriously, I’ve said it before, I dig Driscoll.

But he’s got something a bit stronger than “intentional cultural relevance” in his pipe if he thinks he’s building bridges with us poor, unwashed Semi-Pelagian peasants…

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It’s getting to be that time of year again…

Wings are currently tied for top spot in the NHL…

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Andy Stanley – More Smarterer Than You

There are guys who really dig Andy Stanley.

I am emphatically not one of them.

I’ve never dug his whole “one point preaching” thing which assumes (among other things) that Christians (or at least, non-seminary-graduated-pastor-types) are idiots who need to have Biblical truth premasticated for them and spoon-fed in only the gentlest, most non-challenging way possible.

Ergh.

Ed Stetzer recently interviewed Andy on his blog (thanks for the heads-up, Brian)

Guys that preach verse-by-verse through books of the Bible-- that is just cheating. It's cheating because that would be easy, first of all. That isn't how you grow people. No one in the Scripture modeled that. There's not one example of that.

Yeah.  Not one example.

Like, for instance, not Nehemiah.

Look, Andy…we don’t see very many examples of “one point preaching,” either.  And…?

V-B-V isn’t the only way to teach the Word; it is however an amazingly effective way.

Contrary to what Andy says. “That isn’t how you grow people.”

…darn.  And here I thought that people were growing just fine in expositionally focused churches and movements like Calvary Chapel, Acts 29, Harvest Bible Chapel, Johnny Mac and Grace Community, and others.  Darn those pesky facts getting in the way and blowing up a perfectly good baseless assertion!  Darn them to heck!

I honestly don’t know why anybody takes this guy seriously – oh, no, wait, I do…he’s a chief Growthinista.  For the Growthinista, apparent results in the nickels-‘n’-noses department trumps all.  Alrighty; allow me to revise and extend my remarks.  I honestly don’t know why anybody who self-identifies with one of the aforementioned expositionally focused churches and movements likes this guy.

Seriously.

Another gem from Andy:

All Scripture is equally inspired, but not all Scripture is equally applicable or relevant to every stage of life.

Oy.

Apparently, all Scripture isn’t in fact profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, or instruction in righteousness; to be thoroughly equipped unto every good work, the man of God had to wait nearly 2000 years for the Lord to finally and graciously raise up Cap’n One-Point-Preachin’.

Give me multiple-point preachin’ Spurgeon any day over this character.

Again: Why does anybody take this guy seriously…?

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

STR: On The Lunacy Of Thinking That Increasing The Number Of Abortions Will Actually Decrease The Number Of Abortions

There are those – even those in the evangelical community – who have abandoned their erstwhile Pro-Life convictions in favor of political expediency. 

Stand To Reason has posted a blog article which examines and refutes their (il)logic. Well worth the read.

Monday, March 02, 2009

The Economics of Envy

I’m a stark-raving, frothing-at-the-mouth, rock-ribbed premillennial pretribulationist.  In a word, I am an unapologetic Dispensationalist.

It’s a very good thing, though, to read and carefully consider what others who don’t agree with your own dearly-held views.  There is much to gain and glean from the thinking of other viewpoints than your own.

In light of that, I intentionally read the works of, for instance, preterist posmillenarians like Gary DeMar.

On economic issues, Gary’s actually got some pretty good stuff.

In this article, he examines the economics of envy.  Good read.

Inerrancy and Creation

Probably one of the chiefest reasons modern evangelicalism is wholesale abandoning Biblical inerrancy is the discomfort many have with the plain reading of the Biblical account of Creation.

This has led some to put forward the idea that the Creation account was simply an observational statement which is not itself an actually accurate description of the real events – much like when we say “the sun rose” – obviously, the sun don’t rise none; our world, caught in a stable orbit within our sun’s gravity well revolves around our parent star exactly once each solar year.  It is simply a statement of observation; from the perspective of the viewer, the sun seems to rise while the horizon appears from our frame of reference to remain fixed.  It is technically inaccurate to use the phraseology, “the sun rose,” but even planetary scientists use the term descriptively; it is an idiomatic peculiarity of the human experience expressed in language.

Those who seek to accommodate current scientific assumptions, to help the Bible out and excuse what they view as an obvious contra-scientific view of origins, try to argue that the first several chapters of Genesis are obviously in the same category; they are observational, phenomenological descriptions only which are something more than myth but less than strictly accurate.

You have several galactically massive problems with that view.  Not the least of which is that the Creation account is given in such exacting detail down to an explicit chronology, that the Spirit sure does seem to have Himself at least at one time believed that He was accurately recording the events He claims to have not only been witness to but actually the active agent in.  Too bad the Holy Spirit didn’t have the benefit of modern science, there, eh?  Poor divine Guy…

The Spirit’s not the only Person of the Trinity Who suffers from this myopia, either; Jesus apparently didn’t have that information, either.  He certainly seems to have been victim to the mistaken idea that Genesis is accurate and trustworthy.  He didn’t have the advantage of living in the modern era, here in the Year of Our Lord Darwin 200, where such silly misconceptions could have been corrected and He could have spared Himself (to say nothing of His less conservative followers) considerable embarrassment.

The bottom line for me, and one which those who hold this sort of view vigorously deny is the case, is that it all boils down to a question of authority.

Either the Bible is the final authority for the Christian, or it isn’t.  You can’t have it both ways, and there is no via media.  If it is the final authority, then all things must be viewed through its lens.

The modern (and the postmodern, ironically enough) view Scripture through a lens other than itself.

The modern views Scripture through the lens of current scientific understanding.  The idea is that the Biblical authors were genuine and sincere, but also ignorant, and while the Bible is accurate in the message it seeks to convey, the particulars must be viewed through our much more complete understanding of the way of things and must be redacted to fit more comfortably into the worldview we now know to be established scientific fact.

Except…that it’s not established.

Science, by its very nature, is constantly (dare I use the term?) evolving, constantly learning new things which put the older, “established” things into a different light, allowing for wholesale reinterpretation of previously unquestioned tenets.  We are vastly more ignorant than our premodern ancestors if we think that we have things so nailed down scientifically that we can now offer editorial help to God.  Even previously understood laws of science are vulnerable to reinterpretation in light of new information.  Just in the previous century, our entire understanding of the physical nature of creation had been turned on its head – not once, but several times.  In another hundred years (should the Lord tarry) I expect that our current understanding of physics (and with it, cosmology) will be again completely revolutionized.

By contrast, the Bible is fixed, unchangeable.  And given its origin (the God who created all things and exists wholly outside of Creation), is the only viable lens through which the Christian can and should view the world.

The modern views Scripture though the lens of our current, limited understanding of science; the postmodern views Scripture through the lens of culture.

Even worse an option.

I view both through the lens of Scripture.

So when the Bible sure does seem by every internal indication to teach that God created the universe in six consecutive chronological days, I have no choice but to accept that, and to view all data through that presupposition.

As Dr. Morris states in this article:

The difference is this: we believe the Bible must take priority over scientific theories, while they believe scientific theories must determine our biblical interpretations.

Read the article “Old-Earth Creationism” and consider its arguments.

Twilight

Good article here from the Institute for Creation Research, which among other things looks at the current evangelical trend of soft-pedaling the all-important doctrine of inerrancy.

"Oh, I really don't see it that way," he stated. "My church teaches that the Bible may be inspired, but it's not inerrant. It's all about man's description of God."

I heartily agree with those who state that evangelicalism is in its twilight. Evangelicalism, ironically due to its obsession with relevance, is becoming increasingly irrelevant.  In seeking to accommodate itself to the zeitgeist, it has both consciously and unconsciously watered down the core tenets of the Scriptural faith and has become little differentiated from the moderate-to-liberal mainstream of modern Christianity.

There is a reason why most theologically paleoconservative church Statements of Faith (including CC Lakeshore’s) begin with a clear declaration along the lines of, “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant, verbal, plenary, confluent Word of God” or something along those lines. The reason is that without an inspired, inerrant Bible, we have no firm basis to believe in God in the first place – at least, no firm basis to believe in the God revealed in that very Bible.  It is the Bible which tells us of the Triune God, of the fall of man, of God’s work of redemption on the Cross, and of His soon-return for us at the end of the age.

And of Creation, and other bugaboo topics that theological neoconservatives really and fervently wish weren’t in the Bible, as they cause great embarrassment for them in their quest to be relevant and must be explained away rather than accepted and dealt with head-on.