Saturday, March 22, 2014

Around the Horn

At first, if there are any still buying the canard that Calvinism is driven by logic and the alternatives are not, these two articles by Roger Olson on High Calvinism and a Followup to it should put that to rest. Olson is an Armininian who knows enough about theology to know what that means. Most Arminians don’t know enough to know they are Arminian, and not a few are actually Pelagian. Olson’s point is driven, not by Scripture, but by logic, namely, God can’t be something because Olson’s mind can’t comprehend how he can be that something. It’s a bad way to go about things, when the smaller determines what the bigger can be based on what fits into the smaller mind. That’s not to say Olson is a small mind. It’s to say that he is human, and the finite cannot sit in judgment on the infinite.

At second, here’s an interesting article an interesting article by a historian who is claiming that “being gay” is a modern notion, not a biological one. It’s worth a read, perhaps particularly because it is not from a religious perspective. Why does that matter? Because even non religious people believe that homosexuality is not biological.

At third, here’s an interesting article on urban church planting. On the one hand, there is some good stuff here. On the other hand, I wonder if this doesn’t actually perpetuate some racial ideas that might increase or at least continue racial tension. In addition, I am not sure it wrestles adequately with theological issues involved. Perhaps I will write more on that later. Until then, read it and consider it.

Last today, here’s a sobering collection of color photos from the German prison camp Dachau taken by Hitler’s personal photographer in 1950. Only our collective memories will prevent repeat of history. And has that last sixty years of history have shown, our collective memories have failed. Whether it’s Russia, southeast Asia, the Balkans, Sudan, or American, the killing fields continue. At least today, the pictures of Dachau are considered acceptable. In America, the pictures of our own Holocaust are ruled to gruesome for public consumption. How strange it is.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Around the Horn

At first, Carl Trueman brings it strong here and here on celebrity pastors and particularly Mark Driscoll. He has done this before, even showing up at what is probably the largest gathering of celebrity pastors to defend himself. It’s worth reading. (Ironically, one of the commenters at First Things talked of having to choose between evangelicalism and Presbyterianism, so he left evangelicalism and chose the PC-USA. I think that probably says more than he intended it to. But I digress … )

At second, here’s a good article raising a very legitimate point about Roe, namely, why do mothers have the right but fathers do not? Why can mothers kill their babies because of future costs, but fathers cannot? Why are fathers prosecuted as murderers for doing the same thing that mothers do with immunity?

At third, here’s an old article by Thomas Sowell on writing. It is both instructive and amusing. And it has relevance for preaching as well, such as when he says, “Jaw-breaking words often cover up very sloppy thinking.”

Lastly, here’s a long, disturbing, thought-provoking, and interesting article from a series of interviews with the father of Newtown killer Adam Lanza. It’s hard to imagine, to fathom, and to understand what happened, and how a father lives with it. This doesn’t help any of that, but it gives some insight into all of it.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Some Thoughts on the Creation Debate

A few nights ago, creationist Ken Ham debated evolutionist Bill Nye on creation and evolution. I didn’t watch it for several reasons. First, it was at a bad time. I was reading to my kids and getting them in bed. Second, it didn’t sound interesting. My suspicion was that it would be a rehash of old arguments, made by both sides often and rejected by both sides equally often.

I am a young earth creationist (YEC), primarily because the Bible presents it that way, and secondarily because, as I understand the science, there is no reason not to be. Now, I admit to not understanding all the science, but I have never gotten satisfactory explanations of things from an evolutionary perspective.

Simply put, I don’t have enough faith to be an evolutionist. Too many statistically impossible things would have to fall exactly in place for it to be true. To get a one-in-a-billion occurrence to happen is unbelievable. Irrational. To get a whole series of them to happen (which is what evolution requires) is … well … I don’t have a word for it. To believe in it is either an act of extreme faith or extreme naiveté, or both.

I have read some of the articles and reviews of the debate. It’s predictable. Evolutionists mock Ham for his beliefs, and Nye for even going to the debate. Creationists praise Ham and point out Nye’s faults. And there is a predictable group of old-earth creationists, or what we used to call concordists, who try to carve out a middle position, praising Ham for his commitment to the Bible and condemning his science, while agreeing largely with Nye’s science but pointing out his lack of belief in a Creator.

Having read these reports, I will make only a few comments about the larger debate, not the one from the other night.

First, I hear that Ham continually took it back to the Bible. Good for him. I am glad. He should do this. We all should. I doubt that many people are actually walking away from the faith over young-earth creationism, though if you listen to the critics (including Ham), the church is almost empty on Sundays because of YEC (either those who believe it or those who don’t). But in the end, YEC is the only position that is consistent with the gospel. Others can indeed be saved, and are saved, but they have some issues that they can’t really explain apart from some big leaps, namely the problem of death and it’s relation to sin. If death isn’t the result of sin (as an OEC must affirm), then we can’t really explain why the Bible says that it is, and we can’t explain why Jesus had to die as a payment for sin since death wasn’t the result of sin. We have a payment made (death) that has no connection to the debt (sin).

Second, I see that Nye professed a belief that all innovation would stop if everyone became young earth creationists. It’s hard to understand in what world that would be true. It certainly isn’t true in the world as it exists now, however, it may have gotten here. And Ham apparently proved that by videos and references to YECs who have innovated.

In fact, we should point out that the only reason innovation is possible is because this is a world of order and law, where certain things happen every single time. Innovation is possible because of that repeatability. There’s no reason to believe that the science that enables innovations works in a world of randomness and chance (the world of evolution).

Nye appealed to the “reasonable man.” Again, it is difficult to grasp how any reasonable person could look at the world as it currently exists, even with its problems, and assume it the product of randomness and evolution. That is beyond reason. It is not rational. It is a position of pure faith. Unwarranted faith, I would say. There is no reason to believe that the world we live in is accidental.

The atheist has no reason to believe that the world is like it is. He has no reason to believe that tomorrow will be like today. Or yesterday. The consistency of the world’s existence is possible only in a theistic universe. The atheist’s science only works in a world he doesn’t actually believe in. He does not want to live in the world he believes in. In fact, he couldn’t live in the world he believes in. No one could, either physically, morally, or ethically. The atheist can defend his atheism only because it isn’t true. He has to borrow from the theist to assert anything about reality, beginning with the fact that reality exists.

In the end, the question of reasonableness ultimately hinges on the mind that is reasoning. When that mind is darkened, ignorant because of hardness, and calloused (Ephesians 4:17-19), it is hard to take it seriously. Unless, of course, you share its fundamental preconceptions and presuppositions.

And that is why, in the end, debates like this probably primarily only strengthen the adherents of both sides. For most people, the winner is the one you agreed with before it started. If your presuppositions (the things you accept without argument) align with Nye’s presuppositions (the things he accepts without argument), then you are likely to agree with him. And likewise with Ham.

As Ken Ham (and others) have said before, the question isn’t one of bias. We are all biased. The question which bias is the best bias to be biased with.

Or as I have said, Is your faith, and the object of your faith, big enough to account for reality? If your worldview can’t explain the world, you need a better one.

Nye’s worldview can’t explain death and brokenness in the material universe. It can’t explain innovation and consistency in the material universe. It can’t answer the most basic question of why there is something rather than nothing, and where it is headed. Until it can, it is not a viable explanation for the world as we see it.

For now, we must all admit that when it comes to origins, we see through a glass darkly. What we do know, instinctively, is that the world is broken. Only the Bible can explain why it is broken, or how we even can recognize brokenness. Only the Bible can explain how that brokenness can be repaired. For creationist and evolutionist alike, Jesus is the answer.

And so my friend, be wary of converting people to creationism prior to or even instead of converting them to Jesus. Jesus didn’t die so we could explain the fossils, the size of the universe, or the ice cores from Antarctica. He died because our sinfulness is doing something very bad to us. And the worst is yet to come. Only by Jesus’ death can there be hope.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Around the Horn

Around the Horn is back after a hiatus due to more pressing matters. So without further ado …

At first, here’s an article giving “5 Reasons Why Gay is not the New Black.” These are things that should be pretty obvious. While all humanity should be treated with dignity because they are in the image of God, we, as a society, need to stop with the nonsense. This article helps to point us in the right direction.

At second, here’s a story of a man who was offered $50,000 for his twitter handle, refused it, and then had it stolen from him. What’s the biggest lesson here? If someone offers you $50,000 for your twitter handle, give it to them. Now. Why? Cuz Twitter handles are free. So take the 50G before the other guy finds out.

At third, here’s a couple of articles on parenting (article 1, article 2). I’d like to insert here that I have made none of these mistakes. Today at least. (My kids are still in bed, which makes it easier.) Of course letting them sleep until 8:00 a.m. on a non-school day may be a sin, but I will ask them about it when they get up. Parenting is challenging, to be sure. Thankfully, everyone and their mother has an opinion on it. So check these out and see if they make sense to you. If not, remember I am just posting links.

And the home run, here’s a good idea for those who like to eat for free and don’t mind airport security. A man bought a first-class ticket, and spent the next year going to the airport, checking in for his flight, eating in the airline’s VIP lounge, then changing his ticket to another day. Then he would do it again. Time after time. Give the man points for creativity.

Monday, January 20, 2014

“It Has Been Written”

The NT authors’ goal was to convince their readers that Jesus was the Christ of God, sent for the salvation of the world. To prove this with an illegitimate or unapparent use of Scripture would hardly have been convincing. The Scriptures continually appeal to the OT for its authority by using phrases like “It has been written” or “As the Scripture says.” Such appeals only make sense if it can be shown that “it” has indeed been written or has been said in the Scriptures. After all, if the Christological interpretation was hidden, “then how could it have been persuasive for those considering whether Jesus was the one sent from God according to his plans for all eternity?”(Kaiser 2003, 22).