Drinking Deeply

Monday, May 30, 2005 at 8:37 PM

Acupuncture

So I was talking to some of the reunion peoples at the FiCS 10 year reunion and one of them mentioned that they were fine with acupuncture and I mentioned that it was something I was thinking about. Is it ok for a Christian to get an acupuncture? Even if the theology behind it seems iffy?

He asked me if I would go to an atheist surgeon? Would I even make it a point to ask? Would you go to someone who believed that "hey, it's all me healing you, you're completely in my hands"?

Well, my answer at the time was no, I would not have made it a point to ask. Should I?

He continued to point out that a) Maybe the idea of "energies" corresponded to something of the nervous system, so it was "scientific" in fact, but the validity of "science" was undetermined and b) there were Christians he knew that were doing acupuncture. I pointed out that there were people who professed to be Christians who were universalist too, so their existence proves nothing about their validity.

I guess the issue I was wondering about is if it's bordering on the occult. If it is, then there are clear prohibitions against involving in anything relating to acupuncture at all. Looking at a few of the sites that pop up when I punch in "acupuncture" it sounds like it's very similar to T'ai Chi in the mentality that goes on behind it. It's focused upon harnessing this "energy" and using it for healing. Of course this is harnessed by the person who performs the acupuncture, but how much of it will one eventually pick up in going through a procedure? Is it possible to go to an acupuncturist, deny their theology and mentality and draw benefits from their actions?

Vincent Cheung has an excellent article in his blog about this. I think I am in agreement with his conclusions when he says:

Also, not only is Tai Chi inseparably linked to some anti-Christian ideas, but the very fact that it seeks to achieve relaxation (peace?) and health without relationship to any explicitly Christian belief or practice (such as faith, repentance, prayer, Bible study, etc.) is unacceptable. It is in practical and often explicit competition with the gospel.

This is the general basis from which I would oppose Tai Chi and other related practices.

Should I, for the reason it's linked to non-Christian ideas oppose acupuncture then? I asked the alum what his conscience said regarding it and he said "absolutely it's ok." I don't think mine is currently in agreement. Just some thoughts.

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Friday, May 27, 2005 at 3:48 AM

Abortion

An edited email I just sent off:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I must confess that the brief talk we had tonight left me a little shaken. The sanctity of life is something I believe very strongly in and I believe a belief in abortion of any form, with the one possible exception of when it's forced to be a choice between the two, even then I feel it may be debatable if this is an exception, rejects this and through it rejects God's law.

I believe that Scripture is clear that life is attached to the person before he or she is born. Additionally, Scripture lays down very firm rules and commandments against the taking of life, and any who disobey this have disobeyed God. This leads to the conclusion that abortion is wrong on an absolute scale (with the lone exception as I have pointed out previously). Whether or not the child will be loved or enjoy life (even if you could conclusively prove this, which I don't believe is possible) is secondary to their fundamental right granted by God to live.

Now, you may ask me why this is an issue, because it's clear you haven't had an abortion.

I believe Romans 1 is applicable:

28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

You may not be the people whom God is condemning in v. 28-30, but in giving any sense of approval towards abortion I believe v. 32 speaks directly to that.

Of course, no presentation of any Scriptural argument is complete without the good news, which is always the same. Even if someone has committed murder, even if someone has had an abortion, even if someone was the worst of all sinners, the promise of 1 John 1:9 stands: if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I know it's a lot to think about, but I beg you to read it and pray over it, inspect Scripture, for it is our ultimate authority

What follows is the proof for my points from Scripture:

I know it sounds very harsh, but I believe Scripture speaks very clearly on A) The personhood from the womb and B) The sanctity of life, even from the womb, and to believe otherwise is tantamount to rebelling against God. I will establish 1) that God forbids the murder of people and does make explicit that this applies to unborn as well. 2) that the unborn baby is considered alive and is granted personhood by God.

1) This one is easy. Exodus 20:13 "You shall not murder." (footnote: The Hebrew word also covers causing human death through carelessness or negligence). I think we're all agreed on this, but I can clarify it and expound on it from the rest of Scripture if you would like.

Another verse that makes this explicit even with the unborn is Exodus 21:

22"When men strive together and hit a pregnant woman, so that her children come out, but there is no harm, the one who hit her shall surely be fined, as the woman's husband shall impose on him, and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23But if there is harm,[a] then you shall pay life for life.

If there is punishment for the taking of life (life for life) when it may be accidental, how much greater is the punishment when it is directly precipitated by the mother?

2) There is a lot of what people would say is "scientific evidence" that life begins at conception, though since I deny that science can prove anything conclusively I will stick with Scripture.

To begin:

Genesis 9:4

But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.

Here, God equates "life" with it's "blood." This is also seen in the rest of Scripture, where the shedding of blood is a term to describe the shedding of life. Jer. 22:3; Ps. 106:37-38; Dt. 19:10,13; 21:9; 11 Ki. 24:4; Prov 6:16-17 are just some verses (look up "blood" in biblegateway). An unborn baby has blood, thus it has life (according to God).

Finally, the fundamental commandment to the perseverance of life itself comes from God: because we are made in His Image. Since He is formless and Spirit, this clearly is not a physical image, so must be something else that is made in His Image. God breathes into us the "breath of life" (Gen. 2:7). Can one guarantee that God has not grafted in His image into an unborn baby? If you cannot, then there exists a possibility it has already been given, the prohibition against murder stands.

Luke 1

13But the angel said to him, "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb.

Notice that John will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. Is he an exception? the rule? Can anyone prove this? But there exists the possibility that a baby that someone is aborting indeed has the spirit of life.


Psalm 139:
13For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a]
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there were none of them.


Notice that God takes an interest in the knitting the baby together. He has put it together, "wonderful are your works". He is involved in every detail. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made."

I beg of you to turn away from the thinking that marks the world and turn towards the thinking that marks Christ. Be transformed by a renewing of your mind, away from the patterns of this world and towards a pattern of Scripture. Take a stand against a culture that promotes human sovereignty and choice over divine sovereignty and Lordship.

If you want to talk more about this, over email, phone, or a meal I am always free, but I beg of you don't let your choice be "no choice." If you disagree with me, that is totally fine and I would love to talk it over with either of you (or both, or as many people as you want). If I am indeed wrong, then I ask you to correct me that I may be able to preach a more complete Gospel. Thanks

Additional reading:(This is the general link, I haven't read all the articles but I have read many other articles linked to on the site and I am in general agreement with almost everything on it)

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/topic/abortion.html

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Thursday, May 26, 2005 at 7:38 PM

My limited understanding of hope

an email I just sent off:

I was thinking about the question of hope that I kept raising. I think the answer that you gave is correct. I forgot about God's soveignty over everything and thought that it was impossible for hope to lead to endurance in a logical manner.

To sum up my thoughts:

It isn't hope that directly produces endurance, but it is God using hope as an occasion on which to grant us endurance. Likewise, when we endure, God can use that occasion to give us hope. Nothing we do is on our own, but rather it is God who moves in us and works his works in all things.

~~~~~

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Thursday, May 19, 2005 at 1:19 AM

What is "hope"?

So this is something I've been thinking about on and off over the course of the year. Some of it is because our vision this year is "pursuing faith hope and love."

What exactly does hope mean?

Some verses (some, by no means exhaustive)

) 1Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
So hope does not include an assurance. hope+assurance is our faith.
)8Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

13So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

So it seems that hope is one of those things that will not pass away, and its distinguishable from faith and love (since love is the "greatest")

Though another question is: Is there hope in heaven? Initially I would have said "no" for says

24For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

And it feels like there wouldn't be anything else that we would not see. But with , since knowledge has not passed away (and it seems to imply that it will when the perfect, Christ, will come) it is implying that hope is one of those things that will not pass away. Weird! Maybe we can still hope in God, for God is Spirit and invisible? But Christ will be our light in the New Heaven, so we can see that... maybe? Can you see light? Am I just playing semantics?

Now, these really aren't that bad, but the verses that really throw me for a loop (and lead me to conclude that my perception of hope isn't entirely consistent with Scripture) is and .


3More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.



4For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.
Both of these have a distinct chain of events: A leads to B leads to C leads to ... and one of those links is "endurance" and the final link (described) is "hope." So somehow hope is a fruit of endurance (and this parallel is most clearly seen in because it's clear that hope is a fruit of the encouragement of the Scriptures). But usually we see hope as producing endurance and not the other way around. How can endurance somehow produce hope? We can endure things because we know that there are great things to be hoped for (), but yet at the same time somehow it seems to link hope and endurance the other way around with endurance leading to hope.

Someone else also pointed out the possibility that by enduring one thing, we can have hope that we can endure other things too... but then the question is "how did we endure that one thing... and why?" and I feel like right now that answer has to be "because we were looking ahead" which seems to be "hope" So confusing!

Something I'm not saying (and this is seen by the context of where it says that God is a God of endurance) is that we somehow need to endure in order to have hope. No, hope, along with faith, and along with everything else, are gifts of God. I'm just trying to get my head around the idea of how endurance can produce hope.

Of course, one answer that someone gave me is that "well, God's ways are higher than ours so we should accept it as a mystery." I guess to an extent that's true, because he does have secret things that He does not reveal to us, but I do feel like Scriptures is clear enough that if God decides to reveal deeper insight into it (and not even extra-Scriptural visions or anything like that), we can figure out what He means by that and it's logic. Will I completely comprehend God? Of course not, but I can seek to have a complete limited knowledge of God in accordance to Scripture, and I guess that's why this question plagues me.

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Tuesday, May 17, 2005 at 1:48 PM

Evangelism and card games

I must say this is pretty cool.

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Monday, May 16, 2005 at 3:47 PM

More links

I am a big fan of the Christian blog community online, and sometimes there are some great posts online. This group is on preaching (as in, who should it be targeted at)

The Jolly Blogger does bring up a lot of excellent points. For sake of brevity (and just because I'm lazy) I'm not going to link all the links he links to (and their links) but there's a lot of really good discussion on there.

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at 12:03 AM

Light of our minds

An excellent series of essays by Vincent Cheung.

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Saturday, May 14, 2005 at 6:38 PM

The power of the Gospel

Why the need to be culturally relevant is irrelevant to the Gospel.

I agree with Spurgeon when he says:

I would to God that we ministers kept more closely to the grand old Book! We should be instructive preachers if we did so, even if we were ignorant of “modern thought,” and were not “abreast of the times.” I warrant you we should be leagues ahead of our times if we kept closely to the Word of God.

Charles H. Spurgeon, Counsel for Christian Workers

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at 12:13 AM

John Owen

The Father imposed His wrath due unto, and the Son underwent punishment for, either:

All the sins of all men.
All the sins of some men, or
Some of the sins of all men.
In which case it may be said:

That if the last be true, all men have some sins to answer for, and so, none are saved.
That if the second be true, then Christ, in their stead suffered for all the sins of all the elect in the whole world, and this is the truth.
But if the first be the case, why are not all men free from the punishment due unto their sins?
You answer, "Because of unbelief."

I ask, Is this unbelief a sin, or is it not? If it be, then Christ suffered the punishment due unto it, or He did not. If He did, why must that hinder them more than their other sins for which He died? If He did not, He did not die for all their sins!"

by John Owen.

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Thursday, May 12, 2005 at 7:20 PM

Newsong(2)

When I first wrote about it back way back when, one of my friends asked me what I thought and proceeded to ask one of her friends (who went to Newsong and liked it)for his side of it. Here I will give my responses to some of the points he brought up:

First, the points I gave my friend initially:
ok, taken in mind I went to one message, but have heard it's similar from other people who've gone multiple times:

1 and most importantly) They preached with a rather low view of scripture. It was just one message, but giving everyone a handout with "fill in the blank" questions for "notes." The references weren't first to scripture, then to personal experience as an example, but were first to personal experience aka "practicality" and never to scripture.

2) The worship was ... overdone. While I admire and respect their discipline and practice. They were very smoothflowing and knew what they were doing, but then the drum and guitar and singing solos coupled with cameras zooming in and out of the worship band (the cameras were fed onto the screens to the right and left) made me question if I was worshipping God or them

3) A general "bad" feeling about it. Walking into the church (which was huge ) and seeing people, and everything gave me a really bad sinking feeling, and while I don't trust this intuition as authoritative in any way, it doesn't give me a good impression, and I believe Scriptures when it testifies to a Holy Spirit that helps me identify truth and falsehood, and Newsong definitely did not have a good feel. I really wanted to walk out halfway through the message.
I still stand by these points, though I will downplay point 3 and say that it is not a real objection on it's own, but I do know God has placed His Spirit in us to test things, and though our gut instincts can be wrong because of our sin, when they are consistent with Scripture, they are right.

And his response:
him: we believe that we as the church need to be culturally relevant to people in order for them to want to hear the gospel
friend: how do you guys define culturally relevant?
him: that means change is style in music, relatable stories, etc. adding drama, dance, etc.


First off, I question if this concept is even biblical. Paul does say to be a Jew in order to win the Jews, and a Gentile to win the Gentiles, (1 Corinthians 9) but is it necessary to be "culturally relevant" in order for people to want to hear the gospel? Is that the call today?
Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 "For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit"
What happened in there? People received the gospel because it came not because it was culturally relevant, but because it came in "power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction." People received it because God opened their hearts. Even though they received the word "in much affliction" they still received it. Paul preaches the gospel, no matter the culture. He engages and rebukes people, proclaiming the truth, nothing but Christ crucified. He doesn't say "oh this culture is more fuzzy, lets add in some movies or short stories" instead he opens the Word and proclaims the Gospel, which is a fragrance of death to the dead and a fragrance of life to the elect. (2 cor. 2:15-16)
Him: a lot of people expect to be spiritually fed on sundays, and they get really mad if they don't. THAT is between you and god. you can't blame it on people or elements
Here I believe he is addressing the anger in my words. Yes I was (and am) very angry. I expect when I walk into a church that calls itself Christian that it seeks to conform itself to the image of her husband. I expect God's name and His Words to be honored and revered. I expect that it would not be like a whore, spreading it's legs for any passing cultural idol (Ezekiel 16). Am I angry about it when these things happen? Absolutely. I do blame it on the people, the elders and the pastors. They are called to be shepherds of their flock and yet all I heard was poor leadership, poor theology, poor shepherding. That was incredibly offensive to me. To claim the name of Christ and yet be so much a part of the world that it's almost indistinguishable (for them) between the Bible and a self-help book. I am angry when God is so blatantly disregarded by people who call themselves Christians.
He: all i can say is that newsong is culturally relevant to the church population
And all I can say is that Newsong should not conform itself to the pattern of this world (Romans 12:1-2), but to the pattern of Scripture.

On the message itself:

Him: do you know that divorce rates are the same within christian and non christian couples?
it isn't any different for christians, it's still about 50%-60%

Him: we can continue to teach straight from the bible, which isn't wrong, but it might not be relatable unless is was shared by a couple who has gone through the same struggles not as relatable
My friend:
but the Bible is still just as relevant
Him: yes, but the means to make it relevant are from real people that share real problems
Wait, so Christians is just the same as the world in their divorce rates, so the answer must be to become more like the world! Oh yeah I can't believe I never thought of that!

I wonder if this person even believes that the Bible is inspired, for it seems like if it was, God didn't quite plan for everything that happened in this world if it has become so "unrelatable" within 2000 years.

We should rewrite the Bible so that it's more culturally relevant, because God sure did make a mistake and needs an updated Bible now. In fact, I bet Paul didn't foresee that people would have monogamous homosexual relationships, so we should take that out of the Bible. I bet Jesus didn't realize that we were supposed to be tolerant of other people's beliefs, so we should change Christ's claim to be "The Truth, The Way, The Life" into "a truth, a way, a life" right?


Was Jesus not real? Did he not sweat blood for His people? Was Paul not real? Were his tears for broken churches, for his spiritual son Timothy not truly shed?

I believe that Scripture, by it's very nature God-breathed, is always relevant, always useful, always our sole infallible rule of faith for all things. I believe God has provided everything we need to conform to His image within the 66 books of His Word and to add or subtract from these books (or to imply that it is necessary to do so) is blasphemy. I openly confess that I do not conform myself perfectly to His Word, nor does my church, nor will any church ever. We are, and I am, a broken people desperately in need of Christ at all times. But to use this as an excuse for neglecting the Holiness of God is unacceptable, especially for a church, and to ignore God's demands for holiness and a non-conformity to the world... well that's worse than unacceptable.

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at 3:26 PM

Newsong(1)

I'm just going to describe as much as I remembered and then give my reasons for recommending that FiCS not go back to Newsong in future years.

We get there, and the first thing that strikes us is how many people there are. The church is huge. Lots of people from all backgrounds and ages. We walk inside and the first thing we notice the large screens on the walls in the waiting rooms displaying what we eventually realize is the pastor giving the message. We also notice the large numbers of computers around the side of the room that display information and links about what's going on at church.

I immediately notice the small bookstore to the side and peruse the books. No authors I recognized but I was mainly looking for a lack of one specific book: The Purpose Driven Life. Looking on the shelves it didn't look like they had it, so I was pretty relieved. Then I turned around and saw it displayed prominently on their counter right next to the cash register.

Immediately, a flag went up but I figured it was just one Sunday, and it's not like I have nothing to learn, so whatever.

Walking back out to the waiting area, they're doing their closing set and the screens are displaying the musicians who are singing, drumming, and whatever. Kind of creepy (who are we worshipping again?). Eventually we walk inside.

Worship set is much the same, gigantic screens to the left and right displaying the lyrics and zooming in on the singers. Sometimes it would change into a visual background but the focus (of the cameras at least) seemed to always be on the people. The songs were songs that we all knew, but I was very uncomfortable. I wondered what exactly the message was going to be on, especially with such a view of a people-centered worship. Since we had a number of seekers in the group, I hoped and prayed that the message would be glorifying to God.

After the worship set, the (presumably, but I'm not sure) head pastor welcomed everyone, made some annoucements and then told us we were in for a treat because this week was wrapping up the series on marriage and relationships. Because of that, the worship team put together a medley of popular love songs for us.

So we sit there and listen as people get on stage, all very professional. They were remarkably gifted and just basically covered a lot of pop culture songs. something about measuring a year. name of love... all this other stuff. This lasted about 15 minutes (but it felt like forever). Don't get me wrong, they were talented, but I wondered (again) what the purpose of something like this was. Was it just to showcase their talents? "reward" the audience for bearing through a series on dating and relationships? Entertainment? Why was this church so focused on entertaining?! The very bad feeling only got worse and worse as I realized that there was no message behind this music, just ... contemporary love songs, which yes, demonstrate our need for Christ, but this was never touched, never talked about, they got up there and sang... for no justifiable (by Scripture) reason at all. I was about ready to walk about a couple times, and this was one of them.

Ok, so the music stops and everyone's clapping and cheering. Finally they introduce the speakers (a recently married couple) and they sit down and the guy says: Well, first we're going to show you a movie!

Ummm ok... fine. So they display a movie they showed at their wedding that was just basically poking fun at the wedding planning and stuff, showing how the wife was basically doing everything and the guy was not doing anything, just a lot of humor. Ummm ok. I wondered again just how much they revered Scripture.

Finally the movie ends (another 10 minutes or so of just... entertainment). They have the message online here (click on "Beyond Puppy Love). They sit down and start talking about their marriage. Different struggles they went through, the experience of getting married the "high" and the "lows."

Periodically they referenced the "passage" for that day: Psalm 103:1-5, but the translation they kept using was a paraphrase (which I found to be NLT). Don't get me wrong, the paraphrasish translations are great for just free reading and sharing with children or people new to Scripture, but in my opinion they are not suitable for preaching or in depth Bible study. There is too much interpretation, re-phrasing, and sometimes just the introduction of ideas that are completely foreign to Scripture itself.

The speakers share about what happened in their marriage, their relationships, different stories. The periodic references to a passage that seems to speak nothing about the topic only serve as interjections as opposed to Truth. I was thoroughly disgusted. There was nothing of value that I got out of the talk. Scripture was viewed as something that was entirely not relevant, or at least not "as" relevant as other things like "personal experience."

Oftentimes the speakers would reference what was necessary to "go the distance." I wondered what the purpose of the relationships they were building were. Was it to "go the distance" and get married? When did Paul ever talk about relationships in the context of "going the distance"?

They talked about counseling, which is a good idea... if it's biblical counseling. The core of our brokenness with one another is our brokenness with God and if we try to go to secular counselors to fix that, it isn't going to happen. Another point they completely neglected (or didn't think was "relevant")

I was ready to walk out about 3 times, but I figured it would be disrespectful, so I hung out till the worship was over. Thoroughly disgusted and not amused at the complete disregard for God's name, His truth, His Word.

Newsong church, in that one occasion, demonstrated to me just how far off "seeker-sensitivity" really was from Scripture. The church attempts to conform to culture, and in doing so becomes "of the world." The church tries to attract the culture of the world, to be appealing by usage of entertainment, flashy (and contemporary) music and gifted artists. They try to display movies and share about their personal experiences, all because of a belief that Scripture is not sufficient. I caution anyone who attends a church like this, a church that tries to conform to society's demands instead of to God's demands. I urge you to speak out for the truth and purity of God's Word. I urge you to obey God's commands in 1 John 2:15-16)

15Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16For all that is in the world-- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions--is not from the Father but is from the world.

This is why I would not recommend Newsong for next year. Without a dramatic reformation (in accordance to Scripture), there is little to none to be learned for a culture like this.

I know this sounds overly harsh, so feel free to email me or IM me if you want to talk more.

A relevant link: Seeker Sensitivity

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at 2:41 AM

Boldness and Humility

I think the link above summarizes my thoughts very well regarding Vincent Cheung. I feel like I could have written that email.

I also owe you guys a post on Newsong. That will come tomorrow, Lord willing.

*edit* and a followup post

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005 at 11:33 PM

Tolerance requires judgement

I think this is a very insightful post, though much of what he says in other posts I don't entirely agree with.

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Monday, May 09, 2005 at 5:14 PM

Another great post

Day in and day out I get rebuked.

Horray

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at 4:59 PM

I want some DVDs

May Giveaway

So this guy is giving away two free DVDs. All you need to do is submit an email address (no spam or anything, he uses this to promote his site and the site that donates these DVDs) and you're entered in the drawing. Additionally, any referrals get me an additional entry.

I would love to win these DVDs (and also like to promote his site) so if you guys are interested in winning them as well I could recommend you enter the drawing. If you want to use me as a referral (it does lower your chances of winning yourself to 1/(n+1) instead of 1/n, but increases mine by 1 (so together we have 3/(n+1) instead of 2/n)) you can enter 61630 as a referral code.

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Sunday, May 08, 2005 at 1:06 PM

Counting as joy

Dr. Peter Hammond, whom I met in South Africa, told me that every time he preaches in Sudan, he expects to be arrested and persecuted. When pressed for details on how he was persecuted, Dr. Hammond said he had experienced “minor persecution,” such as having his head submerged in a pail of urine until he was forced to drink it, or having a bag tied around his head at the neck until he fainted from lack of oxygen. “That’s nothing compared to what our Lord experienced,” he quickly added. “We Christians must count it all joy when we are persecuted for Christ’s sake.”

Joel R. Beeke, Overcoming the World
(P & R Publishing, 2005), p. 19.

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Saturday, May 07, 2005 at 4:55 PM

Another good excerpt from Piper

"Some controversy is crucial for the sake of life-giving truth. Running from it is a sign of cowardice. But enjoying it is usually a sign of pride. Some necessary tasks are sad, and even victory is not without tears—unless there is pride. The reason enjoying controversy is a sign of pride is that humility loves truth-based unity more than truth-based victory. Humility loves Christ-exalting exultation more than Christ-defending confrontation—even more than Christ-defending vindication. Humility delights to worship Christ in spirit and truth. If it must fight for worship-sustaining truth, it will, but that is not because the fight is pleasant. It’s not even because victory is pleasant. It’s because knowing and loving and proclaiming Christ for who he really is and what he really did is pleasant."

An excerpt from the intro to one of Piper's books. Quote from Desiring God Ministries.

http://desiringgod.org/library/fresh_words/2005/050405.html

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Friday, May 06, 2005 at 12:44 PM

A few good reads

On Sermons and preachings, especially from a listener's side:

How to Listen To An (Expository) Sermon - Tim Challis

The Listener's Responsibility - Tim Challis

Characterisitcs of Purpose Driven Churches
- Tim Challis

On Christian apologetics/missions

Presuppositional Confrontations - Vincent Cheung

Violence for Heaven - Vincent Cheung

Let the Nations Be Glad - John Piper

An excerpt from Piper's book (p. 206)

Missions exists because worship doesn't. The ultimate issue addressed by missions is that God's glory is dishonored among the peoples of the world. When Paul brought his indictment of his own people to a climax in Romans 2:24, he said, "The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." That is the ultimate problem in the world. That is the ultimate outrage.

The glory of God is not honored.
The holiness of God is not reverenced.
The greatness of God is not admired.
The power of God is not praised.
The truth of God is not sought.
The wisdom of God is not esteemed.
The beauty of God is not treasured.
The goodness of God is not savored.
The faithfulness of God is not trusted.
The commandments of God are not obeyed.
The justice of God is not respected.
The wrath of God is not feared.
The grace of God is not cherished.
The presence of God is not prized.
The person of God is not loved.

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Tuesday, May 03, 2005 at 12:05 AM

The ID arguement

Same sort of disclaimer applies. Lots of bias from what I believe and what I choose to take down and not, but I tried to write down/remember as much as I could for you guys. I do disagree with a lot of his claims because they seem like just... claims and I could simply claim the opposite. But he does put forth a number of convincing arguments from his claims that do seem "intuitively" true.

First a book recc. from Behe for a decent overview: Debating Design - William Dembski and Michael Ruse. Lots of good articles from all sorts of viewpoints and opinions both on the evolutionary, ID, punctuated equilibrium and so forth.

5 main points

1) Design not mystical. Deduced from physical structure of a system. (I disagree with this, evidence cannot speak for itself. Design is not a deductive argument, but an inductive one, so does require "hand-waving")

Points to Mount Rushmore - obvious examples of design. No question about it he says.

2) Everyone agrees aspects of biology appear designed. (I disagree that anyone can claim anything about "everyone")

Provides several examples from noted evolutionary proponents. All of them admit that it looks designed, but deny that it indeed was designed.

Dawkins - "Natural design is a blind watchmaker"
Alberts - "entire cell can be viewed as a factory of machines"

3) There are structural obstacles to Darwinian evolution

Darwin claims that all things can be made by slight successive modifications. If we find some that are "irreducibly complex" then we have strong evidence that Darwin does not hold.

Mousetrap analogy. Bacterial flagellum: 30-40 parts, many which are absolutely necessary. Impossible for numerous successive slight modifications!

Behe notes that points 1-3 are generally accepted, where he differs is he claims there is intelligence behind a designer. Critics claim this is a religious claim and is not real science. Behe claims (and I disagree again) that ID is completely empirical, the evidence speaks for itself.

4) Grand Darwinian claims rest on imagination.

Behe does not actually define what he means by "grand" but he seems to be giving nod to the idea of "micro" evolution inside an already made organism, but denying that it can happen on a biochemical scale. He states somewhere along the lines that some evolutionary claims he does agree with (though he does not state which or why) But he does present evidence:

Behe states that though many people "assume" that there is a refutation of Behe's claims about blood clotting or bacterial flagellum, though when examined there is only oblique references to the "well known" documentation. If there were it would have been brought up.

Franklin M. Harold (evolutionary proponent) states that: 1) No real explanations of how evolution works. 2) We are not allowed to assume intelligent design. Behe clearly disagrees with 2 but and feels 1 is sufficient enough evidence to claim that it cannot stand as a theory.

5) Strong evidence for design

Behe gives the blood clotting system as an example. Dozens of different steps necessary in order for a simple blood clot to form (and then for it to be removed at the right time). Each one is absolutely necessary and without it, it doesn't work. Behe argues that this requires ID.

Behe mentions the refutation given by R. Doolittle, who has studied blood clotting for 40 years. Doolittle claims that one scientific study shows that mice who were missing one gene went wrong (couldn't remove clots, died), mice missing another gene went wrong (couldn't form clots) but mice who were missing both were fine! Claimed that this was an example of reducible complexity in a thought irreducible complex system. Behe goes to the study in question and finds that Doolittle got it completely wrong. The ones missing both genes had the same problem as the one missing the clotting gene and thus died as well.

Here Behe points to the fact that people in the scientific community (and outside of it as well) presuppose that the answer is out there and don't bother to do their own research and check up on the sources. If he had done this he'd be torn to shreds, but it's accepted by the community because its what they believe already. Quotes two people, both of whom reference this "common" refutation of the blood clotting mechanism as a general refutation without actually looking at the study in question. I was slightly bemused =)

Behe states: Bottom line - if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. This is known as in-duck-tion *groans from the audience* Induction by itself is not a deductive argument, so he throws out the idea that ID is a logical deduction from the evidence. Luckily no one seemed to have caught it (but of course, for them to point it out would be to undermine the authority of science itself!)

Q&A session: Here a lot of questions were thrown at Behe, most of them from the skeptics. I must say I greatly admire Behe's cordiality and kindness and true honesty in trying to answer many of the questions which I personally thought were just plain idiotic. Well here is a rundown on some of the questions

Q1) What exactly is intelligent design. Don't you need a theory of knowledge in order to determine if something is intelligently designed? How do you determine if something looks like it was designed?

A1) Points back to rushmore example: intuition (kind of a weak argument). Admits he doesn't know much and points to William Dembski (mathematician and philosopher, wrote the book which is sitting unread on my bookshelf called "intelligent design" )

Q2) Does life have a purpose?

A2) hem and haw, "I hope so" mentions that veritas forum would like people to believe that yes. Outside his scope of knowledge but I kind of expected an affirmative "yes" since he hasn't (last I checked) killed himself.

Q3.1) There are no claims for design, no example of how a designer designs anything. What if I claim that I designed a dandelion? How do you test it? (asked by an angry old guy)

A3.1) Doesn't quite understand claims (but responds with a lot of kindness, which I definitely would not have been able to), wonders why you would need to prove how a designer designs anything in order to infer design.

Q3.2) Old guy not satisfied and clearly angry. "I designed a dandelion! Prove it!"

A3.2) huh? You don't need to know how someone designed mount rushmore in order to infer that it was designed.

Q4) What is the Intelligent part of design?

A4) the question was incoherent, GIGO

Q5) Who designed the designer?

A5) You don't need to figure out everything about the designer in order to determine that design happened. (another weak answer, he is RC why doesn't he come out and say it?)

Q6) Why do you choose Irreducibly complex as a criteria for design? Why don't you conclude a different theory like (this was from Sam Yam, who had obviously done a bit of reading)

A6) IC is part of the things that Darwin himself set out, clear that it is a good place to start. Other theories are all trying to answer the question of design and dance around it. Behe is merely pointing to the obvious conclusion.

Q7) As a religious biologist, where does science fit in? Where do we stop and say "oh Creator" and where do we keep searching? What kinds of advice could you offer for those who are believers in ID and biology? (Asked by Dennis Adams, my roommate. I would say probably the most coherent question out there, rest of them were just personal attacks or challenges that he already dealt with)

A7) Basically, test it. Once again Behe skirts the issue of where "God" fits in since it seems like he's trying to keep from alienating those that may not be christian from his ideas.

There were a couple more, but I may have forgotten to take them down. A few of the people who had the "challenges" had follow up questions because they didn't believe his objections were valid (but none of the questions were about the science or methods he did or the research, they were all personal directed questions, I don't want to say attacks... well I guess I just did)

A link I've found: http://www.arn.org/authors/behe.html

Here he has refutations of a lot of arguments against him including many articles that he's written.

All in all I'm very impressed with his willingness to dialog, especially with large groups of people strongly opposed to his ideas, to the point where they're just seeking to tear him down. They really have not put forth a convincing argument against his ideas, but are all strongly biased against them (simply because of the implications it will mean) Well then again I guess I'm biased for them. ::chuckles:: boils down to what our presuppositions are!

Behe doesn't incorporate his faith as a RC into his talk in an effort to distance himself from the fundamentalist Christian wing that is viewed in a very negative light, but he comes across as a very kind man and I'm really glad he came out to talk.

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Monday, May 02, 2005 at 6:00 PM

"The Empire Strikes Back"

Notes on Michael Behe's response to critics of Intelligent Design.

My notes (with some thoughts thrown about, I'll try to keep them separate, but seeing as they're my notes there's a lot of bias in what I did and didn't take down =p) from the talk

"The Empire Strikes Back" - Criticisms of ID

Behe mentions that the scientific objections were going to be saved for tonight (which looks to be pretty crazy judging from what some of the questions and comments were about the talk afterwards)

To start, Behe provided a brief description of ID and the Darwinian challenge. Darwin stated something along the lines of "If anything could not be explained by numerous successive slight modifications, his theory would break down"

Behe proposes that Irreducible Complexity is that inexplicable case.

Pulls out the analogy to the mousetrap (I'm sure you've both heard it). Basically the mousetrap requires all the parts in order to function, and without one of them it would not be able to. If something like this existed in biology, it would be the same thing.

Common example (which Behe says there will be more in the talk tonight): Bacterial Flagellum, made up of (insert some large number) different components which are all required in order for it to move about.

Scientists are also (sort of) in agreement that there are problems with evolution, but where Behe is different is that he says this points to intelligent design.

Some criticisms:

Conceptual: People claim that the mousetrap analogy does not work, it is possible to reverse design a mousetrap that requires less pieces. Behe shows that in order to go from one piece to two, and from two to three, it requires some sort of intelligence. Even with biological precursors, irreducible complex things are irreducible complex because there is no Darwinian mechanism in order to proceed from a precursor to the thing itself. It requires intelligence. IMO Behe spent way too long on this section pointing out the painfully obvious flaws that the critics had.

Theological: Behe points out that not all Christians are in agreement with him, noticeably the Roman Catholics as a whole believe in theistic evolution. Behe is RC. Behe points to Ken Miller who argues that ID by stating that "evolution sets us free" (the whole free will argument) and says that God can control the minute parts, like the quantum mechanics and all sorts of stuff so that evolution can work. Behe says that is exactly what he said! You need intelligent design (God). (I wonder if Behe is Calvinist, I'm going to send him an email about it, from what he said he sounds very Calvinistic)

Rebecca Fliestra - Claims ID sets up a false dichotomy between God's "supernatural" and "living" providence, and as science progresses (if we believe ID) then God's presence retreats. Behe denies this "dichotomy" since it seems obvious that her argument against intelligent design (based upon the fact that God controls nature, so he controls evolution too) is exactly what he said ID is, except that darwin doesn't work. He points out that if Darwin is true, then we don't need a creator to take control of anything, it's all done by natural selection.

Behe emphasizes over and over that: even if design is unmeasurable (quantum, daily life, whatever) it is still detectable. (Easter island)

Social: Behe points out that these are the strongest criticisms, not because of their logical basis, but because of the sheer force of it all. As a whole, people react to ID (and a denial of evolution) with a bit of scorn, especially in the scientific community. He points to some scientists who've been ousted from their research positions because they've brought up questions about evolution. Teachers criticize ID because they dont' like it, because they've been teaching evolution all their years. There really isn't much of a logical refutation against ID, but just a lot of social pressures.

Behe's site: www.crsc.org

Q&A section: This was mostly occupied by the critics in the room (and expecting a lot more tonight!). First girl asked the question "as a falsifisist, I believe everything must be falsifiable, so how can ID be falsifiable?" Behe provided a nice answer that all one had to do was to come up with a darwinian mechanism minus intelligence and create one of these "irreducible complex" machines. (He elaborated a bit, but that was the foundations of it, I wonder if the statement "everything must be falsifiable" is a falsifiable statement. )

Some other questions which seems just plain silly, then someone asked if "imperfect design" was evidence for evolution. Behe replied that this begs the question of what "perfect" design actually was. Was being bald evidence for evolution?

Another guy stood up there and asked "if the entire scientific community disagrees with you, how come you still believe you're right?" and "What's the source of the objections against ID?"

Ummm yeah, I thought it was just a stupid question, but Behe answered it and the kid kept asking the same question over and over. Just kind of annoying because other people wanted to ask questions but didn't get to. alas alas.

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at 11:21 AM

Another Rally Point

Another compromise, another day in post-modern Christianity. *tears*

Eerdmans Publishing Co. is putting a Mormon apologetic work on the shelves of your Christian bookstore. A Christian publishing company, putting a Mormon apologetic work, without a refutation.

Some blog posts that inspired this one:

Bridgeway Bible Church

James White Alpha Omega Ministries

Vincent Cheung

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at 1:06 AM

*THUNK*

Over the past few weeks, I've gotten into the habit of saying/typing *thunk* whenever I approved of something. Slightly amusing. Today I saw Isaiah 55:8-9 in action.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."

And no other time has I felt God state this so clearly with a resounding *THUNK* than tonight.

FiCS officer elections was tonight. We gathered together to elect a president, vice-president, and treasurer for the upcoming year. I was a little interested in what was going to happen, but not that much since I was about 95% sure I was going to be a small group leader next year (I was one of two guys asked, and I was pretty sure the other one wouldn't accept because he was going to do wo-team). I had even told a friend at dinner right before "yeah, unless someone gives some amazing nomination speech, I'll probably decline if I get nominated."

(The nominations process: Someone nominates, requires a 2nd, and then nominee gets to accept or decline, after all nominations are in we vote)

We sit down, floor is open for nominations for president. If no one is nominated then it gets thrown into the current officers and they appoint people.

We sit in awkward silence for about 15 minutes as we realize that no one really had spoken with anyone about nominating them. *whew* load off of our backs, we'll just shove it to the current officers and they'll appoint people and that'll be that. Someone motions to close the floor, 2nded, a lot of ayes, and then one nay (motions need to be unanimous). We sit in awkward silence for another 5 minutes. Someone gets nominated, 2nded, but she declines. Sit... Sit... I get nominated, brief fear, but I still felt like I was going to decline, no second. *whew*

We take a 5 minute break.

Reconvene. 5...10 minutes go by. Someone else nominated, no second. Someone else nominated 2nded declines. Right around then I start to realize that I was being dragged inevitably towards God's plan. We sit for 10 minutes. Someone motions to close, 2nded, and I nay the motion. I don't actually know why. Someone nominates me (again), 2nded and I decide to accept. I felt like a nervous wreck. I really wanted to be a small group leader, I really felt more comfortable being a small group leader, I didn't feel able to plan ahead as president, I didn't feel I could handle it... but there was where I felt God dragging me.

So I was elected President, much to my surprise.
VP turned out to be Jessica
Treasurer Wendy

I felt so much like Jonah, running away from God's plan and just seeing God chuckle and be like *BAM* "Isaiah 55:8-9 Mickey!" I wanted to be a small group leader, I didn't want to work with Jessica, I didn't want to be in charge. But God comes in with a royal *THUNK* of approval.

Such is God's will. I know I am completely incapable. I know I am completely unable. I know and confess that I am nothing. Only with You O' Lord am I able even to stand. Only with You O' Lord am I able to do anything. I don't know why You wanted me to be as the physical head of this fellowship, but I acknowledge You are the true and only spiritual head of our fellowship. I will rest in you, I trust that You are sovereign, that no matter how much I may feel like I am screwing things up, You are there, Emmanuel, God with us. You are You are. To You be the glory, the power, the honor of all.

Please be praying for me. I feel a bit worried, but peaceful knowing that God is in charge, but prayers would still be greatly appreciated. Thanks

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