Let me recommend this article on the Crosswalk.com site.
Monthly Archives: January 2008
It was the end of June and Mr. and Mrs. Disciple were listening to their 50th sermon since January. They and their fellow listeners were in danger of becoming the “I’ve heard it all before” group. The preacher was a good enough speaker with an effective mix of humor, illustration and Scripture. He worked hard to communicate God’s will. Unfortunately, however, he was becoming familiar to the sea of faces gathered in the auditorium. They had learned his gestures, his inflection and the new was wearing off. It was getting easier to drop off into a little snooze while he preached.
But today, something was different for Mr. Disciple, because, during the sermon, something clicked. Continue reading
The Apocalypse or Revelation is written in apocalyptic language which is purposely unclear. We can gain some “large picture” information (in the context of the Roman Empire, God’s people and God’s way will be triumphant and, by extension, under any repressive regime) but, historically, the rest is guesswork. Do I understand Revelation? Not very well, but I’m working on it.
As for “the end of the world,” what Jesus seems to emphasize is that any coming (in judgment or otherwise) will be very quick, like a flash of lightning (Matthew 24:27).
Revelation 3:11 22:7, 12, 20 all use the Greek word, tachu which means “quickly, speedily (without delay)”. The tenor of Revelation is judgment that is soon to come (1:1; 22:6). It is correct to say that “soon” would not be thousands of years later. The judgment upon Jerusalem (Matthew 24 et al.) was going to happen soon. The judgment upon Rome (the apparent target) was going to happen soon and did. It would not make sense then to apply passages in Revelation to thousands of years hence. A good portion of the religious world seeks to make Revelation refer to sometime in the future and the second coming of Christ and the end of time. The context does not seem to support such a view.
There are, however, other passages that teach the return of Christ and the end of the world (2 Peter 3) and emphasize the fact that it may be a long time coming. Peter is saying that God, dwelling in eternity, is not held hostage to time.
In Psalm 110:1 the Messiah is exalted to the Father’s right hand UNTIL all his enemies have been conquered, the last of which is death (see 1 Corinthians 15:23-27 which quotes Psalm 110). Early Christian preaching/writing explained what even believing Jews did not, at first, understand. As Edward Fudge pointed out to me, “Peter explains in the end of his remarks found at the close of Acts 3, that according to God’s plan, heaven has received Jesus the Messiah UNTIL the time for the restoration of all things.”
To sum up, there is a sense in which Jesus will quickly come in judgment against His enemies and a sense in which He will come when His enemies have been conquered. We’d best be ready for any eventuality.
To those of you who can’t wait for my next post and hang on every word I write…I apologize for the lack of activity here. Believe it our not, I have a day job. There are several other major distractions that I won’t bother you with here.
I have also found out that if you make provocative comments on other people’s blogs that they want you to answer right away. By the time I get to it, they have forgotten who I am and what I said. I apologize to you folks as well.
Now for something completely different. We have had a rash of vandalism in our town to the tune of a half a million dollars in damage. There are several crimes I just do not understand, cannot comprehend, the motivation for. Vandalism is one of those. Anyway, these guys have been caught four “men” (I hesitate to call them that) 18-20 years of age. Apparently they were bored. BORED! Can you believe it? One or more of them cited the lack of “activities” in our town. Give me a flamin’ break!
Well, now they can be bored for five years behind bars.
It disturbs me greatly that so many Christians are remaining in the huddle instead of fronting up to the line of scrimmage and fighting the good fight. We stay within our own comfortable groups and pretend that all is well with the world. Well here’s a newsflash: there’s a war going on! The skeptics and atheists are on the attack and we ignore it to our harm and the detriment of our faith.
I’ve noticed most atheists/skeptics fall into two categories:
- Refugees from religion who have chosen a life of skepticism. They are in angry rebellion to the excesses and misdeeds of religious leaders and their contradictory, confusing, erroneous and ignorant teachings.
- People who have never been religious and look with disdain upon those who are. Their rationale is well-fed by the stupidity, misdeeds, inconsistencies, shenanigans and ignorance of religious pundits and their followers.
These are the aggressive skeptics and atheists who write blogs and books and appear on television.
What bothers me about this is how they are largely unopposed. It seems that the majority of religious people just shake their heads and silently go about their business. They’ve given up trying to make sense of it all. They’ve never given theism or atheism much thought. Well, the time has come for that to change. Here is what must happen and it must happen now.
- Become aware. Realize that the conflict is raging. It is raging all around us. Get your head out of the sand and take a look. There are battles that must be fought.
- Get educated.
- Read the Word. You must know your Bible if you are going to defend your faith. Read it for yourself. You’ll find that some of what you thought was truth is based on someone’s interpretation. Be like the Bereans (Acts 17:11).
- Read the books and blogs of those who oppose theism (that’s why I have a part of my blogroll called “The Opposition”). Become acquainted with their arguments. Study science (not pseudo-science but the real stuff). Science is the ally of faith, not its enemy. When you use science to defend your faith, know what you’re talking about.
- Read and learn from the books, websites and blogs of those who have been successfully fighting. One apologist I highly recommend is John Clayton. These people have been at it for a long time and you can benefit from their experience.
- Get real. Some of the ridiculous stuff promoted by self-appointed apologists just doesn’t hold water. Stop trying to defend the indefensible. Stop trying to prove what cannot be proven. The existence of God cannot be proven (or disproven) but you can rally the evidence to show that it’s the reasonable choice. If you take No. 2 and 4 seriously, you will learn which arguments are effective and which are not.
- Get engaged. There is no better way to learn how to “get real” than getting into the fray. Don’t be afraid to be proven wrong. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. We learn how to fight by fighting. Sometimes we will make valid points; sometimes we will discover a point is invalid. How do you get engaged? Seek out discussions with your atheist/skeptic friends. Comment on their blogs. Write your own blog. Write articles. Speak when you can. Above all…do something!
- Be humble. You don’t know everything. Some of your opposition will know much more than you do (then again, some of them are dreadfully ignorant). Listen to them. Learn from them. There’s an old Texas saying, “You ain’t learnin’ nothin’ when yer talkin’.” Be polite, be civil, and be respectful. Don’t polarize your opposition by being an arrogant jerk.
- Don’t retreat…don’t give up. If you lose a battle, learn from it and get back into the war. There’s no more effective soldier than a battle-hardened one.
“Rise up, O men (and women) of God! / Have done with lesser things. / Give heart and mind and soul and strength / To serve the King of kings” — William Merrill.
People are so interesting! Maybe “mystifying” is more accurate. Some weeks ago, I posted a blog regarding the disappearance of Stacy Peterson. It has received over 2,684 views! Other stuff that, it seems to me, is far more important is far less popular. I’m not sure of the psychology of this but it has been surprising to this blogger.
Then there is my seldom-read garden blog: charamongarden.wordpress.com. The most popular post on this blog by far has been a little article about what happens when you don’t weed your garlic patch. Can you believe it? 50 views of “The Garlic Lesson” out of a total of 238! No other post on my garden blog even comes close.
This is not disturbing since the goal of this blog (Whitticisms) was never about numbers. I am gratified when people choose to read my scratchings but my goal is to produce quality writing about a variety of subjects: science, apologetics, religion, politics, literature, current events, etc.
As we begin a new year, I want to thank all who read Whitticisms, Charamongarden and Missionsouthpacific. Very special thanks to all who have commented pro or con. May 2008 be a great year and may God bless us…every one!
With Mitt Romney among the presidential hopefuls, a lot of Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) are re-examining their faith and a few are leaving it. It is always healthy to re-examine one’s faith. But what standard are we using? Let me suggest several “tests of faith,” for those leaving one of the hundreds of denominations and cults that claim to be “Christian.”
- Christ must be the focus. In many religions the church is the focus. It is, “the church does that or the church teaches this.” The focus must be on the teachings and person Jesus Christ and the teachings of the apostles which he sent with His authority. He is the permanent head of His church and no man, no hierarchy can take His place or speak or act on His behalf.
The teachings of Christ must be followed. Groups that claim to be followers of Christ who hate, persecute, commit genocide, go on “crusades,” torture and kill their fellow-humans, and make wars of aggression against others are not Christian.
- There must be a standard authority. For Christians, the standard is the revelation of God, specifically, the Old and New Testaments. Before there was a collection of books that today we call the Bible (the word, “bible” is not found in the Bible), there was the Law, history, poetry and prophecy contained in what Christians call the Old Testament (which leads us to Christ) and the gospels, the book of Acts, the letters and the book of Revelation. These manuscripts were circulated among the churches. The existing copies of the books of the Bible (and there are literally thousands of manuscripts and fragments of manuscripts – more than any other ancient book) are extremely accurate. This cannot be said about the books and collections of laws that some religions use as authority.
- You must have an accurate history. Of course not every fact in any history can be proven – not much you can do about that. But the points of history that can be examined must fit the facts. No one can prove that a huge fish (not a whale) swallowed Jonah or that the pursuing Egyptian army was drowned in the sea. But the existence of the persons and places mentioned in Scripture is so accurate that archeologists (both religious and non-religious) use it to locate the sites they excavate. The languages used are known languages. The people and races mentioned are historically and scientifically accurate. The animals mentioned really existed in the time the accounts were written.
Some say faith is blind. That’s just not true. Faith in what is not seen is based on what can be seen.
- You must have prophets whose revelations can be tested for accuracy. If a prophet prophesies something that didn’t happen, he or she is a false prophet. If your religion features a prophet or prophets, check out their predictions for accuracy. Furthermore the prophecies must not contradict what has already been revealed in the standard authority (see No. 4).
Don’t just leave one of the hundreds of denominations and cults for another one! You can be a Christian without joining any denomination or cult. You can simply decide to follow Christ. All He asks is for you to be reconciled to God through Him and by virtue of His sacrifice. If you believe trust and obey Him — that makes you a Christian. For fellowship with others, you can find a group seeking to be just Christians only and gather with them for encouragement and Bible study (see my article on Assembly). They won’t be perfect, but neither am I or you. Are they seeking to apply these four tests? That’s what counts.
Christ’s church has no certain name. He adds to his church those trust and obey Him. This is his assembly, his body, his bride and anyone and everyone can be a member.