- O would some power the giftie gie us to see ourselves as others see us.
Robert Burns, Poem “To a Louse” – verse 8
- Bill Maher is a self-proclaimed non-Christian so the language in this clip should surprise no one. If you are offended by the language used by those outside of Christ use…good! So am I. This is from one of his shows back in May…but I am posting it now for two reasons. First, because my good friend Noel Malan posted it on Facebook and I just now became aware of it and, second, because we need to understand how the world perceives us as a religion. Even a pagan like Maher knows enough Scripture to see the disconnect between what Jesus said and how so many who claim to follow Him actually act. I hope you will view it and I hope you cringe in the appropriate places.
- Notice that he is attacking our hypocrisy, not what Jesus taught.
The truth is, if everyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ would imitate Christ not only would the kingdom explode in size but I seriously doubt that our government would be messing around killing folks in the Middle East. Why is that? Because they would see the good works of the Christians in our nation and glorify God.
When one thinks of the lives lost and the resources expended on our fruitless wars and political meddling in the Middle East it should bring us to tears. What if those same lives and resources were given to win the hearts and minds of the Islamic world? What if we were known for acts of mercy instead of violence? I’m not talking about the government here, I am talking about the kingdom of God. Peter wrote, “Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Peter 4:15,16). Too often, as Christians we have supported our government as they meddled and murdered!
What if Christians were known for being first on the scene of earthquakes, tsunamis, famine and pestilence? What if we were known for helping instead of meddling? What if we spent money on lives and souls instead of buildings and flashy “worship services.”
We have several fine ministries that seek to do just this. Here in Abilene, we have Global Samaritan Resources that has helped many thousands. But it is a separate ministry from the church and has to struggle to raise funds like so many similar efforts. Shame on us! We had rather build buildings and divert needed funds to projects Jesus never even hinted at. Our “ministries of mercy” ought never need to go begging…they should be overwhelmed with resources to couple the gospel with the mercy of the Prince of Peace!
What excuse did we give to Bill Maher to say what he said? By not carefully following Christ in attitude, word or deed. Time for self-examination!
Peter echoes the words of Christ in Matthew 5:14 “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).
Do this, and Bill Maher (and many others) will have little material for their writers.
Filed under Altruism, Atheism/Theism, Attributes of God, Christlikeness, church, Contradictions, Culture Wars, Current Events, discipleship, Evangelism, Food, Friendship, Good & Evil, Hypocrisy, Ignorance, Infidelity, Islam, Jesus Christ, Kingdom Growth, Middle East, Missions/Evangelism, morality, Natural Disaster, Palestine, Peace, Persuasion, Politics, Religion, Respect, Ridicule, Scripture, Selflessness, Suffering
“So, you believe that only Christians are going to heaven?” It’s a question that has caused more than one person to squirm uncomfortably. It is especially uncomfortable if the question is asked in a public forum (radio or television interview) in a challenging way by someone who (1) isn’t a person of faith or, (2) an adherent of a non-Christian religion. In reality, any answer will offend someone, somehow. One response will offend one group, the alternative will offend the other. No answer at all will offend whoever’s left.
If you are a Christian and you believe the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) to be accurate accounts of the words and actions of Christ, only one answer is possible. It is the answer Jesus gave to a disciple named Thomas. Here it is:
Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).
It is also the answer that, after the death of Christ, Peter gave to the rulers, elders and scribes in Jerusalem.
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12)
Jesus and Peter said it, I didn’t. So, you can get mad at me for believing it, but you can’t blame me for saying it. I don’t have to apologize for their answers. No uncomfortable squirming here.
If love can’t be found among God’s people – where can it be found? In the gospels and letters, Christians are admonished over and over to love one another and our neighbors. Love is our identity. It is how we are recognized as followers of Jesus. It is the badge that marks us as Christians. It is the quality that sets us apart from the dog-eat-dog culture of materialism and greed.
What an unmitigated tragedy when the lack of love is noted among congregations of self-proclaimed Christians! It is so contrary to what we should be that it even occasionally makes the news. Most of the time, however, it is merely observed and noted. The results are ugly. People are driven away from such hypocrisy. I am always reminded of what Gandhi, who lived and died a Hindu, had to say about the Christians he observed, “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Yes, some unfriendly observers may be looking for something wrong – but we make it too easy for them. Lovelessness is always starkly obvious and always a source of ammunition for those who oppose any form of faith.
Recently one such unfriendly website chronicled the story of a young couple who dared to question leaders of their church about the expenditure of funds (to which they had contributed) and the lifestyle of some of the leaders (who lived off these funds). If their account is credible, they became the object of scorn, anger and denigration. Ultimately expelled from their church, their faith took a fatal hit and they are no longer practicing believers.
I really can’t verify this account but it is too much like some of my personal experiences and stories from others over the years to reject out of hand. And, if true, what a repudiation of the love we should embrace and practice! We have handed a gun to Satan and asked to be shot. We have presented a sword to our adversaries and asked to be run through. Truly, we are our own worst enemy.
I repeat: if love cannot be found among the people who purport to believe their God is the personification of love, where will it be found? No matter how wonderful we think we are, without love we are nothing.
People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach
And would you turn the other cheek?
Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questioning
Where is the love?
—Black Eyed Peas, “Where is the Love?”
Filed under Altruism, Atheism/Theism, Attributes of God, Christlikeness, church, Community, Devil, discipleship, Faith, Good & Evil, Hypocrisy, Love, morality, Religion, Respect, Satan, Scripture, Songs
Several atheistic blogs I read are guilty of “scientism.” Scientism is not science but rather deductions and speculations arising out of scientific observations. Truth is truth no matter the source. Scientism, however, sees science and empirical observation as the only source of truth. Consider this definition:
Scientism sees it necessary to do away with most, if not all, metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims, as the truths they proclaim cannot be apprehended by the scientific method. In essence, scientism sees science as the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth.
Here’s an example from a blog called, Unreasonable Faith
Belief never invented a laser, or pressed a CD, or kept a ‘plane in the air, or restarted a heart – Science has done all of that and more, a whole bunch of times.” And, “Against this staggering work and monumental achievement (the proof that one of Einstein’s theories is correct – DW) on one single scientific project out of hundreds of thousands, there stand some old men in robes, telling us that God did it, because it says so in the nth translation in the chain of some bronze-aged myths written by some camel-herders.
For the moment let’s ignore the ridicule and the reality that many respected scientists believe that “God did it.” More to the point: science and faith are two different things and, thus, not in competition. Faith is defined as, “…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). On the other hand, science is totally based on what can be seen. When interpretation of scientific observations moves beyond the observable, it becomes speculation. Speculation is fine and useful for building hypotheses but it is still speculation. And there’s nothing wrong with speculations as long as they are recognized as such. Just don’t ask me to accept them as incontrovertible truth.
Many religious people have rightly been resistant to speculations contradicting the concept of a Creator. Others have stubbornly held to their own religious speculations that are in obvious contradiction to observable and undeniable facts. This is foolish in light of the reality that observable facts (sans speculations) do not contradict the concept of a Creator God. In truth, some of those facts call loudly for a first cause and a designer.
Science and faith operate in two separate realms. Faith presupposes the existence of a supernatural realm (things not seen). Science can only operate in the natural realm. To place them in competition is ridiculous.
Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Creation, Culture Wars, Discussion, Faith, Philosophy, Religion, Ridicule, Science, Scripture, Skepticism, Supernatural, Theism
I’m not referring to actual wagons hauling actual band members. I’m talking about groups of people who have decided to think the same way without due consideration of all the information. Humans have a natural tendency to conform (fashions, fads, etc.) The few real non-conformists get the label “eccentric,” and summarily dismissed. That label applied to my father who always thought for himself. He was a curmudgeon with few friends, but he called it as he saw it (even if the way he saw it was screwed up). His main fault was making up his mind so solidly that it took a charge of dynamite to loosen him up to alternative thinking.
I especially notice the bandwagon effect expressed in blogs. For example, there are blogs where independent thinkers can express their independent thinking to other independent thinkers (bandwagons) and, in the process, lose their independence. Members of Political parties often confine themselves to party lines (bandwagons) instead of opening themselves up to other points of view. Members of certain religious groups are very often willing victims of “groupthink” (bandwagons) with their own special jargon. Atheists tend to stick together and parrot the current atheistic cant (bandwagons).
Bandwagons, I am thinking, come into being because people want to believe certain things and behave in particular ways rather than basing their personal philosophies and resulting actions on something substantial. Or, in the absence of substance, reserving their conclusions until they find it (it is, after all, okay not to have an opinion on everything).
While reading in the blogosphere, I notice that people who believe a certain way tend to read the blogs of others who believe the same way and merely applaud, cheer and conform to the thinking of the group. For them, “hopping on the bandwagon” becomes a convenient way to avoid thinking for themselves. Hats off to those brave and hardy souls who dare to disagree, challenge and debate those with whom they differ. We need to jump off our bandwagons and consider what others are saying. We might agree, disagree, challenge, debate, correct, suggest, applaud or, most important of all…learn.
In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Carving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com
Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Discernment, Discussion, Faith, Ignorance, independence, Intelligence, Mind, Persuasion, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, Skepticism, Theism, Thinking
My wife and I enjoy reading and watching mysteries – you know, Agatha Christie, etc. I like to watch the television versions with her because I often get lost in the details and she doesn’t. I have to have things spelled-out in simple terms. “Okay, was it the long-lost cousin who showed up from Kenya who took the papers from the study in the dark of night or was it the daughter who stood to lose her inheritance?” “Who done it,” is easy for her (and Miss Marple), difficult for me. I have noticed I have to do this with most things.
I can’t claim to have always been a solid theist. In my university days, I followed in the footsteps of my father and began my studies as an agnostic. My professors reinforced that position since most of them were either atheist, agnostic or ambivalent on the matter of belief. Thanks to a teacher who helped me to see there are two sides to the question of belief, I came down on the side of faith in a Creator. It just seemed much more reasonable. Still does.
In my life-long attempt to get things straight, I have looked long and hard at the ongoing debate between theists and atheists. I have begun to see that whether to believe or not believe is largely a matter of perspective. We are part of an amazing, spectacular, unfathomable, intricate universe. Before we even consider our microscopic little blue planet, there are the stars orbited by uncountable planets, gathered into galaxies numbering in the multiplied millions. Then there is our tiny island with the only life we are presently aware of. Intricate complexity and design is increasingly evident as we delve into the subatomic realms. Are the complexity, intricacy, design and order we see the results of accidental, random yet unobservable processes? Is life the outcome of chemical processes that we don’t yet understand? How do we account for all this?
As for me, this is how it all boils down: The theist looks at the universe and concludes there is no way this complexity, intricacy, design and order could happen by itself. The atheist looks at all the complexity, intricacy, design and order and concludes that it did indeed happen by itself. Two perspectives – which one makes more sense to you?
In the Charamon Garden: charamongarden.wordpress.com
Whitsett Carving: whitcarv.wordpress.com
Mission South Pacific: missionsouthpacific.wordpress.com
Filed under Apologetics, Atheism/Theism, Attributes of God, Culture Wars, Discussion, Faith, Persuasion, Religion, Science, Skepticism, Supernatural, Theism
Like it or not, it is December and we are hurtling forward into the Christmas Holidays when much of the world celebrates the incarnation of God’s Christ into the physical and finite realm of humanity. Christians believe that God Himself became flesh and blood to live among His creation. We believe that Jesus was “God with us.” But if we are going to think about God becoming flesh and walking and working among men, there’s obviously much more to it than baby Jesus in a manger.
For about thirty-three years after His birth, the world continued as it was. But when, as a man, he began his short ministry the world was never the same again. Everything changed.
It is hard to think of a world without Jesus Christ because, particularly in the Western world (but certainly not limited to it), Jesus Christ is central…especially at this time of year. Even if you use the increasingly popular “BCE” and “CE” (“Before the Common Era” and “Common Era”) to measure time, it is simply because BC (before Christ) and AD (“Anno Domini” or “Year of our Lord”) have for centuries been the way history is dated. Deity becoming human was so explosive it became the turning point of history.
The impact of the advent of Jesus into the world is immeasurable. What the world would have been without Him is imperceptible. What the world can become with Christ is yet unrealized.
Today Christians and the way of Christ face expanding challenges. The “New Atheists” are becoming combative. Islam once again rattles the scimitars of violent conquest. How will followers of the Prince of Peace respond? So far, our reaction is a mixture of rattling our own sabers and stupid, provocative acts like Quran-burning and shouting-matches.
If these challenges are successfully met, it will not be with violence, book-burnings and placard-waving demonstrations. They will be countered as they always must: by exalting Christ. It will be done by reconciling humans to each other and to their Creator. Then, and only then, will the hopeful song of angels be realized: peace on earth among men with whom God is pleased.
Filed under Atheism/Theism, Christlikeness, Christmas, Culture Wars, Current Events, Good & Evil, Islam, Jesus Christ, Missions/Evangelism, Peace, Persuasion, Politics, Preaching/Teaching, Theism