Archive | March, 2011

Richard Dawkins: Advocate of Science or Self-Refuting Scientism? – Response to Dawkins, Part III

In his book River Out of Eden, Richard Dawkins writes: “Scientific beliefs are supported by evidence, and they get results.  Myths and faiths are not and do not.”[1] This is akin to what Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin asserts:  the “social and intellectual apparatus, Science, [is] the only begetter of truth.”[2] Such comments remind me of the kangaroo in Dr. Seuss’s Horton Hears a Who.  She insists that Horton’s conviction—that life can exist on a tiny speck of dust—is delusional.  Exasperated, she exclaims: “If you can’t see, hear, or feel something, it doesn’t exist!”

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A Warning to Young Apologists: Take Breaks from the Battle

I remember when Jurassic Park first came out. I think it was in 94′. Great movie. It was the first movie that was really able to capture new Hollywood special effects with the world of dinosaurs. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. Loved every seen. Will, my son, calls the intense scary moments in movies when something makes you jump a “pop out”. Jurassic Park had enough “pop outs” for a life time.

I remember driving home after watching the movie. It was a Summer evening. Dusk was the setting. As I passed by a non-industrialized area close to my house, the trees took on a life that two hours ago I would not have thought possible. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw something move. Do you know what my brain interpreted it as? You got it. A Tyrannosaurus Rex. Sure, my rational mind did not engage in this activity, but my disposition was set differently. Due to two hours of exposure and wonder at the possibility of dinosaurs, rationality was not in the driver’s seat. The increased adrenaline and the slightly elevated heart rate demonstrated how the irrational, impossible, and bizarre can grab a hold of our imagination to such a degree that some part of us begins to doubt the reality we know and tips the waiter of unlikelihood.

Over-exposure to these type of things can do that. They can tear the very fabric of reality and what we know to be the truth can suddenly be on the market competing with new ideas that  had no market value before.

I have seen it too many times to count now. Young scholars. Young apologists. Young theologians. They all qualify. You know the type. You may be the type. You have been exposed to the reality of the Christian faith, understand its intellectual defensibility for the first time, are set sail to change the world. But something must come first: you have to prepare yourself. In doing so, you seek to face every foe and every enemy which which could to lay siege to your faith. In order to defend your faith properly, you immerse yourself in the study of worldviews which are not your own. You think to yourself, “In order to be prepared, I am going to read every atheist book ever written. The titans of the alternatives will come under my critical eye. I will not stop until completely demonished their arguments. I will not slow down until I can say that I have been to every lion’s den and survived. I will bring people confidence by my own stories of victory. Every battle scare will be a testimony to the faith I defend.” Continue Reading →

The Crazy Worship Lady

My family and I attend a church where ear plugs are available at the entrance to our worship center. I’ve never used the earplugs at church but I probably should to preserve my long-term hearing. I know many of you, due to the previous two sentences, have already condemned the church I attend. Let me help by giving you some more ammunition. In addition to the high decibels, each worship song is usually accompanied by a surprisingly sophisticated light show keeping in movement to the vocals, guitars and drums. Occasionally the fog machine is working so hard you can’t see all the way across the worship center.

You might think anything would be acceptable in such a rocking environment. Recently, however, something happened during the worship service which clearly distracted a majority of the people. I will refer to this woman as the “crazy worship lady.” This middle-aged woman only stood about 5’ 4” but her worship packed a disproportionate punch. For unhindered movement she spent the worship time in the middle of the aisle. When the lyrics mentioned “falling before God” she would actually fall on the ground. When a lyric spoke of God being “our everything” she would intensely look around at everyone else making motions that seemed to convey, “you, yeah you, you with me?” Most people didn’t make eye contact hoping she would leave them alone.

When the lyrics moved toward Jesus being victorious she seemed to literally go crazy. She moved her head every which way making her hair look like it was caught in a pulsating blender. She surprised me by having pretty impressive air-time as she jumped up and down during the “Jesus victorious” song. I was surprised, furthermore, to hear her muster enough volume to yell words not on the big screen which I could hear over the loud vocals, guitars and drums. It sounded like she was trying to tell someone something in the middle of all the falling, jumping and hair shaking.

After about ten minutes of this behavior a couple of the burly ushers moved into position close to the crazy worship lady (they obviously don’t call them ushers at a church like this but you know what I’m talking about). The ushers didn’t do anything except keep an eye on her and we were soon seated for the sermon. I was waiting for her to doing something crazy during the sermon and even had a plan in my head how I would help out if she needed to be tackled. She sat calmly during the sermon.

The sermon ended, we gathered our kids from the lower decibel children’s area, and headed back home. En route my wife asked me the question we both knew was coming, “What did you think about that lady?” I knew what she was talking about but just for fun I verified by asking, “You mean the crazy worship lady?” She laughed a little and it was clear we were talking about the same person.

My response was already formed. While watching the crazy worship lady I knew instantly what I thought about her actions. I was able to answer my wife immediately. Before I give you my response, however, I want you to know a little bit of my background.

Some Background

I started my “religious” life going to a Roman Catholic church. My earliest memories of “worship” come from the mass and from a surprisingly skilled nun playing the guitar and singing while we joined along as best we could. From there my family attended a very traditional small town Methodist church. We typically sang through a collection of about 25 hymns. I don’t remember ever singing the 3rd stanza. We always sang 1, 2 and 4. If you are reading this and about to write a hymn don’t spend too much time on the 3rd stanza, everyone will skip it for some unknown reason.
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A Matter of Perspective

(by Lisa Robinson)

In the wake of the Bell debacle, Tim Challies has written an excellent article here about three notable observations.  Overall, I agree with his assessment that the Evangelical world has become too mealy on truth rooted in the historic Christian faith.  He challenges the notion that doubt, opaqueness and unanswered questions have become norms across the landscape.  By implication and particularly related to the Bell incident, these charges bear merit.

However, I find myself a tad uneasy about the charges when viewed from a different perspective.  Meaning, bold proclamations of truth based on the historic understanding of Christian essentials are an absolutely necessity.  I do agree with the critiques of the recent debacle, that once the so-called ‘old paradigms’ are questioned and uprooted, its a slippery slope to beliefs that will necessarily fall outside the bounds of Christian orthodoxy.  There must be an unyielding to core truths that make God’s plan for salvation both trustworthy and necessary to make Christian belief Christian belief.  There is a foundation by which Christians must affirm the exclusive claims of the gospel and consequences for rejection.

But on the flip side, there has been a divergence of theological distinctions within Evangelicalism.  For the most part these are not positions that uproot the Christian faith.  These are not positions that don’t necessarily challenge the sine qua non of Christianity, but may represent variations in understanding Biblical doctrine or passages that ultimately impact an understanding of Christian practice. Continue Reading →

Theology Unplugged: Invitation to Calvinism – Part 10

Join Michael Patton, Tim Kimberley and Sam Storms as they discuss the Calvinism.

Summary: During this broadcasts the hosts discuss issues surrounding the forth point of the TULIP: Irresistible Grace.

Other ways to get TUP:

Not “Something on a Stick”

Sometimes I have to laugh a bit at human endeavors into knowledge and understanding. Sometimes I have to laugh at myself as I attempt to learn and, of all things, teach people about God. Sometimes I want to give it all up and throw in the intellectual towel and head East, where mystery is much more accepted. I have taught theology for over a decade now. I have written more than a thousand articles (if I can call a “blog” and article!) articulating my understanding about the Bible, God, and human nature. I have evaluated, contemplated, discussed, and fellowshipped with who I believe to be some of the greatest living “scholars.” I have a Th.M. Translation: Theological Masters. Therefore, I am a “master” of theology? 

Chuck Swindoll used to say, “Sometimes you think you are something on a stick. You are not something on a stick.”

The truth is when I am at my best, I realize how little I know. God is infinite, I am not. People often get insecure when they encounter someone who, from the world’s perspective, is “learned.” We call them “academicians,” “experts,” and, my favorite, “scholars.” Sometimes we put Ph.D.s and Th.M. after their names. In Christ’s day, they were called “scribes.” Same meaning, different time. We give away awards and prizes for people whom, from the perspective of the awarder, has made significant contributions in this field or that.

I wonder what God thinks of these type of things? Does he think we are something on a stick?

Simply put, God is incomprehensible. I was reminded of this as I have been in correspondence with a “seeking” atheist over the last few weeks. Her inability to even grasp the concept of God as I explained him caused me to once again realize that I don’t grasp it either. As I described his infinite, transcendent, holy nature, I was describing things that were beyond my ability to fathom. The conversation was pushing my buttons of ignorance and finitude. My theological legs began to shake as I realized once again the ineffability of God. Our inability to fathom these things does not make it any less true. It just puts us in our place.

1Co 1:20
“Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?”

Problems arise when we begin to think we can comprehend the incomprehensible. Bigger problems arise when we think that in order to qualify for belief, it must be understood. So many people our there are like this young atheist saying, “Explain it to me until I comprehend it, then and only then will I believe it.” We think that we are something on a stick. We think that we can rise to the heights of God and look him in the eye. Continue Reading →