Archive | March, 2012

Ten Myths of The Resurrection

Those of you who are already on our email list, have been experiencing our new short original series called “Ten Myths of the Resurrection” with Dr. Mike Licona. I pray that it is blessing you this Easter season. Those of you who are not subscribed, should subscribe NOW! It is really a great series.

Here is a link to the first myth:

And here are two more that you might have missed.

Myth #2: Pagan Parallels in Mystery Religions

 

 

 

 

Myth #3: The Fraud Theory 

 

 

 

 

To get the rest for the next seven days (along with other great stuff from Credo House Ministries), subscribe now! (You can unsubscribe at any time.)

Determining If One is Christian Might Depend on the Color

(Lisa Robinson)

No, I am not talking about color as in race, although that may play a factor in some cases.  I am talking about the colors red and green.  Let me explain.   One of my theology profs opened up a lecture with this statement, loosely quoted;

Wouldn’t it be nice if everyone came with an LED device on their forehead with two probes – one red and one green.  Green indicates they are Christian and red indicates they are not.  That way there would be no guessing as to whether you were dealing with a regenerated person or not.  Unfortunately, we don’t get those kinds of clues, which does leave some doubt in some cases.

In most cases, I think we know whether one is a Christian or not.  But in some cases, there is doubt on varying levels.  It occurs to me that we can approach this determination through the lens of glass half-full and glass half-empty perspectives.  The glass half-full Christian will want to see green.  They will tend to accept the person at face value or otherwise base-line levels of articulation of the faith.  The glass half-full will see the examinee as innocent until proven guilty.  Conversely, the glass-half empty will tend to see red.  There is a high level of scrutiny that is required in order to reach a satisfactory determination of one’s Christian status.  The examinee is guilty until proven innocent.

Now please  understand that I am not suggesting that we “go green” without any examination or discernment.  We don’t want to go to extremes and give someone a pass just because they go to church or use Christian verbiage.  We do not want to be naive but we do want to be discerning. Continue Reading →

Should I Buy a Lottery Ticket?

The question, “Should I buy a lottery ticket?” will probably cross the mind of almost every American today (unless you already purchased one!). The Mega Millions jackpot has surpassed $500 million dollars and will probably continue to grow even larger until the 10pm CST drawing.

While running on my torture device this morning (treadmill) I couldn’t believe the in-depth news coverage surrounding all of the excitement for that lucky someone today. Yes, one person will have their life forever changed by the time they go to bed tonight. Could that lucky person be me? Should it be me? Why shouldn’t it be me?

Ok, I’m going to say it right now. I’m not going to buy a ticket today because I don’t think I should win that much money. Ouch, that hurts to write. Am I an idiot? Well, that could be argued by some people. I do think, however, I’m thinking clearly on this issue.

Here are a few quick reasons why I’m not going to buy a ticket. I really don’t care if you purchase one for your own reasons, but here are some of mine:

  • I teach people it is wrong to have a health/wealth view of the Christian life.  By buying a ticket I think my actions are working contrary to my beliefs. Is the greatest goal for a person wealth?  Is that really my ultimate desire? Is my life missing half a billion dollars? What are my motives in purchasing the ticket? Do I communicate to God and others, “I need more besides what I have right now.” Continue Reading →

Are Roman Catholics Saved?

First, some fun:

  • What is an Evangelical? A nice fundamentalist.
  • How do you tell the difference between an Evangelical and a Fundamentalist? Ask them if they like Billy Graham. If they do, they are Evangelical. If they don’t, they are Fundamentalist (Fundamentalists believe he has compromised).
  • Finally . . . How do you tell the difference between an Evangelical and a Fundamentalist? Ask if Roman Catholics are going to heaven. If they say “no,” they are Fundamentalists. If they say “maybe,” they are Evangelical.

Are Roman Catholics Saved? Short answer: I don’t know. However, don’t read to much into that. I don’t know if Protestants are Christian. I don’t know if many who go to my evangelical church are Christian. By “Christian” I mean someone who has truly been regenerated by God and is, as a result, a genuine disciple of Christ.

Of course, a better question that people are getting at is this: Do I believe that someone who is a committed member of the Roman Catholic Church can be a true Christian? To this I answer “yes.” Now, to be fair, I do not feel that the majority of Roman Catholics with whom I have come in contact are true believers. But, to be fairer, I don’t believe that the majority of Protestants (and Eastern Orthodox for that matter) with whom I have come in contact are true believers either! It is the problem of nominalism. Simply confessing to be a part of any Christian tradition does not mean that one truly embraces the ideals of said tradition. Christians are those who truly believe in who Christ is and do their best to follow him.

I think the most important question that has ever been asked in the history of the world is, “Who do you say that I am?” (Matt. 16:15). The confession of Roman Catholicism, along with that of Protestantism and Eastern Orthodoxy, has been united concerning this for two thousand years: “Jesus Christ is the God-Man who died for our sins and rose from the grave.” Getting that right is no small thing. In fact, I would say that to have a true belief in such a creed requires the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. Roman Catholicism is to be commended, in my opinion, for being an ardent defender of the Trinity, the resurrection of Christ, and the necessity of belief in such. Though there are many passages I could turn to, I think 1 John 4:2 says more than we often give it credit for. In fact, I would say that this is one of the most neglected passages which could be used to defend the deity of Christ. Notice:

1 John 4:2
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. Continue Reading →

Why I Don’t Trust My Own “Scholarship”

Those who know me, know that I am an easy target for a good laugh. There is a certain part of my brain that I am convinced has never functioned. It is that part which has to do with remembering, among other things, names and faces. I remember when I watched Grease as a kid. I liked the movie, but I could not understand why “Danny” (John Travolta) ended up with a new girl other than “Sandy” (Olivia Newton John) at the end of the movie. I came to realize many years later that it was not a new girl, just Sandy with a different hairdo! Then, the movie made much more sense.

The other morning, I came into the Credo House and made my way back to my office. I mingled with all the people at different tables and finally sat down at my desk. I opened my computer to find an email that had just come in from a guy who wanted to say how nice it was to see me again (the first time since our time at seminary together) and, how happy he was that I started the Credo House. I did not quite remember who he was, but I was determined to express cordial words in a way that would not undermine our renewed “friendship” that must have been forged recently.  Immediately, I wrote him back (why couldn’t I have waited for just a couple of hours?), “It was great to see you again too. You should stop by the Credo House sometime.” His reply came back two minutes later, “I am here right now.” My face turned red. I got up and peeked outside my office door, looking at all the people with whom I had just mingled, wondering which one he was. Finally, I just shut the door and sighed, wondering once again why this part of my brain does not work. I have dozens of other stories just like that.

This begs the question: Who do I think I am teaching eternal truths, when I can’t even remember the most basic, everyday, temporal happenings? If I don’t really trust my memory, can I trust my theological “scholarship”? So much of what I believe and teach is built upon stories, information, and “facts” that I don’t even really know are true, since I can’t, for the most part, remember exactly from where they came. I have just said some things, told some stories, and relayed some information so many times that I don’t think about it anymore. For example, in class session 4 of The Theology Program, I talk about the rise of Modernism through the story of Rene Descartes (the “father of modernism”). I tell about his “Dutch oven” epiphany. I tell about how he would not come out of this oven until he found a legitimate (indeed, indubitable) source for his knowledge. Ironically, I don’t know where I first heard this story about the Dutch oven. I am not sure about the legitimacy (much less indubitability) of my source! I am fairly certain I did not make it up out of thin air, but the fact remains that I don’t really remember from where it came. But even if I could remember it came, for instance, from a book, encyclopedia, or biography, this fact would not guarantee that the person from whom I originally received this information was accurately remembering or representing his sources. Even if it was an autobiography, I have no guarantee that Descartes, himself, remembered things correctly.

But don’t get too haughty. I know that I may have a personal memory “condition” (which I am calling prosopagnosia, for now!), but I don’t really trust your “scholarship” that much either. You have a memory condition. After all, you are not perfect. You have bias, age, lifestyles, hopes, legacy, commitments, and pride (not to mention the glue you sniffed when you were a kid) which affect your memory.  Furthermore, even if you had a perfect memory, that does not mean you have the ability to process information with impunity. You are selective in what you choose to know, focus on, and evangelize. Some things you will choose to forget.  Others will become part of the story you tell people. However, you really don’t have an objective basis to know which things deserve to be timeless and which can be discarded. You have plenty of Rene Descartes’ Dutch oven stories too. These are all the things, personal or academic, which you have repeated so many times that, by virtue of their mere repetition, have become fact in your mind. Continue Reading →

Do People Who Commit Suicide Automatically Go to Hell?

Here is an email question that I received with the response to follow:

Good Afternoon: I am writing to you under emotional pangs, as I wrestle with the Scriptures, and what I hear from certain others who are Christian.

The husband of a friend of mine committed suicide. My friend, I know well, and her love and defense of the Scriptures. But I only know of her husband’s belief by what she tell me, and his attendance to church. She said he prayed a lot and loved God, her and their children.

But he yielded to suicide. And from what I understand, this was a long term fight to avoid that. He subsequently said he was going for walk, and he was found in a park, after shooting himself.

Here is a man who “claimed” to love Jesus, but his actions to me, deny his having made Jesus Lord and Master over his life. Rather, he must have had Satan as master.

I used to believe in “free will” but after a long study of the Sovereignty of God, I changed my mind. That study took several years. So I can’t say this man had free will unless he remains outside of God’s Lordship, where he does what the flesh does…. denies the power, promises, and love that God has living within us.

The pastor at the services said what my friend said, he is in heaven, due to the Grace of God.

But how can a person be tempted to kill himself then actually follow through with it, if he has Life in him? And Hope. These reign over Death and Hell.

My Response

Thanks for the questions. These are very good questions, and necessary to struggle with.

You said: “But how can a person be tempted to kill himself then actually follow through with it, if he has Life in him?”

How could David have killed Uriah? How could Peter have denied Christ? How could John have fallen down and worshiped an angel? How could Paul struggle with sin the way he does in Roman 7? Why would Paul exhort Christians to “walk in the spirit and therefore not carry out the deeds of the flesh” if it was a foregone conclusion that Christians cannot walk in the flesh? How could the Galatians (whom Paul considers “brethren”) have turned back toward the law after knowing Christ? How could the Corinthians live as spiritual babes, living in strife, jealously, and envy?

The answer: we are all sinners. Continue Reading →