Weekend at Bernie’s theology

I saw this great metaphor over at Lone Star Times about how those who don’t believe the essentials of the Christian faith have taken over many churches and propped them up to suit their motives.

In the not-so-classic movie “Weekend at Bernie’s,” two friends prop up a dead guy to make him appear alive so they can throw parties at his house. In the same way, liberal theologians don’t believe in the essentials of the faith (Jesus is God, He is the only way to eternal life, the Bible is authoritative and accurate, etc.), so they think they have a dead church on their hands.  They don’t have faith that God can still work through his Word to transform lives and cultures.

They prop it up, though, because they like the money, the influence, the buildings and the status that comes with their leadership roles. But they are really frauds. They either lied at their ordination vows or changed their minds later. Either way, if they were honest they would stop accepting payment from their members for teaching the opposite of the beliefs the church was founded upon.

Their teachings are like salt water, leaving you thinking that you are having your spiritual thirst quenched but all the while killing you.

For a better analysis, read this by Charles Spurgeon. He wrote it in 1870 but the message is still fresh and applicable.

Psalm 48

ps48.jpgGreetings!  This is another great Psalm of praise.   I like how it closes with a promise with an eternal perspective – that God will always be our God and our guide. 

This appears to be referring to the “New Jerusalem,” since the current one was destroyed a couple times since this was written. 

Psalm 48

A song. A psalm of the Sons of Korah.

1 Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise,

in the city of our God, his holy mountain.

2 It is beautiful in its loftiness,

the joy of the whole earth.

Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,

the city of the Great King.

3 God is in her citadels;

he has shown himself to be her fortress.

4 When the kings joined forces,

when they advanced together,

5 they saw her and were astounded;

they fled in terror.

6 Trembling seized them there,

pain like that of a woman in labor.

7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish

shattered by an east wind.

8 As we have heard,

so have we seen

in the city of the Lord Almighty,

in the city of our God:

God makes her secure forever. Selah

9 Within your temple, O God,

we meditate on your unfailing love.

10 Like your name, O God,

your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;

your right hand is filled with righteousness.

11 Mount Zion rejoices,

the villages of Judah are glad

because of your judgments.

12 Walk about Zion, go around her,

count her towers,

13 consider well her ramparts,

view her citadels,

that you may tell of them to the next generation.

14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;

he will be our guide even to the end.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Psalm 47

ps47.jpgGreetings!  This is a beautiful Psalm full of passionate praise for God.  I think I’ll read this before church sometimes to help get my mind focused on properly worshiping him.  I am very self conscious and don’t like to sing, but I am going to try and focus more on him instead.

Psalm 47

For the director of music. Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm.

1 Clap your hands, all you nations;

shout to God with cries of joy.

2 How awesome is the Lord Most High,

the great King over all the earth!

3 He subdued nations under us,

peoples under our feet.

4 He chose our inheritance for us,

the pride of Jacob, whom he loved. Selah

5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,

the Lord amid the sounding of trumpets.

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;

sing praises to our King, sing praises.

7 For God is the King of all the earth;

sing to him a psalm of praise.

8 God reigns over the nations;

God is seated on his holy throne.

9 The nobles of the nations assemble

as the people of the God of Abraham,

for the kings of the earth belong to God;

he is greatly exalted.

[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

Christians are also people of the God of Abraham.  Abraham had faith in God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.  We have faith in Jesus and because of that our sins are transferred to his account and his perfect righteousness is transferred to our account.  That is another reason to give him our thanks and praise!

Weekly roundup

money.jpgGovernment run lotteries are an awful joke.  Instead of sending a message that success is possible with hard work and thrift, our leaders tell the poor that the way out is to spend what little you have on a gambling program with the biggest sucker odds of all.

A household with income under $13,000 spends, on average, $645 a year on lottery tickets, about 9 percent of all income.  David Brooks

Concise, thorough and clear summary of the false teachings and false Bible translations of the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Hat tip: Ms. Green

When Gay Rights and Religious Liberties Clash – even NPR can see the impacts.  It ain’t pretty.  Hat tip: Gay Christian Movement Watch

Armed with those legal protections, same-sex couples are beginning to challenge policies of religious organizations that exclude them, claiming that a religious group’s view that homosexual marriage is a sin cannot be used to violate their right to equal treatment. Now parochial schools, “parachurch” organizations such as Catholic Charities and businesses that refuse to serve gay couples are being sued — and so far, the religious groups are losing.

I know the pro-GLBTX groups will cheer, but I hope the wimpy middle-ground Christians wake up before their religious liberties are gone. 

Contrary to what all the DaVinci Code School of Theology graduates believe, The Canon was not decided at Nicea

It goes without saying that [Bart] Ehrman is not in the pocket of orthodox Christianity. His non-acceptance of these fables of Nicaean construction of the canon of Scripture are based on the fact that there is no valid historical reason to accept these ideas.

More nukes! - good public policy and a great strategy against Obama.

Ann Coulter made some good points about the Democrats’ non-policy on energy.  They have done nothing and plan to do nothing.  They are getting just what they wanted: Higher gas prices.

Liberals complain that — as B. Hussein Obama put it — there’s “no way that allowing offshore drilling would lower gas prices right now. At best you are looking at five years or more down the road.”

This is as opposed to airplanes that run on woodchips, which should be up and running any moment now.

Moreover, what was going on five years ago? Why didn’t anyone propose drilling back then?

Say, you know what we need? We need a class of people paid to anticipate national crises and plan solutions in advance. It would be such an important job, the taxpayers would pay them salaries so they wouldn’t have to worry about making a living and could just sit around anticipating crises.

If only we had had such a group — let’s call them “elected representatives” — they could have proposed drilling five years ago!

A great choice for McCain to make for VP

Help!  Help!  I’m being repressed!  One of the best scenes from a movie full of classic moments.  You could use this to teach history or political science.  It has subtitles, which help a lot.  Hat tip: Pastor Timothy

 

Death bed conversions Q&A

question-mark.gifQ. Can someone convert to Christianity on their deathbed and still be forgiven and go to Heaven?
A. Yes. See the story of the criminal on the cross as well as many other stories of people who converted late in life or on their death bed, such as the father-in-law of Lee Strobel (author of The Case for Christ and The Case for Faith). Just before a life-ending stroke, he accepted Jesus as his Savior.

I heard a true story about an American Indian who converted 2 weeks before his death. The man was a life long bigot who hated African Americans. Yet an African American minister heard that this man was dying and went to visit him in the hospital, even though they didn’t know each other. When the man’s daughter went to visit him, she found the minister there with her father, who was on his knees praying to accept Jesus! Only an awesome God could wipe away a lifetime of sin and hatred by having the minister – who had presumably suffered from the prejudices of others – be the one to lead the man to Christ.

Q. Is the death bed conversion strategy a good idea?
A. No. That type of faith probably isn’t the true faith that will save you. And you might die suddenly. Consider Hebrews 3:15: As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts . . .” Eternity is a mighty long time, so you don’t want to take chances with your final destination.

Finally, by waiting you are missing out on the joy in life that starts now when you trust in Jesus. He can transform you starting today.

Q. Is it fair that someone can convert on their deathbed after leading a sinful life and still go to heaven?
A. No, it isn’t fair. But probably not for the reasons you are thinking. Grace is never fair. That is why it is called grace. It is a gift you don’t deserve. God can give the gift whenever and to whomever He wants to. None of us deserve Heaven.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The “teen pregnancy pact”

Jill Stanek has an important piece about the “teen pregnancy pact” from the school in Massachusetts, where 18 students aged 16 or younger are pregnant and there may have been some type of pact to try and get pregnant.  Surprisingly (!) the media is missing some rather obvious questions and story lines. 

[Principal] Sullivan was mandated to report the pregnancies of any of his 18 students under age 16, since pregnancy is evidence a crime may have been committed.

The law would also have required the same of mandated reporter Kim Daly, the GHS school nurse who by last month had distributed 150 pregnancy tests since the beginning of the school year, according to Time. A request for a pregnancy test by a girl under 16 is demonstration she may be the victim of sexual abuse.

These incidents also beg lawsuits galore, if the absentee parents get smart.

In her press conference, Kirk tried to shift blame for the pregnancies to state and federal government funding reductions “resulting in cuts to programs and services … including support for health education.”

Not so fast. Last spring, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick rejected $700,000 in free money for abstinence teaching from the federal government. Meanwhile, Patrick approved a budget increase of $800,000 for comprehensive sex ed funding, bringing the total to $3.8 million annually.

Of course it’s not a story about sex education, because only comprehensive sex ed is taught in Massachusetts public schools.

Had this been a school system that taught abstinence, you’d best believe sex ed would be central to the story.

Had Patrick rejected comprehensive sex ed funding and increased abstinence funding, the New York Times would be pointing it out, not me.

Why isn’t the mainstream media researching Gloucester’s comprehensive sex ed curriculum? (I’m trying, but – surprise – none of the Gloucester public or school officials will call me back.)

Obviously, this drama spotlights just some of its deficiencies. As the Massachusetts Family Institute wrote:

The Gloucester girls were never taught to have a positive vision of their future, never encouraged to abstain from sexual activity until marriage, never motivated to consider the importance of raising their child with the loving support of a husband – all taught in abstinence-also education programs that are being pushed out of Massachusetts schools. …The hot topic in Gloucester now is whether to give minor girls at GHS hormonal contraceptives without their parents knowing, as if that is the solution to purposefully getting pregnant. Does the school plan to force-feed the Pill every morning? And while it bypasses parents, will it report cases of suspected child abuse for every girl under 16 requesting contraception?

The knee-jerk reaction in some circles was to blame abstinence programs.  That only fails in a couple huge ways:

  1. That school doesn’t teach abstinence and spends big bucks on comprehensive sex ed.
  2. How could teaching abstinence make kids want to deliberately get pregnant?

As pro-life blogger extraordinaire Roxanne De Luca noted:

This blogger’s take: giving contraception to people who want to get pregnant is like giving a fire extinguisher to an arsonist. 

When was the New Testament written?

bible.jpgThere are a lot of myths and misunderstandings about how and when the Bible was formed. Some liberal historians try to date the Gospels and other New Testament writings as far from the death of Jesus as possible because it supports their hypothesis that they were largely made up. Of course, if the Gospels really were dated 70 AD or after, there is no reason they couldn’t still be the inspired Word of God. Yet a late dating obviously plays into the hands of heretics who strive to discredit the authority of Scripture.

But the facts point to all or nearly all of the New Testament books being written within 40 years of Jesus’ resurrection. Consider the following:

  1. Jesus died and rose again around 33 A.D.
  2. The Apostle Paul was killed in 64 AD. This is a well attested historical fact. All his writings obviously occurred before then, and 1 Corinthians and Romans were written well before then. Paul testified that Jesus rose from the dead, among other things, and he did so within 20-30 years of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  3. The book of Acts, written by Luke, ends with Paul was in prison in 62 AD. Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke before he wrote Acts, so it was presumably written in the late 50’s.
  4. Most scholars agree that Luke was not the first Gospel. Therefore, the earliest Gospel must have been written no later than the mid to late 50’s. If Matthew and Luke used the ‘Q’ document (a lost early church writing) as a source, then of course ‘Q’ would have been written even closer to Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  5. If the Gospels were all written after 70 A.D., why wasn’t the destruction of Jerusalem mentioned anywhere (especially in Matthew)? This was one of the most dramatic events in history, and was predicted by Jesus.
  6. Since these accounts were written within 20-30 years of Jesus death and resurrection, it is highly unlikely that they would have been myths. There would have been too many people alive to dispute the findings. And keep in mind that many thousands of people died believing these words to be true. Martyrs will die for a lie if they think it is true, but I don’t know of anyone who knowingly dies for a lie. If Jesus didn’t really have a bodily resurrection, why would the disciples live unnecessarily hard lives and die horrible deaths for something they knew to be a lie?

Also see Debunking the DaVinci Code

Hat tip to Stand to Reason for much of the above. Click here to learn lots more about the origins of the Bible.