Parts of the Pachyderm

A favorite updated for your reading pleasure.  If you haven’t encountered the “parts of the elephant” argument yet, you probably will.  Even some people who claim the name of Christ use it to bolster their “all paths lead to God” mistake.

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Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason has an excellent piece called the Trouble with the Elephant.

The ancient fable of the blind men and the elephant is often used to illustrate the fact that every faith represents just one part of the larger truth about God. However, the attempt is doomed before it gets started.

In the story, multiple blind men feel different parts of an elephant and describe it in different ways.  Someone who is not blind then points out the truth to them.

The typical application of the story is that religious pluralism is true – i.e., we’re worshiping the same God in different ways.

A good question to ask anyone who repeats this parable is, “Where do you fit into the story?”  If he is one of the blind men, then why would he have anything to offer you?  If he claims to be the person with sight, then what are his qualifications that he understands this world and you don’t?

Note that the blind men are describing different parts of the elephant, but it is still an elephant.  But if one religion says God is personal and another says He is impersonal, then they can’t both be right.  You can’t be an elephant and not an elephant.  I wrote more on the irreconcilable differences in the essential truth claims of religions in Religious Pluralism is Intellectually Bankrupt.

In a sense, the whole story is self refuting.  While the principle message is that we can only know a certain piece about God, the message itself claims to have the big picture.

It also has a rather odd premise: The “real” religion would be to follow every religion.  That way you’d have the whole elephant.

The only way the parable would work is if the elephant described itself to the blind people – sort of the way the God reveals himself to us in the Bible.  As Koukl says:

If everyone truly is blind, then no one can know if he or anyone else is mistaken.  Only someone who knows the whole truth can identify another on the fringes of it.  In this story, only the king can do that–no one else.

The most ironic turn of all is that the parable of the six blind men and the elephant, to a great degree, is an accurate picture of reality.  It’s just been misapplied.

We are like blind men, fumbling around in the world searching for answers to life’s deepest questions.  From time to time, we seem to stumble upon some things that are true, but we’re often confused and mistaken, just as the blind men were.

How do I know this?  Because the King has spoken.  He is above, instructing us, advising us of our mistakes, and correcting our error.  The real question is:  Will we listen?

Remember that if the elephant illustration is true, then Christianity is false.  The Bible teaches 100+ times that Jesus is the only way to salvation.  This is an argument that no Christian should use.

The theological Leftists are like the Nazi “German Christians”

I realize that is a strong statement, but I really don’t mean it as hyperbole.  As I’ve been reading a biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the impact of the Nazis on the German churches I see so many similarities with the Leftist shills in the U.S. today.  The “German Christians” were the sanctioned “church” in Germany but obviously led by non-believers, just as the Leftist “churches” deny the essentials of the faith while reflexively propping up the current administration.

It is fascinating how quickly false teachers like Chuck “Jesus is not the only way” Currie come out with the Democratic talking points.  Obama’s mishandling of the Syria situation has been so severe that people have seriously wondered if he was doing it on purpose to reduce our standing in the world.  Yet until Russia bailed him out, this is what we got from false teachers like Chuck:

There is a legitimate moral imperative for the international community to take limited military action that disrupts Syria’s ability to use weapons of mass destruction against civilian targets.

via Lines Must Be Drawn In Syria

But after Putin “solved” the problem (assuming you are naive enough to trust Putin . . .and Assad . . .and that even if Assad gave up all of his WMDs that he couldn’t re-arm in 15 minutes . . . and that they couldn’t kill countless civilians with traditional means . . . and so on) we immediately get an about face from false teacher Chuck that just happens to have all the Democratic talking points.

President Obama addressed the nation regarding the on-going crisis in Syria tonight.  He spoke in deeply moral terms about the world’s responsibility to protect civilians from the use of chemical weapons and other WMD.  Barack Obama is no George W. Bush.

So as long as Assad kills the children with knives, as Obama and Chuck support via unrestricted, taxpayer-funded abortions, things are fine.  Or guns.  Or nearly anything else.  Just don’t use chemicals!

And it wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t blame Bush — several times!

The current president has argued that a military response is needed to deter Syria from further attacks against civilians using chemical weapons but at the same time we now know the president and Secretary of State John Kerry have been negotiating with the Russians on a proposal to place all of Syria’s WMD under international control so they can be destroyed – a long sought goal.

Oh, it was totally a long sought goal — provided that you consider Russia’s several days old offer “long sought.”  It was so long sought that Chuck forgot to mention it when calling for war less than two weeks ago and it was never mentioned by Obama until after Russia made the offer.

President Obama is seeking with intention to avoid military conflict as a first resort whereas President Bush used the pretext of 9/11 to invade Iraq, a nation that had nothing to do with those terrible terrorist attacks.

More Bush-blaming.  Hey, champ, Obama has been in office almost 5 years now.  Time to take responsibility.  Oh, and Bush has been proved right on all his reasons on Iraq, and he had the support of the UN, and dozens of countries and loads of Democrats like Hillary on record denouncing Hussein.

At the same time, President Obama is honoring the democratic institutions of our nation by calling on Congress to debate the path forward in Syria.  Balance is being restored between the three co-equal branches of government – balance under assault since the start of the imperial presidency.

Yes, once he realized that even most people on the Left (except fake Christian leaders like Chuck) opposed him he punted over to Congress.

And what hypocrisy to pretend that Obama hasn’t run roughshod over the balance of powers!  Once again, it is Bush’s fault.

The worldwide Christian community has been nearly unanimous in arguing against military action in Syria.

Uh, except for Chuck, in his editorial above.

 There are many good arguments not to engage in this conflict but  I believe very seriously that the world does have a responsibility protect those who cannot protect themselves.

Unless they are in their mother’s wombs or even 10% left in side the mother (i.e., “partial-birth abortion,” aka infanticide), in which case Obama and Chuck want the government to fund the destruction of the unwanted human beings.

And it would be fascinating for Obama and his “German Christians” to explain why we need to arm Syrians (not to mention Al Qaeda, but that’s a different issue) with assault weapons to protect them from their own government but they want to impose gun restrictions here in the U.S.  Presumably the answer is that we can totally trust our government and they would never turn on us with the power of the IRS, or eavesdropping, or more . . .

Don’t be fooled by the politics-disguised-as-religion fake churches led by people like Chuck.  Study the Bible all you can and follow the real Jesus, and stand up for the truth.

Side note: A great analysis of Obama’s speech: As confused as his policy.  Too bad he isn’t as eager to get to the truth on Benghazi.

And then almost in the same breath, Obama then acknowledged that a diplomatic solution had arisen, despite two weeks of beating the drums for war. Just after arguing that only the US military could solve the problem, Obama said that he was turning to Russia for a potential solution. Not only that, but he also announced that he had asked Congress to hold off on a vote to authorize military action until the Russia and UN track played itself out.  This change was necessitated by the fumbling of his Secretary of State, even though Obama himself had just called the UN “hocus pocus.”

So what was Obama asking of the American people? Nothing. What new and convincing information did Obama bring to the American people?  None.  What new argument did Obama make to shift the strong momentum against military action? He had none.  There was nothing new in this speech from Obama that hadn’t been argued at length in his six broadcast-network interviews the day before, or that his White House and State Department hadn’t offered in the previous week before the speech.

And most oddly, despite having the attention of the nation on the eve of 9/11, Obama never bothered to mention either the devastating terrorist attacks from twelve years ago or the sacking of the Benghazi consulate on the previous anniversary, which took place on Obama’s watch.

Missing the point on Matthew 25

I find several common themes of those who reflexively quote Matthew 25 (“Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”).  It is a great passage that many sound teachers use properly, but false teachers abuse it regularly.  It is the pet verse of the Leftist writers and commenters at the Sojourners’ blog but they never get it right.

1. They don’t speak up for the 3,000+ of “least of these” who get killed in the womb every day because they are unwanted by their parents. They support the party whose platform calls for more abortions via taxpayer-funding. Who could be more vulnerable than those being killed for being unwanted?  If they applied this properly then they are killing Jesus in effigy by supporting abortions.

2. They don’t understand the context of Matthew 25: It is written to brothers and sisters — i.e., fellow believers — those in the church, not everyone else.

3. They think that lobbying Caesar to take from neighbor A by force to “give” to neighbor B qualifies as obeying Matthew 25. But take that to its logical conclusion: Would it qualify as obeying to lobby the government to make other people visit those in prison on your behalf, as also mentioned in that passage? Of course not. Jesus told you to do those things yourself.

4. They don’t read to the end of the chapter, because they typically deny this part:

41 “Then he will say to those on his left,‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  . . .45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Do all those quoting Matthew 25 to justify forced wealth redistribution as a Christian act also affirm the truth of eternal punishment?

Do they think He will really return and glory and make a final judgment of people?

If you want to argue it is good public policy to do certain things, then feel free. But that is not what Matthew 25 means.

Matthew 25:31–46 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Normally I wouldn’t recommend this . . .

. . . but I encourage Bible-believing Christians to visit the Sojourners’ blog and comment there.   Yes, I know they are led by Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis and they live a lie each day, pretending to be centrists — and Christians — when they are really to the left of the Huffington Post.

But oddly enough they are letting Bible-believers post comments now without moderation.  I’m not sure if it is because they moved to a Facebook comment format or if their moderators changed.  Either way, there are several solid commenters there and we often outnumber the Leftists!  So be sure to visit and comment or at least “like” the comments you agree with.  It is great to know that visitors who read the comments will see some balance and the truth.

The commenters are often used to an echo chamber (they know that Sojo is really a Leftist front) so they go into full freak-out mode when their assertions are politely but thoroughly debunked.  I have had multiple theological Liberals get so frustrated with having their arguments annihilated that they deleted entire threads that they started!  Think about that: If you were winning a debate would you delete the thread?  It just happened again on this post where a Leftist calling God a “she” was referring to Shelby Spong, Marcus Borg, etc. as Christ-followers and great theologians.  I need to start copying those before they get deleted!  (Unfortunately, if the originator deletes a comment then the replies go with it.)

So be your usual polite, fact-based, Bible-based selves and weigh in when you have time, or at least “like” the comments you agree with.  It is a great opportunity to stand up for the truth and expose their dark, anti-biblical views.

The Great Debate

If you haven’t listened to the “Great Debate” between Dr. Greg Bahnsen and Dr. Gordon Stein, check out the links below.  It will be a great use of your time.  Put it on your phone and listen on your commute or when you are doing chores or something.  But listen.  Per Robert from Facebook:

If you’ve never listened to it…it’s a must-listen. Should Christians be afraid to voice their beliefs for fear of not being able to convince another of the rationality of the Christian worldview? For fear of getting ridiculed?Listen to Dr. Bahnsen and Dr. Stein and notice that the Christian worldview is the most logical view to hold.

Audio (Right-click and select Save link as to download): http://www.sermonaudio.ca/bahnsen/BahnsenVsStein_TheGreatDebate-DoesGodExist.mp3

Here is the transcript:
http://www.bellevuechristian.org/faculty/dribera/htdocs/PDFs/Apol_Bahnsen_Stein_Debate_Transcript.pdf


Weekend at Bernie’s theology

A favorite updated for your reading pleasure.

I read this great metaphor at a now-defunct blog about how the false teachers who don’t believe the essentials of the Christian faith have taken over many dead 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, theological Liberals 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 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.

Accurate answers to any “Why did God __________?” questions

I’m paraphrasing here, but Greg Koukl made some good points on an old Podcast of Stand To Reason that I thought were useful in answering common questions from both Christians and non-Christians.  The question from the show was, “Why didn’t God just kill Adam and Eve after they disobeyed God?”  When we get questions like that the following answers are usually accurate, even if they aren’t completely satisfying to the questioner.

  1. I don’t know.
  2. Because He wanted to.
  3. For his glory.

Sometimes the answers are in the Bible, but not always.  But that shouldn’t rock your world.  It can be interesting to speculate on the answers based on what we do know about God. In this case, Koukl noted that by letting humans live and ultimately coming to earth as a substitutionary atonement for our sins that God was able to demonstrate more of his attributes.  It would have been completely legitimate for him to kill Adam and Eve for their rebellion, but He chose not to.

It is often more productive to focus on what we do know than on what we don’t know.  The end of Job is in the Bible for a reason.  Ask all the questions you like, but don’t pretend that God didn’t reveal everything to us that we need to know.

And don’t get spooked if there are tough questions you can’t answer, whether the questions are your own, from other believers or from skeptics.  In an even greater sense than how a toddler can’t understand why his parent does something, we don’t know near enough to explain why God is or isn’t doing something in every situation.