More on church lists

No, not moron church lists, thought that could make an interesting post as well.

In response to a post about 10 ways to hinder your church, a commenter made some good points about other things that should be on the list:

The list is excessively focused on doctrine and public meetings. This is only a very small part of the church; it is also ‘leader’ centric; another very small part; because, you see, without love, its just empty. How to kill a church is to not love: to have selective friendships, to play favourites, to not support the weaker or needy brother or sister, to not commit to and engage in prayer together and for those in need; to not share your lives openly, unremittingly, sacrificially and joyfully, without pretence and preening.

. . .

It seems to me that in some churches, if its not nice and neat, suitable for polite conversation, it’s avoided.

I thought the original list didn’t mention enough about doctrine.  Whole denominations are getting killed by poisonous liberal theology that denies so many essentials, such as Jesus’ deity and exclusivity, the physical resurrection, the authority of the Bible.  If you can’t get the essentials right then you have no business calling yourself a church at all.  It is false advertising of the worst kind.

That aside, the commenter was dead on about how churches can miss the point and get caught up in superficial concerns.

Even though our denomination (United Methodist) has some serious problems due to false teachers that worked their way into leadership positions, our local church is quite good.  I could give countless examples, but here are a couple.

The love and care that get poured out isn’t just for long time or even active people or even members. One visitor lost his wife while she was delivering their second child. He was showered with countless hours of help, child care, meals, etc. for many months. It was touching when he joined, especially as he felt very welcome as a minority in a largely white church.

An Indian couple, now good friends of ours, had been ignored at a different church but were immediately embraced at ours. They have a thriving home Bible study and have led many former Hindus to Christ. They are very grateful for how welcomed they felt at our church.

Side note: Being in a small group — Sunday School classes and accountability groups in particular — is crucial to really feeling engaged at church.  It is too easy to get lost, especially in large churches. 

What would you add to the list that churches need to focus on so their work for the kingdom isn’t hindered?

God’s view of marriage and parenting

The last post talked about religion in the public square.  This one is for those within the church.  Non-believers are welcome to comment, but please stay on topic.

As I addressed in Problems with pro-gay theology, there are many false teachers and/or confused people in the church who hold one or more of the following erroneous beliefs:

  • The Bible is either not the Word of God, or most parts of it aren’t.  This view claims that we can ignore the prohibitions against homosexual behavior because they were written by homophobic Jews.
  • The Bible is the Word of God, but it doesn’t really say homosexual behavior is wrong.  This view holds that people just aren’t reading the Bible properly, and that God’s Word is actually affirming of gay relationships.
  • The Bible is the Word of God and does clearly and emphatically describes gay behavior as sinful.  However, the Holy Spirit has given additional revelations such that this behavior is now acceptable.  This view holds that God has changed his mind on this moral issue and not only is it now acceptable, but it is sinful if you don’t affirm this behavior and same-sex relationships. 
  • But as I’ve mentioned many time, the Bible couldn’t be more clear:

    1. 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior denounce it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
    2. 100% of the verses referencing God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
    3. 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
    4. 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions.

    Item 1 gets talked about the most, but I encourage people to search for the passages that relate to items 2 and 3 and then honestly ask themselves if they think the Bible even hints at oxymoronic “same sex unions” as being part of God’s plan.  I was reading this passage yesterday and this idea really stood out:

    1 Corinthians 7:1-10 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. Now as a concession, not a command, I say this. I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has his own gift from God, one of one kind and one of another. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion. To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband.

    There is not even a hint that God has any plan for marriage other than one man and one woman.  Really, read the whole book and see.  I find the arguments from silence (i.e., “But the Bible never specifically says “same sex marriage” or gay parenting is wrong”) to be ridiculous and a sure sign that you are talking to person who is deceived and/or a deceiver. 

    P.S. If a professing Christian wants to claim that Paul was backwards or confused, then I offer this:

    • Paul was a really cerebral guy.  Read all his letters and see.
    • You should know that the Bible was inspired by the Holy Spirit.
    • Are you claiming that Paul was wrong and you are not and that I should trust your revelation over his?  I’m skeptical of that.

    Confronting fake concerns about religion in the public square

    Friendly reminder: Many people advancing liberal arguments will try to dismiss the views of religious people just because they are religious people.  Too often people let them get away with that truly bigoted, prejudiced anti-religious argument.

    These responses specifically address the marriage debate, though they also work when they try to dismiss your pro-life or other views that align with your religious convictions.  Feel free to use them as responses when people try to shut you up just because you trust in Jesus.

    Here’s why I am free to support real marriage in the public square:

    1. That First Amendment thingy.  We’re allowed to let our religious views inform our political views whether you like it or not. It doesn’t inhibit religious freedoms, it protects them.

    2. My religion tells me that stealing, perjury, gay bashing and murder are also wrong.  Do you object to me letting those views inform my political views, or just the views you don’t like?

    3. Lots of churches are thoroughly pro-gay, such as the UCC and the Episcopals.  I don’t recall you objecting to their advancement of the pro-gay cause.  If you were being consistent and if you really opposed any religious beliefs in the public square, shouldn’t you be objecting to their views just as strenuously?  Why do you just use that argument against views you disagree with?

    4. You are begging the question by assuming what you should be proving.  You claim that we are denying “rights” to gays but you must change the definition of the word in question to draw that conclusion.  But the whole debate is whether to change the word and give them a new right.  You cheat and pretend that we’ve already changed the word and given them the right and then insist that we’re denying this existing right.  Sadly, pro-gay apologists commit this fallacy so reflexively that I doubt you realize what you are doing.

    Ironically, the “rights” talked is best founded by a Christian worldview.  The Declaration of Independence notes this:

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

    But most of the world – religious or not – doesn’t regard those truths to be self-evident at all.  They make sense in our culture because we are still running on the fumes of Christianity. 

    5. Finally, and most importantly, I didn’t bring up religion.  You did.  I can argue this topic without it — though of course, if you want to know Jesus’ views on it I’ll be glad to share the biblical view with you.

    10 ways to hinder your church

    Pastor Timothy showed a good video about how we can fall into behaviors that hinder the church.  Any relation to your behavior or mine is purely convicting.  #3 is my biggest problem.  Et toi?

    In case you don’t have time to watch it, here’s my summary:

    1. It is all about you and what you get out of church.  The purpose of the church is to serve you.
    2. Only go when it is convenient. 
    3. It is the responsibility of the church to get your heart ready for worship.
    4. You know more than the leaders in your church, but don’t use the knowledge to teach others.  The knowledge you have is to criticize, not advance the Gospel.
    5. Criticize any potential theological errors of your pastor publicly, not privately.
    6. Make sure you get credit for what you do.  Otherwise, don’t help.
    7. Never let doctrine divide.  Don’t study it yourself.
    8. Church hopping is always an option.  Don’t persevere through rough times.
    9. If you are convicted of sin then accuse the church of being legalistic.
    10. Always demand an emotional experience, as that is a true test of the effectiveness of a church.

    Roundup

    Must see: Cambridge cop says she won’t vote for Obama again after Gatesgate

    If you’re looking for postracial America, you’ve found it.

    Also, has anyone else heard much about Gates’ upcoming PBS special about race in America?  I’m not much for conspiracy theories, but does anyone else wonder if he might have provoked this a bit or milked it for see free publicity?

    Make sure your kids aren’t by your PC when you click on this ==> No Nudity Crackdown in San Francisco – Police Again Allow Rampant Public Nudity, Sex Acts at Deviant ‘Up Your Alley’ Street Fair — That is, of course, unless you are one of the commenters defending the attendance of children at those swell gay pride events.  After all, you know the truth that people who object to things shown in the link are just bigoted homophobes who don’t realize how healthy it is for children to see such things.

    Good quote on the global climate change stuff:

    Sharp Americans are starting to understand H.L. Mencken’s observation that “The urge to save humanity is always a false front for the urge to rule it.”

    Roundup

    Virginity in the NBA: Mission Possible – Great article about A.C. Green (former Laker)

     NY nurse forced to assist in late-term abortion, career threatened – that’s courtesy of the pro-abortion crowd, thank you (yes, that’s pro-abortion, not pro-choice)

    A history of who thought the world was flat and when they thought it — Guess what?  It wasn’t the Christians or even the West in general.  But I wonder why this myth persists?  Uh, actually, I don’t wonder.  It is one of those myths that helps advance a particular worldview.  (Hat tip: Duane’s Mind)

    The 6 Worst Abortion Arguments Jon Stewart made to Mike Huckabee– I appreciate Huckabee’s pro-life views.

    YouTube aborts pro-life videos

    YouTube allows almost any surgery video imaginable, like gastric bypass, gallbladder removal, toe amputation, appendectomy and brain tumor removal, and gross-out body parts videos like a buttock fecal fistula or peritoneal cancer – but not abortion.

    Neither does YouTube have a problem with videos pertaining to the female anatomy like mastectomies, breast augmentations, hysterectomies or even baby deliveries – but not abortion, unless it is in the form of bloodless illustrations.

    YouTube also seems to go out of its way to protect the abortion industry, particularly Planned Parenthood

    When a nation turns its back on God–Romans 1:18-32 – terrific sermon by Four* Pointer.  Check it out.

    Roundup

    Does Mormonism teach that Adam was God (or a God)? Yes, and here is some of the evidence.  Don’t let them tell you otherwise.

    What really caused Michael Jackson to die? (Ray Comfort) — Good video at Christocentric

    North Korea executes (more) Christians 

    Human rights groups in South Korea say North Korea has stepped up executions of Christians, some of them in public.

    The communist country, the world’s most closed society, views religion as a major threat….

    …[J]ust owning a Bible in North Korea may be a cause for torture and disappearance.

    From Stand to Resaon:

    A new scanning technique  allows life-size models to be made of unborn babies allowing the mothers to see their child in a realistic way.

    Very cool.  These make a huge difference to abortion vulnerable women.  I’m on the board of a CareNet Pregnancy Center and just this week was reminded of the importance of ultrasounds as well.

    One of the volunteers described a woman who just visited the center with her newborn son.  She originally had an abortion scheduled but came to CareNet the day before that and got an ultrasound.  The technician couldn’t find the baby at first but gave it one last try and showed him to the mother.  Her reply was a common one: “I realized I couldn’t kill my baby.”

    Ultrasounds save lives.

    A challenge for ID bashers

    Read Stephen C. Meyer’s new book, Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design (HarperOne). He lays out a massive evidentiary case. As a philosopher of science, he also explains what science is. If you really want to tell me there’s no positive scientific evidence that biological information coded in DNA reflects purposeful design, then go ahead and read Meyer’s book and report back to me your reasoned response.

    Feel free to leave your comments there, not here.

    Someone had to say it: OK, Enough! Cronkite Was NOT That Great .  Side note: I thought he was already dead, so it would have been more newsworthy to me if they had announced the previous day that he was still alive.

    Oh, the hypocrisy!

    A recent commenter did all she could to avoid the topic of a post and railed at length about the hypocrisy of Christians. 

    Critics have a point when they demonstrate where some Christians are hypocritical.  After all, Jesus taught to judge but not to judge hypocritically.

    But unless the critics are just pointing out the hypocrisy of some Christians as mere trivia, then the critics become judges and hypocrites themselves. 

    Think about it: If they reject the Bible, then what is their grounding for claiming that judging and hypocrisy are wrong? 

    Even if they could provide a grounding outside the Bible that judging is wrong (they can’t, of course, but that’s a different problem for them), then they are guilty of judging Christians for judging. 

    And of course, if they judge others for the (ungrounded) universal sin of judging, then they are hypocrites.

    They judge people for hypocrisy when they are hypocrites as well, so they are double hypocrites.

    Do they see the irony?  Do they realize their own hypocrisy?  In my experience they don’t.  They are too busy avoiding the central issues of the debate and they use the hypocrisy charge to position themselves as morally superior to Christians.

    A friend used to complain a lot about hypocrites in the church.  I conceded that it is often the case, but I finally asked if he was wounded by some hypocrites at some point.  He smiled and said no.  I realized in an instant that he didn’t really care about hypocrisy.  He just used that as an excuse to feel superior to those awful, hypocritical Christians and to avoid God. 

    These folks might want to reconsider the definition of hypocrisy as well.

    a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc., that one does not really possess.

    The commenter in question insisted that to judge homosexual behavior as sinful was hypocritical if they didn’t give equal time to all other sins.  But that doesn’t meet the definition.  If one engages in homosexual behavior while speaking out against it then that would be hypocrisy.

    Should Christians avoid hypocrisy?  Absolutely.  But we should point out when people try to silence us with silly logic.

    ObamaCare: Pro-abortion, not pro-choice

    Make no mistake: Obama & Co. plan to have taxpayer funded abortions as part of their “health” coverage.  Why wouldn’t they?  After all, they already refer to abortions as “reproductive health.”  I suppose that euphemism sells better than crushing and dismembering innocent human beings, but I still find it to be highly inaccurate.

    Go see Stop the Abortion Mandate and follow the instructions.

    Anyone who favors taking tax dollars to fund abortions here or overseas isn’t pro-choice, they are pro-abortion.

    Home Depot sponsors kids’ booths at gay pride parades. Seriously.

    I am not making this up. 

    According to the Nashville Gay Pride website, Home Depot gave over $5,000 to be a major sponsor of its 2009 Gay Pride Festival in June. But simply financing the event wasn’t enough for the big box chain.

    Home Depot also signed on as a vendor, conducting kid’s craft workshops for children via a special booth set up just for them.

    To this end, Home Depot is basically encouraging the attendance of children at events which openly expose them to transvestites, cross-dressers, and homosexual activities.

    Unfortunately, Home Depot’s participation in the Nashville Pride Festival doesn’t stand alone. It has also sponsored kid’s booths at other gay events in Atlanta, Kansas City, Durham, Portland, and San Diego.

    Gay pride events have a long track record for offensive public displays of homosexual conduct. Obviously, Home Depot is OK with the idea of exposing children to an unhealthy and risky environment. So much so, it is willing to participate in it.

    We bought a bunch of stuff for our new house tonight.  I’m really glad we went to Lowe’s and not Home Depot.  Home Depot is closer to our new place but I’ll be glad to drive a little farther to get to Lowe’s.

    Read more here at the One Million Dads site.  You can send emails to the leaders at companies like Home Depot.  They have drafts like this that you can edit or send as is.

    Dear Chairman Blake:

    Your company’s financial support of gay pride parades is disappointing to me.

    However, Home Depot’s decision to also include children’s activities at these events is irresponsible, at best.

    Gay pride events are known for their frequent and offensive public displays of homosexual conduct. By offering craft workshops specifically designed for children, Home Depot is encouraging their attendance.

    Thus, they will likely be exposed to unhealthy and risky environments.

    I’m imploring you to put the safety and well-being of children first by not sponsoring or participating in homosexual events.

    I can’t believe we’re having this conversation (Obamacare)

    As pointed out at The Bumbling Genius: An All Too Common Answer, those pushing so hard for health care reform typically just point out problems with the current system and jump to the conclusion that whatever Obama is proposing is going to fix the problems and not cause any new ones.

    Anybody see the problems with that?

    If the current system is too expensive, how will total costs go down by eliminating competition?

    If the current system is too expensive, what data do they have to suggest that government ownership will reduce costs?

    If the current system isn’t working well, what data do they have to suggest that government ownership will improve effectiveness?  Anybody been to the DMV lately?  How about Walter Reed Memorial Hospital?

    If the proposed system is so swell, why won’t the proponents be subject to it?

    If this issue is so important that it transcends politics, why isn’t it important enough for legislators and Obama to actually read the Bill?

    Does the tone from Obama sound familiar to the stimulus bill debacle that wasted untold amounts of money?  You know, the “this is too important to be bi-partisan about or debate” language?

    Why are people acting surprised that abortions will be covered and funded by taxpayers?  The pro-abortionists already use the euphemism “reproductive health” to describe abortions.  Of course they expect you to pay for the abortions of others.

    The system has flaws, to be sure, but people get health care already.  Most of the uninsured are illegal aliens and those who don’t want to pay for insurance.

    Will illegal aliens be covered in the new plan?  Why not pay for health care for the whole world and not just those who enter our country illegally?

    Steve Forbes has some outstanding ideas on how to truly reduce costs and improve care.  Think about these:

    Conventional Lasik eye surgery costs a third of what it did ten years ago. And there has been virtually no inflation in the prices of cosmetic surgery, even though there have been enormous technological advances, and the demand for these procedures has increased sixfold since the early 1990s.

    Special hospital facilities in India, Thailand, Singapore and elsewhere that engage in medical ”tourism” have infection rates a fraction of those found in most U.S. hospitals. These positive results are driven by the fact that patients write the checks and are thus fully conscious of the costs, as well as by the fact that providers are under pressure to make their offerings more enticing and affordable.

    Here are some helpful and constructive measures that can move us to a more genuinely free-enterprise health care system.

    –Equalize the tax treatment of individuals and businesses. If the company you work for doesn’t provide insurance or you don’t like the plan offered, you are forced to try to buy a policy with aftertax dollars. If an individual wishes or needs to buy health insurance on his own, why shouldn’t he get a refund tax credit of, say, $4,000–and a family, $8,000?

    –Allow consumers to shop for health insurance across state lines. Today it’s illegal for someone in Chicago to buy a health insurance policy that someone living in New York City can buy.

    –Encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts. That way consumers–not government bureaucrats or employers–would control the purse strings, or at least a portion of them.

    –Permit small businesses to form pools so they can increase their pricing leverage with insurers.

    –Remove state-imposed obstacles to allowing routine medical care to be offered in, say, Wal-Mart ( WMTnews - people ) stores.

    –Remove the obstacles that prevent entrepreneurs from setting up new clinics or hospitals. A number of states make this extremely difficult by demanding that such entrepreneurs obtain a certificate of need. In fact, in some jurisdictions hospitals must get permission to make major capital purchases.

    Genuine free-market reforms in health care will slash the number of the uninsured and lead to the same kinds of innovations and efficiencies that are experienced in most of the rest of the economy.

    “Have you not read . . .”

    Listening to a John MacArthur sermon on this passage about divorce got me thinking about some parallels with the pro-gay theology crowd. 

    Matthew 19:1-11  Now when Jesus had finished these sayings, he went away from Galilee and entered the region of Judea beyond the Jordan. 2 And large crowds followed him, and he healed them there.

    3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” 7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

    10 The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” 11 But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given.

    His point was how the Pharisees in Jesus’ time were wildly pro-easy-divorce.

    In the beginning of Matt 19, the Jews seem to be asking for Jesus’ opinion in a rabbinic conflict in interpreting Deut 24:1. The school of Shammai allowed divorce only for adultery, the school of Hillel allowed divorce tor any reason. They are asking if Jesus favors Hillel.

    Keep in mind how educated and well read the Pharisees were.  Jesus seems to heart sarcasm, because in verse 4 He says, “Have you not read . . .” and then He goes to the very beginning, in Genesis chapters 1 and 2, to point out God’s created order.  They had obviously read that and knew what is said but had deliberately ignored it.  It was as if they had said “2+2=5″ and He was pointing out how ridiculous they were being for missing something so elementary.  The pro-gay theology crowd is the same way.

    Sometimes I think orthodox Christians are too patient and gracious with false teachers.  There are a number of problems with pro-gay theology and we can go on all day refuting their arguments.  But in doing so we probably give them much more of a forum than they deserve.  It leaves them with the ability to pretend that it is just a toss up and that either view must be OK. 

    Jesus didn’t drag out the discussion with the Pharisees like we do with the pro-gay theology crowd.  I think He would have answered them the same way He did with the pro-divorce crowd, with a dig at how in their rebellion they miss the obvious: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” They said to him, “Why then did Moses command . . .”

    I could also see him saying something similar regarding abortion, i.e., “Have you not read . . . don’t murder, don’t shed innocent blood, children are a blessing, etc.?”

    (Note that divorce was a hot topic in that culture while homosexuality and abortion were not.)

    Roundup

    Trig Palin has divided America (Hat tip: Luke)

    A Paliban Daily article titled “Sarah Palin’s Retarded Platform: More Trigs!” interpreted Palin’s outspokenness on disability rights as a political ploy to win votes. Other articles contained subtle but unmistakable eugenic overtones.

    Those reactions echoed the hateful response that met Palin when she introduced Trig on the campaign trail last fall. Nicholas Provenzo of the libertarian Center for the Advancement of Capitalism discussed being “troubled” by Trig’s existence because “it is crucial to reaffirm the morality of aborting a fetus diagnosed with Down syndrome.”

    Sadly, such hatred reflects a broader societal bias against disability. Polls suggest public support for abortion is highest when the child is likely to have a deformity or a genetic condition. 

    Our society has moral schizophrenia.

    Senate Calls Its Healthcare Plan Ca Ca. No Really!

    Stan had a good post on 1 Corinthians 6:19 and how it is often used as an anti-smoking verse. 

    1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,

    I thought he made good points about reading it in context and how it relates to sexual sins, though  I do think that v. 19 could have broader application though based on the principle of the Holy Spirit living in us. 

    As our Associate Pastor pointed out to us in a Bible study last year, the whole “Your body is a temple so don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t have sex outside marriage, etc.” bit isn’t bad advice, but it is a rather significant understatement and misses out on something glorious: As Christians we are at the intersection of Heaven and Earth.  We have the Holy Spirit living in us. 

    Why aren’t we rejoicing and applying that truth more?!

    Andy Griffith knew moral relativism was nonsense.

    What’s that?  Al Qaeda still doesn’t like us?  That can’t be.

    Let this not come as a surprise to those who are mesmerized by Obama’s speech in Cairo, our positions … have not changed in the least,” al-Amriki said, in the transcription provided by MEMRI. “If we study his words carefully, we can note very clearly that this new beginning is still heavily based upon American interests … [Obama spoke] not because he loves the Muslims he lived with in Indonesia, as a boy, but rather, it is because the only way to defeat the Muslims is by distracting them with this temporary life.

    I appreciate the candor of the National Education Association General Counsel in saying that it really is about money and power and not the children.

    Despite what some among us would like to believe it is not because of our creative ideas; it is not because of the merit of our positions; it is not because we care about children; and it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child.

    The NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of million of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them; the union that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.

    If Christians disagree on the Bible, does that disprove Christianity?

    A recent commenter noted the following:

    I’m sure God was a pioneer in viral marketing, and overall, it’s worked quite well for him, but I think he could have found a better method.

    Also, LCB, every time a concept in the Bible is questioned, you usually tell me I’m wrong about it, and that it’s a complicated process. Now I’m no Darwin (come on, that’s funny), but I know my way around literature. Why would God write a book that contains the most critical information possible, that can only be fully understood by a select few? Everyone I know who is a Christian thinks different things about the Bible. Certain passages mean completely different things to different people, and many of them are completely certain that they know the truth. Logic tells us that most of them are wrong. What makes you right?

    It isn’t that we couldn’t be wrong.  I’m sure we’re wrong on some things. It is that some people are wrong because when you analyze the text more closely you can see that they are wrong. 

    For example, some pro-abortion Christians use a translation of Exodus that they think supports their view, but when you look at the original languages you realize that it is a pro-life verse .  Oddly, these readers ignore so many other pro-life texts and in my experience are completely uncorrectable about the meaning of the original languages. 

    For you, that is evidence that these Christians just can’t agree so the Bible must be wrong about its claims to be God’s word. 

    For me, it is evidence that they like their (misinterpreted) pro-abortion passage more than they like the truth.

    Just because the Bible can be misunderstood doesn’t mean it can’t be understood. 

    There are plenty of things that I don’t understand in the Bible, but many others that are crystal clear.

    You can’t read the Bible in any serious way and not see that God is against religious pluralism, that Jesus is the only way to salvation, that Jesus is God, that the Bible claims to speak for God, that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, etc.

    That isn’t what makes those things true, but any honest skeptic should concede that those teachings are clear.

    “Good people” & Heaven

    The Pugnacious Irishman had a thoughtful post titled My own goodness is enough . . . or is it?  It had a good illustration to consider about how you’d evaluate your “goodness.”  It also reminded me of this post, so I thought I’d re-run it.

    —–

    a.jpgIt is common for people to say, “I’m a good person. Good people go to heaven.” 

    This topic is a good way to insert a truthful and winsome witness - namely that Christians, by definition, are saying we are not good enough on our own and that we need Jesus’ work on our behalf.  An authentic Christian worldview is the opposite of self-righteousness (though we often sin and act that way anyway).  The truly self-righteous ones are those who think their good deeds will require God to let them into his Heaven.

    Also, if being 51% good was the standard, we haven’t even been that good.  When I consider all of my sinful thoughts, words and deeds plus all the right thoughts, words and deeds I should have had but didn’t, I’m lucky if I’m at 10%.  Many of the “good” things I’ve done were for my glory, not God’s, and those go into the loss column.

    I think some Christians parrot this view because they worry about unsaved relatives and it helps them rationalize their eternal state.   Also, why do the hard work of evangelism if “good” people are safe?  After all, 90% of prisoners will tell you they are basically good people. 

    Here are some questions you might want to ask someone who says that “good people go to Heaven.”   Ask them nicely and interactively, not as if you were a prosecutor!  The idea is to get them to realize the implications of what they are saying on their own.

    Can you define “good” for me?  For starters, this may help them see that if 6 billion people each get their own definition then something may be wrong with this worldview. 

    Regarding who gets into Heaven, who would get to define “good” – you, me, someone else or God?  Seems like the creator of the universe might have the final say rather than the created beings.

    Is that 51% good? Or 50.001%?  Islam teaches that God weighs your sins to determine your eternal destiny.  Interestingly, the real God – as revealed in the Bible – isn’t soft on sin like Allah.  All sins get punished instead of overlooking up to 49% of them. 

    Are sins done on a weighted average, or just raw numbers? Where is the scale?  All sins offend a holy and perfect God, but we intuitively realize that some sins have worse consequences than others.  But again, who gets to decide?

    Do you have a spreadsheet to keep track of your sins?  I tried, but my hard drive got full.

    What if you missed some?  Do you want your eternal destiny based on some rough estimates?  We sin so much that it is impossible to remember them all.

    If you have no hope of getting to 51%, should you give up and just be evil?  This might be a bad question to ask . . . seems like many people have gone down this path and we don’t want to give anyone ideas.

    If you are at 70%, is it OK to sin on purpose?  After all, you have room to spare!

    Where is your assurance?  The fact that Christianity offers assurance isn’t what makes it true, but it is one of the great things about it.  Since we’re trusting in what Jesus did for us instead of our own works, we can be confident of our salvation.

    Most importantly, what does the Bible say? 

    Romans 3:23, 6:23, 5:8 and 10:9:  For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.   For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

    I’m glad to be relying 100% on the Jesus plan instead of my not-such-a-good-person resume.

    Global warming and cherry picking

    I thought that The way the Ball bounces: The Mother of All Cherries was a great summary of the problems with the global warming debate.  I encourage you to read it all, but here are a few highlights:

    AGW alarmism vs. skepticism is not about science vs. non-science; or science vs. religion; it is about sound science vs. unsound science. It is about what definite conclusions (and far-reaching actions) are warranted by the data vs. unwarranted.

    . . .

    And a lot of ancillary things — like the popular use of metaphor such as “the earth has a fever” and “the planet is on fire” to advance the AGW cause — which is one reason I “cherry-pick” weather events to poke fun at the AGW messengers — especially when events don’t go according to script. But, unlike AGW alarmists, I use the cherry-picked weather events for satirical, as opposed to scientific, or pecuniary (hello Al Gore), purposes. This flies over the heads of AGW fundamentalists — even when I point out this is what I am doing they still go nuts. (While their side, of course, continues to cherry-pick weather events when it suits them — e.g., the iconic image of the stranded polar bear, and Katrina, the mother-of-all-cherries).

    . . .

    And, of course, the fact that scientists that don’t get on board the AGW ship are censured and lose funding, while those who are on board are awarded millions, resulting in skewed, built-in incentives to crank the alarmist message ever higher in the darwinian quest for continued funding — an inconvenient truth, I’m sure.

    And a generally compliant media because “scientists have spoken” and Madonna and Sir Richard are on-board.

    And the AGW fundamentalist who thinks an important part of the solution is keeping African communities without electricity because, trust me, they’re better off and happier without it.

    . . .

    And what I regard as the sheer and utter hubris of mankind thinking that he alone is the cause of climate change and that he has the power to control the climate.

    And the dangerous sub-text to all of this: world governance controlling populations and individuals in the name of urgent necessity.