A New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2007

A year ago tonight I was introduced to Richard Dawkins when my husband and I stumbled across him on the Book Channel talking about The God Delusion. It has been quite the year. Some say that this was the year for the atheists. I think those voices have definitely resounded this year. They sure make a lot of noise.

On the plus side, I think that these voices have given Christianity a wake-up call. Some Christians who have previously been content to slumber through the storm have been awakened to the reality that they need to have an answer for the faith they profess. Sure, we have read that verse plenty of times, but now it has become clear that it is true for all believers. If the believer does not have an answer, one of two things will happen: either they will continue on in their slumber and in turn ignore God’s calling to preach the gospel to this world, or else they will be swayed by the waves of argument coming against them and lose their faith altogether.

If you haven’t woken up already, the alarm is sounding and it’s time to rise to this occasion. Perhaps the fields have never been more ripe for the harvest, people never more ready to receive the gospel. For when the attack is coming, the mind is awakened to the ideas being proposed. And if the mind is at work, it is prepared to engage the issues at hand, and is therefore open to the gospel.

May this be a fruitful year for the preaching of the gospel. God bless you Christian soldiers as you go forth.


What Do You Do With a Great Writer Who Was a Hedonist?

December 28, 2007

“Few figures in literature merit both genuine admiration and profound pity as much as Oscar Wilde.”

Today I picked up Sense and Sensuality: Jesus Talks with Oscar Wilde on the Pursuit of Pleasure by Ravi Zacharias. The above quotation is the opening line of the introduction of the book. I have to admit that I feel the same way about Oscar Wilde.

I too believe that Oscar Wilde was a genius as a writer. I think The Importance of Being Ernest is hilarious. Some classmates and I read it together for English Literature II a couple years ago, and had a blast going through it and reading the parts out loud. Last year I read The Picture of Dorian Gray. A darker novel, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this examination of the human soul corrupted by pleasure. I think that Wilde was looking into his own soul as he wrote that book, examining what destruction his lifestyle had brought him. For although he was a genius, he was also a hedonist, and seemed to have no qualms about it. Throughout his life he struggled with his flesh, but eventually he gave in and followed his lusts wherever they took him, much like his character Dorian Gray.

My question is this: What do you do with a great writer who was a hedonist? How much does the character of the author contribute to your affection or dislike for the characters and stories that they have created? And does it matter?

I think that there is no harm in enjoying certain works such as Ernest. But often times the works have been completely corrupted by the perversions of the author. Because of this I am extremely wary of what I read from the secular realm. The character of the author will always show in their work. I avoid anything sexually explicit. When it comes to non-Christian writers I stick almost exclusively to the classics.

What do you think?

Editor’s note: This was supposed to be yesterday’s post, but our network was down yesterday and I wasn’t able to post it until today. We will return to our regular schedule on Monday. Have a great weekend!

False Presuppositions

December 26, 2007

“False ideas are the greatest obstacles to the reception of the gospel” (J. Gresham Machen).

It is very true that false presuppositions of men and women are typically the biggest barriers to their reception of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

If you hold the idea that evolution is true it typically follows that you disbelief in the Bible. If you disbelief the Bible, then you typically disbelieve the gospel message as a whole. Or else you disbelieve in God altogether and also conclude the gospel message is null and void.

If you believe that you’re a good person you will typically reject the gospel on the grounds that you aren’t someone in need of salvation; and neither is anyone for that matter because everyone goes to heaven in the end anyways. This also follows from the presupposition that God is a God who would never condemn anyone.

And then there are some who believe that they are such horrible people that there is no such thing as redemption for them, even if salvation does exist.

How you view the world, yourself, other people, and God will color how you will view the gospel message.

The problem with presuppositions is that often they are not founded in truth. As we discussed last week and the week before, evolution does still have a lot of questions to answer. If you have ever lied, cheated, stolen, swore, or done anything else against another human being you are not a good person. If God would never condemn anyone for their sin then he is not a just God. Likewise if there are people who God is unable to save based on their wretchedness, God cannot then be just either. If God is not just then he is not perfect, and an imperfect deity is no God at all.

But if the Bible can be trusted, if man is sinful, but if man can also be redeemed, and if God is just, that changes everything. Suddenly the gospel comes into focus, and salvation is at hand.

Merry Christmas

December 25, 2007

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

Merry Christmas!

An Assessment of “In God’s Name” on CBS

December 24, 2007

Well, when I heard there would be a program on CBS discussing the lives and views of twelve worldwide religious leaders, my interest was piqued. There were some good things as well as some unfavorable things I found with this program.

My first reaction upon hearing about the program was to ask, “I wonder who they got to represent Christianity?” I was curious because typically when this type of program is aired they pick some liberal who doesn’t even believe the Bible is true to represent Christianity; or else it is a Catholic or someone from another mainline denomination, someone who does not represent Evangelical Christianity. I was pleasantly surprised with how they dealt with Christianity. They showed four representatives across the spectrum – Pope Benedict XVI, obviously representing Catholicism; Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia of the Russian Orthodox church, representing Eastern Christianity; Rev. Mark Hanson, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, representing the more liberal mainline denominations; and Dr. Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention to represent Evangelical Christianity. I have to admit I chuckled at the fact that they chose a Baptist, (we are not Calvinists), but honestly Dr. Page is a good representative of the token Evangelical in America, and as such I applaud his being selected for this show. And overall I think he did a pretty good job in his representation of Christianity.

So one big positive I found with this program was that Christianity was accurately represented in its wide spectrum.

The second thing that I found positive with the program was the fact that the questions of faith in such a time as this were being raised. I was encouraged that the filmmakers were provoked to ask about pain and suffering, faith and ritual, and that these questions were provoked in the minds of the viewers. Such questions need to be asked.

Now the downside: Pluralism. A comment in the beginning of the program by the Dalai Llama epitomizes what I think was the purpose of such an examination, namely that what’s good for you and good for me may be different, just as one person likes spicy food and another likes bland. Such an assertion does not make logical sense when we are discussing truth. What is true is true absolutely, not just some of the time. If there is a God, he has an absolute nature. If there is salvation, there is a definite was to reach it.

I think the program was aimed at showing the “unity in diversity” of the different faiths without assessing the concept of what is actually true. I think it is fruitless to do such a study without asking this question. Unfortunately we live in a culture that does not question the above assertion by the Dalai Llama.

But the question must be asked, as Pontius Pilate asked Christ: “What is truth?” (John 18:38). And there is an absolute and definite answer. There has to be for it to be called Truth at all.

A Perspective on Mary

December 21, 2007

Before I got married I did a short stint in the Canadian Armed Forces pursuing chaplaincy. While I was there I got into a discussion with a few of the Catholic students in my course about my perspective of Mary, the mother of Jesus. I was asked why I think it’s wrong to pray to Mary, and how I view her if not in that kind of veneration and devotion.

The answer to the first question is two-fold. First, the Bible says that we are not to pray to images and idols (Deuteronomy 5:8-10). This covers the worshipping of statues and pictures of Mary. But for those who claim they are not worshipping an image but praying to or venerating Mary as a mediator, 1 Timothy 2:5-6 says, “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men – the testimony given in its proper time.” Throughout Scripture it is seen that under no circumstance should anyone other than God be prayed to.

I would like to now shift our attention to the second question. If we are not to worship or venerate or pray to Mary, what should our attitude be towards her?

Mary was a woman of great faith. She had the faith courage to say, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be done to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). Mary is a picture of faith and obedience to God. As such, she is someone who is to be viewed as an example for our faith in life.

Besides putting her trust in God, Mary proclaimed God’s glory (Luke 1:46-55). She remained faithful to her betrothed and remained pure until after the Lord’s birth (Matthew 1:25). She fulfilled the requirements of the law (Luke 2:39) – that same law which her child would ultimately fulfill once for all on the cross. She treasured everything the Lord was doing in her heart (Luke 2:51).

This Christmas season, let us remember that the faith of the young woman Mary is one to be emulated in our own lives. May we also say to the Lord “I am the Lord’s servant,” and submit to do everything he has called us to do.

Seeing Through the Eye

December 20, 2007

Just a quick quote for today:

“This life’s dim windows of the soul
Distorts the heavens from pole to pole
And leads you to believe a lie
When you see with, not through, the eye.”
(William Blake)

%d bloggers like this: