August 28, 2015

Did God Create the Universe?



Genesis 1:1 ~ “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

John 1:3 – “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”

Colossians 1:16 ~ “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”

I intend to address a handful of issues concerning the Creation which I believe actually took place and can be reasoned for through logical understanding and outside of the Cosmological Argument. This will be a intellectual blending of logic/reasoning and theological understanding. I will pose three questions for this post with commentary. Did God create everything? Has Creation and creatures of the Creation always existed and Did God Create Time [Did time start at the Creation]?

Why bother? Because today there are many “learned” men respected and venerated in the culture that are claiming the Universe (Creation) has always existed or permutations thereof that support an eternal universe. They cling to these convoluted and tenuous arguments even though the underlying concepts in things like the Cosmological Argument, Kalam Cosmological Argument [1] and the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics can refutes these assertions. Among these men are Stephen Hawking, Saurya Das and Ahmed Farag Ali. We also had Baum–Frampton who supported the cyclic or rebounding or oscillating universe theory and even the least probable of the Big Bang avoidance theories: String Theory.

String Theory that theoretically could have an infinite “string” of possible universes. A premise that would most certainly demand that science consider infinitude in reality. Infinitude that could only be attributed to an infinite series of regressive universes or more specifically, parallel universes. This of course would be a violation of logic. According to most physicists, it appears it would be a violation of physics also. Most physicists would disclaim infinity in Physics because it has no empirical measurable quantity. For example, presumed impossible for any type of body to have infinite mass or infinite energy. Concepts of infinite things such as an infinite plane wave exist, but there are no experimental means to generate them. Their naturalism comes full circle to shoot them in the foot.

Also as I have stated in older posts, Newtonian physics indirectly hints at the need for existence of a God-like being to have a Creation/Universe with an inception point. If we consult Newton's First and Third Laws of Motion we read that: (Law 1) An object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force. We know that the universe is in motion and is expanding. It is not at rest. It therefore has been acted upon and is in action. It is no longer at rest but put in motion by something. (Law 3) When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body. If the universe is in motion (which it is), that means something in equal magnitude to the matter of Creation had to have exerted and immense amount of initial force to get the Creation/Universe in motion. That is a rather extraordinary force. Perhaps the proper term should be super-ordinary or supernatural force?


That being said, I pose the further question under the assumption that God does indeed exist…

Did God Create Everything? Yes

I believe that everything that has being (ontologically) and is in existence…is from God. Anything that is in motion and is involved in the Universe must be caused directly by that which it is associated with. In essence: A spark ignites the flame that draws the moth. A series of causal events. God being a self-sufficient/existent is the simplest explanation of a self-subsistent Being. Just as God is infinite, God therefore is the source of the irreducible regress of causation. 

Slaves to Cause

In all things that exist and have their being…their origin of being is found in the ontological source of God. They are not of their own being, they are dependent on their existence. Said another way, all things that “are” or all beings apart from God are not their own being, but are beings by partaking or involvement with another: God. They are essentially ontologically owned. They are servants or slaves of God. We are all dependent beings…and all things are dependent things. Slaves to causation.

If all beings and all things are dependent we again resort back to Aristotle’s Uncaused Cause because if we say something existed eternally other than a self-sufficient/existent being forces us into an infinite regress of causation. Logic forbids this. Philosophically, the greatest thinkers said it this way. They pointed towards God either in their statements about unity or about the greatest Being/Truth (infinitude). Plato said that unity must come before multitude, or from the One, the many (Plato's Parmenides xxvi) and Aristotle said (Metaphysics ii, book 4) that whatever is greatest in being and greatest in truth, is the cause of every being and of every truth; just as whatever is the greatest in heat is the cause of all heat.

Furthermore not only is God the source of all existence, He is also the One who sustains all of it according to Scripture.

Hebrews 1:1-3 ~ “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word

Along the same lines a similar question is often asked.

Have Creation and Creatures always Existed? No

Nothing except God a non-dependent self-sufficient/existent Being can be eternal. This is far from a statement that cannot be substantiated. The will of God or the self-sufficient/existent Being that is the source of all causation is the cause of all things. By the power of His word/will sustains all things. If He sustains them (Hebrews 1:3), He most certainly created them by speaking them into existence.

Psalm 33:9 ~ “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.”

Hebrews 11:3 ~ “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible."

All things are necessary. They are necessary in accordance with God’s decrees and God’s will. Just as the effect is dependent on a cause, so too being is dependent on not just Being…but a being that has a will to create what exists now. We exist because of a volitional action of a self-sufficient/existent Being/Cause with a will. Since God needed nothing other than Himself in Trinity in eternity past, it would require volitional act of will for God for any thing to exist other than Himself…being the ultimate cause of being and reality (ref: Aristotle; Metaphiscs V, Book 6)

Because of my love of the science fiction premise of time travel I pose one last question of great interest to me personally.

Did God Create Time? [Did Time Start at The Creation]? Yes

I am going to sidestep the entire idea of space-time continuum here made so popular by the likes of Carl Sagan, H.G. Well’s Time Machine and Dr. Who. I will do so by delving directly into the theological and philosophical, logical explanations.

Genesis explicitly says, "In the beginning God created heaven and earth.”

The Bible explicitly says beginning or start. There was a start or beginning of a sequence of events. This stands in the face of those that will make the claim that the Creation (or creatures within it) always was. The word here in Hebrew is reshith which literally means first in place and time. In the Greek Septuagint it is ἀρχῇ. The word arche/ ἀρχῇ is a word used to designate beginnings in a temporal or time-bound sense of the word. It is referring to a particular time. In this case, when God called Heavens and Earth into existence as He willed them ex nihilo [out of nothing]. Therefore anything “previous” to this temporally was God and only God. That includes the absence of time as we understand it. 

Since science claims space and time are on a continuum, we should not find this surprising. If there was a beginning of material existence, there logically had to be a beginning of time attached to it. The Apostle John placed the same words at the commencement of his Gospel to force our minds to an absolute but inconceivable “beginning,” when the work of creation had not yet even commenced. When in the whole of existence…there was only God in the form of the Trinity. Which is exactly what John is alluding to when he said The Word/Jesus was face to face or towards God (the Father) in an intimate relationship.

Footnote:
[1] The Kalām Cosmological Argument is derived from the “normal” Liebnizian Cosmological Argument from Gottfried Leibniz that says that: (1) Anything that exists has an explanation of its existence (2) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God (3) The Universe exists (4) Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (1 & 3) (5) Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God (2 & 4). If we add to this the stipulation that the universe is not eternal but actually had a beginning. If it had a beginning it therefore is contingent or dependent and therefore…has a cause (or creator God). This argument reinforces Liebniz’s original argument by adding an additional step of logic making it harder to refute.]

August 25, 2015

Is God Unchanging?



Is God Unchanging or immutable?
Yes, He is.

First, in a previous post I posed the question: Can it be demonstrated that God exists? I believe I answered this question convincingly in the affirmative. In it I explained that there is some first being or first cause that is necessary logically for existence since true existence cannot come from nothingness (ex nihilo). I have referred to that first cause as God. Even Creation didn't really come from nothing, it came from what I have concluded is God in my previous post (not some nameless godless origin-less "force").

To add to that statement, I add that first cause must be pure action, without the addition or mixture of any potentiality (or impetus to act) based on Aristotelian philosophy. For the reason that, absolute potentiality is subsequent to act/action. They are separate and distinct. Therefore everything which is in any way changed, is in some way in potentiality. It is obvious then that it is impossible for God to be in any way changeable. Creation on the other hand which is in action is another story all together. 

Secondly, because everything that is moved in the Universe/Creation has substance; it stands to reason that in everything that is moved there is some kind of composition to be found. But it can be shown that in God at the Creation there is no composition or matter as we understand it. He is Spirit (John 4:24). God cannot therefore be moved according to Newtonian physics (but He can move things through varies means). Thirdly because everything which is moved acquires something by its movement (momentum). Also, since God is infinite, comprehending in Himself all the plenitude of perfection of all being, He cannot acquire anything new (attributes) nor extend Himself to anything He was not extended previously (attributes). Hence previous movement in no way belongs to Him as He is the impetus of all movement. So, constrained by logical truth, I must conclude God is unmovable or immutable unless He choose to change. He has already said in the Scriptures that He does not though.

In opposition to this divine truth some people (including many Christians) often point to the Incarnation or coming of Jesus in the flesh (John 1:14) as an example that God is not immutable. He changed to become human at the point of the conception by the Holy Spirit in Mary. Many will state or imply that the very act of the Incarnation is in itself a violation of immutability because God became something He had not been before. They claim He changed at the point of Incarnation. This is a profound misunderstanding of theology, God’s attributes and His is being. We must understand that God is also timeless among other things including infinite and immutable.

So the real question I suppose that should be asked is: What does this mean to an entity that is constrained by time like humanity and their perception of what God is. It is an issue of human perception and time. Being infinite, timeless and not of the Creation, God stands outside of time or distinct from it. He is diachronic and before Creation, existed independent of time. The Bible says He is from everlasting to everlasting (from the vanishing point to the vanishing point). Therefore He is capable of standing distinct from it. God therefore sees all of time as the eternal “now”. God was the Creator of time. God is not subject to time unless He allows Himself to be for our benefit. Time is subject to Him. He is therefore manifesting to us, in time, an attribute that He chose to show us at a specific time in our existence. It is not that he hadn’t had the attribute of humanity “before”, it is an issue of our recognition of it at a given time the way He chose to reveal it and how He chose to reveal it. That which is timeless does not change. Only that which resides within time and is subject to time can change because change requires a sequence of events that only time can allow. God had decreed at some infinite point in the past that He would eventually take on the attribute of humanity.

In this we see that it is not that God didn't have an attribute of humanity previous to coming in the flesh, He merely took on the attribute of humanity that had been planned at some point previous to the foundation of the world [1 Peter 1:20]. Just as those who had been elected to salvation had been in the Lambs Book of Life [Ephesians 1:4, Revelation 13:8; 20:15].

 Psalms 33:11~ The counsel of the LORD stands forever, The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Psalms 102:25-27 ~ "Of old You founded the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands. "Even they will perish, but You endure; And all of them will wear out like a garment; Like clothing You will change them and they will be changed. "But You are the same, And Your years will not come to an end.

Malachi 3:6 ~ “For I, the Lord, do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.

Titus 1:2 ~ “…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago”

Hebrews 13:8 ~ “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”


August 21, 2015

Can It Be Demonstrated That God Exists?


Can It Be Demonstrated That God Exists? 
Yes

Romans 1:18-20 ~ For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

Demonstration can be made in ways other than Scripture even though Scripture should be our primary source of anything concerning God. Another way is through a cause, and is called "a priori," and this is to argue from what is prior absolutely. Yet, another is through the effect, and is called a demonstration "a posteriori"; this is to argue from what is prior relatively only to us. When an effect is better known to us than its cause, from the effect we proceed to the knowledge of the cause. Hence the existence of God, in so far as it is not self-evident to some people (even though the Bible says it is possible for it to be self-evident to all in Romans 1), can be demonstrated from those of His effects which are known to us for those to which it is not self-evident.

Nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality (to a lesser extent this is also Parmenides’ ontological being/non-being). In other words: The argument from motion or cause. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and again and again. But this cannot go on to infinity (infinite regress; violation of logic), because then there would be no first mover. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover (Aristotle’s Uncaused Cause), put in motion by no other; and this is understood (by me) to be God.

The next way is taken from possibility and necessity. We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt, and consequently, they are possible to be and not to be. But it is impossible for these things to have always existed. At some point they did not exist. Humans for instance. It stands to reason that if everything is possible not to have been (ontologically), then there has to have been a time when nothing was in existence. This seems logically untenable. 

Why?

For nothing to have been in existence, there has to have been something because nothing is an ontological negative of something or existence. In other words, that which does not exist only begins to exist by something already existing and then removing it or taking it away. Said yet another way, if at one time nothing was in existence, it would have been impossible for anything to have begun to exist; and thus even now nothing would be in existence...this is obviously absurd. That “something” that already existed to truncate the existence from nothingness is clearly God.


Of course these ideas have been borrowed from Thomas Aquinas and updated to today’s language. I’ve matched them against Romans 1:18-20 for a reason though. Romans in these verses says that God has made Himself evident to those that will merely look and see and understand what has been made and shown around them. I merely (and Aquinas) have logically show this to be exactly true and I did it in less than a page of space with Scripture and mere words of men. I did not need to work miracles to make a reasoned point. In this post I wanted to show plainly that the Bible corroborates reason and proper reasoning corroborates the Scripture.

Therefore it exposes people who don't know how to properly observe and interpret their surroundings and reason for the existence of God. I merely wished to expose them for what they are....

People who believe something in faith, without knowledge. 

This primarily points towards atheists and agnostics. This then leads to the logical conclusion stated at the end of verse 20 in Romans. They literally have absolutely no excuse for not believing the existence of God rather than the non-existence of God. 

Why?

Well…if presented with evidence in the world around you and through reasoned thought it has to be concluded that God has to exist. Wouldn’t you arrive at the same conclusion? If you do not it then becomes an issue of ability to see and ability to reason and respond coherently to what you see and what you’ve reasoned. If you cannot do these things…you must consider that either your interpretation of data is incorrect, your vision is flawed or your thinking must be considered to be incomplete. In other words...you didn't think through the problem to its logical end.

August 15, 2015

In Their Own Words XXXV: Belief in God Relies On Circular Reasoning

Drawing Hands 
(1948)
M.C. Escher
Lithograph
I've heard it said that a Christian relies on circular reasoning to believe in God. The logic goes something like this:


(1a) God Exists.
(1b) Why should I believe that?
(2a) The Bible says He exists.
(2b) Why should I believe Bible?
(3) The Bible is  Inspired word of God.
(4) God Exists

Does the Christian rely on circular logic to maintain their belief? This is my take one this accusation by atheists, skeptics and non-believers. It is important to realize and understand all philosophical systems start with axioms (presuppositions).  They start with non-provable propositions accepted as true, and deduce theorems from them. Therefore Christians should not be faulted for having axioms as well, which are the propositions of Scripture (a proposition is a fact about a thing, e.g. God is truth). So the question for any axiom based system is whether it is internally consistent or consistent with the real world. This means that the axioms can't contradict each other and still be valid.


Christian axioms provide the basis for a coherent worldview, a map that can guide us throughout all aspects of life. Non-Christian axioms fail these tests, as do the axioms of other ‘holy books'. Additionally, Christian axioms provide a basis for objective right and wrong. This argument really begins to point the way clear of circular logic accusations. We appeal to an independent source of truth outside of ourselves. I’ll also go as far as to claim that without God as the absolute moral authority and maintainer of order, reason and logic, skeptics wouldn’t even be able to think rationally and appeal to a concept of circular reasoning to attack Christians and the existence of God to begin with. By skeptics going after God in this way it is biting the hand that feeds them.


Christian axioms also provide a basis for voluntary choice, since we are made in the image of God. But evolutionists believe that we are just machines or anima with no choice or soul. If we really want to further undercut the accusations of circular reasoning it is clear that independent historical evidence breaks the circle. Archaeology. Archaeology corroborates the Bible. If skeptics and critics want non-Biblical “proof”. Therein it lies. Millions of changed lives are another evidence (more on this later). As a Christian I verify Scripture’s veracity with Jesus Himself. Although I need the Bible to do so, this has become a moot point based on the statement above. Jesus affirmed the legitimacy of Scripture many times. A person only needs to read the four gospels to see this.


Since we sort of mentioned the coherence of worldviews let us now bounce the same argument of relevancy and logical coherence back to the source of many arguments against Christianity. Let's use the same accusation against
evolutionary theory and see if it will pass muster.

Daniel Dennett renowned militant atheist has argued in the past that religion is inexplicable in evolutionary terms. In other words, by our inborn human inclination, at one time in the past we should have never found religion necessary and valuable for our survival on the African plains. According to Dennett there seems to be no reason to attribute active religion or metaphysical belief to threatening events. Dennett is saying we just didn’t need belief in God to survive. He said it seems irrational (I beg to differ for other reasons).


Dennett is called to task by social commentator Dr. Theodore Dalrymple. Dalrymple is an English writer and retired prison doctor and psychiatrist. It is also interesting to note that he is a devout atheist. He is viewed as skeptical, rational and and strictly empiricist. He is not exactly the first place you would go to look for a defense of Christian faith and a criticism of atheism. From him we get this gem of a quote:


For Dennett, to prove the biological origin of belief in God is to show its irrationality, to break its spell. But of course it is a necessary part of the argument that all possible human beliefs, including belief in evolution, must be explicable in precisely the same way; or else why single out religion for this treatment? Either we test ideas according to arguments in their favor, independent of their origins, thus making the argument from evolution irrelevant, or all possible beliefs come under the same suspicion of being only evolutionary adaptations—and thus biologically contingent rather than true or false. We find ourselves facing a version of the paradox of the Cretan liar: all beliefs, including this one, are the products of evolution, and all beliefs that are products of evolution cannot be known to be true. - Dr. Theodore Dalrymple ~ What the New Atheists Don’t See, City Journal, Autumn 2007


What did Dalrymple just say? He said Dennett’s reasoning for believing in evolutionary theory is, well, circular. Read it again, “...all beliefs [Dennett's belief that religion for survival is irrational], including this one, are the products of evolution.” Additionally, he points out that Dennett’s belief in evolution for survival is irrational. Dennett is being illogical and hypocritical to boot. Not a very enviable position to be in to try and be taken credibly and seriously. Caught in his own line of faulty reasoning.


Furthermore, this circular logic argument still might hold weight if it wasn't for one thing. Jesus Christ. Jesus' actual entry into history throws the causality issue embedded (assumed) in the circular logic argument out the window. What do I mean? In the syllogism above the cognitive glue that holds it together is assumed causality. In other words, God inspired the Bible and the Bible validates God's existence. God whom people claim cannot exist inspired the Bible (the cause) rather than men in the absence of God. A simple illustration of cause and effect. That tight logic loop becomes moot if God also entered the physical universe. We would then have something outside Scripture and outside the supposed circular loop of logic that came in physicality/physically. Which is exactly what Jesus did in the Incarnation. 


The circular logic loop assumes God (being spirit) is not provable, non-existent and cannot be proven via tangible a posteriori knowledge. I do not believe this is true and I'm about to prove it. If something can assert or prove even remotely that God physically entered into the world that would mean God becomes empirical or observable in history if only for a moment. The idea that God could become flesh is discounted from the circular logic reasoning. It is therefore ironic that one of the main claims of Christianity is that Jesus did indeed enter time and space, die and was resurrected. PHYSICALLY. This is exactly why many non-believers and atheist try so desperately to deny Jesus even existed as a human.


Jesus, in essence is separate from the line of direct reasoning (of the provability of God) in the circular logic accusations. As I said, if it can be proven through extra-biblical sources that Jesus existed in this world, the circular logic argument is dead in the water. In some cases this can be done through historical writings. Some of the writings were even done by those hostile to Christianity and were written within decades of Christ's death. We can read the writings of: Thallus (52AD), Tacitus (56-120AD), Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD), Phlegon (80-140AD), Pliny the Younger (61-113AD), Suetonius (69-140AD), Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 A.D.), Celsus (175AD), Josephus (37-101AD), The Jewish Talmud (400-700AD). 


So in a nutshell...


If Jesus was God entering history He represents a causal dead end going backwards in time. Jesus would be a new causal force in history that cannot be reduced to or traced back to anything prior. Jesus, then, is causally unique and outside of the writing of Scripture. Even more fascinating is the fact that He appears to have written nothing. He was written about but never wrote any Scripture in actuality. This means that the "effects" of the "cause and effect" are the sole documenters of His existence. It is one thing to write your own story and pass yourself off as God. It is a totally mind-blowing thing to have others do it for you because they are convinced you are God.


Jesus, once He is "inserted" into human history, once that Strange Loop takes up its place in the causal line of history...it begins to affect things, causally speaking. Like a rock thrown in a pond which sends out ripples in all directions. It creates a posteriori knowledge and/or physical evidences. All those effects, all those ripples of the Incarnation afterwards are, in a strict sense, supernaturally created empirical evidence. All subsequent effected actions become supernaturally empirical or have supernatural impetus because they originate from a supernatural source. This negates the entire argument of those that will disclaim the existence of a supernatural God or supernatural events in general... like miracles! 

All events after Jesus "regress" or "trace back" to the Causal Dead End which began in the conception of the Holy Spirit in Mary and became Jesus, God in the flesh. In short, if Jesus is the cause of the "Christian" chain, God is doing it outside the Bible. Think of it like a Time Machine. If I, today, give a free meal to the homeless in the name of Jesus, then, in a very miraculous way (and I mean that literally), Jesus is doing it in the Spirit. He is literally transported into the present by my actions. It is a string or line of events for Christians stemming from Jesus which is separate but concurring with Scripture. My changed life is a supernatural loop that goes all the way back to Jesus. In the Bible it tells me I do so through the Holy Spirit.


In essence, due to Jesus being the ultimate cause of Christianity, Jesus is essentially causing things to happen in the world (through the Spirit) even today. He is doing it through His disciples...who are Christian. It isn't therefore circular anymore...it becomes linear and time-bound in space and time both in Jesus' earthly ministry and mine.

August 12, 2015

In Their Own Words XXXIV: Can’t Find My Way Home

 
In reference to the flawed people God allows to speak on behalf of him, represent Him or act through proxy for Him in the Old Testament it is stated that the Jewish/Israeli people are essentially dimwitted and highly flawed, they are…

“…the ungrateful and mutinous children of Israel.” Christopher Hitchens - God Is Not Great, p.101.

Christopher Hitchens a militant atheist makes one of the most obvious observations of the Bible and he seems proud of it when he asserts this fact. He also does it in an attempt to point out the shortcomings in God and God’s judgment (hence the title of his book: God is Not Great). Hitchens believes by pointing out the highly flawed, capricious and stiff-necked Jews, he is somehow showing God is completely incompetent in picking people to represent Him (as if Hitchens is that proper judge of that). In so doing Hitchens completely reveals his ignorance of the Scriptures and the principles behind Scripture.

Hitchens is essentially wondering, “What kind of role model is Abraham who lies about Sarah and attempts to kill his own child. Moses who murders an Egyptian or David who power-rapes Bathsheba and then arranges to have her husband, Uriah, killed?" Hitchens has a point: This isn’t the way things ought to be done. But the biblical authors often don’t comment on such horrid actions because (at least in part) they assume they don’t need to. Hitchens construes this silence as God's approval. This is Hitchen's first fallacious error. He argues from silence (argumentum ex silentio). He assumes, in the abseince of any decenting opinion or God's silence, He must approve of the sinful action. Hitchens is hedging his bets in reasoning that is nothing more than a false dichotomy/dilemma argument.

People including Christians are highly flawed and the Bible purposely and honestly paints that picture. In actuality it is called Total Depravity. Mankind is so flawed it is only through God’s work and grace that a sinning man can even recognize his need for God and repent. Hitchens is stating nothing new. Perhaps for him and his militant atheist comrades it is new but for Christians, well, we knew this coming into the faith (or should have).

It seems as if Hitchens believes he is the first to stumble across this startling revelation. I have news for the late Hitchens. The idea that man is flawed and needs a savior has been known since the beginning of Christianity. It was planned since before the foundations of the world. It is revelatory to a Christian in that these human flaws and sin point to Jesus Christ and God’s plans for salvation but not in the way Hitchens is understanding it. It is one of the core premises and promises of the Christian faith. Hitchens inadvertently stumbled upon the Gospel and sadly…he didn’t even recognize it. Just as the Jews had God’s holy word and didn’t recognize Jesus.

Hitchens misunderstanding of this fact shows just how blind he was spiritually. He believes he is showing people something new in the Bible but it is something Jesus told people just like Hitchens in the Gospel of Luke. Jesus said the following to the Pharisees who doubted Jesus.

Luke 5:29-32 Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

The Pharisees just like Hitchens were intellectually capable of reading Scripture but having read Scripture both were incapable of correctly discerning what its purpose truly was. Thereby they misappropriated it to their own illegitimate uses and used it in faulty reasoning to arrive at errant conclusions.

Hitchens makes a fatal flaw in assessing the situation. He attempts to impose an Is/Ought Fallacy onto the Scriptures. The way biblical characters acted wasn’t necessarily an endorsement of their behavior if God didn’t punish them immediately (that would be thr fallacy called an argument from silence). This is the same type of mindset that says because God hasn’t judged the United States for the unjustifiable abortions of 56 million infants yet, he won’t (this too is an argument from silence). We will not escape God’s justice forever, any more than the Israelites did for their child sacrifices of the Old Testament to Moloch or Baal. God’s patience and long suffering will end and his wrath will be unleashed. We must never confuse God’s silence for His approval. All of this is to show examples of the Is/Ought fallacy.

In layman’s terms the Is/Ought Fallacy occurs when the assumption is made that because things are a certain way, they should be that way. It can also consist of the assumption that because something is not now occurring, this means it should not or will never occur.

Hitchens having informed himself about the Bible narrative goes on to assume that because poor behavior is taking place in the Old Testament, it has been that way and will always be that way and God approves of it. Had he actually gone into the Bible and understood its underlying principles he would’ve realized that the Israelis were a “type”. They were a typology of the sinning totally depraved man. God eventually does judge the Jews. Quite harshly too I might add. Multiple times. Things did not just keep going on and on business as usual as alluded to by Mr. Hitchens. Eventually the Kingdom period came to an end. First the Northern Kingdom at the hands of the merciless Assyrians and then the Southern Kingdom by Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians. By 70 AD, Rome had crushed Jerusalem and sent the Jews into the Diaspora where many remain until today.

Sadly ironic are the similarities between Hitchens and the religious elite of Jesus’ time. The Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees. All of them totally missed the point of the Law and Scripture and did not recognize the Messiah the Scriptures pointed to. Unable to recognize Jesus for who he was, they ended up killing Him. Hitchens like the Pharisees was so spiritually blind he too attempts to kill of Jesus (at least in his own mid) by not even acknowledging His existence and through mockery. In doing so he too totally missed the point of Scripture which he at least attempted to learn (and I use the word learn loosely). 

He missed that it was meant to be a guide for holiness for the lost people that turn astray from holiness and turn away from God. The word ἁμαρτία/hamartia or sin in Greek literally means “to miss the mark” as if someone has literally turned from God and righteousness. To repent or μετανοέω/metanoeo literally means to change one’s mind or turn one’s mind. Turn it towards God of course. We need to turn it back towards holiness. God is the only source of holiness.

God used horribly flawed people specifically because they were horribly flawed. This showed that Jesus’ work on the Cross can save anyone no matter what they have done…as long as they repent and seek God. For God to be able to show the way towards holiness to a fallen and corrupt human, God needed to meet mankind where they were at in their sin and gently coax them back to where he should be (or drum them over the head and drag them if necessary). This then leaves an example or path for even the worst of sinners to follow back to God. He did it through other flawed people in the Bible which Hitchens has so clearly point out (master of the obvious that he was). He also gave us His Son Jesus to lead by example…which Hitchens totally misses by a mile.

So why were the chosen people of God so flawed and chock full of different sins? Because they are/were a type of us (more properly a typology of us). God was essentially giving us all the possible sinful scenarios and what to do if we find ourselves in those scenarios. This wasn’t a capricious, uncaring and angry God as Hitchens will later go on to rant about but rather just the opposite. It is a God that cares so much He anticipated where all of His children might go when they got lost and left signposts in the road to help them find their way home.

Christopher Hitchens totally missed the mark on this one...yet he completely nails it at the same time.

[Yes, I purposely used the title of Blind Faith's song as the title of this post because, in reality, Hitchens would've needed faith to overcome the spiritual blindness in his life. My title is meant to be sadly ironic and a play on words for those of my generation. It just seemed to fit the post.]

August 8, 2015

Providence Is Intentional, Not Happenstance

Providence is often misunderstood. What providence is not is serendipity. Things do not just happen by chance or by dumb luck. In God's universe there are no coincidences, only deliberate plans. When things repeat in life they are not accidents they are reminders and admonition from God. 

They are providence.

When one person tells you something, you might listen. If two say similar things you are more apt to pay attention. If three say the same you had better wake up. When five say nearly the same thing in a two day period a person would be an ignorant fool to ignore what is being told to them. They would also be blind to not see that God is the trumpet behind such a synchronized and concerted effort. Let’s call it Balaam’s ass on steroids or the story of a modern-day Pharaoh whose heart was not too hardened but rather his head was too dense.

Although the words chosen to convey what was being said were different. The essence of the message from all five were exactly the same this past week towards me. It begins with the most apt summation of the concept by my Christian brother. 
"Impatient men are impatient because they chose not to be patient. Angry men are angry because they are angry and choose not to be a peacemaker or stay calm."
We can choose how we act…we cannot chose how people act towards us. Often, how people act towards us is in direct reciprocation to how we’re already acted towards them or it is God influencing things. Act like an idiot to someone and they will be more inclined to respond in kind, not kindly. No one likes an idiot. In essence what my Christian brother had told me is that bad reactions are bad choices, therefore bad reactions are by their nature are sins. I told him I was more stressed than usual, he told me that stress or duress is not an excuse for cursing and using profanity. It is a justification for poor behavior. I stood corrected and frankly, ashamed.

I then had my atheist coworker acknowledge and point out my moodiness and shifts in personality day to day and week to week. I would bounce back and forth between good mood and bad and I attributed it to stress. To some extent this was true but to a much larger extent…it was merely unjustifiable excuses. I have come to realize I allow the world and external situations to dictate how I feel way too much. I am like a ship pitched to and fro in a stormy sea. I am not relying near enough on God in the tempest. Anxiety holds court too much in my life. This atheist coworker also alluded to the fact that the reason I am not fully pursuing my calling is because I am allowing this churning sea to dictate my every move as it pitches me back and forth. I am often unsettled and not squarely based before thinking and making decisions.

Therefore my decisions are not always proper for the situation. Being unsettled and not having a proper port to launch from I then cannot properly pursue my calling as he put it because I am not launching my ship from a stable shoreline but rather an eroding shifting one. Granted, he did not say it exactly in this way but he did specifically say that I am not pursuing my calling correctly because of unstable foundations and that is why I am not happy at times in life towards myself or others. Stresses will certainly come in this life. No one is immune to them. How we react to them and grow is what makes us either dependent on God or independent from Him. Undertow or doubt is always there and will catch us off-guard, it’s how we react to doubt that either drowns us in disbelief or allows our survival in faith.

James 1:2-8 ~ Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, a whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.

Like the title implies, there are similarities between providence and serendipity. For a Christian though there really is no such thing as serendipity…it’s all providence all day long. It really begins to become quite evident from this point on in my past week's story. It really starts to surface in the explanation or the conversations with the atheist coworker and a non-believing or at least theologically questionable doctor. It is at the point of the episode with the doctor that I realize all these people are being guided or directly used by God like Joseph for the benefit of his brothers or Pharaoh with Moses.

So I visit my doctor. I mention I am under a lot of stress and that is why my health has not been that great. I mention my recent bout with Lyme disease. I mention some of my less than desirable eating habits. All that to explain my hypertension and higher blood pressure. I receive a pretty blunt and targeted response. It is surgical in its precision. Life is what I make it. If you butt up against the grain of what is being offered you, it will be an uphill battle (Sisyphus). You need to go with the flow of what your life is offering you. In essence: I need to grow up and stop fighting battles and wars that didn’t need to be fought. Leave those for someone else or something else. In a sense I was being told to follow God’s will here by a person that is not totally God oriented. The person is medical not theological.

The doctor then asks if I am pursuing my call in theology. Again, another person calling it a call, not a career, not an interest. A call...so named by a non-theologically oriented person. At this point I am clearly seeing the repeating pattern across time. I basically said I am using my calling but not vehemently pursing it. A simple questions ensued: 

“Why not?” 

I told the doctor I am writing more, trying to parse my thoughts and get the thoughts out to people I needed to and get rid of strongholds I didn’t even need. I was asked if people are reading what I’ve written. I said if they've read my blog they do. Response: “Writing and thinking things through is great…but actions are better. They show a heart engaged in a life, not just a mind and a mouth engaged in rhetoric.” 

So I leave the doctor’s office in a stupor.

So that evening I reach farther back into past memory to the months of conversation with my mother about (1) my anger issues (2) my impatience and (3) my total failure to meaningfully pursue…what else? My calling. My mother has been drilling me with the association between my impatience, anger and overreaction with wife, children and everyone else and my failure to go after the call. I’ve apparently been coaxed to and pushed towards that call by God but I resist. 

God is no longer being subtle. He is clearly forcing and issue here through many people just in case I am too dense to catch the first few (boy do I feel stupid). I am unsettled because I am not doing what I’ve been created and shaped to do at this point. Square pegs do not fit in round holes unless forced and forcing hurts. The anxiety I feel because of that is being projected on others by over-analyzing their behavior instead of my own. I have been facing the wrong direction to catch the wind or breathe of the Spirit in my sail the whole time. Even after being told by the two adults closest in my life, my mother…and my wife, I’ve resisted.

This of course leads me to the root or base layer of this post and the person that has been telling me this stuff since the beginning. Because they are the by-product of my relationship with this person, this has all affected my children too. If it isn’t already obvious…the person that has seen this all along and the one I have resisted the most when it comes to these truths about my impatience, anger and disobedience to God is my wife. I above all am stubborn and stiff-necked. I am beginning to realize that the Israelites of the Old Testament and their stiff-necked nature really have nothing on me in terms of bullheadedness. It is actually quite a shame that I cannot learn the first time or even sometimes the second or third. I need to be beat over the head with things like a nail being driven into my head (or hand). All this to say that my wife had been telling me all this all along and I chose to ignore it. Hammering the nail on the head, into my head still doesn’t always get the point home. People can often choose to be ignorant to the truth. Crucifixions can happen that way.

I suggest that is because these types of lessons are the hardest to grasp about ourselves but once they finally click, they will never be forgotten and they will be invariably useful. No one likes to admit they are wrong. I am no different. Very few ever fully come around to the full truth about their depravity. People want to believe there is still something good about themselves. I did. I think that is why the idea of people’s total depravity is so hard to accept. I believe this is why there is such a diehard battle between the Calvinist and the Arminian around the issue of freewill. Sin makes us want to believe we actually have control over some aspect of our salvation. In reality it is still a vestige of sin blinding us to our own condition and our inability. Lord knows I’ve done it for years.

That is also why it is only the work of the Spirit that actually truly frees us from the darkened pit that we can find no exit from. I lesson hard earned. A lesson hard learned but fixed like nails affixing a crossbeam to an upright post. It is unfortunate though that I often must lose things in the process that I could’ve kept had I just listened the first time. Some of those things were/are precious. A peaceful life, love, respect, a job and credibility to name a few.

But as it has been with the Israelites of old so it is with me. God is merciful and forgiving. He has assured us things can be restored as He is the God of all, over all. This then boils down to what it was all about to begin with. It’s about the Gospel. It's about faith and trust in what He is doing in my life and others. He works things out for my/our overall good. It is a shame I am often too shortsighted to see that in my lack of faith and disbelief. I can only see the individually pieces but not the big picture.

I need to pursue what I’ve been called to which is to teach the Word of God and the Gospel. At the same time, part of what I have been called to is to be patient, humble, peaceful, kind and gentle. I am not to be combative or argumentative. So far I am failing on nearly all accounts and everyone has told me so…even my kids through their actions. The very people that have been trying to help me to see the truth are the very people I have been blaming for the way I act. How messed up is that? I need to call on Him that has called me to change this, I have no choice in that matter. 

Impatient men are impatient because they chose not to be patient. Angry men are angry because they choose not to be a peacemaker or stay calm. Act like an idiot to someone and they will be more inclined to respond in kind, which is to say they will not respond kindly. I am getting back in the measure I am giving. Just another way of saying that I am getting judgment back for my behavior in a form of instantaneous feedback from God. Sometimes God also uses others to get through to me. It may often appear to be a puzzle to me but it is never a puzzle to Him because He can see the big picture that I cannot. He can see the end from the beginning.

1 Timothy 3:2-7 ~ Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap.

2 Timothy 2:20-26 ~ “In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

August 3, 2015

The Future Is Now

“But the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith.” 1 Timothy 4:1

In Greek language there are two words for “time": Χρόνος / chronos and καιρός / kairos. Chronos is best understood as a period of time or swathe of time measured over seconds, minutes, hours, days, months or years. We gauge chronos with watches and clocks. A chronology is a sequence of time concerning real world events. Kairos on the other hand is more specific. Kairos denotes an exact or specific time, era or incidence.


Paul uses this word in its plural form kairoi three times in the Pastoral Epistles. None of them are in a positive context either.

He speaks of the times of apostasy in 1 Timothy 4:1

The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.

The difficult times in 2 Timothy 3:1-5

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.

The times of disinterest in the Word in 2 Timothy 4:3, 4

For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

Each era of spiritual decline can be seen age after age and it is heralded by the signs mentioned. Specifically, in the last days things will be pretty horrible. Are we in the last days or what many would call the End of Times? Yeah, I’d say so. We are clearly entering into them. We must also understand that anything after the ascension of Christ into Heaven in bodily form is considered the last/latter days but in the truest sense though I believe we are running out of time.

A Time of Defection

Paul is clear in 1 Timothy 4:1. He warns of an age or exact time to come in the future where people will fall away from the proclamation or assertion of the Apostolic faith. The same Faith preached to the Apostles by Jesus. The word for “departs from” is ποστήσονταί / apostesontai and means to not just depart but actually cause people to walk away in a way the denotes a revolt or deliberate going against what they do not like. Whoever departs will be leaving because they chose to, not necessarily because they are accidentally being drawn way through deceit. Those that leave will leave because of the effects of their own sin and by their own informed choice (albeit poorly informed). Will there be outside influence? Yes. If they are purposely turning leaving it stands to reason and is clearly stated in the text of 2 Timothy 4:4 that they will seek out myths they know are wrong because that is exactly what they chose to hear. This tells me that it is not necessarily the teaching of false teachers or the things that make their ears itch that will make them turn way. It shows that the true enemy primarily lies within. That which comes from without is only an instigator and an enabler.

Apostesontai and its root word (cognate) is where we get the word for apostasy. People will willingly defect from the Christian faith through their own choices and sin. There will be no one to blame but themselves. Isn't this exactly what we see today en masse? Laws are being passed to specifically snub the Christian Faith. Laws like the Obergefell v Hodges ruling that specifically flaunts sexual immorality in God’s face as the law of the land, just as Roe v Wade flaunted murder in His face 40 years ago? How can we possible expect that God will forebear these perversions and miscarriages of justice without judgment?

The entirety of the US government system and to most extents the education system have removed God under the premise of separation of Church and State. Nearly all of the scientific establishment which is the secular world’s new religion also serves at the altar of godlessness. I truly believe the inability of people to think logically and reason nowadays is the onset or beginning of said judgment because Romans 1 tells us that those who have apostatized from God are given over to their sins and their minds become seared to the point where they approve of one another’s sin which they know is wrong. In other words they cannot think correctly. Therefore I believe the commencement of judgment is already upon us.

We currently live in a specific time where people specifically have difficulty naming anything that is evil as evil (Isaiah 5). The spineless church, mostly for fear of losing members or tax exempt status are afraid or refuse to call things heretical or call sin a sin. Hence we have the open acceptance of homosexuality by mainline churches in the last year. Tolerance accepts all except things that Christianity deems appropriate. We teach everything but Christ and the Gospel in some churches. Tolerance of sin and unrighteousness, intolerance of righteousness. The tongues of people are singed as the sting of their acid words towards Christ and true Christians spill out like a cesspool from between rotten teeth. Apostasy has reached a cliff event and is now snowballing in an exponential manner. Even the non-believers know something is genuinely wrong and society’s collective rhetorical question is now, “What is happening in society?”

We’re currently in the process of being turned over to judgment and wrath of God just as Israel was multiple times in the Old Testament. The future the Bible spoke of in prophecy is now. The future is now. In the church it is even more insidious. It comes in the form of sermons that are pleasing to hear. Sermons that entertain more than they teach. Sermons that aren’t really sermons at all, they are more allegorical platitudes and motivational speeches of self-affirmation. It is talk of a god minus the Gospel and Jesus. It’s the kneejerk reaction to centuries of senseless dogmatic legalism. It is moralizing that speaks but seldom acts and it is full of bombast and devoid of grace.

It is speeches full of biblical idioms and phrases but empty of theology and the true message of the Gospel. Because it is so empty of true Biblical content simple or even overt twists of truth and narrative concern no one and go unrecognized. Everything is status quo as long as the message makes us feel good. We hear man-focused missives instead of God-focused veneration.

I sit back tonight and read the writing of the Church Fathers about of the heresy of old. I read about the Creeds and Catechisms that were formulated to quell them and I realize these heresies went nowhere. They are still with us repackaged and relabeled. In our modern churches and modern culture I see the likes of Docetism, Gnosticism, Modalism and Arianism and a pile of others and I realize…nothing has changed. There is nothing new under the sun. It has only been amplified and quickened by technological / intellectual arrogance and Biblical illiteracy. Quickened by giving it new life and quickened by being sped up…as we race towards a cliff, a future of judgment. A judgment who’s first wave has already arrived. A judgment that is now.

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