July 30, 2014

Too Much Salt Ruins A Good Steak

There are two Greek words in the Bible (akatastasia and synchyseos) that surround one idea (confusion / mayhem) that should be taken into consideration when we discuss diversity or what the modern culture calls tolerance and what they consider acceptable nowadays. By understanding these words and how the modern world relates to them will allow us to better understand why today’s “diversity” and "tolerance" or the accepting of everything under the sun is actually a bad thing. 

The first word is ἀκαταστασία / akatastasia and it is found in James 3:16 and 1 Cor. 14:33.

1 Corinthians 14:33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

James 3:16 ~ “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”

In 1 Corinthians it is translated confusion and in James it is translated disorder. It is actually a compound Greek word formed from (a) meaning not, (kata) meaning down and (stasis) meaning stand/steady. Together it means "cannot remain steady". It literally means something is unstable or it is an instability brought on by disorder.

A nearly identical word is found in Acts 19:29.

Acts 19:29 ~ “The city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, dragging along Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia.”

The word confusion in Acts 19 is actually συγχύσεως / synchyseos and is often translated tumult or uproar and means to pour or mix together. When used in this context it means to trouble, stir up or agitate (people in particular). So at its root we see the idea of pouring different things together to the point that they can no longer be separated just like we saw the crowds in Acts 19 when they got a hold of Paul and his companions. Here is where this idea applies to us today.

Our society prides itself on multiculturalism and unity in our diversity. There are many cases where this interacting is a good thing. True diversity is indeed an asset to not only the Body of Christ but also our nation. One man’s weakness can be another man’s strength. Additionally, gasoline in the right environment can make a vehicle go but used incorrectly or with evil intent and it can be used to make a Molotov cocktail. Mixing and using differences can always be used to suit God’s good purposes. Just like anything else that the Devil can counterfeit, it can be used for destructive ends…even subtly. This is where the word diversity and confusion begin to fuse together and become almost indistinguishable. It takes a diversity of people mixed chaotically together to cause a confusing uproar.

It is here we see that there are types of melding that just shouldn’t take place. The reason they shouldn’t be mixed is because they cause chaos, not unity. They cause disunity and mayhem. It is the exact idea gleaned from 1 Corinthians 14:33 and the fact that God is not a God of confusion. By removing God from the equation, disorder and chaos reign. The absence of God’s presence allow it to happen. God Himself is order and maintains order. So to remove Him from any given situation is to produce disorder. The restraint of God’s grace is removed and the sin and evil of man enters in its place like a spiritual vacuum. This is exactly what we see in Acts 19. It is also what we see in Luke 21:9 which is the description of the destruction of the Temple in the End Times. It is idea in the word translated uprisings. In the End Times when people ignore or turn away from God…there will be more war, disorder and confusion. Chaos will reign.

Luke 21:9 ~ “When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

We saw the mingling of the Israelites with the original inhabitants of the Promised Land. This in turn led to the chosen people reverting back to pagan worship. We saw it also when Solomon married pagan wives. What we read in the Bible about the Canaanites and other people surrounding Israel were that they were workers of iniquity. They were not the friendly neighbors next door unless the next door neighbors were Satanists or purveyors of human sacrifice. 

These neighboring people also routinely attacked the Israelite people. In Numbers 25 and 31 we see the Israelites had joined with the Moabites and Midianites to commit fornication to idols. Here mixing wasn’t only bad…it had been forbidden. God eventually calls for destruction of the pagan people (and eventually His own people). When we see Solomon, we see a man that does the same. Unfortunately, he is the king of the entire nation of God's chosen people.

Another absolute must is that light should have nothing to do with darkness or truth with untruth or confusion ensues.

2 Corinthians 6:14-18 ~ “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

The idea of being unequally yoked together means to be "joined in participation toward a common goal" by two disparate people. It is the idea of joining two things together that are spiritually incompatible. Not all religious fellowship is pleasing to God. It displeases God when fellowship involves the wrong people as we saw in the Old Testament. In the same vein, when joining two spiritual ideas together we should see the same incompatibility. Taken to the extreme we can see how even double-mindedness and incompatible thoughts are bad news (2 Cor 10:3-4). 

The same idea applies today when people pick and choose what they wish to adhere to or obey in the Bible. Murder is viewed as bad…except if it is in a mother’s womb and the mother doesn’t wish to bring the unborn child to term. Then in is called tolerance of that woman’s wishes and she is allowed to have her choice (See what I did there?). Love is viewed as good no matter how the people match up or whom they engage in relationships with. Homosexuality and mix-and-match gender relationships are okay with the culture even though the Bible calls them sexual immorality outside of heterosexual marriage (I did it again). Not all mixing is acceptable regardless of what a pluralistic sexually immoral society says.

Finally, we have the mixing and confusion caused by the mixing of word definitions as I just showed above. In our society…no one can be wrong. It is only acceptable or tolerant to allow everyone their viewpoint or opinion and society says that we have to accept all as valid truth claims. This is where mixing and matching of truths just does not work (neither in logic, nor in reality). Those bent on immorality will merely change word meanings to make their sin less sinister sounding or even try to make their sin sound good. Murder is now “pro-choice” and sexual immorality is now “alternative lifestyle”. Call it whatever you want…depravity is still depraved.

In any given context, only one truth can be true. It is an issue of agreement or disagreement of terms that allows the above twisting of language to take place. Our society in its push to get everyone’s opinions accepted has allowed all definitions of word meanings in these arenas. In formal logic it is called The Law of ID or The Law of Identity. The failure to adhere to this rudimentary logic causes a fallacy called an equivocation. That is to say, people try to use the same words/terms in the same discourse while having signify different senses or meanings–even though the different meanings are conventionally prescribed to that term. In our case for this post “love” means “immoral sexuality” and “abortion murders” are called a woman’s right to “chose”. This mixing of meanings causes, among other things, confusion and disorder. So…if this is what’s happening in our culture and worldwide and it is causing a tumult, is it of God?

Answer: No. So where is truth? I already told you, its in the Bible...and I didn't equivocate.

The truth is this folks....real truth is in the Bible. Anything that stands opposed to the truth of Scripture is not of God. Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Start in the Scripture whenever in doubt and odds are you will end up with less confusion. Christians are not to mingle with those that perform deeds of wickedness.

Ephesians 5:11 ~ “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”

In the end our attempts in evangelism to try and mingle the Word with the world to get our message out comes at a cost. The more we put the culture, science, worldly philosophies into our messages and sermons, the more we depend on the culture, science and worldly philosophies to convey our message. The truth is exclusive and it doesn’t need mixing. The Gospel worked fine for 2000 years. Do we really think it needs to change to adapt to the culture now? Every time we piggyback things into the Gospel to make it more pleasing to the world we only end up watering it down, or diverting attention from it. We end up showing people that the message of the Gospel is not quite enough. Like gold, sometimes things are most valuable when they are most pure. Like believers, sometimes when things are emptied of all their unnecessary filler, they are most useful. 

Sometimes…mixing too much salt can ruin a good steak.


July 28, 2014

In Their Own Words XI: The Universe Knew We Were Coming

[More in an ongoing series about the profoundly ironic theological 
or philosophical quotes scientists or those in academia make. ]

Freeman Dyson is a theoretical physicist and mathematician. It is apparent he is a rather clever man that is good with words too. He is known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering. Dyson stated in 2000 that he is a (non-denominational) Christian, and he has disagreed on numerous occasion with militant atheist Richard Dawkins criticizing Dawkins' understanding of evolution. Considering Dyson made the statement below 21 years before announcing he was Christian, it is not surprising be became one recently. It appears his mindset was already being swayed towards God in the 1970’s.
"…the universe is an unexpectedly hospitable place for living creatures to make their home in. Being a scientist, trained in the habits of thought and language of the twentieth century rather than the eighteenth, I do not claim that the architecture of the universe proves the existence of God. I claim only that the architecture of the universe is consistent with the hypothesis that mind plays an essential role in its functioning.... The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture, the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense must have known that we were coming” ~ Freeman Dyson- Disturbing the Universe, 1979, pp. 250-251.
Dyson states, “The Universe in some sense must have known that we were coming.” What is Dyson saying here? Simple. He is (ironically) making an anthropomorphism about the Universe. An anthropomorphism is the designation of human characteristics or behavior to an object. By doing this Dyson is saying there has to have been sentience or thought (i.e.: design) behind the complexity and balance of the Universe / Creation. By making this anthropomorphism Dyson is inadvertently (or purposely) referring to the common argument for the existence of God called the Anthropic Cosmological Principle here. 

In Greek the word ἄνθρωπος  / anthropos means man or human. Therefore this principles says that, based on the observations of the known physical universe, the very nature of the universe itself is compatible with human life or specifically suited to support mankind. The universe did not have to become the way it did to cater to human life but it seemingly in a supernatural way...has done exactly that. It is tailored to support conscious life in the form of man (anthropos)

In other words it is remarkable that that the universe's fundamental constants happen to fall within a mathematically improbable and impossibly narrow range thought to be compatible with life, our livesFrank Tipler a mathematical physicist / cosmologist and John Barrow a Reformed Christian and English cosmologist / theoretical physicist / mathematician affirmed a similar belief in their 1986 book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.

According to the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, the Universe appears “fine-tuned”. It is “dialed in” in such a way that it is nearly impossible that the order that now exists in the universe couldn’t have possibly arose out of the chaos of the Big Bang. How suited is the universe for the existence of mankind?

The universe operates in accordance to exact physical laws. These physical laws allow man to calculate exact planetary orbits and exact properties of metals. These exact laws also allow us to predict when the moon will cause a solar eclipse. Strangely though science will concede that the universe has order but will not concede that it is design because design will require an intelligence that could design something as massive as the universe. It requires that they concede that there is a God.

It is a universe that is about 20 billion light-years in diameter. There are approximately 100-200 billion galaxies in the Universe (Lawton, 1981), and an estimated 25 sextillion stars or a 25 followed by 25 zeroes (25,000,000,000,000,000,000,000). The Milky Way galaxy alone contains over 100 billion stars. Traveling at the speed of light it would take 100,000 years to cross its diameter. Again, what is amazing is that all the matter in the universe this vast behaves in accordance to the same physical laws.

Our Sun gives off more energy in a single second than mankind has produced since the Creation. It also produces radiation, which can be deadly. Ironically, the Earth is located at exactly the correct distance from the Sun to receive the proper amount of heat and radiation to permit life on Earth. Conversely, if we were any closer to the Sun, human life could not survive because of the horrible heat and too much radiation. If the Earth were only 10 million miles closer, too much radiation and heat would kill life. If the Earth were only 10 million miles farther away too little heat would be hitting us and life would also die by freezing to death.

We are protect from 99% of the deadly radiation from the Sun due to our distance from it and also because of our atmosphere. In particular, the Mesosphere that is about 12 miles above the earth contains ozone which filters out nearly all of the ultraviolet radiation from the Sun. Other particles also bombard the Earth from outer space at an extremely high speed, but most of these protons and electrons are reflected back into space because the Earth acts as a giant magnet that pushes the particles away allowing life.

The Earth is rotating on its axis at 1,000 miles per hour at the equator, and moving around the Sun at 70,000 miles per hour (approximately 19 miles per second). This rotation provides periods of light and darkness called night and day…just as described in the Bible. It is also necessary for sustaining life. If the Earth rotated much faster, cyclones would consume the Earth. If the Earth turned slower, the days and nights would be insanely hot or cold. 

Furthermore, the Earth’s orbital speed and tilt are “just right.” The Earth tilted on its axis allows for seasons. The Earth’s orbit is actually elliptical. This means that sometimes the Earth is closer to the Sun than at other times. In January, the Earth is closest to the Sun; in July, it is farthest away. When it is closer, the Earth “speeds up” to avoid being pulled into the Sun; when it is farther away, it “slows down,” so that it remains in a position in space that is “just right.”

What is even more remarkable is that, as the Earth moves in its orbit around the Sun, it departs from a straight line by only one-ninth of an inch every eighteen miles. If it departed by one-eighth of an inch, we would come so close to the Sun that we would be incinerated; if it departed by one-tenth of an inch, we would find ourselves so far from the Sun that we would all freeze to death (Science Digest, 1981, p. 89,124).

As I said before the Earth tilts on its axis at 23.5 degrees. If it were not tilted as it is, but instead sat straight up in its orbit around the Sun, there would be no change of seasons. The tropics would be vastly hotter perhaps uninhabitable, and the deserts would get bigger. That would happen because the equatorial portion of the Earth would be perpetually close to the Sun. In turn the Polar Regions would be farther way and colder permanently.

Then we have the Moon which is 240,000 miles away. The Moon's largest effect on us is on the movement of the oceans tides and currents not to mention weather too because of its effects on the oceans. Stationary bodies of water stagnate so the moon prevents this. Stagnant water would inevitably kill life. This therefore maintains the balance in the food chain of the world’s bodies of water. If the moon were moved only 40,000 miles the tidal changes would be monstrous. There were either be constant deadly tidal waves or not enough water movement. In addition about 75% of the Earth surface is water. This of course makes the hydrological cycle work properly.

Water worldwide is constantly evaporating and condensing. This therefore causes rain to fall on the Earth and perpetuates the weather we see all over the Earth. Cloud cover regulates temperature by reflecting (or not) radiation (heat) back into space. This is why deserts are so hot (no reflection) and rainy climates tend to be a little bit cooler. Without cloud cover our world would quickly become uninhabitable like Mars. If there were too much cloud cover the greenhouse effect would go exponential and we would be like Venus. It is ironic that the extreme examples of what we might become are our closest neighbors in space. One too close to the sun with too much cloud cover and one too far away with no clouds to speak of.

The atmosphere on Earth is perfectly maintained in its dilution and mixture of gases too. How? By the plant and animal kingdoms. Plants take in carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Animals depend upon the plants and trees for our oxygen supply. The balance of plants and animals is critical or both die. It in essence is a symbiotic relationship necessary for all life on Earth except for perhaps bacteria.

I could go on because the startling balance for life still has finer points to elaborate about, but you get the picture. I guess it’s all one big accident or one big case of luck that all this stuff would balance precariously on the thin edge of a razor so it works properly...so that it works perfectly. Is it statistically possible that it could’ve been possible without a Designer? Yes, I suppose it could but the odds of it happening and the amount of time it would’ve taken for all of this to happen by chance are statistically….impossible

Hugh Ross once calculate that there were 122 known constants necessarily for life. The chances that even two or three of these would align to work together, well, the odds of those happening boggle the mind of this rational man. The chance of all these constants accidentally popping up out of the chaos of the universe is 1 in 10 to the 138 power. That's a 1 with 138 zeroes behind it. 

Like I said, impossible.

So let us re-ask the question with one additional caveat. Is it possible? Yes. Is it plausible or probable? No. When we throw in the possibility that life could’ve actually arisen on our planet in the complexity that it has to produce self-conscious life that can even pose these questions of self-existence stretches the meaning of credible belief. Sometimes its easier to believe in God over the godless alternatives.

Well, you do the math, I’m not going to bother. It seems rather pointless. Pointless, just as radical atheist science claims the existence of life is. In reality they are claiming we are all one big pointless statistical accident. The numbers alone tell me otherwise, never mind common sense.

Dyson, Freeman, Disturbing the Universe, 1979, pp. 250-251.

Science Digest, p.89 [1]: Issue 124, January/February (1981)

July 26, 2014

Post Rock II: Teen Daze- Four More Years

In continuing this series of posts about music that puts me in a reflective mood for study I present the next on my list of favorites.  The truth is that I listen to this music at work too. It helps me chill and the Lord knows I need to turn it down a few notches. 

I realize that a lot of this music is used by stoners when they get high but that is their sin not mine. I have enough of my own. I don't use it for any purposes close to what they use it for (spacing out). I merely tend to relax and dwell more heartily on God when I hear this stuff. In particular Teen Daze's music takes me to a place that is akin to the beach at sunrise on a winter morning in childhood. I think some of their album art reflects that vibe.

It is definitely Post Rock and more along what is considered Shoegazing. Shoegaze is a sound that is typified by significant use of guitar effects, and indistinguishable vocal melodies that blend into the creative noise of the guitars. This album has an ethereal feel to it. Like many Post Rock and Shoegaze bands it also sort of has a retro feel too (the 60's and 70's). 

The video above is from Teen Daze's Four More Years. I've provided the video to the song Shine On, You Crazy White Cap. This song in particular has a Smashing Pumpkins feel from the Gish era. It tends to play visual tricks and is a bit dizzying at times. I suppose this is to play up the stoner appeal of the music but it is the best video I could find of this band that captured their quintessence.

July 23, 2014

A Matter of Worth and What Really Matters

What does it take to truly make one’s self humble? What does it take to make one’s self small? What does it take to truly die to self? I suggest many do not know, myself included. We know Jesus did it and we even intellectually assent to this fact, but can we in our sinful selves do the same? Do we know how to take an insult and not even feel the need to respond to it let alone get angry about it? Do we know how to understand our lack of meekness enough to realize that if someone does insult or demean us, that there is enough humility to not even take offense to the slight? Do we think too highly of ourselves that we believe the attacks or slights are not deserved or warranted? Do we value ourselves instead of others too much? I posit we all do to some extent. Some folks value themselves way too much. I suggest that I do and for this I repent almost daily and regret my sinful nature.

I perceive many of us have too much pride and too much sense of self-importance to allow a slight to slide and ignore it. It is in our very sinful nature to not be able to overlook a personal insult. It doesn’t matter if it comes from our parents, spouses, children, friends or even strangers. As a matter of fact, the slights sting more when they come from those we know because they know us better.

We think way too highly of ourselves. God gives us our value and God will defend our value in the eternal scale of things, we need not defend ourselves. God is also capable of defending Himself. He doesn’t necessarily need our help. Do we really need to perceive everything as a slight or transgression against us? I think not.

“Forgive us our trespasses,” comes first in the Lord’s Prayer. We then ask that others might not, “transgress against us.” The Lord praying this prayer in this order seems to be telling us to look inward for the change first before looking outward for the change when dealing with transgressions. Perhaps they were not even intended as slights. In other cases, slights directed our way could’ve possibly been solicited by our very own actions or transgression towards others as a retaliation. If we wish to reconcile relationships and overcome interpersonal strife or adversarial relationships it nearly always needs to begin with ourselves. 

The "you" really starts with me. The Lord knows (and now you do too) that this is the core of my biggest spiritual battle. I fail most profoundly here. It is here that I fully engage Romans 7 and it eviscerates me. The enemy in this instance is not Satan. The enemy here lies solely within. I am my own worst enemy. This is where the word of God pierces my heart most acutely.

I struggle horribly with this. I seem to have an inflated self-worth and in this way I am dangerously and sinfully idolatrous. I am idolatrous exactly because I often want revenge before I wish to forgive. Because I often feel the sting of an insult or a criticism before realizing I probably deserve it as a sinner. I really don’t deserve esteem from others…I make myself a god (little “g”). How? I assume my feelings which have been tainted by the fall and trigger my emotions (usually anger) are more important than obeying God. How am I not obeying? My first inclination is to not forgive...it is to return fire. This is clearly disobedience, it is clearly sin.

I am not getting meek. I am not getting humble. I am not getting myself small enough. I am not making any attempt to serve and be a servant. Invariably, feel I deserve respect I am not getting and by getting angry about it and fighting back to try and get it I am attempting forcefully to get it. At times I am vehemently set on righting a perceived wrong. I don't just want respect (that I don't really deserve), I demand it. It is this very fact that tells me (and others) that I absolutely do not deserve it!

I will often stand there and say, “That person had no right to slight me that way!” Please understand I never once said that someone hammering me, beating up on me or wronging me was right or acceptable. In terms of right and wrong and justice, it probably is wrong. This may be true but for my walk with Christ and my salvation, my concern should not be with getting even or righting the wrong. That is not the issue. Justice and vengeance when required or needed is the Lord’s not mine.

The issue is this: Am I doing things to become more like Christ? Usually the answer for me is no. Did Jesus retaliate when He was wronged on His way to the Cross? No.

Luke 23:34 ~ “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”And they cast lots to divide his garments.”

Scripture is replete with examples that follow Jesus' lead here. To name but a few...

Leviticus 19:18 ~ “You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

Proverbs 20:22 ~ “Do not say, “I will repay evil”; wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you"

Matthew 5:38-42 ~ “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Romans 12:19 ~ “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

Romans 12:21 ~ “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Once folks realize this, a paradigm shift is certain to happen in many people’s lives. I pray it is beginning to shift in mine as I have recently stumbled over this. It was lying in front of me the whole time. I never really thought about what it meant to be truly meek, truly humble and what it looked like to “get small” in my life. I struggle to this very moment with this issue.

It is a heart condition, not an intellectual understanding or attitude. It is an act of grace from God that allows me to have grace towards others when I am under sin and under satanic oppression. The very nature of becoming a true servant (which the Bible reinforces) drives me to get under others to lift them up. This is true of even a leader. It is especially true of a leader because it is a leader that needs to provide others with what they need to lead also. True leaders serve and are servant leaders…like Jesus. 

Yep, you got it! It's just like the old Police song from Sting, "I will turn your face to alabaster, when you find your  Servant is your Master." Understanding the true nature of a servant will change me like being turned to stone when it finally sinks in. The very nature of a servant is to get under others to lift them up and empower them. This obviously requires that a servant decrease their stature and status and humble themselves to make that happen. There is no other way allotted in God's Kingdom. To be able to help people in the trenches to get out of their trenches or help them fight in the trench, I need to get into the trenches with them. This requires dirty hands and worn-out shoe soles. It requires a heart change. Am I lifting up brothers and sisters or smashing them down like a subordinate with my actions and words? I have done too much smashing and not enough lifting up and often continue to do so in my sinful nature.

We really need to ask ourselves, “Is it worth starting a fight over?” It is the old adage come to light: "You need to pick and choose your battles". Nearly all of the battles I feel I need to wage to defend my “honor”, maintain “status” or preserve my “respect” are merely geared towards what happens in the “here and now”. How I respond tells me and all those observing exactly what kind of Chrisrian I really am. Am I the real deal or am I just a hypocritical idiot? Sadly, I fall towards the latter more than the former. I fall into the Devil's trap constantly

The truth is clear...honor, status and respect from humans only really matter in this world. A world filled with humans that are doing what? They are passing away. Some of these attributes which the world holds in such high regard only really matter in my world which is limited to the inside of my own skull (i.e.: ego). In reality I am trying to defend a house of cards on eroding beachhead on a windy day. Why not worry about the stuff that really matters and will last eternally? I am not as important as I believe I am. My importance and worth is given to me by Jesus Christ. Let Him defend me if need be. As for my actions, I just need to obey Him. 

Furthermore, to lay ourselves down to the attack of our enemy and not fight back effectively disarms our opponents like a sheep remaining silent as it is led to the slaughter. How? It invalidates the truth of their accusations by our neutrality in our own self-defense. It puts the onus of proof to prove that truth on the accuser. If it is a lie, they will be able to produce no truth to validate their point. Nearly all of us struggle with this because we have been taught since we are old enough to learn that we have "rights". Slaves do not have " rights". We either submit to one of two masters. We either submit to sin which tells us we have rights (which we dont), or we submit to Christ and forfeit them in an effort to follow Him to do His will! What's His will? To forgive other's their trespasses! In the end, God becomes our vindicator because He sees all, and knows all and will eventually judge all in perfect justice.

July 21, 2014

Unanswered Questions II: Your God Is No Match For Me

This is another installment in a series centering on specific questions raised in the Bible that are not given specific or explicit answers. They are not answered because they are rhetorical questions or they were not really intended to be answered. It is ironic that many do get answered albeit indirectly. In and of themselves they seem as if the answers should be obvious but the fact that they would need to be asked of someone says volumes about the people posing the question. This second post in the series shows us the arrogance and pretentiousness of Sennacherib and his men like Rabshakeh and the reaction of Lord’s reluctant servant Hezekiah. 

2 Kings 18:35-36 ~ “Who among all the gods of the lands have delivered their lands out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand?’” But the people were silent and answered him not a word, for the king's command was, “Do not answer him.”

Archaeological inscriptions concerning Sennacherib claim that he conquered 46 strong-cities of Hezekiah including  many non-descript villages. In preparation for his siege of Jerusalem the Assyrian king set up his headquarters at Lachish. Hezekiah fearing the worst and not trusting in God joined an alliance with Phoenicia, Philistia, and Egypt to resist Assyria. He eventually admits directly to Sennacherib that this was a mistake. Hezekiah offers to pay ransom to Sennacherib to avoid a siege. Sennacherib demands so much treasure that Hezekiah must strip the palace and temple that the king had overlaid to glorify Yahweh. This is like a smack in God’s face twice. First he does not trust in God to defend him, then he robs from God to pay a mere human king.

Sennacherib accepted the ransom but continued to his goal of taking Jerusalem. Rabshakeh who was commander of the Assyrian army meets with three of Hezekiah officials to negotiate outside of Jerusalem. Rabshakeh assumes that Hezekiah even attempting to negotiate was trusting in his Egyptian alliance. Rabshakeh assumes that Hezekiah’s/Judah's God was no better than those of the other nations. He arrogantly asserts that even if the Assyrians provided 2,000 horses for Hezekiah, perhaps what Egypt might have contributed, Judah could not win.

However the Assyrians wanted all the people to know that surrender would be better than resistance. To resist would be catastrophic for Judah. The commander's allusion to the powerlessness Samaria god’s above would be especially menacing since many in Israel had worshipped Yahweh albeit in syncretism.

So what we have is the writer recording this lengthy exchange in Kings because it shows the central issues Judah faced and the central issue Christians today are faced with when challenged by the world to choose between what man says is proper like abortion, evolution and homosexuality and what the Bible or God says is proper like no abortion, creationism and sexual morality in marriage.

Should man trust in God/Yahweh or in man or manmade alliances based in humanism? At the heart is Satan or the world system challenging God's authority and this is always a losing proposition. God is sovereign and omnipotent. God always reigns and therefore wins in these situations.

Hezekiah sensing the extraordinary arrogance and affront to God knows a response will only further provoke Rabshakeh’s bravado. He opts to remain silent and tells his people to be silent also. Here we see a deliberate provoking and the best response to a provocation is silence. King Hezekiah knew this and made it so. Not only is Rabshakeh provoking King Hezekiah here, he is also mocking and provoking God.

God will not be mocked and justice will eventually be served. We see this today in the open rebellion of secular man against God and atheists proclaiming God does not exist. It is pure foolishness since only the foolish man declares there is no God. People in this day and age assume that God’s silence is either His inability to act, apathy towards sin or the possibility of His non-existence. They will be sadly and sorely mistaken when His wrath and judgment come on them.

As we know from the Bible, Hezekiah repented and Micah boldly predicted Jerusalem’s miraculous survival by divine means. We see in 2 Kings 19:35 that: “…it came to pass that night, that the angel of the LORD went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians a hundred fourscore and five thousand: and when they arose early in the morning, behold, they were all dead corpses.” The siege army is struck with a plague of an unknown sort and origin and appear to have been decimated. The Lord was true to His word delivered by Isaiah:

“Therefore thus says the LORD concerning the king of Assyria: He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the LORD. For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David." 2 Kings 19:32-34

Hezekiah’s response in this situation is critical and should be noted by all Christians. When confronted with insurmountable circumstances from the human viewpoint…he prays, laments/mourns and humbles himself before God asking for God’s guidance and help…and God responds in a dramatic manner. Although there are no guarantees that God will act on our behalf in a dramatic manner, this story should at least encourage us to at least do the same as Hezekiah. What is certain is that not humbling ourselves and repenting before God will not have a positive effect. We need only look at the Assyrians.  It behooves us to be like Christ and humble ourselves to the will of God.

What happens next is clearly the work of God.

2 Kings 19:35-37 ~ “And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.

So the answer to Sennacherib's rhetorical question is this: God will not be mocked. Sennacherib and his men's arrogance cost them dearly. Sennacherib like many before him and many after would then fade into the dust of antiquity. He would leave little more than a footnote in history in the form of a few relief cuts and an archaeological artifact known as the Sennacherib/Taylor Prism. It contained the annals of Sennacherib that are a supposed account of his military exploits against Judah. Accounts on a dusty old stone that were little more than embellishments and lies as opposed to the truth of Scripture. As for Rabshakeh, well, he is only mentioned in Scripture. Otherwise...no one would've ever known he existed.

July 19, 2014

Post Rock I: Decoder Ring-They Blind The Stars, And The Wild Team

I usually post on theological or biblical items but occasionally decide to post on other items of interest (because it's my blog). Anyone that knows me knows that I have taken a shining to music called Post Rock and Ambient recently. I guess back in the 1970's and 1980’s it was called Space Rock. I consider it a poor man’s Avant-Garde or poor man’s Experimental Rock. Some of this Post Rock and Ambient easily shifts over or morphs into what can be considered modern classical or music that is often used in soundtracks of movies or theme music for software like gaming and other applications. Either way, I like both permutations.

The music puts me in a reflective mood and allows me to use my limited worship time through study to its best use. I consider some of this music a blessing to me. As a reference point to the uninitiated, I will state that if there are patriarchs of the genre they are Brian Eno and Steve Roach. More recently the most popular purveyors of this music have been Sigor Ros. I suppose on the outer fringe you could throw in Vangelis too. Direct from Wikipedia…
Post-rock is a sub-genre of rock music characterized by the influence and use of instruments commonly associated with rock, but using rhythms and "guitars as facilitators of timbre and textures" not traditionally found in rock. Post-rock bands are often without vocals.
Some of this stuff I like so much that I have decided to post my favorites up to the blog. Since most of my writing time is dedicated to theological/biblical posts I will only post the album cover with a rating on a scale of 1 to 100. Obviously most will be high ratings as I won’t recommend junk and waste blog space to promote garbage. Occasionally I might comment but like the music, I will limit vocals and let the instrumentation speak for itself. Where available I will link to a sample of the music or an example of what makes it appealing to me.
First up is Beat the Twilight from Decoder Ring’s album They Blind the Stars & the Wild Team. The above video is visually dizzying but the atmosphere created by the music captures what I like about the band. [Rating 100 of 100]

July 18, 2014

Chatterboxes & Windbags: Blah, Blah, Blah...

There is something really annoying about incessant talkers or people who never seem to exhaust their supply of words. Please note I did not say people with a lot of good ideas. That's different. I am talking about those that talk for the sake of talking. The ones that can speak forever but end up saying nothing. The people that are aggressively articulate but have nothing intelligent to say. Even the Bible hints at the irksome nature of these types of people.

Proverbs 17:28 ~ “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”

Proverbs 18:2 ~ “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion."

Proverbs 29:20 ~ “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him.”

The Bible also tells us that these types of people are foolish and it tells us many other things too if we look closely enough at some of the words about people that vomit out too many words.

Acts 17:18 ~ “Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection.
1 Timothy 6:20 “Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge…”

2 Timothy 2:16 “But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness…”

Okay people, time for a Greek lesson. All three of these verses use the word babble. The word in Greek for babble was either σπερμολόγος/spermologos as in the case of Acts 17:18 or κενοφωνίας/kenophonias in the case of 1 & 2 Timothy. The word spermologos was a compound Greek noun that is made up of the word “sperma” meaning “seed” and “logos” meaning “word”. Together it translates to “seed word”. It was often used to describe birds like crows or other scavengers that would scrounge individual scraps or seeds dropped by passersby. It was a word often given to people who hanged out on the streets (vagrants and troublemakers) that would pick up the scraps that fell from loads like a parasite that lived at the expense of others.

It ended up morphing into a description for people that would pick and choose secondhand information (gossip) and plagiarized that information making it their own. That information was then usually misappropriated when these spermalogos would inappropriately use the “cherry picked” information to come off as experts in the Greek rhetorical culture. This is the reason Paul was looked at with contempt by the Epicureans and Stoics in Acts 17. They legitimately thought he was a spermologos. These spermologos sounded like they were experts but in reality were merely regurgitating things they have heard or parroting isolated thoughts. They were all talk and no substance. Isn't this exactly what we see in many churches today? 

Babblers. All gossip, no Gospel. All scuttlebutt, no Scripture.

The word kenophonias was also a compound Greek noun that is made up of the word “kenos” meaning “empty” and “phonia” meaning sound. In other words people that made “empty sound”.

So when Luke and Paul use these words in Scripture they are used to refer to people making empty sounds or using misappropriated secondhand gossip. What is further interesting is that when the word babble is used in English it is onomatopoetic. In other words, by saying the word, it sounds like the exact thing it describes. In other words babbling essentially sounds like “Blah, blah, blah, blah.” 

Like I said, empty words.

Paul (therefore the Bible) is warning us that people who speak meaningless gibberish (another onomatopoetic) and gossip are deadly to the faith. Why? Because as Paul tells us, they spread false knowledge. Falsity and deceit is demonic. Truth is of God. We too should avoid empty yammering and grumbling. 
Proverbs 16:28 ~ “A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.”
Proverbs 17:4 ~ “An evildoer listens to wicked lips, and a liar gives ear to a mischievous tongue.”
Proverbs 20:19 ~ “Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.”

Instead of becoming perpetrators, we are to stand vigilant to these things and recognize them when we are confronted with them. In this way we avoid having our faith and knowledge corrupted by senseless “seed pickers”. Just like squawking crows or cackling hens when you throw seed or corn to them. All kinds of racket but no substance. A bunch of noise that just causes chaos and disunity.

July 16, 2014

In Their Own Words X: There's A “Deeper” Explanation

[An ongoing series about the profoundly ironic theological / philosophical quotes that scientists or those in academia make.]

Allan Sandage was the successor of Edwin Hubble's at the Mt. Wilson and Mt. Palomar Observatory in California. Edwin Hubble was the astronomer who played a major role in establishing the field of study called extra-galactic astronomy. He is also known for theorizing and observing the expanding universe theory that leads back to the Big Bang. The Big Bang theory of course aligns with Biblical narrative. 

He is also the namesake of the Hubble Telescope that has produced some of the most beautiful pictures of deep space that we have ever seen. Sandage having followed in Hubble’s footsteps is famous for determining the first reasonably accurate value for the Hubble constant (expanding universe) and therefore the age of the known universe. Sandage following similar lines of reasoning postulated the following.
"I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God, to me, is the explanation of the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing. If God did not exist, science would have to invent Him to explain what it is discovering at its core." ~Allan Sandage [New York Times, 12 March, 1991, p. B9]

These types of statements were not new to Sandage when he made them in 1991 either. He had made similar comments years earlier such as the following.
“The world is too complicated in all its parts and interconnections to be due to chance alone. I am convinced that the existence of life with all its order in each of its organisms is simply too well put together. Each part of a living thing depends on all its other parts to function. How does each part know? How is each part specified at conception? The more one learns about biochemistry the more unbelievable it becomes unless there is some type of organizing principle - an architect ~ Allan Sandage [Truth, Vol. 1, Dallas: Texas, Truth Incorporated, 1985, p. 54].

I guess, having the observational tools that he had at his disposal had a dramatic effect on Sandage's thinking. He would become a Christian later in life. I am guessing God’s eternal power and divine nature were clearly perceived by Sandage in the things that weraade in the universe. Having seen them in such diversity and beauty through his telescopes, there was no longer any way for him to deny the obvious.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

Moving on we have Paul Davies who is an English physicist. His field of study has involved him in inquiries concerning theoretical physics, cosmology, and astrobiology. His research has been mainly in the area of quantum field theory in curved space-time. Although he has not explicitly stated that he is a theist, evidence from his statements and quotes in books could build a strong case for thinking that he does in fact believe in an amazing creating God. Such as the following.
“I belong to a group of scientists who do not subscribe to a conventional religion but nevertheless deny that the universe is a purposeless accident. Through my scientific work I have come to believe more and more strongly that the physical universe is put together with an ingenuity so astonishing that I cannot accept it merely as a brute fact.  There must, it seems to me, be a deeper level of explanation. Whether one wishes to call that deeper level ‘God’ is a matter of taste and definition.” ~ Paul Davies [The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability to Order the Universe. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988. p.203]

“There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all.... It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe.... The impression of design is overwhelming” ~ Paul Davies [The Cosmic Blueprint: New Discoveries in Nature's Creative Ability to Order the Universe. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1988. p.203]

Davies’ comments are as deliberate in their wordage as they are interesting. He doesn’t deny God outright but neither does he adhere to a religion either. This could just mean he doesn’t believe in organized religion like the Roman Catholic Church (theoretically, neither do I). I am guessing he was either agnostic when he made the first statement or he was being theologically disingenuous about what he really believed. It is clear that he did not buy into the sheer numbers game of probability that says the Creation was just a cosmic accident. 

Actually, he says he believed in something “deeper”. By this statement he begins to leave behind the empirical and flirt with a theological source. The term "deeper" here has to mean metaphysical or outside the physically provable or empirical. He has already made a scientific statement that said through his scientific work he could not account for the ingenuity of the physical universe. Ingenuity implies an act of creation. Ingenuity implies new ways in an ongoing process to meet or solve problems. As a matter of fact, by definition etymologically, ingenuity comes from the word ingenium which just happens to be the root Latin word for engineering. Because he believed something deeper was involved and he was willing to endeavor into the non-physical to find it...he was taking a leap of faith. In other words, Davies believed there had to have been a super-intelligence driving the things he saw in the physical universe.

If one takes Davies’ comments at face value from his 1992 book The Mind of God it is probable that Davies theological comments are laced with doublespeak in a whimsical manner. In the aforementioned book Davies briefly explores the nature of reason, belief, and metaphysics. He also examines the origin of the universe and even a few arguments for the existence of God. In so doing he includes the possibility that the universe shows evidence of intelligent design.

So what we have in Allan Sandage and Paul Davies are two men who studied the the physical universe and the natural world scientifically and ended up in the realm of the supernatural to explain their findings. They came to similar conclusions a generation apart. In their opinion, the complexity and intricacy of the physical universe could not be a statistical accident. Furthermore, they believed the obviousness of design was implicit in the visible universe also. Paul Davies said it best in the conclusion to his book The Mind of God.
"…the existence of mind in some organism on some planet in the universe [referring to Earth] is surely a fact of fundamental significance. Through conscious beings the universe has generated self-awareness. This can be no trivial detail, no minor byproduct of mindless, purposeless forces. We are truly meant to be here."

Other than the fact that Paul attributes the generation of self-awareness to the universe, he pretty much nails the fact that these are not purposeless forces. They are deliberate and meaningful. They are rooted in intelligence. They are rooted in design.

Therefore the big answers are foundational to existence and they are profound...and according to Davies...they are not of naturalistic origin or based in the physical universe.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...