Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

My Photo

Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Bible in 2 Peter 3:1-2, 15b-16

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles.

[R]egard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable
distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. [NASB]

In closing his letter, Peter gives his purpose in writing the letter. As part of this purpose, Peter reminds his readers of the teaching they have received through the prophets and apostles. The words of the prophets and the apostles should be foremost in our minds; these words should stir up faith and faithfulness to our Lord and Savior.

In verses 15b-16, Peter commends the writings of the
Apostle Paul and refers to these writings as Scripture.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

'There are many ways to God/Heaven.'

The opinion expressed in the title of this post is often found alongside the statement examined in my last post. Again, there can be many good Christian responses to this opinion; and again, I would urge readers to consider how the idea of 'many paths to God' relates to the person and work of Christ. For the New Testament Scriptures declare that God Himself ordained the death of Jesus (Acts 4:27-28). The Lord Jesus-- true God and true Man-- was tortured to death according to the divine will (Luke 22:42). God the Father allowed His Son to suffer and die. And for what? If there are many ways to God-- if there are several alternative paths to Heaven-- then the Cross is the ultimate example of sadomasochistic cruelty; why would God allow/ordain Jesus to die if people can get to God without that death taking place? On the other hand, if God's righteous judgment against sin requires the penalty of death for any violation of His holy law, then the Cross is seen as the unique and necessary way for God to be known as both the just judge and the merciful justifier of sinners (Rom 3:26).

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Monday, August 29, 2011

'All religions are basically the same.'

Anyone who has spent much time at all seeking to tell people the Good News of who Jesus is and what He has done on behalf of sinners has almost certainly heard the assertion that serves as the title of this post. This assertion could be answered in many ways; certainly, for example, someone could carry a chart contrasting the different religions. My inclination, however, is to point people once again to the person and work of Christ. All religions are NOT basically the same, simply because they say different things about Jesus and the Cross. Christians believe in Jesus as the Son of God, who died on the Cross in the place of sinners and who was raised from the dead as the conqueror of sin, death, and Hell. Muslims (to give one example among many) specifically deny that Jesus is God's Son or that He was crucified.

Christians have long stressed the importance of doctrine, but this is because doctrine is meant to point us to Christ. Our great passion is for Jesus Himself. And this is the great difference that separates Christianity from all other religions. It is only Christianity that is centered upon the ever-living Lord Jesus, who is one God with the Father (and Holy Spirit) from eternity, who did the good works we have failed to do and died the death that we deserved, and who defeated the enemy we cannot defeat: namely, death. All other religions deny Jesus (properly understood), prescribe human effort as the way to salvation, and thus end in despair.

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Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Characteristics and Destiny of False Teachers from 2 Peter 2:1-10a

1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the

ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed,
I. False teachers:
A. secretly introduce destructive heresies (v.1).
B. deny the Master who bought them (v.1).
C. gain many followers (v.2).
D. cause the way of truth to be maligned (v.2).
E. indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires (v.10).
F. despise authority (v.10).

II. False teachers DO the above things because false teachers ARE:
A. sensual (v.2).
B. greedy (v.2).
C. exploitative liars (v.2).
D. unrighteous (v.9).
E. reckless (v.10).
F. self-willed (v.10).

III. Because of what false teachers DO and who false teachers ARE, false teachers WILL:
A. bring swift destruction upon themselves (v.1).
B. face the long-established judgment of destruction (vv. 3-8).
C. be kept under punishment for the day of judgment (v. 9).

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Friday, August 26, 2011

Gospel Foundations in 2 Peter 1:1

Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ: (2 Pet 1:1 NASB)

The Christians to whom Peter wrote are defined as those "who have received a faith of the same kind as ours." Their knowledge of the facts concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ, their belief regarding those facts as true, and their trust in Jesus: these things were not manufactured by their own will-power, but were gifts from God based on His free, favorable disposition toward us.

The Christians to whom Peter wrote had "received a faith" based upon "righteousness." But it was not their own righteousness that secured this faith, rather it was "the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ." Jesus always had and will ever have a right standing before God the Father. Jesus clothes us in His righteousness that we may stand before God without the terror of condemnation as we trust in Him.

Jesus-- the One anointed by God the Father as His special servant to triumph over sin, death, and Hell on behalf of His people-- is identified in this verse as "our God and Savior." Jesus is the all-powerful One; He is one in nature with God the Father. Through Jesus all things were created and by Him all things are held together. Jesus has become our Savior; when we had lived to serve ourselves rather than serving God-- when we had broken God's commandments-- Jesus lived out a life of perfect obedience on earth, perfectly obeying God's commands on our behalf, then He died in the place of sinner. Three days later, Jesus was raised from the dead, proving that He had conquered sin, death, and Hell.

Anyone reading this, I urge you-- if you have not already done so-- turn from your disobedience, turn from your self-reliance, and cast yourself upon Jesus to receive His mercy. See Jesus today as Your God and Savior.

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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Translation of Daniel 9:11-12

[A couple of weeks ago, I did the morning Scripture reading at Kosmosdale Baptist Church from Daniel 9. I used this as an opportunity to review some Hebrew by doing my own translation of this chapter. I've been posting a few verses from my translation here so that any friends who know Hebrew can give input on the translation.]

11 And all Israel transgressed Your Law: turning away from heeding Your voice, so the oath and the curse that was written about in the Law of Moses the servant of God has been poured out upon us, because we sinned against Him. 12 And He confirmed the words that He spoke against us and against our judges who judged us, to bring a great calamity upon us; nothing has been done under all the heavens such as has been done against Jerusalem.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Alcohol (2)

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17 ESV)

In the audio file found HERE, President Albert Mohler and Dean Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary give the rationale for why Southern Seminary (and, by extension, other Southern Baptist entities) exercise a total abstinence policy in regards to alcohol.

Before giving the rationale for Southern's total abstinence policy in regards to alcohol, President Mohler highlights two "really bad" arguments that should be avoided:

1. The Bible binds the Christian conscience to total abstinence from alcohol at all times, all places, and all circumstances; this argument is exegetically unsustainable.

2. Christian liberty is based upon subjective interpretation without respect to the body of Christ as expressed in convenanted communities.

Dr. Mohler then asserts that Southern Seminary's policy toward alcohol is produced by the Southern Baptist conviction that:

We should, for the glory of God, remove this temptation and remove this snare from the lives of families and churches because it is a small thing for us to remove this awful snare, and it would be a dangerous thing to allow it in place.

Dr. Moore frames the position of the Southern Baptist Convention toward alcohol in terms of social justice, in which there is an agenda being pushed by an industry: a particular lifestyle agenda in regards to alcohol, which is devastating lives; this agenda is now being put forth by multi-national corporations and was [in this form] absent in biblical times.

Dr. Mohler concedes that "wine" in the Bible was alcoholic (despite some bad arguments to the contrary), but notes:
1. Mass-produced alcohol is now intended to have an intoxicating effect, and getting people intoxicated is important to the bottom line of alcohol corporations.
2. Fermentation was necessary in biblical times, and was served to everyone in the family, and the Bible provides warnings in regards to more highly fermented beverages.

Some, seeking to prove that they understand Christian liberty better than their parents and elders, have given themselves to pride and immaturity.

[Again, hear the entire audio file HERE.]


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Alcohol (1)

On August 9, John MacArthur published a now-[in]famous blogpost cautioning us "Young, Restless, Reformed"-types that,

If everything you know about Christian living came from blogs and websites in the young-and-restless district of the Reformed community, you might have the impression that beer is the principal symbol of Christian liberty.

and that,

Real Christian liberty is not about flouting taboos and offending conventional notions of propriety.

Among the "Young, Restless, Reformed" crowd Dr. MacArthur's words on this subject have been controversial, to say the least.

In a follow-up post at the Grace-to-You blog, defending Dr. MacArthur's previous article, Travis Allen wrote,

[MacArthur] is expressing a perfectly legitimate pastoral concern, which is shared by Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, and many other faithful pastors.

As someone who agreed with Dr. MacArthur's point and who is genuinely thankful for my alma mater, I was glad to see President Mohler and Dean Moore cited in support of Dr. MacArthur's position. Tomorrow it is my hope to outline some thoughts from the audio file of Drs. Mohler and Moore, which is linked above, and which Allen linked again at the end of his post.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Mark Driscoll vs. Tim Challies: Discernment Definition

Mark Driscoll is a continuationist rather than a cessationist. In itself, this is not such a big deal. Though I'm a convinced cessationist, I have had and still have Christian friends who take the other view. Driscoll's rejection of cessationism has become a very big deal, however, because: 1. He has been quoted as claiming "Cessationism is worldliness" [see HERE]; 2. He has claimed a special giftedness from the Holy Spirit, which allows him to see bizarre visions [see HERE].

Now, as I alluded to in a recent post, I believe that Driscoll's bizarre visions are especially problematic because: 1. These type of explicitly sexual visions regarding his own congregants-- visions that he encourages others to indulge-- seem very much out of step with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit; 2. Driscoll identifies having bizarre visions as the "real gift of discernment."

I mention Tim Challies in the title of this post due to the second point just mentioned. Challies has written a book on discernment titled The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. In this book, Challies defines discernment as "the skill of understanding and applying God's Word with the purpose of separating truth from error and right from wrong." Challies defined the gift of discernment as an unusual, Spirit-given ability "to compare ungodly words, deeds, and appearances with what God has revealed in Scripture and expose the fraudulent leaders and teachers for what they are."

Now, if Challies' definitions are correct, then what Driscoll has done is: 1. mis-defined a term in Scripture, a term which is meant to focus Christians on Scripture, and thus; 2. focused Christians on supposed personal revelations through bizarre visions, rather than on Scripture, therefore; 3. through a lack of valuing the gift of discernment (correctly defined) and through distracting people from Scripture, he has left Christians under his influence open to the persuasion of false prophets.

I urge anyone reading this post to explore Challies' book and see that he comes to his definitions for "discernment" and the "gift of discernment" after a careful study of the word "discernment" (and related terms) throughout all of Scripture in context. I further urge anyone reading this post to consider from where in Scripture (if anywhere) Driscoll derives his definition of the "gift of discernment."


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Social Justice, Abortion, and Proverbs 31:8-9

Every Saturday morning Christians meet outside the abortion clinic here in Louisville to pray, to proclaim the gospel, and to attempt to persuade women to seek help at A Woman's Choice Resource Center rather than having their children killed in the "clinic".

Below are some notes that I used in preaching a sermon this morning outside the above-mentioned location.

Proverbs 31:8-9

8 Open your mouth for the mute,
For the rights of all the
9 Open your mouth, judge righteously,
And defend the rights of the afflicted and needy.


I. Introduction:

A. Proverbs 31.

1. Many Christians, even those familiar with the Bible, only know this chapter because of its description of the virtuous wife.

2. But the chapter deals with the mother of a king describing how he may exercise wisdom as a king; the reason that 2/3 of the chapter focuses on a godly wife is because the choice of a godly spouse is so crucial to all of life.

B. Social justice in Proverbs.

1. This chapter continues a theme of social justice present throughout all of Proverbs.

2. Example: Proverbs 14:31, He who oppresses the poor taunts his Maker,
But he who is gracious to the needy honors Him.

C. New Testament.

1. Jesus: The law fulfilled in loving God and loving neighbor.

2. James 1:27, Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (NIV)

II. Those whom we must defend by our speech

A. Mute:

1. Those who cannot speak for themselves, primarily due to legal/socioeconomic disadvantage.

2. In our society the charge to speak out for the “mute” has a direct application to the plight of the unborn, who (in addition to their natural, physical inability to speak) are also at a legal disadvantage, in that the government has not defended the right to life for infants yet in the womb.

B. “Unfortunate”

1. Lit. “the sons of the passing away,” or, “the children characterized by having their lives in danger.”

2. Again, in our society, the most dangerous place to be is in the womb; how unfortunate to be deemed an “unwanted” person: how much more unfortunate that those in the womb who are considered “unwanted” may be dismembered, their lives snuffed out at the will of another.

C. Afflicted and needy:

1. The scholars of the New English Translation point out that, “They are the ones left destitute by the cruelties and inequalities in life.”

2. Cruelties and inequalities have plagued our nation’s history; along with the great ideal of extending basic rights to all people, in practice America has consistently been guilty treating minority groups as less than human, thus depriving them of protection under the law. This situation of injustice remains as over 300,000 African American children are killed annually through abortion.

III. Conclusion:

A. Social justice: the twin pillars of “social justice” are justice and compassion for those in society who are afflicted by the ravages of sin.

1. Justice: if there is no absolute standard of right and wrong (even one that is, at times, hard to discern), then how can we know if people in society have been wronged, and thus advocate for them?

2. Compassion: like God, we are to reach out to those who have been ravaged by sin to the point of suffering along with them; we must not condone sin, we must seek to rescue people from sin.

B. Those who need “social justice” are the “poor.”

1. “Poor” = those who realize that they have been ravaged by sin.

2. “Blessed are the poor” = it is only the poor who receive the compassion of God, for “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

C. True “social justice” can only be based on the justice-satisfying, compassionate, mercy-extending, work of Jesus.

1. This passage, and others like it, divide humanity into two groups; in this case, we can think of these groups as those who are oppressors and those who are afflicted.

2. We must see ourselves first as the oppressors— under the righteous judgment of God— and then as the afflicted: ravaged by sin.

3. Jesus died, receiving in Himself the judgment that we deserved, and He rose from the dead on the third day, to set us free from bondage to sin.

4. Come to Jesus today, receive forgiveness, freedom, and life forever.

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Friday, August 19, 2011

John Stott: "The Cross of Christ" Chapter 1 Outline

Tim Challies is currently leading an on-line reading group, which is discussing John Stott's The Cross of Christ. Below are some notes that I've taken from the first chapter.

The Centrality of the Cross

I. Introduction: The Cross was central to Christ's mission and is central to the Church's mission.

II. The Sign and Symbol of the Cross:

A. "Every religion and ideaology has its visual symbol, which illustrates a significant feature of its history or beliefs."

1. The Lotus Flower = Buddhism

2. The Star of David = modern Judaism

3. The Crescent = Islam

4. The Hammer and Sickle = Communism

5. The Swastika = Nazism

6. The Fish (ICHTHYS) = early Christianity

B. From the second century on, the Cross has been a "universally acceptable Christian emblem," because the Church has wished to commemorate the death of Christ above all.

C. The Cross was horrific and offensive both to Romans and to Jews.

III. The Perspective of Jesus:

A. "The centrality of the cross originated in the mind of Jesus himself."

1. Even at age 12, Jesus knew He had a mission from His Father (Lk 2:41-50); the nature of this mission "emerges gradually in the narrative of the Gospels."

2. In His temptations, Jesus "committed himself to go God's way rather than the devil's."

3. After Peter's confession of Jesus as Christ, Jesus began to teach the apostles "plainly" about the Cross (Mk 8:31-32).

4. In addition to the teaching just mentioned, Mark records two other occasions when Jesus plainly predicted His death and resurrection: Mark 9:31 and 10:32-34.

5. Even more remarkable than Jesus "combining the two Old Testament Messianic figures"-- "the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53 and the reigning Son of Man of Daniel 7"-- "is the determination [Jesus] both expressed and exemplified."

6. "[T]he Gospels record at least eight more occasions on which Jesus alluded to his death." [Stott mentions them all.]

7. "John records [seven times, as Stott explains]... that the hour for which [Jesus] had come into the world was the hour in which he left it."

B. Three intertwining reasons that Jesus gave for the inevitability of His death:

1. "[T]he hostility of the Jewish national leaders."

2. "[Death] is what stood written of the Messiah in the Scriptures."

3. Jesus made a deliberate choice to die in order to fulfill "his Father's will and finish his Father's work... for the salvation of sinners."

IV. The Apostles' Emphasis

A. The message concerning Jesus' death is found in the apostles' preaching, and the "seeds" for the full doctrine of the atonement are found in their teaching.

B. Important points found in the apostles' preaching:

1. There was a divine purpose in the death of Christ, and His death was foretold in the Scriptures.

2. Christ died under God's curse (with allusion to Deut 21:22-23), yet He was innocent.

3. The resurrection is presented as "the divine reversal of the human verdict"concerning Christ and the means through which God glorified the Jesus who had died.

C. The Cross in the writings of Paul, Peter, and John:

1. Paul defined his gospel as "the message of the Cross."

2. Peter emphasized the Cross as our example, but at the same time wrote of Christ as our sinbearer and substitute.

3. John emphasized the incarnation, but saw the incarnation as being with a view to the atonement.

D. In Hebrews, there is a particular emphasis on Christ as our "great high priest," who offers Himself as a sacrifice.

E. In Revelation, Jesus as the [sacrificed yet living] Lamb occupies center stage throughout.

V. Persistence Despite Opposition

A. In the case of making the Cross central, "Church tradition proved... to be a faithful reflection of Scripture."

B. The early Church kept the Cross central though they were ridiculed for their emphasis of the ignoble Cross.

C. Objections to the Cross:

1. Modern intellectuals, like the Greeks of old, see the Cross as foolishness.

2. The Koran in multiple places denies the Cross.

3. Hindus like Gandhi deny the saving significance of the Cross.

4. Modern philosophers detest the Cross as weak or barbaric.

D. Christians yet hold to the Cross out of integrity and personal loyalty to Jesus.


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mark Driscoll: Takes on the Pyromaniacs Recent Post (2-3)

Take 2:

It's surprising to me that so many of the Reformed Charismatics [those mentioned in the recent post on Pyromaniacs] are such ardent defenders of biblical complimentarianism. Because it seems that the continuationist position is a product of the hyper-egalitarian spirit of the age (in the sense that, [so the argument seems to go] since the prophets and apostles were able to experience revelation in this way [through direct revelation apart from Scripture], it would be unfair or make us second-class if we could not receive the sign gifts as well: which seems to speak against the complementarian understanding of giftedness within the body).

Take 3:

[On a lighter note:]

Re, Driscoll['s comment made while recounting his visions, quoted in the link above]: "I don't talk about this."

-Maybe he thought the people sitting in front of him were part of some kind of vision.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mark Driscoll: Takes on the Pyromaniacs Recent Post (1)

Recently on the Pyromaniacs blog, Phil Johnson posted an article concerning a 2008 sermon in which Mark Driscoll claimed an ability to see bizarre visions [this blogpost can be read HERE]. A major point Johnson wished to make in his post was to highlight the silence of more biblically sound pastors/theologians who hold to a "continuationist" or "charismatic" view. Below is a slightly edited version of a comment I placed on the Pyromaniacs blog:

Johnson's post seems to say that the continuationist position necessarily leads to a failure to criticize Driscoll et al. But why couldn't someone like a Grudem or a Piper [two who have written/spoken in favor of the "continuationist" position] grasp Johnson's point that the Holy Spirit would not show such images (esp. to someone like Driscoll) and grasp a biblical definition of the gift of discernment (such as articulated in Tim Challies' The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment), and call out MD on these bases alone?

Don't misunderstand: I'd like the entire "Reformed Charismatic" movement to embrace a more comprehensive understanding of the necessity and sufficiency of Scripture, but I'm hoping that Johnson's post (and others) will prompt them to think more critically about teachers like Driscoll even if they don't immediately embrace cessationism.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Should abortion be allowed for cases of rape?

Rick Santorum gives a great answer to this question at the recent Iowa GOP debate:


Monday, August 15, 2011

Translation of Daniel 9:9-10

[Yesterday, I did the morning Scripture reading at Kosmosdale Baptist Church from Daniel 9. I used this as an opportunity to review some Hebrew by doing my own translation of this chapter. I plan to post the translation here so that any friends who know Hebrew can give input on the translation.]

9 To the Lord our God is mercy and forgiveness, though we rebelled against Him. 10 And we haven't heeded the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by the hand of His servants: the prophets.


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Michele Bachmann's Egalitarian Understanding of Submission

According to Bachmann, it seems that submission = respect.

2 Questions for readers:

1. Is there anything in Bachmann's answer that egalitarians would find objectionable?

2. Is Bachmann's answer faithful to what the Bible means by submission?

[HT:: Reformed Baptist Blog]


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Sermon Notes from 1 Corinthians 2:2. Sermon by Mitchell Jones.

[The following notes were taken at the 10:45AM service this past Lord's Day at Kosmosdale Baptist Church.]

I. Introduction: Parrot illustration.

II. Around what am I building my life? What is the main thing in my life?

III. Idolatry = an answer to the above questions that is anything other than God and His gospel.

IV. You are here to glorify God and enjoy Him.

V. Many substitute rule-keeping for the gospel.

VI. Many are hindered in gospel-service by bondage to emotions.
A. Emotions are important to the worship of God.
B. Truth, not emotion, is our authority.
1. How many marriages would be saved if we lived by truth, rather than by feelings?
2. That truth, rather than emotion, is to be our authority is shown in the temptations of Christ.

VII. We cannot move beyond the Cross.
A. "Whenever the periphery is in danger of replacing the center, we are not far removed from idolatry." - D.A. Carson.
B. Religion, eschatology, new ministry styles, etc., can become idols if they replace the Cross.
C. Don't try to become the gospel; believe the gospel.

[Because the text is focused on a similar theme, Mitchell's sermon was very similar to what I preached from 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 outside the abortion clinic last Saturday, except that-- as a mature preacher-- Mitch's sermon was better than mine at several points.]

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Monday, August 08, 2011

2 Thoughts on Stephen Hawking's "Did God create the universe?"

Last night on the Discovery Channel from 8PM-9PM the show "Curiosity" premiered, on which Stephen Hawking addressed the question, "Did God create the universe?" I live-blogged this show HERE. Hawking answered the question "NO" through an appeal to a zero-sum gain following the Big Bang (a balance in the universe between matter and anti-matter), timelessness before the Big Bang, and uncaused quantum events; Hawking argues that these accepted scientific ideas obviate the need for a God (and, in the case of atemporality previous to the Big Bang, leave no temporal place for God).

2 Thoughts on Hawking's argument:

1. It only works if one accepts materialism: the idea that matter is all that exists. But, as C.S. Lewis masterfully argues in his book Miracles, the very rational processes upon which Hawking depends in order to argue against God testify to the existence of something (i.e., thought or rationality) other than matter.

2. Hawking concluded his presentation with the following statement:

"We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the Universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful."

Notice how this statement is non-sensical from the viewpoint espoused by Hawking. Throughout the program, Hawking had carefully avoided using the term "creation" when referring to the universe, as "creation" obviously implies a Creator. But here Hawking speaks of "design;" does this not imply a designer? Also, Hawking speaks of being "extremely grateful" for having "this one life;" but to whom is Hawking grateful? Perhaps Hawking is using figures of speech, but I would challenge the reader to articulate Hawking's statement in such a way that it is both reasonably similar to the quote above and devoid of language that implies a Creator/Designer/One to whom we should be grateful. We were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, and when we begin to speak in depth about the most important issues of life, we cannot help but to utilize language that points to Him.


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Liveblog: "Did God create the universe?" on the Discovery Channel

Tonight on the Discovery Channel from 8PM-9PM on the premier of the show "Curiosity," Stephen Hawking will address the question, "Did God create the universe?"

Liveblog:I finally found Discovery Channel (Channel 25 in Louisville); thank you to my friend John Mark in the Legacy Center!
So far all I've heard is that the earliest scientists deduced natural laws from their observations on nature.

Hawking: For centuries it was believed that disabled people like me were suffering under the curse of God; while it is possible that I've made somebody up there upset, I believe that things like this are better explained by the laws of nature.

[This illustrates one of the major objections I have to this show; for the question of whether God created the universe, it might make sense to ask the question to people who have spent their distinguished careers studying the universe-- like Hawking-- but shouldn't the Discovery Channel also ask someone who has spent a distinguished career studying God: a theologian, such as Albert Mohler?]

Hawking: If you accept, as I do, that the laws of nature are fixed, then you must soon question what role is left for God.

Narrator: (Describes a Pope who questioned the laws of nature, and then the roof of a cathedral fell on his head.) The Church came to explain that God had created the laws of nature. (The narrator introduces Galileo, whom he calls the "father of modern science.) [It seems that Hawking and the narrator are going to use Galileo to set the stage for another supposed conflict between science and the Church.] Galileo's discoveries would eventually loosen the grip of religion over science. (The narrator then describes how the Church forced Galileo to recant. The narrator then describes other discoveries of science, and asserts that with each new discovery the need for God diminished.]

Hawking: Science does not deny religion, it just offers a simpler explanation. [Did I hear this correctly, or did Hawking say, "religion does not deny science," etc.?]

Narrator: I attended a conference on science at the Vatican, where we were told that we should not ask about the origin of the universe, because that is a question for religion.

Hawking: I am glad to say that I did not follow that advice; I cannot simply turn off my curiosity when it comes to that question.

Narrator: To make the universe, you need only three ingredients: 1. matter, 2. energy, 3. space. Where did all the matter, energy, and space in the universe come from? We had no idea until the 20th century, with the work of Albert Einstein; Einstein realized that matter and energy are basically the same thing, reducing the number of ingredients in the universe to 2. Where did space and energy come from? They were spontaneously created in the moment of the Big Bang! Science tells a different story than the idea, "it was God."

[I've just realized that the Narrator seems to be reading from Hawking's writings: I suppose to ease communication, since Hawking has some difficulty with speaking, and to avoid monotony.]

Hawking: We were taught you never get something for nothing, but now, after a lifetime of work, I believe you can get a whole universe for free!

Narrator: When you build a hill, you must make a hole-- a negative hill-- so that it balances out; when the Big Bang produced a positive amount of energy, it must also have created an equal amount of negative energy: this negative energy is what we know as "space." This means that everything adds up to zero.

Hawking: If the positive and negative energy adds up to nothing, then nothing is needed to create It.

[A weakness is shown by the illustration of a man building a hill; for the positive hill and the negative hole-- rather than the neutral level ground-- to exist, then someone must do something: someone must create. Hawking still has not explained why any "Bang" should have happened. Hawking next seeks to answer this objection.]

Narrator: What could trigger the spontaneous appearance of the Universe? At the subatomic level, conjuring something out of nothing is possible, at least for a short while, as we learn from quantum mechanics. The universe was once smaller than a proton, and so the universe could have just popped into existence without violating the known laws of nature (the quantum laws). But did God create these quantum laws?

Hawking: Science has a more compelling explanation than a divine Creator.

Narrator: We think in terms of cause and effect, but when we think of the universe as a whole the cause is the Big Bang itself, and it is possible that nothing caused the Big Bang; as we know from Einstein, time and space are intertwined: time began at the Big Bang as well.

Hawking: The role played by time at the beginning of the universe is the key to removing the need for a Creator.

Narrator: At its origin, the universe was a infinitely small, infinitely dense black hole; as in a black hole, time itself ceases to exist. The was no cause for the Big Bang, because nothing existed before the Big Bang: there was no time in which a Creator could exist. The Big Bang had no cause. Time didn't exist before the Big Bang, so there was no time for a Creator to make the Universe: it is like asking directions for the edge of the world.

Hawking: We are each free to believe what we want, but the simplest explanation is that there is no need for a Creator. This leads me to believe that there is also no Heaven or Hell.
"We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the Universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful."

[I hope to give some thoughts on the above presentation in a blogpost tomorrow, focusing on the final quote from Hawking, but here I will only note that the only philosophy that would make sense if one embraced Hawking's views is existential nihilism.]


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Prayer: ACTS Model, etc.

[I post this in the hope that someone will find it helpful in your own prayers.]

When I come before the LORD in prayer and am not sure what to say, I often follow the model prayer given by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13. Thinking through this specific passage, however, can sometimes lead to rather stilted prayers (kind of like taking note cards into a personal conversation: having to think to remember each phrase of the Lord's Prayer before speaking) or to rote prayers (in which I'm just repeating the phrases without thinking). So, on other occasions, I will follow the ACTS model for prayer. ACTS stands for:
I've heard this model suggested by many Christian leaders I respect: from Kevin Pounds to R.C. Sproul. It is based on the principles found in the Lord's Prayer (and other prayers in Scripture) as well as the specific verses mentioned above.

When I come to the "supplication" section, I often think through the areas of responsibility in which God has placed me, prioritizing those areas in my intercessions for their needs roughly as follows:

2. Children [Eph 6:4; 1 Tim 5:8]

3. Church [1 Sam 12:23; 1 Cor 1:2]

4. Extended family [Eph 6:1-3; 1 Tim 5:8]

5. Friends [Prov 18:24; Eccl 4:9-11]

6. Nation [2 Tim 1:1-2; 1 Pet 2:17]

7. Employers [Eph 6:5-8; 1 Pet 2:18]


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Translation of Daniel 9:8

[In a couple of weeks, I'm scheduled to do the Lord's Day morning Scripture reading at Kosmosdale Baptist Church from Daniel 9. I'm using this as an opportunity to review some Hebrew by doing my own translation of this chapter. I plan to post the translation here so that any friends who know Hebrew can give input on the translation.]

8 O LORD, open shame is ours: for our kings, our leaders, and our fathers, who have sinned against You.


Monday, August 01, 2011

Sermon Notes from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-28. Sermon by Tray Earnhart.

[The following notes were taken at the 10:45AM service yesterday morning at Kosmosdale Baptist Church. The sermon is available to hear on-line HERE.]

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28.

I. Introduction (1 Thess 5:11): This closing section, as the rest of the letter, is composed of encouraging words.

II. The Leadership of the Church
A. We are to submit to those in authority over us.
B. The New Testament vision for a leader [within the church] is a shepherd: "who is in, with, and among the people."

III. The Fellowship of the Church:
A. Living in peace
B. Ministering

IV. The Worship of the Church:
A. God-centered
B. Testing everything

V. The Blessing Upon the Church:
A. Sanctification:
1. Entire
2. Assured
B. Final Words