Monday, February 21, 2011

“How Good People Turn Evil” – Corruption in the Philippines

Friday, February 18, 2011

Unreasonable Doubt
The reasons for unbelief are more complex than many atheists let on.

Most atheists would have us think they arrived at their view through cool, rational inquiry. But are other factors involved? Consider the candid remarks of contemporary philosopher Thomas Nagel: "I want atheism to be true …. It isn't just that I don't believe in God, and, naturally, hope that I'm right about my belief. It's that I hope there is no God! I don't want there to be a God; I don't want the universe to be like that." Could Nagel's attitude—albeit in a more subtle form—actually be common among atheists?

Christian apologists have responded to the New Atheists' arguments—which are often nothing more than a rehashing of traditional objections—with rational arguments of their own. However, they have not talked much about non-rational causes of unbelief. We humans are not only reasoning beings. We also have emotions, desires, and free wills, and these influence our beliefs. As important as it is to remind atheists of the rational evidence for God, the real problem in many cases is moral and psychological in nature.

Such a suggestion is potentially offensive to unbelievers. But we still need to ask if it is nonetheless true. According to Scripture, the evidence for God is overwhelming. The apostle Paul says that "God has made it plain" that he exists; his "invisible qualities … have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Rom. 1:19-20). And the psalmist writes, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (19:1). This naturally prompts the question: If the evidence for God is so abundant, then why are there atheists?

Read more at Christianity Today

Monday, February 14, 2011

Position Statement on the Use of the Old Testament Law by Christians

Study By: William Luck

How should the New Testament believer relate to the Old Testament law? I was brought up in the tradition of Biblical interpretation called Dispensationalism. Under that interpretative structure the Old Testament law was considered useful for history of creation and of Israel, and prophecies of Christ. I do not recall hearing a single sermon on any commandments of the law as a source for direction to Christians for our behavior. Louis Chafer, in his book He that is Spiritual, stated that though the Old Testament had many things in common with the New Testament, it was actually the Acts, the epistles, and half of the Gospels (presumably the events recorded after Matthew 13) which were the marching orders for the New Testament believer.

While I was attending Trinity Divinity School and studying the Older Testament under Walter Kaiser, I began to think through the issues more carefully for myself. After reading Luther and Calvin, and others, I developed my own ideas which I have used in the writing of this book. The starting point of my thinking was to take seriously the writings of St. Paul when he said:

2 Timothy 3:16 Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 3:17 that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work. (NET Bible)

It is highly unlikely that Paul is using the word “Scripture” any differently than does his Master, Jesus, and Jesus specifically speaks of Moses as being included under that term:

Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things written about himself in all the scriptures. (NET Bible)

For His part, Jesus said of the Law…

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have not come to abolish these things but to fulfill them. 5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth pass away not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter will pass from the law until everything takes place.5:19 So anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever obeys them and teaches others to do so will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 5:20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness goes beyond that of the experts in the law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. (NET Bible)

We have also noted that in the Sermon, Jesus comments on each of the commandments from 6-10 and backwards from 5-1. In doing so, He implies that the Commandments are relevant to His disciples—insofar as He commissions them at the end of that Gospel to use all His teachings to disciple the nations. Paul could arguably be said to have employed the structure of the Ten in outlining his only ethical treatise: 1 Corinthians. That letter is, of course, directed to the Church.

But Paul also clearly rejects putting the Christian “under the Law” (Galatians 3). Jesus is also said to have removed the kosher laws by declaring all foods clean.

Mark 7:18 He said to them, “Are you so foolish? Don’t you understand that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him? 7:19 For it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and then goes out into the sewer.” (This means all foods are clean.) 7:20 He said, “What comes out of a person defiles him. 7:21 For from within, out of the human heart, come evil ideas, sexual immorality, theft, murder, 7:22 adultery, greed, evil, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, pride, and folly. 7:23 All these evils come from within and defile a person.” (NET Bible)

How then do we harmonize these texts? Some suggest that all in the Old Testament law is assumed to be applicable to the Christian unless it is specifically disallowed by a statement of the New. The early Church seems not to accept that approach. In Acts, the Church is concerned that Gentiles understand that they need not become Jews in order to become Christians.


Friday, February 11, 2011


Because of the traveling part of my preaching and teaching ministry, I worship the Lord in a different church most Sundays of the year. My experiences in churches nationwide, together with my years of teaching a seminary course on worship, cause me to think a great deal about the worship of God in the local church.

One observation I have made is that most churches could make dramatic improvements in the quality of their worship event by making some changes that are relatively simple. After a quarter-century of pastoral ministry and leading worship services, I do realize why "simple" changes are sometimes difficult to make. However, if you are a leader who senses the need for freshness in worship, you should consider these recommendations because (a) they each have a direct or indirect biblical basis, (b) they are specific enough to be practical, and (c) they can be accommodated to any church, regardless of size, location, culture, or worship style.

Focus on God in every element in worship.
Worship is, by definition, the worship of God. So why would you include something in your worship service that doesn't focus on God? Go through your order of service and ask of every element, "Does this focus on God?" If not, either remove that element or push it to the beginning or end of the worship gathering. Specifically, items like the announcements, the welcome of guests, and greeting one another may have a legitimate place, but they should be accomplished in a way where they won't break people's focus on the Lord. Schedule them just before or after the time when God is the exclusive focus.

Have clear Biblical support for every element in worship.
Go through the order of service once more and ask of every element, "Is there a Biblical basis for doing this in worship?" (An element of worship is a worship activity, such as singing, preaching, praying, etc. This differs from a circumstance of worship, such as the time the service begins, its length, the color of the carpet, whether you use air conditioning or microphones, etc. The Bible doesn't speak to these issues, but it does address the activities of worship.)

Don't settle for generalities like, "The Bible tells us to reach people, and I think this aspect of our worship helps us do that." Require stronger scriptural warrant than that. God knows better than we how He wants to be worshiped, and He hasn't left us to guess what He wants us to do. Come before the Lord with the confidence that everything you do in worship has a Biblical command, example, or clear inference which supports it as a worship activity. Discontinue every part of your public worship for which you can find no solid scriptural foundation. If churches practiced just these first two principles, great reformation would occur in their worship.

Read more at Biblical

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Don't Waste a Crisis
Crises, while unwanted, are windows of opportunity for the Cure of Souls.
John Ortberg | posted 1/31/2011

Imagine you're handed a script of your newborn child's entire life. Better yet, you're given an eraser and five minutes to edit out whatever you want. You read that she will have a learning disability in grade school. Reading, which comes easily for some kids, will be laborious for her. In high school, she will make a great circle of friends, then one of them will die of cancer. After high school, she will get into her preferred college, but while there, she'll lose a leg in a car crash. Following that, she will go through a difficult depression. A few years later she'll get a great job, then lose that job in an economic downturn. She'll get married, but then go through the grief of separation.

With this script of your child's life before you and five minutes to edit it, what would you erase? Psychologist Jonathan Haidt poses this question in this hypothetical exercise: Wouldn't you want to take out all the stuff that would cause them pain?

If you could erase every failure, disappointment, and period of suffering, would that be a good idea? Would that cause them to grow into the best version of themselves? Is it possible that we actually need adversity and setbacks—maybe even crisis and trauma—to reach the fullest level of development and growth?

Read more at Leadership JournalLink