Sunday, December 30, 2007

Why Many Atheists Are Scared of Ron Paul

Andrew Sullivan received an e-mail from a reader who was concerned about Ron Paul's skepticism of evolution. While this reader admits that he does admire Paul, as an atheist he finds it "absolutely mind-boggling that so many people in the United States, in this day and age, can still deny that evolution is real."

Here is the video in question:
Shocking, isn't it? I can see why atheists would be scurrying for the hills.

Please. Atheists have nothing to fear from Ron Paul. In fact, he is perhaps the best friend atheists have in politics. He is a Christian who actually believes in the Romans 13 command to submit to governing authority -- in this case, the Constitution of the United States. And that means he would not use government to impose his religious beliefs on the masses. In other words, he wouldn't push the teaching of creationism in public schools because he views a federally controlled, taxpayer-funded education system as unconstitutional in the first place.

But then that's the real problem atheists have with Paul, isn't it? Atheists have relied on a federally controlled, taxpayer-funded education system to force their agenda and beliefs down the throats of American children for decades. Perhaps they are afraid someone will finally neutralize the most effective weapon of proselytization in their arsenal.

Friday, December 28, 2007

This Week in Calvinism - December 28, 2007

  • Contrary to popular belief, we Calvinists believe the Bible every bit as much as Arminians do.

  • Listen to Tom Ascol's sermons online.

  • What are you looking for in a religion? Warm, fuzzy feelings? A constant focus on God's love? Less talk about sin? Do you think Classical Theology is a "pagan aberation (sic) of Judeo-Christianity"? If you answered "Yes" to any of these questions, then Relational Theology might be for you. A blogger who calls himself "The Sola Scriptura Theologian" believes this is "a logical system to shame the extremes" of Calvinism and Arminianism. (But especially Calvinism.) He says, "If all you are going to teach is more confusion, perhaps it is better to just shut up." I couldn't agree more.

  • If you ignore the clear teaching of scripture and Christ's own claim that he is the only way to salvation (John 14:6), and if you are looking for a way to fight back against a Calvinist upbringing, then you may one day find yourself embracing pluralism. After all, following your "gut feeling" makes much more sense than following the written, proven, infallible word of the eternal God who created the entire universe.

  • Steve Camp reminds us that if we depart from scripture, we depart from God and a reverence for him.
  • Friday, December 21, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - December 21, 2007

  • Annette Selden reviews W. Robert Godfrey's book, An Unexpected Journey: Discovering Reformed Christianity.

  • Does Hebrews 6:4-6 teach that a true believer can lose his salvation? No.

  • The 12 Days of Theology.

  • Arminians don't evangelize. Gary Bisaga explains.

  • Pyromaniac Phil Johnson on how you can be sure in a postmodern world that's constantly changing.

  • Speaking of change, the emergent types will probably appreciate this: a Bible study at Hooters. Why not? I'm sure that's what Jesus would do.
  • Torture and Misplaced Trust

    I'm not sure what the morbid fascination is, but the boys at Triablogue are still praising the use of torture. I guess knowing that a suspected terrorist is being waterboarded (or worse) thousands of miles away somehow makes them feel safe. Whatever helps you sleep at night, guys.

    Just remember this: the government you trust to protect you now is the same government that was completely powerless to protect anyone on September 11, 2001. It's also the same government that saw to it that no one on board those planes could protect themselves. Is that the kind of track record that warrants trust?

    Sunday, December 16, 2007

    A Light in the Darkness

    Jerry Seehusen is a man of faith. I was blessed to have known him when I was going through a spiritually dark time years ago. He always has something encouraging to say:
      God gets His message out; in the midst of darkness there is a light that shines.

      Christian, it is not the time to be depressed; it is the time we go to our prayer closet, get on our knees, confess our sin, and thank God for His sovereign grace. We then need to get up, put on our God given armor (Ephesians 6) and step outside for the battle has come to us. Yes, it has come to us. God will accomplish His purposes whether we go with Him or not. He doesn't need us but chooses to use us. Are we ready for the battle?
    Something to remember when the cold, dark winter months start to get you down.

    Friday, December 14, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - December 14, 2007

  • Charles Spurgeon noted rightly that Calvinism is simply a nickname for our belief in the biblical doctrines of grace. Mark Kelly, however, has a problem with people adopting the Calvinist label. He doesn't like the fact that a 16th century Reformer is able to disrupt Southern Baptist unity: "There is something decidedly un-Baptistic -- and, I would argue, un-Christian -- about exalting any mere mortal to such a status." So, remember: it's perfectly fine for you to identify yourself as a Baptist and set yourself apart from your Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian brothers and sisters. Just don't call yourself a Calvinist. That's divisive.

  • After all the bridge-building in the SBC regarding Calvinism, Norman Jameson remains "just as befuddled by it, not a whit more attracted to it, and just as certain it has severe potential to divide."

  • Calvinism in three verses.

  • America's Calvinist roots.

  • Understanding Calvinism can be a rather daunting task, so Mark breaks it down a bit.

  • Looking for something to read? Tim Challies lists his seven favorite books of 2007.

  • Phil Johnson reminds us: "The gospel is the greatest sign of all, and it is the greatest wisdom of all unto them which are called. The elect see it, even if no one else does. It is 'the power of God' -- more potent than any cosmic sign."
  • Saturday, December 08, 2007

    The Death Penalty: WWJD?

    But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

    But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

    At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

    "No one, sir," she said.
    "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

    --John 8:1-11

    I had better things to do than watch, but the GOP/You Tube presidential wannabe gabfest earlier this week apparently included a snarky question regarding the death penalty. Presumably a young bible student, some kid from Tennessee asked former Arkansas head honcho Mike Huckabee about the death penalty. You know the evangelical lingo, right? What Would Jesus Drive? What Would Jesus Buy? Blah, blah, blah. Well, this fellow tossed a hand grenade into the mix and asked, "What Would Jesus Do about the death penalty"?

    Here is the transcript of the question and Huckabee’s non-answer:

    Tyler Overman: Hi. This is Tyler Overman from Memphis, Tennessee. And I have a quick question for those of you who would call yourselves Christian conservatives. The death penalty, what would Jesus do?

    Cooper: Governor Huckabee?

    Huckabee: You know, one of the toughest challenges that I ever faced as a governor was carrying out the death penalty. I did it more than any other governor ever had to do it in my state. As I look on this stage, I'm pretty sure that I'm the only person on this stage that's ever had to actually do it.

    Let me tell you, it was the toughest decision I ever made as a human-being. I read every page of every document of every case that ever came before me, because it was the one decision that came to my desk that, once I made it, was irrevocable.

    Every other decision, somebody else could go back and overturn, could fix if it was a mistake. That was one that was irrevocable.

    I believe there is a place for a death penalty. Some crimes are so heinous, so horrible that the only response that we, as a civilized nation, have for a most uncivil action is not only to try to deter that person from ever committing that crime again, but also as a warning to others that some crimes truly are beyond any other capacity for us to fix.


    Now, having said that, there are those who say, "How can you be pro-life and believe in the death penalty?"

    Because there's a real difference between the process of adjudication, where a person is deemed guilty after a thorough judicial process and is put to death by all of us, as citizens, under a law, as opposed to an individual making a decision to terminate a life that has never been deemed guilty because the life never was given a chance to even exist.

    Cooper: Governor?

    Huckabee: That's the fundamental difference.


    Cooper: I do have to though press the question, which -- the question was, from the viewer was? What would Jesus do? Would Jesus support the death penalty?

    Huckabee: Jesus was too smart to ever run for public office, Anderson. That's what Jesus would do.

    The passage I quoted at the top is frequently cited by death penalty opponents and antinomians to posit that Jesus "tempered" the law with "love" or demonstrated the importance of "love" rather than the harshness of the law.

    But Jesus came not abrogate the law, rather He came to fulfill it; to free His people from the yoke of the law as a death sentence, and to liberate them to the law as a source of holiness, righteousness and sanctification. "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:17-20).

    Had the incident with the woman taken in adultery been a repudiation of the law, the Pharisees would have been able to charge and condemn Jesus with lawlessness. The purpose of the incident was to embarrass Jesus, but the Pharisees left confounded because Jesus confirmed rather than denied the law.

    The Pharisees took the woman in the act of adultery and brought her before Jesus. They obviously had police powers or the support of the regime and could compel not only her compliance but also require Jesus to preside over the hearing.

    Our Lord was seemingly in a bind. Adultery was common and not typically punished as prescribed by the law. What would He do? To ask for a full enforcement of the law, the death penalty, would invite hostility. But denying the death penalty would lay Jesus open to the charge of hypocrisy and lawlessness. The trap had been set: "'In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him" (v. 5-6)

    What was the response? "But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger" (v. 6). What was Jesus doing? He was reviving the trial by bitter water from Numbers 5. The ordeal was intended to provide either vindication of innocence or conviction of guilt. Read the passage:

    12 "Speak to the Israelites and say to them: 'If a man's wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 by sleeping with another man, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure- 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder offering to draw attention to guilt.

    16 " 'The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the LORD. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the LORD, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, "If no other man has slept with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have defiled yourself by sleeping with a man other than your husband"- 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse of the oath-"may the LORD cause your people to curse and denounce you when he causes your thigh to waste away and your abdomen to swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells and your thigh wastes away."
    " 'Then the woman is to say, "Amen. So be it."

    23 " 'The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall have the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water will enter her and cause bitter suffering. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the LORD and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has defiled herself and been unfaithful to her husband, then when she is made to drink the water that brings a curse, it will go into her and cause bitter suffering; her abdomen will swell and her thigh waste away, and she will become accursed among her people. 28 If, however, the woman has not defiled herself and is free from impurity, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

    The incident in question occurs in the temple (John 8:2). Thus the temple dust met the requirements of the law and Jesus, by his actions, places every accuser on trial. The scribes and Pharisess had brought the charge against the woman and Jesus had turned the tables by placing them in the husband’s category by invoking Numbers 5and writing in the dust.

    When Jesus says, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (v. 7), he is not referring to sin generically, but to the sin of adultery specifically. Obviously all men are sinners, and such a general statement would make law courts impossible. Rather, Jesus is saying that men who are guilty of a crime are not free to condemn the crime. In effect, Jesus is confirming the death penalty by demanding that honest witnesses step forward to condemn the woman.

    Rather than condemning the death penalty, Jesus is reproving Phariseeism and exposing their sin. Not only had they denied a biblical pattern and doctrine of salvation, they had also become perverters of the law. Though professing to be champions of the law they had become its enemies by subverting it with the traditions of men. Christ, thus, was not denying the law or weakening its strictures, but restoring it.

    Friday, December 07, 2007

    This Week in Calvinism - December 7, 2007

  • A couple of Calvinists debate the regulative principle of worship. Does the Bible teach that Psalms are the only worship songs that should be allowed in the church? No, but some people still hold to that position. They like to use Deuteronomy 12:32 as a proof text, which only leads me to wonder what the people of God sang before the Psalms were written.

  • If we believe in election, why should we preach the gospel? Spurgeon's answer: "God has called me to preach His word and if I knew that all the elect had a yellow stripe painted down their backs, then I would give up preaching the gospel and go lift up shirt tails!"

  • The Pope reads Augustine...and converts to Christianity!

  • Sam is a "Calvinistic, charismatic, complementarian, Christian hedonist." What's your theology?

  • Dan Phillips on scariest man ever.
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