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I am guilty of being a little intellectually lazy. I tend to have my best ruminations after reading either a book, or a blog, listening to a sermon by my pastor, or maybe after listening to a podcast. It could be an argument I haven’t heard before, or a term I’m not familiar with, or a thought I vehemently disagree with. I’m always more stimulated by other minds than I am my own. Perhaps it’s because I’m always in my own mind, and I know how boring or thin it can be.

Whatever the cause, I take seriously the Great commandment:

Mark 12:28-30 ESV

28 And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?”
29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Loving The Lord with all our minds has been largely ignored by present and recent generations. It took the horrible consequences of belief in the aberrant Word of Faith Movement to spur my own entry into God-loving with my mind. We live in an anti-intellectual culture. You would think today’s humanity would be skeptically burnt out on false worldviews, especially the cynical Millenials; but, alas, skepticism seems to be a non-sequetor, except for the truth claims of Christianity. Then it’s Katie-bar-the-door.

I am by nature skeptical as of lately; although I haven’t always been. My foray into the “name-it-and-claim-it” club forced me to critically-examine my belief system.

Through God’s Grace, I turned to the Reformers for help. Their conflict with the Roman Catholic Magisterium and rediscovery of the 5 Solas ["Sola Scriptura” (Scripture Alone); “Sola Gratia” (Grace Alone); “Sola Fide” (Faith Alone); “Solus Christus” (Christ Alone); and “Soli Deo Gloria” (To God Alone Be Glory)] gave me a great foundation to be able to claw my way out of a false belief system. I am now chronically allergic to what I call “terminal goofiness” when it comes to theology.

What about you? Have you examined your own beliefs with a critical eye?

Don’t think for a minute that you can escape having your worldview challenged. It’s gonna happen. You can’t rigorously defend a minority Weltanschauung that you’ve garnered by familial osmosis, or pieced together in the mad laboratory of public opinion that you’ve grave-robbed from the cemetery of bad ideas.

God’s Word is the only foundation that will keep you from sinking sand. Biblical, historic Christianity is the only worldview that can adequately answer both the way things are in reality, and how their supposed to be.

simul justus et peccator,

Eric Adams

Eric Adams:

The Origins of The Easter Bunny

Originally posted on THE WALL: a blog of Baptist Voice Ministries:

It is thought that the word Easter  comes from a pagan figure called Eastre (or Eostre) who was celebrated as the goddess of spring by the Saxons of Northern Europe. A festival called Eastre was held during the spring equinox by these people to honor her. Of interest is the word’s relation to east ( ost in German). The name for a celebration of the sunrise and a change of season was eventually applied to the Christian celebration of the resurrection of Christ and the new era He heralded.

The goddess Eastre’s earthly symbol was the rabbit, which was also known as a symbol of fertility. Since rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, it’s understandable that the rabbit is the symbol of fertility.

The legend of the Easter Bunny bringing eggs appears to have been brought to the United States by settlers from southwestern…

View original 240 more words

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When I first moved to the Toolroom at the manufacturing plant I worked in as an apprentice Toolmaker, I was having difficulty with trigonometry. In my vocation, trig was used on a daily basis to obtain accurate angles, or to figure bolt patterns, etc.

I was horrible at math in school, especially geometry and trig. Learning the trig functions was important. Doing your job well is a great motivator for learning things you have difficulty with.

I’m not particularly brilliant, but I am stubborn. I kept banging my head around sine, cosine, and tangent.
One day, it’s like it all just fell together. I had wrestled with the fundamentals so long, I just got a good grasp of it. It seemed to happen overnight, but I really worked hard at it, since it was a necessary skill for my work. I became the trig expert of the shop, which was humorous to me, considering how bad I was at trig in high school, and college.

There are several equations that are the foundation for trigonometry.

Three important ones are:

O/H = Sine (the O/H meaning the Opposite of the Hypotenuse);

A/H = Cosine ( the adjacent of the hypotenuse); and

O/A = Tangent (the opposite of the adjacent)

Theses equations all deal with the relationships between the angles and lines of a right triangle.

The way I learned to remember these relationships was to employ a mnemonic device:

Oscar Has
A Heap
Of Apples

O/H
A/H
O/A

It really helps to understand the equations.

Philosophy uses equations called syllogisms. These syllogisms are representations of logic and argumentation. By argument, I don’t mean a knock-down-drag-out with your bestie. In philosophy, “the goal of an argument is to offer good reasons in support of your conclusion, reasons that all parties to your dispute can accept.” (1)

The syllogism of the moral argument for the existence of God goes something like this:

Premise 1: If God does not exist, then objective moral values and duties do not exist.

Premise 2: Objective moral values and duties do exist.

Conclusion: Therefore, God exists. -

If the atheist denies Premise 1, he or she must offer some alternative source for objective moral values.

By “objective moral standards”, we are making the case that there are at least some ethical values (things that ought to be done, or ought not to be done) that exist in all cultures at all times.

This first premise has to do with moral ontology, or the ultimate source of ethical values. Where is the grounding for “objective moral standards?

This is a difficulty for atheists to deny or refute, which is why many move to deny Premise 2. Of course, this creates its own set of dilemmas.

For instance, how do we explain that even isolated peoples have certain moral absolutes in common with the rest of humanity?

Some examples of a universal moral value might be:

1) it is always wrong to torture babies;

2) it is always wrong to kill someone for the simple pleasure of killing.

“Most people want to uphold premise 2 of the moral argument. After all, if there are no objective ethics, then who is to say that Hitler was objectively morally wrong? Humans have an intuitive sense of right and wrong. The moral argument requires only that at least some actions are objectively right or wrong (e.g. torturing children for pleasure is objectively morally wrong). Premise 1 relates to the perfect standard against which everything else is measured. God, being the only morally perfect being, is the standard against which all other things are judged. Moreover, in the absence of theism, nobody has been able to conceive of a defensible grounding for moral values.” (2)

Human beings have an intuitive sense of what is right and wrong. The Bible identifies this sensing as conscience.

Romans 2:14-16 ESV

14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them
16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

The belief in objective moral absolutes is called “moral realism” by philosophers.

It would seem to me, that if we feel guilt over transgressing a moral “law”, that it would have to be more than some abstract idea of morality. It would need to be grounded in a person. We don’t feel guilt when we transgress the law if gravity…we will feel pain, and maybe even die…but not guilt. We feel guilty when we disobey our parents. We don’t feel guilt when we fall off a ladder, unless we fall on our mom…then we feel guilt, of course.

“In other words, objective moral values must be ontologically grounded in a transcendent personality before whom it is appropriate to feel moral guilt (it’s worth noting that the possibility of objective forgiveness for moral guilt is equally dependent upon the moral law having a personal ground).”(3)

Just like learning trig functions helped me in my vocation as a Toolmaker, learning the various arguments for the existence of God will help us all in our vocations as Evangelists and Apologists. Don’t think that by ignoring the arguments for the existence of God that you are somehow not responsible for “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…”(1PE 3:15b ESV) it takes real mental work and reasoning to prepare yourself for the inevitable questions about your faith.

Much of the above discussion was inspired by:

http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/moral-argument.htm#sthash.t6EOZkjt.dpuf

1. Pryor, Jim. “What Is an Argument?.” Philosophical Terms and Methods. N.p., 6 Jan. 2006. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. .

2. “Moral Argument.” AllAboutPhilosophy.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Apr. 2014. .

3. Williams, Peter S. . “Can Moral Objectivism Do Without God?.” bethinking.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2014. .

simul justus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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I’ve been reading D.A. Carson’s book The Intolerance of Tolerance. It’s a very insightful book with a multitude if poignant examples of the agenda at work when “tolerance” is used as a club to beat dissent to death.

It wasn’t too many years ago that the secularists (who were in the minority), accused the religious communities of being intolerant. My how the fortunes have turned!

We’ve allowed the word tolerance to be redefined and turned in its ear. Instead of the historic definition of tolerate:

“Allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one does not necessarily like or agree with) without interference:”

Or, to

“Accept or endure (someone or something unpleasant or disliked) with forbearance:”

from the

“early 16th century (in the sense ‘endure (pain)’): from Latin tolerat- ‘endured’, from the verb tolerare.” (1)

Carson says that this definition is

“becoming obsolete, but it still surfaces today when we say that a patient has a remarkable ability to tolerate pain.” (2)

He gives another another older definition:

“Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary is similar: “1. to allow; permit; not interfere with.” (2)

Notice what happens when the subtleties of changing definitions creep in:

“This shift from “accepting the existence of different views” to “acceptance of different views,” from recognizing other people’s right to have different beliefs or practices to accepting the differing views of other people, is subtle in form, but massive in substance. To accept that a different or opposing position exists and deserves the right to exist is one thing; to accept the position itself means that one is no longer opposing it…We move from allowing the free expression of contrary opinions to the acceptance of all opinions; we leap from permitting the articulation of beliefs and claims with which we do not agree to asserting that all beliefs and claims are equally valid. Thus we slide from the old tolerance to the new.” (2)

Now, it seems, Christians are called intolerant for not accepting other views as equally valid. Do you see the irony of this redefinition of tolerance? This redefinition actually results in intolerance of any but the accepted belief that all religious or non-religious views are equally valid. It’s a self-refuting argument.

Carson quotes Terry Eagleton in The Illusions of Postmodernism:

“For all its vaunted openness to the Other, postmodernism can be quite as exclusive and censorious as the orthodoxies it opposes. One may, by and large, speak of human culture but not human nature, gender but not class, the body but not biology, jouissance but not justice, post-colonialism but not the petty bourgeoisie. It is thoroughly orthodox heterodoxy, which like any imaginary form of identity needs its bogeyman and straw targets to stay in business.” (3)

He goes on to declare that

“In the name of inclusion (because, after all, we are tolerant), we may end up with exclusion (proving we are intolerant).” (4)

That’s the absurdity of where we are as a culture.

I leave you with one other quote from the Christian Mom Thoughts blog I found interesting:

“Tolerance is the most misused word today. By definition, tolerance simply means to bear with ideas other than your own. Most people who throw the word around, however, treat it as though it means to agree with or accept those other ideas. To agree with all ideas is the ultimate nod to relative truth. Christians, however, should treat all people with respect, but stand firm that we believe only Christianity is true. Believing in absolute truth is not intolerant.”

- Natasha Crain

via http://christianmomthoughts.com/what-is-the-difference-between-absolute-and-relative-truth/

1. “Definition of tolerate in English:.” tolerate: definition of tolerate in Oxford dictionary (American English) (US). Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.

2. Carson, D. A.. “Introduction: The Changing Face of Tolerance.” The Intolerance of Tolerance. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2012. Loc. 44-56. Kindle file.

3. Carson, D. A.. “Introduction: The Changing Face of Tolerance.” The Intolerance of Tolerance. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2012. Loc. 923 of 2278. Kindle file.

4. Carson, D. A.. “Introduction: The Changing Face of Tolerance.” The Intolerance of Tolerance. Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub., 2012. Loc. 926 of 2278. Kindle file.

simul justus et peccator,

Eric Adams

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Image: horiavarlan under CC BY 2.0

It requires patience to deal with the objections to Christian theism in today’s milieu of worldviews. Sometimes you get that queasiness in the stomach when confronted by sceptics. Just remember that not every question or objection need be answered.

I remember once having a conversation with someone about Christianity when they commented about the fact that there were many beliefs systems similar to Christianity that were much older. In fact, this person implied that the beliefs of Wiccans were much older than Christianity, and even older than Jewish beliefs.

I had just viewed the Zeitgeist movie, and was familiar with the claims. I asked the person to give me specific examples. They went down the Zeitgeist list. When they finished, I took each example and refuted the claims. The person was surprised that I was familiar with the objections, and then turned to emotional ad hominems and red herrings. They were not prepared for a reasoned defense of Christianity. It’s important to remember that dialogue is a two-way street. Your objector is just as much on the hook as you are. Don’t be afraid to hold their feet to the fire.

Needless-to-say, I knew my words were falling on deaf ears, and politely ended the conversation.

“It’s natural that when Christians are confronted by a friend who questions them about an article like McDougall’s, they feel a bit scared. I’ve received many inquiries by people asking for my help on the charges of the Zeitgeist movie or the supposedly rejected gospels. I get that it can feel overwhelming. But please remember, a lot of those objections are based on others doing their own brain-unplugging. They are uncritically taking any objection to Christianity that they can Google-search and presenting it before you to justify their skepticism.

If the skeptics you converse with are going to engage in a “you must give me reasons” exchange, then they should be prepared to give reasons why they think their “evidence” should be accepted as a real objection. It isn’t enough for them to throw out the very first “critical response” they can find. As I’ve said before, any fool with a login and an opinion can post on the Internet. That doesn’t mean the objections they offer are worthwhile.”
-Lenny Esposito

via http://feedly.com/k/1g2MLYe

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http://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Los_Angeles_Crystal_Cathedral.jpghttp://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Ad_Meskens
The Crystal Cathedral, a Protestant Christian megachurch in the city of Garden Grove, in Orange County, California.

Scripture Alone, or Culture Alone, that is the question.

I’ve watched the Church Growth Movement for over 30 years, and I’m convinced you can’t do both. Those who embrace Culture Alone have an allergy to solid, Biblically-centered doctrine, and it’s usually vice versa.

“Again, and again, the issue that has emerged as a result, is whether Evangelicals will build their churches Sola Scriptura or Sola Cultura, to use the formula Os Guiness proffered in Prophetic Untimeliness.”

-David F. Wells, The Courage To Be Protestant, Chapter 1, Audiobook

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Transferred from de.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Ireas using CommonsHelper.

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I’ve been pondering over the Creation account in Genesis for years now.

I mean, let’s face it; in today’s scientific and naturalistic culture, it’s a confusing topic.

All Christians believe in Creation…I mean, once you accept Genesis 1:1, every other miracle after that is small potatoes.

It’s the method God uses in Creation that’s in dispute.

There are basically 3 or 4 ideas about the method of Creation that bear ruminating on:

1. Young Earth Creation- self-explanatory. 6 literal 24 hour days. For most of my life, this was my belief. This would be the belief of Ken Hamm and Answers in Genesis.

2. Old Earth-Gap Theory/-Reconstruction Theory- thanks to my owning a Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, this became my next belief during my Word-of-Faith captivity period. The basic thought is that at some point God created the heavens and the earth. It could have been millions of years ago. There was a pre-Adamite race that fell with Lucifer, creating demons, and requiring God’s judgment of a universal flood. Then God renovated the earth a second time, restoring it in 6 literal 24 hour days. It seeks to harmonize young and old earth Creationism, but it’s Scriptural evidence is scant, and its speculation on pre-Adamites is dubious. Still, it does introduce the idea that there could have been vast ages between Ge 1:1 & GE 1:2. Many Pentecostals/Charismatics hold to this teaching, mainly due to Dake’s influence.

3. Old earth-Day/Age Creationism- This is the theory that the days of GE 1 & 2 are metaphorical, representing immense periods of time. Although this is a separate theory from Theistic Evolution, it tries to match the Book of Nature and the Book of Special Revelation (i.e. the Bible). Many current Intelligent Design scientists, and many thoroughly orthodox Evangelicals hold to this teaching. The group Reasons To Believe would be one of the more prominent groups promoting the Day/Age Theory.

4. Theistic Evolution- This is the belief that God initiated Creation, but instituted Macroevolution as the means to achieve the the arrival of humanity. It is basically a revamped Deistic and anti-supernatural explanation, catering to Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism. Groups such as Biologos promote this theory. This is the one of the four I have no tolerance for. It’s too reminiscent of Old-line Liberslism’s compromise with the Enlightenment. Most of these advocates end up denying the Imago Dei, the Incarnation of Christ, and the physical Resurrection of Christ, unless they violate their own worldview. IMHO, this lies outside of the historic Evangelical Faith.

All of this is a simplistic summary of each of these views. There are obvious nuances and explanations I can’t get into here, unless I’m ready to write a post that would rival War and Peace in length.

I believe we have to give one another room to disagree over the first three views. Many soundly orthodox Evangelicals hold to one of these three views. Obviously, all three can’t be true. The Law of Non contradiction precludes this. Yet, I don’t believe we’ll ever be able to answer all of the issues with any of the three views this side of Heaven.

Each view has to deal with some weighty subjects:

1. Uniformity of scientific laws since the beginning of time;
2. The introduction of death in the animal kingdom;
3. The fossil record;
4. The old appearance of the universe; and,
5. The apparent singular source of all life on earth, in the form of DNA.

One can’t discuss this theological difficulty with non- Christians without being reminded of the controversy involving Galileo in the 17th century.

If you want to make sense of the whole Roman Catholic Church and Galileo, you have to start with the Ptolemaic-Aristotlean worldview (the dominating earth-centric view of the solar system), juxtaposed against the Copernican-Galilean worldview (the upstart sun-centric solar system).

The Roman Catholic Church was staunchly pro-Ptolemy in its doctrine. It’s not really hard to understand. They were simply relying on the established scientific view of the day. The problem was in joining Christian doctrine with scientific theories and codifying them. There’s a lesson here for Christians to remember.

“Ironically, the traditional beliefs that Galileo opposed ultimately belonged to Aristotle, not to biblical exegesis. Pagan philosophy had become interwoven with traditional Catholic teachings during the time of Augustine. Therefore, the Church’s dogmatic retention of tradition was the major seat of controversy, not the Bible. It may also be noted that Pope Urban VIII was himself sympathetic to Galileo but was not willing to stand against the tide of controversy. In reality, the majority of persecution seemed to come from intellectual scientists whose monopoly of educational authority had been threatened. During Galileo’s time, education was primarily dominated by Jesuit and Dominican priests.

” [3]

Much of the controversy began when Roman Catholic Tradition had been criticized by the Reformers of the 16th century. The Roman Catholic hierarchy responded with the Council of Trent, which censored

“any books that challenged traditional interpretations of the scripture.”

[3]

Galileo quoted Augustine (who was partly responsible for an overly allegorical view of Scripture himself):

“If anyone shall set the authority of Holy Writ against clear and manifest reason, he who does this knows not what he has undertaken; for he opposes to the truth not the meaning of the Bible, which is beyond his comprehension, but rather his own interpretation; not what is in the Bible, but what he has found in himself and imagines to be there.”

[1]

It’s always dangerous to hold to tightly to scientific theories as applied to theology.

“Beware of holding steadfastly to a particular interpretation of Scripture and/or a scientific model, which may be in error. For instance, there are various scientific challenges to the Young-Earth Creationist position. We should hold many of our scientific views and their corresponding Biblical interpretations loosely. For we will never have all the right answers this side of heaven.”

[2]

This is as applicable to today’s Science/Faith controversy as it was in the 17th century.

The difference is that today, the roles are reversed. In the 17th century, it was ensconced Ptolemaic/Aristotelean philosophy embedded in Roman Catholic tradition that was the majority view, while Copernicus and Galileo challenged the stays quo.

In the 21st century, Science reigns as king, and it is Creationism and Intelligent Design that is challenging the weakening view of Darwinism and NeoDarwinism.

Remember Galileo’s warning:

“Take note, theologians, that in your desire to make matters of faith out of propositions relating to the fixity of sun and earth you run the risk of eventually having to condemn as heretics those who would declare the earth to stand still and the sun to change position–eventually, I say, at such a time as it might be physically or logically proved that the earth moves and the sun stands still.”

[4]

All of this adds credence to my statement that we need to be careful of dogmatizing a particular scientific interpretation of Genesis. We could wake up in Heaven to a V8 head slap from Jesus, calling us lunkheads for not seeing the complete answer to our Creation queries.

I remain a tentative young-earther. However, I am certainly open to the reality I could be completely wrong. Let’s give one another some slack here for disagreement…except for Theistic Evolution. I’m not going to compromise Scripture for Darwinism.

I end with one more quote:

“The lesson to be learned from Galileo, it appears, is not that the Church held too tightly to biblical truths; but rather that it did not hold tightly enough. It allowed Greek philosophy to influence its theology and held to tradition rather than to the teachings of the Bible. We must hold strongly to Biblical doctrine which has been achieved through sure methods of exegesis. We must never be satisfied with dogmas built upon philosophic traditions.”

[3]

1. Galilei, Galileo, and Stillman Drake. Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo: Including The Starry Messenger (1610), Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (1615), and Excerpts from Letters on Sunspots (1613), The Assayer (1623). New York: Anchor, 1990. pg. 186, Print.

2. Henderson, Thomas H. “What Were Galileo’s Scientific and Biblical Conflicts with the Church?” Christiananswers.net. Christian Answers Network, 1996. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. .

3. Bebber, Mark V. “What Is the Lesson That Christians Should Learn from Galileo?” Christiananswers.net. Christian Answers Network, 1995. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. .

4. Galileo, 1632, in Janelle Rohr, editor, Science & Religion–Opposing Viewpoints (Greenhaven Press, 1988), p. 21.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
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