Satan’s Pride

A recent post (not to mention newspaper headlines, newscasts, etc) What Is Wrong With People?, over at Texas Liberal prompted me to leave a comment there (link contains language).

Not only that but it recalled the words of South African pastor Andrew Murray (1828-1917) in his classic book, Humility:

[Eve’s] life and the life of the [human] race that sprang from her became corrupted to its very root with that most terrible of all sins and curses–Satan’s pride.

All the wretchedness of which this world has been the scene, all its wars and bloodshed among the nations, all its selfishness and suffering, all its vain ambitions and jealousies, all its broken hearts and embittered lives, with all its daily unhappiness, have their origin in what this cursed pride–our own or that of others–has brought upon us.

It is pride that made redemption necessary; it is from our pride that we need, above everything else, to be redeemed. And our insight into the need of redemption will largely depend upon our knowledge of the terrible nature of the power of pride that has entered our being.

Ironically enough, many who deny humanity’s need for redemption (much less the identity of the Only One through whom redemption is offered) and are perhaps even angered by the suggestion, are often the folks most upset with the ruined state this world has been in since the Fall.

Indeed, us human beings can be devilishly (and outside of God’s Grace) impossibly hard to please…

Lastrow, Population: 666

This blog now has the distinction of having the same number of inhabitants as the town of Monson, Maine (as of the 2000 census). That the blog is populated by posts and Monson by people is but an irrelevancy.

This often misunderstood digit makes its only appearance in Scripture here,

Here is wisdom Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. – Revelation 13:18

I say misunderstood because many (myself formerly included) mistake it to be the number of Satan. The Apocalypse given to John begs to differ, it is actually the number of Satan’s man, the antichrist. Six is man’s number, it falls one short of the number of completeness, 7. Some say the triple 6 is a mockery of the Trinity, because three times it falls short of completeness, as each Person in the Trinity is totally complete.

This reflects the fallen state we are all born into (Augustine of Hippo dubbed it “original sin”) because of Adam’s rebellion in the Garden. As the oft-quoted statement reads,

We are not sinners because we sin, we sin because we are sinners

Read more of this post

God Loves Sinners

Paul wrote to the church in Rome,

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Humbling words to be sure, what is more, the Truth therein is one more glorious testimony of the love of God who sent His Son to die for creatures whose best efforts are, according to Isaiah, like a “filthy garment” (the Hebrew being a bit more specific).

I recently downloaded some of the lectures from the 2008 T4G conference and have been listening to them on the way to work.

Ligon Duncan’s treatise, Sound Doctrine, is not only riveting but much needed salve in an age where it seems that doctrine is deemed a hobby (at best) or irrelevant (at worst).

At around minute 45, Duncan hit a raw nerve. He’s explaining how doctrine is for our assurance. He exposits John 15 and settles on this part of Jesus’ words to His Apostles,

You did not choose Me but I chose you

He expounds on why Jesus thought it necessary to teach the 11 (Judas had left already) about election. Duncan’s conclusion is that because Jesus knew that every last one of them would desert Him later that night. Then Dr. Duncan ties it together with these words,

And if they’re going to have one shred of assurance left in them it is not going to be based on the fact that they have chosen Him because everything about their actions will be screaming to their hearts and consciences that they have no part of Him unless they hear the Master say, “Dear child, dear friend, I knew everything in you and I chose you anyway.”

“I knew everything in you and I chose you anyway”, those words shattered whatever self-righteousness I carried with me this morning. Shattered whatever thoughts I might have had that somehow I had been elected based on something inherently good within. Shattered the illusion that maybe, just maybe, there is some shred of good in me apart from Christ.

My eyes watered in a mix of contrition and gratitude. The former for my arrogance and the latter for the power and extent of God’s love, that even one such as I can be reconciled to Him.

Ravi Zacharias succinctly contrasts Christianity and Islam

I’m thoroughly enjoying Ravi’s 2000 book, Jesus Among Other Gods. The man has a way with words without being verbose and thus inhibiting the presentation of the Gospel.

While a post a day quoting a great insight from this book is doable, I’ll try to contain myself.

Before I cite the words relevant to the title of this post, I sense the urgency to quote Ravi’s words from a few pages earlier,

Jesus’ kingdom was of such nature that it was not procured by military might or power. Its rule is neither territorial nor political. If history has proven anything, it is that the spread of the gospel by the sword or by coercion has done nothing but misrepresent the message and bring disrepute to the gospel.

Now to the main quotation,

The teaching of Jesus is clear. No one ought to be compelled to become a Christian. This sets the Christian faith drastically apart from Islam. In no country where the Christian faith is the faith of the majority is it illegal to propagate another faith. There is no country in the world that I know of where the renunciation of one’s Christian faith puts one in danger of being hunted down by the powers of the state.

Yet, there are numerous Islamic countries where it is against the law to publicly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, and where a Muslim who renounces his or her belief in Islam to believe in anything else risks death. Freedom to critique the text of the Koran and the person of Mohammed are prohibited by the laws of blasphemy, and the result is torturous punishment.

One must respect the concern of a culture to protect what it deems sacred, but to compel a belief in Jesus Christ is foreign to the gospel, and that is a vital difference. The contrast is all too clear.

The Chris Comer Mess

I’m a creationist. I believe that God created the heavens and the earth, as to the time frame in which he did it, as a friend of mine likes to say, “it depends on what day of the week you ask me.”

To be sure I tend to lean towards the literal interpretation of Genesis since that is what Scripture seems to indicate, but I don’t consider a literal view a litmus test for orthodoxy.

I thank Paleontologist Kurt Wise for summing things up,

Although there are scientific reasons for accepting a young earth, I am a young-age creationist because that is my understanding of the Scripture. As I shared with my professors years ago when I was in college, if all the evidence in the universe turns against creationism, I would be the first to admit it, but I would still be a creationist because that is what the Word of God seems to indicate. Here I must stand.

I’m not a big fan of the Intelligent Design movement mainly due to their ambiguity as to who this Designer is. God has revealed Himself through Scripture, one can be repulsed by that but it doesn’t change the fact.

I do not believe that this point of view should be taught at public schools. For reasons which Romans 1 talks about the scientific establishment has stood its ground on the modern synthesis.

It would be an injustice for Christian students wishing to go into the scientific field not to be taught evolutionary theory for they will have to know what its claims are to be able to get any sort of scientific degree. They don’t have to agree with it but I do believe they should know what it’s about.

That being said, Chris Comer, the Texas Director of Science, was forced to step down. The reason? According to the story,“Hey Science, Don’t Mess with Texas” (I like the misleading title),

We begin our story on October 26 when Comer forwarded an e-mail announcing a presentation titled, “Inside Creationism’s Trojan Horse,” by Barbara Forrest. Forrest co-authored a book arguing that creationist politics are advancing the movement to get intelligent design theory taught in public schools, and are doing so through public relations rather than through scientific research. Shortly after forwarding the e-mail, Comer was put on administrative leave.

“Ms. Comer’s e-mail implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that TEA endorses the speaker’s position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral,” according to the author of a TEA memo calling for Comer’s firing.

How can the Texas Education Agency justify her firing her for endorsing a view which is taught at every Texas public school?

How can you blame Comer for holding a view which public school biology teachers throughout Texas are forced to teach?

Is TEA going to fire every biology teacher who teaches evolutionary theory? There’d be no bio teachers left!

Now Barbara Forrest (the fact that she is a philosopher speaks volumes) has replied to this unfortunate incident by writing a statement,

Barbara Forrest on Chris Comer’s forced resignation”

I don’t blame Forrest for her dismay at what happened, if I shared her viewpoint I’d be similarly outraged, heck I don’t but I’m still confused as to why Comer was let go.

Something which Forrest said in her statement grabbed my attention however for its naked irony,

Has the process of administering the public education system in Texas become so politicized that even the truth is a threat to people’s jobs? One can only conclude that it has.

This cuts both ways for scientists who are creationists and find themselves in the situation which Forrest laments. Their commitment to the inerrancy of the Bible whose author is Truth Himself is a threat to their jobs. I wouldn’t even go as far as creationists I would say anyone who questions evolutionary dogma, as Ben Stein will allegedly make clear in his upcoming movie, “Expelled”.

I don’t expect those who hold Forrest’s worldview to agree, how can they when their minds are still in the dark?

Self-Righteousness: A Pillar of Unbelief

Often the charge is levied at religious people (in America it’s Christians since it is, on the surface, the prevalent faith) that they are self-righteous prigs who like nothing better than to impose their morality on everyone else and sapping the “fun” of out of everything. Sometimes the accusation is justified albeit for the wrong reasons.

It’s somewhat comical to watch religious people lob this label on one another. Among Christians much of this brotherly bickering could be curtailed with a cursory look at Romans 14, but I digress.

Currently reading Gene Edward Veith’s, “Loving God with All Your Mind” and are finding it to be a stimulating read.

In one of the chapters he talks about self-righteousness and the way he explains it shed some light on the fact that this disease is not limited to religious folk.

Veith writes,

The most dangerous illusion of them all is self-righteousness. This is the true barrier to Jesus Christ. All rejection of God’s grace takes this form. Those who refuse the free forgiveness of God through Christ do so because they do not see themselves as needing that forgiveness. They do no admit that they are sinners. They deny that they are desperately lost.

God’s Law in its purity works not only to shape society and to show us how we are to live, but also reveals our sinfulness and awakens in us our need of a Savior (Romans 7, Galatians 3).

And yet we try to convince ourselves, even in the midst of our sins, that we are basically good, in fact better than most people. We justify ourselves, and in our complacency and self-sufficient pride we shut out the grace of God.

Ignorance is Bliss to Philip Pullman

Caught this quote from Brent Bozell’s most recent column, “The Christmas-Crushing Movie”,

But buyer beware: Narnia it’s not. It’s the anti-Narnia. Instead of a Christian allegory, it’s an anti-Christian allegory. The author of “The Golden Compass,” Philip Pullman, is an atheist who despises C. S. Lewis and his much-beloved Narnia series. “I thought they were loathsome,” he said of those books, “full of bullying and sneering, propaganda, basically, on behalf of a religion whose main creed seemed to be to despise and hate people unlike yourself.”

As someone who immensely enjoys reading Lewis’ works (to my detriment I’ve had little exposure to the Narnia series), I might be just get a bit biased when my literary hero gets lambasted like that.

What is odd about Pullman’s words is his erroneous description of Christianity. I want to believe that his false impression is a result of ignorance (not having examined the claims of Christ) instead of a willful misrepresentation or interpretation of Christ’s teachings.

Time Subject to Change

time-subject-to-change.jpg

My then girlfriend (and current wife) and I bought tickets to the above game. We were hoping to watch Barry Bonds break Mark McGwire’s single-season home run record.

What we or anyone else could not have anticipated were the horrific events which transpired on the scheduled date of the game and thus emphasized the ticket’s disclaimer “Time Subject to Change”.

What happened that day was yet another reminder of Jesus’ words,

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. — Matthew 6:33-34

Everlast Lyric and those Judgmental Christians

And then she heads for the clinic and she gets some static walkin’ through the doors
They call her a killer, and they call her a sinner, and they call her a whore.
–Everlast from “What it’s Like”

This song by former House of Pain member Everlast was huge back in my college days. No doubt about it the tune is catchy and well vastly different from anything that came from Everlast during his House of Pain days (wincingly I recall dancing to “Jump Around”).

When I first heard the song I was not a Christian and naturally assumed that Everlast was referring to them in the lyric above (the girl in the song is going to get an abortion). After all I was certain that all Christians were about, was looking down their collective noses at all the sinners right?

How could I not think that when the villain in one of my favorite movies, “The Shawshank Redemption”, was a hypocritical prison warden who had the Bible in one hand while laundering money with the other. Then there was the religious fanatic of another favorite of mine, “Se7en”.

It’s easy to set up caricatures of people you are naturally inclined to dislike, and who naturally likes those who are proclaiming that the only way to realize our purpose is to die to self and to live for God?

Unfortunately, many Christians (or at least those professing to be so) give folks plenty of ammunition to formulate and nourish this stereotype. Admittedly, in my worst moments I will do so as well, only to go rushing back to seek God’s forgiveness for besmirching the Name of His Son.

Speaking of whom, there is something Jesus said which is a favorite of people who dogmatically hold that Christians are nothing but hypocrites,

“He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” — John 8:7

Of course this is defensively cited anytime Christians assert that some particular vice is prohibited by God. The list of vices seems to shrink with the passage of time, and one can only wonder when people will start killing their children because they’re an inconvenience, oh that’s right, they call that choice.

When such people cite Jesus I’m sure they have the best intentions but it seems to me that they take the phrase out of context (I did) and omit the last thing Jesus told the adulterous woman, who was being treated unfairly and thus led Jesus to make the above statement.

Here’s what happened after Jesus uttered the bit about casting stones,

Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.

When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court.

Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?”

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either Go From now on sin no more.”]

Yes, Jesus did not condemn her, leaving us the model for treating the “adulterous woman” of our times (like the girl in the Everlast lyric). Yet Jesus, while not condemning, told her “From now on sin no more”.

I wonder if the omission by the good-intentioned folk mentioned above is on purpose?

Is Ann Coulter Really Anti-Semitic?

Ann Coulter (who’s a Gentile) is catching some major heat for some comments she made regarding Jews.

She’s being called all sorts of uncharitable names, and her comments have drawn the “anti-semitic” and “hateful” labels,
“Coulter draws fire over remarks about Jews”

What is it that she said to deserve this? According to the above article,

Conservative author Ann Coulter finds herself in the middle of a firestorm once again after remarks on a CNBC television show in which she said Jews need “to be perfected” and suggested the nation would be better off if it were all-Christian.

Dennis Prager, who is Jewish, wrote a column which offers up an opinion on all this from a rational Jewish perspective
Ann Coulter Wants Jews to Become Christian — So What?

What was interesting to me was something I read in the Jewish New Testament Commentary by Dr. David H. Stern:

To suppose that one can trust in God without trusting in Yeshua and His atoning death is to trust only in the god of one’s imagination and not in the God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya’akov (p.367).

Yeshua, of course, is known to the most of us as Jesus of Nazareth who claimed to be the Son of God.

Now, Dr. Stern is Jewish and his words are far “stronger” than what Coulter said, so does that make Stern anti-Semitic? If one is to label Stern’s words as hateful towards Jews and even Muslims, then one has to apply the same label to another Jew, Jesus, who said,

if you knew Me, you would know My Father also. — John 8:19

Here’s another quote from yet another Jew, the Apostle John,

Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. — 1 John 2:23

Is John anti-Semitic? I suppose that would be a question to pose to alarmists like Leonard Pitts and Tim Rutten. It might be good to point these guys to books like,“Christianity is Jewish” by Edith Schaeffer

Not to mention the Bible, perhaps the most “anti-Semitic” book known to man.