Convinced

I’ve read the Bible solely as an important work of literature. I’ve also read it with the intent of using it as a weapon against the faith of someone who was utterly convinced of its unique divine inspiration.

In fact, it was during this time that I myself became utterly convinced that the Scriptures were of divine origin.

Yes, I know that the Bible “did not arrive by fax from heaven”.

As a matter of fact, Dan Brown might have benefited from reading John Calvin before erecting such an absurd straw man through one of his characters.

How did I become convinced that the Scripture is from God? Well it’s hard to put into words but I think Monsieur Calvin adequately describes my experience here:

Scripture, carrying its own evidence along with it, deigns not to submit to proofs and arguments, but owes the full conviction with which we ought to receive it to the testimony of the Spirit.

Enlightened by him, we no longer believe, either on our own judgment or that of others, that the Scriptures are from God; but, in a way superior to human Judgment, feel perfectly assured—as much so as if we beheld the divine image visibly impressed on it—that it came to us, by the instrumentality of men, from the very mouth of God.

We ask not for proofs or probabilities on which to rest our judgment, but we subject our intellect and judgment to it as too transcendent for us to estimate.

This, however, we do, not in the manner in which some are wont to fasten on an unknown object, which, as soon as known, displeases, but because we have a thorough conviction that, in holding it, we hold unassailable truth; not like miserable men, whose minds are enslaved by superstition, but because we feel a divine energy living and breathing in it—an energy by which we are drawn and animated to obey it, willingly indeed, and knowingly, but more vividly and effectually than could be done by human will or knowledge.

Such, then, is a conviction which asks not for reasons; such, a knowledge which accords with the highest reason, namely knowledge in which the mind rests more firmly and securely than in any reasons; such in fine, the conviction which revelation from heaven alone can produce.

I say nothing more than every believer experiences in himself, though my words fall far short of the reality.

Taken from Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, ch.7, s.5

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Coexist

I’m not sure what the artist who created this sticker had in mind. If his point is to call (command? Gasp!) upon people who hold these differing worldviews to get along, who can argue with that?

Hopefully our artist realizes that this is nothing new. In fact in the Gospels, Jesus ups the ante by commanding us to love God and to love our neighbor. Of course, “neighbor” encompasses unregenerate people of any stripe (Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, Muslim, Wiccan, etc).

However if his point is that these worldviews are ultimately reconcilable (let us not forget that the same Jesus who told us to love God and our neighbor firmly stated this), then I’m afraid he is sadly mistaken and tragically anachronistic in the sense of extrapolating current moods to older traditions. As noted Christians apologist Ravi Zacharias said,

Anyone who claims that all religions are the same betrays not only an ignorance of all religions but also a caricatured view of even the best-known ones. Every religion at its core is exclusive.

Whatever the artist’s motivation, this story might be an example of my first speculation:
Fighting for their whiskers

The story is about the D.C. Fire Department making their firefighters shave their beards. However there are Christian, Jewish and Muslim firefighters that for religious reasons will keep theirs. In a sense they are banding together to keep their fuzz.

What better way to Coexist than standing up for beards?

Unanswered Prayers and the Prosperity Gospel

So I’m sitting on the bus on the way to work when a woman sits next to me. Turns out she is a sister-in-Christ. After identifying one another as Christians, she revealed to me that she was in seminary.

Go Metro!

She was telling me about the things she was learning there and how blessed she had been by them. It’s good to hear testimony like this, I thought. One of the things she learned was that if you need something (in her case a car) all you have to do is ask God for it and He’ll give it to you.

Of course, the implication is clear that if He doesn’t then you don’t have enough faith (a favorite text is Matthew 17:20). A lack of faith is the cause of unanswered prayer.

It became evident that she was being instructed by a seminary awash in the so-called Prosperity Gospel.

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Where are they now: Iraq’s Information Minister

Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf (right) is now serving as the chairman of the IOC’s medical commission under the alias, “Arne Ljungqvist” (I guess “Turd Ferguson” was already taken?).

What makes me so sure? Well according to this story, “Olympics: Pollution over Beijing? Don’t worry, it’s only mist, say officials”, “Ljungqvist” claims that the pollution in China is really a mist, nothing more nothing less.

“The mist in the air that we see in those places, including here, is not a feature of pollution primarily but a feature of evaporation and humidity,” he told the IOC’s annual session.

Right-o

What’s next? Global warming is going to destroy the planet?

Oh wait a minute…

[FYI: The good minister is actually living with his family in the United Arab Emirates, at least according to his Wikipedia entry. Is it just me or do the Minister and Wikipedia go together like peas and carrots?]

When a Church is in Peril of Death

From John MacArthur’s teaching on the Church in Sardis,

Any church is in danger of death when it begins to worship its own past, when it is more concerned with forms, when it is more concerned with liturgy than life, when it is more concerned about social ills than salvation, when it is more concerned about systems than it is Jesus Christ, when it is more concerned about material issues than spiritual things, when it is more committed to building up its own theology than accepting the Word of God.

Why God Never Got Tenure

This has been hanging in my lab’s bulletin board for the past few years, thought I’d post it here (at the risk of having to bear the shrill cry to “lighten up” I’ve provided some commentary, of course):

  1. He had only major publication
  2. It was in Hebrew (and Aramaic and Greek)
  3. Had no references (doesn’t need ’em, HE IS)
  4. It wasn’t published in a peer-reviewed journal (Of course…)
  5. Some even doubt He wrote it Himself (to their own peril)
  6. It may be true that He created the world, but what has He done since then? (Deists…)
  7. His cooperative efforts have been quite limited
  8. The scientific community has had a hard time replicating His results (“Get your own dirt”, LOL)
  9. He never applied to the Ethics Board for permission to use human subjects
  10. When one experiment went awry He tried to cover it up by drowning His subjects
  11. When subjects didn’t behave as predicted, He deleted them from the sample
  12. He rarely came to class, just told students to read the book (not to mention apply the book)
  13. Some say He had His Son teach the class (Well He did…)
  14. He expelled His first 2 students for learning (No, it had to with disobedience)
  15. Although there were only ten requirements, most students failed His tests (Most? Try all)
  16. His office hours were infrequent and usually held on a mountaintop

I don’t know how to have one drink either

Which is the major reason I needed to stop drinking, and with God’s help I did after being born again. Hard enough to pick up one’s cross as it is without attempting to do so in an inebriated state…

The post’s title says “either” because actor Shia LeBeouf told Details Magazine as much, Shia LeBeouf: ‘I Don’t Know How to Have One Drink’

I understand that there are many well-intentioned Christians who assume that God forbids all of His children from consuming alcohol. Scripture does not say this, though drunkenness is strictly forbidden and one can see why.

The decision to drink is a personal one for the Christian. Clearly, if you’re like me and don’t know when to say when, then don’t do it unless you want to open yourself up to all sorts of stumbling blocks and make yourself eternally useless (not to mention the fact that you might make someone else stumble).

Far be it from one such as I to assume that every one of my Christian brothers and sisters has this same struggle, and thus impose prohibition on them. The words of C.S. Lewis are apropos here,

One of the marks of a certain type of bad man is that he cannot give up a thing himself without wanting every one else to give it up. That is not the Christian way.

An individual Christian may see fit to give up all sorts of things for special reasons–marriage, or meat, or beer, or the cinema; but the moment he starts saying the things are bad in themselves, or looking down his nose at other people who do use them, he has taken the wrong turning.