Thursday, May 31, 2007

Psalm 14:1

"The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God" (Ps. 14:1).

Arguments for the Existence of God

There are three extra biblical arguments for the existence of God. Those that say that one must turn to the bible for proof for the existence of God are seriously mistaken. Though the bible is a legitimate source for proving the existence of God, there are also three philosophical arguments that make the proof as well.
The ontological argument for the existence of God was developed by Saint Anselm. That than which no greater/perfect can be conceived of is God. Such a perfect being must exist in reality as well as in the mind. Therefore God exists. Secondly, there is the argument of design, known as the teleological argument for the existence of God. The fact of design in nature itself proves that it has a designer--God. The third argument is the cosmological argument. There is cause and effect in the universe so there must be a first cause--an unmoved mover--God.
All three of the arguments prove the existence of God. They are irrefutable!
Obviously scripture proves God's existence. I note the three for those that accuse us of being circular/begging the question by making reference to scripture.

Monday, May 28, 2007

The First are Last?

God has his way of turning upside down what we think should be right side up. The first shall be last. He that is greatest of all is servant of all. The wisdom of the cross is foolishness. The simple are wise. The poor are rich. Suffering brings reward. Enemies are loved. Cheeks are turned. Debts are forgiven. To live one must die. Slaves are freed. The free are enslaved. The orphan is loved. Those with ears do not always hear. Those with eyes do not always see. The unjust are made just. The righteous are not righteous. The condemned are forgiven.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Degrees of Sin Punishment and Reward

There are varlying degrees of sin. Some sins are small compared to others. I do not imply that sin is not sin in the eyes of God, only that some sin is more sinful. Neither do I think we are able to formulate some objective scale of grading such sins. We cannot move up and down but insofar as the dictates of common sense will allow us. This sounds strange but it is true. A lie is not as great of a sin as murder a theft of a petty monetary item is not as great of a sin as adultry. A bribery is not as great of a sin as betraying Christ. "He that delievered me unto thee hath the greater sin" (Jn. 19:11).
There are also greater and lesser degrees of punishment. "He shall be beaten with many stripes...he shall be beaten with few stripes" (Lk.12:47). "It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city" (Mat.10:15).
As for degrees of Rewards, we have this to contemplate: "I am thy shield and thy excceding great reward" (Gen. 15:1). "He shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven...he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Mat.5:19).

Friday, May 25, 2007

Great Men

Six years ago we sold our house and land and moved to Orlando from Mississippi to go to RTS. Tonight I will be graduating from Reformed Theological Seminary.God has blessed me to be able to study theology and philosophy under some great men of God. Three of my systematic theology professors were John Frame, Sinclair Fergueson and Richard Pratt. All of the faculty are great men and top notch scholars, Frank James, Roger Nicole, Steve Brown, Simon Kistemaker, Reggie Kidd just to name a few more. We have also been blessed to sit under the preaching ministry of R.C. Sproul for the six years we have been here.
I am thankful to God for these men's ministries. God gave me, a common man, an uncommon experience!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


I have never felt comfortable "in my own skin" so to speak. Ever since I can remember I have never felt like I fit in. I am not gregarious by any means. I am uncomfortable around other people. I have never really liked the way I look. I get a lump in my throat when I talk to someone that is of "high rank." When I talk in front of an audience I feel as if there is a five gallon bucket over my head. I am self-conscience about my southern accent. If I am walking in the midst of a group of people I feel as if I cannot make it past everyone without walking funny or falling down all together. I am pretty messed up in these respects. But I know that whatever my fears are they take a second chair when I think of my identity in Christ. In Christ its okay to be weird. In Christ its okay to not have a silver tongue in public speaking. In Christ I am able to fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ who love me. In Christ I feel empowered to stand for sound doctrine in the face of adversity. In Christ I have a desire to do things that would normally handicap me. Impediments fade away when I think of myself--in Christ--accepted and loved by him. "You are complete in him" (Col.2:10).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


A talebearer takes one's confidence and extorts it for personal gain. Talebearers find pleasure in spreading news that makes others seem lower than they are. They need to feel good about themselves and the best means for them to do so is to tear down someone else. Sometimes this is your "closest" friend!
In most cases the person finds out the truth of the matter--that they have been the topic of ridicule. Ever heard the cliche: "a little bird told me so?" This is true! ""For a bird of the air may carry your voice, And a bird in flight may tell the matter" (Ecc.10:20).Let us not become fools after the same kind as that of a talebearer. To be such is to be without integrity and truly a person of low self esteem.

"As for your restless talebearer, let him gossip away as much as he likes; all those words and deeds of his will come back to accuse him" (Thomas a Kempis bk. iii).

"Thou shalt not go up and down as a talebearer among thy people" (Lev. 1916).

"A talebearer reveals secrets:but he that is of a faithful spirit conceals a matter" (Prov.11:13).

Monday, May 21, 2007


This is a paper that I wrote for an apologetics course at Reformed Theological Seminary. There is a mixture of a real life experience and imagination.

Grade: B+
The Christian student seemed to be more capable of presenting an argument than the professor. I assume this was a mock dialogue? (These are the teacher assistant comments).
Discourse with a Pagan
Robert N. Landrum
Reformed Theological Seminary
Fall 03
Professor John Frame
This is a dialogue between a Christian and an atheist. The Christian is a relatively young theology and philosophy student that is faced with a challenge to defend his faith. Troubled with a lack of confidence due to feelings of shortcomings in his Christian walk, he finds himself involved in an apologetic dialogue with a pagan philosophy professor, who is in a sense his superior (but may have met his match with a simple apologetic). Realizing that Christian’s must place their confidence in the Lord, the young Christian philosopher accepts the challenge.
Paul: (while arriving at a philosophy department party and trying to finish the always and relentless recurring cycle of events that paraded through his mind about where he came from in life and where he was going) Well, here I am. I have come a long way. I was only about twenty years old when God altered my course in life by taking me, a sinner that was a complete slave to the devil, the flesh, and the world, and saving me. Boy, he sure has brought me along way! I was utterly controlled by sin with no desire but to sail along with sins currents wherever they took me. Praise God for showing me that the final destination was hell via a comfortable (but yet turbulent) first class flight there. Now, here I am; a high school drop out that God has blessed with a college degree in religion; and an assistantship in a graduate program in philosophy; most importantly, a beautiful wife and four children. Yes things are good for me. There is, however, still that unredeemed flesh that accompanies me everywhere I go. It is a monstrous shadow.
Being so happy to have been pardoned of sin and brought to new life by my Savior, I at a time forgot myself and went into service for the Lord, but not long after, it became clear to me that there was a sense in which I was still a slave. So being crushed under the weight of this yet indwelling sin, I left the Lord’s service. But not able to abandon my faith, I sought for a new direction, perhaps that of a Christian philosopher. Sometimes I feel that my faith is just too weak to continue professing the name of Christ. But I know that regardless of my problems, I cannot deny the One that bought me. What will I say to my philosophy professor superiors if the topic of Christianity comes up? I have not lived up to the standard. Could I possibly tell others that they should? I have been forgiven of my sins (though I am having a serious bout with indwelling sin). If I tell them the story of forgiveness will they understand all of this, if this is real Christianity? Well here I am.
Joe: Welcome to our home. Come on in and have a seat. What’s your poison? We have beer and wine, liquor too if that’s what you like. We have plenty of stuff to snack on as well. We haven’t met; I’m Joe. So what brings you to the department of philosophy and religion?
Paul: Well I went to the bible college across town where I majored in religion and minored in philosophy. Having graduated from there, I went on down to the seminary hoping to study theology, but unfortunately, I didn’t like it there due to a lack of what I was looking for as far as theology goes. So having minored in philosophy, I thought that this would be the route to take.
Joe: Oh, one of those huh? Have you ever read ol Johnny Edwards (Sarcastic)?
Paul: Yes I have read his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.
Joe: Yeah, that’s the one. You’re like a spider hanging over the flames of hell. Your foot is about to slip. Yes, I used to assign that as a reading in one of my courses just so we could make fun of it!
Paul: (thinking to himself again, I should have guessed it. One of my first impressions is going to be centered around a discussion about the existence of God. How can I get out of this?) You know that Edwards is esteemed by some to be a very good philosopher due to his attention to ethics.
Joe: He is not very credible if you ask me.
Paul: (wanting to change the subject) So where did you do your Ph.D.?
Joe: Athens, up north.
Paul: O that’s one of those high wattage schools isn’t it?
Joe: Fairly. Say, lets have another beer.
Joe: (the party being over) Thanks for coming. I will see you all in class tomorrow.
Joe: (the next day) I hope you all enjoyed our discussion. For those of you that are interested I usually go down to the local bar and grill to continue philosophizing in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Paul: (arriving at the bar and grill Paul opens the door and after a cloud of smoke exits he enters. The patrons of the establishment are made up of mostly university professors and students. Most of the employees were students at the university. There was no loud music or bar room type dancing.) Is this seat taken?
Joe: No I’m glad to see that you were able to stop by for a few drinks and a little bit of brain stimulation. You were saying at the department party that you went to a bible college, right?
Paul: Yes. I was interested in studying theology, and philosophy. The department of religion is weak in theology, but there is a good philosophy professor there.
Joe: Well, I am a professing pagan!
Paul: A what?
Joe: A professing pagan.
Paul: What do you mean by that?
Joe: You know, not a Christian or anything else along the line of theism. I am a pagan, an unbeliever; I am without religion; a heathen; a hedonist, and proud of it!.
Paul: I see. I have never met a real professing pagan before. Sure I have met plenty of non-believers before, but they are generally not outspoken about their beliefs; some are sort of ashamed of it.
Joe: Well I am not your average atheist. As you know I am a philosopher and as such, I have formed a philosophy about the nonexistence of God that is a little more advanced than your everyday unbeliever that really doesn’t quite know how to express his unbelief in a formal way. There are two kinds of atheist. There are those that are common to our area of the bible belt. These atheists are the victims of aggressive fundamental or rather fanatical evangelism by the locals. I like to call them the “fundies”. They are relentless! They are made up of all denominations. I don’t quite know which type are the worst. They are all equally fanatical. Well anyways, because of them they’ve got a lot of good atheists confused in that they will say something like this: “I know that God exists but I just don’t believe in him. I can’t because I am set in my ways and don’t want to change.” These people have been brainwashed by the fundies into basically thinking that God may really exist and that they are going to hell if they don’t believe. But deep down they feel that God really doesn’t exist and so they won’t commit themselves to such a belief. They have been greatly influenced by the fundies, but will not believe. I guess there are many reasons not to believe for this kind of atheist. The ones that just don’t want to have to change their lifestyles usually say, “Well, if I am going to hell, I want be alone because that is where all my friends will be.” They, however, are impractical in that they entertain the idea of God’s existence at all. The second kind of atheist realizes that there is no God and by the lack of evidence that there is a God, they remain in unbelief. I fall into this category. As a professional philosopher I can express my belief that God doesn’t exist in a more technical language than those that have fallen prey to the fundies. Say, you are a professing Christian aren’t you?
Paul: Yes, I am a theist.
Joe: How can you believe in a God who is obviously not there?
Paul: I believe he is.
Joe: (who has a way of shocking people by vulgarity, commences his regular routine of openly and loudly blaspheming God)
Joe: (looking up and shouting) Are you there? I challenge you! Show yourself and we will all believe! You are a coward! You are a pitiful and sad excuse for a God! Are you so weak that you cannot show yourself? I curse you! (Vile language is not sparingly used in blasphemies that cannot be repeated)
Paul: (Shocked by the blasphemy thinks to himself, I am a weak Christian that has a lack of confidence due to not living up to the highest moral standard. On two separate occasions I have even denied God’s existence and cursed Him myself out of drunken sinful frustration—an act that has always haunted me, but I must believe that I am forgiven. Besides if I really believe in God, I must also believe what He said about being made strong out of our weaknesses. I think as if all were dependent on me, but in fact all rests on God. As it was with David and Goliath, I cannot let this uncircumcised Philistine curse the living God without remorse. All I have is a few stones. If God will slay this giant who bears the armor and weaponry of pagan philosophy, he shall be slain!)
Paul: (speaking up) I hear your cursing (Paul sort of jokingly moves his chair over mentioning something about incoming lightning bolts), but I thought you said that as a philosopher you had some really sophisticated arguments against the existence of God. All that I have heard is a lot of barbaric cursing.
Joe: I sense a challenge. Would you like to have a little debate right here and now Paul?
Paul: Well it would be interesting to bat things around a little more. I noticed that you didn’t get God to show Himself by cursing Him, but what if He didn’t feel as if He were obligated to meet your demands? Perhaps He felt that, He being God and all, He didn’t have to prove Himself to you on your terms. Maybe He does that on His own terms. In fact, I bet if He did show Himself to you, you would come up with some kind of a naturalistic explanation for the phenomena. Am I right?
Joe: Yes, I guess if I asked God to lift the table and it started to lift up into the air, I probably would not fall down on my face in fear and trembling. I would be looking for some sort of transparent strings of some sort or a scientific explanation for the event.
Paul: I bet that nothing “miraculous” would convince you, would it?
Joe: I don’t believe in God, so I don’t believe in miracles either. But you are right. I would seek a scientific explanation for whatever may seem out of the ordinary.
Paul: That kind of reasoning is nothing new really. There were many eyewitnesses to miracles during the time of Christ and before, but that didn’t always persuade people either. God performed many miracles through his prophet Moses and Jesus appeared to many after His resurrection, however, many still doubted. So miracles aren’t for everybody.
Joe: There is always a scientific explanation for everything.
Paul: I guess we have different presuppositions. I am not opposed to scientific investigation and all, but I bring certain presuppositions to the table that you don’t. I start with the presupposition that God exists and then interpret the world through this lens. The world (including scientific laws) then makes sense to me when I do this. Would it be fair to say that you presuppose the natural world and reason as a basis for your knowledge?
Joe: It would be fair to say that. In fact, you did not always presuppose the existence of God in your interpretation of the world did you? I mean before you became a Christian we both presupposed reason and the natural laws of the universe as the sources for our epistemology (the theory of knowledge).
Paul: This is true, but after I became a Christian I saw that it was really impossible to make sense out of the universe apart from presupposing that God exists.
Joe: What do you mean?
Paul: Just take ethics for example. As you know, there are many theories of right and wrong out there. And they all lead to relativism, which is self refuting itself. Apart from a Christian worldview it is impossible to give an account for moral values. What about you, Joe, how do you explain personalistic values in an impersonal universe? Because as a philosopher, you know that we cannot get personality out of impersonality. You know that would be a naturalistic fallacy.
Joe: Well, some would say that evolution is the answer. Paul: How is evolution the answer?
Joe: The evolutionist argues that we have evolved to have a sense of values.
Paul: Surly you don’t really believe this. You know that what I said while ago is true, that personality cannot evolve out of impersonality. Even David Hume proved with his naturalistic fallacy that we cannot get an ought from an is. The law of gravity will bring one to an abrupt end if one throws someone off of a high building, but the law of gravity does not tell us that we ought not to throw someone off a building. Even evolution cannot bridge the gap here. To imply oughtness is to move from that which is impersonal to that which is personal.
Joe: It is true. The evolutionist has a lot of work to do yet. Nevertheless, as I told you before, I am a professing pagan and as such I don’t believe in morality.
Paul: How can you not believe in morality? Don’t you think that it would be wrong for me to steal your wallet, rape your wife, or kill you?
Joe: No I don’t think it would be wrong. If you take my wallet, it will be gone, if you rape my wife, she will be raped, and if you kill me I will be dead. That’s all there is to it. I may do the same to you. And I might if I thought I could get away with it and get something out of it like pleasure or something.
Paul: That sounds pretty wild and radical. What would happen to society if everybody went along with this? You don’t really believe this do you professor Joe?
Joe: I most certainly do! I told you that I am a bonafide pagan. And what would I care if all of society held to this belief? As I told you I am a pagan and don’t really care. Besides the fundies have given me a bad taste for good morals with their hypocritical lifestyles.
Paul: I agree that if you look at some professing Christians’ lives you may not be very impressed, including mine, or I might say especially mine. We Christians don’t always live up to God’s standard of perfection. What separates us from the rest of the world though is that we are forgiven for our sins and anticipate a time when we will be ultimately delivered from the influence of sin. Regardless, even if what you said is true, Joe, there are apparently some things that you do care about.
Joe: Like what?
Paul: You care about being a good philosopher and as you said yourself you believe that there are certain laws in the universe that science works within. How do you account for this? I think that your presuppositions may need a little revision if you are going to give an explanation to this.
Joe: Well, I don’t think so. As for my pride in being a good philosopher, this really doesn’t matter in the whole scheme of things. I could have been a bad one and it wouldn’t have ultimately mattered. As for the laws of the universe, all I see is what I see now. Tomorrow, the universe may be turned upside down. Instead of feeling pain as I do when I stub my toe today, tomorrow it may feel good. Besides you argue from silence in that you want to say that I cannot give an explanation as to why the universe is orderly and uniform. Just because I cannot today doesn’t mean I won’t be able tomorrow.
Paul: True I do in a sense argue from silence, but its not that I don’t think you cannot account for the order of the universe and the uniformity of nature because you have not done so out side of a Christian worldview. I think that you cannot.
Joe: Besides my point is that the universe may not be so orderly. We see a lot of destruction and chaotic things out there, like hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, animals that eat their young etc, etc.
Paul: Well in the Christian worldview we can account for all of this. If you think about it hurricanes and tornadoes are quite intricate in their design, and because of the curse on the earth due to Adam’s sin we can understand why some things in nature are off kilter in a way. Even the evil that comes out of natural disasters as well as moral evil can be accounted for in a Christian worldview. We believe that God has a morally sufficient reason for the evil that exists in our world.
Joe: Well, I don’t believe it. Besides you haven’t proven that God exists to me yet. I am waiting. Are you going to?
Paul: Yes, but I cannot make you believe in God if you already have your mind made up not to regardless of how the proof is made. As a philosopher, more skilled than me, will you be willing to be open-minded as I continue?
Joe: I will.
Paul: Here goes then. Let me summarize. You don’t believe in objective morality, but you do believe that the universe has order (at least to the extent of us being able to do science that you accept the conclusions of), though the stability of this may change tomorrow. Do you agree with this summarization of our conversation?
Joe: Yes.
Paul: Well, then since I cannot prove God’s existence on the basis of objective personalistic morality or on the basis of the order found in the universe, because you said that it may be turned upside down tomorrow, I have only one option left.
Joe: Lets hear it!
Paul: I am getting to it. Though there may not be any objective morality, and constant stability in the universe, there is one thing that we cannot deny, and that is that there is the existence of the universe itself. I contend that the existence of universe itself proves the existence of God.
Joe: And how do you suppose this? As a philosopher you know that something cannot come from nothing. Right?
Joe: True
Paul: Well if something cannot come from nothing, where did the universe come from if not God?
Joe: That’s easy the universe didn’t come from anywhere; it is eternal.
Paul: So you wouldn’t deny the existence of something that is eternal?
Joe: I just told you that I don’t.
Paul: Very well. Would you also say that the universe would be characterized by cause and effect in some sense even if turned up on ear?
Joe: I will grant that.
Paul: Let me ask you what it was that started the sequence of cause and effect that we see in our universe (a sequence that would be there even in the case that it was turned upside down)?
Joe: There was never a starting point. This is an infinite process.
Paul: Then how could we have ever made it to this current point in the process if it is infinite? In other words, if there is never a number one, there can never be a number two. But for a God that is a first cause of everything, this would make sense. A God that transcends time, but not to the point of not being able to be immanent in it, would be able to create our universe, would He not?
Joe: I can see your point. I have already admitted that something is eternal. You say it is God, I say it is the universe. You say that an eternal being per se is a better explanation of things than an eternal universe marked by the absurdity of an infinite regress.
Paul: That’s all I am saying. There are only two choices. Which will you side on, order or chaos?
Joe: I guess chaos. Lets have another beer.


Justice is so hard for philosophers to define because they leave Christ out of the definition.
"Justice is what we deserve but what Christ received" (Robert N. Landrum).

Sunday, May 20, 2007

a Kempis Quote

Strengthen me with heavenly courage; otherwise, the man I was once by nature, the wretched flesh not yet fully subject to the spirit, may be strong enough to overcome me. It is against this that I shall have to struggle so long as I draw breath in this sorry life. And oh, what a life it is! One long series of troubles and miseries, everything full of hidden traps and enemies! As soon as one trial or temptation takes itself off, along comes another; and while the first battle is still on, up come several more, out of the blue"(a Kempis, bk.iii).

a kempis on The Great Eniemies of the Christian (The Flesh, World, and Devil)

As previously posted the Christian faces three great enemies--the flesh the world and the devil. Here is a Kempis' prayer against all three.
"O my God, you who are sweetness surpassing all speech, turn sour for me the taste of any bodily comfort that draws me away from the love of eternal things, enticing me to my hurt, by the sight of some pleasure to be enjoyed in this present lie. Do not let them overcome me, my God, do not let them overcome me, this flesh and blood of mine; let me not be deceived by the world and its fleeting glory; do not let the Devil and his wiles trip me by the heels. Give me strength to resist, patience to hold out, steadfastness to keep going until the end. Give me the sweet balm of your spirit instead of all the delights of the world; empty my heart of fleshly love and fill it instead with the love of your name"(a Kempis, bk. iii).

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The Problem of Evil (The Christian Theodicy)

According to atheistic philosophy the fact that there is evil in the world is proof that God does not exist. At best God is some strange entity that is either perverse or weak. They base this on the following syllogism: (1) God is all knowing (omniscient) (2) God is all powerful (Omnipotent) God is all loving (Omnibenevolent) (3) Yet evil exists
This according to atheists is faulty reasoning. Either God is not all powerful, i.e. he can't do anything about evil. He himself is in some sort of dualistic war with evil. Or he is not all loving and takes some sort of sick pleasure in evil.
I would agree that this syllogism is faulty. That is because something is lacking. How can we as Christians account for the existence of evil?
A proposed solution to the problem of evil is known as a theodicy. Here is a Christian theodicy.
God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing what evil that exists to exist. We may not know what that reason is but we trust that evil is at his disposal for good. "All things work together for good to those that are called." "I make peace and create evil." Remember Job. Remember Joseph "you meant it for evil but God meant it for good."
God is not the author of evil. Satan and man have done their part in this respect.
It is only in a Christian worldview that we can account for the existence of evil. In fact those that object to something as being evil must have some sort of standard of good by which to contrast the evil with. They do not have such a standard! Something is wrong because they say so. This is a far cry from God saying so. Atheistic systems of ethics, teleological, deontological, utilitarian, virtue ethics, etc. and their versions of any sort of theodicy accounting for evil are mutable and absurd.

Friday, May 18, 2007


"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; Before you were born I sanctified you" (Jere. 1:5).
For a definitive refutation of pro choice/abortion click on the newly added link set to take you to an article at

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Definition of Lying

Psalm. 58:3 "The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies."
There are some that argue "a lie is a lie" no matter what the circumstances. Some say that we have to choose the lesser of two evils at times. Others allow for an ethical suspension of some sort depending on the context. For example, if the Gestapo comes to your door demanding that you give up the whereabouts of the Jews you are not obligated to tell them the truth of their whereabouts. Or as in the biblical record the Israelite women during Pharaoh's time did not allow the destruction of their progeny, but the midwives said "the women are quick to give birth." Though it has been argued that God increased the time of the birth process, I think that this is not necessarily the case as we see another account where Rahab the harlot was deceptive in hiding the men of Israel, and because of this she was esteemed as a woman of faith.
What is it that constitutes a lie? The philosopher Kant in his categorical imperative would argue that a lie is a lie no matter what the context. If it is wrong to tell a lie it is wrong--universally. Are there times when God suspends the ethical ramifications of a lie? I.e it is okay sometimes to tell a lie. Perhaps it is a "white" lie of some sort?
The answer is no. Consider this definition. A lie is to intentionally (or as an indirect consequence) mislead with the intention of doing harm. With this definition we can retain the integrity of "Thou shalt not bear false witness." Making god's moral law mutable when it is immutable is a major theological blunder.
With such a definition we can see that in a practical context it would not be wrong to misdirect the evil intentions of evildoers. We are not required to aid in their evil means to accomplish their evil ends. We would be partakers of their evil deeds.
To further illustrate my point. Consider the just war. We would be foolish to reveal our strategy to the enemy if the enemy implored us to do so based on the "condition" that we would be unethical to "lie." Furthermore we have everyday practical examples to consider. When playing a game such as hiding seek, poker, base ball, the reality show survivor, etc. we are not bound by God's law to "show our hand." Bluffing is allowed and should not be seen as unethical. When "horse trading" in business deals we are not being unethical by not revealing our bank statement.
And so it is that we are not made subject by the rules of deceivers to follow suit in their deception. Their means to an end is evil. God has the ability to use evil for good. We too are able to redirect evil means for good. God never requires us to choose evil even if it is the lesser of two evils; rather we are to choose the greatest possible good. There is no such thing as there being a time when it is ethical to lie. This is true both theologically and philosophically.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Flesh The World and The Devil

"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Rom. 7:24).
Do you ever get so fed up with sin, this world and the devil, that you have to cry out these words with the apostle Paul? Let us not loose heart from the discouragements of the first part of this verse. Remember and cling to the second part with equal nay greater longings.
I believe it was Martin Luther (correct me if I am wrong) that pointed out the three things that a Christian struggles with, the flesh, the world, and the devil. Luther, while frustrated with the devil, lashed out against what he perceived to be a manifestation of the devil, even throwing his ink stand at him. Well I follow suit with Luther! And were it not for the last part of Rom. 7:24 I would loose all heart at times. Many times I long to be with the Lord and to be finally delivered from this world. I await the deliverance from this body of death.

a Kempis Quote

"I get sick and tired of living day in, day out, at war with myself. All this shews me how weak I am; the most loathsome fancies always rush in upon me much more readily than they take their leave" (Thomas a Kempis, bk. iii).

a kempis Quote

"The very word 'life' is surely a misnomer for something so prolific in death and misery" ( Thomas a Kempis bk. iii).

Friday, May 11, 2007

Evidence Truth and Persuasion

Just because there is sufficient evidence for something, e.g. the existence of god does not mean that there is going to be a positive response of belief according to what the evidence would warrant. It is God who opens the eyes of the spiritually blind not "evidence" or the rhetoric of man. Elocution at its finest falls on deaf ears if God has not opened them. Persuasion at its best is just that--persuasion. Truth is hard to get across sometimes.
Have you ever tried to argue with and atheist on the existence of God, some one of a different religion, or even believers in the same faith and found that there was no positive results, but both went away saying, "one day you will see the truth." This is what happens every time I argue with a charismatic on the topic of speaking in tongues, or with a Jehovah's witness on the deity of Christ. No matter how much scriptural, scientific, philosophical, evidence is brought forth in argument I have the same overall results.
I have never heard of an atheist stop the debate and say "you are right the evidence is overwhelming." "I repent of my sins and believe!"
Evidence, truth, and persuasion, have their limitations.
It is like arguing with someone who cannot remember the facts of the past. Or someone that alters and twists the point. If you call it white they will call it black. You cannot win arguments with those that come to the debate floor with their minds already made up in advance! People have a way of making themselves out to be right regardless of the evidence. Our fallen minds have an uncanny ability to filter out what it does not like (Rom. 1).
The philosopher Kierkegaard observed that psychologically we remember the things we want to remember but forget the things that we don't want to remember.
The facts don't always speak for themselves. "And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked" (Act. 17:32). "When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted" (Mat. 28:17).
I have heard many times that it is impossible to prove the existence of God. "If he would just reveal himself" the argument goes, "I would believe." Really?

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Passing the Buck? Taking Responsibility for my Decisions and Yours!

My children have mastered the art of passing the buck. No matter what they do wrong they manage to blame someone else for what they did. If I point out a fault the immediate reply is "but he or she did this to me." It takes a little effort to make them admit that regardless of what so and so did the decision that they themselves made was wrong. We grown ups do the same thing. Eve ate the forbidden fruit, gave it to Adam and when they got caught what did Adam say? "The woman gave it to me!"
Sin is so dumbfounding to the understanding that it leaves us speechless of any real excuse. I ask my children? "Why did you do this or that?" And what do they tell me? "I don't know." They really don't know! Neither do I! It is hard to get a handle on why we make wrong decisions.
We make decisions out of a context. We can let what others do influence our decisions or we can make our decisions in spite of external influence. The latter is hard to do. The fact is that other people do influence us. Their decisions affect us. We are not absolutely autonomous in this world. Freedom is only freedom in certain bounds. The singer was hitting on some heavy philosophy when she sang "freedom is just another word for nothing left to loose." Fact is we live in a world that gives us a context for decision making--good or bad.
If I sit in this chair rather than that one it was because conditions were such that influenced my decision. It may seem arbitrary but if we explore the possibilities it is not really an arbitrary decision . Let us be mindful of our power of influence of others in our decision making and our power of influence on others in their decision making.

What it Means to Honor Unconditionally

After a few posts on the family I still have a few loose thoughts clinking around. I am afraid that a very important point may be easily overlooked. You have heard the saying "give respect where respect is due." I submit that this is not a biblical attitude to have. The biblical perspective is give respect where respect is due, but also and especially where it is not due. This is what is so radical about the gospel. "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners." "We love him because he first loved us." "Love your enemies." I could go on and on. The point is that we honor our parents even if they don't deserve it! We honor our wives even if they don't deserve it! We obey our husbands even if they don't deserve it! Servants obey their masters even if they don't deserve it! We honor the earthly king and the laws of the land even if he treats us ill and imposes unjust laws!
The only thing, even the best of us, "deserve" is everlasting punishment!
It is God's way to take an approach that is foreign to our natural instincts ("his ways are not our ways"). He makes wise the simple and foolish the wisdom of this world. He would have the first last and the last first.
If this is hard for us we must remember that it is not necessarily the character of the person the we honor but the God ordained position that we honor. It is not for us to judge but to obey God at this point. It is ultimately God that we honor in being obedient to him.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

"One doesn't truly understand mercy until he has needed to be a recipient of it" (Robert Landrum).

The Christian Family Pt.IV of IV Practical Advise for Husbands and Wives

There are three major problems that come up in marriage--sex, money, and in-laws. There are more than three marital problems and some people don't face the three mentioned here. This is simply a broad classification that many marriage counselors surmise.
The number one thing that tears marriages apart seems to be a lack of sexual gratification. Generaly it is the man who feels that he is not getting everything that comes along in the marital package when it comes to sex. The break down in communication is this: men are more visual whereas women are more emotional i..e. they desire more affection then men. It is not that men like sex more than women (or the other way around) its just that their mind is on the physical more than the emotional.
Before the fall, Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed, after the fall shame entered in as a foreign feeling. This feeling can be reversed in the bond of marriage. The marriage bed is said to be undefiled (Heb. 13:4). If the husband will take care of the affections that his wife needs she would be more responsive to him, women don't have to focus so much on the husband as regards to this. Any positive visual and physical contribution aids in his happiness. This is not to say that men don't need affection or women arn't interested in the physical or visual. Each person is different in their needs. This is the key to success--to understand what each others needs are.
There should be no reason for one person to not be fulfilled in this area. The husband is to have authority over the wife's body and the wife over the husband's. The only time the bible allows for abstinence in marriage is for fasting. This time should be agreed upon by both and should not be for a prolonged time or else Satan may tempt the one in need 1Cor.7"3-5). To fail here puts one's spouse at risk to temptation!
One final point here: the worst thing one can do is to use sex as a "weapon." This is devastating to marriage. It is not the husband or wives's right to use the withholding of sex as a punishment or a strategy of manipulation to control the other.
Secondly, there is the problem of money. We live on a higher level than we should often times. Lack of money and living beyond our means in debt causes great strain on a marriage. Here I suggest down sizing. Instead of two or more cars perhaps one is better. Instead of eating out perhaps a cheap but good home cooked meal will do. Instead of a six thousand dollar mortgage how about a one thousand dollar mortgage. You get the point. If you are like me you did not have much to begin with and you were both happy. You may be surprised at the response you get if you suggest downsizing. She may be ready to do that "stay at home mom thing" and get out of the earnings environment. We can live on less. Also consider taking on a job that gives you more time with your family.
Finally there is the in-law problem. I am happy to say that I get along just fine with my in-laws. But there are many that do not. If no resolution can be reached in this area then one must take comfort in the fact that it was God's design for a man to leave his mother and father and cleave to his wife. We are still to honor our parents after marriage but not at the expense of dishonoring our spouses. I wish I could help more here but this is a tough one!

Friday, May 4, 2007

The Christian Family Pt.III The Duties of Parent's to Children

The easiest way to raise a juvenile delinquent is to ignore what God has said on how we are to raise our children. My two oldest are soon going to be teenagers and I confess that I am afraid that I have not spent the time that I should have with them, not only in the every day affairs of life, but especially in walking through the things of God with them. I repent of this and aim to do all that I can to invest more in their lives. What is it that is so important that demands our attention away from our children? The cares of this world we will have always but our family we will not.
It is becoming a pressing reality to me that the things of this world have to fall by the wayside in order to stop the momentum of the down spiral of separation between us and our families. What ever the distractions are that pull me away from my family will no longer have power over me. These are the principles I commit to live by. We must ask ourselves what is really important in life? So what if he has a new car if you are not there to ride in it with him, so what if everybody at work is happy when your family is not, and so what if you have a big house if there is no one ever there to live in it!
The Shema (Hebrew for hear) is found in Deut. 6:4-9. ..."you shall teach them (God's word) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up..." The Shema shows us that we are not to "make time" for our children but that they are to be the "objects of our time!" There is no such thing as not having anything in common, for we see that the common denominator is God and his word.
Do not be afraid of what they might think if you have not been searching out the things of God with your children; of what they might think if you spring the "God thing" on them. I can't help but to believe they will be Happy for attention regardless of the reason for spending time together. Lets give it a try.
We can help our children to know what it means to be obedient when they see we are trying to be obedient to God ourselves. We can help our children to know honor when they see us honor and respect our wives and husbands. Children do not have to have a lot of earthly possessions in this world to be happy. To have dignity is worth more than the new version of so and so game. To learn to know and love God is the most valuable gift we can give our children.
In conclusion, here is the single most difficult thing we should learn as parents, "Fathers (and mothers) do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4). In ancient times wives and children took a second seat to the men. In our culture women have equal rights but children are still treated poorly in many homes because of their inability to stand up for themselves as an adult would. Even with the DCF for support children are still in desperate need of living under Christian principles. How do fathers provoke children to wrath?
To impose too many restrictions on children will provoke them. To treat them without respect will provoke them into disrespecting others. To starve them of attention and affection is to provoke them to find it somewhere else. To treat them unfairly provokes them to wrath.
But to discipline them with love and bring them up in the admonition of love is to raise a good and happy child. To do anything less is to bring out the wrath of a child. A child of wrath is a child of destruction. Anger, despair, resentment, frustration, exasperation, and discouragement build up inside of them and destroys them spiritually. Their lives are then out of control and reckless.
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6).

Thursday, May 3, 2007

The Christian Family Pt.II The Duties of Children to Parents

During the process of giving my little ten year old girl instruction she, out of frustration, asked me the question, "Why is it that parents are able to tell kids what to do?" My first reply was, "Because this is how God said it should be." "And practically you are not capable of living apart from adult supervision." The important point, however, is that this is the way God has ordered the way relationships should function between children and their parents. "Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right" (Eph. 6:1). How much more plain and simple can it be?
Though the directive is plain, it is the "right" thing to do, the obeying part is quite hard for children. There are many children that have no respect at all for their parents and as such an appeal to parental authority is useless.
We have good children but they are subject to fallen nature, as is anybody else. The advantage that a Christian parent has over against unbelieving parents is that we can appeal to God when necessary. To point out the fact that God is really backing us, is pretty weighty on our part!
This commandment for children to obey is also one of promise to children that their lives will be better and even extended, 'Honor your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with promise: 'that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth' (Eph. 6:2,3). Objection: What about children that honored their parents and yet died at an early age? Answer: The promise of happiness and life has to do with the peace that comes from submission of their will to the parent's who is more wise and experienced in living. To rebel against ones parent is to live precariously in a mercy-less world, in effect denying their Christian heritage.
Just look at the quality of life runaways have. They usually wind up involved in drugs, prostitution, illegal activities of all sorts, and eventually they die at an early age. This promise is not proven a lie due to the fact of many obedient children passing on at an early age. This has to do with my second more practical response that I made to my little girl. If you want to live and be happy then do what God has commanded.
Furthermore, the promise of life originally of had reference to the Jews that were inheriting the promised land. God's honor would be reflected in the family model that was to be set up. To break God's command in this was to be at risk of severe (capital) punishment.
In conclusion and practically speaking how can we help our children in the fulfilment of this commandment? Let me note that "Obey" has to do with action while "honor" has more to do with attitude. Sometimes my children will obey but their attitude is far from one that honors. The duties of parents can help children in both of theses areas. (Next post.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Christian Family Pt.I of IV The Role of Husbands and Wives

"Wives be submissive to your husbands as to the Lord in everything...Husbands love your wives dwelling with them with understanding and giving honor to them" (Eph. 5:25, 1Pet. 3:7). "Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Gen.3:16).

Before the fall, man and woman dwelt together in harmony. Adam was created first and then God created Eve as his helper. (Helper in ruling and populating the earth not doing the laundry etc.). After the fall, order was thrown out of balance. The woman's desire (not romantic but sinful controlling desire) was for her to be first. This disrupted peaceful union with the man. Man's wanting to rule over the woman disrupted peaceful union with the woman. J. MacArthur notes, "Sin has turned the harmonious system of God-ordained roles into distasteful struggles of self-will" (Study bible note Gen.3:16). This is where the women's equal rights movement and male chauvinism comes from. Nothing is new here. This has been a problem since the beginning of time.
God's plan of restoration for the sinful tension that is found between husbands and wives is found in a re-establishing of the role of man and woman. Wives are to submit and husbands are to love and honor their wives. It is objected that this is not fair for the woman. This is not a lesser position for the woman. It is a divine reordering of Gods original plan. There is plenty and "equal" responsibility for both the husband and wife. He is not an executive and she a hired hand. They are both executives ruling over the business of family life. If there are two of equal status in ownership, there must be different roles or else there will be a problem of conflict (not of overall interest--just conflict!). One party must be willing to submit in a conflict of disagreement or else division occurs and sin enters in.
The roles of man and wife are not measured in spirituality either. "The spiritual head" has been distorted to mean that man is more apt to be spiritual. This is nonsense! This is not about who is more spiritual, closer to God, or emotionally stable. The Corinthian church was subject to the possibility of being beguiled as was Eve (II Cor 11:3). The woman is not spiritually inferior to the man in any way. (This would not be hard to prove empirically in many cases!). I often times find myself leaning on the spirituality of my wife when my spirituality is deficient.
Bottom line: Wives you are to submit to your husbands. Husbands are to love their wives. It doesn't matter whether he or she deserves it. What matters is that God has ordered it.
One of the primary points of error is an attitude that says "He can't run the show so I will." Or men may dishonor their wives by having adulterous affairs, or be unloving in his speech, or unloving in the way he treats her, using her "desire to rule over him" as an excuse.
Wives it doesn't say "when he gets right" you are then obligated to submit to him. See 1Pet. 3:1 where there are some that are married to husbands "that do not obey the word." They are to be especially submissive in these cases. And husbands it does not say to honor her only when she is not trying to rule over you.
What areas do wives submit themselves in? "Everything!" Husbands love and honor does not make exceptions and allowance for disrespect. I will remember this and take it to heart today. Will you?

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

a Kempis Quote

"Lord, I will tell you frankly, and to my shame, how sinful I am, how weak. It's often something quite trivial that upsets me and throws me out of balance. I make up my mind to take a firm line in the matter, and then, the moment the slightest temptation comes along, I find myself in a very tight corner. It's sometimes something quite petty that gives rise to a really serious temptation; I'm feeling fairly safe, and then, before I know what's happening, I sometimes find myself almost knocked over by the slightest gust...Have pity on me; 'save me from sinking in the mire;' don't let me stay down all the time" (a Kempis, bk. iii, Imitation).