If you would direct men to do good works and for thier comfort add a remark like this: "You should, indeed, be perfect; however, God does not demand the impossible from us. Do what you can in your weakness; only be sencere in your intention!" -if you would speak thus, you would be preaching a damnable doctrine; for that is a shameful corruption of the Law. God never spoke like that from Sinai.-C.F.W. Walther in God's No And God's Yes
Posted by Kyle LaPorte at 8:54 PM
"Comparing Holy Scripture with other writings, we observe that no book is apparently so full of contradictions as the Bible, and that, not only in minor points, but in the principal matter, in the doctrine how we may come to God and be saved. In one place the Bible offers forgiveness to all sinners; in another place forgiveness of sins is withheld from all sinners. In one passage a free offer of life everlasting is made to all men; in another, men are directed to do something themselves towards being saved. This riddle is solved when we reflect that there are in the Scriptures two entirely different doctrines, the doctrine of the Law and the doctrine of the Gospel."
I recently read a neat little book on evangelism. When I say 'little', I really mean it. Its very short. Its called "Principles of War: thoughts on strategic evangelism" by Jim Wilson (father to Douglas Wilson, grandfather ND Wilson). Here are a few good one-liners:
Physical warfare is a result of being defeated in the spiritual war.
The Christian life is not likened to war: it is war.
Jesus Christ delivered the decisive blow at the decisive point at the decisive time. The blow was death for sin and sinners. The point was a cross outside the city of Jerusalem and the time was the feast of the Passover about A.D. 30.I found it rich with practical help in the reasons and preparations of evangelism. Like I said, its short. And cheap. One cent? Come on!
A world without God is a painfully dismal place.
1) There is no purpose for good things or bad things. They just happen. Every event is random; there are no patterns, design, or intention. Just chaos and accident with no possibility of meaning or significance. Roll the Bones.
2) There is no one to thank for good things and no one to complain to about misfortune. There is no emotion only cold, hard, chaotic forces. No comfort, only luck of the draw.
3) There is no expectation for future justice, resolution, or positive outcome.
4) There is no hope of rest or peace, only pain suffering and death.
5) There is no deep connection possible between personalities; only temporary and pragmatic liaisons. Stark and empty aloneness awaits us all.
6) There is no truth or authority only numerous tribal traditions. Ultimately might makes right. No standard. No basis or bounds for human relationships.
7) The only virtues are self-preservation, self-empowerment, self actualization, and self-pleasure. To each his own. Even our procreation is a self serving attempt to perpetuate ourselves beyond death.
A world without God is a painfully dismal place. Our life is a narrative best categorized as a tragedy. Or more accurately a tragic comedy. For all human effort and dreams are mere vanity. A foolish attempt to capture the wind in a jar. Such is a world without God.
A couple of weeks ago while eating breakfast with my wife and grandson, I noticed a man wearing a t-shirt with a special message. That message was "I heart my wife" in large letters across the chest. In smaller letters underneath it continued, "because God loved me." While I am not necessarily fond of Christian slogans and Christian bookstore novelty items/trinkets, this shirt caught my attention. I immediately admired the man and his message. I didn't stop and talk with him and so I don't know him and I probably never will. But I think I know a few things about him:
1)This guy loves his wife, and he wants his wife to know it and feel loved.
2)This guy loves his wife and he wants his children to know it and feel secure.
3)This guy believes in marriage commitment and is inviting all readers to hold him accountable.
4)This guy believes in marriage commitment (and vows!) in a culture that has devalued marriage in many ways (e.g. ignoring, redefining, and easily dissolving).
5)This guy has his priorities straight (wife before sports teams, vacation spots, hobbies, political causes, or sarcastic messages which are the usual t-shirt slogans).
6)This guy has a high view/standard of love (Divine, inner-Trinitarian, active commitment love not the fluffy and feathery emotional bed that you might fall into).
7)This guy has an appropriate view of himself and his ability to love.
8)This guy has a gospel which both energizes and directs his personal affections.
I probably won't be wearing this t-shirt in the future. But, I will be striving to follow his example and to live his values.
I have spent most of my life reading, talking, debating, and theorizing on theological topics. The focus has often been on controversial subjects: eschatology (Pre-trib vs. Post Trib), sovereignty in salvation (Calvinism vs. Arminianism), covenant framework of redemptive history (dispensationalism vs. covenant theology), apologetic framework (evidentialism vs. pre-suppositionalism), eschatology (a-mil vs. post Mil), biblical ethics (dispensational vs. reformed vs. prog dispensationalism), baptism (believers exclusively vs. believers and their children), church government (independent vs. presbyterian), miraculous spiritual gifts (cessationist vs. continuationist), and the age of the earth (old earth vs. new earth). It has been easy to get caught up in these topics. Search for meaning in order to choose a position. Read and discuss at length and miss the true value of theological inquiry. The focus can become on adopting and defending a position at any cost. It can become about being right…not righteous.
Below I have listed a few self-reminders about theological study that have been helpful to me:
1)The goal of all theological study is knowing God through his son Jesus Christ. The goal is not personal prestige, academic notoriety, ministerial effectiveness, or renowned debating prowess. If I study the scripture and miss Jesus, I miss the eternal life that I desperately need (e.g. NT Pharisees; Duke Professor Bart Ehrman). I am just another practical atheist with an interesting hobby.
2)The essential result of all theological study is personal change. I am fooling myself if I think that my understanding without my repentance is God pleasing. Again I have missed the point.
3)The true agent of my understanding is the Holy Spirit. I will not come to know God or master his revelation with a spirit of autonomy, independence, and self confidence. True understanding will only come to one with a humble, dependant, and teachable spirit.
4)The means of theological study are persistent, prayerful, and systematic hard work in the scriptures. It is not the studies that I begin and that quickly stall, but the studies that I begin and persist through to completion that are beneficial. In my reading of other writers I must not get too far from the scriptures.
5)The necessary context for theological study is within the community of faith: The Church. Theological study is best carried out within the guardrails of the church’s documents and fellowship. Mutual accountability helps us avoid self-deception, extremism, and theological novelties. It keeps us in the real world.
Posted by Scott at 10:23 PM
Atheists are unable to live as if their worldview were true. According to dictionary.com, worldview isdefined as, “The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world.” The atheistic worldview provides no basis for objective human value, objective morality, objective purpose, objective meaning, or rationality. Therefore, rather than living as if what they profess to believe were in fact true; atheists are forced to borrow from worldviews other than their own to live their daily lives.
There is no basis for human value within the atheistic worldview. The clear implications of the atheistic worldview are that humanity is a mere accident with no special significance over any other organism. We were not intended by any supernatural force, but are simply the result of time and chance working within the laws of nature. This means we are a collection of atoms, of no more ultimate significance than those that make up other organisms or even inorganic objects. Within the philosophy of science, this is known as the Mediocrity Principle. It states, “There is nothing special about humans or the earth.” Given this, why would the collection of atoms that make up the bodies of humans have any value greater than that of other organisms? It is necessary at this point to make clear the difference between objective value and subjective value. Objective value is value that exists as part of reality and is true regardless of the opinions of any individual or group. Subjective value is value that originates from within. Subjective value varies from person to person and from culture to culture. Attempting to derive objective value from subjective value is a very common mistake. It is essentially stating that humans have value because we value ourselves. This is circular reasoning. It must first be demonstrated that humans have real objective value before their judgments could be considered sufficient to impart value on themselves. If we occupy no special place in the cosmos and are merely a result of time and chance, then our opinions of ourselves have no effect on objective reality. Add to this the fact that the vast impersonal universe is absolutely indifferent to our existence and we are left with the inescapable fact that the atheistic worldview provides no basis for human value. Now, do most atheists live as if humans had no objective value? Of course they don’t. They condemn the atrocities of the Nazi’s. When the Germans were put on trial in Nuremburg, they defended themselves by saying that, within Germany, what they did was legal. The prosecutors responded by appealing to a law that was above their law. An objectively true law that was independent of individual or cultural opinion. Nearly all atheists would agree with the prosecutors, but why? As we just saw, their worldview undermines the case made by the prosecution. The reason they agree with the prosecution is that, as was stated earlier the atheist borrows from other worldviews to provide the framework to live their daily lives. This inconsistency is just as clear in the realm of morality.
The atheistic worldview provides no basis for objective morality. If the atheistic worldview were true, all notions of good and bad or right and wrong would be illusory. These are value judgments. Value judgments, in order to be objectively true, require an objective standard against which to measure. Atheism provides no such standard. Take, for instance, a galaxy from the hundreds of billions that make up the universe. It is a collection of stars and, more fundamentally, a collection of atoms. It was not intended by any supernatural force, but instead, is the result of time and chance working within the laws of nature. Does it make sense to invoke value judgments with regard to this galaxy? Do we have any basis from which to make the value judgment that this galaxy is good or bad? Of course we don’t. Like us, it is only a momentary arrangement of matter that is destined for destruction. Left without an objective standard with which to judge one galaxy to be better than another, all value judgments regarding galaxies become arbitrary and meaningless. Again, the atheist is left with only one possible source for objective morality, and that is humanity itself. This fails for the same reason deriving objective human value from humans did. Again, the vast majority of atheists are unable to live as if this were true. They live their lives making moral pronouncements that they are certain are more than mere opinion. Most would agree with the verdict handed down at Nuremburg and the reason the prosecutors gave for the conviction. But given the athiestic worldview, on what basis do they think they can make moral claims that are objectively true? By what standard? Wouldn't it be the height of arrogance to believe that our personal judgment is the source of the objective morality that is binding on all people? Of course it would. But beyond being arrogant, it is a downright nonsensical notion. It is nonsensical because, just like the galaxies, there is no certain way that we were intended to be. The universe doesn’t value us and it makes no difference if we value ourselves. So how from this non-value, can objective moral value be derived? It can't. Our moral pronouncements are meaningless syllables coming from insignificant specks in a meaningless universe. And no matter how many of these specks you add together in a collective (0xN=0), you cannot create a source from which objective morality could be based. It is impossible to be immoral in an indifferent universe. Having eliminated any illusion of human value or objective morality within the atheistic worldview, let’s now consider if there is any real purpose that can be found in the lives we live on this tiny blue speck in the cosmic abyss.
To answer this question we have to keep it in the context of the entire human race. Many will be tempted to appeal to some purpose their life is serving in relation to the activities of others. However, if humanity as a whole is serving no ultimate purpose, than any relative purpose within the activities of humans would, just like the activities of the whole, be an exercise in futility. If our existence was not intended and there is no purpose we were created to fulfill, then any purpose we attribute to our lives is an illusion. It is only relative purpose; purpose in relation to the rest of humanity, which collectively remains cosmically insignificant and serves absolutely no ultimate purpose. Again, atheists do not live as if their worldview was true and all the activities that fill their life were absolutely futile. They are passionate about work. They have a real feeling of accomplishment when some goal is reached. They have a real sense of purpose, but it is only because they do not face the implications of the worldview they profess to believe. Having fulfilled no ultimate purpose with the lives we live individually or collectively as humans, is there any objective meaning to our lives? In the next section, it will be shown that the atheist is left with only one answer. No.
Science has now conclusively proven that the fate of the universe is sealed. The universe is expanding at such a rate that gravity will not be able to overcome it. The expansion will in fact, continue to accelerate. As this happens, the universe will burn through all the available fuel and go completely dark. It is now wildly believed that due to dark energy, the universe will go through a process called the "big rip". When this happens, even the cold dark chunks of matter that remain will be pulled apart at the sub atomic level. Nothing will survive this. All memory and record of every event that ever happened in this cosmos will be permanently erased, as if it had never happened. What would be the difference if it never really had? This is the fate, not just of mankind, but of the entire universe. Nothing survives and there is no one around to care. It’s as if the universe is a hard drive that, in the end, gets formatted and forgotten. What would it matter if there had never been any information on the hard drive to begin with? The histories of all the galaxies will be erased and ultimately meaningless and, even more so, the purposeless lives of the valueless specks residing on a tiny dot in a miniscule solar system located within an average galaxy among billions. Again, most atheists believe and live as if the lives they were living were meaningful. It definitely isn’t because their worldview provides them with any basis for such a notion. Throughout this paper we have merely been considering the clear and inescapable logical conclusions that follow from the premises put forward by atheism. It is impossible to escape these conclusions without abandoning rationality; which brings us to our finale point.
Why, within atheism, would we have faith that the information conveyed to us by our senses was consistent with the way the universe really is? We would only know that the information conveyed was beneficial for survival. But an even deeper question that atheism fails to answer is, where do the immaterial laws of logic, such as the law of non contradiction, originate and how can we be sure of their validity? With absolutely no reason provided by their own worldview, nearly every atheist, by faith, accepts the information their senses are feeding them and processes that data using the immaterial laws of logic. They correctly hold irrationality in contempt, but they do so in complete opposition to their own worldview. Only a worldview in which humans were intended to have the capacity to discern truth and process that truth using immaterial laws of logic that exist independent of the natural world, would rationality be possible. It has been clearly shown in this paper that the worldview of atheism does not provide the people who profess to believe it a framework by which they can live their lives. It denies them the things that are most necessary to human life. It denies the children they love so deeply are of any real value. It denies the difference they perceive between Hitler and their grandmother is of any objective significance. It tells them each and every accomplishment they may achieve, no matter how significant it may seem, is utterly futile and will have no effect whatsoever on the ultimate fate of the universe. When they stare into the night sky and consider the cosmos as a whole, it tells them that all of it, every galaxy, every atom, and all the actions taken by all the atoms, are completely meaningless. And as if to add insult to injury, they are denied even the hope of rationality. When all this is considered, it shouldn’t be surprising that very few atheists face the logical conclusions of their worldview and live by them. What is surprising is that they would stubbornly cling to such a bankrupt worldview; one that is completely incapable of accounting for the way they know in their hearts the world to be.
I don't recommend going to the Sunday morning service because your presence at your local church is far more important than any speaker who's in the area, but I WILL be going Monday and Tuesday.