Reasons why you should believe in God

Sir John Maddox, speaking about Big Bang theories:

“The view of the origin of the Universe is thoroughly unsatisfactory.”

 

Robert Jastrow:

“The essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.” Further on, “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

 

Richard Swineburn:

Why believe that there is a God at all? My answer is that to suppose that there is a God explains why there is a world at all…and so much else. In fact, the hypothesis of the existence of God makes sense of the whole of our experience, and it does better than any other explanation which can be put forward, and that is the grounds for believing it to be true.

 

Francis Crick (co-discoverer of DNA)

An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”

 

Sir Frederick Hoyle

The chance that higher life forms arose by evolutionary processes is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junkyard might assemble a Beoing 747 from the materials therein.

 

The Associated Press on Antony Flew:

“A British philosopher who has been a leading champion of atheism for more than 50 years has changed his mind. Antony Flew, 81, [of Oxford University] said scientific evidence has now convinced him that a super-intelligence is the only explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of nature…If his newfound belief upsets people, Flew said, “that’s too bad”—but he’s always been determined to “follow the evidence wherever it leads.”

These quotes are taken from Nathan Busenitz’s book called Reasons We Believe: 50 Lines of Evidence that Confirm the Christian Faith.

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Some books I’ve been in lately

The Art of Neighboring: Building Genuine Relationships Right Outside Your Door, by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyon

I’m currently listening to The Art of Neighboring on my kindle. Good, practical help for being a better neighbor. In the very least it has inspired me to be more intentional about loving my neighbor. I see this book as a prolonged application of the command to love your neighbor. The authors have been promoting the idea that we should take Jesus’ command literally; that the neighbors in the houses next to us should be primary recipients of our love. I like it, and though I think there are some statements that should require a bit more nuance, I think the message deserves a hearing.

The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament, Eugene Merrill, Mark Rooker, and Michael Grisanti.

I just finished The World and the Word by Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti for my seminary Old Testament Introduction class. Scholarly and conservative, a blend that is rare these days. Not sure the book will appeal to most people, but it does a good job of dealing with critical issues in such a way that bolsters my confidence in inerrancy. For that, I like it.

Stunning Sentences, Bruce Ross-Larson

Also just finished reading Stunning Sentences, which basically describes different techniques that go into writing a good sentence. Probably many better books on the subject out there, but I got this one for a buck at the used book store. So there.

Keeping the Heart: How to Maintain Your Love for God, John Flavel

I’ve been in the middle of Keeping the Heart by puritan John Flavel for a while now. I’ve liked it; especially the version I’ve linked to, which has the original text with modern headings and subtitles. Makes it more readable and less threatening.

 

 

A few thoughts on World Vision

If you have no idea what this is about, click here: Why We’re Hiring Gay Christians in Same-Sex Marriages

A few thoughts:

First, it’s absurd to think that a ministry can defer theology to the church. As soon as you begin talking about ministry or mission, take off your sandals you’re on theological holy ground. Those are weighty theological concepts that cannot be defined otherwise. As soon as one asks the point of the mission, only a theological answer will do.

Second, it’s also absurd to say that the adjustment in policy makes no affirmation of the same-sex lifestyle. Of course it does. It’s a public declaration that unrepentant homosexuality is not a disqualification for Christian service. Paul would have said it’s a disqualification for the kingdom of God. Stearns doesn’t even make it a disqualification for his ministry, and make no mistake, his statement is a theological one.

Third, it’s a gospel issue. Minimizing sin minimizes the cross. World Vision has just made the world a darker place, where more unrepentant “Christians” will be affirmed though they remain enemies of God. Wherever the call for repentance is ignored under a guise of love and acceptance, the gospel is weakened. When World Vision okays the homosexual lifestyle, they sling mud on the cross, denying it’s ability to save, transform, redeem, and reconcile.

 

Christocentric hermeneutic?

This is a big deal these days.

“We’re not to come to the text with a Christo-centric hermeneutic, where Christ is seen as the main point of every text in the Bible–that often bulldozes the meaning of the text– but a Christo-telic approach, where Christ is seen as the end and completion to which every text points.”

Dr. Michael Grisanti

 

Self-seeking rebellion dressed up like lavish generosity

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Acts 5:1-2 “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only part of if and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

How easy it is to cloak our sin in religious veneer!

Here are two people aggressively self-promoting, vying for prominence, seeking to exalt themselves, unwittingly attempting to deceive God and steal his glory. And what does it look like? Two married congregants selling their property and giving money to the church.

O how careful we must be not to pursue religious achievement for human applause! It’s frightening to remember that our self-seeking rebellion can be dressed up like lavish generosity.

It’s no wonder that “great fear came upon the whole church” (vs. 11).

Book Look: “Awakening Faith: Daily Devotions from the Early Church”

Let me start off by saying I haven’t read this entire book. I’ve only X-rayed it. I’ve read a few entries to get a feel for it.

So this is not a normal book review. But, holding it in my hands and flipping through the pages I have an understanding of what it is, and I’ll evaluate it on that basis.

This is one of those book that has 366 short entries, one for every day of the year. Each chapter is an excerpt from one of the early church fathers. Looking through the pages you see some of the historical greats: John Chrysostom, Irenaeus, Ambrose, Ignatius, Tertullian, Augustine, Athanasius, etc. There are others included who weren’t exactly the stalwarts of orthodoxy (if my memory of church history serves me rightly): Origen, Leo the Great, and Cyprian. Besides those, there are several names I’ve never heard and certain entries that are anonymous.

I like this idea. In fact, any idea that gets the Christian to reflect on the fact that the faith he now professes is something of a family heirloom that has been handed down throughout the centuries; something that has been a matter of war and bloodshed; something that has been passionately disputed, argued, critiqued, and meticulously articulated–anything that reminds us of the long line of faithfulness is a win. Many modern believers don’t think of the faith that way. But they would be better off if they did.

I’m not sure how popular this book will be, but the fact that it got published (by Zondervan, at that) is a good sign. James Stuart Bell did some good work in making it happen and I think the church at large will be better off when it comes to learn about its heritage.

Want a year to soak biblical doctrine with the early church fathers– the ones who agonized over the “sound words” to preserve and protect the truth? Think about getting this book and using it to deepen your appreciation of the Christian tradition.

 

Thoughts on some books I’ve read this year

20121222-160302.jpgBest book so far: “The Conviction to Lead” Al Mohler

Wrote about this book here, and I’m convinced this is a book I’ll be benefiting from in years to come. I like to go back to it regularly and remind myself of what I’ve learned. It was close, but I’m calling it the best book I’ve read so far this year.

Book I’ve referred back most: “The Master Plan of Evangelism” Robert Coleman

This was a close second to Mohler’s book. I would recommend that any pastor read this book for an accessible, practical, and biblical look at Jesus’ method of reaching the world. I think the title of the book is somewhat misguiding, for the book is more about discipleship than what we think of when we hear evangelism. I’d love to read through this with a group of guys.

Biggest surprise so far:My Friend, My Hero, My Dad” Stephen Altrogge

Huge surprise. I loved this book. Probably should write a fuller review about it somewhere. As a new dad, I was blessed by the example of fatherhood presented in here and I think I might read it again someday.

Biggest disappointment so far: Tie between “The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction” by Alan Jacobs or “Passing the Baton” by Colin Marshall.

I think Jacobs’ book was disappointing because I had high, high hopes. I’m not saying it was a bad book. It was a good book. A nice book. But, as someone who loves reading, and reading about reading, my expectations weren’t met. I liked it, but didn’t love it.

Passing the Baton, coming off the same presses as one of my favorite books on ministry The Trellis and the Vine, also didn’t reach the bar. Again, it wasn’t a horrible book. But it was mostly a manual, and lacked life and zeal. There are many other books that accomplish better what this book intended to accomplish, and I’d start with The Trellis and the Vine.

Worst book so far: “Handle with Prayer” Charles Stanley

Frustrating for its bad theology.

Book I’d buy to give away: “Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart” J.D. Greear

I’m reading through this with my staff and because it’s very beneficial for ministry. Really good, really readable, and really short.

Notable Mentions:

Created in God’s Image by Anthony Hoekema

Getting to No: How to Break a Stubborn Habit, Erwin Lutzer

On Writing, Stephen King