Friday, February 13, 2015

Why I Am Skipping Church on March 29th

The short answer is because Tony Campolo is returning as a guest speaker.

I was introduced to Tony – former spiritual advisor to Bill Clinton and "Progressive Evangelical" - in 2013 when it was announced he would guest speak at my home church. Billed as "one of North America's most respected Christian leaders", Tony gave a message on July 21st entitled Missions: Getting Beyond the Kingdom of Ticky-Tack.

I quickly became concerned about some of the things he was teaching the congregation and consequently e-mailed my pastor before the following Sunday in the hope that his erroneous teaching would be addressed to the church so they could be sound in their doctrine. Being a discerning disciple (Acts 17:11; 1 John 4:1; 2 Timothy 2:15, Philippians 1:9-10, Psalm 119:125, Jude 1:3), I spent two and a half months thinking about Tony and working on a thorough message to my pastor explaining why Tony's views are unbiblical and dangerous. It has yet to be replied to, but I don't expect it will be.

I was willing to forget about all this since I figured he wouldn't be back and the flock would be a little safer because of that. However, after learning last month that he is returning, I feel a strong need to rehash those emails here for the flock.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bow Tie vs. Necktie, pt. 1: How the Debate Exploded out of Nothing

"My kids won't read the bible, they'll watch Bill Nye / When they start questioning God...I'll make 'em cry"

That was me in 2005.

For a couple days before the highly publicized live-streamed debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on February 4th, this old line of mine was playing in my mind. I suppose you could say I idolized Bill Nye in the sense that he represented science to me. So naturally, once I read the news of this event, I became excited. On the other hand, this announcement made many atheists react negatively. In short, they don't believe creationists deserve to be taken seriously and given a platform to be heard anywhere, anytime, in any way. Thankfully, Bill Nye - who really just wants to reach out to adults of the future as Ken Ham does - did not pull a Richard Dawkins. Several years ago, I would've sided with Nye's reasoning and I am so thankful to God for the position he's given me to see it from both perspectives now.

The topic of the debate (which was also attacked) was: "Is creation a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era?" This debate was born out of Bill Nye's unilateral attack on creationism in a YouTube video posted in late August of 2012, which Ken Ham replied to several days later. When an Associated Press reporter interviewed both about their respective videos, a member of Ken Ham's staff asked him if he would see if Bill Nye would be open to having a debate. Nye agreed, so long as Answers in Genesis covered his expenses.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Atheism vs. Theism ≠ Science vs. Religion

On April 23rd of 2005 - five years and some months before I would accept my Creator - I posted an entry titled "Eureka!" [on LiveJournal] I was excited because I finally found "a belief with no God AT ALL."

A few days prior, on the 20th, I stated I was "of Agnosticism", but renounced it just two days later after reading "even Agnostics could believe in a God". At this time, my interest in my own religion was renewed. Basically, I believed in Jesus as being nothing more than a moral teacher, rejecting all supernatural aspects in the gospels and attributing his miracle-working to illusionism. In effect, you could say I was a Christian atheist adhering to Jesuism. Though, in my mind, I first named this "religion" of mine Jeschriism before coining it Scientialism. In fact, just a few days after posting the "Eureka!" entry, I recorded a song in which I rapped, "I believe in Jesus, just not the Jesus you believe in / I believe in God, just not the God you believe in / Jesus was a human and God's real name is Science" I had fallen into the all-too-common perception of having to choose either religion or science. Interestingly, something about Jesus still attracted me. However, I did not take into account the claims to divinity made by Jesus. Without realizing it at the time, my belief in Jesus as a great human teacher who said the sort of things He did would actually make Him either a deceived madman or a deceiving fiend.

So, just a day after coining the word Scientialism for myself, I had read of Scientism and adopted it as my belief. Scientism claims that true knowledge can only be obtained scientifically. It claims the scientific method is the only way to understand truth and reality, not just one mode of reaching knowledge. The science (i.e. evolution) vs. religion paradigm is presupposed in the definition of Scientism. The "single-minded adherence to only the empirical" is stated as a strictly scientific worldview, whereas the "Protestant fundamentalism that rejects science" is stated as a strictly religious worldview. Scientism seeks to do away with all metaphysical, philosophical, and religious claims of truth, simply because they cannot be understood by the scientific method. Science becomes the absolute and only justifiable access to the truth. I am writing this to give you a sense of my confusion and search for something that would satisfy my existence. I now see Scientism's flawed logic and failure to meet its own standards of verifiability. I also now understand the cooperative relationship between faith and reason and see that the conflict instead lies between competing worldviews.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Understanding Our Triune God

The doctrine of the Trinity did not have any relevance to my life (that is, I did not believe it had any relevance) until the night the Trinity saved me. The truth is that the Trinity was always relevant, even in my stubborn rebellion. Our Triune God will always be relevant to humans, whether they're saved or not. The Godhead is a diverse community working together in perfect harmony and is thus the perfect example for us to unite in our differences. When we work together in fellowship, our unity should reflect the unity of the Trinity. God commands us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-17) because it leads to the best for our lives. God did not create mankind because He was lonely; the Trinity undermines this assertion. Rather, He created mankind to allow us to experience the ineffable bliss with Him.

Those who say the Trinity is a man-made doctrine simply because the word "trinity" is not in the Bible are making a poor excuse. The word "rapture" is not in the Bible either, but the concepts of both are clearly taught in Scripture. The word "rapture" comes from the Latin "raptus", which means "caught up" or "taken away". In the Bible, the Greek "harpazó" is used, which means "seize by force". Similarly, we gave the name "Passion" to the suffering of Christ from the Greek "paschó" (meaning "suffer") used in the Bible. In the Vulgate, the Latin "passio" is used, meaning "suffering". The word "bible" is not in the Bible either, so should we not believe that the books we have are the Bible? [On an interesting side note, the Koine Greek "ta biblia" ("the books") was also used by Hellenistic Jews to describe their Septuagint and the singular "biblion" had the meaning of "scroll" before it was used to mean "book".]

Anyway, a recent session in my apologetics group has made me understand the Trinity and its relevance better than I did before. One thing I learned in particular stood out and I felt a need to share it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Why Christ?

It is important (and interesting) to note that no religion changes lives as drastically as does Christianity.

The night I surrendered and submitted myself to the Supreme Being of the Universe, why didn't I immediately think of Allah, Brahman, Waheguru, Baha, Ahura Mazda, Gitche Manitou, or the god of any other religion? There is something about the God of Israel - "I AM THAT I AM" - that extends its reach past geographical locations. It is not as simple as our locations determining our faiths for us, as one particular person would love to have you believe. So, what sets Him apart from all other humanly-devised ideas? What makes Him stand out so uniquely that I would know which is the one true god that I was crying out to?

Thursday, July 05, 2012

The Existence of God

Yesterday, we had a great discussion in our Foundations of Apologetics study group.

The lecture outlined some of the major arguments for God's existence and their limitations and usefulness. The main point in this lecture was that we cannot give the skeptic the absolute intellectual justification he is looking for, but we can show him that Christianity is the best explanation for the "clues" we have been given. No one is able to prove or disprove God's existence beyond a shadow of a doubt, but we do have enough to be able to point towards God. Arguments alone will not convince someone, they are best used to sweep away obstacles. The lecture also looked at how humanity's quest for beauty only reveals that we are innately seeking something this finite world cannot satisfy and that our longing is a signpost pointing us to God (Eccl. 3:11). In addition, it explained how our dreams and aspirations are elicited by God to show the futility and hopelessness of our present situation without God and how our imaginations inventing beautiful worlds only discloses the inadequacy of what we have here. Near the end, the speaker mentioned that God not only exists, but utterly transforms; our testimonies provide the best evidence for God's existence. Anyway, there was much covered and as much as I would love to share it all here, I just wanted to share a thought that struck me at work today as I was contemplating what we discussed: the reason we aren't given absolute proof.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Where is the Body?

"Where is the Body if everybody's the tongue? / As if that's the only gift they thought He has brung / And some of you are actin' like the truth is for the few / Tongues ain't the evidence, 'cause the proof is in the fruit"

I hadn't planned on initiating this apologetics blog until I was ready to continually update it. However, something has recently "hit my soul" to the extent of being the cause of a bothersome righteous indignation that I have been feeling for a few days now. It has inflamed me about as much as (if not, more than) prosperity theology and I cannot keep it in.

As the backstory, I began leading an apologetics study group at my church a week and a half ago. One of the people I invited to join is a childhood friend of mine; one I am glad God allowed me to reunite with after I was saved. He told me he was bringing a friend to the first session and I was excited for another interested person. In the first group discussion, his Pentecostal preference soon became clear to me. Now, I never really thought much of the divisions and denominations of Christianity. It just seemed obvious to me that believers would eventually have disagreements over unrevealed matters. These past few days, though, have made me look at them in a different light - specifically, the petty arguments that are not salvation issues and have nothing to do with the gospel message. When these gray areas, in which we have freedom, are made into black and white issues, we end up with disgustingly unnecessary separations to the Body of Christ. It is frustrating – but more than that, saddening – to be involved in non-essential and unbiblical bickering. I’m not so much bothered by debating doctrinal truths as I am by doing it in a study group about something completely different. It takes the concentration away from the topic at hand and needlessly wastes time.

I feel led to post these thoughts about this individual in the form of a letter. It is said that it is therapeutic to write a heartfelt letter, but not send it. I agree. Though, in this case, whether this letter is seen by said person is not up to me.