10/31/2009

Happy Reformation Day

Today is the anniversary of the day when Martin Luther nailed the 95 Thesis to the church door at Wittenberg. That was arguably the beginning of the Protestant Reformation.



There are some great give-aways and promotions on the web to celebrate:



The Listener’s Bible is giving away a free mp3 download of Luther’s “Here I Stand” speech. (Offer ends Nov. 1.)


Ligonier Minsitries advertizes a special price on case quanitities of "The Holiness of God" by R. C. Sproul. The chapter in this book called “The Insanity of Luther” is worth the price of a whole case, and you would have some left over for friends.


And what better way to celebrate than with study of some current issues on justification by faith:



Find Christianity Today’s “Not All Evangelicals and Catholics Together” here.


Find links to a Michael Scott Horton review of N. T. Wright’s theories on justification here.

10/30/2009

Geisler’s Cosmological Argument

I have cited several forms of the cosmological argument for God’s existence on this blog. One effective form of this argument comes from philosopher Norman Geisler. This argument begins from an undeniable premise: I exist. This is not always assumed to be true by modern philosophy. Geisler argues that God exists because I exist. Here’ s a rough outline:


1. Some things undeniably exist (e.g., I cannot deny my own existence).

2. My nonexistence is possible.

3. Whatever has the possibility not to exist is currently caused to exist by another.

4. There cannot be an infinite regress of current causes of existence.

5. Therefore, a first uncaused cause of my current existence exists.

6. This uncaused cause must be infinite, unchanging, all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-perfect.

7. This infinitely perfect Being is appropriately called “God.”

8. Therefore, God exists.

9. This God who exists is identical to the God described in the Christian Scriptures.

10. Therefore, the God described in the Bible exists.
(Geisler, Norman L., Christian Apologetics, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Book House , 1988, pp. 238-39)

This is just an outline, but it is an outline of an effective positive argument. A Non-Christian has the right to demand a defense of each of these premises, and I would welcome that discussion here.

10/26/2009

Unfashionable

I recently read the Kindle for iPhone Edition of Unfashionable by Tullian Tchividjian. This is an excellent book written at a popular level to help Christians see that they “make a difference in this world by being different from this world; they don’t make a difference by being the same” (Location 284).


That makes sense. If you want to change something, you have to make it different in some way. If what you want to change is a culture / people group / nation, you have to create a different culture within it.

One excerpt:

Ironically, the more we Christians pursue worldly relevance, the more we’ll render ourselves irrelevant to the world around us. There’s an irrelevance to pursuing relevance … To be truly relevant, you have to say things that are unfashionable eternal, not trendy. It’s the timeless things that are most relevant to most people, and we dare not forget this fact in our pursuit of relevance. (Location 405)
There is another way to look at this. A subject’s relevance to me really depends on my situation, not my perception.

A train coming down the tracks is relevant to me if I am standing on the tracks in front of it, no matter whether I perceive the train’s whistle to indicate a threat. Whether I think the train is important, it will crush me if I don’t move. If you bring the train and its threat to my attention, I will consider it relevant immediately.
The gospel is like that. If we bring to someone’s attention that they are under the wrath of God, then they will see that Christ having died for the sins of the world is important to them. The gospel is relevant in the extreme.

(Additional comments on the book can be found here.)

10/18/2009

Operation Christmas Child on my Birthday

I just stumbled on a Face Book application that allows a person to ‘donate’ his or her birthday to a cause in order to raise money. I ‘took the plunge,’ as my birth date is October 22.


I would like to support Operation Christmas Child. I went on a trip to Lima, Peru, last year to help distribute shoebox gifts to children. You can read my stories from the trip by clicking the label “Operation Christmas Child” to the right in the sidebar.

Please take the chance to pack a shoebox gift for National Collection Week this year, November 16-23. Drop off locations can be found by entering your zip code here.

Also, a $7 donation will pay the shipping on someone else’s shoebox, and we get several boxes each year at our collection center that need the ‘scholarship.’ You can donate by following the instructions at the Face Book Causes link here or by following the appropriate links here.

Then children were brought to [Jesus] that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15, ESV)

Amen!

10/17/2009

Flew’s Gardner and The Gardner

Two of my favorite modern parables are printed below. The first is one of my favorites not because I agree with its conclusions, but because I admire the way its point is made. From Anthony Flew:



Let us begin with a parable. It is a parable developed from a tale told by John Wisdom in his haunting and revolutionary article "Gods." Once upon a time two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. In the clearing were growing many flowers and many weeds. One explorer says, "Some gardener must tend this plot." The other disagrees, "There is no gardener." So they pitch their tents and set a watch. No gardener is ever seen. "But perhaps he is an invisible gardener." So they set up a barbed-wire fence. They electrify it. They patrol with bloodhounds. (For they remember how H. G. Well's The Invisible Man could be both smelt and touched though he could not be seen.) But no shrieks ever suggest that some intruder has received a shock. No movements of the wire ever betray an invisible climber. The bloodhounds never give cry. Yet still the Believer is not convinced. "But there is a gardener, invisible, intangible, insensible, to electric shocks, a gardener who has no scent and makes no sound, a gardener who comes secretly to look after the garden which he loves." At last the Skeptic despairs, "But what remains of your original assertion? Just how does what you call an invisible, intangible, eternally elusive gardener differ from an imaginary gardener or even from no gardener at all?" (Antony Flew, "Theology and Falsification," University, 1950-51; from Joel Feinberg, ed., Reason and Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy, Belmont, CA: Dickenson Publishing Company, Inc., 1968, pp. 48-49. )




I wonder what Flew thinks of his own parable now that he has converted to theism.


My second favorite is an answer to Flew’s parable. John Frame:


Once upon a time two explorers came upon a clearing in the jungle. A man was there, pulling weeds, applying fertilizer, trimming branches. The man turned to the explorers and introduced himself as the royal gardener. One explorer shook his hand and exchanged pleasantries. The other ignored the gardener and turned away: "There can be no gardener in this part of the jungle," he said; "this must be some trick." They pitch camp. Every day the gardener arrives, tends the plot. Soon the plot is bursting with perfectly arranged blooms. "He's only doing it because we're here - to fool us into thinking this is a royal garden." The gardener takes them to a royal palace, introduces the explorers to a score of officials who verify the gardener's status. Then the skeptic tries a last resort: "Our senses are deceiving us. There is no gardener, no blooms, no palace, no officials. It's still a hoax!" Finally the believer despairs: "But what remains of your original assertion? Just how does this mirage, as you call it, differ from a real gardener?"  (John M. Frame, "God and Biblical Language," God's Inerrant Word, ed. J. W. Montgomery (Minneapolis: Bethany Fellowship, 1974), p. 171.)



I side with Frame. God’s existence is ‘as plain as the nose on your face.’ It’s obvious. You must suppress or purposefully ignore overwhelming evidence in order to deny God’s existence.

10/10/2009

New Favorite iPhone Application

The Reformation Study Bible is now available as an application for the iPhone.


This is the best format and interface for a Bible program I have purchased. It beats Mantis and Olive Tree, although both of those are very good.

Its most useful function is the readily accessible daily Bible reading plan. It’s a ‘must have.’

How to Plant Churches – PCA Style

Thanks to In Light of the Gospel for a link to Redeemer Presbyterian’s new Church Planting Blog.

I just wish I could add it to my Google Reader account. Bummer.

Interesting that Keller spoke at a Willow Creek conference this past summer (see here for more). I missed that one. I didn’t know Presbyterians had it in them.

10/02/2009

Classic Luther

One of my favorite quotes from Martin Luther:

If you are a preacher of mercy, do not preach an imaginary but the true mercy. If the mercy is true, you must therefore bear the true, not an imaginary sin. God does not save those who are only imaginary sinners. Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong (sin boldly), but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides. We, however, says Peter (2. Peter 3:13) are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth where justice will reign. (from Letter 99, Paragraph 13. Erika Bullmann Flores, Tr. from: Dr. Martin Luther's Saemmtliche Schriften Dr. Johann Georg Walch Ed. (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, N.D.), Vol. 15, cols. 2585-2590.)

Are we daring enough to live  this? 

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