It is Okay to Pass This Test

Kevin DeYoung shares that we can “examine [ourselves] to see if we are in the faith” and conclude that we are. An excerpt:

The thing we often miss with 2 Corinthians 13:5 is that Paul expects the Corinthians to pass the test…So go ahead and encourage one another to examine the heart. Let’s be honest and see if we are in the faith. Let’s test whether or not Christ is in us. But as we put our “in-Christness” to the test let’s not forget it’s okay to give ourselves a passing grade. To God be the glory.


J. P. Moreland on Hawking and Mlodinow’s The Grand Design

J. P. Moreland quickly and concisely refutes Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow here. A taste:

The fact that many people have been influenced by the claims of Hawking and Mlodinow is sad to me. Here’s why. In previous times when average people knew more philosophy, these claims would simply be laughable…


Are you sure Spurgeon is not alive today?

“[This] age extols no virtue so much as “liberality,” and condemns no vice so fiercely as bigotry, alas honesty. If you believe anything and hold it firmly, all the dogs will bark at you. Let them bark: they will have done when they are tired! You are responsible to God, and not to mortal men. Christ came into the world to bear witness to the truth, and he has sent you to do the same; take care that you do it, offend or please; for it is only by this process that the kingdom of Christ is to be set up in the world.” – C. H. Spurgeon


William Lane Craig’s Videos

Someone has a helpful index of Dr. Craig’s videos here.  Craig is one of the foremost Christian philosophers of our time, and an index of many of his video appearances is a great thing.

Faith and Good Works

I have often struggled with the relationship between faith and works in my own life. I can go from one extreme to the other. At one moment, I think I can live in sin and still expect to go to heaven. At another moment, I think I have to be good to earn God’s favor.

I have been helped by good teachers like John Gerstner, whose teaching is summarized in “A Primer on Roman Catholicism,” a short 44-page introduction to the topic.

Gerstner is very helpful in stating the distinction between reformation (read: Biblical) Christianity and Roman Catholicism. Gerstner’s basic explanation is given below in three formulas. The first two are wrong-headed. The last one is spot on. I have taken some liberties with the explanations.

Formula of Antinomianism (that means anti-law): FAITH – WORKS = JUSTIFICATION . This is often called ‘easy-believism.’ Walk forward at the invitation, mouth a prayer you don’t mean, and never doubt your salvation ever again despite the fact that there is no change whatsoever in your attitude toward sin. This idea is not Biblical. See James 1:22-27, 2:14-26.

Formula of Rome: FAITH + WORKS = JUSTIFICATION. Works are infused righteousness in the believer that are meritorious. These works, a result of God’s grace, earn salvation in a sense. God saves by faith, but he does not save those who are not inherently righteous. See Romans 4:1-8.

Formula of Reformers and the Bible: FAITH = JUSTIFICATION + WORKS. The faith that saves results in a heart set free from the guilt of sin. Guilt is what gives sin the power to rule our lives. When that guilt is removed, our hearts are motivated by gratitude and love to do good works. Good works do not play a part in earning justification, only Christ’s work does. Faith alone saves, but not a faith that is alone. See Romans 6, noting that the chapter is about things that are true, not things we are to make true.

The bottom line is: “Flee to Christ.” We are to abandon all hope in our works and run to Christ, Who is our righteousness. This kind of faith saves and gives hope. I abandon all hope in myself and rely completely on what Christ has done.

(See Dr. Gerstner explain part of this on a uTube video here.)


The Beginning

I have followed with interest much of what Paul Davies has written on the subject of science and the origins of the universe. He certainly writes many things which I do not agree with, but he is often eloquent and intelligent. Here’s a sample of him confronting the notion of an eternal universe:

One evasive tactic is to claim that the universe didn't have a beginning, that it has existed for all eternity. Unfortunately, there are many scientific reasons why this obvious idea is unsound. For starters, given an infinite amount of time, anything that can happen will already have happened, for if a physical process is likely to occur with a certain nonzero probability-however small-then given an infinite amount of time the process must occur, with probability one. By now, the universe should have reached some sort of final state in which all possible physical processes have run their course. Furthermore, you don't explain the existence of the universe by asserting that it has always existed. That is rather like saying that nobody wrote the Bible: it was just copied from earlier versions. Quite apart from all this, there is very good evidence that the universe did come into existence in a big bang, about fifteen billion years ago. The effects of that primeval explosion are clearly detectable today-in the fact that the universe is still expanding, and is filled with an afterglow of radiant heat.

I have found this line of reasoning to be good reason for faith. There are scientific and philosophical reasons to believe in a beginning and a Personal Creator.

It is not possible to move through an infinite series of moments of time. For example, if time extends forward out to infinity then it is obvious we will never reach the end of it. Reversing the process, if time extends infinitely into the past, we could never have moved through time from the past to get to this moment.

(For an physicists reading this: the common understanding of time is used here as an analogy. The line of reasoning in the next paragraph follows no matter how you see time.)

Similarly, we cannot expect that an infinite regress of finite causes exists either. That is, if we move backward from ourselves to the things that caused us, then backward to the things that caused them and so on, we must find something that did not have a beginning. Otherwise, we would never have moved through the infinite series of finite causes to get to ourselves. The infinite regression of discrete, physical things cannot exist in reality.

Whatever the first cause in the chain was, it must have always been (it is “eternal”) and it must have the power to bring about all we see in the universe (a part of “omnipotence”). We know something of God’s “eternal power and divine nature” from the world we live in.

We can know more than that from the line of argument. This eternal cause existed when nothing else did. Nothing outside of this first cause caused it to act or influenced it’s action. It had to have the power to act in and of itself. Only a being with the power of choice fits this picture. The power to choose without any outside influence is the hallmark of a Personal Being. This cause must have a personality in the primary sense of the word.

Evidence of rational design provides the rest of the picture of a Personal God. Further, we have historically reliable accounts of Christ’s life found in the New Testament that provide evidence that this Personal God is not adverse to interaction with His creation.

These chains of evidence and argument are enough to convince any unbiased person of the Christian God’s existence. The problem is that we are not, when left to ourselves, unbiased.


Faith and Reason

I heard some testimonies the other day that really stressed me out. Several people shared that Christianity implies the need for a “leap of faith,” or that “God’s existence cannot be proved because then faith would not be faith.” These ideas will not strengthen faith when Christians are confronted by worldly philosophy.

God's existence is as plain as the nose on our faces (Romans 1:18-19). Many, from St. Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas to John Gerstner to Greg Bahnsen, have proven the faith beyond reasonable doubt. The problem is not the lack of evidence, but the suppression of it. The unbeliever does not want to submit to God, so he or she refuses to acknowledge the truth that is plain (Romans 1:21-23).

There is no need to fall back on a position that says God's existence is to be taken on faith, as if faith is something that goes beyond reason. The Christian faith is the wisdom of God that makes foolish the wisdom of this world (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). The Christian faith is "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (Heb 11:1, ESV, emphasis mine).

My faith is something I am sure of, convinced of beyond any doubt.

Hawking and The Grand Design

There is a helpful set of links discussing Hawking and Mlondinow's The Grand Design here.

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