Monday, September 18, 2017

Why Are All Persons of Equal Worth?

Image result for adam first man on earthוַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃


      So God created man in his own image, 
      in the image of God he created him; 
      male and female he created them.

This is why people are all equal.  This is why every person on earth has sacred worth.  Because they are all made in the image of God.

What does it mean to be made in the image of God?  Since God is a spirit, and a spirit does not have flesh and bones, it cannot mean God's physical image.

We have a clue, however, in this:  No other animals in the creation story were made in the image of God.  Only people.  So what is the major difference between people and animals?

Moral agency.

When a new lion pack leader kills the cubs of the previous pack leader, even though they are still cubs, we do not hold him guilty of murder.

But if a man murders children, we do hold him guilty of murder.

The man has moral agency... he is morally responsible for his actions.

That is the Image of God.  What makes us human is that we are responsible.

Now, one theological objection to my premise might be this:  Adam and Eve were made in the image of God, but Cain and Able (and Seth, and all the rest) were made in the image of their parents.

But Genesis 9:6 makes a blanket statement:


      “Whoever sheds the blood of man, 
      by man shall his blood be shed, 
                  for God made man in his own image. 

Now, capital punishment issues aside, this verse makes a blanket statement, after the flood of Noah, regarding the worth of human beings, and giving a reason for it:  All humans are of the same worth because they are all made in the image of God.

One weak objection to this would be that it only speaks of "man," not woman.  But the Hebrew word there translated as "man" is "אָדָם" (adam) which refers to both men and women.  It is the same word used in Genesis 1:27 above, which calls both "male and female" by this word.

The important question here, then, is this:  If we jettison the Torah, if we jettison the "Image of God" concept, what basis do we have for declaring that all people are equal?  A word of warning:  Simply stating "All people are equal" is not an argument... it is a statement.  What is the foundation upon which it is made, if not God?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Bible and Science

"Science" has already disproven the Bible.  Let me explain why I am still a Christian:

In the 1820s, an archaeological dig in Babylon discovered that, beyond any doubt, Nebuchadnezzar was NOT the king of Babylon during the Babylonian exile.... His brother was.  There was no way to resolve it, the matter was settled.  The Bible was wrong.

90 years later, further archaeological digs in the same area discovered that, while Nebuchadnezzar's brother was, indeed, King, he spent most of his time out of state, leaving his brother as the vassal King.  Armed with this knowledge, we then look at Daniel 5:29, where Nebuchadnezzar promotes Daniel to "third highest" in the kingdom, and it suddenly makes sense... Nebuchadnezzar himself was second highest.

The Bible was right all along, but for 90 years, the world had "solid, incontrovertible evidence" that the Bible had a factual error in it.  If you were a Christian at that time, and you were aware of this error, would you have abandoned your faith?  Would that have been the right thing to do?  

"Science" is never 'fixed.'  The "Science" is never "settled."  The moment it becomes settled, it ceases to be science and becomes Dogma.  GOOD science says this:  EVERYTHING is up for debate.  And always will be.  

Given the facts, then, if the Bible were "absolutely proven false by science," I'm going to stick with my faith.  Because even if none of the Bible is true, even if God doesn't exist and Jesus never lived, Christianity is still a great way to go through life.  

But I am personally convinced that Christianity is True, and that Jesus is alive.  

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What does "Making Mischief" mean in Islam?



According to  "A Dictionary of Modern Written Arabic (3rd ed.)." Spoken Language Services. p. 712, written by Hans Wehr and J. Milton Cowan, the word "Fasad" (Arabic: فساد‎‎ /fasād/) is an Arabic word meaning rottenness, corruption, or depravity.  In some English translations (Yusuf Ali, which is the most popular English translation, but also the Shakir and Mohsin Khan translations), it is translated as "Making Mischief." Translator Muhammad Sarwar goes so far as to translate it "to spread evil."

The word is used in Surah 5:33 of the Qur'an (which, ironically, immediately follows the most commonly misquoted verse in the Qur'an, 5:32, which you can read in its entirety HERE) and the punishment for Fasad is described in great detail. 

Surah 5:33 Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption (Arabic: فساد‎‎ /fasād) is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment,

What is the punishment for Fasad? Death, crucifixion, or dismemberment, or exile.  Indeed, the punishment is ONLY this... that is, there can be no other form of punishment.  Just one of these four.

Can anyone commit Fasad without knowing it?  According to the Qur'an, yes.  

Surah 2:11-12:
   11.      When it is said to them: “Make not mischief on the earth,” they say: “Why, we only Want to make peace!”

   12.      Of a surety, they are the ones who make mischief, but they realise (it) not. (sic) (Yusuf Ali translation)

Who are the ones who commit Fasad?  They are the ones who say they want to make peace.  Are they being dishonest when they say this?  No, because according to the Qur'an, they don't realize the error of what they are saying... that is, they are sincere.  

If you are a Christian, and you teach other people that Jesus Christ was Crucified, died, and was raised to life on the third day, you speak against Qur'an 4:157, which you can read HERE.  If you do this, you "cause corruption" or "make mischief." 

What does the Qur'an tell Muslims to do to you?

How does that make you feel?


Saturday, July 29, 2017

Canaanite DNA disproves the Bible?

Lately, I've seen several posts about the discovery, apparently by someone named "Science," of Canaanite DNA, which "disproves" the Bible.


I'm seeing this a LOT.  Several times a day.

Why?

The Bible does not say the Canaanites were wiped out.

Joshua 17:12-13 (ESV) reads:
12 Yet the people of Manasseh could not take possession of those cities, but the Canaanites persisted in dwelling in that land. 13 Now when the people of Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not utterly drive them out. 

See also: Judges 1:27-33

So where does the Bible say that all the Canaanites were destroyed?

Deuteronomy 20:16-17 (ESV), which comes well before the above reference, reads:

16 But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 but you shall devote them to complete destruction, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded,


So God commands the Hebrews to wipe out the Canaanites.  Ok.  But does that mean they did?  Like most of God's commandments, the Hebrews failed to keep this one as well.  What does that show us about the Hebrews? That they're just like the rest of us, who also fail to keep God's commandments.

What does this show us about what "Science" has said?

That those who say the Bible is disproven haven't read the Bible. They don't know what it says, and therefore cannot disprove it.

As Dr. Frank Turek is fond of saying, "Science doesn't say anything.  Scientists do."


For further reading, click HERE and HERE.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Cosmological Argument for God's Existence

Response to the claim:  "Creation science begins with God, and thus invalidates itself by making a priori assumptions which it fails to substantiate."


Image result for stone
We don't start with the assumption that God did it and then work forward from there, we start with the assumption that something, anything, now exists and ask where it came from.


So this rock (R1), for instance.  This rock exists.  Science loves rocks.  Where did this rock come from?  It had a cause(Cr)... whatever that cause may have been... but where did that cause (Cr) come from?  From whatever caused it (C1).  And where did C1 come from?  from C-1, of course.  And C-1 comes from C-2, and so forth.

But this cannot go on forever.  You cannot postulate an infinite regression of causes because it is logically impossible to traverse an actual infinite.  That is, if each iteration of C requires only a single second in the history of time to both become and to cause the next iteration, but there are an infinite number of causes, then there are an infinite number of seconds prior to this one.

We could never arrive at this second right now, then, because there would always be an infinite amount of seconds prior to it.

Thus, an initial cause is philosophically necessary.

Image result for big bangThis cause CANNOT be the Big Bang.  Why?  Because matter, space, and time all came into existence at the same moment.  Since the Big Bang is a physical event, it cannot cause itself.

Therefore, whatever caused time, space, and matter to come into existence must itself be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial.  It must also be immensely powerful to cause time, space, and matter to come into being, and further, it must be personal, because it makes the choice to begin the act of causing these things to come into being.

That is, it is philosophically necessary for there to BE an initial cause, which itself needed not to be caused.

Now, why can't that initial cause be the universe itself?  Because of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, which states that everything is winding down, like a clock.  If the universe itself were infinitely old, we would already have experienced the eventual heat death that science predicts, on top of the logical impossibility of an infinite regression of causes.

So if the uncaused initial cause is timeless, spaceless, immaterial, powerful, and personal, what would we call that?

We'd call it God.


NOTE:  Many thanks to Drs. Gerald Schroeder, Frank Turek, Ravi Zacharias, and William Lane Craig, among others, for their work on the Cosmological Argument.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Why the Qur'an argues against the corruption of the Bible

Links provided, so these verses can be verified.  I have not changed any of them.

Sura 29:46 (LINK)
And do not argue with the People of the Scripture except in a way that is best, except for those who commit injustice among them, and say, "We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you. And our God and your God is one; and we are Muslims [in submission] to Him."

Sura 3:3-4 (LINK)
He has sent down upon you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth, confirming what was before it. And He revealed the Torah and the Gospel.
Before, as guidance for the people. And He revealed the Qur'an. Indeed, those who disbelieve in the verses of Allah will have a severe punishment, and Allah is exalted in Might, the Owner of Retribution.

Sura 18:27 (LINK)
And recite, [O Muhammad], what has been revealed to you of the Book of your Lord. There is no changer of His words, and never will you find in other than Him a refuge.


Premise 1: Allah revealed the Torah and the Gospel.
Premise 2: No one can change Allah's words.
Premise 3: Therefore, the Torah and the Gospel are not corrupt.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Trinity Sunday 2016 Sermon Notes

Trinity Sunday 2016 Sermon Notes

Primary Text

John 16:12-15


12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.


1 John 4:7-9

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  (agape, divine, perfect love) 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.


John 3:16

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.


The Greatest Commandment

Matthew 22:35-40


35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”



Here again, the word "Love" is a conjugation of the Greek word "Agape."


"Love" in the Bible

The New Testament uses two primary words for "love."


The word "Love" appears 286 times in the English Standard Version,


258 times, it uses a form of the Greek word "Agapeo," which means "to love, to show love, or to take pleasure in."  This is a selfless love, and this is how God loves us, but also how He commands us to love one another.


25 times, it uses a form of the Greek word "Phileo."  This is a kind of brotherly love, between people, and is used less than 10% of the time.


Likewise, the Old Testament uses two primary words for "love."
Love occurs 458 times in the ESV translation of the Old Testament:

247 times, the word "Love" translates the Hebrew word "Ahav." It means: "To like, to love, to endear, to flirt, lovable, love.


245 times, the word "Love translates the Hebrew word "Chessed."  It means "Loyalty, joint obligation, faithfulness, goodness, graciousness, Godly action."


Example: Agapeo

Luke 11:42


42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.


Example: Phileo

Matthew 6:5


5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.


Example: Ahav

Exodus 20:5b-6




for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.


Example: Chessed

Genesis 24:12


12 And he said, “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham.


God is Love

So we said earlier, in 1 John 4:8, that "God is Love." And we mentioned that in that passage, John uses the word "Agapeo" to describe this essential nature of God.


This is a selfless love, and this is how God loves us, but also how He commands us to love one another.


But here is a question for us:  If this kind of selfless, giving love is an essential nature of God, that is, if God is defined by His ability to love selflessly, who did God love in this manner before He created us?


And while we ponder that...



The Atonement

Let us consider the Act of Atonement.


This question is often raised by those opposed to Christianity, and it goes something like this:

If God is Just, then that means that God is fair.  But God is presented with billions and billions of sinners.  If Jesus is truly going to pay for the sins of each one, wouldn't He have to live billions and billions of sinless lives, and then be sacrificed billions and billions of times?

How can one death, even the death of a perfect man, pay for more than one sinful life?

The Jews have adopted the position that each man's death pays for his own sins, but that is problematic as well.  In that instance, the lamb is spotted.  An imperfect lamb cannot be the sacrifice to cover sin, according to the Torah.


Yes, Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life, but is His one death enough to cover all sins?


A Third question

Since this is Trinity Sunday, and the message is about the nature of the Trinity, I'm going to stick with our theme here and ask a third question:


If, in the New Testament, Jesus does not speak directly to an issue, does that mean the issue is not important to us?

For instance, only once does Jesus come close to addressing the issue of homosexuality, when He says, in Matthew 19:3-6


3 And Pharisees came up to him and tested him by asking, “Is it lawful to divorce one’s wife for any cause?” 4 He answered, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”


Since we follow Jesus, shouldn't we only listen to His words?  Should we ignore what came before, in the Old Testament, and only focus on what the Master specifically addresses?


Trinity

The answer to all three of these objections is the Trinity.


Unless we have some understanding of the idea of the Trinity, we cannot reasonably answer these objections.


Before the creation, who did God love?  The Father loved the Son and the Spirit, the Son loved the Spirit and the Father, and the Spirit loved the Father and the Son.  Three persons in one Godhead, selflessly loving and being loved in eternity past.


And the death of one man to pay for all men?  They're right, it's insufficient.  But they don't understand the Trinity.  You see, Jesus wasn't JUST a man.  He was God, made flesh.  He was the earthly representation of the infinite.  It wasn't just a man who died that day, it was God, who loved selflessly and gave Himself for us.  An infinite payment for a finite debt.


And what about the words of Jesus in the New Testament?  Should we only listen to those, at the exclusion of the Old Testament?  Not if we believe in the Trinity.  What the Father has spoken in the Old Testament, the Son and the Spirit do not disagree with.  Indeed, since the Three exist in Trinity, Jesus spoke everything in the Old Testament too.


The Trinity

The Trinity is an essential doctrine of the Christian faith.  Without an understanding of it, we cannot understand the atonement, the scriptures, or the very nature of God.


So how do we define the Trinity?


My favorite definition is this:


The Trinity is a mystery which cannot be comprehended by human reason but is understood only through faith and is best confessed in the words of the Athanasian creed, which states that we worship one God in Trinity and Trinity in Unity neither confusing the persons nor dividing the substance. That we are compelled by the Christian truth to confess that each distinct person is God and Lord, and that the deity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is One, Equal in Glory, co-equal in majesty.