Sunday, August 31, 2014

It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over

“The Lord is King forever and ever …” (Psalm 10:16)
Florida State v. Auburn

Last season’s NCAA football championship final was an amazing game. The Florida State Seminoles and their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, high on a record-breaking season, were pitted against the upstart Auburn Tigers, recent defeaters of last year’s national champions. Florida State was touted as the prohibitive favorite — but as they say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over.

Auburn stormed out onto the field and took the Seminoles off guard. Their crafty game plan, superior aggression at the line and some stellar execution by their offense rapidly staked them to an overwhelming 21-3 lead. Meanwhile, nothing the Seminoles tried seemed to work, and Auburn’s every touch of the ball was golden.

But as they say, the game weren’t over yet.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Bible Contains the Word of God

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Too Hot to Handle: Why I Don’t Share My Faith

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The ‘Moral Hazard’ of Calling ISIS a ‘Cancer’

The New York Times, or at least one Michael J. Boyle, wants us to be careful about calling wickedness wicked:
“But if the ‘war on terror’ has taught us anything, it is that such moralistic language can blind its users to consequences. Describing a group as ‘inexplicable’ and ‘nihilistic,’ as Mr. Kerry did, tends to obscure the group’s strategic aims and preclude further analysis. Resorting to ritualized rhetoric can be a very costly mistake if it leads one to misunderstand an enemy and to take actions that inadvertently help its cause.”
Mr. Boyle is correct to express reserve about Mr. Kerry’s choice of epithets: the behavior of ISIS in Iraq is far from inexplicable and quite strategic, though its consequences are horrific.

But the Times’ concern about moralistic language is misplaced.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Inbox: Qman Asks the $64,000 Question

“Very interesting and relevant blog. The question I have at this point is who actually benefits from it at this site? Is there anyone else out there? There seems to be little response as far as I can tell. I did not see a mission statement for this site and if it’s only very local, then wouldn’t a wider distribution be better for getting across insights like this?”

Ask and you shall receive ...

A Little Background

ComingUntrue started last December, oddly enough, as a place for Bernie to dump his sermon notes online so he could access them from anywhere (he travels and uses multiple platforms). He saw potential for serious like-minded Christians to be able to post and comment on each other’s thoughts and studies. (I’m putting words in his mouth here, but I think that was pretty much the extent of it.)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Science Redux

David Berlinski does what I can’t (but certainly tried to) in a Peter Robinson interview appropriately entitled Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions. He quotes from his book The Devil’s Delusion:
“In many respects, the word ‘naturalism’ comes closest to conveying what scientists regard as the spirit of science: the source of its superiority to religious thought. But what reason is there to conclude that everything is, to quote philosopher Alexander Byrne, ‘an aspect of the universe … revealed by the natural sciences’? There is no reason at all.”
He comments on the validity of certain scientists’ claim to authority:
“The comparable claim would be, ‘(a) I’m a scientist; (b) I’m an expert on contract law’. You’re an expert on contract law because you’ve studied particle physics? Give me a break. An expert on the existence of God because you’ve studied particle physics? I request the same break, the same suspension of belief, the same absence of commitment to whatever it is you’re saying.”

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Beginning of Wisdom

The most current version of this post is available here.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Contemplating Evil

The most current version of this post is available here.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Throwing the Old Testament Under the Science Bus [Pt 2]

Before Christians join Michael Gungor and a growing number of fellow believers in throwing Noah, Adam, Eve, Jonah and a bunch of other Old Testament standards under the big ol’ scary Science Bus, I’m going to suggest we ask ourselves a few more questions about science:

5.  Are Scientists Infallible?

One only needs a quick glance at Wikipedia’s lengthy list of superseded scientific theories to recognize that they are not.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Throwing the Old Testament Under the Science Bus [Pt 1]

I have a degree of respect for the intelligence of critics who dismiss Scripture in its entirety on the basis that it is unscientific or incredible, though I don’t agree with them (and, in many instances, their arguments would be more convincing if they would take the time to actually read what they are criticizing).

At least, if wrong, their position is intellectually coherent.

But I have huge problems mustering respect for the thinking of Christians who want it both ways: they want to be considered Christians — and in many cases, even to be considered orthodox — but at the same time to reconcile their understanding of the Bible to the latest assertions of scientists, psychologists or historians.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

When Life Really Hurts

A more current version of this post is available here.

Monday, August 18, 2014

I’ll Wait, Thanks (or, I guess this makes me a ‘Huddle Person’)

Uh oh. Apparently, I’m told (and not for the first time) biblical literalism is not healthy. Not healthy for those I would like to win to Christ, and not healthy for me. It’s (at least potentially) repressive, and possibly worse.


In it, Michael Gungor coins the term ‘huddle people’ to describe me and my ilk, then gives us a lecture about the dangers of failing to accommodate ‘science’ in our Christian worldview: 
“... you can still love God and love people and read those early Genesis stories as myth with some important things to teach us. Not all of you will be ready to do that, and that’s perfectly ok. But know that if you create these dichotomies where we force people to either fall into the camp of scientifically blind biblical literalism or a camp where they totally write off the Bible as a complete lie, you’re going to rob a lot of people of some of the richness that the Bible offers. You’re going to create a lot more jaded, cynical people that are completely anti-religion out there. And you are going to continue to repress the questions that lurk in the back of your own mind. And that’s just not healthy. That sort of thinking actually quashes and limits human thriving in the world.”
— Michael Gungor

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gifts, Choices and Aaron Hernandez

“Good burst off the line from the three-point stance into a four-yard hook route. Good pad level and leg drive.”
— from Aaron Hernandez’s Gut Check Scouting Analysis, December 2009
“His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
(Psalm 147:10-11)
We all know (or know of) people who like to go to the track and drop a few bucks on the ponies. Under such circumstances, I can easily imagine taking delight in the strength of a horse, especially one that goes wire to wire. Why wouldn’t you? But back when the psalmist wrote, I suspect a soldier in a chariot would not be merely delighted by his stallion; that horse’s strength might well save his life.

I, on the other hand, take a fair bit of pleasure in the legs of a man.

Too bad, then, about Aaron Hernandez.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Do We Get the Leaders We Deserve?

“Every nation gets the government it deserves.”
— Joseph de Maistre, 1811
A similar quote is often attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville, though little evidence can be offered to substantiate it. Regardless, it is certainly a meme with legs.

Political analysts have a hard time leaving the idea alone. In a post entitled “The Country of the Blind”, Andrew Klavan gives several solid reasons why Barack Obama’s reelection confirms the truth of it, concluding with this zinger:
“No, I don’t think Obama can be held wholly responsible for the nightmare darkness descending on the world in the absence of American leadership. He won the election fair and square. But he won it in the country of the blind.”

Friday, August 15, 2014

Too Hot to Handle: Which Ten Commandments?

The most recent version of this post is available here.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is That All There Is?

I was 12, I think. A neighbour and I, along with his younger sister and her friend, were trying to recreate the magic of Abba in his parents’ bedroom with a cassette recorder and whatever current songs we could sing along to.

Somehow we stumbled on to a recording of Peggy Lee’s 1969 hit “Is That All There Is?”

I’m going to let Wikipedia explain why, not yet in high school and having not really even started living yet, I found the song spectacularly depressing:
“The lyrics of this song are written from the point of view of a person who is disillusioned with events in life that are supposedly unique experiences. The singer tells of witnessing her family’s house on fire when she was a little girl, seeing the circus, and falling in love for the first time. After each recital she expresses her disappointment in the experience. She suggests that we ‘break out the booze and have a ball — if that’s all there is ...’ ”

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Too Hot / Inbox (... or Help! Help!)

In case it isn’t immediately evident, we’re looking for thought-provoking subjects to bat around on Too Hot to Handle every Friday. We’re also very interested in your feedback on any and all of our posts, in the event you’ve never commented (many thanks to those who do).

So if you’re out there thinking, we’re listening. And if you’ve never commented or emailed us, Immanuel Can, Bernie and I would love to hear your questions.

Testimony in the Twilight Zone

A more current version of this post is available here.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Inbox: Subordination in Eternity Past

Forgive the “eternity past” reference in the title, please. Eternity is eternity. Calling it “past” or “future” is an accommodation to a linear existence taking place within time, at least so far as our senses permit us to determine, a state of being that seems highly unlikely to accurately describe that which characterizes God.

Tertius is causing trouble again. I’m paraphrasing here, but he’s asking, in connection with this post
“Can you show from Scripture whether the roles within the Godhead (specifically the submission of the Son to the Father evident during his life on earth and subsequent glorification) were characteristic of the relationship between Father and Son in [eternity past, as we have agreed to refer to it, for the sake of distinguishing it from the eternity we have to look forward to].”
When faced with a theological dilemma of this weight, I know where to turn for help. My mother tosses her hat in the ring:
“How about, ‘Then I said, “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God, as it is written of me in the scroll of the book”.’ ”

Monday, August 11, 2014

Exam Return

The most current version of this post is available here.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Appearance and Reality

A more current version of this post is available here.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

Inbox: Renewing Them to Repentance

A reader commenting on Hebrews 6 provides me with sufficient topical cover to link to a pair of earlier posts on the subject of eternal security.

The italics below are mine. JR has the following thoughts to add:
“[Hebrews 6] continues in the same vein as the previous chapters. Just as the Israelites who came out of Egypt came right to the edge of the promised land but didn’t enter because of unbelief, causing the Lord to seal them in their decision even though many of them lived for decades longer, so too these Hebrews had come to the edge of Christianity and were being warned that the Lord would seal their rejection — there’s a point at which unbelief is so insulting that the Lord seals a person in it even though they’re still alive. Also, this isn’t a danger that people face today. The Hebrews were being warned that since they had had an exceptional testimony of signs and wonders (something which isn’t present today), a choice to go back would be unforgivable.”
Then he adds three observations I haven’t read elsewhere:

Friday, August 08, 2014

Only One Son

A more current version of this post is available here.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Too Hot to Handle: The Christian View of Premarital Sex [Part 2]

In which two or more of our regular writers continue to toss around subjects a little more volatile than usual.

In an article appropriately entitled “Premarital Sex: Is It A Sin Or Not?” Charles Toy of TheChristianLeft.org contends it’s … not:
“There is no passage of the Bible that references premarital sex as a sin against God. The association between sin and premarital sex is a new Christian idea. The only possible reference to premarital sex being a sin in the Bible is in the New Testament. This premise although, is generally dismissed by theologians because the Greek word pornei, or sexual immorality is commonly incorrectly translated into the English word fornication.”
Tom: In our earlier discussion, we discovered we agree that Mr. Toy is wrong about the association between sin and premarital sex being a “new Christian idea”. It actually goes back to Genesis. So his first point is inaccurate.

So then, in the context of the New Testament, does the teaching that premarital sex is a sin against God depend on how you translate the Greek word pornei?

IC:  Not at all. In fact, Mr. Toy has simply not understood how language works.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Worst Advertisement

This is not an uncommon statement, sadly:
“As with the Christian religion, the worst advertisement for Socialism is its adherents.”
— George Orwell
I don’t know if expressing it in this form originated with Orwell, but the sentiment has, I’m sure, been around as long as there have been Christians. Why? Because there are always among us the immature, the untaught, the uncommitted, and those whose professions of faith are false for one reason or another. There will be until the Lord returns.

Small consolation that those who express the sentiment compare it to the insincerity, incompetence or general undesirability they observe in the adherents of other philosophies.

Monday, August 04, 2014

What Makes A Marriage A Marriage?

The answer may surprise you.

It’s not the ring, the dress or the ceremony. It’s not the preacher, the church or the gathered friends and family. It’s not government sanction or the filling out of the correct legal forms. It’s not the proclamation of banns or even the taking of vows.

We do all that stuff, and there are sound reasons not to discard most of these customs. One is foolish to spurn the accrued wisdom of generations simply for the sake of novelty. And there is value in the blessing and support of family and friends. There is strength in community. As Immanuel Can pointed out recently, marriage is hard and we need all the incentives we can gather, especially in this individualistic age, to remind us to take it seriously.

But not one of these trappings is essential.

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Wedded Blitz

A more current version of this post is available here.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Violence Inherent in the System

Increasingly, we are being told that it is no longer acceptable to discuss things that are plainly taught in the Bible. To dare to subject the ears of the delicate flowers among our family, friends, neighbours and peers to the word of God — not to mention those who might come across our views on the internet or elsewhere — is to engage in an act of abuse.

The current generation of post-secondary students accepts this as inarguable dogma:
“... if the popular Christian notion of abstinence is wrong, we have been mentally and emotionally abusing quite literally millions of people.”
— Student, to Jerry Walls
Richard Dawkins makes it explicit. You’re not only being repressed, you’re being outright damaged:
“But if your whole upbringing, and everything you have ever been told by parents, teachers and priests, has led you to believe, really believe, utterly and completely, that sinners burn in hell ... it is entirely plausible that words could have a more long-lasting and damaging effect than deeds.”
— Richard Dawkins