Have you ever saw someone that you’ve known most of your life in a different circumstance and not recognized them? We get to the root of who we are when we encounter these unexpected meetings. We tend to think of ourselves in the best of terms, but sometimes the mask is pulled back and we can see how sinful we can be.
What would we do with Jesus if we didn’t know who He was? I found myself not liking the answer I had to give.
Tim Challies is posting a series of articles on challenges to the church. So far he has tackled Relativism, Open Theism, and Pragmatism. All three are well worth reading, especially the article on Pragmatism.
Of the three issues that Tim cites, pragmatism is probably the most common problem in churches today. Too often we make decisions based on what works rather than what Scripture commands.
I have a confession to make – I don’t love the writings of C.S. Lewis. Don’t get me wrong, his non-fiction books are deep and meaningful. But I never made it any farther than the second book of the Narnia series, in part because his writing style is just not that catchy to me, and in part because I just don’t like fantasy that much.
But a couple weeks ago on my drive home, I discovered that Focus on the Family has a 30 minute radio show that is going through the Narnia stories in a radio drama. And I must say, I have been really enjoying the radio drama and the story, despite the lame voice work on Aslan.
What prompted me to post on it, however, was its relevance to the whole creation/evolution debate, as well as the whole debate about spiritual truth.
A Harvard University advance in generating embryonic stem cells may have the unintended consequence of hindering congressional efforts to lift research restrictions imposed by President Bush four years ago, leaders on both sides of the issue said yesterday as details of the discovery traveled through the scientific and political communities.
The news that Harvard scientists have successfully converted human skin cells into embryonic stem cells — without using a human egg or new embryo — is likely to muddle the already complex debate over federal stem cell research policy.
If anything, this latest discovery allows for stem cells to be harvested without destruction of life which has long been a point of contention for pro-lifers. However, it’s this paragraph that gets to the heart of the issue:
Embryonic stem cells hold the promise of treatment or cures for a range of diseases and injuries because they can grow into any type of cell or tissue. However, many conservatives, including Bush, object to the approach because existing methods of extracting the cells involve destroying young embryos called blastocysts.
Can you name any breakthrough as a result of continued embryonic stem cell research? You probably can’t because there hasn’t been one even though the United States leads the way in funding research (bet you didn’t know that either).
The myth that is being perpetuated by the media in stories such as this is that embryonic stem cell research is necessary to find cures for otherwise incurable diseases. They also contend that embryonic stem cells are superior to adult stem cells even though research suggests the opposite is true.
The fact is that millions of dollars are spent on research that has yet to produce any tangible results. Why should taxpayer dollars be used to continue to fund this research especially when life is destroyed in the process? They shouldn’t and the President is right to continue to stand against federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. This latest development, if it proves fruitful, could render the whole debate over embryonic stem cells moot.
I guess, as a creationist sympathizer, I have many goals, some that have to do with science, some with philosophy, and some with education and public policy. In random order:
- Impact of Evolutionary Philosophy: Because evolution has philosophical, religious, as well as scientific and public policy implications, we need to examine these critically. Evolution is more than a scientific theory – it is a philosophy and worldview that we should critically examine
- Evolution and Atheism: Because one important impact of evolutionary philosophy is that it supports an atheistic world view (but not exclusively), and because philosophy is not science nor truth, it should be treated as such
- Macroevolution: Because macroevolution is unprovable and not the same as speciation, adaptation, and natural selection (which all occur and are equally compatible with creationism), it should be separated out into the philosophy of science.
- Scientific Dogmatism: Because the current scientific community is dogmatic in its love of evolutionary philosophy, anyone who questions it, even if they have impeccable credentials, is black-balled of fired. There are many current examples of this. This must stop.
- Evolution and Science: The real fact is, the majority of science is done without any evolutionary assumptions, since it is not really needed to do good science. In fact, an evolutionary approach, or any solitary philosophical approach, impedes scientific discovery. Most of our greatest scientists and thinkers of the past have had a deist model – i.e. a design model.
- Is ID a Creationist Plot: Yes and no. Many creationists have adopted it as their Trojan horse into the schools, but most IDers are interested in the design question – ID is consistent with an evolutionary view as well as creationist – it only infers that naturalistic explanations do not currently explain things. A deist view does not obviate science with “if we don’t understand the natural process, God did it” – rather, it merely loosens the stranglehold that atheistic, naturalistic evolutionists have on the philosophy of science by simply asking, “how could we identify design if it were present?”Loosening this stronghold will remove the “apparent” but often unnecessary disagreements between science and faith (faith as opposed to superstition, which are not the same), and deliver us from the mechanistic, industrial age “modern” view into a post-modern view – one that embraces all of reality and truth as connected, rather than relegating the spiritual to the realm of subjectivity, unreality, imagination, and superstition.
A purely mechanistic view of life may keep us safe from the vagaries of spiritual life, but it also keeps us from the wonderful realities of the spiritual life, and the increased understanding gained from the integration of disciplines.
Anyway, I just started this program of receiving one volume every 2 or 3 months of the Ancient Commentary on Scripture series from IntverVarsity Press. You know the deal, if you join the "continuity program", you get the first volume (Commentary on Mark) for $10 plus a free gift, a paperback version of Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers.
I have refrained from writing about Cindy Sheehan and the anti-war protests that are springing up for the simple fact that I had nothing more to add.
Most conservative bloggers are trying to find the balance of honoring her fallen son and his sacrifice, while observing that Sheehan appears to have drunk a whole gallon of blue kook-aid. The liberal side has by passed the Catholic church and has made her a living saint.
Most bloggers are saying the same things over and over again on this issue (on both sides). But something I heard her say this morning struck me and I don’t know of anyone else who has commented on this.
Not only has Sheehan’s opinion of President Bush shifted since her first meeting with him, from her most recent language it appears her faith has changed as well.
I am all for capitalism and the free market. I think people should be able to spend their money on anything (legal) they want. It should not be the government’s or my business whether Donald Trump decides to build a new mansion or donate the money to a charity.
I have even defended the “evil oil companies.” I have no problem with businesses making a profit and people being wealthy.
That being said, I think the church has been infected with consumerism and it is not a good thing.
With the conclusion of Justice Sunday II (I echo Jim’s opinion at Stone’s Cry Out), I thought now might be a good time to discuss the American evangelical church’s seeming obessions with politics and condemnation of wordly activities. Is that the best way of doing things? But more importantly is that the Biblical way of doing things?
According to 1 Corinthians we may have everything backwards.
One of the most anticipated movies of the year is "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe" which is scheduled to open on December 9th. It’s the first of a series of planned adaptations of the popular books by C. S. Lewis.
Two new resources have been made available that tie-in with the movie. First, Barna Films is offering special group screenings in select areas on December 8th, the day prior to the official release date. Also, another website called Narnia Resources is designed to provide materials and support to educators who want to incorporate a discussion of the movie and the books into the classroom.
The Chronicles of Narnia is one of our family’s favorite series of books. From what I have seen thus far, the movie appears to be a pretty faithful adaptation of the book. I hope that the movie will exceed expectations and will be successful enough to make other movie studios finally recognize that this is the type of film that should be produced more often.
Today I found a fascinating interview with Jacob Needleman, the philosopher. This interview is about his book The American Soul : Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders. The interview is from American Public Media’s Speaking of Faith site (gotta love public radio). It aims to answer the question:
"What was the content of that religious impulse in early American thought? Was it dogmatic, as we fear the imposition of religion in public life in our time? And how might the religion of the founders continue to shape the American experiment in our more pluralistic, more secularized age?"
The blogosphere is exploding with growth, with new blogs popping up everday. Most with very little fanfare and exposure. Not that Two or Three is rolling in traffic here, but I thought I would direct our readers to some worthy sites that they may not know about.
Doug at Stones Cry Out points out that the New York Times finally noticed the Air America Scandal today (even though it was buried deep in the paper. That only puts them about two weeks behind a number of other newspapers and three weeks behind the blogosphere (namely Michelle Malkin who was one of the first on the story).
It’s no wonder the New York Times is no longer considered the newspaper of record. Of course, this also goes to prove that the blogosphere is increasingly becoming the place to go to remain truly informed about what’s happening in the world.
I admit it – I am a gamer, and currently enjoying Painkiller and Escape from Butcher Bay. But the few Christian games I’ve seen so far sux0r3d. Catechumen, by N’Lightning, was so poor, it didn’t even get reviwed by most big-name gaming mags. The one standout was The Neverhood, still one of the most fun games I’ve ever played – it wasn’t overtly Christian, but the ending is obviously a crucifixion allusion.
However, there’s lots of hope for this nascent industry, as seen by the increasing media coverage. Check it out.
- Christian Video Games Developers Seek to Grow Market (Christianity Today)
It just represents the tiniest fraction of an $11-billion industry, but developers expect the market to grow with the popularity of faith-based movies and books such as Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ" and the "Left Behind" series of novels.
- What Would Jesus Play? (Wired)
- Christians Code Heavenly Games (Wired)
- Video Game Biz Converting to Christianity (PC Mag)
- Christians purge video game demons (BBC)
- Christian game makers rise to new heights (Gamespot)
- Gamers Get religion–Christian Devs Rally for Xbox 360, PS3 (Gamepro)
- Here Come the Christian Games (GamersGame)
Of course, you could always work on Islamic games like the one described here:
Ummah Defense I, in which "the world is ‘finally united under the Banner of Islam’ in 2114, until a revolt by disbelievers. The player’s goal is to seek out and destroy the disbelievers."
Militant Islam, of course, sadly, is perfectly suited to first person shooters – kill the unbelievers!
One of the interesting defenses of Islam I have heard goes like this – both of the other monontheistic religions (Judaism and Xianity) were more primitive in the past, and both went through a reformation to make them more balanced, relevant, and gentle. Since Islam is a younger religion (having been started by Mohammed around 600 A.D.), it hasn’t had the chance to reach this "normalizing milestone."
In a recent Washington Post article, Salmon Rushdie calls for such a reformation for Islam. Much of what he is calling for sounds like a great positive move away from the harshness of fundamentalist Islam. But what really caused me to think was the main difference between what Rushdie is calling for an the Christian Reformation of the 1500′s.
Rushdie calls for Islam to stop viewing the Koran as the infallible word of God, while the Christian reformation was a call BACK to authority of the scriptures. Why this difference?
Because the Xian scriptures, when taken literally, are a call to righteousness by faith, love, peace, and forgiveness. The Koran, when taken literally, is a call to Jihad, violence, righteousness by servile obedience to law, and justice with little mercy.
Time magazine’s cover story The Evolution Wars. Included in their coverage is a piece about conflicts between God and evolution.
They interviewed four different people with varying ideas and experiences: Francis Collins, Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, Steven Pinker, Harvard Philosophy Professor, Michael Behe, Lehigh Biochemistry Professor and Senior Fellow at the Discovery Institute, and Albert Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.