Confident Faith - October 2018

Echoes of Transcendence

In the foreword to the 2014 book, "The Stories We Tell," Timothy Keller wrote, "I believe the Big Story of the Bible -- creation, fall, redemption, and consummation -- is so pervasive, so all-encompasing of our world, that we cannot help but echo it (or movements within it) when we're telling other stories."

It seems these themes are universal attractions as if we were actually created to live them, rather than as stories simply created for our amusement. Think of great books or movies you've seen that fit this. "A Tale of Two Cities" comes immediately to my mind. You will even recognize these themes and plots in some secular entertainment.

Below is something I wrote about a year ago along a similar vein of inexplicable (in a secular sense) echoes of transcendence - something beyond us not limited by time and space - we seem to be born with. It was meant merely to save my thoughts for later development, but I think it fits here as is. Take it as something to spur your thoughts.

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Why are we so drawn to epic heroic fiction like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings? We give the greatest honor to those who give their lives in sacrifice for others.

What does that say about us? Does it give clues as to our origin? Can this arise from random interactions of atoms or a survival of the fittest ethic?

Something within us says, "This is right." "This is worthy of our lives." The noble way is a real and higher road.

We desperately desire to give ourselves to a cause greater and grander than ourselves - to be a part of a heroic cause. We crave the transcendent.

We may try to deny it, but we are drawn to transcendence as a moth to a flickering candle flame. Perhaps, though, it is the flame that has sought us - like God approaching the bush with the purpose for which it was created.

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How can you turn a conversation toward witnessing? Perhaps you can bring up common echoes of transcendence, and then show the fulfillment of the echoes in the Gospel.

Harold

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Confident Faith - September 2018

Evolutionary scientists - in hush-hush backroom meetings of their own kin - are now confessing the impossibilty of current evolutionary mechanisms to create anything! They are searching for new mechanisms. It may be a few years before you see them publicly backtracking and even longer to get the lies out of the science and biology text books.

"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."
― Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers

Those theologians would be chanting, "In the begining, God ..."

Here is a humorus parody of evolution's claim that time + matter + chance can create all that has come into being:

"Once upon a point of infinite density, Nothing that was Something went boom. Then there was Everything. Everything eventually named Something Matter, the tragic character in our story. Sadly, Matter had no mind; yet this makes our tale all the more amazing!

Now Matter had only one companion, the hero of our fable, a mysterious stranger of unknown origin called Chance. Chance, though blind, was a brilliant artist. Chance taught mindless Matter to paint, and paint our pupil did. Matter painted a universe from center to rim on the canvas of a vacuum. And lo, innumerable galaxies emerged, filled with infinite wonders, beauty, order, and life. The inspired brush strokes of ignorant Matter, guided by the hands of blind Chance, created a cosmic masterpiece.

But as Matter and Chance were working away, they failed to spot our villain called Time. Time crept in unnoticed back at the boom and was extremely wound up about being stirred from his sleep. Time determined there and then to wind down again and thus rub the masterpiece out – as soon as he got hold of that Chance! Chance, being blind, didn’t see Time coming, and mindless Matter was helpless to intervene.

Now Time ruins the painting little by little and brags that by Chance, it’s just a matter of Time before the canvas is blank and the boom will swoon and everything that was Something will be Nothing again, once more a pointless point of infinite nothingness with no Time for Chance to matter anymore."
― Joe Boot, Searching for Truth, Discovering the Meaning and Purpose of Life , pp 53-54.

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Confident Faith - August 2018

You are going to have a wonderful opportunity to stand for the unborn as rhetoric over abortion heats up in confirmation proceedings for the recent Supreme Court Justice nominee. Many will cry for honoring the Supreme Court's 1973 ruling in Rowe v. Wade as settled judicial precedent seeking a commitment to not review and possibly reverse that opinion. But are there good reasons a court opinion should be reviewed? What if answers to some of the cornerstone assumptions have changed?

Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun wrote in his Rowe v. Wade majority opinion, "The judiciary, at this point in the development of man’s knowledge, is not in a position to… resolve the difficult question of when life begins… since those trained in the respective disciplines of medicine, philosophy, and theology are unable to arrive at any consensus."

Consider this story: You are the foreman on a demolition crew about to collapse a ten story parking garage. It also happens to be "Bring your kids to work day", so you brought your 8 year-old daughter, Suzie, and 6 year-old son, Mike, to work so they can see what you do.

You've just completed a top to bottom walkthrough of the structure and are about to give the "Blow it" command when you realize your daughter and son are missing. You last saw them when they were walking with you through the structure.

Would you go ahead and give the "Blow it" command given the uncertainty of the location of your children and the possibility they might be playing in the structure? Of course not. You know the explosions and the collapse of the building on them would be certain death if they are in there. You would hold the demo and go look for your children.

In his majority opinion, Justice Blackmun is actually saying that since there was no consensus when life began, it's ok to kill the unborn. In other words, I don't know where my children are but let's go ahead and blow the structure.

Consider Justice Blackmun's qualifier, "at this point in the development of man’s knowledge." In the intervening 45 years we have learned a lot about the unborn - to the point that nearly every Embryology textbook affirms that "life begins at conception." DNA testing affirms the unborn are human beings from conception. We now know the unborn is a separate and distinct human being from the mother. That is settled science.

Today there is more than sufficient evidence and harmony in science, philosophy, and religion that the unborn is a human being from conception and with a right to life. This compels us to give an answer contrary to the one Justice Blackmun reached. Stop the demolition! There's a precious human person in there!

Be prepared to stand for the unborn. Below are some links to get more details on the scientific and the philosophical case for life:
http://www.caseforlife.com/
https://www.newyorkapologetics.com/its-false-to-claim-that-no-one-knows-when-life-begins/

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Confident Faith - July 2018

Jesus was the #1 practioner of Apologetics in the Bible. That may come as a surprise to some. This article and following articles will show some of the ways Jesus and his followers used Apologetics and Apologetic techniques.

One of Jesus favorite Apologetic techniques was to ask questions. He asked 284 questions during evangelistic conversations in the Gospels! He knew the power of asking question to understand and clarify issues and to discern the heart of those he was speaking to. Making conclusions in question form is more persuasive than making statements. Asking questions also helps keep you in control of the conversation by keeping the other person on the "hot seat." See the book, "Tactics", by Greg Koukl, in the church library.

Jesus told people to believe he was the eternal Son of God on the evidence (signs/miracles) even if they did not believe his words. See John 10:37-38, John 10:25. There are two "revelations" - General and Special. General revelation is nature and the created order that points us to God such that none has an excuse from condemnation (Rom 1:18-20). Special revelation refers to God's Word, the Bible, the revelation of Jesus. Both revelations are evidential. The Bible's authenticity is supported by overwhelming evidence. See "God's Crime Scene" and "Cold-Case Christianity" by J. Warner Wallace in the church library.

Jesus engaged skeptics with reason and logic. He made the case for who he was and fully expected those who heard him to think and respond appropriately. Jesus did not expect faith in the absence of reasons to believe. The best definition of true Biblical faith I've seen is "active trust in what we have sufficient reason/evidence to believe is true". It's from a feeble first step of faith in Jesus that the Holy Spirit ignites a blaze of regeneration. Faith is not less than reason/evidence and truth though the forms and source of reason/evidence should change from child to Christian maturity.

If Apologetics and Apologetic techniques were the tools used by Jesus and his followers, maybe they should be added to your evangelistic kit, too. There are many Apologetic resources in the church library to help you develop a more Confident Faith.

Harold

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Confident Faith - June 2018

"When Jesus saw her [Mary] weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled." (John 11:33, NIV)

"Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance." (John 11:38, NIV)

Here are comments on these verses from Nancy Pearcey's latest book, "Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions About Life and Sexuality", page 38: (emphasis mine)

"Why did Jesus weep at the tomb of Lazarus even though he knew he was about to raise him from the dead? Because "the beautiful body was split apart." The text says twice that Jesus was "deeply moved in spirit and troubled" (John 11:33, 38). In the original Greek, this phrase actually means furious indignation. It was used, for example, of war horses rearing up just before charging into battle. Os Guinness, formerly at L’Abri, explains: Standing before the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus "is outraged. Why? Evil is not normal." The world was created good and beautiful. But now "he’d entered his Father’s world that had become ruined and broken. And his reaction? He was furious." Jesus wept at the pain and sorrow caused by the enemy invasion that had devastated his beautiful creation.

Christians are never admonished to accept death as a natural part of creation..."

Particularly with the recent student-perpetrated school shootings, we see universal concensus that these deaths were tragic and WRONG! We see rage directed at guns, lax procedures, loose laws, ... Jesus was enraged, too, but he saw the true culprit, sin, and set his face to the cross to become the final solution.

As conversations about these tragedies come up with co-workers, friends, and family, use the wrongness and anger they rightly feel as an entre to tell them that Jesus shared both their tears AND their anger. Only in Jesus will we find meaning, peace, and true comfort.

STUDY the Word. KNOW the Word. APPLY the Word. That's Confident Faith.

Harold

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