Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Beautiful No Matter What?

I am amazed by this snippet of Scripture:
For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; (1 Corinthians 1:26)
The 'smart Christian' is a rarity, so that if you are one, you have more going against you than the average person does. People with demonstrably higher intelligence than others are prone to take pride in their intelligence. They foolishly deem themselves to be self-sufficient in their own wisdom, and become unwilling to listen to others tell them what to think. If I considered my journey of faith to be due to my own effort, I would - and initially was prone to - assume that I came to the right conclusions because I'm smart enough to understand what I'm reading. But on the contrary, intelligence doesn't guarantee that you'll believe (1 Corinthians 2:14). God was gracious, in that He chose me, even though not many like me are chosen. So I was saved without regard for my intellect; if brainpower does anything for me, it might merely be that it grants me a greater capacity for introspection, with which to consider the faith that I know have.

That puts me in a perpetual state of awe. As I go about living, whatever I'm doing, my mind is busy always thinking, analyzing everything I come across with Biblical lenses and seeking how to apply the Gospel to every situation.


Walking through a store recently, I overheard the famous pop song "Beautiful" (2002, Christina Aguilera) playing over the speakers. For purposes of this analysis, only one line is necessary:

"You are beautiful, no matter what they say"
I have come to the place of maturity in my Christian walk where attempts at encouragement like this make me cringe. It's a very simple concept:
Place your confidence, and the foundation for how you view yourself, on something that cannot change.
Because,
If what you place your confidence in is something that can change, then, when it changes, you will experience a crisis of confidence.
This is not the reason it is wrong. But it makes it very easy to see why it's undesirable. If you choose to set your hope on sand, then when the sand washes away in the storm, so does your hope.

I have a suggestion: the "positive messages" redundantly insisting on telling all women (and sometimes men) everywhere that they are beautiful (Martina McBride's "This One's For the Girls" is another that comes to mind) are, I will grant for the sake of argument, well-intended. They aren't intentionally trying to set people up for failure by giving them a shaky confidence in other people's compliments. They are trying to persuade them to not depend on the affirmation of others. The only problem is, they try to do this by offering their own affirmation. And worse, while the goal is to tell women that they have worth despite what others say,


They communicate this by directly connecting their worth with their beauty. This is an implicitly sexist trope, perpetuated almost exclusively by women, for women. The message that we're all beautiful, no matter what, is really saying that what gives a woman worth and value is beauty. The obvious falsehood of the statement is what sets people up for depression: when someone accepts that they aren't as good looking as they hoped, or when they realize that they are aging, then they either a) succumb to despair, believing themselves to be without worth or value, or b) become desperately defiant, insisting that they are beautiful to people who react with a mixture of amusement and pity, and waste their money on "age-defying" 'beauty'-products. It is a form of slavery, to be a victim of this system.


What's the Christian difference?

Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel— rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God.
(1 Peter 3:3-4)
Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.
(Proverbs 11:22)
Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies. 

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing,

But a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.

(Proverbs 31:10, 30)
The Bible is unmistakable. A woman's worth is not found in her outward appearance. What is she praised for? Fearing God. What gives her worth? Virtue. What is precious and beautiful about her? A quiet spirit. Don't overlook that this beauty is called incorruptible. 
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 
(1 Corinthians 15:50-54)
And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. 
(1 John 2:17)
and those who deal with the world [should live] as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.
(1 Corinthians 7:31)
It's an obvious contrast. The outward beauty of your physical body is corruptible, passing away. It has no eternal value. What does have eternal value is the incorruptible beauty of a woman whose soul is saved; who fears the Lord and will therefore be raised incorruptible after the present external has passed away. She has worth and value, because God Himself calls her precious, and because He never changes (see my major premise in color above), you now have an unshakable confidence that will never come into question, throwing you into a personal crisis where you obsess about your appearance. You are free from that.

A woman who has never humbled herself in repentance over her sins against God and sought His forgiveness through His once-for-all, perfect substitutionary sacrifice of Himself, on her behalf, has no such promise.


You cannot live the abundant life (John 10:10) without first being given new life (Ephesians 2:4-5) (John 3:5-7). If you don't believe the Bible, what do its promises mean for you? How can your mind be changed by something you reject?

This is why the solution is not simple self-help, words of affirmation to insecure women. It is nothing less than salvation that is needed to free you from this slavery. And that is why you must be given the Gospel.

16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
(Romans 6:16-18)
One minute of your time can make an eternity of difference.


It is why we believers must give hurting people the Gospel, to set them free. Nothing else comes close to the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit renewing a person's mind (Romans 12:2) after He has converted them and sealed them for eternity (Ephesians 1:13). Why would we try to help with anything less than the best?

There is a postscript to this article that I'll hide below the break.



Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Internet Roundup 11-15-16

How then shall we pray? (Challies)
One of the things about becoming more mature in the faith and appreciating God's sovereignty is that it constrains how you pray. You realize that there are some things you just can't ask for. Such as for God's will to be thwarted. Such as for Him to do what you want, if it's not what's best. Such as for Him to be pleased to answer your appeal to your own desires, rather than to His glory. There are so many caveats you discover as you grow wiser, that it sometimes becomes difficult to think of how to pray, since you know God knows best and will do best, after all. That's why this article on Tim Challies' website is helpful. It collects Biblical references to how we ought to pray for those who are not saved. Use it to guide you as you pray.

Analyzing Exit Polls to Interpret How Many Self-Identified Evangelicals Really Voted for Trump, Enthusiastically. (The Gospel Coalition)
The conclusion by this writer is that about 18% of eligible voters self-identifying as 'evangelicals' voted for each candidate because they genuinely approved of the candidate. The point is to put in perspective how bad the cult phenomenon really is. Remember that just because someone voted for Trump, it does not mean they are in sin. I have strong convictions about the folly of casting a vote for the man, as explained by reference to dozens of articles I collected here. But that does not mean that everyone who voted for Trump was doing so out of a failure of spiritual conviction.

It's also worth noting that this TGC article doesn't even go into speculating on the authenticity of the professions of faith of those voting. It could very well be that all 36% of those who enthusiastically voted for each candidate constitute the unchurched. This would mean 1) that it doesn't reflect on the character of the average Christian, and 2) that they are the mission field, so that we should focus efforts to share the Gospel with people who we find out were very enthusiastic in their support for either major party candidate. Right? Because protecting our brand is not the motive here, it is to promote right thinking, so that the church can be effective in its mission.

Aimee Byrd Reviews Glennon Doyle Melton's Memoir and Comments on the Recent News of Melton's Rebound Relationship with Abby Wambach. (Housewife Theologian)
"I’m no longer torn. I’m sad that women who are lost are leading many with them....I’m sad that unbelievers see this bad witness of the church and think that Oprah’s book club has a better gospel to offer. I’m sad that many in the conservative church draw the orthodox line in critiquing speakers and authors on homosexuality, and not way before that, on first order doctrines."
"It all comes off gimmicky, performance as life. She speaks at Belong, but wouldn’t step foot in a church that upholds the inerrancy of Scripture. Those who believe what the Bible says about the one way to salvation do not belong. There is no listening to those who want to outreach with truth and love. She writes on and on about wholesome body image...[a]nd while she mentions bleaching her hair as one of her pathetic attempts to follow the “hidden rules” of society so that she can appear sexy, I notice in her latest Facebook update that she is now a blonde again. And I feel betrayed... She ostensibly fights for family and is horrified that other women have been brought into her marriage, threatening her children’s gift of a mommy and daddy who love one another. But this book was just released in September and she is already pronouncing her love for another woman."
-W

Once Again: Proof of the Resurrection, in Image Form

This is from a web-comic by a man named Adam Ford, whose other invention you may have heard of: the Babylon Bee, which he started in ~March of this year. Here is how he explains the proof of the Resurrection. Same argument I gave in my starter posts, but you may enjoy, or "get" it, better, in image format.

I'll link here: http://adam4d.com/jesus-rose-from-dead/

And embed the rest below the break:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Immediate Thoughts on the Election Results

1. The actions and attitudes of Trump Cult throughout the primaries and the general election made me realize that the only way they would ever accept that they were wrong, and repent, is if Trump became president and then totally betrayed them in every way. If he lost to Hillary, he would always be "the perfect president who never was," a martyr for them, and they wouldn't learn their lesson. They would fight for an even worse candidate in the future (see the After the Republic article in the hub I posted justifying not voting for either Trump or Clinton). Because the outcome of such an presidency would be conceivably worse than either Trump or Clinton's (is that hard to imagine? Not if you have a big picture view of history), it would be preferable to suffer the failures of Trump in order to avoid the failures of an even worse successor.

2. This logic doesn't seem to work for Hillary, since anyone voting for her would not have learned their lesson from Obama's two terms. Therefore, for good or ill, Trump's election would be better in terms of the wake-up-call it would give to the most people.

3. Note: this is quite separate from saying that I could endorse or vote for either candidate. I can not support their character, their policies, or the damage they would do to the church through their hostility. But each one represents a different quality of divine judgment. Clinton would continue the slow rot, resulting in a worse catastrophe, but nevertheless delaying it farther down the road. Trump, I reasoned, would be more likely to cause a catastrophe very soon, which in that sense would be a mercy to us, interrupting the course of our national drift. I looked at the fact that God used various invaders to punish the Israelites and cause them to turn back to worshiping Him, over many centuries. This could be blown up to a full length article, but I'll stop here.

4. Note also: if Trump turns out to be a great president, then it would be my turn, and the others in my camp, spiritually and politically, to admit (but with relief) that we were wrong. So, because both groups - those incapable of ever endorsing Trump, and those unwilling to draw a line in the sand beyond which they would not endorse him - can stand to be proven wrong, and thus, repent and not make this mistake again, the election of Trump is the best possible outcome, speaking from an empirically scientific standpoint.

5. My primary concern is still the witness of the church, as aptly put by both Erickson (here) and Deace (here). The outcome of the election is a separate question from whether we should be seen by the world to be supporting this man and accepting him, least of all as a Christian brother. If the Gospel is a stumbling block to someone (1 Peter 2:7-8), then that is fine, because then they are offended for the right reasons: God, not your personality. But if they are offended and turned off from the Christian faith because of your profession of faith in Jesus Christ, and your personal decisions that have no direct connection to the Gospel, then it is to your shame. Further, God places the responsibility on you to avoid doing just that! 
"He said to His disciples, "It is inevitable that stumbling blocks come, but woe to him through whom they come!"(Luke 17:1)
"When I say to the wicked, 'You will surely die,' and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand." (Ezekiel 3:18)
I refuse to be responsible for putting a stumbling block to faith in front of any unbeliever who is watching to see what people who call themselves Christians will call good by how they vote. That is why I voted blank, rejecting all parties on the ballot. This matter of Gospel integrity is much more important to me than the outcome of the election. God is in control of what the next president will or will not do. To me, He has delegated the responsibility to be an ambassador for His kingdom (2 Corinthians 5:20), and warned me against doing anything whereby I myself make a stumbling block, that is, cause someone to be turned off to considering Christianity because of my conduct.

Steve Deace said it this way: 
"I am afraid of the message we will be sending this culture by compromising everything we claim to believe in, by supporting a man who embodies everything we supposedly oppose. And I’m afraid the cost for that message could transcend generations, as the culture declares we are the emperor who has no clothes. That when push comes to shove we offer them nothing not already of this world. The same fear-mongering and situational ethics they can get anywhere else. Just minus all that annoyingly sanctimonious moralizing. We will confirm for them they were right to tune us out."
This will continue to be a challenge for the church throughout the next several years, as we deal with the aftermath of the decisions made by people whom the world sees as representative of Christianity.

6. I anticipate that the Biblical analogy of what Trump's presidency may turn out to most resemble is that of Xerxes in the book of Esther. Opening to the very first chapter, we see Xerxes having a party and wanting to impress other powerful men for the sake of his ego. So he commands his wife to serve his ego, by letting these men objectify her and congratulate her husband for his manly prowess. She refuses, and his to-his-mind-perfectly-logical conclusion is to pass a law that warns all women in the entire kingdom against disobeying their husbands, and divorces the queen on the spot. Xerxes begins wife-shopping, and providentially decides to marry a young Jewess descended from a people living in exile and oppression in his kingdom. Later, Xerxes is casually unconcerned about the affairs of state to the point that he signs off on a request by his top official to murder all Jews because one of them insulted the official. Xerxes saves the day when Queen Esther asks him nicely to stop this from happening, and he insists that the law has to be upheld (law before morality) but consents to let the Jews defend themselves. Trump, like Xerxes, is shockingly unconcerned with the consequences of his personal whims, and more interested in his ego than he is in protecting innocents or honoring his wife's dignity. But he has one characteristic that prevents his rule from being a complete catastrophe: he does reward those he favors, like Mordecai and Esther. When someone close to him brings a matter to his attention and suggests a course of action, he usually goes along with it. This has both evil and good outcomes, depending on who has his ear. I would expect a Trump presidency to have the potential to be sheer chaos or surprisingly good-fortunate, depending on the unpredictability of whether or not his closest advisers and people he wishes to impress recommend wise or foolish decisions. From our perspective, we can only pray fervently that God will turn his ear to someone like Esther rather than someone like Haman, and that those who find themselves in positions of influence over his policies would give him sound counsel, not selfish requests.

- W

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Collection of All Articles Opposing Both Trump and Clinton from a Christian Perspective

I chose to cast a blank ballot. The rationale for how to vote may be explained in a later short-post. Here I have simply linked to every single article (every one of them superbly excellent) that I have read that shares my view and argues for it from a Christian perspective.

I do not know many of the authors writing, and so I cannot affirm that the beliefs held by every one of the writers are my beliefs. For example, Matt Walsh (Roman Catholic) and Ben Shapiro (Orthodox Jew) have a different faith, but much of their writing against Trump is agreeable. If I include them, it is not saying that we're coming from the same place spiritually, even though we may largely be saying the same thing on the surface.

In other words, these articles will be articles that I have read and believe Christians can agree on the letter with nigh upon every word, but do not take that as an endorsement of everything a writer may say. This is an endorsement of the messages at face value only, and offered for the consideration of every professing Christian.

What is included above the break are must-reads. Beyond the break, I have bolded what are the more important articles according to my perspective, and given short citations in italic where appropriate, to indicate an article's message. My own comments are un-italicized.

Direct Treatments:

The Big Idea

Trump is Not Christian. Christian News, Heather Clark.“I like to do the right thing where I don’t actually have to ask for forgiveness,” Trump replied. “Where you don’t [do] such bad things that you have to ask for forgiveness. I mean, I try and lead a life where I don’t have to ask God for forgiveness.”

Trump Really Is Not A Christian. RedState. Reports on the interview Trump gave in the Playboy issue featured in the picture he took with Mr. and Mrs. Falwell, Jr. Also excerpts a CNN interview where Trump said the following: “I am not sure I have,” Trump said when asked if he’d ever asked God for forgiveness. “I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so,” he said. “I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”

Letter to Christian Leaders Not to Endorse Trump. Steve Deace. "Tyrants cannot be loved on. They must be broken. You will only know if they have been broken if you see the fruit of the spirit in their lives. Do they practice altruism, as in the right thing expecting nothing in return? Is there a public repentance, or a repentance of convenience? Meaning they tell you what you want to hear now just so they can get from you what they want. Anything short of that and I can promise you, as God Almighty is my witness, you are being played. And once that is revealed it will not be the tyrant that is exposed for scorn and mockery, but you. Every. Single. Time."
Every. Single. Time.
- See more at: https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/05/dear-christian-leaders-youre-playing-a-very-dangerous-game#sthash.RStnRyRb.dpuf

When you dance with the devil, the devil doesn't change. He changes you.

Anything short of that and I can promise you, as God Almighty is my witness, you are being played. And once that is revealed it will not be the tyrant that is exposed for scorn and mockery, but you.
Every. Single. Time.
- See more at: https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/05/dear-christian-leaders-youre-playing-a-very-dangerous-game#sthash.RStnRyRb.dpuf"

"But I am not afraid of Hillary Clinton. Let me tell you what I am afraid of. .. I am afraid of the message we will be sending this culture by compromising everything we claim to believe in, by supporting a man who embodies everything we supposedly oppose. And I’m afraid the cost for that message could transcend generations, as the culture declares we are the emperor who has no clothes. That when push comes to shove we offer them nothing not already of this world. The same fear-mongering and situational ethics they can get anywhere else. Just minus all that annoyingly sanctimonious moralizing. We will confirm for them they were right to tune us out. That we are who they thought we were. We will write the God-haters’ material for them. That will have consequences for our fellow countrymen that will last long past the next four years."
That will have consequences for our fellow countrymen that will last long past the next four years.
- See more at: https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2016/05/dear-christian-leaders-youre-playing-a-very-dangerous-game#sthash.RStnRyRb.dpuf

Michael Farris. Christians Cannot Vote "Lesser of Two Evils." "We [the Moral Majority] recognized, then and now, that no candidate is perfect, but we believed that there were certain lines which could not be crossed if evangelical support was to be forthcoming. If we say now that Trump has not crossed those lines, then we’re saying those lines never truly existed."

Mick Wright, 2016 RNC Delegate. Why Donald Trump Gives Me Hope. Medium-length among all the articles I've posted here. Recommend you read it carefully start to finish to get the message, which is well delievered.

Samuel Whitefield (do not know who he is). 4 Things to Consider Before You Vote Trump. "Some may argue that we must promote Trump for the sake of the Supreme Court, but are a few Supreme Court judges worth our integrity?" ... "Abortion is serious but it does not mean that we promote wickedness in order to get a supposedly “pro-life” candidate who realistically will not change the status quo? Should we promote anyone regardless of their character if they promised they were not pro-choice anymore?" Both of these points directly challenge MacArthur's voting rationale (link at far bottom of the article). This article is very similar to Erickson's in that it makes a focused appeal to consider the church's witness. It is simply much longer and much more meticulously cited with footnotes.

Erick Erickson.
Reconsidering My Opposition to Trump. He points out Grudem's (see far bottom, after the break) hypocrisy in refusing to vote for Giuliani for the same things that he is now rationalizing away to vote for Trump. "That I see so many Christians justifying Donald Trump’s immorality, defining deviancy down, and turning to anger and despondency about the future tells me I cannot in good faith support Donald Trump because his victory would have lasting, damaging consequences for Christianity in America. We harm our witness and the testimony of the strength of our Lord by embracing the immoral, unrepentant strong man. We harm our American virtue by buying into the idea that one man can make America great again. Further, we risk losing Donald Trump’s soul for the sake of our selfishness."


There is much more content after the page break.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Basics: The Core Proof of the Faith, Part II

The previous entry makes the irrefutable argument that the Bible must be the Word of God, on the basis of the fact that Jesus 1) said it is, 2) claimed to be God, and 3) was resurrected after He died, something no God would do if He cared about not actively misleading people by endorsing a false prophet's claims by making his prophecy come true.

The argument is irrefutable (not to be confused with undeniable--people can refuse to accept truth at will, but to be irrefutable means that it cannot be proven false) because if you deny any one of the key points, you create a nonsensical situation: see this post.

Now, if the Bible is clearly God's Word on the authority of Jesus, the God-Man, then the only missing piece of this concisely stated proof is the piece that applies it to "real life," that is, the piece that makes the argument something more than a good philosophical idea, and an incontrovertible fact. And that piece is the evidence of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

All evidence of this, to us modern people, is indirect, because none of us saw His death or resurrection with our own eyes, or had the opportunity to hear other eyewitnesses tell us. That does not make the evidence any less compelling.

One of the articles I came across when I was coming to faith which was most helpful in framing how I think about this subject was one from the website Tektonics, entitled "The Impossible Faith."

The argument is very intriguing, because it actually comes as an "oh yeah?" confrontation rather than a mea-culpa-toned defense, as if we are really on the defensive. Instead, it makes the strong argument that it is the person questioning Christianity that needs to explain how come the religion survived the first 100 years. This is not some weak argument from ignorance about how come Christianity is so popular. After all, it isn't. Most people claiming to be Christians are not, and the irony is that they do so because it's convenient--but in a time of harsh persecution, it will be less convenient, and fewer people will claim to be Christian. This is one of the points the article makes. It lists 17 different points of incredulity, boldly arguing that if Christianity is just another man-made religion, there is no way it should have had any followers once the first generation of believers had died out. Here's how they state it, verbatim:
"Rodney Stark has shown in The Rise of Christianity why the movement continued to grow once it got a foothold, but this does not address how it managed to get a foothold in the first place. So how did it happen?
I propose that there is only one, broad explanation for Christianity overcoming these intolerable disadvantages, and that is that it had the ultimate rebuttal -- a certain, trustworthy, and undeniable witness to the resurrection of Jesus, the only event which, in the eyes of the ancients, would have vindicated Jesus' honor and overcome the innumerable stigmae of his life and death...
Skeptics and critics must explain otherwise why, despite each and every one of these factors, Christianity survived, and thrived. A consistent witness, one that was strong enough to reach into the second century in spite of these factors, is the only reasonable candidate."
And from the beginning of the article,
"Below I offer a list of 17 factors to be considered -- places where Christianity "did the wrong thing" in order to be a successful religion. It is my contention that the only way Christianity did succeed is because it was a truly revealed faith -- and because it had the irrefutable witness of the Resurrection"
I recommend the article enthusiastically. Here is a short summary of each point.


  1. Crucifixion was so dishonorable that the idea that a God would die that way was unacceptable. See the article for proof that this was a really big deal, not just a minor point of fine taste.
  2. Jesus was a nobody from nowhere. Ironically, our society isn't prejudiced enough for me to find a contemporary analogy.
  3. A physical resurrection was not what anyone expected. The article demonstrates that 'spiritual' resurrection was the fashion, and the early Gnostic heresy demonstrates this sentiment quite well. They held that matter was base, even evil, and that spirit was pure. To be trapped in bodies of flesh was to them a form of punishment. And they were only continuing the common Platonic philosophy of the time.
  4. People accept what they're used to, what's already established. Novelty is frowned upon, it's just human nature. We are uncomfortable with change. That's why people in lopsided voting districts send the same person to Congress for 40 years in a row.
  5. Rules aren't popular. Christianity's biggest offense to our culture today is the idea that they are wrong in what they believe or what they do, and will be punished for it. Offends many today, certainly then.
  6. Not allowing retaliation not only stifles human nature, it goes against other world religions. If you read the Quran, you find it almost reads as a hate manifesto, repeatedly talking about how so-and-so offended Mohammed and he commands muslims to take up the offense and make sure to get back at the Jews by killing them, for laughing at him. Basically. Christianity is a tough sell when it says "do not repay evil with evil" Romans 12:17. 1 Peter 3:9
  7. God walking among humans isn't 'transcendent' enough, and Islam makes a big deal of that as well. If you want to understand how hard it was for Romans and Greeks to accept Christianity, just interview a muslim who's educated about their own faith, basically. Very similar ways of thinking in some respects.
  8. You'll be hurt and lose your possessions and family ties etc if you join. No perks! Sweet!
  9. How can a God be a man? Many people criticize it today; still a problem then. But even more viscerally -- God having bowel movements? Surely He's above that stuff, no? 
  10. You lose all your class privileges! Even fewer perks if you're coming from a position farther up the rung in society. If you're a man, you're reduced to equality with women, if you're old, you're reduced to equality with the young, if you're black, you're reduced to equality with whites (switched that up on you for some perspective), etc. If you're rich, you're not any more special than the poor. Money doesn't buy you favor.
  11. Relying on women as trustworthy witnesses. One of the more significant overlooked aspects of the Gospel in our modern society, and yet another example of where Islam can help us understand just how alien this is. In Shariah Law, the testimony of 4 women is equal to that of one man's. Women were forbidden from being witnesses. The fact that the Bible matter-of-factly reports their words as if they were true was another offense.
  12. Same deal with the women, when it comes to low-class provincial men, which all the apostles except Paul were. Even today, we are more likely to believe a report if the president says it, but if a random homeless guy on the street says something about the president that no one else corroborates, you know as well as I do that you'd ignore him without a second thought.
  13. People would check the facts. Making claims that can be proven false would cause gossip to spread like wildfire, killing your man-made cult off before it left the ground.
  14. A God who doesn't know things? At face value, it would seem to contradict the idea in Part I that I mentioned, that we assume certain things about God -- like omniscience, in this case. This is a perfect example of why it would have been such a challenge to get people to believe in Him -- so many problems to explain away! It begs the question of how come Christianity survived.
  15. Christ was put to shame -- this returns to an earlier point and emphasizes it. In our culture, it might be hard to understand, so it's important to realize just how serious these difficulties were for Christianity in an honor-and-shame culture.
  16. Breaking up families for the sake of faith, loss of social opportunity, people you don't like get included in the group, introducing the concept of social mobility as opposed to inherent status due to birth, discouraging revolution against unjust powers, etc. Sign me up!
  17. Encouraging fact checking. That's not what you do if you know you're making it up.

It's an excellent read and it effectively proves that if it were not for the fact that the Resurrection actually happened, there is no reason why Christianity should have existed beyond the year 100, and the fact that it did (because it's here today) is therefore proof that the Resurrection occurred. See, you just proved something that happened 2000 years ago without being a scholar and without seeing it for yourself. You just needed to consider some basic concepts that no reasonable person will argue against. In this way, the Resurrection -- and therefore, the Bible's 100% reliability and authority as God's Word -- is irrefutable.

Knowing is one thing, believing on it is another. I encourage you not to perform half-measures.

-W

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What if I reject some parts of your argument?

Here's the argument.
  1. If it is granted, that God exists,
  2. And it is granted that God is perfectly truthful,
  3. And it is granted that God cares that people should believe the truth about Him, 
  4. Then God has the motive and opportunity to prove the truth.
  5. THEN, if it is granted that only God has the power to raise people from the dead,
  6. THEN, considering that Jesus claimed to be God, 
  7. AND, considering that Jesus claimed to be able to raise Himself from the dead, 
  8. IF Jesus was raised from the dead,
  9. THEN this would be a supernatural proof of the claim of His deity.
  10. OTHERWISE, His resurrection would amount to God endorsing a false claim. 
  11. God being truthful and caring that people know the truth, would have no motive to do so.
  12. Granting that the resurrection occurred, 
  13. Jesus is then God, and perfectly knowledgeable and perfectly truthful.
  14. Granting that Jesus claimed that the entire Bible is 100% true, 
  15. THEN we can conclude that the Bible is 100% true.
And here's a treatment of why it's futile to argue against this argument:
  1. Deny that God exists -- irrelevant to the proof, because it begins as a hypothetical. It is in fact through the Resurrection that we prove God's existence. Because upon proving the Word, we find that the Word proves God's existence. Therefore, you cannot escape the conclusion by denying this point.
  2. Deny that God is truthful - to what end? Nobody genuinely believes, as shown by how they live their life, as if the universe is governed by an all powerful deceitful being. People may deny that there exists a truthful God, but they do not suppose that if a God exists, that He would be untruthful in His nature. Every single argument against the Bible based on the allegation of a contradiction is proof that everyone accepts the definition of God as a perfectly truthful being. There is no use attacking this point.
  3. Deny that God cares what people believe - congratulations, you've espoused deism and/or universalism, which are just inconsistent versions of fatalism. Nothing matters. But if you really do think that God doesn't care what you believe, why do you assume that whatever the truth is, it can't be Christianity? You're not exactly ambivalent if you're biased. And each of these two attacks against the premise suffer from a fatal unwarranted assumption. In addition to the fact that it's a rejection of the very definition of God as properly understood by almost everyone, both are actually confident assertions without any basis. On what authority is the claim that God is not truthful, or not concerned with what people believe, based? There is no known monotheistic religion that makes this claim in a holy scripture, so the assumption can only be based on human authority, which is self-refuting, because why would that which is created know the nature of an unrevealed deity better than the deity itself?
  4. Point 4 cannot be argued because it follows logically from 2 and 3.
  5. Denying that God can raise the dead is to deny that God is all powerful. It is thus to deny the basic definition of what God's nature is, without any basis, and thus is the same begging-the-question fallacy previously rebuffed.
  6. Did Jesus claim to be God? Yes. It is not necessary to previously affirm the spiritual authority of the Bible as God's Word at this point, to recognize that it is a historical document like any other, and thus by applying the same principles of study as we do to other documents, we can be confident that it was indeed written at the time it was written and that it is accurately historical. This can be known beyond a reasonable doubt by the historical analysis, enough to take this point seriously. Upon the conclusion of the argument, we can now know this irrefutably because the Word attests to this fact with God's own authority. And as to whether the Bible actually records Jesus claiming to be God, that can easily be addressed in a separate place for serious inquirers, but for now I direct you to GotQuestions.
  7. Did Jesus claim to be able to rise from the dead?
    "...lay down My life so that I may take it again. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” John 10:17-18
    "
    19 Jesus answered them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will raise it up in three days?” 21 But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22 So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken." John 2:19-22
  8. This is the focal point of Part II of the proof. Introduced here as a hypothetical, this is not something that can be argued against. 
  9. This logically follows from points 4, and 5-7 (which are really one major concept), and 8. This cannot be refuted without resulting in the reductio ad absurdum in point 10.
  10. If you deny this, you're claiming that a God would intentionally raise to life a man who claimed to be God and have the power to resurrect Himself, which to any rational person would appear to be a validation of the person's claims, when in fact it is not, thus actively deceiving people into believing what's false. This violates the basic point noted in 2 and 3, by denying God's nature by supposing that He is both deceitful and doesn't care about whether people know the truth. In other words, you are denying the agreed-upon definition of God. Anyone who fights this point is incorrigibly refusing to follow the logic to the conclusion. You would be making the same argument that muslims make, that Jesus wasn't actually crucified but someone else was in his place. Their religion boils down to saying that their biggest competitor in terms of the number of professing adherents is not only due to a misunderstanding, but a direct act of God, which is deeply embarrassing. 
  11. Summary of previous points. Nothing that can be argued here.
  12. Restatement of point 8, and demonstrated in Part II of the proof.
  13. Logical conclusion of all prior points.
  14. Did Jesus claim the Bible was God's Word? There's this, To argue against it, you would have to assume that the Bible accurately records what Jesus actually said, and then you've denied yourself the privilege to pick on points 5, 6, and 7. 
  15. Logical conclusion of all prior points.
-W

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Basics: The Core Proof of the Faith, Part I

The Resurrection in and of itself does not secure salvation, but is essential to proving that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Without the proof of the Resurrection, everything the Bible says would be only hearsay. Supposing it to be God's Word would be relegated to philosophical debate. We would not have any confidence that it has divine origin.
12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
1 Corinthians 15:12-19
 
Here's the logic.
  1. If it is granted, that God exists,
  2. And it is granted that God is perfectly truthful,
  3. And it is granted that God cares that people should believe the truth about Him, 
  4. Then God has the motive and opportunity to prove the truth.
  5. THEN, if it is granted that only God has the power to raise people from the dead,
  6. THEN, considering that Jesus claimed to be God, 
  7. AND, considering that Jesus claimed to be able to raise Himself from the dead, 
  8. IF Jesus was raised from the dead,
  9. THEN this would be a supernatural proof of the claim of His deity.
  10. OTHERWISE, His resurrection would amount to God endorsing a false claim. 
  11. God being truthful and caring that people know the truth, would have no motive to do so.
  12. Granting that the resurrection occurred, 
  13. Jesus is then God, and perfectly knowledgeable and perfectly truthful.
  14. Granting that Jesus claimed that the entire Bible is 100% true, 
  15. THEN we can conclude that the Bible is 100% true.
Do you follow? It is not merely "Jesus said so." It is not merely "the Bible says so." It is "the Bible records that Jesus said so, and Jesus' rising from the dead proves that everything He said was true, which means that everything the Bible records is true because Jesus as the supreme authority on all truth said that it is true. "

Thus, the Bible is neatly proven to be the completely inerrant Word of God, without appealing to an arbitrary circular argument, but by virtue of one historically-attestable fact; namely, the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.

And for proof of that, simply refer to common sense considerations that demonstrate to even the non-scholar that it must have occurred. This will be Part II



-W