Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Famous Atheists On What Sort of Christians they Respect

I have an agenda in publishing this, but I won't use any of my own words to make the point. It should be abundantly clear, nevertheless, what sort of approach to "the conflict between the Bible and science" garners respect from well-informed atheists, and which does not.



"I would say that if you don't believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the Christ and Messiah, and that he rose again from the dead and by his sacrifice our sins are forgiven, you're really not in any meaningful sense a Christian." ~Christopher Hitchens

I’ve always said, you know, that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize.  I don’t respect that at all.  If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life or whatever, and you think that, well, it’s not really worth telling them because it would make it socially awkward . . . How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?  How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that?  I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you.  And this is more important than that . ~ Penn Jilette, atheist

“Now if you believe the Bible … is literally the word of God … , then you do indeed have grounds for believing that the ethical precepts found in the Bible have a special warrant that no other writings could have. If, on the other hand, you believe that the Bible … is really a nonmiraculous product of human culture, issuing from some one or more human authors, then you will grant it no authority beyond tradition and whatever its arguments generate by their own cogency.” ~ Daniel Dennnett, atheist

I think creation scientists are intellectually honest in their beliefs. If evolution is true, then none of the things that deeply religious people want to be true are in fact true. No God. No life after death. No free will. No ultimate meaning in life and no ultimate foundation for ethics. All of these things are taken away, and I believe creationists have a keen appreciation of this fact. So I sympathize with their general point of view. In other words, they say evolution cannot have occurred. I understand the sentiment. I just believe they’re wrong. If modern evolutionary biology is true, then the traditional foundations for religion are gone” ~ William Provine

“Richard Dawkins … sees no need at all to bring in the idea of a creator god. ‘I call it explanatory overkill. It’s putting two explanations in where one will do. The theory of evolution by natural selection is on its own sufficient to explain life. It may be that God on his own is sufficient to explain life. If I were God I wouldn’t do it by evolution! I would do it directly. By invoking the idea of evolution by natural selection as God’s way of doing it, you are in effect invoking the one way which makes it look as though God isn’t thereSo if God chose that way of doing it, then he deliberately chose a way which totally covered his tracks.’ ‘If he was there, and this was in fact the way he did it,’ I persisted, ‘would you say that the nature of this particular process casts some light on the kind of God he would be?’ ‘I think it would show him to be totally indifferent … . The consequence of natural selection is suffering on an enormous scale all over the world. It’s not that nature is malevolent … . It’s just that misery of this kind is precisely what you’d expect if nature is totally indifferent to suffering … ’” ~ Richard Dawkins, atheist

‘Oh but of course the story of Adam and Eve was only ever symbolic, wasn’t it? Symbolic?! So Jesus had himself tortured and executed for a symbolic sin by a non-existent individual? Nobody not brought up in the faith could reach any verdict other than barking mad!’
...
‘The moderates’ [liberals’] position seems to me to be fence-sitting. They half-believe in the Bible but how do they decide which parts to believe literally and which parts are just allegorical?’
...
‘It seems to me an odd proposition that we should adhere to some parts of the Bible story but not to others. After all, when it comes to important moral questions, by what standards do we cherry-pick the Bible? Why bother with the Bible at all if we have the ability to pick and choose from it, what is right and what is wrong?’
~ Richard Dawkins, atheist 

And the winner is:

Oh well, by far the most important was understanding evolution. I think the evangelical Christians have really sort of got it right in a way, in seeing evolution as the enemy. Whereas the more, what shall we say, sophisticated theologians are quite happy to live with evolution, I think they are deluded. I think the evangelicals have got it right, in that there is a deep incompatibility between evolution and Christianity, and I think I realized that about the age of sixteen. ~ Richard Dawkins, atheist, explaining how he became an atheist

-W

Sunday, May 28, 2017

How To Feel Bad Well

I have to confess, I love the feeling of ending a bout with sin and walking away from it. Getting away from whatever it was, and taking some alone time to pray to God and get back to living for Him instead of running away -- it's such a relief.

Most people feel bad after doing something they know is wrong. But there's two different ways to feel bad about something. As a general rule, you can either pity yourself or you can be filled with sorrow over how what you did affected the person you did it against. There are such things as "victimless crimes," where something you do doesn't necessarily hurt another person. But there's no such thing as a "victimless sin," because all sin is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4). So the appropriate response to your feelings of guilt after doing something wrong is to be anguished over hurting your relationship with your Heavenly Father. The wrong way to react is to run away from God in shame, refusing to deal with Him. The wrong way to react is to make it all about you.

2 Corinthians 7:10 - For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.

Think about it: "I should be better than this." Really? You should be better than you are? You must think highly of yourself. Stop and realize--this sort of thought is actually PRIDE at its core. You suppose that you have it in yourself to be good. That is why you fail to reconcile with God; you run from Him because in your mind you truly think you can fix your mistakes without His help. It's monumentally arrogant! When you no longer say to yourself, "that's not who I really am--that's not me," and instead admit that you are as rotten as the things you do, then you're ready to accept the fact that only God can help you get out of the hole you've dug for yourself. That's why when you've done something wrong, the right thing to do is not to run away from God, but to run toward Him. He's not our enemy. We're our own worst enemy. He's our friend.

So as soon as you've admitted to yourself that you have sinned, run to God. Find Him in prayer and have the assurance of your salvation (Psalm 51:12) restored to you; thank Him for His forgiveness and ask for His help to strengthen you to avoid sin in the future.

-W

Friday, May 26, 2017

What Denying Hell Does to the Doctrine of God

Not exhaustive, just some basic, first-line observations.

You must deny God's Holiness (He's ok with sin after all), Justice (He doesn't punish evil), Mercy (where is the generosity in granting salvation if there is no peril associated with not being given it?), Goodness (a God abides what He enjoys; a God who enjoys evil is not good), Truth (He lied about hell), Sacrifice (if Christ bore the punishment due sinners on the Cross, and sinners don't endure God's wrath, Jesus couldn't have suffered for sin!) and Love (same reason).

And his eternality (heaven, hell, God last the same amount of time) and His infinite worth since if the punishment on sin isn't infinite, then the sin is not against a God who's infinitely deserving of our love and obedience.

What I Would Have to Deny to Deny Hell -- Challies

  • What Jesus taught
  • The plain sense of Scripture
  • The testimony of the Church
  • The Gospel


-W

Thursday, May 25, 2017

"Then Arose Another Generation." Observation of J.I. Packer's Relationship to InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

I recently read JI Packer's Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God and noticed that it was published by 'InterVarsity Press.' The same IV that a very nominalist christian, social-gospel-focused and 'diversity-celebrating' (see post Christian Identity and Racial Identity) campus organization at my university belonged to. I was curious how this came to be, and the following is my reflection. It originated as a text.

JI Packer may have unintentionally contributed to the turn of IV toward more of a friendship-evangelism focus. He shows he’s a product of his time in that whereas he is able to look fairly objectively at evangelistic efforts from the 1850s to 1961, he implies out of existence, by omission, any evangelism of strangers. Everything he wrote has value, there’s nothing in his theology or ecclesiology or recommendations that puts forth positive error, the short book is a good read – his only mistake, I think, is that he implies quite directly that Christians should “become friends with” whom they intend to evangelize. He has good intentions, but he leaves out mention of those whom perhaps no Christian is friends with – who will preach to them? I think he was well observant of the diminishing returns of evangelism over the century and pointed out that it is chiefly God’s plan, and not necessarily a result of bad methods. But he seemed not to consider, as many people I have heard speak on the subject have also failed to consider, that with diminishing numbers of Christians, the number of lost people that can be engaged through friendship is bound to be much less than the total population. It also ignores the fact that due to personality as well as worldly hostility, many Christians may have very few or no worldly friends, through no fault of their evangelistic compassion. Packer did not seem to foresee the rise of the “impersonal” street preacher movement spearheaded by Ray Comfort a decade and a half later (his book “hell’s best kept secret” – unless it was another one ("God has a wonderful plan for your life?"), but it was one I’ve read – explicitly stated at one point that he and David Wilkerson(?) had sympathized over that they “didn’t believe in follow-up,” i.e. the task of the evangelist is to make the Gospel known and not expect to disciple anyone). The early disciples didn’t make friends, either, they went to strangers, and that is the only option for many of us going forward.

That’s to say, hitting the first point, that failing to encourage the evangelism of strangers inadvertently led, I suspect, to IV’s contemporary disregard for it. When I brought up evangelism with cru people (similar thing there), their uncompromising opinion was that you were doing it wrong if you didn’t get to know someone over a long period before ever bringing up Christ – or at another point, I was told that I can do what I want as long as I make sure to follow up and disciple them. That’s overwhelming. Are we to conclude that Christians can only evangelize a handful of people in their lifetime? Foolishness! It necessarily leads to withholding the Gospel from those whom it is within our power to share it with, and who may not have any opportunity to hear it any other way! So the things that upset you with IV were likely the increasingly more heretical practice and doctrine resulting from a small, small error half a century earlier. This is why “small things” matter, like creation, complementarianism, and other non salvation essentials.

On the subject of creation, Ken Ham has been fond of mentioning in his writings and speaking engagements that though you might be just propping the door open a crack, each new generation pushes that door open further and further. 

JI Packer was no heretic. It's difficult to see, perhaps, where the error lies in his recommendation to build relationships with the mission field. There is no explicit proof text that says doing exactly that is wrong.*  But this seed of "friendship evangelism" has now grown into a tree and borne fruit, and the result on at least one American campus this decade was a Christless social gospel that gloried in racial identity rather than Christian identity.

We should certainly evangelize our friends. But we should not have hang-ups about needing to make friends with those we must evangelize. My hope is that the next 50 years might see this drift corrected.

-W

*(I still think there are dozens of proof texts that directly imply it's wrong)

PS It was Hell's Best Kept Secret, page 8 here. Excerpt reproduced below.

Saints, the first thing David Wilkerson said to me when he called me on his car phone was, “I thought I was the only one who didn’t believe in follow-up.” Now, I believe in feeding a new convert; I believe in nurturing him. I believe in discipling him—biblical and most necessary. But I don’t believe in following him. I can’t find it in Scripture. The Ethiopian eunuch was left without follow-up. How could he survive? All he had was God and the Scriptures. You see, follow-up…now let me explain follow-up for those of you who don’t know. Follow-up is when we get decisions, either through crusades or local church, and we take laborers from the harvest field, who are few as it is, and give them this disheartening task of running after these decisions to make sure they’re going on with God. What it is is a sad admission of the amount of confidence we have in the power of our message and in the keeping power of God. If God has saved them, God will keep them. If they’re born of God, they’ll never die. If He’s begun a good work in them, He’ll complete it to that day (Philip. 1:6); if He’s the author of their faith, He’ll be the finisher of their faith (Heb. 12:2). He’s able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by Him (Heb. 7:25). He’s able to keep them from falling and present them faultless before the presence and glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24). Jesus said, “No one will pluck you from my father’s hand” (John 10:29).

(Emphasis added)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Poignant Music

This is recycled content. I think it's a good (but fairly long) introduction to / example of analyzing secular song lyrics from a Biblical worldview.

Lyrics

I like songs based on their lyrics. It's hard for me to like a song that has a pleasant melody if its lyrics are meaningless, or worse, profane and stupid. But that doesn't necessarily mean that every song I like is explicitly Christian. In my life, I never really encountered Christian music (outside of a capella church hymns) prior to 2009, so my experience has largely been with songs from the '80s and '90s. I had to find something to like about them or I wouldn't have been able to tolerate listening to it. 

For as long as I remember, I've never liked a song instantaneously, but had to listen to it carefully until I understood the lyrics, before I could wholeheartedly enjoy it and sing along. Since much music is about romance, and a large chunk of that involves sex, I'm not comfortable singing the lyrics to just anything, since singing something is a lot like sharing a profound quote -- it generally communicates an endorsement of the source, or at least the viewpoint.

I think I remember the first time I invented the concept of "poignant" music. It was on the way to a winter camping trip with the Boy Scouts, and the other cars were full, so I got to ride alone with one of the older guys in his car. I dozed in the car due to the heat (I have a habit of falling asleep on car rides; long road trips have always had a soothing effect on me), and he played a hard rock station. That was the very first time I heard "Welcome to the Jungle," by Guns 'n Roses. I suppose I was 15. 

Staring into the abyss

Here's my interpretation of Welcome to the Jungle. Regardless of the intention of the writer, it's a self-satire. It shows in raw detail the dark side of cities (referenced in the term "jungle," as in, "the concrete jungle."). This is confirmed by the music video's setting. So whether the song is meant to glory in the depravity of what goes on in cities, or to point out what's wrong with it, I think it actually accomplishes the latter, either way. Here is a sampling of the lyrics:

We are the people that can find
Whatever you may need
If you got the money, honey
We got your disease
....
Welcome to the jungle
We take it day by day
....
You can taste the bright lights
But you won't get them for free
....
Welcome to the jungle
It gets worse here everyday
....
You can have anything you want
But you better not take it from me
....
And when you're high you never
Ever want to come down, YEAH!

It's a microcosm of the vices you'll find in the city. You have references to drugs and sex, a very clear sense of physical threat toward the woman being addressed in the song, and most pertinent of all, the lines about "taking it day by day" and "you better not take it from me" perfectly describe, to me, the self-absorbed, self-worshiping nature of those who have nothing to live for beyond their own personal pleasures. It's all about them. They have no future, just the present ("take it day by day"), and they don't care what you do, just as long as you don't bother them ("can have anything you want but you better not take it from me"). This was written in the late eighties but still applies profoundly to a subset of young people in our society that doesn't seem to have gone away with time. 

Yearning to break the chains

This is what brings me to the song that prompted my reflection on this, this evening:


One Republic -- Good Life

If Welcome to the Jungle is about what it's like in the city where it seems that everything is about sex, drugs, and rock and roll, then Good Life is about what it's like for young people in this age whose lives are empty and who can only think to find fulfillment through a loose lifestyle of partying and getting wasted drunk, to the point where your old friends don't even know who you are anymore.

Allow me to give my perspective on the lyrics:

Woke up in London yesterday
Found myself in the city near Piccadilly
Don't really know how I got here
I got some pictures on my phone
New names and numbers that I don't know

The singer got wasted the night before at a party and blacked out. He doesn't have any recollection of who he met, but apparently he exchanged phone numbers with people, and has some disconnected pictures to try to piece together the night's events with.

We're young enough to say
Oh, this has gotta be the good life
This has gotta be the good life
This could really be a good life, good life

There's so much in this to analyze. First, you know that he's talking about young people, based on the first line. The implication by use of the word "enough" is that by virtue of being young, they can survive the cognitive dissonance necessary in order to convince themselves that this has to be the good life, without entering into an existential crisis.

Do you notice that? He says "this has gotta be the good life," which can be taken two ways: one, a sincere belief that it is, (how sad) or an attempt to convince oneself that it surely must be "the good life," because if it wasn't...they've wasted their life on things that don't satisfy. That's an uncomfortable thought, so an attempt is made to push it out of his mind. He finishes the chorus by saying "this could really be a good life," revealing an uncertainty, as if he's hesitant to make the assertion that it really IS a good life...because deep down, he senses that it isn't.

A further interpretation of "this could really be a good life" is that it could be in the future, but right now, it's not a very good life at all, as the singer seems to be silently expressing throughout the lyrics.

Sometimes there's airplanes I can' t jump out
Sometimes there's b---s--t that don't work. Now,
We all got our stories, but please tell me
What there is to complain about?

Long story short, I think the singer here feels guilty over complaining about how bad things are. He walks back his initial uncertainty about whether he's living the good life, by telling himself that even despite the "airplanes he can't jump out," it really isn't anything to complain about. Implicitly, I think he's suggesting that he has it so much better than other people in different parts of the world, and so he feels guilty and ashamed over his depressed feelings, since he thinks he doesn't really have an excuse to feel that way. I think he's confused. He doesn't have anything to complain about, but the emptiness inside is very real, and he doesn't know how to deal with it. I can sense a bit of irritation in his voice as this part of the song progresses.

Hopelessly
I feel like there might be something that I'll miss (I've missed)
Hopelessly
I feel like the window closes oh so quick
Hopelessly
I'm taking a mental picture of you now
'Cause hopelessly
The hope is: we have so much to feel good about

This is another interpretive gold-mine. First, notice the fourfold repetition of the word "hopelessly," which would seem to come out of nowhere if the song really did intend to convey that the singer is singing about the good life, rather than being miserable over how very not-good it happens to be. This repetition strongly confirms my view that the singer feels a sense of emptiness and vanity over his pursuit of pleasure. It makes me think of Ecclesiastes.

He thinks that he's wasting his life and he's worried that he might be missing something important.  The window closing quickly means that he's worried that he only has a short time to reach out and take hold of whatever it is that would give his life meaning, and if he waits too long, he'll miss the opportunity.

I can't help but admit that my soul is screaming, "it's Jesus! He's the One you need to take hold of before the window closes on you and you miss Him!" The emptiness of the life without Christ at the center of it is so palpable, it just oozes out of the song and penetrates me to the bone. It fills me with a great sense of sadness. Listening to this song is one way in which I hope to motivate myself to reach out to the lost young men and women around me. Not everyone "has a God-shaped hole," and that is a silly thing to say. But a great many people do indeed feel a sense of emptiness after the 100th night of debauchery as they begin to wonder if this is all there is to life. May there be a Christian near by that can reach out to them and show them that there is so much more to life than a hopeless hope, as the song puts it.

"The hope is we have so much to feel good about." The singer hopes that there's something to feel good about. Why? Because he doesn't feel good. That's why he's hoping that he's mistaken. Yet he feels his hope is hopeless. In other words, in vain.

Ecclesiastes 2:10-11

10 Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them.
I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure,
For my heart rejoiced in all my labor;
And this was my reward from all my labor.

11 Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done
And on the labor in which I had toiled;
And indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind.
There was no profit under the sun.

Conclusion

I yearn to just be able to reach out and grab him by the shoulders and shake him. How I wish that he would not remain stuck, wallowing in vanity and reaping the existential bitterness that comes from "chasing after the wind," a bitterness (realism, nevertheless) that is rife throughout the book of Ecclesiastes. I wish I could tell everyone who hears this song and who is in such a lifestyle, living day by day, trying not to think about the future, wondering why they feel so lousy when there's so much they figure they should be obligated to feel happy about...I wish I could just point them each, individually to the answer to our every need, the satisfier of our every yearning -- Jesus Christ, God Almighty, our Creator and Redeemer.

Have you felt empty, like the way I've described the singers in these two songs? I want you to be fully satisfied, to not have to seek the temporary sense pleasures that the lyricists are reduced to continually returning to. Eternal satisfaction. This transcends feelings. There will be airplanes you can't jump out of, metaphorically speaking, in reference to the song, but even in your darkest moments you can know that your life has meaning and purpose and that you will one day be fully freed from all these things that hold you down--you know, "being held down" is another way to say "depressed." I can't promise a life free from pain, but I can promise you a life free from the sting thereof. Not because it's in my power to give. But because what was given to me is offered to you also. Please read this if you're open to considering Christianity: http://www.gotquestions.org/way-of-salvation.html

The sad part about Good Life is that the singer seems to realize that he's missing something in his life, but he rejects the possibility that his emotions are telling him something he needs to listen to, choosing to end on the note "please tell me what there's to complain about?"

My hope is that you don't end on the same sour note. 

-W

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Defining Lust

It's something people struggle with because the heart wants to make an exception, but Jesus raised the bar from "what are you doing?" to "what are your heart motives?" in Matthew 5. It's my hope this helps convict and purify those who are being saved.


So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin. James 4:17

"What is lust?"
Well, theoretically, it comes down to "desiring someone sexually." The question of course, is, what does THAT entail? Is it visualizing them naked or in a sex act? Is it in not doing that, but getting turned on when you look at them? Is it in imagining them in a relationship with you, ultimately leading to marriage, no matter how unsexual the fantasy might be in your mind at that moment? Is it solely limited to masturbating with the thought of them in your mind? Is it so broad that it encompasses even simply wanting to be with them in a relationship though you are not?
I tend toward thinking, if you gotta ask, God is probably stricter about it than He is lenient. It's a purity issue. You can look at it from a 'fruit' perspective, as well -- does dwelling on someone in your mind all the time result in good things for you, or does it distract you from academic pursuits and lead to emotional havoc? If the product of thinking about someone in a certain way does so, then that could mean that what you were doing was not good--and if not sinful, at least not beneficial.
The simple definition of lust I've arrived at is: any thought, concentration on a visual or auditory stimulus, or physical action that is intended to provide sexual gratification and enjoyment outside of the appropriate context between a married person and their spouse.

That covers pornography, romance novels, aggressive hugging, staring, daydreaming, tv commercials, and of course romantic pursuits where the amount of contact outpaces the level of commitment, not to mention the 'standard' notions of sexual impropriety such as fornication et al. Nothing is excluded, and nothing that would be appropriate is broad-brushed into this definition.

Verses referenced: 
Matthew 5:27-28 -- 27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
Matthew 7:18 -- A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.
1 Corinthians 6:12 -- All things are lawful for me, but not everything is beneficial. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by any thing.

-W

Friday, May 19, 2017

Jesus, King of Insults

If we are to imitate Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1) (Ephesians 5:1), and Jesus never sinned (1 Peter 2:22) (2 Corinthians 5:21), then it stands to reason that there is a place in the Christian life for Spirit-led insults and mockery.

There is much I love about God, but one of the things that gets me most excited is his holy sarcasm. Both God the Father, Jesus during His Incarnation, and prophets and apostles have used clever sharp-tongued wit to infuriate the enemy and to make important points, which are remembered in Scripture for us to learn from. Permit me to diverge a bit and provide some examples.

Exhibit A: Elijah vs the Prophets of Baal


1 Kings 18:27-29 --  27  And so it was, at noon, that Elijah mocked them and said, “Cry louder, for surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened.”  28  So they cried aloud, and cut themselves, as was their custom, with knives and lances, until the blood gushed out on them.  29  And when midday was past, they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice. But there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.

He mocks the false prophets by insulting their "god." And when they lose the competition, Elijah has them slaughtered. Imagine if religious debates were settled that way nowadays. The rampant idolatry that pervades this culture probably wouldn't exist. Unfortunately, false prophets are a little harder to discredit with logical arguments than with miracle competitions. Sound Scripture can be ignored by your audience. Fire from heaven is a little harder to give a cold shoulder to.




Exhibit B: God mocks idols and idolaters


Isaiah 41:21-24
“Bring forth your strong reasons,” says the King of Jacob.
22  “Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; 
Let them show the former things, what they were, That we may consider them, 
And know the latter end of them; Or declare to us things to come. 
23  Show the things that are to come hereafter, That we may know that you are gods; 
Yes, do good or do evil, That we may be dismayed and see it together. 
24  Indeed you are nothing, And your work is nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination.

Notice the rhetorical questioning. God says "show us what you can do," knowing fully well that they can do nothing. Therefore the very act of demanding them prove themselves is simultaneously mockery.

Sweet, sweet mockery. You might get the impression that God is a bit passive-aggressive. Allow me to suggest that there is something in every form of human emotion (anger, sadness, happiness, love, hatred, jealousy etc) that is pure, but because we are sinners we corrupt the image of God (Genesis 1:27) that is in us. God, however, not being a sinner, does not ever sin in how He expresses His emotions. Thus, looking at God, we can learn what aspects of our emotions are godly and which are not. Passive-aggression is often used in a spiteful way, to hinder communication between friends and family. This, I would suggest, is sinful. But the act of using sarcasm when you are angry is not inherently wrong -- I say this, because I'm convinced that God did it. Let's follow His lead, however: it appears that sarcasm/passive-aggression is a valid way to undermine the image of idols. By mocking them and making them out to be a joke, you weaken their power, and this is inherently good, because people may be saved from the grasp of idolatry and false prophets if they see that they are nothing special. Mockery serves a very important purpose in facilitating this.  


Exhibit C: Jesus calls the Pharisees 'gods,' cites unflattering Psalm while He does so


One verse that Jehovah's Witnesses like to bring up to argue against Jesus being God is the one where He is surrounded by Jews in the Temple, and they are on the verge of stoning Him after He claims, "I and My Father are One." (John 10:30-31), and He deflects their criticism by saying the following, 


33  The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” 34  Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”’?   35  If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken),   36  do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?    

Rather than saying that He is not God, here, Jesus is saying that if the Pharisees were called "gods," (elohim, mighty ones --  the Greek here uses Theoi, Strong's #2316), then how much more did Jesus deserve to be called 'God,' since He actually was God? This is confirmed by the fact that immediately after, the Jews tried to catch Him to stone Him again, but He escaped (John 10:39).

But I want to explore the Old Testament verse He's citing. Following the footnote from Bible Gateway (that's the viewer I use to read the Bible conveniently online), I'm led to Psalm 82. It's short, so here is the whole thing: 


God stands in the congregation of the mighty;
He judges among the gods.
2  How long will you judge unjustly,
And show partiality to the wicked? Selah
3  Defend the poor and fatherless;
Do justice to the afflicted and needy.
4  Deliver the poor and needy;
Free them from the hand of the wicked. 

5  They do not know, nor do they understand;
They walk about in darkness;
All the foundations of the earth are unstable.
6  I said, “You are gods,
And all of you are children of the Most High.
But you shall die like men, And fall like one of the princes.” 
8  Arise, O God, judge the earth;
For You shall inherit all nations.

 In each place where the word 'gods' is used, it is the Hebrew word elohim. The word simply means "mighty ones," with connotations of ruler-ship. You can tell that it is applied to God when the plural noun (-im suffixes in Hebrew signal plurality, to my layman's knowledge) is given a singular verb. In this passage, those two uses have plural verbs, identifying the 'elohim' as lesser 'mighty ones,' i.e. not God. The two uses of God in the psalm also use the word elohim, but use a singular verb, which identifies it as referring to the Trinity. The Most High uses the term Elyon, another name for God.

When Jesus called the Jews in the Temple "gods," He was identifying them as the elohim in this psalm. Those who are wicked...who oppress the poor and needy...who, though they are mighty, will die like any other man. The Psalmist is petitioning God to judge them.

Jesus was insulting their pride. By calling them "gods," He was actually being derogatory and implying that they were wicked oppressors doomed for destruction.

Wow!

What subtleness! No matter how many times you return to a part of Scripture, you can always learn something new about it. Hopefully this little detour has offered you a new perspective on this verse. I, for one, can't read this passage any more without imagining Jesus with a smirk on his face, being cheeky, egging on His hecklers by insulting their intelligence and their pride, without compromising His claims of divinity.

If we want to follow in His footsteps, we must be careful that we do not mock out of sinful motivations. That's an extra consideration we have that a perfect Being need not worry about. But if you have made sure that your heart is in the right place, that you are not in sin, that you have prayed up and that your relationship with God is healthy -- by all means, sharpen thy tongue in the name and service of the Lord.

God is, among other things, our role model. Let us imitate Christ. (1 Cor 11:1)

-W

Thursday, May 18, 2017

When Liberals Use Derogatory "Homophobic" Slurs

I was bullied and called synonyms for 'homosexual' in school, for not conforming to the other boys' conception of manliness. And so have many other Millennial men.

Far from leading to an endorsement of homosexuality, however, this is an important reason why it should not be mainstreamed. If mobbing from one's peers because you are timid or not inclined to be hyper-aggressive or assert yourself sexually is something that is already happening now, this would only increase when school systems attempt to encourage young boys to question their sexuality and to behave effeminately. Not to mention that the bullying from the aggressive ones would be stoked by resentment against punishment for violating the school rules on 'tolerance' towards anything that departs from what used to be heterosexual norms of behavior. I can't tell you how many times I've been told directly, or heard second-hand, a girl question a guy's sexuality for not behaving stereotypically masculine, which in today's world means that if an attractive woman is in your line of sight, you're expected to be sexually attracted, and, given the opportunity, to engage in sexual intercourse with her. Any deviation from this expected behavior earns you the sneering remark, "are you gay?" -- And much worse.


Is accusing someone of being gay for not seeking heterosexual sex necessarily anti-gay or is it actually anti-straight? More to the point, is it more insulting to gays or to straight people who choose abstinence? Me being the latter, this is far more of an insult to straight people who hold to a moral standard of sexuality more strict than that of "most people," than it is an insult to someone who is homosexual. It implies that there is no legitimate reason to not want to have sex with someone except if you're gay. It objectifies men, declaring that so long as there's an attractive female in front of you, you're expected to want to have sex with her, and expected to actually follow through if given the opportunity. It's way more insensitive toward straight guys than gay guys.


Those who would mock you with suggestions that you are gay, merely for exercising restraint in saving yourself for marriage, are the same people who claim to be pro-gay-rights and who accuse you of homophobia for daring to hold the Biblical view that that which God calls perversion IS perversion.


If homosexuality continues to be mainstreamed, "anti-gay" language will not decrease, it will increase. But it will be directed toward straight males and Christians, primarily. The Biblical norm--the natural norm, even--has become the new deviancy. That which is outside the bounds of "typical" behavior (namely, abstinence and monogamy) is going to be viciously attacked until it vanishes from the public sphere.

Consider home-schooling your boys instead of sending them into this environment.

-W

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Simplest Scriptural Case for A Young Earth

Exodus 20:8-11
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

This is one of two prooftexts I would use to prove that the days of Genesis 1 are 24-hour days. Here it clearly states that the length of the days that God created are the same length of the days of our week. 


"That's why," said Ken Ham in this video of a speech he gave entitled The Key to Reclaiming the Culture, "we have a seven-million-year week."

Said as obvious sarcasm. Since our week is not millions of years long, but seven times 24 hours, then that is how long Creation Week also was. To believe otherwise is to assert that Exodus 20 -- you know, the part where Moses gets the 10 Commandments -- is not inspired Scripture, and can't be relied upon to be true.


Beliefs have consequences, you know.


That's really the only prooftext you need. But there is another one that I find poignant as well:

Genesis 1:14
Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;

If "day" means "billions of years," or rather "an undefined long period of time," then what on earth do "seasons" and "years" mean? These are longer than days. Are we supposed to postulate that there are two types of 'undefined long periods of time,' one which is longer than the other, but neither one of a certain duration? This is silliness.

Consequently, verse 14 proves that the days in the rest of the passage must refer to calendar days, since otherwise it would be a meaningless passage.

These passages should be enough to convince anyone who holds to Biblical inerrancy. If they reject the conclusion that Genesis 1 is describing a one-week period of time of the same length that our week is, Sunday to Sunday, then they must abandon their belief in Biblical inerrancy. It's always interesting to see which way people go when confronted with such a decision. It is my hope that they would be more willing to change their mind to believe God's word than to reinterpret God's word to make it fit with man's word.

Perhaps this has convinced you, Scripturally, but you're uncertain/worried about the scientific arguments--whether what the Bible says is borne out by the facts. Do not worry. I assure you that they do. Here are a few good links to get started investigating the issue further, if you want to.

http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-answers/topics-alphabetical

http://creation.com/age-of-the-earth

-W

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Handy List to Evaluate Probability that an Organization or Movement is Cultic

In an era of severe deception in the visible church, it may be useful to have a convenient comparison-guide to use to evaluate whether an organization is more than just a little wonky.

Studying the truth benefits you by way of definitions. Anything that is contrary to God's Word is error, and if it's not obvious at first, it'll manifest itself eventually.
1 Timothy 5:24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.
Studying what is false has some benefit (and should only be attempted after you know the truth), in that from doing this you can gain descriptions. Definitions are broadly applicable, but sometimes it can be challenging to identify what qualifies as adherence to or deviation from the definition. That's why the Bible admonishes church leaders to specifically call out false teachers, so that the flock will avoid them. What follows is something in the vein of describing cult characteristics, and not attempting so much to define what they are in general. Being familiar both with definition and description can help you discern between truth and error more effectively than an approach utilizing only one or the other.

For example, if you know that anything that denies the Trinity is a heresy, would you be able to say for certain whether or not TD Jakes is heretical when he talks about "one god, in three manifestations?" You have the definition right. But if you were armed with the useful description, "anyone avoiding the use of the term persons and using manifestations instead is a modalist," helpfully offered (paraphrased) by Tim Challies, then you would much more quickly and with more certainty determine that his viewpoint is heretical.

After the jump, you'll simply find a long list of things that characterize religious cults. It's a general list, and doesn't give any examples, as a result. So the information can be used and applied to any organization for the purpose of determining, "are they a cult?" Examples of organizations you might enjoy evaluating with the help of the list below would be political organizations, media groups, various advocacy organizations, religious groups, etc and etc.

As a clarifying note, just because something displays characteristics coinciding with the points given does not mean it is a cult, automatically. But organizations that are cults will have characteristics in common with the points listed. It's an issue of correlation.

I should mention that the first two parts of the list were gotten from different sites, which I've since forgotten--so that content is not totally original. The third part is my own contribution.

The following is a description of what cult is:
1. A cult is a religious group with extreme beliefs and practices - beliefs that are often contrary to science and logic but they are believed as "obvious" truth by the cult members.
2. The members of cults often isolate themselves from friends, family and society and use deceptive and unethical recruiting techniques
3. Use manipulative methods to control the minds of followers
4. Venerate a human leader or leaders
5. Recruiting work is performed by all of the members
6. People are not allowed to criticize the leader, the doctrine, or the organization, or read information that is critical of the cult.
7. Members are trained to reject and disbelieve criticism of the cult as lies from Satan.
8. Members spy on one another and report improper activities or comments to leaders.
9. Members are taught to suppress anything which might reflect negatively to outsiders about the cult.
10. The doctrine is absolutist and the ideology is internalized as "the Truth."
11. Members are told to avoid contact with ex-members or critics, even their relatives.
12. Members are instilled with a deep fear about ever leaving the organization, and anyone who does depart is of the devil and sometimes severely punished.
13. Members are emotionally controlled and warned of being caught and punished.
14. Disciplinary action is administered by group leaders, which may involve excommunication for such things as questioning organization policy or doctrine.
15. People are encouraged to sacrifice education, career and family interests to serve the interests of the cult.
16. Advocate socializing only with other members in the organization and avoiding outsiders.
17. Eschatological belief in an apocalypse and Dooms Day.

More after the break:

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Repost: Sorrow Producing Repentance Without Regret

This is something I wrote about 4 years ago.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit. Psalm 51:12
Sometimes the thought occurs to me, 'what if I'm a fake?'

John 6:37 spells out a clear teaching of Christianity: those who belong to God will never fall away.
1 John 2:19 buttresses this point: those who fall away from the faith were never truly saved to begin with.
Matthew 7:21-23 says plainly that many who go to hell will actually be convinced that they are Christians, because they call Jesus "Lord."

Here's the deal: if you're saved, you cannot become unsaved (Romans 8:38-39). And if you're saved, you'll pursue a godly life and subsequently sin less and less in your daily life. You never become perfect, so you will sin -- but you fall into it, you don't dive.

The question that goes through my mind is, how can you measure the distinction, practically? After sinning, I naturally feel bad. But feeling bad isn't necessarily repentance. Repentance would involve a complete about-face, not merely the admission of guilt, followed by continued indulgence.
For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:10
When a long time has gone since the last time you sinned in a particular way, you feel good about it. Living righteously, I suppose, improves your confidence. David in Psalm 51:12 seems to indicate that what we lose when we sin is not our salvation, but our confidence in knowing that we have it. We lose our assurance. Not the seal itself, but our personal assurance that we have been sealed.

The simple solution seems to be to make a habit of repenting as soon as possible after you sin, praying for strength to resist it in the future, and getting back in the mindset of trying to avoid it. You'll never succeed (1 John 1:8-10), but the mark of a Christian is a continual mortification of the flesh--it's not something you do once and never again. It's a persistent attitude of the heart that leads to increasing grief over sin and an increasing gratitude toward God for His forgiveness in spite of our continual sin.

I'm encouraged when I recently stood back and noticed that what makes me the most upset about when I commit a sin -- what grieves me the most -- is not its severity, nor even its perpetuity, but the fact that the very act of it, no matter how great or small the sin, is a proclamation of ingratitude toward God for His forgiveness. It is like when you are in a close relationship with someone -- a close family member or romantic partner -- and you do something to hurt them. You're not upset primarily because you realize that what you did was ontologically wrong -- you're upset because what you did hurt the one you love. Now, God cannot be hurt in the sense that He is weakened. But that doesn't mean He can't be disrespected. And the One least deserving in all of existence to be disrespected must surely be God.

Consequently, the thing I most look forward to upon death is the final freedom from sin. To no longer have it be part of my nature to reject God and the blessing that is God. Heaven will be great, I'm sure. And exploring the New Earth will be an enjoyment. But what will make it fantastic is that my relationship with my heavenly Father will no longer have the potential to be harmed by my selfishness.

Until that day, there is work to done here on earth.

-W

Friday, May 12, 2017

Geopolitical Consequences of A World in Which the Reformation Never Happened

This year is the 500th year (meaning October 31 will be the 500th anniversary) of the Protestant Reformation, dated to the posting of Martin Luther's 95 theses, whether nailed or mailed. It's fitting to reflect on how history may have played out differently if the rapid re-printing of his theses had not galvanized support for what eventually led to the Reformation of the church.

Absent Luther's actions:

​German nobles would not have had as strong a uniting force which to rally around in order to throw off the yoke of the Papacy, so Germany would have remained Roman Catholic longer. England would not have become Protestant, so Spain would not have launched the Armada, so Spain would have remained the naval superpower of the 1500s-1700s, and Spanish Catholics, rather than English Puritans, would have colonized America. Consequently, there would have been no American Revolution, and thus, no great democratic experiment with a Constitutional Republic built on principles of religious liberty. America may today instead be a Roman Catholic monarchy, with the primary language being Spanish. The world would have fewer, if not NO democracies, and worldwide, women would still not have the right to vote, slaves would still be publicly owned in the West, and it's quite probable that the "Enlightenment" of atheism/humanism would not have taken place, so evolutionary theory would never have become a prominent belief. Consequently, even if we had television, cinema would be much more boring, without movies like Jurassic Park, Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.

Because Darwin is the single most important direct influence on Nazi Germany, the Holocaust would not have happened, neither would WWI (also strongly influenced by propaganda about reclaiming the 'Holy Roman Empire' which was when Germany and the Papacy were closely tied as a single religio-political entity) or WWII, so the British would never have conquered Palestine and Israel would never have been given to the Jews. Jewish settlement would still have occurred, because that was organic, due to antisemitism. However, the likelihood that Israel would have been recognized as a country by the international community would be much lower. Nor is it likely that the state would have been a democracy if it were created in this alternate timeline.

The 'enlightenment' was, together with sects and heresies, one of those necessarily possible but unintended/unwanted consequences of the greater religious liberty Luther et al created by making faith much more individualistic by giving everyone access to the Bible.  Instead of facing secular politics as our biggest internal frustration, we'd still be seeing roman catholicism as the greatest threat to peace and liberty on earth. There would not have been an American Civil War because the Protestant abolitionist movement would never have been a big enough influence to elevate it to the level of national politics. Consequently, there would have been no civil rights movement. Ironically, racial tensions might be perceived to be less strenuous, if only because the disparity in treatment of the "races" would never have confronted the nation's conscience, because there would have been no one to advocate for the oppressed. Since technological innovation of the industrial/post-industrial era was almost entirely a product of American ingenuity, enabled by our political liberty and economic prosperity, in a Roman Catholic America, the inventions like the cotton gin, tractor etc which made the necessity of manual labor obsolete would not have been invented, so slavery would still be seen as a practical necessity with a strong economic incentive for maintaining.

Is your mind blown?

-W

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Piper and Edwards on God's Self-Sufficiency

“This is why God created the world — “that he may be glorified.” Which does not mean: “that he may be made glorious.” Don’t take the word “glorify” and treat it like the word “beautify.” To beautify means to take a plain room and make it beautiful. We don’t take a plain God and make him beautiful. That is not what glorifying God means. When God created the world he did not create out of any need or any weakness or any deficiency. He created out of fullness and strength and complete sufficiency. As Jonathan Edwards said, “Tis no argument of the emptiness or deficiency of a fountain that it is inclined to overflow” (Yale: Works, Vol. 8, 448).”  ~ John Piper, sermon September 22, 2012

-W

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

What is Church and Why Church?

One of the things I learned early on through my theological studies was the importance of being a member of a church. Here are the main reasons why we should 'go to church.'

Being joined together with other believers is important because:
1. It allows you to encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
2. It allows you to build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
3. You can 'stir one another up to love' (Hebrews 10:24)
4. You can 'stir one another up to good works' (Hebrews 10:24)
5. For accountability, so that you do not fall into sin (Hebrews 3:13)
6. To serve each other (Galatians 5:13)
7. To instruct one another (Romans 15:14)

This is not an exhaustive list, but it's some of the major texts that speak to the believer's obligation to "do church," and what exactly that is.

Incidentally, Hebrews 10:25 directly states that we should "not neglect to meet together." 


So we should seek to be together with other believers when we can. The most common way that this is possible for the typical person is the Sunday meeting. Unless you are serving believers, submitting to authority, giving generously, studying Scripture, and bearing burdens outside of the weekly gathering (unlikely), you're definitely obligated to go. And unless there's not a single church that's not apostate in your area, I would question the motives of someone refusing to go to church, because all the people there are missing out on your contribution/participation.


I can sympathize with frustration that the weekly gathering isn't enough to satisfy the above purposes of church fellowship. But that wouldn't justify abandoning the effort because you feel like you're getting a low return-on-investment. After all, fellowship isn't an instruction based on our perception of its effectiveness, it's a blanket, unconditional command by God. That was what ultimately drove me to attend, despite my introverted personality. I would instead recommend continuing to work to build up the church by participating in the 'standard channels,' but continuing to expand outward -- invite people to your house for Bible studies, be in communication with other believers throughout the week. Do life with each other, so you'll be able to bear each other's burdens. If you're unsatisfied, let that turn to zeal and be used to build up the local body.

-W

Monday, May 8, 2017

If the Universe is Infinite, Pragmatism As A Moral Philosophy Is Impossible

I want to introduce you to a conditional that applies to anyone who'll say that the universe is infinite in either time or space or both, and for whom morality is defined as doing the greatest good for the greatest number of people. And diminishing suffering. That's actually logically incoherent.
In an infinite universe, there'll be an infinite amount of happiness and an infinite amount of suffering, so nothing you do will have an impact on the total number of either. Consequently, a morality based on the greatest benefit for the greatest number CANNOT BE TRUE if the universe is infinite in any aspect. It is logically contradictory. Therefore, the moral imperative for doing good rather than evil CANNOT just be a pragmatic decision. It must be justified some other way.
Let's flesh this out more thoroughly:

Option 1. If the universe is infinitely large, then there are an infinite number of moral agents out there who are doing moral acts. Therefore, the total amount of good and evil will both be infinite.

Option 2. If the universe goes on for ever, then even if there is a finite amount of moral agents out there, the total amount of good that is done will still be infinite. Even if the vast majority of the infinite time of the universe does not contain these moral agents' presence (such as in a 'Heat Death' scenario), then their actions will ripple out across time and produce an infinitely great effect, a la the Butterfly Effect.

Option 3. If the universe has an end but extends into infinity backwards through time (a la the Multiverse Model and Oscillating Big Bang, Big Crunch Theory), then provided that there were moral agents (and if you accept evolutionary theories of life, then you would have to accept the certainty of life arising at different epochs in history in this and other universes) in the deep past, then the consequences of their good deeds have been infinite,

so as to make yours insignificant. The consequence of all of these views of the universe is that a morality based on pragmatism fails because its central goal (maximizing good, minimizing evil) is logically impossible to achieve.

The neat thing is that this affects naturalistic atheist views (Cyclic Universe Theory, Heat Death), pantheistic views (a universe with a past of infinite duration), and theistic views (heaven or an eternal state, going on for eternity), with some overlap (since a universe of infinite size is neither forced on nor denied by any of these views, inherently).

The result is that unless you believe that the universe had BOTH a definite beginning, AND  will have a definite end, AND is of finite size, you cannot believe that your good deeds have any intrinsic value whatsoever on the basis of the effect they produce on the universe.

Logic forbids it. And to take the view that allows for pragmatic morality would be very fatalistic. You'd be allowing for your deeds to matter, but only temporally, because since the universe has a finite duration, when it ends, all your work is destroyed and in that sense none of it mattered anyway, because it was brought to nothing. All the good you did was only temporary, it didn't last.

In other words, no matter what view finds purchase in your mind, pragmatism is futile.

That means that the reason for doing good rather than evil must be something other, it cannot have anything to do with the impact it has on the world. It can't be about results.

I notice that the above argument against pragmatism relies on the imperative to have one's individual actions be significant in some sense. The irony is that if this is rejected, you'd be saying that maximizing good and diminishing evil IS a legitimate thing, BUT that none of the things you do as an individual have any significance.

The conclusion seems to be that whether Good turns out to be countably infinite or uncountably infinite, it must coincide with the relative unimportance of the individual.

What a strange sort of thought. But it seems to lend itself very well to an eternal state where the highest goal is to give God the greatest glory, while the focus is completely on Him and not on the individual.

"I am merely striving to think God's thoughts after Him."
(Johann Kepler, German Lutheran scientist, 1541-1630)
-W

PS
So, basically you need a morality that says "don't do good because it matters. Do good because I say you should do good. I'll take care of the reasons." ~ For a start.

This is why it's so hard to be a consistent atheist. Without an Ultimate Law-Giver, where does our authority to determine what is moral, and why we should do it, (because it gets good results or because it pleases God) come from?

PPS


If the universe is infinitely large, then any finite good you do will be infinitely small in the extent of its effect on the whole universe. In other words, no matter how much good you do, it is mathematically equivalent to doing nothing. That’s because any finite sum is as good as zero when compared to infinity. You would have to do an infinite amount of good in order to have an effect on an infinite universe, and of course, no one who is finite can do that. This is another way of thinking about the first line I placed in 'option 1'.

Final takeaway: In case you missed it, the point of refuting a morality based on "the effects of our own actions on the universe" is that this forces us to look for another standard by which morality is justified. In Christian theology, we have that justification, because since infinite good has already been accomplished (Christ's Active Obedience achieved this for us), then we know that pragmatism is futile. So we obey because God says "obey," and because we love Him and therefore desire to keep His commandments. God Himself assures us that this is worthwhile, because anything done for God's sake is never worthless. And there's not a single bit of pragmatism in it. Worthy obedience is not in how much of it is done, but how sincerely it is done for the Lord's sake.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Atheist Problems

Atheists are prone to claim that mental gymnastics are required in order to rationalize a belief in God, or the Bible.

On the contrary.

Mental gymnastics are required to ignore the dissonance implicit in believing that:

  • "nothing" is a subject which can effect objects
  •  a universe in which there are no causes, because time does not exist, can cause the effect of time beginning to exist
  •  the impersonal can generate personality
  •  order comes naturally from disorder, despite the law of entropy
  •  in an infinite universe, discrete acts are insignificant, yet unbelievers are still pragmatists, or see their actions as meaningful
  •  one's actions are meaningless but one is still compelled to act as if they were meaningful
  •  one's own thoughts and memories are reliable, even though those thoughts are purported to be the result of reproductive success and not coherence to truth, and those memories are believed to be reliable based on one's memory of them being reliable.
  • The end of time in an infinite future can never be reached from the present moment, but from the beginning of time, in an infinite past, the universe can nevertheless reach this present moment.
-W

Not an exhaustive list by any stretch of the imagination, but sufficient to show which position requires mental gymnastics to rationalize.

Meekness Isn't Weakness

I came across the 'Precept Austin' page while doing some background research on a Scripture passage for one of my elders. Whoever's responsible, they're evidently doctrinally sound by virtue of what, and whom, they affirm.

The website functions like an exhaustive curation of commentaries and word studies, verse by verse and word by word, of every passage you can think to search. It's not unlike BibleHub, then, but with the lexicon and commentary functions together on one page, and truncated for emphasis.

I find it useful for a thorough overview of  passages in preparation for expository preaching, as well as gaining a deeper appreciation of what the words mean. This is why, when someone asked me, "how does one become 'gentle and quiet'," per 1 Peter 3:4, I went to Precept Austin to look for an easy answer.

Following are some observations from that page on the verse in question which I found interesting.

"...but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious."

Praus and prautes convey the idea of tenderness and graciousness, and can be accurately translated “meekness” and “meek” respectively. But unlike those English words, the Greek terms do not connote weakness but rather power under control. The adjective praus was often used of a wild horse that was broken and made useful to its owner

JMac
 If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions." (Drawing Near- Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith)

As noted above the Greeks characterized meekness as power under control and in the case of the Spirit filled believer this means that he or she is under the control of God's Spirit. From a practical standpoint, the individual who is "praus" exhibits a freedom from malice, bitterness, or any desire for revenge.

William Barclay
 The man who is praus is the man who is always angry at the right time and never angry at the wrong time. ....

In the sight of God - The Greek word enopion (from en = in + ops = face or eye) is literally in the face of, in the presence of and thus before. This picture makes her manifestation of a gentle and quiet spirit virtually a sacrificial act of worship! 

-W