Saturday, July 30, 2016

Man's Wisdom or God's Wisdom?

Mankind has exhibited pride and a desire to be in control since Eden (Gen. 3:6), and that pride was manipulated by the serpent's deceit, that they would "be like God" (Gen: 4-5). While being inquisitive and investigative is a gift of God, people have elevated their own wisdom to a lofty perch and have disdain for the wisdom of God, preferring scientism and evolutionism to truth. And yet, we seem like idiots to them.


Greek philosopher Epicurus, evolutionist and hedonist. Man has tried to elevate his wisdom ever since Eden. God's wisdom is foolishness to those who are perishing, but actually confounds worldly "wisdom".
Greek philosopher Epicurus, evolutionist and hedonist (public domain image, modified)

The "wise" philosophers of the ages have sought to answer the mysteries of life, and some have made religious out of esoteric knowledge. Whether the views are secular or form some kind of religion, they try to supplant the Word of God . God has given us true wisdom in his Word (Prov. 1:7, Prov. 2:6, Rom. 11:33, 1 Cor. 1:23), which is far above the false wisdom of the world (1 Cor. 1:20, Isaiah 55:8-9).
The Bible is a very binary book. It does not wallow in greys and pastels, but sets out the grand issues in bold black-and-white terms that demand of us a commitment, a response, leaving us no place for dithering. Jesus famously said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30). There is no middle ground!

Paul told the Corinthians that his commission from Christ was “to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void” (1 Corinthians 1:17). This message would be seen as folly to those lost in their sin, but welcomed as the power of God by those whom He is saving (1 Corinthians 1:18–19). Thus the “wisdom of the world” (1 Corinthians 1:20) is at loggerheads with the saving, Christ-centered, cross-centered “wisdom of God” (v. 21).

Paul sets up two competing wisdoms between which there can be no compromise. But he did not invent this state of affairs. In fact, this dichotomy goes back to nearly the beginning of Scripture. The first collision occurs in Genesis 3.
I hope you'll read the rest by clicking on "Competing Wisdoms". Also, I'd be much obliged if you'd read my related article, "Wisdom and Reason".

 

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The Apostle Peter and the Age of the Earth

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

There are some professing Christians who will say that since the Bible does not give a direct date of creation, they can gallop the Eisegesis Trail and shove millions or billions of years into the Bible. It doesn't work that way. Not only are they showing their bent toward compromise, but their lack of biblical knowledge, and essentially calling Jesus, Paul, Peter, and others liars. There is a right way to interpret Genesis, and it's a good idea to believe what Jesus believed and taught. Many serious problems arise when people play fast 'n' loose with Scripture.

There are many strong reasons to believe that God says what he means about Genesis. Here is a closer look at what Peter had to say, and the implications of the truth of Genesis for the Christian.
The Penitent Apostle Peter by Anthony van Dyck, 1618
The Old Testament is extremely important for understanding the New Testament. We were told that scoffers would come, and there would be apostasy. Peter referred to Genesis several times, and made it clear that not only was there a judgement by global Flood at the time of Noah, he likened it to the coming Judgement by fire. Mockers will denigrate the importance of Jesus' return, preferring to believe in evolutionism, at their own eternal peril. Even some professing Christians do not really believe the Bible, preferring long ages, compromise, and so on instead of God's Word.
When it comes to the discussion over the days of creation and the age of the earth, many people mistakenly think that the issue only involves the interpretation of the early chapters of Genesis. However, it is important to remember that the teachings of the New Testament are also significant to this debate.

Second Peter 3:1–7, for example, says that in the last days scoffers will come scoffing at the belief that Christ will come again. They will base their ideas upon the assumption that the world has not changed, deliberately ignoring two major events in the history of world: God’s supernatural Creation of the world and God’s judgment of the world by the historical, global, catastrophic Flood in the days of Noah.

Peter’s understanding of these two events is key as it helps us see how the apostle read Genesis. This in turn informs our understanding of the issue of the earth’s age. It is important then to consider what these verses say.
To read the rest, click on "How the Apostle Peter Relates to the Age of the Earth Debate".

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Christian Witchcraft?

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

This article has two parts. I was going to present some musings that had built up in my mind, made some notes about this on Friday — and something very serious came to my attention on Saturday that fits right in. Kind of strange when those things happen. My concern is how Christians turn their prayers and worship into something resembling spells, forget that God is our loving Father, and act like the Bible is a kind of occult manual.

First, a personal problem. Although it's good to be specific in prayer and even pour out your heart to God, I'll allow that I get a mite over-specific. F'rinstance, I'll pray for my wife's safety for the work day. So, I'll pray for her safety to, from, and during work. I realized that I needed to rein up because I was insulting God at full gallop and didn't even realize it! God is infinitely wise, and knows what we mean. Indeed, he helps in our prayers (Romans 8:26-27). I'm thankful that he's patient.


Original image: Jesus Teaches People by the Sea by James Tissot
Have you read stories or seen movies about jinns (more commonly known in English as genies)? They are wish-granting mythological spirits. (Trivia: the word genius is based on a Latin word for a Roman household spirit.) Aladdin, magic lamp, three wishes, that sort of thing. Many stories have the jinn as a trickster — someone wishes for a million bucks, and the one making the wish is suddenly surrounded by a million male deer. I feel that many of us treat God in a similar way. Although he has given us faith and saved us (Ephesians 2:8-9) and provided what we need to live Christian lives (2 Peter 1:3), we seem to act like we must be ultra-specific and use the right formula or he'll ignore us, give us the wrong thing, or punish us in some way.


On a side note, there have been atheists who claim to have prayed for something but did not have their desires met. British atheist Lewis Wolpert said he quit praying because he asked God to help him find his cricket bat, which did not happen. People like that have no understanding of God or the Scriptures, and I wouldn't be surprised if some "prayed" and rubbed the Bible in order to make the prayer "take". Makes as much sense as rubbing the fat Buddha Maitreya's belly for luck.


There are Christians who seem compelled to use formulaic prayers as if our Father in Heaven will reject the prayers, and perhaps us, if we do them "wrong". I've been in churches that use modern Bible versions such as the Holman Christian Standard Version, the New International Version, the New American Standard Bible, the English Standard Version — and pray in ye olde English. Why? Do they think God doesn't savvy? Is it a kind of spell? To me, it smacks of witchcraft. It also seems pretentious.

Christians, we need to trust God, not try to impress him or use formulas like witches or other humanists. Another thing to consider is that some of these people are just playing church, and do not know God. Examine yourselves to see if you are indeed in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).


Two aspects in this article. First, we insult God by praying in a formula manner. Worse, occult formulas such as circle casting are infiltrating the church.
Assembled from components at Clker clipart
Here is the part I wasn't intending to write before, but I believe it was providentially shown to me. And it's very serious. Part of this material hit me rather hard, because I had foolishly dabbled in the occult years ago, thinking I could use magical forces for good. If you want to know about that part of my history, click on "The Spirit of the Thing".

We have a contradiction happening. In many parts of the world (especially those oppressed by atheism and Mohammedanism), Christianity is growing. In other areas, especially our comfortable Western cultures, rejection of the authority of God's Word (easily seen in compromise with theistic evolution and "deep time" science philosophies), and apostasy are increasing. New Age practices (essentially Eastern religious concepts), "Chrislam" and even witchcraft have been accepted in churches; people like "new" things, "new" revelations, "new" moves of the Spirit, but do not spend much time checking things out to see if they're biblical. It's all about me and what I want (Matthew 6:33), and not about giving glory to Jesus.

Want a "new" way to pray better and get what you want? Use an old occult technique of casting circles! You don't need God's Word, just listen to the adversary — like Eve did (Genesis 3:4-7). Yeah, that turned out well, didn't it? Before Mark Batterson said that our job is to draw circles in the sand, Belinda Carlisle sang some very occult lyrics in 1988's "Circle in the Sand". Nice song, and I have no idea if she knew what the lyrics really meant (she didn't write it), but it's witchcraft.

I'm asking you to please take a look at something, including a 15-minute video, and share it to your Christian friends: "3 is the Number: The Circle Maker and Wiccan magic". And pray. The Bible way.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Twisting Scripture to Accuse Other Christians

One area where professing atheists are painfully correct is that too many people who call themselves "Christians" are ignorant of what is in the Bible they profess to believe. (My father facetiously said, "To thine own self be true. John 3:16". He knew full well that it's in 3 Peter 2:11.) Then they act like atheists, twisting Scripture to manipulate or condemn Christians. That's not the way it works, old son. We need to know what the Bible really teaches, and how to use it properly.


Atheists are right when they accuse many Christians of being unaware of what the Bible says. Worse, some Christians twist Scripture to support their religious traditions and opinions.
Modified from an image found at Pixabay by Dowdster
People are fond of their religious traditions and opinions, and seek to justify them. When something is clear-cut, that's one thing. But sometimes owlhoots take verses are taken out of context (and especially using the King James Version's terminology that has changed over the years) to club people over the head because they're not being legalistic enough. 

Years ago, I approached Pastor Dourface about taking the youth of the church to an upcoming Christian rock concert. He response was along the lines of, "Noooooo, brotherrrrrrr, we have to avoid every appearance of evil". He had the presupposition that rock music itself was evil, therefore, Christian rock is evil, too. Plus he misused a verse to back up his view. Meanwhile, he presents the Word of God in the pulpit dressed like a banker or lawyer (aren't there evil people in those professions?) and using a public address system (atheists use those too, you know). Let's be rational, and let's use Scripture correctly, shall we?

I was making remarks about a topic along this line, and I was directed to a very helpful article. Don't take this as an endorsement of everything on the site or what the author says, I'm only recommending this particular article. Shame I feel the need to give such a disclaimer, isn't it? Anyway:
This is one of several occasional essays on “Scripture Twisting.” The purpose of these very brief essays is to challenge certain popular interpretations of the Bible that really have little or no basis.

I attended a Christian liberal arts college. The students there had scores of little oral traditions that helped them obey God. My wife and I still joke about them. Our favorite was this: “You should pray over a meal if it cost more than 50 cents or if you have to eat it with a fork.” Where is that in the Bible? No place, of course, but we students felt that it was a necessary add-on for our sanctification.

You, too, have probably been exposed to such oral traditions. Over the years we have seen various essays and heard far too many sermons that extol the virtues of avoiding the appearance of evil. I remember growing up in a church in which the pastor would frequently preach on the evils of going to movies, or dancing, or drinking and smoking. Nowadays, such sermons are usually passé. Instead, there are laundry lists that ask various questions about an activity such as “Is it honoring to God? Might it harm a weaker brother or sister? Is it the best use of your time? Does it promote the cause of Christ? Does it avoid the appearance of evil?”
To read the rest, click on "1 Thessalonians 5:22 — The Sin Sniffer’s Catch-All Verse".