Dan's Meditations

Friday, January 27, 2006

An Analysis of "Christian Activism"

Check this out: http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/Psychology/amr/cact2.htm

I think this guy is partly wise and partly backwards in his thinking. I do think we need to think this through thoughtfully and prayefully. More to come later....

The Land of Tolerance

I have been exploring my "hidden biases." Check this out: http://tolerance.org/news/article_tol.jsp?id=1352

The ignorance and elitist attitude of these "tolerance" activists causes me to shake my head. It is true that there are arrogant bigots in this country. But I don't see it too often. What I see more often is a witchhunt (which seems to be motivated by anti-Christian bigotry when you think about it). The "tolerance" activists have a very specific and narrow worldview. If you don't buy into their worldview, they accuse you of hate.

Let me make this clear. I hate injustice. I hate sin. However, I love sinners.

Tolerance activists say that religious diversity is a good thing. In fact, religious diversity is really polytheism. They don't mind that we worship Jesus, provided that we bow down to the other idols of the land as well (in the name of respecting religious diversity of course). But by celebrating these anti-Christian religions, people are actually in idolatry. Such people talk extensively about respecting all religions, but they really don't respect any religion. For it is impossible to give real respect to two contradicting creeds.

But, of course, to understand what I am saying, people have to think. More importantly, they need an encounter with Jesus. When they see His glory, they will have a glimpse as to what I am talking about. One glimpse of His glory - that is all it will take to cure people of foolish depraved thinking. Check out Isaiah 6. Of course, sometimes God reveals a little of His glory at a time. For those people, this will no doubt be a process. If you are a tolerance activist, I will walk with you through that process. Let us be friends, and I will teach you true tolerance.

If you are a tolerance activist, I request this from you: HUMILITY. Don't be so elitist.

When you encounter God, you will recognize real tolerance. For the patience, kindness, and tolerance of God leads to repentance. See Romans 1-2.

Christians have got to quit being intimidated of the tolerance witchhunters. We need to be able to contend for the faith and show these people real love and compassion - which comes from an undying faith and love for Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Education and Intelligent Design

Check this out: http://kevxml2a.verizon.net/_1_2Y29TO1043TOM3Y__vzn.isp/apnws/story.htm?kcfg=apart&feed=ap&sin=D8F6L1V81&qcat=usnews&passqi=&top=1&ran=31347

I recently read The Case for Faith by Lee Strobel. Good book. I did not agree with everything he said all the time. Unfortunately, I don't know where the book is now, so I can't quote from it. But the chapter about evolution and the origin of life was fantastic. It is really sad how people cling to the "evolution" hypothesis in the name of "science" without actually knowing anything about evolution. Yet, so many are totally closed off to the idea that the order and complexity and beauty of the universe might possibly suggest that an Intelligence has caused it.

This issue isn't about science; if it was, then people would be at least as open to the idea that God created the universe and life as they are to the idea that we have somehow morphed from non-living matter to living matter. From a purely scientific perspective, neither theory can be soundly "proven" (certainly not deductively). On the other hand, good scientists would use the principle of induction to investigate both hypotheses and to develop conclusions that are "strong" or "weak."

For those of you who might not know the difference, deductive reasoning is valid or invalid. In deductive reasoning, the conclusion is contained within the premises and is as certain as the premises are certain - if the argument is valid. But inductive reasoning is not valid or invalid; it is strong or weak. Inductive reasoning takes "facts" as observed empirically and extrapolates from the facts. The conclusions are only probable. The more examples you have supporting your stance, the stronger your arugment. The fewer examples you have, the weaker your arugment. But one counter-example, can kill your conclusion. For one counter-example can put you back into deductive reasoning, which, as I said before, is valid or invalid.

And so you see, for the fair minded scientist, the idea of evolution came from a series of "facts." There are similarities between the species, and there is all kinds of scientific data confirming this. So, Darwin induced from this data that we came from common ancestors. It is a hypothesis. As a scientist, it is a fair hypothesis. But, as the case is made in The Case for Faith, the abundance of evidence that has come up (and more notably, that has not come up) does very little to confirm this hypothesis. Indeed, from a scientific perspective, many have argued that the evidence tends to point to the idea that the hypothesis of evolution is false.

And so why not present a hypothesis that says that we may have been created? When all the evidence is gathered, it seems reasonable to induce that ordered-complexity, beauty, and life do not spontaneously appear from nothing or from a chaotic explosion. On the contrary, when you see a painting (and I mean a real painting, not this modern art crap), you induce that a painter put some real effort into that painting. When you see a sculpture, you do not induce, "Wow, what are the chances of this happening to happen by chance?" No, you induce, "Wow, some talented craftsman must have worked really hard on this." And when you see beauty, ordered-complexity, and life, it seems reasonable to induce that some Intelligence designed us.

But, like I said, this debate is not about fair-minded science. It is about politics. There are people in power who hate the notion that we have been created by a God to whom we obviously must be held accountable. So, if science suggests that for a moment, then it is a political necessity to suggest that those scientific ideas are not real science. Of course, they fear what God is going to do. They fear that God is going to disrupt the whole public educational structure - which is rooted in the idoltarous religion of secular humanism - and that a whole generation will see and be taught the glorious gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. They have dedicated their lives against the propagation of the gospel. Oh, they don't mind if we Christians have our little "religion." Can you hear them? "Just keep 'religion' in that 'religion' compartment of your lives. Don't you dare bring that into the public domain. There is no room for God in the public domain. It is fine that you worship. But you must respect our ideas of separation of church and state." In other words, "Secular humanism is the 'real' religion. That is what we base our lives on. You can have your religion, as long as you observe the foundational tenets of our religion - which is that religion has no place in the public sphere. Our religion demands that, and that is the religion we insist on. And don't tell me that I'm contradicting myself either. "

See, there is no middle ground. All things exist for the glory of God. The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof. There is a reason why the enemies of God are scared. Just as there was a reason why the enemies of God in Gideon's day were scared. Check out Judges 6-7. The enemies of God recognize that they are in trouble, and if they do not take desperate measures, then this Christian gospel might take root in the next generation! And what would that do for their voting base on whom they depend?

So, praise the LORD. God is on the move. There will be terrible times in the last days, but in the church, there will be an increase of glory. Little by little, we will take ground. We are taking the land. We will not compromise. We are not looking to be respected as "another" group. We are out to destroy our competitors - that is with spiritual and intellecutal weapons. "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood." (Eph 6:12)

Christians should reject any notion of a defeatist mentality. Rather, we must stand on the promises of God. Do not compromise with the world. Rather, search the Scriptures, and prayerfully and thoughtfully form a theology for education. God cares deeply about education. And He insists very loudly that education is not to be based on agnosticism. See Exodus, Deuteronomy, Nehemiah, Psalms, Proverbs, Luke, Ephesians, and the rest of the Bible.

For more, check out my other blog: debatingeducation.blogspot.com.

Friday, January 13, 2006

God Is Not A Pessimist!

John 16:33 - "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

I dropped a real spiritual/intellectual bomb on my Debate class today. It was not planned. We were talking about Judge Alito and the Supreme Court and the division between Republicans (cheerleading Alito) and the Democrats (opposing Alito for all the wrong reasons). When asked about my view, I said that if it was not for Jesus, I would be a discouraged pessimist - or something along those lines. But since I have Jesus, I reject all notions of pessimism. Somewhere in there, I implied (either directly or indirectly) that pessimism is a sin.

And did that ever provoke a response! Several of my students proceeded to debate with me for the next half an hour about pessimism. I thought it was a great teaching opportunity, so I let the debate go. They were trying to say that pessimism is not a sin, that it is a personality, that God created us with different dispositions - some to be optimistic, some to be pessimistic, etc. They were not really accepting the truth that pessimism is sin.

And this was coming from the "more studious" kids in the class. Not that I have favorites. I don't. But it is a fact that some of my students work harder and do better than others. It was the "better" students who were engaged in this discussion contending that pessimism is not wrong. The "less studious" students did not say much.

Obviously (at least to me), despite the fact that these kids are being raised in "Christian" homes and going to a "Christian" school, they are missing a whole lot. I think this has something to do with the fact that you can't merely go to church and go to Christian school and attach a Christian label to your church, your school, and your family and think that that makes everything cool. My students need to seriously encounter my God. I mean, the way Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Peter, and Paul encountered God, I pray that my students will encounter God. They have "religion." They have all the right answers (well, not all of them, as was all too obvious today). They have the "lingo." And many of them, no doubt, have a real and vibrant relationship with Jesus - even with screwed up worldviews that need to be exposed and dealt with.

I think that many of these kids naively think that by honest open-minded thinking, they will come up with good conclusions. The assumption here is that they are fundamentally good. Oh, they know well that they have sinful natures (at least in their heads), but they are certainly influenced more by "American thought" than they are by Bible truth.

American thought says, "Think for yourself. Trust your own opinions and have the courage to state your own opinion right in the face of authority figures who think you are wrong. It is your right, yea, even your duty to do so!"

Americans would do well to consider this: 2 Peter 2:19-20 - "They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity - for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him. If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning."

So, maybe Americans would do well to humbly confess that their own minds and their own opinions are not always trustworthy, and so maybe putting our trust in the Lord and in His word is the wise course of action. Hmmm... Of course, this means that you can't think it through all the way before making a decision, because then you are still trusting in yourself and in your own ability to think. You should think it through and love God with all your mind, but in the end, you should trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not in your own understanding.

And once you do that, then you have to beging to obey God in how He has commanded us to view ourselves. If says that hopelessness is wrong, then it is wrong. We must repent of hopelessness. If God says despair is wrong, then it is wrong. We must repent of despair. If God says, "Take heart!" then we must take heart! If God says, "Be joyful always." We must be joyful always.

And God has said all those things.

In Philippians 4:4-8, we are encouraged and commanded to do certain things: "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."

So, we are always to be rejoicing n the Lord. We are to be gentle - and that gentleness is to be evident (something which I must do more and more - and please everyone forgive me and be patient with me in this area). God is near! That means that we have a constant companion and friend - a God who will encourage us and comfort us. It also means that we must walk in reverence at all times. God is holy and worthy of worship. He punishes wickedness, and He is near, so we need to be reverent. We do not need to - indeed, we need to not be anxious about anything. As we pray and give thanks, God will take care of us. He will give us peace. Our hearts and minds will be guarded. Finally, we are to think about those things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. We should regularly be thinking about these things, It is our privelege, right, and duty to do so. We have the freedom to think about these things. We also should do this as a discipline.

Let us then think about that which is lovely.

What is lovely? My wife is lovely! It is lovely to come home everyday to a lovely lady who respects me and cares for me and loves me. It is lovely to live with such a wonderful woman of God - a woman of noble character.

I just looked up lovely. Here is what Webster says lovely is.

lovely - charmingly or gracefully beautiful; very pleasing; delightful.

It is lovely for students to be eager to learn. Imagine: A classroom of students thinking, participating, longing for knowledge, understanding, an wisdom. Rejoicing over a new nugget of knowledge. Applying that knowledge to something useful. Seeking to use that knowledge to help justice be established in the world.

Imagine - A team going to New Orleans to share with people in need. Helping to rebuild that which has been broken down. Bringing order, peace, and hope to those who have been devestated. Lovely.

Imagine - Family with relatives. Gathering around the table for Thanksgiving dinner. Giving thanks. Eating some good turkey. Being loved and loving other people.

Imagine - Broken marriages being healed as each person seeks to serve their mate in humility. Imagine someone listening to you, understanding you, having compassion on you, empathizing with you, encouraging you, supporting you, rejoicing with you in your success, mourning with you in your losses.


See, when you start thinking about that which is lovely, your thinking changes. This is not rocket science. If you think about that which is lovely, then you will not be focusing on that which is depressing. You will not be despairing, because you will be too busy thinking about that which is lovely.

Now, for some people, to think about that which is lovely is a real stretch. Perhaps they have been so hurt, so devestated, so broken, that they just can not bring themselves to think about that which is lovely. Their lives have been too messed up. They have always received the short end of the stick. As Marco put it, for them, life is like Charlie Brown trying to kick the football. And falling and being humiliated time after time after time. Negative thinking begins to control this person.

That's where Jesus comes in with His mercy, love, and grace. God gives faith. For those who have seen hell on this earth, I encourage you. If you will just reach out to God by faith, even just a mustard seed of faith, and ask God to help you and to change you, God will do it. Let His love set you free of your mental prison of despair. Begin to praise God for His greatness, His holiness, His compassion, and for coming to this earth to redeem all who would put their hope in Him.

Isaiah 61:1-3 says, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has annointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestown on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor."

Jesus is the annointed one. The gospel is GOOD NEWS! Those who walk by faith are set free of the "spirit of despair." For Jesus has overcome the world.

It is vital for people to get this. Romans 1 warns us of the consequences of rejecting the truth of God.

Romans 1:21 - "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles... They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen.... Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them."

It is my conviction that in those words we see the cause of many of the modern day psychological and psychiatric problems. People who have continually rejected God and who have continually insisted on being negative and pessimistic and without faith have been given over to a depraved mind. They have been made prisoners of their own depraved minds. They need a Savior. Meds will work for a while for some. I am not against all meds all the time. I myself had a seizure disorder as a child. I was put on low doses tegretol (a very mild medicine for my mild seizure disorder). So, I am not against meds in all cases. But I do think that many mental disorders are misdiagnosed and overly dianosed. Worse, I think that believing a false diagnosis can lead into negative self-fulfilling prophecy. The false diagnosis might cause the disorder. Also, there are probably legitimate mental disorders that are happening, because that is the natural thing that happens when people continually reject God. For example, if I go years not doing exercise and eating fast food, my abs will probably experience atrophy. Those, who refuse to use their God-given minds to think about those things which are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy" may experience a kind of atrophy of the mind. Of course, there are things going on in the spiritual realm that are way beyond my understanding - even for me to begin to speculate about.

We need a complete cultural transformation. Doug Wilson says that it must begin and end in worship of God. We have been created to worship God. As we worship God, God sets our lives right. If God is not our central focus, then our lives are "out of joint."

On this point, it is worth quoting Doug Wilson extensively:

"A Christian worldview is not a matter of having an opinion about everything, with all those opinions being interconnected or, as some might say, entangled. Our lives are supposed to go together a certain way. Parents who have labored over assembling a child's Christmas present, one with multiple parts, know that it is not sufficient to throw all the parts together into a box and call it a tricycle. Neither is it adequate to throw all our opinions into a box and call it a worldview.

But in order for our lives to cohere rightly, in order for the parts to go together in that certain way, the point of integration cannot be down here "under the sun." Solomon taught us that under that sun everything is vanity. He taught us that only way for the fragments of this vain world to come together. Only God can draw straight with crooked lines....

The posture of the worshiper in Scripture is to kneel or lie prostrate. For many moderns a worship service should be a cozy place. But for sinners, even justified sinners, true worship is anthing but comfortable....

And worship is not a retreat from the world. Rather, worship opens heaven to us in such a way that the earth comes into focus. And this is why worship is relevant to education in the classroom.

True worship is incarnational. If we want to understand how transcendence and immanence intersect, we have to come to understand these things in Christ. And we cannot understand the incarnation of Christ by sitting in neat rows in a classroom, doing push-ups with the brain. We have to have water applied to us in the triune name; we have to heart the Gospel preached and learn practical obedience to the Word declared; and we ahve to take and eat. In short, we have to learn how to worship. And then, having worshipped, we are sent out into the world to study it, subdue it, replenish it. But education and learning follow worship and proceed from it." (Wilson 64)

Psalm 100 is a good psalm to begin to learn how to worship.

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."

In short, begin to worship God in the manner that Scripture commands us to worship God, and He will order our lives according to His Sovereign will. But reject God, and He, in His Sovereign will, will give you over to a depraved mind.

Jesus Christ came and died so that we might have life - abundant and eternal. That life is a gift. This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Wilson, Doug. The Case for Classical Christian Education. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books. 2003.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Judge Alito

This is why I have divorced myself from the Republican Party. Instead of standing up tall and unashamed with a backbone of steel and resolve on the issue of abortion, pro-life Republicans are trying to "sneak in" a Supreme Court Justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade. It is deceptive, and it is a horrible strategy that could very well backfire.

For those of you who do not know, Alito made a strong pro-life statement in 1985 as an attorney representing a pro-life client. Well, among the other problems in our legal system, lawyers do not exist to ascertain truth and to see to it that justice is done, but they exist to make a case that their client would find favorable. So, if their client does not value justice, then the lawyer's job is to make an attempt to help their client evade justice. It is a fundamental flaw in our judicial system that should be corrected. But the point is this: Now Alito is saying, "Those were my remarks as an atorney." (Who of course has no real opinion, since lawyers seem to almost categorically sell out to "the system"). Anyhow, now he won't distance himself nor confirm the strong pro-life stance.

So, I am actually finding myself in agreement with the left (whose policies I abhor - especially on abortion). But, like the left, I'm asking, "WHERE DO YOU STAND?!" Alito will not say whether or not he thinks that the Constitution protects the supposed "women's right to choose."

I want a Christian on the court who won't be ashamed of Jesus, and who won't be ashamed to say, "The just shall live by faith" (as the Book of Romans declares authoritatively) and who won't be afraid to say, "Abortion is America's holocaust."

Tragically, many Christians just don't care. Many "Christians" have a defeatist mentality. They just won't fight for justice. God have mercy on us.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Psychology vs Theology

For quite some time, but in particular, for the past couple years, I have been concerned about psychology mixing in and undermining Christian theology. Already, my statement reveals quite a bit about what I think about psychology.

Check out this article: http://www.issuesetc.org/resource/journals/v1n9.htm

There just is no substitution for the laws of God, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, the preaching of the word of God, Biblical prayer, Biblical meditation, faith, and obedience. Sadly, these have been replaced in our culture (even our "Christian" culture) with self-esteem, self-actualization, taking off the "mask," being "real," New Age meditation, postmodernism, worship of gooey feeling experiences, tolerance, mixing Scripture with secular ideas, etc.

I just watched the movie Pollyanna yesterday. For those of you who haven't seen it, this daughter of a minister (Pollyanna) is orphaned, and her rich, religious aunt takes her in to her home. Everyone in this town is "negative" about something. People are grouchy, mean-spirited, gossips, and religious in the worst sense of the word.

An interesting part of the movie is the dreaded Sunday church service. Everyone goes to church and hears a fiery hell-fire and brimstone preacher shout about the wrath of God. Actually, listening closely to the sermon, his doctrine is totally sound (which for me is a fresh of breath air in this modern "make me feel like I'm a good person" society).

Well, Pollyanna is always finding something about which to be glad. Some people get to not liking her because she is such a "goody-two-shoes." Old people and younger people, Pollyanna wins the hearts of the people of the town: from the grouchy old Mrs. Snow (who had always previously imagined that she was dying) to the negative housemaid to the hell-fire preacher himself.

The preacher's transformation is very interesting. Pollyanna caught the hell-fire minister off guard by asking, "Do you like being a minister?" Pollyanna really empathizes with him about his frustrations with his congregation "not getting it." After all, her father was a minister, so she was familiar with the struggle of ministers. She went on to share with him how her father had decided a long time before to look for the good in people, instead of the bad. Then, she went on to share with the minister the fact that the Bible has over 800 "happy passages" that talk about the joy of the Lord, rejoicing, etc. Well, after a short conversation, Pollyanna "runs along" and the minister, left alone, gets on his knees in humility and repentance.

The next Sunday, the minister confessed his sin to the congregation - the sin of neglecting all the "happy passages" and not taking the time and making the effort to get to know the people in his congregation. The minister's humility and transformed the congregation. People left church with joy and gladness; and the joy was contagious.

So ...

There is certainly a number of good biblical points that the movie makes. We should not be negative people. We should choose to sow attitudes of joy and gladness and thanksgiving and appreciation of the blessings that Almighty God bestows upon us. Ministers should love their congregations and should encourage them and model Christ's love and compassion and kindness and humility to them. And when that happens, God can and does do great and wonderful things in peoples' lives. This is the main point that the movie drives home.

However, Christianity is not merely a psychological "glad game." There are a number of concerns that I have. Pollyanna "won" the heart of Nancy by lying. Also, the minister had been telling the truth in his hell-fire sermons. But he totally swings the other way and commits to his congregation to preach about the "happy passages" for 16 years! This is not balanced. The Bible says that the "fear of the LORD" is the beginning of wisdom - not the joy of the LORD. The joy of the LORD is our strength - to be sure - but it is so very important to give God the appropriate reverence, awe, and FEAR that is due. He is GOD! He is awesome and holy and Jealous! He hates sin and punishes wickedness. His wrath is real, and everyone who has ever preached about the wrath of God for any extended period of time has surely been persecuted.

In our modern churches, so many fear preaching about hell and sin and Biblical righteousness. People hate these doctrines of Christianity (i.e. they hate Christianity). So, instead of dealing with these doctrines with humility, and reflecting on their own sinfulness, many moderns twist the gospel into a "feel good" psychobabble with some "happy scriptures" mixed into it.

It is time to come to God on God's terms or not at all.