Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Friday, July 22, 2016
God is not fair. That is what I hear on YouTube and read on skeptic websites. God is not fair. He favors some with salvation, but not all. He is preached in some cultures, but not all. Some have the Bible, but not all. And if salvation depends on believing in this God and obeying the Bible, then all do not have an equal chance. It is not fair.
The next step in that logic is usually to say if God is not fair then he is unworthy of being worshiped. Or even better, if God is unfair it is likely that there is no such God as you Christians have been declaring.
That sounds like a pouty teenager who decides to run away from home because she wasn't allowed to wear lipstick like her friend Jennie. But that analogy trivializes the question. Seriously, is God fair?
Anyone who bothers to look for that answer on the Internet will find two answers.
The first, God IS FAIR because he is impartially just. Because of the rebellion and disobedience of all mankind (Romans 3:23) God is just and therefore fair in condemning all.
That answer does not satisfy most skeptics, however, because they are of the opinion that some must be better than others and that in fairness God should reward those who are better. But they fail to understand that failure is failure.
When I was teaching school a D was passing - barely. If a D was a 60-69% grade then everything below 60% was below passing. It did not matter if it was 59% or 15%. Both grades were below passing.
That is the situation for us. By God's standards we are all below passing, how far does not make any difference. We all deserve, in all fairness, an F.
"But." I love that word in Ephesians 2:4. It means that FAILURE is not the last word. The last word is GRACE. And that is the second answer you will find. God is not fair; he is gracious.
The bottom line premise of the Bible is that all are sinners, and all, if left on their own, would choose darkness rather than light. In other words, we would choose rebellion and self-interest rather than God. The result would be a forever, banned form his presence and blessing, in hell.
But God's mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great that, while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience, he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God's grace that you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4,5)
God IS NOT FAIR; he is merciful and gracious.
So, it is likely my skeptic friends really would not want fairness. They would want grace.
Stop! my skeptic friends will say. That might be all good for you, but what about those who don't even know about your God? Since it is "faith" in Jesus that is the key, if they do not know about Jesus aren't they doomed? Is that fair?
My skeptic friends have a point, and they must have been reading on in Ephesians 2 because that is what it says in 2:8. "For it is by God's grace you have been saved through faith." But the question is faith in what.
In Ephesians, Paul is talking to people who have heard of Jesus. And it is faith in the mercy and grace of God revealed in Jesus and made available through Jesus' sacrifice that is specifically in view. But what of those who have not heard of Jesus?
That is a fair question, and it is one I hear from many internationals whom I've had in Bible classes and whose families have never heard about Jesus. I'll answer that question, but first this:
All who are reading this blog have heard of Jesus. What are you doing with that knowledge? If you were asking Jesus this question, that is were he would stop. There is no point going on if you are unwilling to trust in God's grace that you now understand to be centered in Jesus. Everything beyond that is abstract curiosity and not a serious question. What will you do with Jesus?
If you, however, are trusting in Jesus and want to know, here is the answer I believe Paul the Apostle would give: God has revealed himself and his grace to all.
To the people in Lystra he said: "He [God] has always given evidence of his existence by the good things he does: he gives you rain from heaven and crops at the right times; he gives you food and fills your hearts with happiness.” That revealing of himself was intended to cause men to seek him: " He did this so that they would look for him, and perhaps find him as they felt around for him. Yet God is actually not far from any one of us."
In other words, God is findable. His grace may be known even if you don't know about Jesus. Certainly, the ancient people such as Abraham and Job knew God initially this way. And there are many for whom this is all they know of God. So Paul says in Romans 1 that they are "without excuse." What people, even those who have never heard of Jesus, can know is sufficient for them to know of God's grace. They cannot claim they didn't have a chance.
There is a principle in the Bible that we are accountable for what we know, not what we don't know. If everyone can know something of God's grace, it is to that they are accountable. If the question to those who have heard of Jesus is what have you done with Jesus and the gospel, the question to those who have only the knowledge of God's grace in nature is what have you done with what you know.
Can they then be saved apart from Jesus? I think that the answer is both NO and YES. But. (I know many of my brethren in the faith will object. Be patient with me.)
The "but" is that the man or woman who responds to the little that may be seen of God's grace in nature will not be left where he or she is. In some cases, God has brought that person to a knowledge of Jesus. That is, after all, what apparently God did in Athens for Dionysius and Damaris (Acts 17). These apparently were two who had a distant hope in the unknown god represented by the pedestal absent an image, and Paul directed their hope to the true and living God whose Son died and rose for their forgiveness. They then were able to focus their trust in that clearer truth. And that was certainly a pattern in the Old Testament where many trusted in a god they only barely knew and came to focus their faith in Yahweh, the God revealed to Israel. And that seems to be what is happening across the Muslim world as people seek to really know God, they are given a vision or a dream or a message that focuses them on Jesus. God is findable by those who pursue him. God does not exclude anyone from his grace.
But Jesus is the essential key, even for those who never heard of him. There is no salvation apart from Jesus death on the cross. Not at any place or time. None. There is only justice. For those who refuse him or neglect the grace and mercy of God they can know, there is only justice.
Dear reader, if you have come this far, I adjure you to give your attention to Jesus. Get to know him in the Bible. Trust in him and trust in the grace and mercy of God revealed and personified in him. He is our only hope.
See William Lane Craig's answer to this question: How will God judge someone who has never heard the gospel?
Monday, June 13, 2016
We are armed with the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution that reads thus:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
It is now time to revived that "well regulated militia."
For too long we have argued the right to bear arms. The liberals and Progressives propose that if we regulate the ownership of guns we will protect ourselves. That idea has not worked. And it will not work in this new day. Maybe yesterday, maybe in the world of make-believe where all are kind hearted friends. But not today. Not with such an enemy as we face. I wish it were otherwise. I wish we could rewind history to 1950. I wish we all lived in Mayberry. But we do not. We live in the new and deadly reality of an enemy among us. And he is not going away.
We must have armed and trained men and women on the front lines, front lines that are not in some remote country of Africa or the Middle East but in Orlando and San Bernadino and Boston.
We have the core of that militia already. They are the thousands of men and women who have served in the military in Korea and Vietnam and Kuwait and Iraq and Afghanistan. They are trained and capable. They now need to be armed and carrying. The front lines are here.
Let's give them the responsibility of defending our nation again. Let's retrain them in the art of this new kind of war. Let's certify them and identify them as soldiers in this war. Let's arm them and expect them to be ready to act in defense of this country in the sports stadiums and night clubs and airports and public buildings and everywhere the enemy may target.
Let's add to their number others who work in our schools and colleges and public services. Get them guns, any who would step up to this responsibility, and train, identify and certify them. And let them carry their weapons openly as deterrent to any who would turn their weapons upon us. That is the well regulated militia we need for this new day and new war.
Imagine if there had been one in ten in the crowd at the nightclub in Orlando carrying weapons. That would have been thirty people who would have had weapons and the training to use them. There would not be fifty dead today. Believe me, there would not. Imagine if there had been one in ten at the Inland Regional Center party armed with a Glock. There would not be fourteen dead today.
A well regulated militia is what we need in this war. Our law enforcement people and the FBI have been doing a good job. And they can do what a citizen militia can't, they can identify and interdict the enemy before he strikes. But they cannot be everywhere. And everywhere is the front line in this new war. A well regulated militia of citizen warriors can.
But isn't that proliferating guns in our society? Isn't that making our world more dangerous? That is the argument of the Liberals and Progressives. In the old world I grew up in that may have made sense. But this is not Mayberry. It is not fewer guns that we need, it is more. But they must be guns in the hands of a well regulated and trained and qualified citizen militia.
Yes. Let's keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unfit and criminals. But those are few. And even those would be limited in what havoc they could do if we had a well regulated citizen militia.
Imagine if the office personnel and even a few teachers had been armed and trained in the use of their weapons at Newtown Elementary. There would not be twenty dead children today. Believe me, there would not. Adam Lanza would have been met by return fire as soon as he turned his gun upon Principal Dawn Hocksprung. He would not have made it down the hall to the first classroom. Imagine if the administrators and teachers at Columbine had been armed and trained, if even some of them had been, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold would not have gotten down the hall and into the library where they murdered 12 students and a teacher.
Instead in each case police were called. They prevented more casualties, thank the Lord. But they were too far away and too late to prevent the deaths of the students who died. If we had a well regulated militia this would not have gone down as it did.
We know that is true. That is why most schools have an armed security officer in the hall. We do in each of the high schools in the North Thurston School District. And just over a year ago one of those officers, a friend, stopped a student who had brought a gun to school with the intention of killing kids with it. But what about the doors he could not cover. I walk through a side door every morning I work at North Thurston H.S. I am not met by a security officer. Anyone could carry a gun into the building walk down a hallway away from the front door and gun down dozens before the security officer could find him and end it. But what if half of the teachers carried a weapon and had the training to use it?
None of this is pretty. I hate the thought of it as much as the anyone. I don't like the idea of guns in schools or in night clubs or at sporting events. It seems like we should not have to have that. But we live in a new day. And this is a new war. And we must do something differently.
So let's allow, even require, a well regulated armed citizen militia. Let's keep it safe by requiring training and by responding to any and all misuse or mishandling of firearms decisively. There should be no guns let unattended for kids to find. There should be no one with a criminal record allowed to own or carry. There should be no one on drugs, legal or otherwise, certified to carry a gun as a part of the militia. But there are many thousands of citizens who could qualify.
And let's not remove the right of all our citizens to self-defense. They need not be certified to have guns or to defend their homes and families, yes, even if they must defend their homes and families against a tyrannical state. It has happened before. In fact, our founding fathers wrote the 2nd Amendment for that very reason. It had happened, and they knew if could happen again.
Let's be ready.
Monday, May 9, 2016
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Here are my reactions and responses to several of his arguments.
Tuesday, March 8, 2016
At this point someone always brings up Occam's Razor and complains that we are adding entities unnecessarily. I like that. It makes sense. But in this case the operational word is unnecessarily. An eternal, mindless matter/energy entity is not sufficient to explain the universe. But a Mind is sufficient, and we can stop right there. No other entity is required.