Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Building out of the rubble

Authentic Christian ministry often means building out of the rubble. Tomorrow we have a "Youth Day" planned (please pray!). We're going to try to teach Kenyan young people about the gospel, and then about godly living. This is in a society where many are sexually active even before teenage years and AIDS and other STDs, rape and underage pregnancies seem out of control. We would wish that all of the truths we want to teach were familiar, being taught daily in the home by fathers... but in reality, I would not be surprised if in a majority of cases of those who could come tomorrow, the fathers can hardly remember what middle name they gave their sons or daughters.

What then can we do? We can look at the rubble, sink down and weep. But then what after that? There's only one world to build God's kingdom in, and it's a world full of rubble. Adam filed the earth with it when he sinned and brought us all down. The amazing truth is that God's kingdom does actually grow out of the ashes out of disaster and disappointment. When it seems that we're getting nowhere and having to go back again and again over the same basic territory, God is actually laying the foundation of a glorious temple. We might not see it in our locations above the ground level for a long time, and on ground level we might just see the rubble, but the basis is being laid. So do not lose heart! Jesus came to the ruined wreck of a deeply confused, disorganised and misled Jewish church, but he found precious stones there that he picked out, polished, purified and built into his gospel temple. This is how it has ever been for God's servants, and is no reason to be discouraged.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

An atheist spat

Recently, a few atheist groups had a public food-fight. I recently learnt that the expression "food-fight" is not known to all Westerners... it means, a bar-room brawl, if you know what that means!

Because a few years ago I'd done some detailed research into one of the groups involved, Creation Ministries International asked me to take a look and do a write-up. They wanted to educate their readers as to the strategies that different groups of atheists are employing, and to warn Christian readers of not getting sucked into a role akin to Lenin's (if Lenin did indeed use these words) "useful idiots". The article is now on the web, here.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

If I knew the day of my death

The news reports a blood test that can predict how long you are likely to live (presumably, barring unexpected interventions). Responding in a Daily Telegraph blog, Michael Deacon writes:
"I’ve always been puzzled by people who urge us to “live each day as if it’s your last”. If I were to take that advice literally, I suspect I would spend my day in drunken delirium, trying to have sex with strangers and telling important people what I really thought of them. This behaviour might have unwelcome consequences if it turned out that the day I did these things wasn’t my last after all."
Isn't that tragic? Reading the column we find that Deacon, who is 30 years old, is apparently deadly serious. If he knew for certain that he had entered his final 24 hours, he would like to behave like an animal. The only thing that stops him from behaving like an animal every day is having to face the consequences.

Contrast this with the historic Puritan and evangelical consensus view of how a believer would hope, if he had the liberty, to spend his final day; something like so. He would gather those near to him who he has had a meaningful relationship with - so, primarily his family, neighbours and friends. He would bid a farewell to each one, testifying to each one that the Lord had been merciful and faithful to him ever since he first believed, encouraging each one that he was about to pass into Christ's presence, and exhorting each one to make sure that he followed him when the time came, and in the meantime to do all he could to advance Christ's kingdom on earth, to leave behind all known sins and to love one another. If there were any with whom he had unresolved conflicts, he would make a final effort at reconciliation, and assure all that he had no malice against them and wished for their greatest good. He would then, mindful of the imminent day of judgment, seek to give final order to his affairs inasmuch as he was able, to make sure that those dependents left behind were not excessively burdened but were provided for as much as possible, and that there were no outstanding debts. He would hope to spend some final private hours in worship and prayer to the Lord, confessing his sins one last time, making sure that accounts with the Lord as well as men were ordered as much as finally possible, praising him for his grace, building up his faith one last time, and readying himself at last to leave this world of sin, pain and death and to enter the presence of God's glory itself.

It was famously said to John Wesley by one who did not share his religion, "your people die well". What an appalling exit to this world Michael Deacon not only considers, but actually desires. What a travesty that a man made in the image of God, made to know and serve God, could actually openly confess to being so depraved in his mind without being ashamed. The Bible tells us that a good amount of the reason why the world is not more full of what Deacon desires is because - as Deacon unwittingly confirms - that God in his grace puts a secret restraint upon the hearts of people, so that they do not feel at liberty to do all they desire.

Thursday, 12 May 2011


I have no idea if anyone noticed, but it's been a while since I uploaded any sermons. In large part, this is because I went a while without preaching any (we were away from our home for some months and visitors in another church).

But I'm catching up now.... 10 recent ones uploaded: http://david.dw-perspective.org.uk/da/index.php/sermons

Monday, 9 May 2011

Darwinism and Dawkins versus Mathematics

Here is a very interesting job advert. Two professors at St. John's College, University of Oxford, are looking for two assistants to help them do research into the mathematics of population genetics and Darwinism:


Three things are particularly noticeable in the description of the job:
  • The two professors are doing research that they hope will lead to mathematical support of Darwinism - i.e. they are friends of Darwinian theory.
  • They frankly admit that mathematical geneticists "mainly deny that natural selection leads to optimization of any useful kind", and then go on to explain, equally frankly, that Richard Dawkins' arguments in his seminal work, "The Selfish Gene", are not supported by known mathematics.
  • The description proceeds to explain that they are looking for mathematics that will provide a basis for many of the concepts that are the Darwinian philosophers' stock-in-trade. Or in other words, stating the implication of that, they admit that as yet, the stock-in-trade conversations of Darwinian philosophers are not grounded in any known mathematical reality.
Note again the first point: these aren't enemies of Darwinism looking to do research to tear it down. They are its friends, looking for the research to establish it, and along the way candidly admitting that the mathematics to do so does not exist and the idea is generally contradicted. And remember, these aren't clowns; these are mathematics professors at the wealthiest college in the UK's top university...

I've just hopped over to RichardDawkins.Net to see if the great non-existent misotheist has republished the job announcement yet. Seems he hasn't got round to it....

Saturday, 7 May 2011

The death penalty

The US military SEALS unit shot Obama Bin Laden, the world's most wanted terrorist, self-confessed mastermind of the 9/11 World Trade Centre attack.

One interesting point to me in both the basis of this mission, and the aftermath, was this: it seems that our Western leaders do believe in capital punishment, after all. They do believe that their are some crimes that are so heinous that the perpetrator deserves to forfeit his life. They do believe that justice requires death in some cases, after weighing up all other considerations involved. They do believe that the punishment of the evil-doer, and the protection of society, requires that some people be killed by the state, and that there are no considerations of compassion, restoration, rehabilitation, etc., which should let those people off the hook. Indeed, they apparently believe that such acts of justice are even to be celebrated and praised. They believe that a state can have the moral right to execute its citizens (or even in this case, another state's citizens).

In other words, they apparently believe with historic Christianity has believed and taught, based upon the Bible, all this time; even whilst the schools of thought that these leaders follow were continually repudiating the same teachings as barbaric and antiquated.

As I say, all very interesting.

Seems to me that our leaders are once again proving that rejection of the Bible and its truth must always be a selective enterprise. Because this is God's world, and because the matters of justice and our consciences really do exist in the way the Bible says (and not the imaginary way that atheistic and secular humanism wants them to be), that when it comes to it, we have to go back to the old ways. When crunch cases like Bin Laden arise, people have to admit, like it or not, openly or not, that the Bible's ways are needed after all. The problem with modernism/humanism is that it can't be lived out consistently. Real problems come up, and the supposedly nicer, pleasanter, kinder ways of humanism are so obviously unfit for the job that we have to drop them.

Modern states, even for murder, take the view that the basic aim of justice is to reform and rehabilitate the offender, and around 15 years in a prison undergoing corrective programmes is the maximum even the most hardened or outrageous of criminals should face. But faced with a Bin Laden, it seems we must temporarily forget all that and return to acknowledging justice requires the man be removed from the earth, forfeiting his life so that society can keep its life. The reality of sin is that the choice must be made; if we choose to give life to those who hate life, then society will eventually reap the collective harvest of death (as indeed the West is doing). Those who hate life and those who love it cannot remain together in the long term, and to love life sometimes it is necessary to choose the death of those who have shown that they love death. That is justice, and everyone gets what they love. That's what the Bible teaches, and it seems after all that our leaders deep down know it. The main flaw of their god-lessness as a practical program is: it doesn't work.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The impotence of our secular leaders

Consider this news story from the last week: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8488065/Osama-bin-Laden-dead-Hillary-Clinton-says-al-Qaeda-cannot-defeat-US.html

Hilary Clinton, the US secretary of state (equivalent position to the "Foreign Secretary" in the UK) calls upon the Taliban to "abandon violence and rejoin society" (quote from the article).

Every state must have a vision of "society". The purpose of laws is to define who is inside legitimate society, and who is outside of it. Every nation must, in its laws, have a vision of what is acceptable and what is frowned on. Ultimately, the source of those laws is the society's god. A totally god-less society is impossible. There has to be an ultimate source of law, from which the individual laws are derived. There may be times, as in the 20th century West, of transition, when the laws being made are inconsistent with one-another; where different "gods", different aims and ends, are being served. Polytheistic times. But ultimately such times of warfare-between-the-gods can only last so long. One of the "gods" must win out. There will be a overcoming impulse, and the "society" will express its heart more fully and consistently as time goes on.

The "god" of the present West, as judged by the laws made in recent decades, is the god of secular humanism. Secular humanism defines what is and isn't acceptable in Western democracies. Humanity is god, and our society is built upon the supremacy of man. Everything is good, as long as it harms no other man. Harm (defined as that which impedes human pleasure) is bad, all else is not only tolerated but promoted, especially if it keeps the old (and true) God at bay. You can easily think of examples of this phenomena.

That all being so, let's get back to the news article. When Mrs. Clinton calls upon the Taliban to "rejoin society", she is calling upon them to join society as she sees it; her society. On the other side, the Taliban are aiming to replace her society with theirs; they call on her to give up and join them (and they make this call with violent means). The same call goes out from both sides.

The question that comes to me is, how attractive is Mrs. Clinton's call in the eyes of the Taliban? What might entice them to abandon their god, and take on hers instead?

The Taliban worship Allah. In their "society", the source of law is the will of Allah, as expressed in the Koran interpreted through their the insights of their particular school of Islamic tradition. This source of law strongly forbids idolatry, and in particular forbids all manner of the idolatries of secular humanism and its elevation of man into the position of Allah.

In effect, what Hilary Clinton is calling upon the Taliban to do, is to concede that Allah must give way to her own god, that of secular humanism. She wants them to change gods. That's what leaving one society and joining another means. It means to concede that Allah as they conceive him is not the ultimate God, and instead to allow that hers is.

The whole point of the Taliban is to do the opposite: to defeat, according to the methods revealed by Allah, Mrs. Clinton's god, and replace him with their own.

I don't think they're very likely to do this, do you? The whole premise of the Taliban is that they reject our infidel society, and intend to replace it, through jihad (according to the will of Allah), with theirs, the Islamic Ummah. When the infidel calls upon them to give up following the will of Allah, abandon jihad and join the infidel's society, the infidel may as well call upon them to try to eat the Moon, or shoot themselves in the head before breakfast each day. Not going to happen.

But the sad fact is that our secular humanist leaders have nothing more than this to offer. This empty call is their whole lot. Their own "god" is actually a rather weak and feeble being - man, so obviously not worthy of our worship and obedience. The state of the political game won't allow our leaders to actually reveal the true object of their worship, and so they can only talk in generalities. They can't tackle the Taliban head on, and openly state that Allah has no real existence, and that violence in his name is immoral according to the true God as he has revealed his will in his true book, and all that regardless of what the false book, the Koran, may say.

Why is the Taliban's violence wrong, after all? It is wrong because their Allah is a non-entity. There is no such being. No being commanded jihad, and the actions they do in his name are for a name with no real individual behind it. But Mrs. Clinton's weak secularist ideology, and the state of the game as it tries to take over the previously Christian (in the basis of its laws) West, is not able to come out and say that openly, only implicitly. (And she does say it implicitly - because if Allah is in fact God, then she needs to join their society, not vice-versa). But unless any of this is said openly, what is said remains weak and impotent. If we allow the possibility that such an Allah does exist, and did express his will in the Koran, then it follows that violence against infidels may in fact be correct, and even praiseworthy. If Allah's purpose is to colonise the entire physical earth, by force if necessary, then the Taliban are in fact the ones inside the true "society", and the secular West outside.

In previous centuries, our leaders were not embarrassed by the implications of this. The UK has just had the Royal Wedding, which was an overtly Protestant Christian service. I personally think it was so for historical reasons, rather than for reasons of strong convictions of those involved; but that is not my point. In previous years, we looked to the triune God of Scripture; to God the Father, the Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Spirit, as our source of authority, and invoked his name. We sought the source of law in his revealed will, not in our own fancies and desires. In his name, we could announce certainties about right and wrong, and not ungrounded platitudes. It was not just about what made us feel good, or avoided "harm" (also defined by our own measure). There was something solid in it. Again - why is the Taliban's violence wrong? In secular-speak, it's just because violence is wrong, because it causes suffering. But why is that the ultimate standard? Who says so? What if someone disagrees?

Obviously our leaders decided that inflicting the ultimate penalty - death - on Bin Laden was justified. We caused him the ultimate harm, and seem to think it was right. But why? By what measure was our violence against Bin Laden right, and the Taliban's violence against us, wrong? How do we know who's on the right side?

So, what it comes down to, is this. The secular god has no compelling reasons to demand that the Allah of the Taliban submit to him. His reasons are weak, and float in mid air. They have no intellectual foundations that we can discern in the double-speak of our leaders who worship humanism whilst trying to give lip-service to the old God and old order that they inherited at the same time. Whilst this is the case, hopes of actually defeating the Taliban can only rest upon us gaining temporary cease-fires by having bigger guns than them; but the intellectual war will never be won, and Allah will not lay down his arms for more than a temporary pause. What we need is Christian beliefs, Christian leaders and courageous Christian actions. We need a glorious gospel of grace, the Prince of Peace who causes swords to be beaten into plough-shares; the knowledge that the true God sent his Son to die for sinners, so that sinners can be reconciled to him and then to each other; the knowledge that violence against a fellow human made in the image of God in the cause of truth cannot please the God who really exists and therefore must be renounced.

But authentic Christian countries begin with repentance, and we see no signs of that on the horizon. Until then, it seems the best we can do is understand the signs of the times, and work and pray for a better day (which, since Jesus is the true God, will certainly come). And pray for God to even so guide those who have come into positions of leadership, even if they understand not what they really say or do.