Thursday, 27 September 2012

Dawkins: Exactly what creationists would expect...

When Richard Dawkins could still make the argument that most of the genome was junk, he told us that this was exactly what evolution predicted... and that it showed how silly creationists were for saying that it wasn't junk.

Now that we know that "Junk DNA" is basically a myth, he tells us that... this was exactly what evolutionists expect - oh, and creationists are silly.

Here's the link:

Well, what did you expect? Dawkins' belief in evolution is not scientific, it's religious. He needs evolution to be true, to sustain his rejection of his Creator. His world-view is not formed by evidence or truth, but upon his personal desires of what he wishes were true.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The divine secular state and the erosion of parental authority

If you've been following the story of the Megan Stammers, the 15-year-old school-girl who has absconded, location still unknown, with her 30-year old married maths teacher, then did you pick up this detail?
But despite the school, the County Council and the police all being aware of concerns over the relationship prior to their disappearance, Megan’s parents were not informed of the situation.
The school knew, the police knew - and as the article says, they knew for 7 months. And they chose to not inform the parents.

They considered that their sovereign right - to decide what was in the girl's best interests, and they exercised that (supposed) right by deciding not to inform her parents.

When the secular state, as it inevitably must, awards itself god-like powers, then that equally inevitably means the erosion of parental powers.

Only a Christian world-view can with logical consistency allow for a separation of powers on earth and family sovereignty. Because the ultimate ruler is in heaven, he can apportion out powers to different actors underneath him as he sees fit. The Bible reveals that he has delegated certain powers to the family, certain to church, and certain to the state. Neither is free to encroach on the other's territory. The question of "should we tell the parents that she's in a relationship with the maths teacher?" cannot arise. There is no right for the state to withhold such information. Jesus has not permitted it. The ultimate rule of daughters belongs to parents, not to the state.

But when the heavenly power is subjected to (would-be) abolishment, divine power passes inevitably (however slow the process) to the state. The state then, as the all-sovereign supreme being, decides who to delegate its unlimited powers to. If it decides to not allows the parents to know what the daughter is doing with one of the state's employees, then that is that. There's no final court of appeal, since we're such an enlightened people as to have religion out of politics and left no higher powers or divinely bestowed rights from our creator to invoke.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

The early Christians and pacficism

An interesting report here from Matthew Tuinginga on a lecture on this topic. I was left, as the report indicates Matthew was too, wishing that the speaker had gone further to give some hints on how we apply his views in a context outside of the Roman Empire situation.

The "Kingdom" Series

A brief book review.

I believe in reading stories to my children. Lots of stories; big, meaty stories.

Why? For one thing, because I want them to imagine. The world should be different to how it is. We all agree on that. Christians have been given a task of transformation - the Great Commission. Without imagination, transformation is not possible.

Christians are people who are meant to be asking "what's behind the curtain, here"? They are meant to think more deeply. They are meant to understand the story. There's an evil dragon on the loose, and an appointed dragon-slayer who's going to redeem the creation. It's an adventure story. Your godly attitude when you do your chores each day and witness to your neighbours is part of that.

Recently we finished reading the "Kingdom" series by Chuck Black -

It's an allegory of redemptive history, compressed into a lifetime in a fantasy land. It's not hugely imaginative or deep in the plot, though it has some nice touches and I thought it generally improved as it went on, so is better suited for reading to younger children, perhaps 7 to 9, or slightly older if they are reading to themselves. They will enjoy spotting the parallels and decoding the symbols. The page linked to above says "for ages 8 to 12". Your mileage may vary!

The writer is pre-millennial and dispensational. The world is ultimately not so much redeemed as replaced. The cameo role played by the allegorised USA came over as rather crass to this non-American reader, but that's just an insertion near the end, and it's the author's sincere belief about eschatology so we won't whinge too much.

Still, not bad. Not epic (looking for an epic? You should have bought the "Binding of the Blade" series already!), but a good tool to stimulate those little minds to thinking a bit more. Likely it'll be read again at some stage.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

And canine cats, for that matter...

Here's a letter in The Independent:
The Church should stand with Maria Miller in championing gay marriage. Why? Because Jesus proclaimed that God's love is for all, especially for the excluded, and furthermore, that even God-given institutions like the Sabbath should be refashioned in the light of that. So I'm not alone as a Church of England bishop in championing women bishops and the refashioning of our God-given institution of marriage to include and support gay couples.

Within a few years of Jesus' death, the Church tried to exclude non-Jews from membership, but the Bible records their final decision – to judge questions of exclusion by primary reference to God's overwhelming love. That's why the Church can now accept me, a non-Jew, and even ordain me bishop. Church leaders should therefore proclaim what many in the pews already know for themselves, that if God is prepared to accept "me", then God is certainly prepared to accept "them".

The Rt Revd Dr Laurie Green
What do you notice about the argument presented for "gay marriage" in that letter?

I notice that it has no reference to the nature of marriage, and no discussion of the nature of homosexuality. According the author, who has an awful lot of titles, the whole matter is resolved by God's love. That consideration over-rules all to such an extent that nothing more needs discussing. Inclusion!

The argument made means that either God's love makes everything, no matter how illogical or perverse possible - even desirable and inevitable - or it means that the author is at least a bit confused. If you can argue for "gay marriage" without needing to discuss either marriage or gayness, then what else? If God has some absolute attribute of "inclusivity" (and that term is to be interpreted just like a modern Western liberal, how convenient!), then why are we arguing about "gay marriage"? Why stop there? Why not take the matter to its logical conclusions?

(P.S. Note that the sentence "Within a few years of Jesus' death, the Church tried to exclude non-Jews from membership, but the Bible records their final decision – to judge questions of exclusion by primary reference to God's overwhelming love" is simply false. Acts 15, where the record is found, shows firstly that one faction in the church took this position but that the official leadership disagreed, and that they judged the question by examining God's actions of which they as apostles were eyewitnesses, and the teaching of Scripture. The word "love" does not even appear in the discussion. Love in Scripture is not an vague absolute which is used to close down discussions, but is revealed in its practical outworkings in God's enscripturated commandments).

When I studied mathematics, the kind of reasoning in this letter was known as "proof by hand-waving". You didn't need to show that the premises and the conclusions lined up in consecutive stages. You just said agreaable things, jumped up and down, and then pulled the rabbit out of the hat at the end. We can all do that...

The Church should stand with Denzil Drogbert in championing the existence of feline dogs. Why? Because Jesus proclaimed that God's love is for all, especially for the excluded, and few beings are more excluded from existing than feline dogs. Furthermore, even God-given institutions like marriage should be refashioned in the light of that. So I'm not alone as a Church of England bishop in gifting the pass to anything that secular liberalism demands, and the refashioning of our God-given institution of marriage to include and support invisible visibility, living dead people, black whiteness and LOOK! A SQUIRREL!

Many years after Jesus' death, his followers were still discussing matters primarily in terms of revealed truth. But history records how things have gone in the "mainline" churches in recent times – to judge questions by primary reference to prevailing societal whim. That still leaves the question of how the Church can now ordain me, though I care little for what the Bible, Jesus and the apostles actually taught about marriage, and even make me bishop. Church leaders should therefore proclaim what many in the pews already know for themselves, that if my denomination is full of people like me, running amok with no reasonable prospect of any church discipline being exercised, then it's time for you to exercise some godly wisdom and find a different church where godly Biblical discipline has a practical possibility of being enforced.

Doctor Who?
The Rt Revd Dr Dr Revd Wright.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Dress and cultural de-sensitising

Here, a secular (as far as I know) writer in the Telegraph points out what I was saying a few weeks ago - something that all people ought to know: pornography is pornography, in whatever context it is presented. Naked or semi-naked people who you are not married to are not for ogling. The context does not make a difference except in the twisted reasoning of people who want to justify what cannot be justified.

Pornography is inherently degrading, and also de-sensitising. My wife and I have realised this in a more personal way since coming to Kenya. Here in Eldoret, we just don't see badly dressed ladies, unless they are prostitutes or Western visitors - and there's not huge numbers of the latter (or the former if you aren't looking for them!). Increasingly though the middle class are aping the West. When we spent some time in Nairobi a couple of years ago, it was a real revelatory experience. We went out to the shops, and were amazed by how many ladies were badly dressed. So, we realised... this is how the non-Western world feels. "Reverse culture-shock", it's called - you suddenly get a personal, non-theoretical insight into how cultural outsiders had been seeing yours.

When female visitors come to see us, we give them a visitors' guide of helpful things to know. One of the matters mentioned is dress. We found that we have to make it fairly explicit in its descriptions, because when we just talked in vague terms, many folk from the West didn't get it. These were godly, serious Christian ladies we are talking about. I wonder why? Likely I think it's that the debased standards of the West have desensitised. What is "normal" has shifted so far, that people still showing far more flesh than other cultures would ever do actually think they're now being conservative.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

God turns out to be wiser than the world's wise men thought

My mother is not an economist. However, she is from Yorkshire. Moreover, she reads her Bible.

One thing I was regularly taught whilst growing up is, that it is wrong to live off debt. If you want something, then work and save. Do not live off money you do not have. It's foolish in itself, and a recipe for disaster in the future.

The people running the world's economies are very clever people, with lots of letters after their names. They went to big universities. They can juggle all kinds of big words and concepts. However, they appear to have neither come from Yorkshire, nor read their Bibles. As a result of one or t'other, they seem to have missed this vital lesson. Hence the Great Debt Crisis, which after 5 years still has no end in sight.

But of course, someone says, the Bible is just religion. And running economies is the real world. Aah...

Psalm 119:97 Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. 98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Pray in faith

From Calvin's commentary:
Matthew 7:7. Ask, and it shall be given you It is an exhortation to prayer: and as in this exercise of religion, which ought to be our first concern, we are so careless and sluggish, Christ presses the same thing upon us under three forms of expression. There is no superfluity of language, when he says, Ask, seek, knock: but lest the simple doctrine should be unimpressive, he perseveres in order to rouse us from our inactivity. Such is also the design of the promises that are added, Ye shall find, it shall be given to you, and it shall be opened Nothing is better adapted to excite us to prayer than a full conviction that we shall be heard. Those who doubt can only pray in an indifferent manner; and prayer, unaccompanied by faith, is an idle and unmeaning ceremony. Accordingly, Christ, in order to excite us powerfully to this part of our duty, not only enjoins what we ought to do, but promises that our prayers shall not be fruitless.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Atheists, make up your minds!

On the one hand, Richard Dawkins wants school children to read the Bible, so that they will be turned against Christianity.

On the other, a Canadian humanist has won a hearing to ban the Gideons from giving Bibles to schools, on the grounds that it is not fair for Christian literature to be given out, but not atheist literature.

So which is it? The Bible promotes atheism? Or does the opposite?

The enemy has many strategies. Since he's the father of lies and confusion, you can't expect them to cohere.

Reading isn't cool?

The news story here - - frames the problem as being that children think that "reading isn't cool".

But that's not the underlying issue. The solution isn't to try to make reading cool. The underlying issue is that "cool" is the barometer being measured with. Unless you ultimately aim to change that, you're re-arranging deck-chairs.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Christian rap

Tim Challies posts to promote "Christian rapper", Lecrae, who I heard about for the first time in his post.

Let me direct you to Google Image search.

Where I've come across it, one invariant of rap music culture has been "look at me, look at me - I'm the big guy. I'm hard, moody, and you mess at your peril."

Now, look again at those images. Did they make you say "ah, the culture of Christian rap is so refreshingly different! Go, Lacrae - you'll show people a different way!".

'Nuff said. Now get off my turf before I blow your brains out. Apologies if my lingo reminds me of your grandad's attempts to be cool.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A stream of nonsense

I'm presently preparing a course on the "Wisdom Books" (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs).

True wisdom humbles us. And the Wisdom Books humble Bible college teachers with a sequence of apparently impenetrable mysteries!

Here's one thought from Job. The structure of Job is crucial. We are let in on the secret at the beginning. Job suffers because he is to be a test case for the power of true faith and true religion. There is a contest in the heavenly courts. Job, on earth, is the focus to prove who is right - are Satan's accusations true? Or will God's people love him regardless of what it costs them?

When we read Job, we know that that is the true meaning of Job's sufferings. But Job and his three friends Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar, have no idea. They had no such revelation before they entered it all.

There then ensues page after page of back-and-forth philosophical discussion between those four on the meaning and reason for Job's sufferings. And none of them even gets close. It's a stream of nonsense. A lot of talk which gets quite heated - accusations fly back and forth. But all, as the reader who began at chapters one knows, garbage.

And therein lies today's lesson. There's a lot of talk in the world. We get quite worked up as we pursue the arguments. But when we talk about matters that we do not know about, especially unseen spiritual matters, the likelihood is that it's absolute nonsense from start to finish. The truth, were it known, would expose our bold exclamations as laughable folly.

The Bible gives us light, and on matters where it reveals truth, we should hold it fast and not let a single letter fall. But otherwise, it's quite wise to just shut up (Proverbs 17:28).

God's answer to Job's questions is also enlightening in this regard. Neither does God tell Job why he is suffering. Rather, he shows him that he is not only ignorant of this, but very many other things too. Man thinks he's cornered almost all knowledge now. God, rather than explaining to him the supposed last piece of the jigsaw, instead shows him that he's missing virtually all the other pieces too. I personally find that quite refreshing as I read. Why, God? Why is it like this? Why can't I understand any of it? Well will I understand? Answer: that's not the only thing you can't understand, my son - there's a million other things besides, and then some. So in this, as in every other thing, just trust me, because I know it best.