Another View of Creation

I just discovered an oddity: a Christian scientist. Not an adherent of Christian Science, but a scientist who, though once and atheist, is now a Christian. I discovered him through a video titled, “Francis Collins Denies Intelligent Design.” Like me, you have probably never heard of Dr. Francis Collins. If you click here you can learn why what he says is important.

Dr. Collins’ position on the origin of the universe won’t sit well with the Evangelical Christians that I know; he says creation and evolution are perfectly compatible, and that science and faith are parallel world views with little bearing on one another. While his position is reasonable, I’m not convinced that God’s eternal Word created the universe through a Big Bang. He certainly could have created the universe with the appearance of age, like the young-Earthers preach, but I have to wonder why. Here is Collins’ rationalle for his position:

Almighty God, who is not limited in space or time, created a universe 13.7 billion years ago with its parameters precisely tuned to allow the development of complexity over long periods of time. God’s plan included the mechanism of evolution to create the marvelous diversity of living things on our planet. Most especially, that creative plan included human beings. After evolution, in the fullness of time, had prepared a sufficiently advanced neurological house (the brain), God gifted human with free will and with a soul. Thus humans received a special status, “made in God’s image.” We humans used our free will to disobey God, leading to our realization of being in violation of the Moral Law. Thus we were estranged from God. For Christians, Jesus is the solution to that estrangement.

If you find this presentation reprehensible, I challenge you to act like a Berean and search the Scriptures to see whether or not these things are true. We all have a great body of beliefs that we have received through our church culture, and we need to know, from the Bible, why we believe them.

As I alluded above, I don’t buy it, especially the human part of his story. The Bible clearly states that God made Adam from the dust of the ground; we didn’t evolve with the other animals, from the same single-cell organisms that floated around in the primordial soup. As for the literal, six twenty-four hour days of creation, while I readily admit that God could have done the job that quickly, I need to see more Biblical evidence to arrive there. His ways are not our ways, and similarly, His understanding is not our understanding. I think the part of Genesis 2 that catches me is verses four and five: This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. The word for “day” is the same one used in verse one and all the other references to days of creation. Verse four uses “day” as a period of time during which God created the heavens and the earth.

Feel free to weigh in on the debate, without name-calling and emotional rants. Show me book, chapter, and verse for your position. If I’m wrong, I want to know why.

A Lesson From Prince Rupert

Prince Rupert of Bavaria discovered an interesting phenomenon that makes glass harder than steel. This YouTube video from Smarter Every Day demonstrates its properties.

Did you notice how the exceedingly strong lump of glass could only be broken by snapping the weaker, tail-section? That suggests an equally mysterious phenomenon within God’s church; as strong as the church is against outside attack, internal stresses can explode it.

When glass is held in a flame until it’s hot enough, it begins to flow like an extremely thick liquid, with its high-viscosity holding it in a single mass. Similarly, when God’s church is spiritually hot enough, it too begins to move, and like a liquid, it fills voids in people’s lives. When the church cools, however, it becomes brittle enough to break easily under stress.

I found the almost-instant, explosive force flowing from a break in the relatively weak tail particularly fascinating. God’s Spirit holds his church together and strong through the people’s individual characteristics and interpersonal dynamics, but the tiniest break can release those dynamics explosively and travel through the church at lightening speed.

The enemy will most certainly use the church’s internal stresses to fracture it, but that can’t happen as long as it’s kept hot by the Holy Spirit’s fire.

Why Muslim Dr. Nabeel Qureshi Converted to Christianity

First, grab a note pad and a pencil, ’cause you’re going to want to take notes; this has some of the best apologetics I’ve heard. Oh, and some Kleenex, if you really love Jesus.

Dr. Qureshi presented this talk on, “Why Islam?” He interpreted that to mean: Why and how should we engage Muslims to share the gospel with them?

  • Muslim family values:
    They are close-knit.
    Their lives are immersed in prayer and devotion.
    They have strong moral principles.
    Young Muslims are taught to be ambassadors for Islam.
    They must be known for their truthfulness.
    They must show respect for their elders.
    They must know the Koran in Arabic.
    They must pray consistently, including the five daily prayers.
    Families must center their lives around their religion.
  • Religious values:
    There is one God, Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet.
    Performing the Five Pillars earns Allah’s favor: To proclaim that Allah is God, and Muhammad is his messenger. To pray the five daily prayers. To pay alms. To fast. To go on pilgrimage.
    If they are good Muslims they will go to heaven.
    Allah is unknowable, transcendent, and Muslims are simply his slaves.
    Some Muslims work to please Allah because they love him, but most are just trying to please him.
    If someone tries to share their Christian faith, a Muslim must share Islam with them.
  • Beliefs:
    Muslims believe the truth matters.
    Muslims believe in Jesus and what he did, but they refuse to accept his divinity and death on the cross.
    When witnessing to Christians they challenge Jesus’ deity, and most Christians can’t counter that from the Scriptures.
  • Arguments with David in University that led to his conversion. (15.00)
    Attacks on the Bible’s authority and accuracy, and David’s defenses.
    Three issues he had to investigate: 1; Is Jesus Lord? 2; Did he die on the cross for our sins? 3; Did he rise from the dead after three days?
  • The rational process that led him to Christ.

THE INVASION — A Review

I just watched THE INVASION, another BODY SNATCHERS-type movie.

Oliver Hirschbiegel and James McTeigue directed Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig et al. in a reasonably entertaining and gripping tale of alien spores attaching themselves to a space shuttle and causing it to crash to earth, spreading the spores half-way across the United States in a swath two hundred miles wide. As those hardy buggers weren’t in the least affected by either the cold of space or the heat of reentry into the atmosphere, they invaded human bodies and began changing them into dispassionate, purpose-driven beings who looked exactly like the people they infected. And their purpose? To turn Earth into a Utopian society with none of the social problems we’ve learned to live with.

That scenario affords a glimpse into the world’s perspective on being reborn in God’s Spirit; they see spiritual rebirth as an invasion of our personhood, changing us into something that we are not. In a way I can’t blame unbelievers for arriving at that conclusion, considering Bible passages and preaching that speaks of being filled with God’s Holy Spirit and death to self. But for one significant error in that reasoning, I could easily buy into it. That error is the assumption that we evolved into what we are through random mutations and natural selection (survival of the fittest), with no higher purpose for it all. Of course, the truth is God created us for a very specific purpose: to be the recipients of his love, and to voluntarily submit to his Lordship. Thing is, God will never override our free will, as he gave it to us in the first place. He doesn’t forcibly invade our bodies with some bland, unfeeling entity. In fact, just the opposite is true: He allows us to become the people he created us to be, and to enjoy the supernatural peace and joy that he affords.

In short, THE INVASION is good movie with a false moral. But what else can we expect from Hollywood.

TRANSCENDENCE

This film tackles a … shall I say … transcendent theme, and at least from a materialistic world view, tackled it rather well. Johnny Depp and company made the futuristic scenario believable, and even evoked my sympathy for the god-like artificial being that Dr. Will Caster (Depp’s character) became.

Dr. Caster presented a lecture early in the film where an anti-technology activist in the audience asked a probing question, “So … you want to create a god? Your own god?”

To which Dr. Caster, echoing atheists throughout history, answered, “That’s a very good question. Isn’t that what man has always done?”

That is a very insightful answer, as in a way it is true. Man, left to his own devices, naturally creates his own gods; the history of religion attests to that fact. And that is why God, in Christ Jesus, intervened in our history to save us from ourselves. In TRANSCENDENCE, Dr. Caster tried to do the same thing through technology. One could say it would be the high-tech version of the Tower of Babel.

This film echoed another atheistic view as well; the town’s people, and many others who bused and drove in, submitted to the computer’s “networking” them, allowing themselves to become automatons. Non-believers in Christ view our discipleship in the same way, if they have any thoughts on the subject at all. I would that God did control us in that way, but he has always refused to invade our personal volition, which is one of the chief attributes he shared with us at creation.

TRANSCENDENCE is a great bit of futuristic entertainment, and I recommend it to Christ-followers who are well-grounded in their faith. For anyone wavering on the brink of that solid rock who is Christ, however, it could stimulate the wrong kind of speculation. Remember, we must take human wisdom, and most especially human entertainment, with great quantities of salt.

Dave Barry Learns Everything You Need to Know About Being a Husband From Reading 50 Shades of Grey | TIME

If you typically react with offense or nausea to humor that employs PG-13 level … ah … um … “gender” related … I mean … well … physically that is … subject matter, you probably aught to pass up Dave Barry’s hilarious review of E.L. James’ runaway best-seller novel, 50 Shades of Grey. At least, I thought it’s hilarious, but then, I’m weird. While it uses some frank terms to describe bodily processes—like I said, it’s roughly PG-13 rated—the humor is pure Dave Barry. And if you’ve ever wondered about all the fuss regarding 50 Shades of Grey, read this review first.

So, that’s my way shorter and somewhat less funny review of Dave Barry’s review. If all those hyperlinks suggest to you that I consider Dave Barry’s review worth reading, you are correct.

“But where,” you might ask, “is the famous spiritual content that I’ve come to anticipate in “The Well-Dressed Branch”? To that I might answer, it’s all over the place in Dave Barry’s review, by means of his comparison between men’s and women’s communication styles, and his sarcastic ridicule of the novel’s ridiculous, verbally pornographic content, euphemistically known as erotica. Barry simply confirms one of my semi-regular themes; women are every bit as likely to consume porn as men, but since it’s hasn’t got pictures, they consider it more respectable. But, if you seek sexual arousal from it, you aren’t exactly in tight with God.

Okay, since I couldn’t play the harp if my life depended upon it, I’ll cease my harping on this well-worn topic.

You’re welcome.

Don’t Say “Ouch”

Say, “Lord, help me.”

I heard some fantastic preaching today at Parkgate Community Church in Pasadena, Texas, while I was washing a sinkload of dishes in Kalispell, Montana. The second sermon ended when the dishes ran out—yes, it was that bad. If you are considering giving ear to Pastor Ken Boggs’ preaching, I can promise it’s more-than worth the time spent.

Pastors Ken, Jim, and a guest speaker, have been preaching through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. So far, this is convicting preaching, or it should be for some of those people. Well, Apostle Paul admitted to making crazy, worldly statements in his letters to make a point, so why can’t I? In fact, I didn’t even get off scot free.

Since you’re reading this, I assume you can access said preaching on your own, so I won’t try to re-preach what I heard. It’s tempting, even though I certainly couldn’t add anything of value to it.

The one thing Pastor Ken didn’t say that I desperately wish he had is (even though I just said that I wouldn’t), “If you consider this message as something others need to hear, you need it more than they.” We all have trouble keeping our eyes on our own hearts instead of others’. God won’t convict anyone but you from his Word and its preaching.

So, again I say, “Lord help me to live according to the light you’ve given me, and not worry about others’ lives.

What?! No CGI?

The BBC’s version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is headed back to Netflix this morning. I rented it to compare it to Disney’s version, and it was actually quite good … once I got used to the live action, that is.

“Why did I not think it was hokey?” you ask?

“Because I got more out of it than simply entertainment,” I answer.

“What could possibly eclipse the entertainment value of flashy special effects?” you ask? Okay, even if you didn’t ask I’ll tell you, so suck it up.

The BBC’s version didn’t gloss over C.S. Lewis’ message of redemption through the blood of an innocent sacrificial offering. And that’s odd, in a way, as the BBC is part of the British government, and the producers weren’t compelled to make the movie politically correct. What a concept?! Freedom of expression.

Aslan’s death and resurrection according to “the Deeper Magic” touched me greatly. The principle of vicarious sacrifice for one who is unworthy came across clearly enough that even I caught it.

The other side of the continuum was the reanimation of the people whom the White Witch turned into stone. That smacked of the doctrine of purgatory, which is unscriptural; either we’re hell-bound sinners, or we’re heaven-bound saints, and that’s that. But I’ll forgive Lewis for the occasional mistake, as important as is the balance of his work.

Each of the four Pevensie children portray a type of person: Peter is a noble character who feels compelled to triumph in his own strength. Susan is one of nominal religion who thinks she is just perfect, thank you very much. Edmund occupies the opposite end of the spectrum from Peter, as self-interest means everything to him. And Lucy is the honest seeker, even though she allows peer pressure to sway her.

The conspicuous truth of Aslan’s character is his equal love for each of them, regardless of their personal failings. And a second truth becomes apparent as well: Even though Aslan created Narnia and its magic, he wasn’t above the obligation to obey it, even to the cost of his own life. What a perfect picture of Christ, who, though he created the entire universe, submitted to death on the accursed cross to redeem his unworthy creation.

Rent it. Watch it with your kids. And be sure they understand its eternal message—CGI or no CGI.

I Deserve More!

Does my title sound perhaps a smidge self-centered? Even greedy? Not really; no one in their right mind would want what I deserve.

Joe Stowell, writing for Our Daily Bread, titled his piece for today, “More Than We Deserve.” Oddly, considering my own title for this post, I agree with him completely. We’re just attacking the issue from different sides.

Brother Stowell looked at deserving from the perspective of blessing, while my perspective for this post is that of punishment, or at the very least, reaping what I’ve sown. In fact, God’s infinite grace shields me from a world of hurt, and nothing that I am or can do exempts me from eternal separation from him. But instead, he offered me reconciliation, relationship, and fellowship through his Son Jesus.

If you think you deserve more of anything but hardship and heartache, get off your pedestal. You might want to take your eyes off yourself, and take another look at God’s Word, the Bible.