Thursday, November 20, 2008

Jonestown and Why God Allows Evil

On 11/18/1978, 30 years ago, 909 men, women and children committed mass suicide at the hands of Jim Jones. In his day he was a run-of-the-mill
Word of Faith teacher, and he duped thousands of people into thinking he was a god who had the power to heal. Every now and then I think it’s good to go back and listen to the voices of those who deceived people yesteryear so that we will not be deceived today. Here is Jim Jones in his own words:

“His leg was healed instantaneously because he saw me as God, God, God, God,
God, God, God!!!"

“When I say I’m God then I feel fruit well up within
my soul and I see it well up in you and I see the sick healed, and the blind
see, and the dead raised.”

“If we can’t live in peace, then let’s die in

“We didn’t commit suicide. We committed an act of revolutionary
suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.”

With statements like these, why does God allow bad things to happen to so many people? This is question is asked over and over again. At first blush, it may seem that there are as many responses as there are religions. In reality, however, there are only three basic answers: pantheism, philosophical naturalism, and theism. Pantheism denies the existence of good and evil because in this view god is all and all is god. Philosophical naturalism supposes that everything is a function of random processes, thus there is no such thing as good and evil. Theism alone has a relevant response — and only Christian theism can answer the question satisfactorily.

Christian theism acknowledges that God created the potential for evil because God created humans with freedom of choice. And then human beings actualized that evil through their choices. The fact that God created the potential for evil by granting us freedom of choice ultimately will lead to the best of all possible worlds—-a world in which “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). Those who choose Christ will be redeemed from evil by his goodness and will forever be able not to sin.

Christian theism has the answers and we need to be able to be equipped to give those answers to a lost and searching world. For more information on evil please see our website at

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Heart of Christmas

Each year during Christmas I communicate the truth concerning Christ’s coming in flesh. This year I want to do something vastly different. I want to take the truths of Christmas and turn them into a Christmas tradition.As such, I did something I have wanted to do for years! I put pen to paper and produced The Heart of Christmas: A Twenty-five Day Devotional so that, just as you prepare your home for Christmas, you will likewise prepare your heart.

Let me point your attention to one of these devotionals. It’s the December 4th entry entitled, A Pagan Festival? The Scripture reading is from Colossians 2:16-17, “Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” I say in the devotional,

As we continue our journey to the heart of Christmas, let’s pause for a moment to consider a common concern raised each year regarding the validity of celebrating Christ’s coming­­­---namely that when Christmas was originally instituted, December 25th was a pagan festival commemorating the birthday of a false god.

In response we should first acknowledge that this is substantially true. As noted by Dr. Paul Maier, eminent professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University, “The Romans of the time not only celebrated their Saturnalia festival at the close of December, but they also thought that December 25 marked the date of the winter solstice (instead of December 21), when they observed the pagan feast of Sol Invictus, the Unconquerable Sun, which was just in the act of turning about to aim northward once again.”

While this is indeed a historical fact, what if frequently overlooked is the reason the early Christian church chose December 25th as their day of celebration. The purpose was not to Christianize a time of pagan revelry, but to establish a rival celebration. As such, Christmas (Christ Mass) was designed as a spiritually edifying holiday (holy day) on which to proclaim the supremacy of the Son of God over the superstitions concerning such gods as Saturn, the god of agriculture and Sol Invictus, the unconquerable sun god.

While the world has but forgotten the Greco-Roman gods of antiquity, they are annually reminded that two thousand years ago Christ, the hope of humanity, invaded time and space. But as Christians we perceive an ever greater reality. Each year as we celebrate the First Advent of Christ we are simultaneously reminded of the Second Advent in which the old order of things will pass away and Christ our Lord will put all things to right. As the prophet Zechariah put it, “Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,’ declares the LORD. ‘Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you.” (2:10-11).

If you cannot celebrate this, pray tell, what can you celebrate?

So, should we celebrate Christmas on December 25th? The answer is a resounding yes we should, we’ve taken a pagan festival and we have made Christ the prince of that day. There is an additional reading from Acts 17; and questions that take the information and impress it on your mind and then there are those wonderful carols. In this case for December 4th, it’s Angels From the Realms of Glory.

So often in our churches, we get pap and dribble and we never really focus on the words
Angels, from the realms of glory, wing your flight o’er all the earth,
Ye, who sang creation’s story; now proclaim Messiah’s birth:
Come and worship, Come and worship,
Worship Christ, the new born King.

The Heart of Christmas: A Twenty-five Day Devotional is a small token of my deep appreciation for your support of a ministry that has brought the Christ of Christmas into the hearts of people around the globe. This is only available through the ministry of CRI and quantities are limited, please log unto our website or call us at 1-888-700-0274.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Intelligent Design

Having just had Election Day, many people wonder if their vote matters. Consider this; judicial activism has given the Intelligent Design movement a really tough row to hoe.

Richard Dawkins, professor of public understanding of science at Oxford and arguably the best known Darwinist on the planet, says those who do not believe in evolution or philosophical naturalism are “ignorant or stupid” or he’s gone as far as to say they are “insane.”

But in place of that kind of rhetoric, those emotional stereotypes, Intelligent Design proponents actually propose reason and empirical science. We recently had Dr. Guillermo Gonzalez on talking about the movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed, and if you watch that movie the one thing you see over and over again is that those who hold to Intelligent design are in fact very thoughtful and reasonable. The philosophical naturalists like Richard Dawkins look like their rabid.

Intelligent Design proponents are simply willing to follow scientific evidence wherever the evidence may lead. They neither presuppose nor preclude supernatural explanations for the phenomenon that they encounter in an information rich universe. As such, the Intelligent Design community rightly, in my view, practices open minded science.

They begin with the common scientific principle that Intelligent Design is detectable wherever there is specified, organized complexity. In other words, wherever there is information. When this is applied to information rich DNA or irreducible complex biochemical systems or that the earth is perfectly situated in the Milky Way galaxy for both life and scientific discovery, the existence of an Intelligent Designer is the most plausible explanation.

Although its conclusions are not worldview neutral, the Intelligent Design proponents lend no more support to Christian theism than Darwinian evolution lends to atheism. So the appropriateness of Intelligent Design for public education ought to be judged on the basis of the theories explanatory power not on its metaphysical implications.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Homosexual Marriage

I was reading an article in Newsweek titled “Will My Marriage Last?” David Jefferson of Newsweek writes “On Tuesday, Californians will head to the polls. How millions of strangers cast their votes will affect the most intimate parts of my life.” He goes on to say, “I got married on Saturday. I'm just hoping it lasts through next week. Few newlyweds enter a marriage with such low expectations (except for maybe Britney Spears, whose 2004 Vegas quickie was annulled after two days). But my new spouse, Jeff Bechtloff, and I are gay men living in California. And like thousands of couples who've tied the knot since the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage this spring, we rushed to get wed before voters could decide on Nov. 4 whether or not we should.”
He goes on to say, “It's difficult to explain how it feels now, as Jeff and I face the possibility that our marriage could lose its validity come next Tuesday. The absurdity of having the most personal aspect of your life determined by a ballot proposition is best summed up by the slogan on a T-Shirt I saw a gay man wearing this month: CAN I VOTE ON YOUR MARRIAGE? Proposition 8 would change the state Constitution to stipulate "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
A few paragraphs later, David Jefferson writes, “Look, I'm a realist. ‘All men are created equal’ may be the cornerstone of what we call “liberty,” but it has taken a couple of centuries for the American populace to digest the meaning of those words, and I suspect it will take centuries more. When my mother was born, women didn't have the right to vote. When my sister was born, ‘separate but equal’ was the law in the South. When I was born, blacks and whites couldn't marry in several states.”
What I would like to point out here is the need for discernment because David Jefferson of Newsweek has just created a slight of mind. He has cleverly changed the argument from an argument regarding identity. He is right it’s wrong to be sexist and it is wrong to be racist but he has taken that argument which has to do with identity and used it as an argument for a behavioral lifestyle. So he’s confusing identity and behavior. In other words, he has cleverly made a category mistake.
This is once again my way to tell you how critical it is for us to exercise discernment skills. To see arguments for what there are. Are they cogent? Are they clear? Are they concise? Are they correct? Or are these arguments slight of hand and slight of mind?
We need to learn discernment skills so that we can use our well-reasoned answer as an opportunity to share the truth. Not truth that stifles, not truth that paints or caricatures God as a cosmic kill joy. But the kind of truth by which God places parameters around our life so that our joy may be complete.
The problem today is a lot of people want to be God. They want to be the final court of arbitration. They want to decide what sin is and what sin is not. They want to decide which behaviors are ok are which behaviors are not ok. But we have a Creator and an owner’s manual. And we say He, not I, is the final court of arbitration.
Even if I don’t agree, I bow the knee, I submit to the one who spoke and the limitless galaxies leaped into existence because He is a far more brilliant intellect than I. We don’t want to do that, we want to say, “Has God said?” and then make the rules of the game ourselves and determine right or wrong not based on a final court of arbitration but on the size and scope and strength of the latest lobby group.