Poem for Before & After
Tonight my new church home, The Crossing is kicking off a new sermon series titled Before & After that will focus on what life is like for a person before and after Christ. As someone who has been a follower of Christ for quite a while now, I’m really looking forward to being reminded of where I was before I came into a relationship with Christ. As I was preparing my heart for this series, I wrote this poem. Enjoy.
When did You seek this soul, O Lord?
What was it that You saw?
In all my shame, Your glory shone
In no less fragrant awe
You took my spirit’s shabby state
All overgrown with sin,
Anointed it with Your Son’s blood
And made it new again
O sing, my soul. Your day was dark
The light; the only cure
The only man to heal this house
Was Christ, the carpenter
Atheism: If God’s Existence is Not Impossible, Do You Think it’s Irrelevant?
“But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it… Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”
A few weeks ago, I posted a response to this question asked on my blog, “Are you an atheist?” This simple question excited a lengthy answer from me as to why I am certainly not an atheist and why I am a Christian. In my response, I took atheism as an assertion of the certainty of no gods. This definition irritated many atheists who read my response. I give you my sincere apologies. I truly thought there was more bite to atheism’s bark. Despite the jagged rhetoric of the new atheism, which I thought implied a certain confidence in their position, most atheists were offended that I even suggested that they claim certainty in this area. The atheists I came into contact with, while very reluctant to defend the title of “atheism” with any assertions or premises, seemed to be more in favor of an argument for the irrelevance of theism rather than what my original post laid out. I don’t blame them at all for correcting me on my terminology. I totally agree with that accountability. Now let’s talk about my reasons for Christian theism through the lens of this more updated and (I hope) accurate atheistic claim that theism is irrelevant.
My first reason in the original post was the problem of origins that the cosmological argument presents. There is good reason philosophically and mathematically to believe that this universe is not eternal. That is to say, it doesn’t have an infinite past. In William Lane Craig’s words, here are the premises and conclusion of the Kalām cosmological argument:
1. If the universe began to exist, then it has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
The law of causation supports premise 1. The evidence from physics and cosmology points to an expanding universe, leading us away from the idea of an infinite universe in support of premise 2. This is a sound conclusion.
“All the evidence we have says, ‘The universe has a beginning.’”
-Alexander Vilenkin (theoretical physicist with over 25 years in the field of cosmology)
We exist. The evidence we have points toward an origin. I think the cosmological argument deserves any thinking person’s attention.
I then spoke briefly on the teleological argument. This argument sums up the possibilities of the existing universe based on what we’ve been able to study and learn about it, concluding that it could exist as a result of 3 different possibilities: physical necessity, chance, or design. Since there is no evidence that the universe exists out of necessity and the odds are so incredibly unlikely that the universe could exist out of chance, design needs to be examined. The evidence of this finely tuned universe is remarkable and should be anything but irrelevant for a person who is trying to explain an existing universe without intelligent design. A designed universe is the most probable explanation.
The next section of my original post was more of a critique on naturalism. Naturalist thinking is so contradictory to reason and experience that I find it amazing that people who claim to be logical or free-thinking can call themselves naturalists. According to Dr. Alex Rosenberg’s book, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, naturalism rejects the possibility of the supernatural and claims that a human brain cannot truly think about anything, yet I’m thinking about naturalism right now. Take a moment to check your mind. If you’re thinking about naturalism (or anything else), you can conclude that naturalism is not true. Naturalism also claims that life is mass, energy, and chemicals, but has no meaning. According to Rosenberg, even the words and sentences in his own book are in fact, meaningless. Yet who would dare utter such words? To make any statement against the legitimacy of all statements would require words and in doing so, be self-defeating. If an atheist claims this weird philosophy, I’d recommend they take a break from criticizing Christianity and examine the contradictions in this very popular view.
I finished answering this question by giving some experiential reasons why I believe and follow the God of the Bible and Jesus as the son of God. I did also want to add in this post that the more I investigate biblical history, the more verifiable and clear the books of the Bible become. Scientific evidence and discoveries also greatly support my position of faith in God as intelligent designer.
If an atheist holds a position contrary to mine, I would like to hear their position explained. In all the time I’ve spent listening to and considering the different problems that atheists have with Christianity, I still haven’t heard any decent scientific or philosophical responses to the cosmological, teleological, or ontological arguments. I’ve also yet to find any positive evidence in favor of an atheistic worldview. For a person to say, “I’m an atheist” means that they’ve weighed the evidence for atheism against the evidence for theism in an unbiased way and found atheism to be more probable. To claim that the entire discussion is irrelevant, to me, is anything but a conclusion. This is why I would encourage atheists to think through these problems with their worldview and if the problems remain and the contradictions persist, then there is no good reason to maintain an atheistic worldview.
The End of a Bottle Rocket - Reflections on The Corners
A few weeks ago, my band, The Corners drove back into Hannibal from our last long drive ever. Eleven hours of driving brought us home from a beautiful Appalachian city called Pikeville, Kentucky. It was our last concert as a band. During the long haul back to Hannibal, I got to reflect a little bit on The Corners and its impact on my life over the last four years. Here are some good, practical things I’d like to pass along that I learned while on the road with this awesome group of guys:
1) Songs are worth singing. It’s amazing how a song can get stuck in your head and somehow wiggle its way down into your heart. Ideas are contagious like that. It has been so humbling to hear how people have been ministered to, called into areas of ministry, and even led to salvation by God and that He used lyrics that I’ve written as a vehicle to convey those messages. As long as God speaks to people through music, songs are worth singing.
2) Faith is worth having. Faith used to be more of an abstract thought that seemed barely beyond my ability to fully understand it. I utilized faith for belief, but not usually for day in, day out, practical living. Taking the leap into full-time ministry without any financial safety net was extremely scary. Before that leap, there were so many areas where I naturally outsourced my faith in God’s provision to areas of financial stability. In other words, I had faith in my bank account to save me so that I didn’t have to worry whether or not God would. Having removed that steady income and hitting the road with the band truly showed me that when a person steps out of their own earthly support system and pursues what they know the Lord wants for them, faith is not just a part of philosophy, its a very real part of how God wants to work in and through us. Our faith in God truly is the “evidence” or “substance” of things unseen as the writer of Hebrews puts it. I was amazed time and time again how our Lord truly is Jehovah-jireh. For those who believe, yet have not experienced faith in this way, I would encourage you to trust our Father fully and watch how He allows you to glorify Him in amazing ways. God is all about giving God glory and when you jump into that effort, you’re not alone. He will sustain you.
3) People are worth loving. Jesus often ministered to the marginalized; those who were passed over or looked down on because they weren’t as noticeable with human eyes. These people are important to Jesus and they should be important to us as well. Over the last 4 years, I’ve been blessed abundantly by getting to witness God’s transformation of lives that were marginalized in the past, then used to carry enormous, life-changing messages. The Lord continually showed me that all people everywhere are worth loving and no one is in any place to treat another person otherwise.
As The Corners ends and I begin the next chapter in my life, I look forward to using these big principles that were learned on the road from Hannibal, Missouri to everywhere else over the last several years. To God be the glory for this amazing adventure that I’ve been on and continue to get to be on in witnessing His greatness. Whether home or far from home, He is good and will always allow us to witness His glory as we’re obedient in sharing it. Huge thanks to everyone who has supported The Corners over the years! You were a blessing to us and in turn, allowed us to bless others.
If this is your first time to hear about this band, listen to the music of The Corners HERE.
Waiting for My Batmobile
All too often, I witness atheists who seemingly try to step inside the Christian worldview and run (whether intentional or not) an insincere reductio on it from the inside out. Here’s a good metaphor for an insincere reductio: I could step into a nice, dependable car and drive it in a way that causes it to break down. In this case, it doesn’t follow from the burnt up engine that the car was undependable, only the driver.
As a 5 year old, I specifically remember a time when I was riding in the shopping cart at Walmart and I asked God to have a real Batmobile ready for me in the driveway when I got home. God didn’t come through on my request…bummer. There is a “proof” that God doesn’t exist on Godisimaginary.com under the title "Try Praying" that would like for us believe that all you have to do in order to prove that God doesn’t exist is test Him by saying a prayer that they recommend. This test promises 2 possible results: either God doesn’t come through on your terms or you’ll successfully fool God into granting your wish. Not only does this contradict Old and New Testament teachings concerning testing God (Deut. 6:15; Jesus quotes the Deut. passage in Luke 4:12), but it is intellectually dishonest to draw a conclusion from such a weak experiment. Godisimaginary draws the conclusion that the God they don’t believe exists is a liar.
If I refuse to come into contact with all objects that are 32 °F or below, it would be a very unreasonable claim that ice does not exist. It is such a tragedy that so many atheists have put similar intellectual barriers into their lives in order to guarantee their avoidance of the presence of God.
False Dichotomy Vs. God - a response to Evolution Vs. God
I will forever think of Rice Krispies as “Rice Bubbles”—a term given by Ray Comfort over breakfast at my parents’ house when I was a kid. Ray stayed with us for several days as he gave a seminar at our church. He preferred to stay with families at homes rather than hotels. My family and I enjoyed our time with Ray. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him as an evangelist and in no way do I wish to question his character or motives, but here’s the deal—I watched his latest short documentary that he released on Youtube last Tuesday titled Evolution Vs. God and I’d like to voice some concerns.
Before even watching the film, I had already taken issue with the title. Evolution Vs. God? This kind of polarity falsely assumes that if the world of science ever finds sufficient major changes in the genomes of biological life over successive generations, then God cannot exist. While I am a Christian and not an evolutionist, my faith in God is not resting on the fulcrum that evolution is impossible. It‘s quite possible. All we can really do is speculate on its probability. There are many Christians such as Darrel Faulk, Denis Lamoureux, and Francis Collins who are active in scientific communities and believe that evolution is a great explanation for how things are likely to operate here on Earth. There is no good reason to condemn the faith of people like Faulk, Lamoureux, and Collins solely on the fact that they find evolution to be probable. We don’t have to assume an either/or mentality here.
Evolution Vs. God is composed mostly of a series of intermittent questions posed to college students and professors. Overall, the nature of these questions camped just outside the realm of observable evidence, pushing toward a critical view of the evolutionists’ faith in their beliefs.
“If you believe in evolution, prepare to have your faith shaken.” -quote from the Evolution Vs. God trailer
While the recurring word “faith” may have been used lightly to throw atheists off and hopefully find some vindication for atheism’s criticism of Christianity’s faith in God, I was not at all comfortable with the rhetoric that implies a comparison between my Christian faith and the faith that one might have in evolution. Drawing incorrect comparisons between the Christian and the evolutionist on faith can create a confusing semantic battle in the areas of evangelism and apologetics. There is no need to be part of the problem by muddying the waters of rhetoric.
Dear Christian, if science could provide conclusive evidence for evolution, would you have to abandon your faith in God? If so, your faith is on shaky ground and you have given your assumptions more authority in your mind than the One who is at the foundation of everything you know and see. Don’t let your view of creation turn God’s sky into a mere ceiling. I would like to appeal to a robust and well-informed agnosticism concerning the topic of evolution. Let’s allow the Lord to have accomplished Genesis one and two in whatever fashion He desired while encouraging scientists to stay honest to their findings without wandering too far from the actual evidence.
In conclusion, I would not recommend sending Evolution Vs. God to all your atheist friends. Despite the trailer’s claim, this film will probably not bring people to the conclusion that there is no evidence for Darwinian evolution.
Click here to view Evolution Vs. God.
The Chastity Principle That Continues
“The essence of chastity is not the suppression of lust, but the total orientation of one’s life towards a goal. Without such a goal, chastity is bound to become ridiculous. Chastity is the sine qua non of lucidity and concentration.”
Zeitgeist of the Internet Atheist
In 2007, a guy named Peter Joseph released a documentary called Zeitgeist: The Movie. The German word “zeitgeist” translates as “spirit of the age.” In this internet movie, three different conspiracy theories are shared, but I’d like to address what was said about Jesus, the Bible, and Babylonian mythology.
About a month ago, I had an online discussion with an atheist who seemed to hold similar views of Jesus and Babylonian mythology as shared in Zeitgeist, but I wasn’t too familiar with this view. The reason why I have heard very little about the so-called pagan parallels to Jesus is because these views were dropped by scholars pretty quickly on good cause.
At the University of Göttingen, Germany, a group of Protestant theologians got together and started a movement in the late 1800’s called the “History of Religions School”. The explicit goal of this movement was to show that all religions of the world share a common lineage and that this could be proven by their parallels to each other. The implicit goal of this movement was an attempt to bypass the Jewishness of Jesus so that these anti-Semites could at last have their own Aryan Jesus grounded in Greco-Roman history. The History of Religions School died out in the 1930’s due to a severe lack of evidence.
Zeitgeist's pagan copycat theory is just an attempt at repackaging an old version of racist German theology and is actually being spread around the internet as fact. Most of the literature referenced in this documentary comes from this outdated movement, a very selfish and historically dishonest zeitgeist in and of itself. In this screenshot of the film, you can see some of the claims that Zeitgeist: The Movie tried to make concerning Jesus and Horus that simply aren’t there:
BORN ON DECEMBER 25TH:
There are no biblical references of Jesus being born on any specific day. The stories of Horus contain three different birth accounts. One of those lands on December 25th. Even if there were one singular account of Horus being born on Dec. 25th, nothing can be said of a parallel here. During Jesus’ birth, we know Caesar Augustus issued a census and that this was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria (Luke 2:1-3). If there was any evidence of Horus being born during a census of some kind, we might have a parallel. Christmas is named after “Christ’s Mass” — it’s simply a feast of the liturgical year when Christians commemorate Jesus’ birth.
BORN OF A VIRGIN:
According to Ian Shaw’s The Oxford History of Ancient Egypt, the Babylonian myth has it that Osiris had been murdered, cut into several pieces, and spread all across Egypt. Isis, Osiris’ sister/wife found almost all the pieces and put Osiris back together. Almost all the pieces. She was short one piece…his penis. That part was said to have been thrown into the Nile River and eaten by catfish. Isis used her magic powers to resurrect him with just enough strength for one last sexual encounter and he was fashioned with a new golden penis so that their son, Horus could be conceived. This account can be called, bizarre or kinky, but one thing that it cannot be called is a virgin birth.
STAR IN THE EAST/ADORNED BY THREE KINGS:
Since Zeitgeist was wrong about Jesus’ birth being on December 25th, the assumption of the star in the East and three Kings following it is also wrong. Zeitgeist's argument for a parallel “star” and “kings” hinges on this specific day of the year. As mentioned earlier, one of the three birth stories of Horus was December 25th which this film says is the day after Sirius (a bright star in the East) lines up with what Zeitgeist calls the ”Three Kings” (Orion’s belt). There is also a very important astronomy mistake here. Sirius lines up with the stars in Orion’s belt every single night, not just the 24th. On December 24th, these four stars can be found straight up in the sky, leaving them in the Western sky when the sun rises, as opposed to a straight line with the sun when it rises. Check it out for yourself this Christmas Eve.
Concerning the “Three Kings” specifically, we have another simple error that could have been avoided if the makers of this film had just read the Bible. According to the book of Matthew—which is the only book of the Gospels that gives an account of the magi visitation—an unnumbered group of wise men came from afar and gave Jesus three gifts (Matthew 2:1-12). I couldn’t find any account of Horus’ childhood which mentions three kings (other than the Zodiac comparison), but even if this was in the stories, it makes no difference. This is simply not the story of Jesus that the Bible tells us.
BAPTIZED/MINISTRY AT 30:
The Bible actually does say that Jesus was baptized and started his ministry at “about 30 years old” (Luke 3:23). So if there is any account of a baptism or anything related to a ministry of Horus at the age of 30, we might have a parallel. The only information that I can find on this particular parallel are the writings of an English poet and self-taught Egyptologist named Gerald Massey. He wrote a book called The Natural Genesis in 1883 (when the History of Religions School was very popular) which attempts to draw parallels between Horus and Jesus. This book has been unanimously dismissed among actual Egyptologists due to lack of evidence.
Zeitgeist: The Movie movies says, “probably the most obvious of all the astrological symbolism around Jesus regards the 12 disciples.” There are 12 constellations that travel around with the sun (Horus), so according to this film it’s “obvious” that Christianity copied this in their story of Jesus. What Zeitgeist calls “obvious” is actually quite a stretch. The only similarity is the number 12. There is, however, an obvious explanation for why Jesus chose 12 disciples. As a matter of fact, Jesus plainly stated why He chose 12. He said to his disciples in Matthew 19:28, “you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Jesus was obviously fulfilling the old covenant of Israel, where Christianity actually came from. You can buy a carton of one dozen eggs from the store, but that doesn’t infer that the selling of eggs are a direct consequence of Babylonian astrology.
LAMB OF GOD/THE LIGHT
Jesus was called the “Lamb of God” to represent his death as the fulfillment of the Old Testament sacrificial system of the Israelites. “Lamb of God” in reference to Jesus makes perfect sense when you put it in the Jewish perspective. For the life of me, I can’t find anywhere where Horus is referred to as the “Lamb of God.” Someone please chime in here if you know of a legitimate source that does so (a URL kin to godisdumb.net or atheistpropaganda.org doesn’t count).
Horus is the sky god of mythology. This contains the sun (Horus’ right eye) and moon (his left) and also the image of a falcon. Light comes from the sun, so if you wish to call Horus “the light,” I suppose you could make that vague stretch, but to call this a parallel story to that of Jesus is still preposterous.
Crucifixion is a very real form of execution that was used by the Romans during the time that Jesus lived. Since Zeitgeist is claiming that the mythical stories of Horus predate Jesus by several thousand years (Zeitgeist claims 3,000 B.C.), it would be ridiculous to assert that Horus was crucified. Crucifixion didn’t even exist until around 600 B.C.
DEAD FOR THREE DAYS/RESURRECTED
Same as the “Lamb of God” reference, I can’t find any sources that have a record of these events occurring in the stories of Horus (other than Gerald Massey’s pseudo-Egyptology which was already addressed as lacking in legitimate scholarship). Horus’ dad, Osiris almost/sort of resurrected. After Osiris’ death, he was made king of the underworld. He didn’t have a bodily resurrection and wasn’t sacrificed for mankind, but he did continue to exist post mortem. I know that’s two huge stretches, but that’s all we’ve got in the area of parallelism here. There’s actually no original account of Horus’ death.
MY FINAL APPEAL (FOR TODAY)
I’m not at all against anyone and everyone making arguments on behalf of their worldview, but please, be reasonable. If disavowing the life of Jesus requires you to reject Babylonian and Jewish history, consider anti-Semitic theology, get a D- in Astronomy 101, or confound clearly defined terms, then you’ve crossed the line from rational inquiry, fallen off of Occam’s razor, and wandered into the land of mere wish fulfillment. Any honest skeptic should reject the indoctrinating lies of Zeitgeist: The Movie and other related internet garbage, but do not take my word for it. Research this for yourself. As in the case of the History of Religions School, people used to hide behind the name of God to do their puppeteering, now with the advent of internet atheism, they’re just doing it outright.
I reject at once an idea which lingers in the mind of some modern people that cultural activities are in their own right spiritual and meritorious—as though scholars and poets were intrinsically more pleasing to God than scavengers and bootblacks.
…The work of Beethoven and the work of a charwoman become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly ‘as to the Lord.’