Wednesday, June 28, 2006

the pendulum

My good friend Stuart is teaching through the Minor Prophets during the summer months, and I was blessed to be able to sit in on a Sunday school lecture on the book of Jonah. Other than getting some great insight into the book of Jonah (as well as the prophet himself), I was impressed with a classic flaw in how people understand or think about God.

Now, I don’t want to focus on the part of the story where Jonah is swallowed by the sea-monster and remained in its belly for 3 days, but I would like to look at Jonah’s attitude as well as what may have been the perception of God in Israel and Judah at that time. That being said, I need to mention one thing that drives skeptics, humanists, and even some so-called Christians crazy.

The story of Jonah being swallowed by the sea-monster actually happened. It is a true event. It is not an allegory, nor is it primarily symbolic1, and it is not figurative language used to describe the inner turmoil of Jonah. I want to make a fairly loaded and provocative statement; if Jonah was not actually swallowed by the sea-monster and he did not spend three days in its belly before being belched out to preach to the men of Nineveh, then Christ is not God. It is clear that the actual event of the death and resurrection of Christ is linked to the actual event of the story of Jonah by Christ Himself (Matthew 12:39-41; 16:4; Luke 11:29,30,32). Christ was not telling the Jewish leaders, “Just like the ferry tale of Jonah, I will give you a fairy tail sign.…” It is clear that the Jesus and His audience understood that Jonah’s adventure was an actual occurrence, and so we are to understand it in that way as well.

I guess that the main thing that I took out of that class was in the form of an application to contemporary belief. But to understand what that application is and how I arrived at it, we need to look at the story first. The basic historical backdrop of the story is that Nineveh was a powerful city, and it had been very cruel to Israel, and they were enemies. God told Jonah to go and tell the inhabitants of Nineveh that they had 40 days before Nineveh would be destroyed because of the wickedness of its people. Now, I do not know for sure whether Jonah knew all of those details at first, or not, but that was the final message. Even if Jonah was only told to “go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it,” (Jonah 1:2) because of their wickedness and was not aware of the 40 day timeframe that we see until later (Jonah 3:4), it seems apparent that Jonah knew the heart of God and what the response of the people of Nineveh would be.

The application that I drew is rooted in Jonah’s lament to God after Nineveh repents, “Please LORD, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity.” (Jude 4:2)

Now this may be a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. One of the accusations leveled against Christians by non-Christian skeptics is that God, as portrayed in the Old Testament at least, is barbaric, cruel, and He is vengeful and angry. Leaving aside the fact that this accusation is a very narrow and unfair characterization of God as He has portrayed Himself in the Old Testament, could the opinion of Jonah’s contemporaries have been similarly skewed? What I mean is that the people who lived in Israel and who had heard some of the stories of their religious heritage might have had this same idea about God being simply a conqueror. But, Jonah is a prophet who understood the full revealed nature and character of God. He knew that God is merciful and compassionate. He understood the weight of this so much that it caused him to flea from God so that He wouldn’t have compassion on the wicked people of Nineveh.

I think that it is likely that Jonah understood what another prophet penned what the LORD said in Ezekiel 33:11, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!” (see also Ezekiel 18:23, 30-32).

My application is two fold.

Application #1: Today, people who have grown up in the United States, or other western nations for that matter, have an idea that God is a big cosmic lover and gentle grandfather who will never do anything that comes close to being vengeful and would never ever be described accurately as being angry at anything or anyone in any way. This god loves all people without any requirements, and would never be judgmental to tell or to show someone that they are sinning. What is worse is that many of the people who believe this call themselves Christians. The fact is that this understanding is so incomplete and so skewed that it distorts and perverts the gospel to the point that this belief doesn’t include the gospel (Galatians 1:6,7), because you cannot have the gospel without the knowledge and conviction of sin. We cannot fall into the trap of modern western Christianity that makes God into a standardless and unjust judge who holds no one accountable for sin.

Application #2: We can almost excuse the laity who have been fed this perverted gospel and distortion of the true characteristics of God as He has shown us in the Bible. God will not hold them to a different standard than other people and so we need to show our pity for them by telling them the truth of scripture, but we can understand their ignorance to the true gospel if no one has told it to them. However, we cannot excuse those preachers and teachers who know the truth about God and who know that He is a righteous and just God who will not look the other way at our transgressions but yet they teach a watered down version of an inoffensive, culturally neutral, and neutered pseudo-gospel. Teaching this perversion is as big of a heresy and a crime against humanity as the heresy of selling indulgences to buy a way into heaven. We dare not be like Jonah and not preach the truth of God’s Word to people when we know what it is because we don’t want to see them saved. No matter what the stated motivation is, the end result is that we don’t want people saved if we don’t preach the gospel of Christ as we are shown in the scriptures. If we know the truth and we do not sound the alarm that God will judge all men according to their sins against Him, then in the words of Ezekiel, “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die.’ And you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require from your hand.” (Ezekiel 33:8) Let us rather be like the faithful watchman, “But if you on your part warn a wicked man to turn from his way and he does not turn from his way, he will die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your life.” (Ezekiel 33:9) We have the gospel, a true and a beautiful and a saving gospel, and no one can be saved without hearing it and responding to it (Romans 10:14-17)

Let us not swing the pendulum of our concept of God's character to one side or the other and thereby negate the totality of His wondrous love for sinners, His complete and total anger and intolerance of sin, and his righteous justice that must be satisfied. Let us seek to know and worship God in all of His glorious attributes.

1 It is symbolic only in the sense that Christ used this event as a symbol of His death and resurrection, but the original audience understood it, as we should as well, as an event in history that occurred to one peculiar prophet. Any and all direct interpretations or lessons drawn from this story should be from the perspective of the original audience in their original time.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


I am getting sick and tired of the outlandish and crazy accusations and assertions that are made in order to try and contradict the Bible and specifically what it says about Christ. I was shown an MSNBC article that covers a horrible book that has come out recently called “The Jesus Papers” written by a man by the name of Michael Baigent. Without giving a whole review of the book, I would like to make a few comments on it. Quite frankly, I honestly don’t want to waste my time with reading it after having read what the author has said about the book.

First of all, I want to define a term that is bandied about far too often when talking about anything, but specifically when discussing the Bible or the life of Christ. Aristotle laid out what a contradiction is by saying, “one cannot say of something that it is and that it is not in the same respect and at the same time.” To say this another way, I will use an example. Please look at the character directly below, it will be referred to as “figure #1”:


Statement #1: Figure #1 is P.
Statement #2: Figure #1 is not P.

The above 2 statements are an actual contradiction.

Statement #3: Figure #1 is P.
Statement #4: Figure #1 is black.
Statement #5: Figure #1 is a letter of the English alphabet.
Statement #6: Figure #1 is a capital letter.

The above 4 statements are not contradictory. They are true statements about the same thing.

Why did I make such a big deal about defining what a contradiction is? Well, one of the most common objections thrown at the Bible is, “The Bible is full of contradictions.” I respond to this accusation by asking the would-be-debunker of Christianity to show me a contradiction. The response I receive then is usually something to the effect that there are so many contradictions and that I am pretty foolish if I don’t know of one. However, in this response the accuser still has not pointed out an actual contradiction. When I press further, someone would bring up the death of Judas Iscariot or the fact that the different gospels all say that the sign above Christ’s head said different things.

The Judas Contradiction:

This is basically the comment that there are two different descriptions of the death of Judas, and therefore the Bible cannot be trusted. The texts in question are Matthew 27:5 and Acts 1:18. In the passage in Matthew we are told that Matthew went out and hanged himself, whereas in Acts he is said to have fallen and his intestines spewed out.

Now remember the correct understanding of a contradiction that we looked at earlier? Does one text say that he hanged himself and the other say that he did not hang himself? Does one text say that the actual cause of death was because of the hanging and the other say that his cause of death was from the spilling of his intestines?


Is there any scenario where both of these things could have occurred, and is there any other reasons why both of these could have occurred? I think that the answer is yes, absolutely.

Without getting into a ton of detail, here is what probably happened. Judas, after betraying Jesus and lamenting it, went out and hanged himself from a tree. His body was left exposed to the elements for a long period of time (a day or more) which caused it to bloat and swell up. The rope or the branch holding the rope then gives way and Judas’ dead body falls onto ground causing the lacerations and the spewing of his intestines.

This may seem like it is a stretch, but when people have gone and examined the places that are mentioned in the text to find out what the scenery was, this idea was given much more merit. In the location where Judas most likely hanged himself was a tree and the branches extended over a drop, so that the ground level was lower than where he climbed the tree from. Below these branches are various rocks that could cause the damage described in Acts if fallen upon.

Also, the it could be called the “field of blood” (Matthew 27:8) because blood money was used to purchase it (Matthew 27:6) or because of the disgusting scene when people came and found Judas’ dead and exploded corpse lying in the field itself.

The Sign Contradiction:

This one is almost laughable, but I can address it too. When Jesus was crucified, Pilate had a sign hung over his head. In the gospels, the different writers tell us what the sign said:

Matthew 27:37 “This is Jesus the king of the Jews”
Mark 15:26 “The King of the Jews”
Luke 23:38 “This is the king of the Jews”
John 19:19 “Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews”

One key point about the sign needs to be made understood is that it was written in the Hebrew, Latin, and Greek languages (John 19:20). The reason I make this point is that if you have ever studied any foreign language, you know if you want to say the same thing in two languages, you may use different kinds of words and the order of the words may not look the same at all. When you throw Hebrew in the mix, a language that is read from right to left, the different appearance of the words on the sign is even more pronounced.

But again, let’s look at this and ask if these statements contradict each other. They do not. Do they all say exactly the same thing? No, but one does not say that the man’s name was “George” while the others say “Jesus”. Also, if you and 3 friends saw a sign 20 or 30 years ago that made a memorable statement, and you wrote down what it said or the essence of what it said, you would probably all remember various parts of the sign, and not the entire statement exactly as it was written.

We can, and should look at this concern in a serious and logical way.1 It is not absurd to surmise that the sign included all of the different sayings that the gospel writers indicated.


If we truly look through the Bible to find actual contradictions, we will not find any. There are other differences that are questioned, but all of them can be explained and understood in a way that does not distort or dilute the meaning, authority, or inspiration of the scriptures.

Many times when people refer to contradictions, they may be referencing a paradox, and not a contradiction. A paradox is defined as “a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps” or “an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises”2 A good example of a paradox would be the Trinity – one God that eternally exists in three distinct, co-equal persons. Three Persons yet one God; it seems contradictory, but it is not because we are not saying “one God yet three Gods” or “three Persons yet one Person.” Even though our minds can never truly make this whole thing work out completely, it is not contradictory. So this remains (one of) the grand paradox of the faith.

1 We should be serious because any concern or objection raised about the bible and what it says needs to be dealt with in a way that is not flippant or casual. We should be logical because if we are to understand the problem as well as figure out what the facts are or what is in dispute, we cannot be reckless with our assertions. I will say, though, that if someone raises endless vain questions or non sequitur’s, I tend to ignore them and continue to the heart of the issue.

2 Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A Friday Appointment

My parents and my grandmother came up this weekend for a high school graduation party for one of my cousins as well as to attend the dedication of my second son, Noah. It was going to be a busy and fun weekend (also being Father’s Day), and I was looking forward to it with much anticipation.

I was at work on Friday and decided that it would be nice to get home early and spend some extra time with my wife when my boys would be (should be, anyway) napping as well as to play with them for more time than I am usually able to. So, I took a ½ day off work and was heading home in quite a good mood. This all changed at about 2:20 when I was still in the city.

I work in downtown St. Paul, and like any city of decent size there tends to be quite a lot of traffic when people are heading home. As I was no more than 1 or 2 miles north of downtown, I noticed an opening to switch lanes and so I took it. The only problem was that the car in front of me decided to stop really quickly just before I was able to make it out of the lane. Translation: I clipped him, and caused the first ever car accident in the city.

Now, as an aside, I am so thankful that I have not been in a car accident prior to this for as much as I drive on busy and crowded roads. And if I counted the actual numbers of close calls that I have experienced, I don’t know if there would be a greater amount involving me as a driver/passenger in a car or as a pedestrian in the city. All of that to say that I am actually a little surprised that it took almost 5 years of working down town for anything at all to happen.

The Details of Accident:

The basic description about this accident is that Car B rear-ended Car A. I happened to be driving Car B. When I think of rear-ending someone (especially on the Interstate in rush hour), I imagine one or both of the vehicles having a severely damaged car. In my case, the only real damage was a broken head light, and the car in front of me was hit no harder than I was (obviously), but his rear bumper popped off of the frame of his car. Now that may sound really bad, but I looked at his bumper and saw that it had only attached to the car by a few (maybe 6) bolts, and those were probably plastic. Thankfully no one was hurt, and neither car was seriously damaged (other than cosmetically). Also, the accident occurred in the right hand lane, so it was very easy and safe to pull onto the shoulder to take care of the necessary paperwork.

What else?

I have to tell you, that if you are ever going to be in a car accident1 then this was the exact one that I would have picked. Other than the reasons that I stated above about the minor nature of any damage, the driver of the other car was so calm, polite, and just plain ‘ol nice that I couldn’t help but be thankful right on the spot. Joe, the other driver, was a young guy who had never been in a car accident before, and I replied, “Yeah, I’ve never been in one that was my fault before.” After we exchanged insurance information and I had called the police, I had a great idea. I was going to try and witness to Joe. Now, I admit, asking someone if they think that they’re a good person right after you are the reason that they will be late for work and inconvenienced for a while may not be the best time to do it, but I had no idea if this kid would live another day.

Well, by God’s providence I didn’t get my opportunity because at that moment a car with flashing lights pulled up behind us. Apparently, there is a group of people who must monitor the police scanner and are to be the first ones on the scene of an accident. The guy who got out asked if we were ok, checked our cars out to make sure that they could be driven, and then was going to wait for the police. Well, I had a few minutes and I honestly cannot remember if I was formulating a way to talk to the driver, the first responder (I don’t know who this man was or who he worked for), or what but before I could do anything the first responder recommended that we (the drivers) sit in our cars to wait for the police. So, my desire to witness to the other driver was slipping away.

A few minutes later the police showed up, and I was not about to exit my car unless asked to. You see, I think that cops are a bit hesitant about people getting out of their cars (with good reason) when they are on the job. He was very methodical about getting the information and writing out his report. As the officer was doing this, and after he had a chance to survey the scene, Joe and the first responder were busy trying to connect the bumper. This failed, and so they had to put it in his back seat.

Well, the officer came back to give me the report, tell me what I needed to do, and to advise me that he would stop traffic for us to get onto the road in a few minutes. After he did the same with Joe, I was really getting disappointed that I hadn’t had a chance to witness to him when he came back to my car. Joe and I shook hands, and exchanged some pleasantries similar to “have a good day” and “too bad this happened” as well as “nice to meet you” and I knew that I had my final opportunity. Since I didn’t have time to verbally witness to him, I decided to give him a tract. I said, “Hold on, I’ve got something I want to give you.” I pulled out my wallet because that is where I humorously keep my Million Dollar Bill tracts2 and I saw that it was empty (both of real money and fake money). I then started sifting through my back pack and, fearing that he would walk off or get confused and edgy, I said, “Don’t worry, I’m not trying to buy you off, or anything….” I found a loose tract, pulled it out and said, “Well, sorry for the trouble, but here’s a Million bucks for your time.” He looked at it, laughed, and said, “Thanks and have a good day.” He then went back to h is car and we both drove off. I hope that he read that tract and that it causes him to examine himself.

Unfortunately my next stop was not my home, but it was to the insurance office. I knew that I had to give them a copy of the report, and I wanted to take care of everything as soon as possible. Now that I was in the tract passing zone, I purposed to give one to the person that I spoke with at the insurance office. My time actually spent there was so short, that I went in handed the form off, and gave the lady a Million Dollar Bill tract and said, “Happy Friday, have a great weekend.”

I left the city and went home and felt a sense of joy that I was unhurt, Joe was unhurt, and that it seemed like there would be no serious financial headache that would arise from the ordeal, but more importantly I was so happy that I took the opportunity to be faithful as a witness for my God in a small way.


Sharing the gospel with anyone just takes the personal initiative of making a point to do it and taking and making an opportunity. It is no different than reading the Bible, praying, or brushing our teeth. We must make a point in our day to be purposeful about doing these things; otherwise they will never get done.

1 I use this term with a bit of a smirk on my face because it was truly an accident, neither of us was driving recklessly, and it was so minor that it is almost laughable to refer to it with the same phrase that fatality incidents are described.

Text on the back of the back: “The Million Dollar Quesetion: Will you go to heaven? Here’s a quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus said, ‘Whoever lokos upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.’ Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on judgement day? If you have done those things God sees you as a lying, theiving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. The Bible warnst that if you are guilty you will end up in hell. That’s not God’s will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. Jesus took your punisment upon Himself – ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.’ Then he rose from the dead and deveated death. Please repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life. Then read your Bible daily and obey it.”

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

“falling in love with Galatians”

I am not currently teaching a Sunday school class this month, so I have been looking forward to attending one of the other classes offered this summer. My good friend Stuart is teaching a survey of the series of books in the Old Testament known as the “Minor Prophets” and last Sunday, he was looking at Obadiah, a book that I am not very familiar with at all. Well, one thing led to another and I was not able to attend his class, and I found myself at church with about 20 minutes before I had to pick my son up from his class and head on up to the sanctuary for the main service. The big question was what would I do with my time? Well, I decided to take advantage of the seclusion and quietness of the moment and began to read Galatians. I don’t ever remember studying this book in any great detail, and so as I found myself finishing up chapter 3, I said to myself (out loud), “I am falling in love with Galatians.”

There were so many things that jumped out and basically slapped me upside the head, not as if I had not ever heard them or had not known them before, but as something that I needed to read and be confronted with at that moment. One of my continuing and growing concerns or passions for the body of Christ took shape when Paul wrote that he was amazed that they were so quick to deserting Christ for a different gospel and then go on to say that there is no other real gospel. And then pronounces a railing judgment against anyone who would distort it. He doesn’t want anyone to miss how important it is, so he makes this railing judgment again a few verses later using the same pointed and harsh language (Galatians 1:6-10).

In Galatians 2:11-14 I saw numerous things, one of which is the ability for mature believers, leaders in the church, and stalwarts of the faith to be misled and be in need of rebuke. Whatever the exact situation was that Paul was referring to when he mentions that Peter (along with Barnabas) had begun to “withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision” (Galatians 2:12), it seems to be related to the broader problem relating to the Judaizers1 and their distortion of the law and grace, Jew and gentile. The Judaizers seemed to be pushing a doctrine of works righteousness (follow the law, and you will be justified) and we can see Paul denounce that theology in a complete – no misunderstanding possible – and a scathing description that salvation is by through faith, not works of the law (see Galatians 2:16). You can again see Paul’s extreme distinction between the law and grace and he makes a very powerful conclusion that if the Judaizers were right, and there was something to be gained from following the Law, “then Christ died needlessly.” (Galatians 2:21)

I love how the apostle Paul pulls absolutely no punches (nor should he) when dealing with our salvation and hope. Here, in Galatians, he deals with the beginning of our faith and how it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone (see Ephesians 2:1-10), but yet he also shows that “works” have their place as being the result of true faith (Ephesians 2:10) even though James makes the most extensive case for the fact that a true Christian must have good works, not because they save him, but because they show that he has been saved already (James 2:14-17). James makes the point that faith (believing that something is true) by itself is not where we find salvation because the demons believe, and they are obviously not saved (James 2:19).2 But Paul does not waste time here when he says that if we can be saved by works of the law, then Christ died in vain. This reminds me of his defense of the resurrection of the believer by saying that if we are not going to be raised from the dead, then Christ was not either. Furthermore, if Christ was not raised from the dead then our faith is worthless, and we should be pitied more than any other people (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

Paul’s lambasting of any sort of works righteousness was such a joy to my heart that I found myself moved almost to tears later when we sang the phrase borrowed from 2 Timothy 1:12 “But I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him until that day.” One of the pitfalls that I have found when striving to serve God and be diligent in my spiritual disciplines is that there can not only be pride (and foolish pride at that) in reading the Bible and praying daily but there is the temptation to believe that if I do these things, that proves that I am saved.

A few years ago, I was blessed with the privilege of witnessing to and leading my brother-in-law to Christ. He is a few years older than me, and I was so encouraged and blown away by the humility that he had when he finally surrendered to Christ when he had been anything but humble in this respect just a few days before. I bring this story up this reason, I think that if I had been saved as an adult in my 20’s (like my brother-in-law) I would be tempted to look back at that point in my life where I bent my knee and believed in Christ as my assurance of my salvation. At least, it probably would have played a bigger part than it should play in my assurance of salvation. You see, my conversion happened when I was a child, and although my faith was genuine and my heart was truly changed, I was still an immature (in all respects) child and baby Christian. I don’t have the bookmarks in my “pre-saved” life to point to my sinfulness prior to God’s amazing grace saving me, but my life after being saved has been littered with sin and the endless failings before my Holy God.

“How does all of this relate” you ask? I would be a fool to look back at the time when I bent my knee to Christ and asked for the forgiveness of my sins as the primary or only assurance of my salvation. My life, and the life of any believer, should be marked by godliness, reverence, and overall a cherishing of the Savior. In short, the sanctifying work of God goes on from the time of my salvation to the time of my death, and it should be an easy and clear trail to see.

So when I am confronted by the accuser with accusations against my salvation, I can point to the grace of God in salvation and in sanctification that He is changing me to make me more like Him and less like the filth of the flesh. And when that someone throws my sin in my face, because they saw me sin, I need to be humble and accept the ridicule and scorn of unsaved people and not try to excuse myself for what I did. And maybe, just maybe, in this repentant and humble state of being after having been caught red handed denying Christ by word or deed, I may gain an opportunity to magnify the grace of my Lord who would save a wretch like me.

1 “Judaizers” refers to those early Jewish believers who were adamant that all new converts to Christianity must (basically) be Jewish first, and then Christians second. This seemed to be focused on the dietary laws and customs (see see 1 Corinthians 8:1-13).

2 I personally think that the demons have perfect theology. The verse here says that they believe that “God is one” and seems to indicate the understanding of the Triunity of the Godhead or Trinity and so demons have very orthodox theology, but they live like the devil (because they are devils). In the same way, a person can know sound theology and believe that it is true, but that same person’s heart will be revealed by what they hold dear, and if you hold Christ dear, you will honor him by good works.

Friday, June 09, 2006

don’t check your brain at the remote...

As a general rule, we don't watch a ton of TV in my home; however I do watch some TV. A few months ago I flipped the on the tube, and because I didn't know what was on, we left it where it was...and that is how we watched Law & Order. Now, I have seen a few of these shows and the story is usually this: someone is hurt or killed, the police investigate, figure out the culprit (usually, the least expected person), there is a twist involving the evidence or something, and finally the investigation is over and the culprit is in the hands of the police.

The particular episode that I watched followed the same model, but it was the most blatant political and social statement that I have seen (granted, I don't watch much TV so I may be naive). In this episode a boy was stabbed (causing him to be paralyzed). It is found out that an 8 or 9 year old girl did this to him because he was picking on her because she has two mommies (mother and lesbian partner) and she confessed what she did. Once this was figured out, there wasn't even a veiled attempt to hide the pro-gay and anti-Christian morals objective.

The Story:

Basically, in the culmination of the program, the little girl who stabbed and paralyzed a boy was maybe assigned to counseling (I say maybe, because they didn't really stress what happened to her). But the focus of the program shifted to gay parental rights and anti-gay bigotry by the school (a private CATHOLIC School), and finally nailing a crooked and activist lawyer who is anti-homosexual.

If I could sum up the motive of the whole show, I could do it in a conversation that I will represent as accurately as possible (since I don't have the transcript, I cannot quote it). The characters are the D.A. (speaking the progressive and "sensible" side) and the little girl's grandmother (being the homophobic old religious establishment):

the Setting: Courtroom with Grandma on the stand - the court is hearing arguments for custody of the little girl.

D.A.: Do you believe that a child should be raised by homosexual parents?
Grandma: No.

D.A.: Who, do you think, should raise children?
Grandma: A child should be raised by her mother and father.

D.A.: Why do you think that?
Grandma: Because children raised by homosexual parents are 30 times more likely to be promiscuous, experiment sexually, etc....

D.A.: Where did you get those statistics?
Grandma: From my lawyer.

D.A.: When?
Grandma: Just before the whole issue of custody came up.

This was leading up to and exposing a nefarious plot by the defense attorney to make up bogus cases and then win them to thwart the homosexual agenda.

In a later scene, the D.A. shows that the figures that grandma was using were junk and written by a guy who was expelled from an academic post for misrepresenting statistics. The grandparents are shocked that they had wrong statistical information, and now they have absolutely no problem with their granddaughter being raised by lesbians. Actually, at this point, one of the partners had died, so it was just the one woman (not the biological mother).

My Thoughts:

Now, I know that I cannot expect better from TV (or movies, radio, and theater for that matter) when it comes to dealing with anything in this sinful world, much less the homosexual agenda. However, I do get more enraged when the attack is on Christians, and of course it isn't a fair portrayal of Christians or Christian theology in the story, the Christians are portrayed as being morons, angry bigots, or witless fools.

The only Bible rationale given was a vague reference when the little girl said, "Corinthians says that gay people go to hell." The first thing that we need to ask is does either 1 Corinthians or 2 Corinthians say this? The answer is yes (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).1 We must affirm what the Bible says, not to be unloving and intolerant (although we may come across that way), but to show people of all persuasions the true and saving message that was given to all mankind by Christ.

What is my point?

My point is this: Fallen society will always vilify and put down what the Bible says because we are told that they see the Bible and what the Bible teaches as foolishness.

a glutton for punishment:

Not too long after having seen the episode above, my wife and I were again eating a late (way too late) dinner after the kids were in bed and we watched CBS’s “Without A Trace.” We had seen this show before, and so we watched it. Without going into the whole plot line, the synopsis is that a teenage boy was in trouble because he found out that a friend had been raped and he was trying to purchase the “morning after pill” from a drug dealer in the school.

I don’t want to focus on the horribleness of rape and its terrible consequences and trauma that the victim has to endure. I do want to look at the not-so-subtle short dialogue that was the key to the whole story. Once again, I will try to accurately represent the dialogue, but since I don’t have a transcript, I cannot quote it.

There are two characters, a teenage boy and a teenage girl and the girl has just accidentally let on that she had been raped recently, and the boy is the first one to find out.

Boy: Who did this to you?
Girl: I don’t want to tell you.

Boy: Why not? He should get in trouble!
Girl: No, I don’t want to tell anyone.

Boy: Why not?
Girl: I might be pregnant!

Boy: I could get you one of those “morning after pills”
Girl: Don’t you need a parent to sign a slip or something.

Boy: No, I know this guy [the drug dealer] at school who sells them, and I can get you one.

Now, we find out later that the only way that the young man would do this is if the girl told him who raped her. Once he finds out, he confronts the rapist, gets kidnapped, beat up, but eventually rescued. But the point is that the whole story hinged on the availability of this drug. If you could get it from any drug store, the girl never would have told the boy, who then would never have confronted the rapist and therefore would have never been kidnapped.

My Thoughts:

That “morning after pill” is the RU-486 or “emergency contraception” birth control pill that is basically a self administered home abortion. Just take the pill within 72 hours, and any baby will be aborted. The morning after pill is a “high dosage of the birth control pill. It is recommended to be used after sexual intercourse, over a period of 72 hours, to achieve the goal of preventing (or ending) pregnancy.”2

So, the solution in the mind of the unguarded viewer’s mind is “If that girl could have bought that pill herself, then this situation would have totally been avoided.” That was the aim of the program, there is no other explanation that would make sense out of the crisis that was the catalyst for all of the drama that created the conflict in the story.

What is my point?

Everywhere in our culture, the values that we hold are being attacked in aggressive ways3 or the passive ways that were displayed in this show. We must not ever stop our brains from filtering through everything we hear through the Word of God. Whether we are in a movie theater, in our living rooms watching TV, at church on Sunday, or in a group Bible study we need to be very diligent about testing everything that we hear and think in light of God’s Word.

1 This passage is famous for it’s specific indication that people who conduct their lives in adulterous, homosexual, thieving, or covetous ways will not inherit eternal life (i.e. go to heaven). However, the beauty of the gospel is seen in the next verse (1 Corinthians 6:11) where Paul says that “such were some of you” and then he describes how Christ and the power of the gospel transformed their lives. It is a beautiful thing to be saved by grace and washed in the cleansing blood of Christ.

2 (emphasis added)

3 The homosexual characters and humor of “Will & Grace” or the promiscuous and casual nature of heterosexual sex as seen in “Friends” would be examples of the blatant or aggressive way that traditional (Christian) values are attacked.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


A few days ago, a co-worker told me about a web site that was hostile to Christ and to Christianity. This site had no other motivation that pure, unadulterated atheistic hatred of God and of anything remotely related to Him, but especially to Christ. I took particular interest in it because the actual location of the web site and the title were basically saying "get rid of Christ" or "we're anti-Christians" or something like that. I don't want to actually list the web address because I don't want to promote this hateful site (but if you read carefully, you'll probably be able to guess what it is).

Now, other than the offensiveness that this site was to me and the scalding accusations toward Christ, I noticed something else while looking deeper into this. You see, this site is part of a web ring of atheist sites that are dedicated to attacking Christianity as their main objective. Actually, when you think about it we should be neither surprised nor threatened by this fact. However, from a purely humanistic standpoint, this singling out of Christianity over and above any other faith is curious.

The Accusations:

I. Jesus is not God nor a son of God, so the web site "is specific in opposing the assertion that Jesus is a son of God;"

This is such a blatant and satanic attack upon the foundation of Christianity. It is designed to be such because the opponents of the Lord know, as we do, that if you remove or corrupt or change how people understand Christ, you will not (because you cannot) adhere to the scriptures. I am reminded of a movie called "Time Changer"1 that deals with a premise not unlike the one that fuels atheists all over. In this movie (that I do recommend to anyone) the main character is a professor in 1890 or 1900 who has written a book about teaching morals without using the name of Christ (and the teachings of the Bible) as the foundation for why we should have good morals. The story immediately picks up when a colleague vehemently opposes this book on the basis that it is one of the devil's prime goals to encourage good morals as long as they neglect Christ. A while back, I heard the late Pastor Adrian Rodgers made a comment on his radio program, when speaking about eternity, hell, and judgment, that the church pew is as good a place to go to hell from. The point is that the devil doesn't care initially about how you live your life as long as you do it without honoring God.

II. “Jesus is killing us, the focus of the world needs to be ‘the planet an everlasting paradise’ -- not whether Jesus is God or not; wars are fought defending false beliefs about Jesus;”

This second point is inseparably linked to the third one, almost to the point that they are indistinguishable, but I will attempt to explain the difference even though both are moronic. This is an assertion that there are much more important things in the world than Christ, and that by focusing energy on a debate of issues that has at least one side motivated by Christian belief and doctrine, we are neglecting the more important issues. Currently there is an ongoing debate regarding whether marriage should be defined in the law of the United States as a union between one man and one woman. There are many social and political issues and reasons why the same sex marriage debate is on the national political scene, but neither those reasons nor the actual issue itself are the focus of my point. My point is maybe best made in the words of some of the spokespeople for not legally defining marriage as one man and one woman. Senator Edward Kennedy made many comments on this issue, he “denounced the proposed amendment Tuesday as ‘an instrument of bigotry and prejudice,’"2 and he went on to say that we should be focusing on more important issues like high gasoline prices.

Even though I do not believe that Senator Kennedy is getting his pointers from atheists, his logic is the same. Basically, since Christianity is false and any ideas derived from the Bible are equally false (at least as being authoritative), then any time, energy, or money that is devoted to moral issues is a waste. Furthermore, this also takes resources away from the “really” important issues such as high gasoline prices, disease research, and others.

My answer to this objection is quite simple. Some people may call it simple minded, but I think that is very untrue and unfair. Morality tells us how we handle issues that arise, and so a clear definition of morality and ethics (or, as it is with marriage, of the foundation of every society) is necessary to tackle all other issues. But even more importantly to this objection, I would ask this question. Think of all of the hospitals, colleges, and other charitable organizations that you can. The vast majority of all of these institutions were started by Christians with the purpose of spreading the gospel or just simply helping out our neighbors. Christians and institutions founded by Christians have saved the lives of many, many people around the world.

III. “Jesus is killing us: the media often reports instances of murders by people justifying their actions based on their religious beliefs;”

Whoa! The audacity and absurdity of this comment blows me away. To the (minor) credit of the author of this web site, the statement doesn’t read “justifying their actions based on their Christian beliefs,” but they come very close to saying it. How? Remember, the main point of this site is to attack Christianity, not Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, or any other religion. So by throwing this comment in, they are implying that Christians are killing people based on our religious beliefs.

Let’s take one step back. There is a discussion that has been had over and over (and will continue to be had until Christ returns, I’m sure) about the evils done in the Crusades or in the Inquisition and these are used as the bludgeons against Christianity. Let’s put the discussion aside right now, and just look at the motivation. Whatever you say about the religion of those people who executed both the crusades and the inquisition, you can find no legitimate support for murdering people or for vigilante justice.3

Now that we’ve looked at the fact that it is absurd to lob this charge at Christians, look at the biggest terror around today. It is not Christianity or Judaism, it is Islam. The murder done in the name of any religion today is done in the name and for the “glory” of Allah through the words of Mohammad, not Christ through the words of Paul, Peter, John, or Jude. But this won’t really bother the atheist that much since they probably lump all religious people into one, big ‘ol, dopey category and so we need to look at how their own ideology plays out in the social realm. In the 20th century (and one can argue for all of human history) the single greatest cause of murder, death, and hardship was the strictly godless and atheist communist countries of China, North Korea, and the U.S.S.R. Stalin alone was responsible for the deaths of millions of people that were executed or sent to the Soviet work camp (Gulag) that turned into a death sentence for the majority of people who went there.

It is offensive and absurd to lay this accusation at the feet of Christianity, even though there have been a handful of vile and despicable incidents of people shooting abortion doctors and the like, and not laying the blame on Islamic terrorism or humanistic totalitarian regimes.


I was upset and frustrated enough to look for a feedback form to let the author(s) know how courageous and worthwhile this site is. Below is the text of that e-mail:

"This site and argument would have a lot more weight for free thinkers everywhere if you tackled the evil done by other religions. If the slogan and focus of this website is "the planet an everlasting paradise" then why is there not a sister site called or because it seems that Islam poses greater threats to an everlasting paradise (unless that paradise is a world under sharia law) in our modern world than Christianity does.

If that happens (the creation of these sister sites), then your site and arguments may have some social and contemporary weight. But until that time, unless you can show me why Christianity and not Islam is a greater threat to world harmony and paradise, this site is a statement of the author's and supporters' personal cowardice and willingness to voice your opinion as long as you aren't sticking your neck out.

I eagerly await your reply to show me where I am wrong."

I have yet to receive a response. Honestly I don’t expect one. What could be said? Nothing. The web site and the whole anti-Christian animosity and hatred is not based on truth, it is based on selfish pride and arrogance. However, if I ever do receive a response, I will comment on it…be sure of that.



3 Some people will say that God did just this in the Old Testament with the conquest in Canaan. This is a lengthy tangent, but it can be best discussed when we start from the understanding that the inhabitants were totally wicked. The next question is why the babies and children were killed? My answer is to plead to the mercy and justice of God. I don’t know the total answer, but I can say that God wanted to keep the influence of the pagan gods out of Israel, and we know that any children who die before they have the ability to understand and believe in God, they are saved by God and brought straight to heaven.

Friday, June 02, 2006

a new angle on a common objection

You’ve heard some of the objections that people have to Christianity, haven’t you? The most commonly heard goes like this, “If God is all loving, all powerful, and all knowing, then why does evil exist. Either God is all loving and all knowing but not all powerful therefore, He is impotent, or He is all powerful and all knowing, and not all loving making him a cruel and evil God.” This is the most common, and it is very convincing to the unaware, but let me assure you that there is a logical and correct way to answer this challenge. I will go into this one at a later time, but for a quick answer it is that the premise is false. Saying that God is all loving, all powerful, and all knowing is a good description of God as far as it goes, but it is not a complete description. It also assumes that evil is by the active design and will of God and not a corruption by His created sentient life (angels and humans).

The objection that I want to deal with here is with one of the objections raised when confronted with the exclusiveness of Christ (John 14:6). The specific issue is that “most people will go to hell” if this is true. I do concur that this is true, but I want to make a few qualifications that may put this in a more clear light.

Let me start by affirming that all people who have ever lived have transgressed the law of God, and therefore are subject to the Justice of God.1 All people (and their transgression) will need to be judged by God because of His justice after they die (Hebrews 9:27). Because of this requirement that is derived from the very character of God Himself, we see the merciful side of God by His creating a way for us to not be found guilty as we should be. This was the substitutionary and sacrificial death of Christ for those who are trust in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1st Peter 3:18). And that the just punishment for all sin for all people is the eternal condemnation in Hell. We can see a depiction of this in the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19ff). And finally, I would agree with Matthew 7:13 that the way to eternal life is narrow and only a few find it.

Now you’re probably wondering how this is different from the normal (and correct) way of understanding the situation. I want to expand the understanding by way of asking and answering some basic questions.

Question: When does the Bible seem to indicate that human life begins?
Answer: Immediately at conception. (Psalms 139:13; Isaiah 49:5)

Question: What happens when a baby dies?
Answer: God shows His mercy by bringing them to heaven. (2 Samuel 12:23)

Both of these questions reveal a very dear and deep understanding of God and of life. The knowledge that children who die (in infancy as seen in 2 Samuel) then go to heaven was a comfort for David and Bathsheba and it has continued to be a comfort to many other parents throughout the ages.

Now for the new angle:

Have you ever thought about the infant mortality rate? In the United States currently, it is at around 2 deaths per 1,000 live births. Before modern medical technology, it was not unheard of for infant mortality rates of 100, 200, or more for every 1,000 live births.2 The numbers fluctuated with war, famine, disease, weather, and other variables that modern technology has (in America, at least) dulled the effects of. But even today, in some parts of the world (Africa, the Middle East, and Asia) these mortality rates are still near 100 or easily surpassing 100. This only counts children in infancy, not toddlers or very young children (ages 5, 6, or 7).

Now, let’s imagine back through all of recorded history and think of all of the millions and millions of children who would have been part of this “statistic” and how crowded heaven must be with these precious little ones. This may make the picture seem less bleak for the skeptic, but that’s not the end of the story. Do you know that approximately 15% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage?3 That means if the average infant mortality rate throughout history was about 100 per 1,000, that the actual mortality rate would be closer to 220 per 1,000 pregnancies.4 Again, this picture, when thought about throughout human history shows how many people are saved by God in His mercy.

the despicable

You don’t have to read the pages of the Bible or of general pagan histories of the world for too long before you see the sickening practice of offering children as sacrifices to pagan gods like Molech (Leviticus 20:2; 2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35). There are stories of human sacrifices to the gods of the Vikings, Aztecs, and many other nations and religions. The most contemporary religion that engages in child sacrifice goes by many names, but it can be described with words like “social status”5, “vanity”, “birth control”, or “capitalism.” It has been estimated that approximately 46 million abortions are performed every single year (in modern times). The number of legal abortions in the United States is about 40 million between 1973 and 2000. If the 40 million figure is accurate (or nearly accurate) and it has grown and fluctuated over the past 34 years, we can assume that a possible 1.15 billion babies have been aborted since 1973, this means that about 93,000 babies are aborted worldwide on a daily basis.

Even if these figures are inflated (and I truly hope that they are), and the truth is ½ this total amount, that is still 46,000 each day for the past 23 years! Putting aside how horrible and evil each of these individual murders is, and holding back the tears for these tiny lives… think about the fact of God’s gracious mercy and how all of these children went from a horrible and painful (in many cases) death, directly into the loving and comforting arms of Christ!


This is not a rationale for why we (Christians) should be happy or silent or complacent when it comes to the abortion issue or life issues in general. We need to be vehemently opposed to the death of the innocent and the vulnerable.

This is a rational view of the situation in light of the objection that God sends most people to hell.

It is possible in light of these facts that a much higher percentage of humanity will be graciously saved by God than what people normally think of when this objection is posed. This might not be a correct application of scripture (but I think that it is), but wouldn’t this be an example of God causing all things (war, famine, greed, hunger, idolatry, etc) to work together for the good of these children (Romans 8:28).

God, the one who has revealed Himself in the Bible, is more merciful, kind, and gracious as well as just and righteous than any false god that man has been able to comprehend. May he ever be magnified and glorified.

1 Obviously, the one and only exception to this is Christ, Himself. All the rest of humanity would be in this predicament.

2 Infant Mortality and Life Expectancy

3 University of Iowa Health Care

4 I change from birth to pregnancy here because that is the issue. A child is not valuable when he or she is born, but the child is valuable when he or she is alive.

5 The killing of female children in many different ways both before birth and after birth occurs in China because if you can have only 1 child, boys were more desirable.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson