Thursday, September 26, 2013

So How Did They Determine the Books of the Bible?

You may have heard an objection like, "You can't really sure of what books in the Bible should be there and what books should not?"  Or, "Why is the Apocrypha not in the main books of the Bible?  Who made that distinction?"  Whether it is either of these or some other facsimile of an objection like it, one will either hear it in a spirited conversation with someone challenging the authority and authenticity of the Bible, or one will hear it in a liberal professor's classroom. Not matter where the objection comes from, there is an answer.

To start things off, we need to understand that there were many ancient writings considered in the process of putting the books of the Bible together into one book. There had to be a determining authority selecting the books making the cut and the others getting "the boot."  Should some of the excluded writings have been included?  Why or why not?

Friday, September 13, 2013

Testing Truth Claims: Thinking versus Feelings

We live in days where many people operate on feelings and do not do much thinking. However humans feel as well as think, and should think as well as feel.  This is because God has designed us in such a way that we have emotions. These emotions manifest themselves in our joys, our anger, our remorse and other feelings that we might experience.

Emotions can be good or they can be bad.  They can be good when it comes to anger at sin or bad when the anger is manifested in things like bitterness. As with good things, emotions must be kiept in their proper context. But in our culture, we see feelings overstepping their God intended bounds because we put those feelings ahead of reason.

There are many ways that people determine truth, but emotions should not be one of them. Emotions also do not determine right from wrong.  Just because one feels good does not suggest that something is true. The same is true about feeling bad determining something to be false. In fact, emotions contain no content, no information by which to evaluate truth from falsehood. Our reasoning capacity performs that function. Emotions are a part of the soul that appreciates and responds to life. Expecting them to identify truth is like asking your eyes to taste and your ears to smell. Each sense has their respective functions; and emotions and reasoning capacities are no different.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Can Faith Be Divorced from Reason or VIce Versa?

Conversations about faith can become volatile pretty quickly, especially when the other person in the conversation is anti-faith or has a misunderstanding about faith. Take for example, those who have read Richard Dawkins and read things from him like,

Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where's the harm? September 11th changed all that. Revealed faith is not harmless nonsense, it can be lethally dangerous nonsense. Dangerous because it gives people unshakeable confidence in their own righteousness. Dangerous because it gives them false courage to kill themselves, which automatically removes normal barriers to killing others. Dangerous because it teaches enmity to others labelled only by a difference of inherited tradition. And dangerous because we have all bought into a weird respect, which uniquely protects religion from normal criticism. Let's now stop being so damned respectful![1]

And then in recent days, another atheist named Peter Boghossian, recently stated that faith is  "pretending to know what you don't know."[2] While Boghossian's definition of faith is wrong, his statement demonstrates more of a lack of reason than those he is accusing of abandoning  reason; namely Christians who believe in having a faith in the risen Jesus Christ.

The critics of the Christian faith, accusing that it is an unreasonable faith, have never been more venomous. Whether they accuse us of "taking a leap in the dark" or pontificating that "faith has been rendered meaningless in an age of scientific and intellectual enlightenment" we must understand that faith and reason cannot be detached or divorced from one another. Why is that? Here are five things to think about when think on this faith and reason debate.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Ideas Do Have Consequences

Some folks think that morals are set forth by the culture. Just ask Nazi Germany or modern day Liberia where gangs are fighting amongst themselves and even cannibalism is still in vogue.  Others think that morals can be determined using our reasoning skills. I would hope that one's moral decisions would show some kind of reason, but that is not the starting point.

I open this posting to say that whether it is Nazi Germany, chaotic Liberia, or even a declining moral culture like the United States, ideas come with their consequences. Whether these ideas come from a conscience devoid of a objective moral framework or they come from a conscience that has been redeemed and is rooted and grounded on a moral law set forth by a Moral Lawgiver, ideas do have consequences.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Part 5: The Uniqueness of Jesus in Contrast to Muhammad

With the rise of Islam in many parts of the world, and with many Muslims coming to the United States, it is important to note that there are some major differences between Muhammad, the founder of the world religion known as Islam, and Jesus of Nazareth.  In the posting, I want to be fair to my Muslim readers, but at the same time, I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, which is something that my Muslim readers do not and yes, even refuse to see.

In this posting, I will share my understanding of who the Prophet Muhammad, what he did to forward the Muslim faith and then share how Jesus of Nazareth is superior to Muhammad. If you are thinking that I am going to ridicule Muhammad or make the Islamic religion look stupid, you are going to be very disappointed. It has been said by one, that if you and I can make a religion look absolutely ridiculous, chances are we have not understood it. So in this posting, I will be showing the utmost respect for Muslims as people despite the fact that I do not accept the teachings of the religion.  That being said, let's dive in shall we?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Part 4: The Uniqueness of Jesus in Contrast to the "God-men" of Hinduism

We move now to the gurus of the Hindu religion. The Hindu religion had its earliest stages about 2000 B.C.  The tribes living in the Indus Valley of northern India had a polytheistic religion that was primarily rooted in the occult. 

These tribes were later conquered by armies from central Asia who combined their Vedic religion, which emphasized nature more than gods, with that of the Indus Valley tribes.  This made a complete chain of over 300 million gods and goddesses.  The final period became more philosophical as writings called the Unipanishads began to focus on one single principle to bring all of reality together.  This pantheistic principle is called Brahman.  This period in the religion's history also introduced the idea of reincarnation. 

The religion of Hinduism as it is actually practiced consists largely of superstition, legendary stories about the gods, occult practices, and demon worship. With the plethora of gods, practices and demonic entities there comes a great number of sects and differences of opinion, so that no one generalization applies to all Hindus.  Despite these differences there still are doctrines that are foundational to Hinduism.  More on this in just a moment.