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Archive for September, 2010

First noted over at Triablogue

You got to read the original article for yourself here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/sep/17/pope-astronomer-baptise-aliens

It’s about a Jesuit name Guy Consolmagno who is also an Astronomer

I think there’s a lot of ironies reading this.  I’m sure readers can point out even more.

Irony 1: “Aliens might have souls and could choose to be baptised if humans ever met them, a Vatican scientist said today. The official also dismissed intelligent design as “bad theology” that had been “hijacked” by American creationist fundamentalists.”

Thoughts: Intelligent alien life versus intelligent design.  It’s amazing the guy can speculate that aliens have souls, a claim that is non-empirical in nature and beyond his scope of astronomy.  Then he talks about baptizing them! What an interesting theology, I don’t know if he can find the support of Tradition or Scripture to support that kind of theology…and he then goes ahead to call intelligent design “bad theology”.  What’s ironic, Catholics subscribe to the teaching that God created the world, which “American creationist fundamentalists” also believes, and their attempt at intelligent design (arguing for an intelligent Designer) is seen as bad theology.

Irony 2: “Any entity – no matter how many tentacles it has – has a soul.”

Thoughts: How he come to this? Tentacles…of Aliens or of Octopus?

Irony 3: “The Pontifical Academy of Sciences, of which Stephen Hawking is a member, keeps the senior cardinals and the pope up-to-date with the latest scientific developments.

Thoughts: Oh my! In light of Hawking latest statements, this is quite amazing to know that Hawking is a member of the Pope’s academy of Science.

Irony 4: “Responding to Hawking’s recent comments that the laws of physics removed the need for God, Consolmagno said: “Steven Hawking is a brilliant physicist and when it comes to theology I can say he’s a brilliant physicist.’

Thoughts: What?

Irony 5: “He dismissed the ideas of intelligent design – a pseudoscientific version of creationism. “The word has been hijacked by a narrow group of creationist fundamentalists in America to mean something it didn’t originally mean at all.

Thoughts: Thoughts on Intelligent design, after his thoughts on intelligent life in space. Ironic.  And what does the word originally mean anyways before it was hijacked?  What does it mean now, as oppose to what it once mean? Wish the article could have elaborated.

Irony 6: “It’s another form of the God of the gaps. It’s bad theology in that it turns God once again into the pagan god of thunder and lightning.”

Thoughts: Wait, how does ID turn God into the pagan conception of a god of thunder and lighting, as opposed to a Catholic conception of God? I would like to see the argument fleshed out on this one.

Irony 7: “Speaking to pupils, he encouraged them to look at the bigger picture, over and above the subjects they studied. “The world needs good scientists, but a scientific outlook becomes dangerously narrow if it ignores the religious or ethical dimension of life, just as religion becomes narrow if it rejects the legitimate contribution of science to our understanding of the world,” he said. “We need good historians and philosophers and economists, but if the account they give of human life within their particular field is too narrowly focused, they can lead us seriously astray.””

Thoughts: He argues for religion to influence science…judging from his exclusion of American Protestant Creationists, I suppose one can say he’s talking about Catholic Creationist (they do believe God is Creator too).

Irony 8: “The pope’s astronomer said the Vatican was keen on science and admitted that the church had got it “spectacularly wrong” over its treatment of the 17th century astronomer Galileo Galilei.‘”

Thoughts: What is the implication of stating something like Consolmagno did, back in the 17th Century?

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John Sanders, a proponent of open theism, believes that believers will not fall away in heaven:

“All free will theists face the question as to whether our free will implies that we might fall away in heaven.  A brief response is that we will freely ask God to confirm our characters in such a way that we never choose to sin.”[1]

Note from the above, the nature of his claim:

1.)    He is making a claim about the future (“will”).

2.)    He is making a claim about many people (believers), and what they will do with their libertarian “free will”.

Yet, in light of Sander’s Open Theism, it is epistemologically impossible for him to know the above claims.

For one reason, Sanders himself is a finite human being, who cannot know the future (and same with other human beings).

Secondly, the only other person that can know this might be God, and from His knowledge He then revealed it to Sanders.  But Sander’s Open Theism denies the doctrine of divine foreknowledge, thereby undermining this possibility.  Sanders denies God’s foreknowledge on the metaphysical basis that the future does not exists:

“If the future already ontologically exists (is real), then God must know it’ but if it is not real, then God is not ignorant of some reality, for there is nothing ‘there’ to be known.”[2]

If what is future can not be known, and the decision of people and God interacting with one another in heaven is still in the future, then it follows then that the decisions of people and God cannot be known.[3]

Thirdly, while an appeal can be made that God “knows” because of His decision of what He will do in the future for the occasion believers enter heaven, this attempt fails because it has to account for Open Theism’s doctrine of human libertarian free will.  According to Sanders, he explains God’s relationship to man’s libertarian free will:

“Furthermore, free will theists, in contrast to proponents of meticulous providence, can say that one reason for God’s not intervening in a particular situation is his unwillingness to interfere with the libertarian freedom of the people involved.”[4]

Note that the God of Open Theism is unwillingness to interfere with people’s freedom.  Libertarian freewill supposes that the will is “free” when it has the ability to make contrary choices.  If God “confirm our characters in such a way that we never choose to sin”[1], then Liberterian free will ceases in Heaven.  Yet, Open Theism has stressed that libertarian free will is necessary for a relationship with God.[2] Apparently, relationship with God and man is possible apart from libertarian freedom, or man has no relationship with God in heaven.  Either way, there is incoherence with Open Theism in terms of it’s doctrinal relationship of believer’s eternal security in heaven, libertarian free will, the precondition for relationship with God, and God’s lack of divine foreknowledge.


[1]Ibid, 206-207 n.10.

[2] Ibid, 233-235.


[1]John Sanders, “Divine Providence and the Openness of God,” in Perspectives on the Doctrine of God, edited by Bruce Ware (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 2008), 206-207 n.10.

[2] Ibid, 228.

[3] This argument is a valid argument.  The structure is Modus Tollens.

[4] Ibid, p. 212.

[5]Ibid, 206-207 n.10.

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This was over at Vincent Cheung’s website.  I thought it was worth sharing.  The law is useful for evangelism, to convict sinners their sin and some may wonder what do you do with a legalists who claims to be righteous by the law.

I don’t think I can look at a legalistic self-righteous person the same again after this…

(email)

My in-laws have decided to adopt Judaist lifestyle and to follow the Levitical laws. They continuously argue with us, saying that we should do the same. I have directed them to Galatians and Acts, but to no avail. I hope that you can lead me in the right direction.

Since I lack many details — whether they claim to be Christians, whether they consider it necessary for salvation to follow the Law, etc. — I can offer only a broad answer. But I will show you a strategy that is biblical, powerful, but that not many will have the Christian courage to recommend.

Yet the New Testament teaches that the Law is supposed to bring men to Christ. What this indicates to me is that they are not taking the Law seriously, just as the Jews, contrary to their own claim, did not take the Law seriously. Your approach, then, should be to force them to take the Law seriously, and to force them to feel the full power and burden of the Law. To do this, you should have a good knowledge of three things: 1. The Old Testament Law that they claim to follow (or what is truly required by the Law), 2. Their interpretation of what is required by the Law (you should either correct their lax interpretation, or make them live up to their own traditions also), and 3. All the New Testament arguments against dependence on the Law. As your knowledge of these three things continue to grow, you will be able to implement the following with increasing power and effectiveness.

Now, we are ready to discuss the method:

They have already heard about Christ, and they have already rejected him. And they reject him because of their wrong thinking, not only about Christ (they do not acknowledge him as a sufficient, exclusive, and once-for-all sacrifice), but about the Law (they think they can keep it). Therefore, in the near future, remove emphasis on defending the freedom that Christians have in Christ. Again, this is not to retreat from declaring the gospel, since they have already heard it and rejected it. Rather, before attempting to assert the gospel again, perhaps we can remove some of the obstacles.

Then, and this is the main thrust of the strategy, from this moment forward, demand them to perform perfectly all that the Law requires. For now, do not talk to them about what you believe, and do not let them talk to you about what they want you to believe or practice. Talk to them about what they believe and whether they live up to the Law that they claim to live by. Be fair, be accurate, but be completely merciless and relentless in your application of the Law to their lives. Beat them down with the Law that they insist on keeping. Criticize them over the smallest infractions. Deal with them exclusively on the basis that they want to be dealt with.

Examine what they eat. Examine what they say. Examine what they do, and at what time they do it. Examine how they wash their hands. Examine what they wear. Criticize even what they seem to think — they Law says “Do not covet.” Criticize everything about them, on the basis of the Law. Cite the Law against them at every turn. If they have children, criticize their children openly when they violate any detail of the Law. Call them up on the Sabbath. Ask them what they are doing and whether they are allowed to do it by the Law. Are they even supposed to answer your phone call? Why?

Become the Law personified. Become their worst nightmare. If they run, pursue them. Run them off the cliff with the Law. Obviously, they do not understand or believe the Law enough to experience despair. So produce the despair in them. The truth is that they silence the Law when they want to ignore it. So become the voice of the Law and torment them day and night. On the basis of the Law, can they live where they live? Can they associate with whom they associate? Can they remain in their current vocations?

If they fail in any one point, no matter how insignificant it seems, then they are lawbreakers. This is why I say you should become familiar with the New Testament arguments. If they break one law, they have transgressed against the Lawmaker. How will their sins be atoned? Do they perform animal sacrifices? If they do not, how are they following the Law? Where is their temple? Where is their priest? And can their animal sacrifices, if they even have them, atone for their sins? Then how come they need to do it again and again? (This is another one of the New Testament arguments. Learn them.) What if they sin and die without a final animal sacrifice? If they have made modifications to the Law by their traditions, demand a justification for these, or accuse them of subverting the very same Law that they claim they follow.

Can you see what you should do? You have to know the Law, know what they believe and how they live, know the New Testament arguments, and then, metaphorically speaking, drive them straight to hell with these. Show zero mercy, and make them feel the strictness of the Law. Make their lives miserable. Do not let them pester you about living by the Law. You have already defended your faith in Christ. Now go on the offensive, and stay exclusively on the offensive. Introduce a previously inconceivable level of fear, pain, and annoyance into their lives. Peter said that the Jews ought not to impose on the Gentiles a burden that they themselves could not bear. Make sure they feel this burden in all its fullness. They do not feel it, because their respect for the Law is a lie. They are just pretending because it makes them feel good, or because it makes their religion feel concrete (they need this because they are unspiritual). So you make it real for them.

This is the way. This is how you win this. Whether you care enough about God’s honor and their salvation to do this and stick with it is up to you. If you are willing, I say that you should keep at it for at least a whole year. After that, if they count themselves unworthy of eternal life, then brush the dust off your feet and turn to others. Do not cast your pearls before swine.

Wow. What a strategy, but effective in revealing the hypocrisy of those who think they can be self-righteous by the Law.

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Over at Covenant Media Foundation today, they announced that Greg Bahnsen’s lectures on philosophy is now on a flash drive!

Philosophy in a Flash

Covenant Media Foundation has put together this new product that offers several convenient features at an outstanding price. We have collected 64 lectures [Mp3] by Dr. Greg L. Bahnsen on the History of Western Philosophy, all contained on one Flash Drive. This is a great way to gain the background in philosophy which you have wanted but never had time to get. These lectures are also helpful for deepening your understanding of apologetical issues.
On this 1GB Flash Drive, you will receive:
· 21 lectures: Ancient & Medieval
· 24 lectures: Renaissance & Enlightenment
· 19 lectures: Modern (19th-20th Centuries)
· Outlines and glossary [PDF]
All for only $69.95 postage paid!
[A $128 value if purchased separately]

Website: www.cmfnow.com

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How does one reconcile the teaching of James 1:13-14 that God is not the source of temptation with the request in Matthew 6:13, “And do not lead us into temptation”?

As always, in dealing with alleged Bible descrepencies, context is king.

James 1:13-14 teaches that “Let no one who is tempted say, “I am tempted from God”, which means that God cannot tempt individuals.  Here “tempt” is understood as testing someone with the intention to see them fail morally and spiritually.  The basis for why God cannot tempt sinners is because of God’s character, being one who is not evil.  However, that does not mean the phenomenon of temptation does not exists, because verse 14 identifies the true source of temptation comes from within one’s own sinful desires.  While God is never the source of temptation, temptation from the source of our wicked desires does exists.  Looking at Matthew 6:13, one must first note that it does not contradict James 1:13 (in order to contradict it, it has to state the opposite of James 1:13, i.e., “God tempts me”).  Rather, one sees Matthew 6:13 as a prayer to God for help to ensure that one is not led into a test that we would fail.  The rest of Matthew 6:13 helps us further in reconciling the two portion of Scripture, because what this didactic prayer of Jesus means is understood in the following words of Jesus asking God “to rescue us from the evil one.”  While the evil one tempts us (he desire to see us fail), God wants us to face the test and come out faithful and obedient to him.  The prayer in Matthew 6:13 is not praying that God Himself won’t tempt us, as if it’s a possibility, but it is a prayer concerning protection from another agent of temptation, “the evil one”.

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Originally from a commercial for Geico, it is simultaneously funny and also makes an interesting observation of the absurdity that is coming out from some pockets of modern humanistic psychology

As a former Marine Sgt., there is an another affinity I have with this video

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As originally posted on this blog back in July, John Frame’s draft for his fourth installment of the Lordship series that is on the Word of God is available on Reformed Perspective Magazine’s website.

However, as of last week, there is an announcement on their website that it will soon be taken down, because the book is due to come out in November!

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE TABLE OF CONTENT OF THE DRAFT, AND TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT FOR A LIMITED TIME!

This is from the Reformed Perspective Website:

From the Editor:

Dr. John M. Frame’s The Doctrine of the Word of God is scheduled to be released in book form this November.

The last time Dr. Frame released a book, the publisher asked us to take our version offline so that it wouldn’t compete with book sales. RPM Readers that are interested in Dr. Frame’s work on the doctrine of Scripture may want to take advantage of the present availability of RPM’s

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