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Archive for December, 2012

shooting

Picture above is taken at Newtown, CT

The Narrative for these past few years in the United States of America seems to be marked by mass murders at school, theaters, etc.  Here is a timeline I got from Los Angeles Times and can be found at Deadliest U.S. Mass Shootings.

  • 1991-2012: “A look back at some of the most not­able mass shoot­ings in re­cent U.S. his­tory: from Killeen, Texas, in 1991 to re­cent ram­pages at a movie theat­er in Au­rora, Colo. and Sikh temple in Wis­con­sin.”
  • Oct. 16, 1991 (Texas): “George Jo Hennard, 35, crashes his pickup truck in­to a Luby’s cafet­er­ia crowded with lunch­time pat­rons and be­gins fir­ing in­dis­crim­in­ately with a semi­auto­mat­ic pis­tol, killing 22 people. Hennard is later found dead of a gun­shot wound in a res­taur­ant re­stroom.”
  • Nov. 1, 1991 (Iowa City, Iowa): “Gang Lu, a gradu­ate stu­dent in phys­ics from China, shoots four people to death at the Uni­versity of Iowa. Lu, who took his own life in the in­cid­ent, was up­set about not get­ting an aca­dem­ic hon­or. The dead in­cluded fac­ulty mem­bers and the stu­dent who had won the hon­or. Two oth­ers were crit­ic­ally wounded.”
  • July 1, 1993 (San Francisco): “Gi­an Luigi Ferri, 55, kills eight people in an of­fice build­ing in San Fran­cisco’s fin­an­cial dis­trict. His ram­page be­gins in the 34th-floor of­fices of Pet­tit & Mar­tin, an in­ter­na­tion­al law firm, and ends in a stair­well between the 29th and 30th floors where he en­coun­ters po­lice and shoots him­self.”
  • Dec. 7, 1993 (Garden City, N.Y.): “Colin Fer­guson shoots and kills six pas­sen­gers and wounds 19 oth­ers on a Long Is­land Rail Road com­muter train be­fore be­ing stopped by oth­er riders. Fer­guson is later sen­tenced to life in pris­on.”
  • March 24, 1998 (Jonesboro, Ark.): “Middle school stu­dents Mitchell John­son and An­drew Golden pull a fire alarm at their school in a small rur­al Arkan­sas com­munity and then open fire on stu­dents and teach­ers us­ing an ar­sen­al they had stashed in the nearby woods. Four stu­dents and a teach­er who tried shield the chil­dren are killed and 10 oth­ers are in­jured. Be­cause of their ages, Mitchell. 13, and An­drew, 11, are sen­tenced to con­fine­ment in a ju­ven­ile fa­cil­ity un­til they turn 21.”
  • April 20, 1999 (Columbine, Colo.): “Eric Har­ris and Dylan Kle­bold, stu­dents at Columbine High, open fire at the school, killing a dozen stu­dents and a teach­er and caus­ing in­jury to two dozen oth­ers be­fore tak­ing their own lives.”
  • July 29, 1999 (Atlanta): “Mark Or­rin Bar­ton, a 44-year-old chem­ist-turned-day trader, strolls in­to two in­vest­ment of­fices and opens fire on fel­low in­vestors and of­fice work­ers. The shoot­ings at All-Tech In­vest­ment and Mo­mentum Se­cur­it­ies Inc., across the street from each oth­er, leave nine people dead and 12 wounded. Bar­ton eludes a man­hunt for six hours be­fore killing him­self.”
  • Sept. 15, 1999 (Fort Worth): “Larry Gene Ash­brook opens fire in­side the crowded chapel of the Wedg­wood Baptist Church. Wor­shipers, think­ing at first that it must be a prank, keep singing. But when they real­ize what is hap­pen­ing, they dive to the floor and scrunch un­der pews, ter­ri­fied and si­lent as the gun­fire con­tin­ues. Sev­en people are killed be­fore Ash­brook takes his own life.”
  • Dec. 26, 2000 (Wakefield, Mass.): “Mi­chael Mc­Der­mott, a 42-year-old soft­ware test­er shoots and kills sev­en co-work­ers at the In­ter­net con­sult­ing firm where he is em­ployed. Mc­Der­mott, who is ar­res­ted at the of­fices of Edge­wa­ter Tech­no­logy Inc., ap­par­ently was en­raged be­cause his salary was about to be gar­nished to sat­is­fy tax claims by the In­tern­al Rev­en­ue Ser­vice. He uses three weapons in his at­tack.”
  • March 5, 2001 (Santee, Calif.): “Santana High stu­dent Charles An­drew Wil­li­ams, 15, fatally shoots two class­mates and wounds 13 oth­ers on the cam­pus. He is ap­pre­hen­ded by po­lice in the school bath­room, where his at­tack began. Wil­li­ams is later sen­tenced to 50 years to life.”
  • July 8, 2003 (Meridian, Miss.): “Doug Wil­li­ams, 48, a pro­duc­tion as­sembly­man for 19 years at Lock­heed Mar­tin Aero­naut­ics Co., goes on a ram­page at the de­fense plant, fatally shoot­ing five and wound­ing nine be­fore tak­ing his own life with a shot­gun.”
  • March 21, 2005 (Red Lake Indian Reservation, Minn.): “Jef­frey Weise, a 16-year-old stu­dent at Red Lake High School fatally shoots five stu­dents, a teach­er, and a se­cur­ity guard and wounds sev­en oth­ers be­fore tak­ing his own life. Be­fore his ram­page at Red Lake, Weise kills his grand­fath­er and his grand­fath­er’s com­pan­ion at their home on the Red Lake In­di­an Re­ser­va­tion.”
  • Oct. 2, 2006 (Nickel Mines, Pa.): “Charles Carl Roberts IV, a milk truck driver armed with a small ar­sen­al, bursts in­to a one-room school­house and kills five Amish girls. He kills him­self as po­lice storm the build­ing.”
  • Feb. 12, 2007 (Salt Lake City): “Sule­j­man Talovic, 18, wear­ing a trench­coat and car­ry­ing a shot­gun, sprays a pop­u­lar Salt Lake City shop­ping mall. Wit­nesses say he dis­plays no emo­tion while killing five people and wound­ing four oth­ers. An off-duty po­lice of­ficer eat­ing din­ner with his wife ex­changes gun­fire with the Bos­ni­an refugee be­fore oth­er of­ficers ar­rive and fatally wound Talovic.”
  • April 16, 2007 (Blacksburg, Va): “Seung-hui Cho, a 23-year-old Vir­gin­ia Tech seni­or, opens fire on cam­pus, killing 32 people in a dorm and an aca­dem­ic build­ing in at­tacks more than two hours apart. Cho takes his life after the second in­cid­ent.”
  • Dec. 5, 2007 (Omaha): “Robert Hawkins, 19, sprays an Omaha shop­ping mall with gun­fire as hol­i­day shop­pers scat­ter in ter­ror. He kills eight people and wounds four oth­ers be­fore tak­ing his own life. Au­thor­it­ies re­port he left sev­er­al sui­cide notes.”
  • Feb. 14, 2008 (Dekalb, Ill.): “Steven Kazmier­czak, dressed all in black, steps on stage in a lec­ture hall at North­ern Illinois Uni­versity and opens fire on a geo­logy class. Five stu­dents are killed and 16 wounded be­fore Kazmier­czak kills him­self on the lec­ture hall stage.”
  • April 3, 2009 (Binghamton, N.Y.): “Jiverly Voong, 41, shoots and kills 13 people and ser­i­ously wounds four oth­ers be­fore ap­par­ently com­mit­ting sui­cide at the Amer­ic­an Civic Assn., an im­mig­ra­tion ser­vices cen­ter, in Bing­hamton, N.Y.”
  • Nov. 5, 2009 (Ft. Hood, Texas): “Maj. Nid­al Ma­lik Has­an, an Army psy­chi­at­rist, al­legedly shoots and kills 13 people and in­jures 32 oth­ers in a ram­page at Ft. Hood, where he is based. Au­thor­it­ies al­lege that Has­an was ex­chan­ging emails with Muslim ex­trem­ists in­clud­ing Amer­ic­an-born rad­ic­al An­war Aw­laki.”
  • Aug. 3 2010 (Manchester, Conn.): “Omar S. Thornton, 34, a driver for Hart­ford Dis­trib­ut­ors, emerges from a dis­cip­lin­ary hear­ing and be­gins shoot­ing, killing eight people at the fam­ily-owned dis­trib­ut­or­ship and then him­self.”
  • Jan. 8, 2011 (Tucson, Ariz.): “Jared Lee Lough­ner, 22, al­legedly shoots Ari­zona Rep. Gab­ri­elle Gif­fords in the head dur­ing a meet-and-greet with con­stitu­ents at a Tuc­son su­per­mar­ket. Six people are killed and 11 oth­ers wounded. Lough­ner is iden­ti­fied by wit­nesses as the gun­man who fired at close range with semi­auto­mat­ic pis­tol be­fore be­ing tackled.”
  • Oct. 12, 2011 (Seal Beach, Calif.): “Scott Dekraai, 41, ap­par­ently en­raged over a cus­tody dis­pute, al­legedly walks in­to a crowded Seal Beach hair salon where his former wife works and opens fire. Eight people are killed, in­clud­ing a man sit­ting in a truck out­side the salon. An­oth­er per­son is crit­ic­ally wounded. Dekraai has pleaded not guilty in the case.”
  • April 2, 2012 (Oakland, Calif.): “One L. Goh, 43, a former stu­dent at a Oikos Uni­versity, a small Chris­ti­an col­lege, al­legedly opens fire in the middle of a classroom leav­ing sev­en people dead and three wounded.”
  • July 20, 2012 (Aurora, Colo.): “James Holmes, 24, is taken in­to cus­tody in the park­ing lot out­side the Cen­tury 16 movie theat­er after a post-mid­night at­tack in Au­rora, Colo. Holmes al­legedly entered the theat­er through an exit door about half an hour in­to the loc­al premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.” He faces charges of of killing 12 people and in­jur­ing 58 oth­ers.”
  • Aug. 5, 2012 (Oak Creek, Wis.): “A gun­man fatally shoots six people at a Sikh temple be­fore he is shot and killed by a po­lice of­ficer. Au­thor­it­ies have iden­ti­fied Wade Mi­chael Page, an Army vet­er­an who was a “psy­cho­lo­gic­al op­er­a­tions spe­cial­ist,” as the gun­man.”
  • Sept. 28, 2012 (Minneapolis, Minn.): “An­drew En­geldinger, 36, breaks in­to a sign com­pany’s of­fices and opens fire, killing the own­er and three oth­ers be­fore turn­ing the gun on him­self. Four oth­ers are wounded.”
  • Oct. 21, 2012 (Brookfield, Wis.): “A shoot­er opens fire in­side the Azana Salon and Spa in Brook­field, Wis., killing three and in­jur­ing at least four oth­ers.”
  • Dec. 14, 2012 (Newtown, Conn.): “De­vel­op­ing story: By late in the day, au­thor­it­ies said that the num­ber of deaths over­all stood at 28, in­clud­ing the shoot­er who was iden­ti­fied as Adam Lanza, 20. One per­son was in­jured.  The vic­tims in­cluded 18 chil­dren and six adults pro­nounced dead at the school, and two pu­pils pro­nounced dead at hos­pit­als. An­oth­er per­son was found dead at a sec­ond­ary crime scene.In emo­tion­al re­marks from the White House, Pres­id­ent Obama wiped away tears. ‘Our hearts are broken today,’ the pres­id­ent said.”

Barack Obama

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Pastor Greg Bahnsen said it best when it comes to evil,

It is important for the Christian to recognize—indeed, to insist upon—the reality and serious nature of evil.  The subject of evil is not simply an intellectual parlor game, a cavalier matter, a whimsical or relativistic choice of looking at things a certain way.  Evil is real.  Evil is ugly.”[1]

On December 14, 2012, Governor Dan Malloy said,

Evil visited this community.”

Evil took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT.  The murderer goes by the name of Adam Lanza who shot his mother on the face and then went to her classroom to kill around 20 of her students and around 6 more adults.  What he did was evil and diabolical.  It is difficult to express the emotions of the family members who are affected by this evil.  My heart goes out to the families affected by it.

As a father of a young child, I am deeply saddened by what took place at Newtown.  It is tragic that many of the children murdered, will not be able to experience future birthday parties, graduate from school, make ends-meet in order to provide for their loved ones; and will not be able to walk down the aisle with their children.  And it’s because death snatched them away from this earth.  Yesterday, those victims, took their last breathe. In light of the immense carnage that occurred, we must remain resilient because the God that is in control of this world is wise and knows what is good; therefore, I will trust in Him.

At a tragic time like this, I would like to take the time to pray for the family members who have lost their loved ones.  The people who were afflicted by this suffering need our genuine love, prayer, and most importantly, they need our great God, great Savior, and great Lord, Christ Jesus.  He is their only hope at a time where they are experiencing severe anguish that I cannot even begin to comprehend.

It is must be taken into account that death is an enemy that has no remorse, no mercy, no love; and does not discriminate against anyone.  But the death that we can take comfort in, is Christ.  Christ Jesus, died on the cross for sin and resurrected from the dead.  He took our sin and hell; and bore our sin so that those who would run to Him in faith and repentance would have hope.  Although Christ’s death may seem like a paradox to many because an innocent person suffered and died, we should also have hope, because in His death, He brings forth love and reconciliation for the lost, depressed,  hopeless, and the contrite of heart.

The Big Question

As so many lives have been taken and with so many emotions running across the minds and hearts of people at Newtown, CT, I anticipate sooner or later—people will ask important questions that will open up a Pandora box.  Some of the questions will be phrased in this matter, “Why does God allow Evil”?  Some will ask in a malicious way in order to quiet down Christianity or some are simply asking because they are lost and are seeking truth (John 8:32).

That is a good question and I am glad people take evil seriously because it should be.  And it is my prayer that those who are seeking answers of why evil exist will turn to Christ for hope.   As Christians, this is an issue where we cannot avoid or pretend that it does not exist.  People have questions, people are confused, and people want truth so that their souls would be healed (1 Peter 3:15).

Three Major Premises to Consider

The “problem of evil” is a buzzword in today’s world.  Because evil exists, many believe it presents a real problem for the existence of God.  As Christians, we know that is preposterious.  To answer that question in detail, I would like to respond first by saying that there are a couple of things to keep in mind.  Until we are in glory, the answer for the problem of evil will be answered perfectly by God.  I will not be able to answer it perfectly.  Until then, let us be reminded by this verse in Deut. 29:29, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.”

  1. There is no contradiction between the existence of God and the evil that exists in our world.  Just because evil exists, does not in any way mean that God does not exist.  Nor does it mean that the existence of evil pose a threat to God.  He reveals himself via general revelation and special revelation.
  2. Christianity is the only worldview that can explain the reality of evil.  Every other worldview is grounded in logical incoherence (biblical logic makes right sense); and is based on relativistic premises.
  3. Evil exists so that God may reveal the full glory of His attributes.  Man’s evil, reveals that evil is a result of his heart.  He keeps sinning while on the opposite spectrum, God, in totality, is perfect in all His attributes.  In the midst of even, the glory of God’s attributes is expressed clearly and powerfully affects those who are suffering.  For example, the love of God bandages their suffering wounds.
  4. The evil that exists today is the best world to bring God His fullest glory.  Evil prompts us to see our sin before a Holy God.  Evil is not limited to murderers only, but all who are outside of Christ are evil.  When paired up with the cross, one should respond in this manner, “I am guilty even if I commit the sins that society does not deem to be a sin.”  In other words, the evil that exists should bring us to the cross; and is a powerful reminder that we need to repent.

In light of the voluminous amount of evil, skeptics propose that there is a logical incoherence within the Christian worldview.[2]  As a result, the points mentioned above are important points to consider for the sake of this discussion.  I will also point out three major premises that also will be addressed.

We should not have the mentality that as Christians, we are unable to the explain: the existence of evil-doing.  To submit to their whimsical and evil notions would mean that the Christian faith is incoherent; and that Christians are unable to help those suffering from evil.

The 18th century Scottish philosopher by the name of David Hume, who many rationalists follow, expressed these statements regarding evil and God,

Is [God] willing to prevent evil, but not able?  then he is impotent.  Is he able, but not willing?  then he is malevolent.  Is he both able and willing?  whence then is evil?”[3]

In a nutshell, what Hume is saying is that these three premises are unacceptable and incoherent:

God is all-powerful, God is all-good, and nevertheless evil exists in the world.”[4]

To Hume, an all-powerful God should be able to remove evil; to Hume, an all-good God should be able to remove evil; and because evil exists, God does not exist.[5]  George Smith further elucidates on the three premises in his book called, Atheism: The Case Against God,

Briefly, the problem of evil is this: If God knows there is evil but cannot prevent it, he is not omnipotent.  If God knows there is evil and can prevent it but desires not to, he is not omnibenevolent.”[6]

As Christians, we need to share with the skeptics that the existence of evil does not pose a problem for God; and it is not incompatible with God’s goodness or God’s power.  There are no contradictions between the existence of God and evil in the world. God has a moral and glorious reason for the existence of evil.

God, in other words, has moral sufficient reason for the existence of evil.  As a good and powerful God, He can choose to do that.  God has no problem with evil because the Bible presents God as perfect.  Evil is not a threat to God, nor is it a puzzle to Him. He is perfect, all-knowing, all-powerful, and sovereign.  He is also perfect in character and perfect in everything He does.  Evil is only a problem because people see it outside the lens of Scripture.  When evil and suffering is understood properly, the problem of evil starts to fade away.

As a result, I believe that Christianity is the only worldview that explains best the reality of evil and suffering in this world because it can account for reality, knowledge, and ethics.  The non-Christian worldview has a philosophical problem that is not grounded in absolute truth, but grounded on relativistic premises and theories that is not universal for all.  God’s existence and Word has universal application to all.  For example, the unbelievers’ definition of good and evil is different from another person’s definition of good and evil.  But God’s definition of good and evil is the same for everyone.

The question remains concerning the unbeliever’s worldview, “What are the presuppositions concerning his moral judgments.[7]  The notion that a large number of people feel a certain way about something good or bad, does not in any way make them the entity that authenticate truth.[8]  Right ethics stems off from the Word of God. God’s Word is timeless and transcends the human mind.

If Scripture is not the authority then man’s ethics is reduced to subjectivism and it will prevent society from defining evil biblically and holistically.[9]  It will cause people to look less of their sins and more of other sins such as massacres.  Evil is not only limited to the massacre that took place at Newtown, but evil is also abortion (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13-16; Jeremiah 7:6; Ezekiel 16:20; etc.)  hatred/unholy anger (Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:23-26), immorality (Hebrews 13:4; 1 Cor. 6:9-10), personal autonomy, etc.  Ethics can never be defined by culture, but has to be defined by God.  To define evil our ways, will not do any justice; nor will it help society because another society may have a different system of ethics or definition of evil.  For example, in China or in other countries, prosecuting Christians and killing Christians is not evil, but good.

People have to be careful not to put God in trial because we are finite creatures and to question His character is to sin and to question Him is to step out from the Creator/creature distinction.  He is our Creator and we are His subjects.   It is my prayer that whenever people are affected by evil, they would turn to God and seek His truth (John 8:32).  In light of much that has been noted, people will further ask, “Is there morally sufficient reason for the evil which exists?”[10]

Is There a Morally Sufficient Reason for Evil?

We need to understand and trust God (see Job).  God works everything for His glory (see Ephesians 1). The Bible indicates that God will always do what is right (Gen. 18:25).  Humans, not God, brought evil and suffering into this world.  God created the world and it was good (Gen. 1:31), but man rebelled by eating the fruit, even when God warned them beforehand (Gen. 2:16-17).  We are the ones to be blamed for evil.  God gave man volition and a free-will before the Fall.  In his original state, he had the ability to choose between good and evil.  Instead,  man chose evil and he paid the price for it (Rom. 8:22).  I like what Dr. Bahnsen has to say about the morally sufficient reason for why evil exists,

Think of Abraham when God ordered him to sacrifice his only son.  Think of Job when he lost everything, which gave his life happiness and pleasure.  In each case God had a perfectly good reason for the human misery involved.  It was a mark or achievement of faith for them not to waver in their conviction of God’s goodness, despite not being able to see or understand why He was doing to them what He did.”[11]

And in terms of the greatest evil in history, read carefully what Pastor Piper has to say about it.  It is a very sobering and mysterious way of how God works through evil, but at the same time, it brings glory to God.

Form all these prophecies, we know that God foresaw and did not prevent and therefore included in his plan that his Son would be rejected, hated, abandoned, betrayed, denied, condemned, spit upon, flogged, mocked, pierced, and killed. All these were explicitly God’s mind before they actually happened as things that he planned would happen to Jesus.  These things did not just happen.  They were foretold in God’s word.  God knew they would happened and could have planned to stop them, but didn’t.  So they happened according to his sovereign will.  His plan.

And all of them were evil.  They were sin.  It is surpassingly sinful to reject, hate, abandoned, betray, deny, condemn, spit upon, flog, mock, pierce, and kill the morally perfect, infinitely worthy, divine Son of God.  And yet the Bible is explicit and clear that God himself planned these things.  This is explicit not only in all the prophetic texts we have seen, but also in the passages they say even more plainly that God ordained that these things come to pass.”[12]

What Pastor Piper said, reminds me of a particular solemn passage in Acts 2:22-24 that is very clear concerning the murder of Jesus Christ,

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— 23 this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.”

It is apparent and clear that evil is ugly, but one should also be careful not to be too consumed in it.  We need to trust God and not worry about tomorrow (Matt. 6:34).  God will one day bring judgment and righteousness to this sin infected world and sin cursed world. He will make things right (Acts 17:30:31; 2 Peter 3:8-13; Rev. 21:1-6; 22:1-5).  Vengeance is the Lord’s and He will carry it out perfectly!  He will bring the murderer(s) who died without Christ in His courtroom.

Trust Christ

Often when people do not understand the problem of evil, they find it hard to have faith in God and trust Him when we are not given the reason of why bad things happen to others and ourselves in this world.[13]  Unbelievers cry for answers concerning evil, but the truth is that as Christians we could only reveal what is in Scripture; and we need to inform them lovingly that God does not always provide clear cut, methodical answers.[14]  The Bible says, “The secret things belong to God” (Deut. 29:29).  We may not even be able to understand God’s wise and mysterious ways, even when He told His people (cf. Isa. 55:9).[15]  As a result, we can safely say that God does not always tell why misery and suffering are part of His plans for mankind.[16]

War is in the Human Heart

Many times when tragedies like this occur, people often provide ineffective solutions.  The solution is not banning the second amendment right, but the solution is to cure the heart.  Jesus said it eloquently in Mark 7:21,

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries.”

The war is in the human heart.  Sin resides in the human heart.  The person who hates, lies and commits sexual immorality is just as guilty as the murderer according to God’s standards.  In a time like this, perhaps we can learn that out of this evil event that took place—instead of focusing on the murderer—man in his sinful condition,  needs to examine himself and herself before the Holy God of the Bible because no one is pure without the forgiveness that comes from Christ (Job 15:14; Job 25:4).  Pastor John Piper states it best in this manner,

And it is exactly what Jesus said again when people pressed him to talk about the time Pilate slaughtered worshippers in the temple. Instead of focusing on the slain or the slayer, he focused on all of us:

Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:2–3).”[17]

Please refer to some of these good links below concerning the tragedy at Newtown, CT.

This is a good post by Pastor Piper on how one can approach the situation in a Christ-centered manner when a tragedy like Newtown occurs: A Lesson for All from Newtown

This post by Pastor Piper is a powerful reminder of God’s love and compassion for those who suffer.  Jesus understands suffering and evil better than anyone in this world: How Does Jesus Come to Newtown?

In this post, Justin Taylor discusses the 10 Reasons Why God Allows Suffering.

Dr. Albert Mohler does a post concerning the massacre and urges Christians to be Christ-centered in their approach towards the situation.  He also briefly discusses the after-life of young children who are unable to discern good and evil (Deuteronomy 1:39): Rachel Weeping for Her Children — The Massacre in Connecticut

In light of all that has been stated, what do you all think about evil?


*Some concepts were adapted from, Michael Vlach, “Apologetics 701” (unpublished syllabus, The Master’s Seminary, 2011).

[1]Greg L. Bahnsen, Always Ready: Directions for Defending the Faith (Nacogdoches, TX, Covenant Media Press), 164.

[2]Ibid., 166.

[3]Ibid., 166.

[4]Ibid., 167.

[5]Ibid., 167.

[6]Ibid., 167.

[7]Ibid., 168.

[8]Ibid., 168.

[9]Ibid., 168.

[10]Ibid., 172.

[11]Ibid., 172.

[12]John Piper, Spectacular Sins (Wheaton, IL, Crossway Books, 2008), 102-103.

[13]Ibid., 173.

[14]Ibid., 173.

[15]Ibid., 173.

[16]Ibid., 173.

[17]John Piper, “A Lesson for All from Newtown,” Desiring God,  http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/a-lesson-for-all-from-newtown (accessed December 14, 2012).

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There is a doctoral dissertation for a PhD. in Dogmatics and Christian Ethics over at University of Pretoria (located at South Africa) by Donald Neil Wilson, whose topic deals with C.S. Lewis and Postmodern Epistemology.  The title is “Postmodern Epistemology and the Christian Apologetics of C S Lewis.”  It was completed in 2006.

Here is the abstract:

Epistemology in its contemporary post-modern ethos is generally believed to be inseparably hinged upon language. This of course ensures a major paradigm shift in the disciplined human conceptions of reality. It has been stated and is widely acknowledged that the Kantian Noumenal barrierhas, in this recent shift, been proved to be looming far closer than it was ever previously considered. This new barrier to the world of ‘objective absolutes’ comprises a barrier of semantics and syntax, and calls for a radical restructuring of all the human sciences. There is surely no discipline in the humanities that can claim immunity to this colossal shift in epistemology, and theology (particularly of the Evangelical variety) is no exception to the rule.

The impact of post-modern epistemological assumption upon contemporary Evangelicalism presents to those who adhere to this school’s position, a profound challenge. Conservative Christians, who hold to the propositional universality and the objectivity of biblical truth, find in the post-modern ethos little sympathy and no rational justification granted for their ‘metaphysical objectivity’. A major challenge therefore to Evangelical Christianity at the present time is this: Is there, in the light of the challenge of post-modern epistemology, any reasonable justification for continuing to adhere to the evangelical claim that God has spoken in unchanging propositional terms that are universally valid and binding? It would seem that in this regard many evangelicals are feeling pressured. Evidence of the pressure of this challenge can readily be found either in the growing contemporary evangelical tendency towards advocating a more cooperative attitude to the post-modern ethos, or in the reactionary theology of schools of thought like the Spiritual Warfare Movement.

The writings of Clive Staples Lewis (1898 – 1963) have been proven effective in the countering of negative challenges to Christian faith for the past sixty years. Lewis, as an apologist, in the opinion of many intellectual searchers, positively and convincingly countered modernistic objections to faith in his own time. Modernistic assumptions prevailed in the Western world in Lewis’ day that tended to discredit a rational belief in the supernatural. Lewis was widely held to be an effective apostle to counter this modernistic scepticism.

It is the conviction of the present writer that C. S. Lewis apologetics can be just as effectively utilised today in addressing post-modern challenges, as it was fifty years ago used to answer the questions raised by modernism. Lewis in all of his Christian writings, reveals an underlying epistemology that I believe (because it is based firmly upon Christian orthodoxy), has stood the test of time. The apologetics of C. S. Lewis may serve to answer post-modern challenges just as rationally as it did modernism.

In this thesis, Lewis’ underlying epistemology will be examined. This will comprise the first part of my work. The second part of the thesis deals with the post-modern epistemological challenge to Evangelicalism as a world-view. The final part of this thesis consists of a dialogue between the most common post-modern challenges to evangelical thinking, and rationally compelling answers thereto that are found in Lewis’ writings.

Here it is in five parts:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

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luke-logo-300x199

There’s always more truths and application from a passage of Scripture than what time allows to be actually preached on Sunday.  Sometimes there’s more “minor” point from the text that are good devotional observation for my own life as I think about apologetics and evangelism, that won’t fit into the main point of my sermon.  As we approach the Christmas season, I wanted to share some of these observation from Luke chapter 1-2 which is often called the Infancy Narrative, that has implications for the Christian who is conscious about evangelism, apologetics and worldview.  This series will be tagged under the category “Devotional for the apologist.”

We will look today at Luke 1:1-4, which is the prologue not just for the infancy narrative but for the entire gospel of Luke:

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us,just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.

(NASB)

Here Luke desire to pursue careful and accurate historical investigations.  It’s evident with his choice in use of certain Greek terms.

Words used showing Luke’s care for truth and historical investigation and it’s accurate presentation of it:

  • account” (v.1)– Where we get our modern English word “Digest.”  Often used in classical and Hellenistic Greek to refer to historical writing (Fitzmyer, 292).
  • accomplished” (v.1) –Literally is “to bring to full,” that is to fulfill or accomplish in full.  Is there an allusion to Biblical prophecies being “fulfilled” here as well?
  • eyewitnesses” (v.2)– The Greek being αυτοπται, the root word is where we get the English word “Autotopsy.”  There is an emphasis of this word, with it being nuance since it appears before the verb though it’s the object.
  • those who from the beginning“–Luke’s emphasis from the beginning can be seen in that the first two chapters of Luke has 132 verses concerning the beginning that is new information not covered as detailed in other Gospels (Hendriksen, 17).
  • having investigated” (v.3)–Has the meaning of investigating and following up as used by Josephus (Fitzmyer, 297).  The use of the perfect tense for this participle indicates that the action of Luke’s investigation was all done and completed prior to him every writing.  That is, he did his homework before writing!
  • everything” (v.3)–Shows completeness of what Luke into.
  • carefully” (v.3)– Adverb that suggests the quality of Luke’s investigation.
  • consecutive order” (v.3)–A word that describes what happens next is what is being said next (Hendriksen, 56).  Luke wants to write history here.

What do these notes means for the Christian apologist?  I realize that Luke was divinely inspired when he wrote his gospel but nevertheless, in light of the fact that Scripture has a human aspect to it, I see some implications for the one who wishes to develop and live out a Christian worldview:

1.) First off, Christians can go to the Gospel of Luke (and the rest of Scripture) “so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” (v.4).  Test all things you heard about Jesus to the Word of God.  A Christian must not forsake the authority of the Word of God just because he’s doing apologetics.

2.) Secondly, if Luke, being guided by God, is interested and concern with history, so should we as Christians.  History is not just another boring subject, something trivial, useless or something we pretend to be interested in it so that our boring senseless teacher will give us an A in school.  There is a place for Church history, historical theology, historical apologetics and studying the historical background that is the milieu in which Scripture was written through disciplines such as archaeology, Ancient Near East studies, etc.

3.) Thirdly, Christians ought to acknowledge and synthesize other data correctly.  Note that Luke acknowledges others have written on Christ in verse 1.  There is an absence here of him saying that these accounts were wrong.  This sort of confirm that there is such thing as “Perspectivalism” or Symphonic theology as expressed in John Frame’s and Vern Poythress’ work, provided they are not truly contradictory or against Scripture.  We can emulate Luke’s acknowledgement of other sources before he writes by also starting with what God’s Word has to say about any given subject and it’s implication first whenever we study any particular issues in-depth.

4.) Fourthly, the Christian ought to study things with care and sharpness if we want to emulate Luke.  Can you say with a clear conscience, that your studies have reasonably “investigated everything carefully“?  This glorifies God when we do this, knowing that He’s a God of truth.

5.) Fifthly, the Christian ought to present the things he studied with equal care and sharpness (like the way he ought to study) if we want to emulate Luke.

6.) Last but not least, Christians engaged in historical apologetics, who are students of history or pursuing studies and teaching in general are doing it to serve other believers and nonbelievers, just as Luke also can give a purpose clause for why he was doing what he was doing in verse 4.  So choose your specialization carefully.  Think of how you can bless and be a benefit to others with what you learned, rather than just to puff up one’s ego.

Are there also other implications you can see from Luke 1:1-4?

PART II

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This is one of the books I recommended for this year’s Christian worldview and apologetics presents suggestion.

art-and-the-bible1

Purchase: Amazon

This is a good introduction to a Christian view on art. They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover and for this work I would also add that neither should you judge a book by it’s size–the book turned out to be better than I expected. Francis Schaeffer delivers in this work that’s really two chapters/essay that lays the foundation for the development of a Christian view of art. In the first chapter, Schaeffer attempts to establish Biblically that art is a godly pursuit. He begins his case with the Lordship of Christ, in which Christ and God is in charge of every area of the Christian life including their creative pursuits. Acknowledging that some Christians invoke the Ten commandments of not having graven images as an objection towards art, Schaeffer has a beautiful and powerful presentation of the Biblical data that this cannot be what the prohibition means since the Bible has arts. Schaeffer surveys the Tabernacle, the Temple and Solomon’s temple for evidence that God approves of art and even biblically backs up a case for poetry, dance and drama. In chapter two, Schaeffer goes over ten principles concerning the direction of how Christians ought to pursue their venture with art and how to evaluate art. I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated his four criteria of evaluating art: 1.) Technical abilities (artistic skills), 2.) validity (Schaeffer meant whether they are attempting to really show what the artist believed, or whether they have become mercenaries in their art), 3.) their worldview intellectual content and 4.) message’s relationship to the artistic vehicle. Delineating these four criteria proves to be helpful and can help us as Christians become more nuance when we say what we mean when we dislike a work of art and/or why we like it though not everything is good about it. Excellent work, I thoroughly recommend it.

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Ethics

EUTHANASIA

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

In January 2012, I was fortunate to take a class with Dr. John S. Feinberg, the son of the famous professor at Talbot Seminary: Dr. Charles L. Feinberg, who went home with the Lord.  Dr. Charles Feinberg was a major “think tank” at the seminary he was teaching at and had a major influence in the life of Pastor John MacArthur.  Dr. Feinberg was “professor of Semitics and Old Testament.   He has written books on prophecy and the Old Testament.  For Pastor MacArthur’s statements concerning Dr. Feinberg’s father, please see this interview: A Retrospective on 40 Years: John MacArthur with Rick Holland on January 25, 2009.

Moreover, his son, Dr. John Feinberg is a scholar in his own rights too.  I am glad I was privileged to take a class with him on ethics.  In light of the class lectures and book, I came across many concepts.  For example, we came across “Christian decision making.”  In light of the concept called Christian decision making, Dr. Feinberg takes these categories into account: “the issues involved, fundamental definitions, distinctions, and principles (i.e. ethics and morality and descriptive and prescriptive language); approaches to ethics or ethical theories that confront the Christian, Scripture and ethics (discusses the Bible and modern ethics, OT Law and NT era, etc.), Christian liberty, and the decision-making procedure used for moral decisions.[1]

For the sake of clarity, in this post, I will not only share about what I read from the book, but I will add some content from the class lectures because the lectures are somewhat related to the book.

There are so many topics to discuss from the book and class lectures.  But for the sake of the post’s length, I will try to narrow the topic.  With that said, I will first cover euthanasia.  Euthanasia is a topic that Dr. Feinberg does not take lightly.  It is an issue that he somewhat was confronted with.  Some of the ethics surrounding it is somewhat related to abortion and have similar principles.  If one understands the biblical implications towards euthanasia, one will somewhat have a good grasp of how to approach abortion.

According to Dr. Feinberg, the term euthanasia comes from two Greek words that mean “good,” “well,” and “death.”[2]  In other words, it means to die well or die a good death.[3]  However, it is really not a good death because the practice has negative moral implications.[4]  In the sections of the book that covers euthanasia, Dr. Feinberg, investigates the different types of euthanasia, presents the arguments used to support euthanasia; and he then presents the Christian argumentation.[5] The key issue at stake regarding this topic is whether euthanasia is ever justifiable or whether one is obligated to preserve life in all circumstances.  In some cases, euthanasia is easy to answer, but in others, it is more complex and requires more critical thinking.  Since euthanasia carries many ethical implications, understanding the terminology is helpful in order to work through the different types of euthanasia.

CLARIFICATION OF TERMINOLOGY AND TYPES OF EUTHANASIA

The different types are as follow: voluntary/non-voluntary/involuntary euthanasia, active vs. passive euthanasia, direct vs. indirect euthanasia, death with dignity, mercy killing, managerial euthanasia, death selection.[6]

A CASE FOR EUTHANASIA

Besides the importance of understanding the different terminologies, Dr. Feinberg, presents the case for euthanasia by covering non-Scriptural arguments concerning personhood, quality of life vs. sanctity of life, one’s understanding of God, consequential ethics, freedom of choice, justification of some cases of euthanasia, economics of euthanasia, double-effect arguments.[7]  He also provides biblical and theological considerations concerning these categories of euthanasia: the command against killing isn’t absolute, the valuelessness of suffering, self-sacrifice, Phil. 1:21 (to die is gain).[8]

A CASE AGAINST EUTHANASIA

In order to make the book more comprehensive concerning euthanasia, there are not only talking points of the case for euthanasia, but also talking points of the case against euthanasia.[9]  It is here, where, the book covers some details of the non-Scriptural arguments such as the double-effect argument and the wedge argument.[10]  The wedge argument believes that an action that is apparently unobjectionable in itself would set in motion a train of events leading ultimately to an undesirable outcome (Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, 1995).  In other words, the point of the wedge argument in euthanasia is the belief that some lives are not worth living.  If so, where do you draw the line?  This opens up the floodgates to immorality.  Under the umbrella of the case against euthanasia, Dr. Feinberg also covers the biblical and theological considerations concerning the value in suffering, life, death, and afterlife.

The book also speaks about the importance of decision-making and the different forms of euthanasia.[11]  In tackling this issue, the author raised a series of considerations a Christian should take into account as he approaches this matter. Once he does that then he could respond with proper responses based on biblical principles.  When dealing with euthanasia, the person must take into account the criteria of death, consequentialism/non-consequential­ism, views on personhood, freedom and moral responsibility, Scriptural principles on life, death,  afterlife, and the moral assessment of major forms of euthanasia.[12]

One of the major points mentioned earlier was the criteria of death.  The author conveys that the criteria must be observed critically before assuming that the patient is dead.  For example, the family of the patient must ask the doctor if the patient is actually dead before removing the technology.  The family member must very hesitant if the criteria is not met.  The criteria can be as follows: observe if the patient is receptive, responsive; check if there is a flat brain wave (EGG) for at least 10 minutes, check for movements, spontaneous breathing for one hour or more.  Also find out if they will still breathe if the machine is taken out and check for reflexes and fixed dilated pupils.

I know I mentioned earlier the terms: consequentialist (decisions are based on consequences) or non-consequentialist.  But in order to make a case against euthanasia, Dr. Feinberg points out that accepting and understanding one of these terms will determine if a brother, sister, wife, husband, etc. will agree if ending the person’s life is biblical or not.  Some who decide to end a person’s life observes the contemporary view instead of the biblical view.

The contemporary view believes that your body is yours and you are to decide to end one’s life based on the resources given.  The biblical view conveys that we are told not to take innocent life because the body does not belong to us (Ex. 20:13; Ecc. 3:2; Job 14:5; James 4:13-15).  Before trying to end a person’s life, people also need to calculate the risk.  For example, Dr. Feinberg mentioned that when he was preaching at a youth service, a couple approached him and told him they wished that they heard about his views on euthanasia earlier because the couple knew someone who was dealing with terminal illness.  The biblical knowledge of euthanasia would have helped make the decision easier.

On another note, the author also mentions that people need to understand that they cannot manipulate death with technology because if God wants to take someone’s life, God will do it.  However, just because God can take someone’s life at any moment, does not justify a person to take out one’s feeding tube or breathing tube for example.  The feeding tube and breathing tube are one’s basic necessities for life.  If one takes takes out the breathing tube, then one might as well suffocate the patient with a pillow because the pain would be faster.  And if one takes out the feeding tube, then one might as well not feed an infant.  Hence, what is the difference between the infant and the adult that is ill?  They are both made in God’s image.  Moreover, just because God can take someone’s life away does not mean one should take out the use of technology and let the person die.  We are to be good stewards of what God has provided to society.  We cannot let our own definition of personhood dictate who lives and who does not.  Life and death belongs to God.  And the resources and technology that has been given are to be used for His glory.

He further argues that life needs to be preserved because death is not our friend.  It is our last enemy.  In Philippians 1, Paul’s zealous desire was to save the lost.  He is not saying that death is pleasant or that we should be zealous of death.  The Lord is not pleased with death and His desire is that all will be saved; and that one day He will overturn death.

PRACTICAL RECOMMENDATIONS

Due to the complicated nature concerning euthanasia, Dr. Feinberg ventured into the practical recommendations.  He stated that it is irresponsible (he did not say immoral) to not have a living will.  That is something I will need to get in the future.  Do not leave your family to the medical professions because many do not have a biblical view.  Nor can you rely on a pro-life doctor because he maybe on vacation if there is a crisis.  You must come up with biblical convictions beforehand.

BIOLOGY, GENETICS, & HOMOSEXUALITY

In this section, Dr. Feinberg covers basic definitions, distinctions, biology (brain differences and hormonal differences), homosexuality and genetics.[13]  He also covers those areas because proponents argue that homosexuality is linked to biology and genetics.  As a result, Dr. Feinberg gets into the specificity concerning their claims by researching the twin studies, chromosome/gene linkage studies, biological and genetic studies to see if their claims are correct.[14]  After going over the studies, many of their claims are frivolous.

The author stands firmly committed to the position that Scripture teaches that homosexual and lesbian orientation and behavior are contrary to the order for human sexuality that God placed in creation. Hence they are sinful. It must be clear, that from a judicial standpoint, those who engage in this sin are no more and no less guilty before God than those who lie, steal, or break other moral rules. All sinners, which includes all of us, need to repent. But sin also has a social dimension, and sexual sin, including homosexual sin, is a form of behavior whose impact on others is far more devastating than the impact of some other sins. The enslavement of some sins is harder to escape than that of others (Rom. 1:26-27). Homosexuality and lesbianism are truly enslaving sins, but for those who think a person caught in them cannot change, we respond: never underestimate the power of Jesus Christ to transform a life! Christ loves all sinners, and he died to pay for all sins! He can both pardon the sinner and liberate the sinner who places his faith and repentance in Christ! 

GENETIC ENGINEERING

Genetic engineering is a broad label for a series of genetic tools including genetic counseling, artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, cloning, and recombinant DNA research.”[15]

Dr. Feinberg goes on to say that the field of genetic engineering can be divided into two broad categories: (1) reproduction genetic engineering (i.e. artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, freezing embryos, surrogate motherhood, and cloning) (2) and other topic deals with the manipulation of the genetic structure of the human being.[16]

Some of the common objections against genetic engineering are as follows: it’s playing with their God, it’s unnatural, it addresses a selfish want, not a need, it will inevitably allow the most extreme uses of medicine and technology made available, it involves adultery, “separates the unitive and procreative aspects of sexual relations,” violates God’s ordained order concerning parenthood and the composition of families, treats the very elements of human life given by God (sperm and ovum) like commodities to be brought and sold), involves the rejection of God’s will about whether or not to have children; and it subordinates God’s will for each person concerning his physical and immaterial traits.[17]

In light of all the categories mentioned, the author and professor also covers the moral and legal implications involved in genetic engineering.  For example, for those thinking about using IVF, they will need to consider the success rate.

Whether you are going to be successful depends on a number of things.  Just because you use more than one embryo does not mean you will have a baby.  Then what is the point of transferring more than one embryo if you only want one baby?  This is so because it creates a greater success rate in being conceived. In page 409 of his book he gives his readers the percentages of the success rates:

In 1996, 6 percent of the cycles used one embryo; 10 percent used two; 23 percent used three; and 62 percent used four or more. In 2005, 9 percent used one; 43 percent used two; 30 percent used three; and 18 percent used four or more. Clearly, the major change since 1996 is that instead of using four or more embryos for most cycles (62 percent), in 2005 most cycles (43 percent) used only two embryos. However, 91 percent of cycles used more than one embryo!”[18]

More problems persist if you use more embryos.  If they all attach, then the doctor said it is good to abort one of them.  Another thing that affects success rate is the age of the mother.  See page 210 of the book concerning the statistics of how many embryos are discarded.  This is immoral because it is a human life!  Apart from the immorality of this procedure, it would cost you much money.  The aborting of embryos should be an objection because it is murder.  Moreover, the murder takes place in light of the baby never being consented.  Also people who murder a life needs to understand that a fertilized egg is a human being.  Out of these statistics, 1/5 of the embryos are born and 4/5 die.  The experiment in this context is not moral.

The author speaks passionately about the issue because it is immoral.  He also speaks about the issue because there are people in the church that can’t have kids and want to have kids.  We need to help counsel people like that so they do not make the wrong decision.  Adoption is another alternative.  Some churches have a budget for adoption; and that budget is to help families who want to adopt.  It is a good model for other church to follow.  I believer Pastor Voddie Baucham’s church does that.  Dr. Feinberg also encourages us to tell others about this issue.  The information needs to be passed on.  We can’t just share it one on one, but need to share it to the whole congregation.  Another reason to share with others is because IVF opens up the door to surrogate mothers, homosexuals and lesbian couples.

DIVORCE AND REMARRIAGE

Because divorce and remarriage creates so many problems, one wishes the church would clearly enunciate biblical teaching on these topics. Instead, the church speaks words of confusion and adds to the level of confusion. Unfortunately, even among evangelicals there is no consensus on the proper understanding of biblical teaching on this matter. Finding a consensus is unlikely because of the complexity of the issues. Scripture says little on this issue, and what is said, especially in the teachings of Christ, can seem cryptic and ambiguous. It raises many questions. We cannot handle every question in this chapter (e.g., the question of whether a divorced person can serve as a pastor), but we want to address as many as necessary to elucidate biblical teaching on divorce and remarriage.”[19]

A couple of foundations the author and professor covers are the basic principles about marriage.  Marriage is God’s idea (Gen. 2:18; Matt. 19:4-6), is for the benefit of mankind and indicates God’s goodness to man (Gen. 2:18-20), intended for a basic need for man (Gen. 2:20), informs that woman was formed not from dust, but from man, intended for propagating the human race and man’s need for fellowship, intended to provide for the removal of loneliness (Gen. 2:18); and marriage was created as a human institution (Gen. 1-2) for all.[20]

In  light of the basic principles concerning marriage, Dr. Feinberg spent much time on Matthew 19:1-12.  By going through the passage, he covers the questions of whether the marriage bond can be terminated or not.  By doing that he spends much time in the text by analyzing the religious leaders and Jesus’ words concerning God’s perspective on marriage.  Moreover, he covers the “exception clause” and the different views on divorce and remarriage such as the preteritive, offense, betrothal, mixed marriage, and the violation of laws of consanguinity views. [21] He also covers the view concerning divorce without remarriage, divorce with remarriage.

Besides covering Jesus’ view on divorce and remarriage, he also covers Paul’s view on divorce by going through 1 Cor. 7:1-24.

Much has been said concerning euthanasia, biology, genetics, homosexuality, genetic engineering, and divorce and remarriage, but the book covers many other areas as well such as abortion, capital punishment, and the view on war.  But for the sake of this post’s link, I only covered some of the areas that was discussed thoroughly in class.

I encourage Christians to pick up this book and study ethics.  For those who think that the Bible may not have answers to the the contemporary issues we face concerning the rise of new technology that is being produced at breathtaking pace; and its implications on morality, then this is a must read.  Although, the authors of Scripture did not give us details concerning IVF, genetic engineering, etc., Dr. Feinberg does a good job by digging through Scripture to find timeless truths that covers the issues we face.  As Christians, we do not need to be afraid of the speculations and hostile attacks.  The Word of God has timeless truths.  Because we serve a great God, let us take heed to 1 Peter 3:15,

But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.”

As Christians, let us mimic the holy zeal and desire that the psalmist did in Psalm 119:18,

Open my eyes, that I may behold/Wonderful things from your law.”

The book is about 736 pages in Kindle and is about 848 pages in print.

To see his class lectures, please see this following link: Christian Ethics


[1]John S. Feinberg, “TH708 Christian Ethics” (unpublished syllabus, The Master’s Seminary, 2012), 1-11.

[2]Ibid., 15.

[3]Ibid., 15.

[4]Ibid., 15.

[5]Ibid., 15-27.

[6]Ibid., 15-16.

[7]Ibid., 17-19.

[8]Ibid., 20-21.

[9]Ibid., 17-21.

[10]Ibid., 21-23.

[11]Ibid., 26.

[12]Ibid., 26-27.

[13]Ibid., 28-29.

[14]Ibid., 29-32.

[15]Ibid., 33.

[16]Ibid., 33.

[17]Ibid., 33-36.

[18]John S. Feinberg and Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics for a Brave New World (Wheaton: Crossway, 2010), 409.

[19]Ibid., 589.

[20]John S. Feinberg, “TH708 Christian Ethics, “ 44.

[21]Ibid., 47-48.

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shotgun christmas

Some links around the web during early December of 2012 touching on Presuppositional apologetics.  Enjoy!

1.) Too Focused on Atheism— Very good point and has implication for the direction of where Presuppositional apologetics should move towards.

2.) The Demographic Solution for the USA— I see this a call to evangelism and discipleship, being driven by a Worldview that’s based on the Word of God.

3.) Christianity Hinders Scientific Progress— A secular mantra takes a beating.

4.) Joe Torres comment on Greg Bahnsen’s Argument from the Impossibility of the Contrary– Introduction for those new of what is the impossibility of the contrary.

5.) The Consistently Inconsistent Worldview Objection— Chris Bolt hacking at those who see the consistency of being inconsistent in their worldview as a good thing.

6.) Wittgenstein and Van Til— Wittgenstein in light of Cornelius Van Til’s thought.

7.) The Epistemological Foundation for “The Roman Catholic System“– Good documentation and analysis of what some Catholics mean when they say “not contradict Scripture.”

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Around 2 PM Pacific Standard Time on December 7th, 2012 we hit our half a million visitors milestone for our blog.

500 000

Thank you all for visiting, reading, supporting, linking and commenting on Veritas Domain over the last several years!

Here are the top three popular blog posts from each of our contributors since we began blogging in 2006.

ANDY

  1. Greg Bahnsen vs Gordon Stein Mp3
  2. What is wrong with this argument?
  3. How to Commit Suicide

SLIMJIM (counting only non-voting and election posts)

  1. Blowing down the House? Part V: Can Presuppositional Apologetics account for Christian diagreements
  2. Ray Comfort’s “180” full movie released on Youtube!
  3. Duggar Family 20th Child, and what the Secular leftist’s response tells about their inconsistent morality

EVANGELZ

  1. Ray Comfort’s Response to Pastor Jesse Johnson’s Critique on The Ten Commandments
  2. Dr. John MacArthur’s Response Regarding WOTM
  3. Sola Scriptura Versus Sola Ecclesia: Introduction

DIZZY

  1. Why Did I Cry Watching Naruto Shippuuden 31?
  2. The Benefits of Jumping Jacks & The Fallacy of Jumping Jacks
  3. An Illustration of Clashing Worldviews using Naruto

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Ray Comfort has done another movie again…

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Note: This is part of my review of books for my lists of 2012 recommended Christian worldview and apologetics gift books recommendation.

Presuppositional Apologetics Examines Mormonism

Order it on Amazon!

Several years ago in 2004 Jeff Downs presented a paper at the annual conference of Evangelical Ministries to New Religions titled, “Approaching Cults and World Religions from A Presuppositional Apologetic Perspective.” Jeff Downs note accurately that there was still a lot that needed to be done in terms of having people apply Presuppositional apologetics towards other world’s religion and cults, and that Presuppositionalism has something to contribute in the area of counter-cult apologetics. Michael Robinson’s book, “Presuppositional Apologetics Examines Mormonism” would be a work in that vein, in which Presuppositional apologetics is applied in the refutation of Mormonism. Robinson focuses on Mormonism’s theology proper, in which their beliefs that man can become a god and that there are multiple gods would not be the sufficient basis for the transcendental precondition for the laws of logic, morals, etc. Has many quotes of solid Presuppositionalists and Reformed theologians. I am quite excited to see a Presuppositional critiques of other worldviews besides atheism and therefore I appreciate this work. I do not know if this applies to other version of this work but my PDF copy of this book seem to have some end notes problem (quotations did not seem to match with the citation). This work makes me want to learn more about the theology proper of the Latter Day Saints for my Christian apologetics’ arsenal.

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To begin with, this post is not about Zimmerman’s innocence or guilt.  I wish to suspend my judgment for the court to establish that.  Whether the court finds him justified or not in shooting someone, I think it is a tragic thing that the boy “Trey” Martin was killed.  That is a life, that is a soul, a person who is made in the image of God.  It is sad.  To pre-empt any possible charge, I want to state that I am not racist either, being a minority myself and having many pleasant memories in the Marines with African Americans.

I bring Zimmerman up more for the point of illustrating how the way people present “evidence” or images matters and that as discerning Christians we must always be careful to not let images alone sway us, since we know that every picture is itself limited to a certain rectangular and square shape of an event or person from a certain angle in a certain time, etc.  My point is only to note how the manner of presentation is not neutral and Christians must learn to realize this, not just only about someone’s innocence or not in trial but also for any other discussion including people’s discussion for or against Christianity.  I think the Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til has been insightful here, and you can read our recent posts on resources on Van Til, evidence and philosophy of evidence HERE.

The following is an example of a case study of how presentation matters.

After the shooting occurred on Feb. 26th, 2012, the pictures that I often saw of Martin and Zimmerman was this file with the two being shown side by side with one another:

Trayvon-Martin-George-Zimmerman-innocence

What goes through your mind when you see this picture?  What is your preception of the boy and the man?

This picture of course prompted some to ask why a younger picture of Martin is used and an unflattering picture of Zimmerman, along with this picture as a response:

trayvonthug

Zimmerman’s side of the story include that the reason why he fired his gun was because he was bloodied and attack.  But news article such as this one questioned it on the basis of stills from police videos:

zimmerman unbloodied

But then this picture of his back side of his head came out:

120517105402-zimmerman-head-horizontal

And finally this week on the headline news was this graphic colored photo of Zimmerman’s face:

121203083453-zimmerman-blood-horizontal-gallery

His defense attorney have expressed being unhappy why this picture took so long to be released for the public.

And compare that color picture with an uncolored one:

zimmermansplit

All of this should be a lesson for us all to be careful of what we see–and be aware of what we don’t see or have not seen yet.

The Christian must not forget Proverbs 18:17, “The first to plead his case seems right, Until another comes and examines him.”

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Francis_Schaeffer

Francis Schaeffer has made a tremendous impact in Christianity, and whose disciples are still making their impact today.  Among his classics is the book and the video series, “How then Shall We Live?”  While I would add the caveat that sometimes Schaeffer broad brush things, in general I think this work does point us to the right direction in terms of biblically critiquing cultures and history.  While not as thoroughly Van Tillian as other students of the great apologist Cornelius Van Til, readers will note some Presuppositional streaks to his apologetics.

Here are the videos of the ten part series “How then Shall We Live?”  Though it’s ten parts, divided into 16 You Tube clips in this play list.  Enjoy!

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The discussion of being created in God’s image is an important concept that must be understood by Christians and must be articulated by Christians to the unbeliever.  Pastor Greg Bahnsen articulates the essential concept: image of God, in this manner,

Now it is true, of course, that God has planted such laws of belief into our very being.  It is this point on which Calvin lays such great stress when he says that all men have a sense of deity.  But the unbeliever does not accept the doctrine of his creation in the image of God.  It is therefore impossible to appeal to the intellectual and moral nature of men, as men themselves interpret this nature, and say that it must judge of the credibility and evidence of revelation.  For if this is done, we are virtually telling the natural man to accept just so much and no more of Christianity as, with his perverted concept of human nature, he cares to accept.”[1]

Man, in his unregenerate state is hostile to God and is not able to accept theistic concepts of God as revealed in the Bible (1 Cor. 2:14).  Whether he is a good standing citizen, a notorious sinner, spiritual procrastinator, member of a church, a pastor, a minister – an unregenerate man, no matter what his occupation is, will not accept or understand the things of God.  As a result, he will pervert the concept of the human nature, which includes the concept: image of God.

Here are some samples of the perverted understanding of how a unregenerate man is defined.  For the Marxist, he views man as product of nature and is not created in the image of God.[2]  Man cannot be created in the image of God because they deny the very existence of God.[3]  Marxism denies one’s responsibility to God, because human responsibility is directed to society.[4]  Another highlight is their view of salvation.  Because they deny the existence of God, they do not believe in individual salvation, but they desire a future attainment of a perfect utopia.[5]  Other perverted understandings of the doctrine of man would be Psychology.  For example, B.F. Skinner, in Beyond Freedom and Dignity, notes that man is autonomous and has freedom to act as he wishes or wills.[6]  An unbiblical view of man is dangerous because it denies the concept of being made in the image of God.  As Hoekema puts it,

Since each of the above-named views of man considers one aspect of the human being to be ultimate, apart from any dependence on or responsibility to God the Creator, each of these anthropologies is guilty of idolatry: of worshiping an aspect of creation in the place of God.  If, as the Bible teaches, the most important thing about man is that he is inescapably related to God, we must judge as deficient any anthropology which denies that relatedness.”[7]

It must be pointed out that the unbiblical view of anthropology have crept into the church and it’s heavy implementation can be traced back to non-Christian notions that have crept into what Hoekema calls, “so-called Christian anthropologies.”[8]  Hoekema traces the problem all the way back to the Middle Ages where synthesized ideologies of man were found in Aristotelian philosophy with Christian teachings.[9]  Out from this, Hoekema points out how the hybrid of Aristotelian and Christian view, created a notion among Christians that the “sins of the flesh” (i.e. adultery) is far more serious and dangerous than the “sins of the spirit” (i.e., pride, jealously, self-centeredness, racism, anger, laziness, etc.).[10]  This chief problem stems from the evil that has its roots in the body, is implicit in scholastic theology.[11]

Since the term, image of God is the buzzword; we must find a proper definition of it.  Once it is properly defined, we will be able to answer the many myriad of questions such as: How does one view of man help one understand God, how does the view of man shed light on the work of Christ, what are the benefits in understanding the view of man, does the view of man have implications for ethics, Christians worldview, etc.?[12]

Before we find out what is the proper definition of the concept: image of God, it must be pointed out that since this post is a book review, my goal is not to write an extensive essay on the image of God covering areas like the substantive view, relational view, or the functional view.  In terms of the definition: image of God, here is how Hoekema defines it:

The concept of man as the image or likeness of God tells us that man as he was created was to mirror [i.e. to make visible the Invisible] and to represent God [i.e. to act as God, under God and for God’s creation].”

A further delineation of the definition from Hoekema can be expressed in this manner too,

We must learn to know what the image of God is by looking at Jesus Christ. What must therefore be at the center of the image of God is not characteristics like the ability to reason or the ability to make decisions…but rather that which was central in the life of Christ: love for God and love for man.

Hoekema’s definition is closely related to the relational view.  Others will say that the desire to love God and people is a matter of the consequence of being made in the image of God, but not the basis because there are many who do not desire to be in relationship to God or people.  If stressed is placed upon relationship, then spiritual hermits, the unborn, and the mentally handicapped, by implication, are left out of the picture.

In light of the difficulty of coming up with a precise definition of God because we mirror a complex God, I think it would be unwise to limit the definition to loving God and people.  We need to also consider the human constitution.  But that is a post for another day.

As for the structure of the book, it can be broken down into four parts: doctrine of man (consists of man as a created person), the image of God (consists of biblical teaching, historical survey, theological summary, the question of self-image), sin (origin of sin, spread of sin, nature of sin, restraint of sin), and the final portion of the book deals with the whole person and the issue of freedom.

The doctrine of man is an important study for Christians.  Hoekema stresses the negative implications when the doctrine of man is separated from divine revelation.  What you have in return is unbiblical views coming from non-Christian thinkers or systems: Greek philosophy, Marxism, psychology; and so the list goes on.  If the doctrine of man is separated from God’s revelation, man-centered anthropology is guilty of idolatry.[13]  In that context, idolatry happens when one is worshipping an aspect of creation in place of the true God.[14]  Moreover, as a created person, man is under the subordination of God.  In this section of chapter 2, called, “Man as a Created Person,” Hoekema addresses many problems, but one key problem is the worldview of the secular anthropology that fail to take into account man’s creaturliness.[15]  The Bible accounts for man’s creatureliness (Romans 9:21).  As a result, what we can get out of this understanding is the Creator-creature distinction.  God is Creator and we are His creation.  We cannot lift our face away from God apart from Him.

As for the image of God section of his book, which consists of biblical teaching, historical survey, theological summary, the question of self-image, Hoekema’s covers many pertinent areas.  In the “Biblical Teaching” section, he covers the Old Testament and the New Testament understanding of the image of God concept.  I really appreciated his interaction of the exegetical significance and insights of certain terms such as “image,” “likeness,” “new man,” “be imitators of God,” etc.  In regards to the “Historical Survey” section, Hoekema draws up a myriad of historical resources from men of the past such as Irenaeus, Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin, Karl Barth, Emil Brunner, and G.C. Berkouwer.  This is a fascinating area, because it addresses key concepts such as dominion, love, the historical fall, and many other issues.  In the “Theological Summary” section, Hoekema summarizes theological descriptions of the meaning and significance of the concept and doctrine concerning the image of God.[16]  He covers the structural and functional aspects, Christ as the true image of God, man in his threefold relationship (“between man and God, between man and his fellowmen, and between man and nature”), the original image, the perverted image, the renewed image, the perfected image, and the concluding observations that includes implications for the church and evangelism.  As good as the “Theological Summary” section is, I was really disappointed when Hoekema made this statement,

We see God’s image in its greater richness and wider splendor only as we look at the Christian community throughout the ages and throughout the world—in other words, in the universal church.  When we look at great saints of the past and of the present—the apostle Paul, Francis of Assisi, Martiin Luther, John Calvin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Mother Teresa, and Billy Graham, to mention just a few—we see what God is like.”

I already have trouble with Billy Graham, but to mention Mother Teresa who is a Roman Catholic that upholds works righteousness is sad.  I am not sure why Hoekema placed her in the halls of saints.  He will have to give an answer for this.  At any rate, in this “Self-Image” section, Hoekema points out the perversion of the self-image and the renewal of the self-image.

In Chapter 7, “The Origin of Sin,” talking points revolve around whether Adam was a historical person, covenant of works, the fall of angels, speaking serpent, and the riddle of sin.  There are much details covered in those areas.  For example, in relation to the covenant of works, one may want to do further research.  This will lead into questions about whether all reform theologians believe in a covenant of works.  According to Hoekema, he also agrees with John Murray and believes that the covenant of works should not be used because it does not do justice to the elements of grace, because the Bible does not refer to its arrangement as a covenant (Hosea 6:7), and because there was no covenant ratification ceremony of the covenant of works in the early chapters of Genesis.[17]  In chapter 8, “The Spread of Sin,” this section covers the results of sin, the universality of sin, original sin, and the transmission of sin.  For chapter 9, “The Nature of Sin,” Hoekema brings to the readers’ attention concerning the essential character of sin, biblical words for sin, different types of sin, degrees in sin, and the unpardonable sin.  He covers those areas because it affects how one images God biblically.  The last section on sin is chapter 9, “The Restraint of Sin.”  If it was not for the restraint of sin, the perverted image of God would be magnified.  In this section, he also brings to light: the doctrine of common grace, biblical basis for common grace, the means by which sin is restrained, and the value in the doctrine of common grace.  Those interested or those who have different views of common grace, may want to look into this section to see how Hoekema lays out his biblical basis for common grace.

The final portion of this book covers the concept of the whole person and the question of freedom.  In Chapter 11, titled “The Whole Person” Hoekema writes about whether humans have two or three separate parts.  This deals with the issue of Trichotomy or Dichotmoy topic.  He looks at it from the Old Testament and New Testamant.  At the end of the day, he concludes that man is not able to be separated into parts, but must be seen as a unitary being.  For example, he states,

He or she must be seen in his or her totality, not as a composite of different ‘parts.’”

Although I see man in two parts: material and immaterial (Dichotomy), this section is worth the read.  In this section, he also discusses the psychosomatic unity (“man is one person who can, however, be looked at from two sides”).[18]  In this area, he states,

My preference, however, is to speak of man as a psychosomatic unity.  The advantage of this expression is that it does full justice to the two sides of man, while stressing man’s unity.”[19]

His definition of the psychosomatic unity and the prior definition above about man not being able to be separated is confusing.  It appears to be eclectic in its expression.  He also covers the intermediate state.  What I appreciated about this chapter are the practical implications.  Because man is material and non-material, the church must be concern for man as a whole person.  The immaterial and the non-material both have affects upon a person.  Man is a complex unity.  Eating, exercising, and spiritual disciplines, which is most important to the believer (1 Timothy 4:8; 3 John 1:12; Phil. 4:13; Prov. 10:4).  In regards to chapter twelve, called “The Question of Freedom,” Hoekema brings into discussion regarding the ability to choose, the origin of true freedom, true freedom lost, true freedom restored, and true freedom perfected.  He quotes some famous theologians: John Calvin and Martin Luther to get some of their insights on this ancient issue.

In light of all the details covered, I recommend reading this 243-page book. It will help and cause you to dive deeper into the discussion concerning the doctrine of man.


[1]Greg L. Bahnsen, Van Til’s Apologetic: Readings (Phillipsburg, N.J.: P & R Publishing, 1998), 155.

[2]Anthony A. Hoekema, Created in God’s Image (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1986), 3.

[3]Ibid., 3.

[4]Ibid., 3.

[5]Ibid., 3.

[6]Ibid., 3.

[7]Ibid., 4.

[8]Ibid., 4.

[9]Ibid., 4.

[10]Ibid., 4

[11]Ibid., 4

[12]Ibid., 4.

[13]Ibid., 4.

[14]Ibid., 4

[15]Ibid., 7.

[16]Ibid., 7.

[17]Ibid., 119-120.

[18]Ibid., 216.

[19]Ibid., 217.

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