Judges 14:10-20

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 27, 2017 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“Now his father went down to see the woman. And there Samson held a feast, as was customary for young men. When the people saw him, they chose thirty men to be his companions.
'Let me tell you a riddle,' Samson said to them. 'If you can give me the answer within the seven days of the feast, I will give you thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes. If you can’t tell me the answer, you must give me thirty linen garments and thirty sets of clothes.'
'Tell us your riddle,' they said. 'Let’s hear it.'
He replied, 'Out of the eater, something to eat; out of the strong, something sweet.'
For three days they could not give the answer.
On the fourth day, they said to Samson’s wife, 'Coax your husband into explaining the riddle for us, or we will burn you and your father’s household to death. Did you invite us here to steal our property?'
Then Samson’s wife threw herself on him, sobbing, 'You hate me! You don’t really love me. You’ve given my people a riddle, but you haven’t told me the answer.'
'I haven’t even explained it to my father or mother,' he replied, 'so why should I explain it to you?' She cried the whole seven days of the feast. So on the seventh day he finally told her, because she continued to press him. She in turn explained the riddle to her people.
Before sunset on the seventh day the men of the town said to him,
'What is sweeter than honey? What is stronger than a lion?'
Samson said to them, 'If you had not plowed with my heifer, you would not have solved my riddle.'
Then the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of everything and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle. Burning with anger, he returned to his father’s home. And Samson’s wife was given to one of his companions who had attended him at the feast.” (Judges 14:10-20)

Samson married the Philistine woman from Timnah, and as was the custom, their wedding feast was going on and lasting 7 days. The 30 companions that Samson had were sort of like groomsmen that we have in weddings today. The riddle that Samson gives them was mostly for entertainment purposes, but it was also a competition of wits between Samson the Israelite and the Philistines. Clothing was highly valued then, so the 30 sets of clothing that was wagered was a really big deal.

After 3 days, the Philistine men were getting nervous that they couldn’t figure it out, and they were worried that they may have to pay the high price. So what do they do? They threaten Samson’s wife to try and get the answer from him. After much nagging, Samson finally gives in and gives her the answer, which she immediately passes on to the men. Samson accuses them (accurately) of not playing fair. In order to pay his debt, he travels 20 miles away to the key Philistine city of Ashkelon where he robs 30 men of their clothing.

At this point, the marriage between Samson and his wife had not yet been consummated, so it was not yet considered a legal marriage. His wife’s father decided that Samson was not the man for her daughter, so he gives her to one of the groomsmen in marriage, so she wouldn’t be disgraced by Samson’s actions.

Samson tried to be witty and get some extra goods from this riddle challenge, but in the end it cost him dearly - his wife, his dignity, and now he has robbed 30 men too! All of our actions have consequences. Samson chose to give the riddle challenge with its steep price and he chose to give in to his wife’s nagging, and now he’s paying for it by coming away unmarried and disgraced.

What choices are you making in life that could have negative consequences? Samson surely didn’t expect it to end this way, but life has a way of doing that to us - we think we have a sure thing and then it falls through. This week, pray for God to show you choices that will not lead to negative consequences. But if you do make a wrong choice, pray that God shows you the lesson you need to learn from it so you don’t repeat the same mistake again.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.

READ MORE

Relaxed in God

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, February 26, 2017 0 comments


by Ami Samuels

One day as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I clicked on a post titled “Relaxed in God’s Grace.” I briefly scanned the article but I was struck by the title. “Relaxed in God’s Grace.” This reminded me of a time when I wasn’t relaxed at all.

I have gotten my nails done for several years. My first nail salon was in a mall in Kentucky. The young girls there almost always made my nail beds bleed. This is a very painful experience to say the least, so much so that I decided that this process wasn’t worth the pain and quit going back. A few months later I had a special occasion and I wanted my nails to look nice. A friend told me about another salon and I decided to give it a try.

My new nail tech’s name was Jimmy. What I remember about Jimmy was that he would always gently slap my hand and say to “Relax.” Because of my previous experience I had a hard time relaxing.

As I thought about Jimmy, it made me wonder if God often wants to gently tap my hand and say “Relax, dear one, I’ve got this.” I have often pictured myself climbing into Jesus’ lap and being cradled like a baby, but when I think of myself I realized instead of resting swaddled in his arms, often I am restless. I am more like a caterpillar fighting to get out of a cocoon - worrying, planning, praying, studying, and constantly trying to figure out God’s plan. That is NOT trust, rest, or peace!

Matthew 11:28 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Today, mentally crawl up into Jesus’ lap and let him hold you in his arms. And relax, he’s got things under control.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.

READ MORE

Pictures Don’t Lie, Our Perception Does

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Saturday, February 25, 2017 0 comments


by Nathan Buck

As uncomfortable as an honest look in the mirror is, doing so is good for us. Recently, under pressure from several deadlines, when everything seemed to be going well, I was dealt setbacks: special orders for pottery that looked beautiful and then cracked while drying, a roofing nail in my front tire, technology that stopped working, an air compressor that stopped working, managers at work that were not responding, and on top of this (and other random setbacks) the normal chaos of family and three children. It’s on days like this when I am confronted with the cracks in my resolve to trust God in all things.

Winston Churchill is portrayed in the drama “The Crown” as having hated the portrait painting of him commissioned by the government just before his retirement. He hated it because it made him look weak, weary, and decayed. And as he argued with the artist, the artist replied, “There is no vanity in this art, no pride, no bias; it is impartial. If you see age, it’s because there is age, if tiredness it’s because there is tiredness, if decay it’s because there’s is decay. You can hide these things from yourself, but they are still there.” And as Winston slumped into the chair with the painting behind him and the artist left, the camera centered on Winston with the portrait just over his shoulder. The likeness of the painting was spectacularly identical and revealing.

Perhaps for many of us, the moments when we are least in control and least able to solve issues are when we are most exposed for the broken creatures that we are. No matter how much I thrive on challenges, if I pile up too many, I slip, then fall, then make a mess. I’m sure I am not the only one who struggles with this. Maybe your triggers are different, maybe they are the same. The truth of the matter is that when we are pushed beyond our sense of control, who or what we trust in comes to the surface. And if we trust our own ability or some ideology that has no power to influence the situation, the frustration boils out. It doesn’t matter what image we try to maintain; the truth of our character is seen.

Take a moment and read the book of Job (pronounced ‘jobe’) chapters 1-2. Focus on the conversations around when he loses everything, and then loses his health. I cannot pretend that I have ever experienced loss in the way that Job did. He had no control over it, and could have chosen to be angry with God. He could have chosen to listen to his wife, who doesn’t seem like the compassionate sort, based on her comments, but maybe she thought she was next. Instead, I am amazed at Job’s first reaction. His VERY FIRST reaction to the loss of his wealth, his livelihood, and his children is to bless God (Job 1:21).

When his health is taken and his wife tells him to “curse God, and die,” his response is to correct his wife and remind her that God is in control. In fact, he says to her, “You speak as a foolish woman would speak. What? Should we receive good at the hand of God and not receive evil?” (Job 1:9-10) Let that sink in for a moment.

I make a mess of my life and my relationships every time I take things into my own hands and persist in a direction that God has not established for me. I make a mess when I face circumstances bigger than my influence and then act as if God owes me a good outcome. I make a mess when I take my predispositions and overlay them on God and insist that He and His Word conform to my understanding. I sin when I cling to any desire, “right,” expectation, or predisposition, instead of having everything surrendered to Him.

Job did not sin. Even in shock, in loss, in anger, in fear, and in his reality being turned upside down, he did not sin. He remained right before God, because he did not demand from or believe he was owed anything from anyone - especially God. In my week of setbacks, I sinned because I expected I had to fix it all and control it all. I forgot the perspective Job kept in Job 1:21.

What if we were able to keep Job’s perspective and take an honest look at ourselves? Would we be so willing to excuse our sin? Would we be so willing to ignore or reinterpret God’s commands toward our circumstances?

We can approach God’s Word with the assumption that we are basically ok and that God’s commands have to somehow “fit” into the framework of our personality, predispositions, or preferences. Or we can approach His Word assuming He is right, and our response is to surrender everything and trust Him to shape us toward his commands.

“Fitting” God into our framework actually makes us ‘god.’ Because we know intellectually that we are not God, we then have to layer all kinds of extra explanations over the places where we go against the Bible. These explanations are often seen when people express a belief in relative or changing moral standards over time, belief that certain commands of God are irrelevant, or just the rejection of any belief system where their way of living would have to adjust to a central moral standard.

If we assume God is right and good, then we can live trusting that God is God. This is difficult for EVERYONE to live by, because it demands everyone’s predispositions be aligned to God’s ways, which often requires sacrificing deeply felt or deeply experienced desires to let God be first. This is a HUMAN difficulty, and no human feels it any less than any other. No group is more or less able or excused from facing this plain and simple reality. If God is God, then we must allow ourselves to look in the mirror at our own portrait and see what is there. We cannot allow ourselves to try and change God in order to save ourselves and cover our brokenness. Rather, we must allow ourselves to be His, in our brokenness, so that He can bring the fullness of life He intended for us.

There are plenty who have taken the opportunity to redefine the Bible and make everyone feel ok. And there are plenty who have used the Bible as a weapon against others to make themselves feel ok. BOTH are wrong. We must come to the Bible with a willingness to let God’s Word expose where we are broken, abnormal, rebellious, ugly, ashamed, scorned, fearful, drunken, adulterous, lustful, dysphoric, jealous, angry, hateful, judgmental, abusive, etc. When we see how far we are from Him and we feel the chasm is insurmountable, we must fix our eyes on Him and lay down our expectations and ‘rights.’ We cannot allow ourselves to fear it is too hard for US to get to him. We should not demand fairness and argue for our ’rights’ before Him. If He is God, we have no measure of control, no ‘rights’ by which to twist His arm to get what we want.

We only have His grace. His mercy and compassion for us caused Him to reach all the way to us, so He could bring us all the way to Him. Wherever we are far from Him, He will bring His healing, His transformation, His restoration, His love, His peace, His joy, His patience, His kindness, His goodness, His faithfulness, and His self-control to fill those spaces and redefine them in His image.

Are you blaming God for all the things you don’t or may never have? Are you tempted to believe popular reinterpretations of God’s Word that seem to fit your way of living? Are you willing to let the Bible show you who you really are? You may not like it any more than Winston Churchill liked his portrait. But it will be honest, unbiased, and trustworthy. Once you can face yourself and see the love God has for you, you’ll be able to have a more honest and transformative relationship with God.

I invite you to the most painful, challenging, and yet rewarding HUMAN journey we all face together - letting God be God and trusting Him with everything.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.

READ MORE

Characteristics of a Leader, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, February 24, 2017 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Last week, I addressed three characteristics of David that a servant of Saul observed in him when considering him to serve the king. Read 1 Samuel 16:14-23 to review the context. Look at verse 18 in particular. Let me list the six characteristics again. David was: 1) skilled with a harp, 2) man of valor, 3) a man of war, 4) prudent in speech, 5) good-looking, and 6) the Spirit of the Lord was upon him. Today, we will look at the last three.

4) David was prudent in speech.

When was the last time you saw someone with this characteristic? Someone who knows what to say, when to say it, and how to say it. I am gifted at explaining things. I can make them clear and articulate pretty well, however, I also have a tendency of simply speaking my mind no matter what is on it. I am always honest about what I say, but it is not always appropriate to say it then or to that particular person. As a result, I can be without tact and rather blunt, but worse is that at times I may say something that may be something confidential or I may be saying something that particular audience simply does not need to know.

David, however, showed wisdom in how he spoke. His mouth never got him into trouble. He never talked back to his authorities (to his father or to Saul, even when Saul tried to kill him). He never sassed anyone. He never used foul language. He always spoke to try to diffuse the situation. He was humble and when offered positions of recognition by Saul, he would take the lowest seat. He never spoke to boost his own position. He never spoke with flattery. Also interesting is that David did not boast before the army that he could slay Goliath. He just kept asking what the reward would be.

James said the tongue is perhaps the hardest thing for a man to tame, yet David seemed to have his under control. There is one area in modern life that the tongue is the loosest: social media. It is quite amazing the things people say on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc. And I’ve not always been the wisest in what to say either. That is part of why I wrote my post a few weeks ago on how and why we defend the Bible. There is too much focus on simply being right, rather than being concerned about the soul of the person we are talking with. God has exposed that to me as an issue in my life, but it hasn’t been worked out of my system yet. Are we prudent in our speech? If we do not learn to address this issue, we have no business in leadership.

5) David was good-looking.

I know what many of you may be thinking: that rules me out of leadership. I don’t have a camera-pretty face. But let us keep the context in mind. This is from the eyes of a servant of Saul. Just a few verses earlier, when Samuel was anointing David, God told him not to look at physical appearance. The Bible rarely gives a physical description of its heroes. Joseph, David, Daniel are among the very few I can think of: handsome, ruddy, good-looking. That is about as much physical description it gives its heroes. The villains on the other hand, Goliath, Saul, Absalom, and others tends to get more physical descriptions. Absalom was interesting enough that the Bible describes the weight of his hair after cutting it every year.

We need to remember here that God is not interested in how you appear physically. He is interested in how you appear spiritually. Are we good looking, spiritually? The only way we can be is if we are born again, with a new, clean heart by the grace of God through faith. The one that looks good usually cannot get the job done properly because the attitude and the heart is not there. Often as well, the one with the correct attitude and heart will not look the part, but they can get the job done far better.

6) The Spirit of the Lord was upon David.

This is the secret to it all. The moment David was anointed, the Spirit of the Lord came upon David. This is how David’s music worked to relieve Saul. This is how David had the courage to face both lion and bear. This is how David was wise in battle. This is how David was prudent in speech. David did not just have the Spirit upon him, but David walked in that anointing. Saul had the Spirit too for a while, but then it left when Saul refused to obey God.

Old Testament times are interesting because the Spirit of God would come and go. It would rarely stay upon a person. We, as New Testament believers, have the Holy Spirit for good. This is something the OT saints longed for. However, how many of us walk in that Spirit? Many of us would love to, but we are not willing to give up our own means to get there. To live God’s way, dependence upon our own skills, abilities, and intellect must be put away, and it must be upon God alone.

Rees Howells had this moment. He was a believer, and he worked during a time of revival in Wales. But during that revival, God gave Howells an ultimatum: to completely surrender his life to Christ (in a way far deeper than we really understand today) and have a difficult yet extraordinary life, or to live a simple Christian life. And God even game him a deadline: by 6:00pm that evening. Rees Howells had a hard time making that decision, but by 5:59pm he went for it. The Spirit of God fell upon him and bit by bit, God removed more and more things of self from him. In the process, Howells became a greater and greater spiritual warrior. He was able to declare that no one on his mission in Africa would perish from the plague and his prayers were part of what altered the course of World War II. This is not a task anyone can just declare, but someone who has truly walked a hard life of surrender of self.

The secret to being a leader as David was is the yield and follow the Holy Spirit. David had one major blemish on his record: the incident of Bathsheba and Uriah. But besides that, he lived a life of victory and success as a whole. There were other things David did wrong, but that was the only time David failed to seek and heed the voice of the Lord until he was confronted. When it comes to leadership, David gives us a spectacular template of what kind of character is needed. He is not the only example, but he is a good one. Let us learn how God prepared David for leadership and let us not merely esteem these characteristics, but pursue them.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.

READ MORE

Morals in Religion

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, February 23, 2017 0 comments


by Steve Risner

Last week we touched on how the US government does not favor Christians over non-Christians in the election of officials. The official stance of the US government was declared by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1961. No religious test or declaration was necessary to run for any office. This week, we're going to touch on morality—its source and merit. My friend, the atheist I've been writing about, wants to complain about laws in the US that are based, in his mind, on the Christian idea of morality. Let's take a look at his statements:

“Blue Laws are on the books. They ban certain behaviors due to upholding “morality,” but strangely, things like alcohol restrictions are on the Christian Sabbath of Sunday, not the Muslim Sabbath of Friday or the Jewish Sabbath of Saturday. As an atheist, I was forced to follow Indiana’s restrictive liquor laws, even though I am not subject to moral reasons not to buy beer on Sundays. Seriously, buying cold beer in that state is a [expletive]!”

If you've never heard of “Blue Laws,” according to Wikipedia they are “laws designed to restrict or ban some or all Sunday activities for religious reasons, particularly to promote the observance of a day of worship or rest. Blue laws may also restrict shopping or ban sale of certain items on specific days, most often on Sundays in the western world. Blue laws are enforced in parts of the United States and Canada as well as some European countries, particularly in Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and Norway, keeping most stores closed on Sundays.”

Wikipedia also tells us that such laws have been deemed constitutional by the US Supreme Court on numerous occasions even though they appear to have religious origins. These laws are classified as laws that are wrong because the law says so rather than a law against something that is inherently evil. That's the difference here, and that's why my friend's argument is actually incorrect. To be more clear, his example is incorrect. The laws that we enjoy in these United States that are based on morality—declaring something illegal because it is something wrong in and of itself—are obviously based on the Christian moral code. Most of the “Blue Laws” in the US have been repealed. These are laws against something that that the law says shouldn't be done. It's not a moral law, meaning it's evil in and of itself. See the difference? Let's delve into the source of morality for a moment.

Some will argue (and by “some” I mean evolutionists primarily) that morality evolved as mankind evolved. The reasoning for this is because atheists believe that the fact that we exist is proof that we evolved from simple ancestors through the long process of evolution (we all share a common ancestor). Likewise, the fact that humans have a sense of moral judgment and standards of moral behavior is taken as evidence that such morality is also a product of evolution. The illogical nature of such claims, I hope, is obvious. This is a great example of how atheists first believe in evolution from a single common ancestor and then view all the evidence they see through that lens without question. So their argument is, “We exist, therefore, we evolved. Morality exists, therefore, it evolved.” That's the whole of it. There have recently been attempts to use “science” (in quotes because it's philosophy based on the presupposition that evolution is true) to explain the matter, but they fail to recognize that science only describes what “is,” not what “ought” to be. They cannot describe why morality exists using humanistic philosophy or materialism. In fact, morality is subjective in the atheist view and, therefore, not really morality in my mind.

As we talked about in my last couple of blog posts, the hope of atheism is insignificance wrapped in hopelessness and despair. From the atheist's point of view, humans are nothing more than insignificant products of random natural processes. We have no intrinsic value, demand no moral consideration, and have no moral obligations. The atheist understands there are objectively determined matters of right and wrong. They cannot figure out how to explain this but will attempt to in order to support their belief that God is not real and that they are rational. But even atheist Sam Harris declares that genuine morality must be objective: “valid and binding independent of human opinion.” He recognizes that real morality must be objective. I'll add to that and say that without God as the source of morality, there can be no objective morality, only popular opinions. For the atheist, this is a large problem. If morality is just popular opinion determined by society, anything can be determined to be “good.” That means, had the Nazis won the war and murdered all the Jews because they believed it was good, it was the moral thing. This is obviously not true. Regardless of who thinks it's wrong or right, exterminating large numbers of people simply because you've decided they are “inferior” is always immoral. Regardless of popular opinion, rape, incest, child abuse, and molesting children or animals is always wrong. This is because morality has a source higher than society—higher than man. That source is God. He told us His standard in the Bible expressed in the Ten Commandments and written on every human heart.

It would only make sense that the Christian idea of morality is written in the laws of our great nation. Our nation was founded by Christian men on Christian principles to govern a predominantly Christian people. Since my friend wanted to make this an issue of the law and government, let's see what the Founders had to say on morality. John Adams, our second president, said “It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. The only foundation of a free constitution is pure virtue.” He further said, “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” That's interesting, I think. John Adams is saying that a nation can only be governed rightly if its basis is Christian. That means a nation can only be free if its foundation is the Bible. This atheist is complaining about and criticizing the only reason he lives in a free society and enjoys the liberty the US has to offer.

Our first president, George Washington, noted, “Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of man and citizens.” It almost sounds like he's suggesting it's un-American and unpatriotic to not have faith in “religion” (which most assuredly is the Christian faith he's talking about). Washington felt strongly about it and went further saying, “And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” This great man in our history is saying that regardless of your wisdom and education (which atheists believe their position is one of higher reason and learning), you cannot separate religion (again, most likely Christianity) from morality. It's what our nation was founded on and why the Declaration of Independence was written.

Robert Winthrop, speaker of the house in the 1850's, said, “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled either by a power within them or by a power without them; either by the Word of God or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.” This is just a sample of the statements made by our Founders that claim that morality hangs on faith in God alone and no other source can be found.

My friend believes it's unfair that he, an atheist, would need to be subjected to the laws of man that are based on the Christian faith. Of these laws, we would include murder, theft, and lying since these are found in the Bible. The entire framework of our nation's system of government is found in the Word of God. It's because of this that this atheist is even free to be an atheist here. The tolerance of the Christian faith is unrivaled. If only this atheist would spend a little time in a Muslim state where his views are not just the minority but are forbidden.

My belief is that if he is not happy with the local “Blue Laws” he's forced to deal with, he can either work around them—living his life such that he tolerates these laws (like buying his beer on Saturday) or he can move. We are free in these United States to live in whatever area we choose. Isn't that wonderful? That's another great freedom we have here that others may not so readily enjoy. The fact is, if it weren't for Christianity founding this nation, it would be a very different place and not for the better. If it weren't for the morality instilled in man by God, anarchy would rule. Is that what this atheist wants? Why is morality important?

Morality is about doing what's right, regardless of the consequence. It has a great deal to do with relationships and how we treat others. It encourages “good” behavior and respect towards others, enhancing our relationships with others. Making good moral decisions improves society and builds stronger relationships, not to mention it makes you a good contributor to society. It has NOTHING to do with earning something from God. It's the byproduct of having Christ in your heart.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.

READ MORE

The Curious Case of John Hick

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, February 22, 2017 0 comments


by David Odegard

Either there is a self-revealing God or there is not. This is the primary question.

Whoever builds on the foundation that there is no self-revealing God will necessarily come to the conclusion that all religions are centered in man’s pursuit of meaning or his attempt to understand the universe. The origin and meaning of the universe can only ever be guessed at using current knowledge of physics and the other sciences, while at the same time recognizing that there are major pieces of cosmic history missing or otherwise unexaminable.

Whoever builds on the foundation that there is a self-revealing God will not be surprised if this God speaks and establishes a way for humanity to understand Him. Perhaps this knowledge will not be exhaustive, but it will be adequate to know what is expected of the creation. Questions of origins and meaning do not remain a mystery because the self-revealing God was there and He claims to be the originator of all of it. This is not a leap of faith for one who accepts the possibility of a self-revealing God; it is a logical conclusion that such a God would speak.

So these two foundations are completely different ways of looking at the universe and they cannot by synthesized. Either there is a self-revealing God or there is not. However one answers the “God question” automatically places that person in one of these two separate categories.

There has been much energy expended to synthesize these two conceptions of ultimate reality, but it has produced heat and friction and never any light. Each position tries to impose the rules of their concept on the other. The person who rules out the possibility of a self-revealing God cannot accept any evidence that suggests there is one, because that possibility has been ruled out before the evidence is examined. As Jesus said, “They will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

I will refer to those who do not accept the possibility of a self-revealing God as the disbelievers, which may sound a little condescending, but it is accurate. The other side I will call believers.

I want to examine the case of John Hick because his experience is exemplary of a wide swath of religious liberalism. “I began my Christian life as a fundamentalist,” Hick says of himself (“A Pluralist View” in Four Views of Salvation in a Pluralistic World). Many atheists, agnostics, and disbelievers began as fundamentalists, and John Hick was no exception. His fundamentalism was typical in that it relied heavily on dogma. It built absolute theological structures with unyielding and non-scholastic certitude.

Because of its anti-intellectual nature, fundamentalism cannot seem to deal with real questions of the modern mind. Fundamentalists receive real truth, but in a dogmatic manner that does not allow for personal examination or critical thinking.

Imagine a nine-year-old listening to a sermon in which the pastor slaps the pulpit and declares that either the Bible is absolutely true and without the slightest imperfection or it is an utter lie; there is no middle ground whatsoever. The child looks up at his parents and sees them nodding their approval. Ten years later, the child encounters a new dogma in his freshman year from his college professor. This professor dogmatically asserts the same thing except he points out the scribal imperfections in the transmission of the Biblical text. (By the way, minor scribal imperfections have not reduced the reliability of the Scripture. We do not have the original autographs, but we have so many manuscripts that the variations do not change anything substantially.)

Next, the professor leverages his 30 years of experience over the child while his pastor and parents are miles away. Now he becomes the authority, after all he is the one who dispenses the grades. Because the child was never taught to think critically himself, he transfers loyalty from belief to disbelief. This is the inherent weakness of fundamentalism. Hick admits this is the case for him. He began to question whether the concept of hell was justified philosophically. A period of “cognitive dissonance” occurred for Hick wherein his fundamentalist mind underwent a conversion to the absolutism of philosophical naturalism. Still, his new disbelief was also an absolutist, unexamined dogma. There will always be a gap between the implications of philosophical naturalism and Christian morality and justice. This seems to be overlooked by Hick and others.

The concept of hell might be hard to deal with, but without hell, all those persons who have suffered injustice in this life have no final vindication; justice is never served. The law of the jungle would be without an appellate court if there is no one watching and granting justice. Without a hell, Adolf Hitler and Mother Theresa have the same reward, except Hitler conquered Europe and Theresa conquered only herself.

Hick says that a large portion of his fellow disbelievers experienced an “intellectual conversion” from Christian fundamentalism to disbelief in a self-revealing God. Hick hopes that all Christians will be able “sort out the intellectually acceptable and unacceptable [and be able] eventually to discard the latter.” Hick desires every Christian to commit apostasy as a way of selecting that which is intellectually acceptable as he defines acceptability. Sadly, many intellectual people (even one of my own professors in graduate school) do cease to worship God with their minds. Then they surrender to the disbelievers’ assertions and agree to play by the rules of their game. Once they accept a foundation that there is no self-revealing God, the game is over. Anything built on the foundation of disbelief in a self-revealing God can never accept the Bible, Christianity, or the reality that God exists or that there is a day of accountability coming.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.

READ MORE

Judges 14:5-9

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, February 20, 2017 0 comments


by Katie Erickson

“Samson went down to Timnah together with his father and mother. As they approached the vineyards of Timnah, suddenly a young lion came roaring toward him. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat. But he told neither his father nor his mother what he had done. Then he went down and talked with the woman, and he liked her.
Some time later, when he went back to marry her, he turned aside to look at the lion’s carcass, and in it he saw a swarm of bees and some honey. He scooped out the honey with his hands and ate as he went along. When he rejoined his parents, he gave them some, and they too ate it. But he did not tell them that he had taken the honey from the lion’s carcass.” (Judges 14:5-9)

Last week, we saw that Samson was determined to marry a Philistine woman from the city of Timnah in Israel. On this particular day, he and his parents were on their way to Timnah to discuss the marriage plans.

On the way there, a young lion comes toward Samson and he rips it apart with his bare hands! While this sounds pretty impressive, it’s actually not a good thing because of the Nazarite vow that was put on his life before he was born. Remember that the Nazarite vow requires that he not have contact with anything dead, and if he killed a lion then he must have had to touch it while it was dead. He also violated Jewish cleanliness laws by coming into contact with the lion’s bodily fluids.

Note that we see in the text how Samson’s parents didn’t see this encounter with the lion, and he didn’t tell them what he had done. More on that in a bit.

While in Timnah, Samson reaffirmed his desire to marry the Philistine woman. But on the way back home, he comes into contact with the dead lion again! He obviously had to touch the dead body in order to eat the honey from the swarm of bees in the lion’s carcass. This was still not allowed under his Nazarite vow, and his parents still didn’t know that he broke that vow in this way.

At this point we don’t see any immediate negative consequences for Samson’s disobedience and the breaking of his Nazarite vows, but he still should have known better. Samson thought he could get away with the sin when no one saw him do it.

What sins do you have in your life that are like that? If nobody sees me steal this item from the store, it’s ok, right? What if nobody hears that swear word you utter? Or what if no one else knows how you lusted over that cute other person while married to your spouse? Truth is, God knows. God knows every thought you think, every word you say, and every action you do (or don’t do). The requirement for something being a sin is not whether it’s observed by another person or not; the standard for determining sin is God’s law.

Do you think you can get away with sin when no one sees you do it? Pray for God to help you overcome temptation when it comes upon you, whether you’re with others or by yourself, so that you can maintain a life pleasing to God.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.

READ MORE