Monkey Typewriters, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 31, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

The year 1860 was a very interesting year for many people. Here in the United States, Abraham Lincoln was preparing to be the 16th president right before the U.S. Civil War was to begin. However, across the Atlantic Ocean in Oxford, another debate took place, one with as much if not more notoriety than the Scopes Trial of 1925: The debate between Thomas Huxley, known as “Darwin’s Bulldog,” and Samuel Wilberforce, son of the great orator and statesman, William Wilberforce. The topic: Was Darwin right about Evolution?

On the Origins of Species had been released only about seven months prior and both wrote extensive reviews about it. Huxley promoted Darwin’s idea extensively. He got the name “Darwin’s Bulldog” for a reason because he often spoke with brute force, seeking to silence the opposition by intimidation. Wilberforce was a professor of mathematics at Oxford and one of the top scholars and orators to defend Biblical truth at the time. Wilberforce wrote a detailed review pointing out many of the issues of speculation in the book with the most up-to-date scientific knowledge they had at the time. Darwin himself was impressed with the review, but obviously it did not change his mind.

Many people debate about who won the debate. Huxley considered himself the most popular man in Oxford for the next 24 hours thinking he won. Yet interestingly, it is reported that Wilberforce never again spoke on the Creation/Evolution issue after this debate. One Creationist, the late A.E. Wilder-Smith, who had 3 earned doctorates in chemistry, gave an interesting analysis on this debate. While other issues are more noted in this debate, I want to dwell on one particular point these two argued over. Wilder-Smith believed Huxley won the debate because Wilberforce could not come up with an answer to an often-used argument, still around today.

This argument is the classic “Infinite Monkey Theorem.” It goes like this: Give us six typewriters that never break, six apes that never die, infinite amounts of paper and ink, and infinite time, eventually we will find a paper that can produce the 23rd Psalm or the Complete Works of Shakespeare. Huxley then used one of the mathematical laws which Wilberforce knew quite well: The Probability Formula. It states that if time is infinite, then the probability of an event A happening is 1 (or fully certain). Therefore, chance alone is able to do what man can do if given enough time.

When Huxley told Wilberforce this ‘fact,’ according to Wilder-Smith this was the moment when Wilberforce lost the debate. Because Wilder-Smith pointed out that Wilberforce could not give a reasonable answer to this argument. Wilder-Smith then said he struggled with how to answer this argument for about 35 years. Keep in mind that he earned 3 doctorates in chemistry, with 70+ published papers. He was no spring chicken. And I’ll be honest, if I were in Wilberforce’s hot-seat at the moment, I am not sure I’d be able to come up with the answer right off unless I had prepared for the argument prior to the debate. Before any skeptic laughs at me for that, I can safely say the vast majority of said skeptics would flounder at any debate where Google is not at their fingertips (they often do WITH Google at their fingertips as is), because I’ve watched them do so.

So what is the answer? I’ll give Wilder-Smith’s answer here and over the next few weeks, I’ll look deeper into this argument. The typewriter analogy is akin to DNA and the information in the molecule for building a living creature. Wilder-Smith is an excellent resource on understanding how information and DNA works. He makes a very interesting point regarding DNA and living creatures. It requires enzymes to work ,and enzymes require the chemical reactions to be reversible. This is a critical thing missing in every Evolutionary argument for the origin of life.

Wilder-Smith likens this to solving a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces can “slot-in” and create the picture. It is possible to shake a box of puzzle pieces for a given amount of time and expect to find some pieces will end up connecting together, however there will only be a few of them, because if it gets too big, it will fall apart again. So Wilder-Smith indicates there will be some kind of equilibrium. The Miller-Urey Experiment showed some of this. They were able to generate some amino acids, however they were racemic (meaning mixed between right-hand oriented and left-hand oriented) and only a few of them amidst a bunch of sludge. Evolutionists have proclaimed this to be success about the origins of life, but is it really?

The problem with jigsaw puzzles and reversible chemical reactions is that there is just as much of a chance, if not more, of two connected pieces coming apart than there is of two pieces coming together. This brings the typewriter analogy to a catastrophic fault. The typewriter types a letter and that letter is stored on the paper. Then another letter is stored. Then another. Under such circumstances, if given enough time, there certainly can be a paper from these monkeys which reproduces the 23rd Psalm. However, if the typewriter were to accurately mimic living chemistry, it would be able to “un-type” just as well as type. That means at any point, any of those letters typed onto the paper could suddenly disappear. The jigsaw puzzle pieces would not merely fit together to some extent, they would also separate. Under that circumstance, the Probability Formula suddenly seems to be inapplicable to the situation because no matter how much time you give it, it will only produce up to an equilibrium level.

The only way the Monkey-Typewriter Theory is even possible is because the letters are permanently stored and locked into place. Yet in actual chemistry, this never happens UNLESS there is an already established, in-place mechanism to do this. We know that is the case because that is how we never get any D-(right) oriented amino acids, in which just one would be extremely detrimental, if not fatal. I have still yet to see a single argument from a single Evolutionist even attempt to address how this mechanism would be established WITHOUT a designer.

There are more issues with the Monkey-Typewriter Theory, but that will have to wait for next week.

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Theology of Work

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 29, 2018 1 comments

by David Odegard

“My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” -John 5:17

Socialism kills. Socialism equals starvation. Europeans have forgotten that painful lesson which they seem destined to relearn. South America has been suffering from the socialism disease and Marxist theology for decades—it is a sickness unto death unless they wake up to Biblical theology. America has been flirting with socialism since FDR, but her immune system has been compromised by crony capitalism for so long she has almost no resistance to the socialist plague.

It seems appropriate to directly confront socialism in this introduction to the element of work in social ethics, because private property is directly essential to any theology of work. The Marxist revolution in Europe preaches that the fruit of all labor belongs to everyone (and usually superintended by the state). However, when people cannot keep the fruit of their own labor, they tend not to work as hard. Lack of productivity is a perennial pestilence. The United Soviet Socialist Republic attempted to solve this problem through forced labor. It was a disgraceful way to treat their fellow human beings.

This is not the American legacy. Socialism was first tried in America in 1607 in the Jamestown colony. The bulk of the persons who settled the area were considered indentured servants and their labors were considered public property. People seem to always want to live on the labor of other men. However, the settlers did not work very hard since they were not allowed to eat the fruit of their own labor. The colonists forgot the Biblical admonition, “Do not muzzle the ox while he treads out the grain, and the worker deserves his wages” (1 Timothy 5:18).

The result was starvation. Even though the land was incredibly fertile and fruit and game abounded, they were starving. David Boaz chronicles the “starving time” and the fact that the institution of private property changed all of that in his blog for the Cato Institute here.

The point is that the reward of labor belongs to the laborer. This countermands slavery, obviously, but it also countermands socialism. Also, if a person chooses to sell his labor for whatever price he can get, that is between himself and whomever agrees to buy the labor. If the buyer of labor (employer) profits exceedingly from the labor he purchased, that is perfectly acceptable. Perhaps the one selling his own labor will realize the true value of his labor and only agree to sell more of it at a higher price. That is also perfectly acceptable. Underneath either of these voluntary agreements is the foundational notion that I own my own labor.

The fruit of work consists in three states: past, present, and future. Past labor has achieved my current position, whether good or bad. Past laziness results in present lack; past diligence in present abundance. To swoop in and lay claim to my property (money, land, goods) is to steal my past. To enslave me and force me to work or lay claim to my current labor in any way is to steal my present, that is to steal my liberty. To steal my life is obviously to steal my future. Life, liberty, and property are inseparable. For a further development of this idea please read this.

Work and reward are inseparable. That is why I have so often said that socialism cannot be Christian, because it assumes that society has the ultimate rights of property, not the individual who actually does the work. I would hasten to add that if you sell your labor, you agree to work for a wage. If you provide labor to build, say, a dam, you don’t own the dam—you own the money that was traded for your labor. Makes sense, right?

“If you don’t work, you don’t eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). The results of your work or lack thereof are your own. If you fail to sow, you shall also fail to reap. The nobility of Europe developed the idea that work was an aspect of the Fall. But work was not a part of the Fall, nor was it the result of the curse. Toil was part of the curse, but not work. Adam worked before the fall (Genesis 2:15). He named all the animals if you recall (Genesis 2:19).

Work is an essential part of what it means to be fully human. God gave us the mandate to tend the earth. Profitable, rewarding work is part of our DNA as human beings. When God remakes the heavens and the earth, He will remove the toil from our work, but he will not remove work from our lives—thank goodness. Can you imagine an eternity of sitting on clouds playing a harp? I want to explore the universe and terraform planets. How about you? What will you want to do for all eternity? What will be your work?

This is a brief introduction to the category of work in a comprehensive social ethic. If you are familiar with Catholic Social Teaching, you will realize that I inverted the order of work and care for the poor because our ability to care for the poor arises out of our work ethic and we feed others from the fruit of our own labor. We don’t steal the productivity of others to give to the poor. We give to them from our own productivity as we feel led. We don’t feed the lazy—but we care for the unfortunate. Till next week—fair well. Do good work. Eat, drink, and be merry.

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What Does the Bible Say About Music?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 27, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Music is important in the lives of many people. I have talented musicians in my family, and while I am not one of them, I definitely enjoy good music and attending concerts, musicals, etc. Many people can make a living off their music, and for many others it’s a great hobby. Most churches use music in their worship services as another way to praise God. So, it’s no surprise that music is addressed in the Bible.

The very first musical reference in the Bible was of Jubal in Genesis 4:20-21: “Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who live in tents and raise livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all who play stringed instruments and pipes.”

The book of Psalms is full of songs, since “psalm” is another word for “song.” We no longer have the original tunes for these songs, just the lyrics, but many of today’s worship songs use lines from the psalms. The book of Psalms of the longest book in the Bible, actually making up 7% of the total Bible! King David wrote many of the psalms, and in 2 Samuel 23:1 he is called “the hero of Israel’s songs.”

The book of Song of Songs is naturally another musically-oriented book. There are also song lyrics recorded in Revelation 5:9-10, Revelation 7:9-12, and Revelation 15:1-4. Mary the mother of Jesus sang a song of praise in Luke 1:46-55 after finding out she would bear the Messiah. Moses and his sister Miriam sang a song recorded in Exodus 15 after God defeated the Egyptian army in the Red Sea. David’s victory over Goliath was celebrated with a song in 1 Samuel 18:6-7.

We see that Jesus and His disciples sang in Matthew 26:30, and Paul and Silas sang hymns in prison in Acts 16:25. Ephesians 5:18-20 encourages the church to “speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit.” Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” James 5:13 also tells us to sing songs of praise when we’re happy: “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.”

There are many times that music goes along with other activities told about in the Bible. For example, music was used at the coronation of King Solomon (1 Kings 1:39-40), and musicians were in the king’s court for his pleasure (Ecclesiastes 2:8). Music was used to bring down the walls of Jericho (Joshua 6), and David played his harp to calm down King Saul (1 Samuel 16:14-23).

Music, like any form of entertainment, can be used for God’s glory or against Him. Our motivation and the choices we make regarding music are key to determining which side of this we’re on. How are you using music to glorify God in your life?

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Was Crucified, Died, and Was Buried

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 26, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Nelson Mandela once said, “Lead from the back and let others believe they are in front." To some degree, this describes the humility that Jesus portrayed in his life. As we saw in last week’s post, Jesus suffered under the governor Pontius Pilate, who, though others may have worshiped him and held him in high esteem, was nothing compared to the authority that Jesus had from above. But there was a purpose in all the pain that Jesus went through. Each time he endured suffering and did not give into the temptation to rid himself of it, he won a victory that makes it possible for us to win such victories when WE are suffering and tempted. That seems to be the main point of what the writer of Hebrews is saying in Hebrews 4:15-16, as we looked at last week. Jesus was tempted in every single way that we are, yet he did not sin. This means we can approach the throne of grace boldly and ask our Lord for help when we are deeply struggling. He gives us what we need to endure it and keep moving forward. Could you imagine what it would be like for us if Jesus had actually given into temptation and sin? We’d all be doomed!

God did not want to leave us in that position. You see, God is both distant AND near. He’s distant in the sense that he spoke the universe into existence and is greater than our finite minds can even comprehend. We’ll never understand or be able to contain him. But he’s near in the sense that he saw our unformed bodies and knit every single human being together in our mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13-16). He’s also near in the sense that he chose to come to our messed up world in the person of Jesus Christ and deal with all of the things we deal with. Could you imagine how life was for Jesus as a teenager? You can picture him being in a typical teenager argument with his parents and them saying, “Whatever, smart aleck, I guess you just think you know everything." And Jesus could’ve responded, “Um, yeah, because I DO." He knows how many hairs are on their heads, knows what’s on their minds, and even knows who actually finished all the cookies. But Jesus came to show us how to live and act as his disciples, which meant he rarely played the “I’m God” card even when he could. Luke 2:51 tells us that Jesus was even “obedient to his parents." They were sinners; he wasn’t. Yet, he showed us that the temporary suffering of having to obey them leads to a greater reward.

This is true with not only our relationships with our parents, but with God as well. Jesus tells us that being his disciples means we have to deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow him, because we can literally gain everything in the world and still lose our souls and have no eternal hope (Mark 8:34-35). As a man, Jesus had enough faith in his Father to trust that the temporary suffering would lead to something much better and that it was all part of the Father’s plan. He knew that even during his suffering, he and his Father remained in control, even if those around him thought he was being defeated.

In this week’s root of our faith, we look at how Jesus specifically suffered through crucifixion, death, and burial. While none of this felt like victory to anyone who loved and followed him, God was in control every step of the way. Each part of this process was a necessary VICTORY for us as believers. Jesus was CRUCIFIED because the weight of the whole world’s sin required such a great payment. There is so much theology in the Bible about it that we could write multiple posts on it, but it will suffice to just draw your attention to Romans 5:15-19, where Paul describes that the gift and sacrifice of Jesus, which brought freedom and grace to the world, was greater than the trespass of Adam, which brought sin into the world.

In reality, when Jesus went to the cross, God was just fulfilling his promise made to Abraham in Genesis 15:8-18. If you read it on your own, you’ll see how God does this bizarre ritual with Abraham where he has Abraham cut various animals into two. In that tradition, when two people walked through the halves of the animals, they were making a binding covenant with one another that stipulated that if either one breaks the covenant, they would be as dead as those animals. But what you see in verse 17 is that God appears while Abraham is in a deep sleep and passes through the pieces BY HIMSELF. On that day, the covenant that God made was that even if Abraham or his descendants break their end of the covenant, God would be “as dead as the animals." Thus, when Jesus was crucified for OUR sins, it wasn’t pretty. It was every bit as gory as that scene where the animals were cut in two.

After Jesus was crucified, he actually died. This was also a necessary victory for us because it was what WE deserved. Romans 6:23 says death is the penalty for sin, so Jesus couldn’t just suffer badly and “almost” die, only to make a full and miraculous recovery. He had to go through it all the way in order to pay for our sin. Anything less would not have saved us. Could you imagine going shopping for a new car and telling the owner you would work really hard, save the money, ALMOST buy the car, and then expect the owner to give it to you? That’s obviously ludicrous but that’s why Jesus had to die to win the victory for us. God required the full payment for sin, and in the person of Jesus, he took that debt on himself.

Even Jesus’s burial was necessary in his work of salvation and redemption for all who trust in and follow him. To completely atone for our sins, he had to separate us from them. You may have heard in a song called "Glorious Day" by Casting Crowns the lyrics "buried he carried my sins far away." You may know those lyrics and sing them, but you have to know what they mean. This goes back to the idea of the Day of Atonement from the Old Testament, the Yom Kippur. Leviticus 16 tells us all about it. It's where the priest went through this whole routine ordained by God and takes a live goat, lays both hands on it, and confesses all of the sins of all the people onto the head of the goat, and then sends it away into the remote wilderness never to come back again. The sins are transferred to the goat and the goat carries them far away. Incidentally, this is where the term "scapegoat" first originated. Psalm 103:12 tells us that God has removed our sins from us “as far as the east is from the west." That's why Jesus had to be buried. His death paid for our sins, but his burial took them so far away from us that we'll never see them again! So, what does that mean for you today? Stop living in your past sins. If you trust Jesus, they are buried and gone and they are NEVER coming back!

Have you been walking in the victory that Jesus’ crucifixion, death, and burial have provided you? Yes, we know that the ultimate victory is what we’ll deal with next week - the resurrection. But it’s important to know that choosing to endure suffering and temptation because of our trust in the Lord to bring something good out of it is what Jesus demonstrated for us each step of the way. Since we are now living on the other side of Jesus’ resurrection, we can know that his willingness to suffer brings us victory as we choose to endure and overcome it in our own lives. May God grant you the strength, mercy, and grace that you need to keep going!

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Living in the Fear of the Lord

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 24, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

What does it mean to live in the fear of the Lord? As I said last week, many people think of the fear of the Lord as this dreadful approach of terror, and others approach it as just respect and awe. And again, we need both. But how is this practical? What does it look like? And what results from it?

Proverbs 1:7 states that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. This means that unless you have a proper fear of God, you really do not know anything. God is the source of all knowledge. He is the all-knowing one. Everything that can be known, he knows. To fear the Lord means in this context means to know that in and of yourself, you know NOTHING and the only things you can actually know to be true come from God. For me this is a challenging one to truly grasp because I am an intellectual type. In humility, I must keep reminding myself that all I know that has any value whatsoever is a gift from God.

Proverbs 8:13 states that the fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil. If we are going to claim to love God, then we must also love what he loves and hate what he hates. God HATES sin. Sin is enmity towards God. It hates God with everything of its being. This is why it is not enough to “show Jesus” to lost sinners. In their sinful nature, they will only hate him even further as darkness hates being exposed to light. We need to show them that they are enemies of God and will face God on Judgment Day one way or the other. The law is useful for converting the soul, to show that we cannot do it and are in need of a Savior.

Do we hate sin or do we love it? Does seeing sin rile us up and makes us want to take action to stop it, or do we turn a blind eye (which is a very different thing than showing grace and mercy)? If we hate sin, we will start with ourselves and strive against it so that it will not have dominion over us. If we hate sin, we will not have anything resembling that sin in or around us. It will not be in our home, it will not be put in storage. If we see it, we will strive to destroy it on sight. I love living in a place where mosquitoes are rare. I HATE mosquitoes because I used to live in a place where you could build a massive bonfire and you could not even be right next to the fire and not get eaten alive (I know from experience). If I see one, I hunt it down to destroy it. The same concept should be our mindset towards sin.

By living in fear of the Lord, we will seek to get people out of sin as much as possible, not in a legalistic, fear-driven, law-dominated manner, but rather from a position of wanting to see these people no longer bound by sin. But too many of us take our own sin too lightly, and as a result we often take it around us too lightly as well.

Proverbs 6 gives us a good sampling of the kinds of things God hates. So do numerous passages in the New Testament about who will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Some of those can be found in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, 2 Timothy 3, and Revelation 21:8. Not a single one of us is innocent of those lists entirely. Do we hate those activities enough to not just keep away from them but speak against them and not tolerate them? Do we hate the sin enough to plead with those who practice it to save their lives from it?

The fear of the Lord causes us to put God first. We know the greatest commandment is to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength. The fear of the Lord drives us to put him first and foremost. Is he truly first in every area of our life? I can easily say the answer is “no” for each of us. Why? Because even as Christians we are still a work in progress. But are we in the process of making him first in each area of our lives? This includes decisions about where to go to school, where to work, where to live, and what activities to participate in. Do we seek God to place us where he needs us? Even the little decisions including what clothes to wear should be made with thinking of God and his Kingdom first. I know have a ways to go on this one.

The fear of the Lord will drive us to obedience. If we do not fear God is going to return and hold us accountable for our actions, we will not take his commandments seriously. While Jesus’ work on the cross freed us from the law, he did not free us to do whatever we want. He still gave us commands. These commands do not save us, but they are still to be obeyed. There still is a yoke to submit to. It is easy and light, but not if you fight against it. Jesus also warned that there will be many who will call his name and he will reject them because he did not know them as his own and they lived as though he gave no law to follow. A fear of the Lord will help us to obey him.

There are severe consequences for having no fear of God. It always leads to taking sin lightly and eventually to the practice of sin. God warned Israel of numerous curses for disobedience, for lack of fearing God. He also cursed the Northern Kingdom of Israel into captivity because they lost the fear of the Lord and kept returning to idolatry. God’s threats are real and he is serious about them. He will not be mocked and we will reap the consequences for disobedience.

But if we live in the fear of the Lord, there are great benefits. Proverbs 10:27 lists an easy one: a longer life. If we live in the fear of the Lord, seeking him and obeying him, he will lengthen our days; but if we continually reject him, that sin will find us out and may kill us earlier than we would have otherwise.

Walking in the fear of the Lord will mean we never have to be watchful over our shoulders. We never have to fear our boss, manager, employer, administrator, etc. from being around because we are automatically going to be doing what we are supposed to be doing. And perhaps the best benefit of all is to receive the greatest possible complement: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Let us walk in the fear of the Lord. We can never go wrong in doing so.

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The Sons of Ham, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 23, 2018 4 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week we began talking about the sons of Ham. We're a few posts deep in a series about the Table of Nations found in Genesis 10. We've already discussed the sons Japheth here and here and some of the sons of Ham. We'll continue with Ham and his descendants—speaking primarily of Canaan but also others. Let's get into the Native Americans/Amerindians. That is a truly fascinating topic.

Generally, it is accepted by many that the oldest Native American populations that we would call a thriving civilization began around 1700 BC. It seems that there were multiple waves of people that came to the Americas from Siberia (most likely). However, there are portions of people that are considered Amerindians that are nothing like the vast majority of other Amerindians. There seems to be genetic indicators that some of the earliest settlers in the Americas may have been European (or possibly Middle Eastern or North/West African). Many Native American tribes have high percentages of genetic markers that are found in these populations and are not found at all in Asian populations. Is it possible they traveled over the Atlantic to find their way to the “New World”? Probably.

The Greek historian Diodorus wrote that the Phoenicians, out of their passion for exploring for trade, discovered an “island” that was rich with resources and had many rivers to navigate deep within it. None of the actual islands between Africa and the Americas fit this description. The Paraiba Stone is a remarkable piece of evidence to review. Some have called it a forgery, but Cyrus H. Gordon, an American scholar of Near Eastern cultures and ancient languages, studied the stone and its inscription and determined it to be authentic. He claims there are nuances and styles in the characters used that no 19th century forger would have been aware of. It tells the tale of Phoenician people in several ships that were blown out into the Atlantic by a storm and separated from their companions. Eventually, because of the trade winds, they landed in what is now Brazil. This is actually how Brazil was “officially” discovered in 1500 AD by the Portuguese—the discoverer, Pedro Álvares Cabral, found himself in the trade winds and was blown to Brazil. The stone tells us that these people were descendants of Canaan and set sail under orders of their king, Hiram. Hiram was a contemporary of Solomon and was known for sending ships out on long voyages to gather resources and bring them back.

Some of the Native American groups share linguistic and writing similarities with Egyptian languages. Tribes that used hieroglyphics must have been from somewhere other than Asia. Asian cultures didn't use them, but Middle Eastern/African cultures did. Genetic markers, as stated above, also indicate not all of the American Indians were from Asia. Some were from Europe, the Middle East, Northern Africa, or all of the above. The Cherokee, for instance, have markers indicating they're from the Middle East or Africa. Many of these peoples have stories they've passed from generation to generation that are remarkably similar to the Biblical narrative. For instance:

“It is found in the histories of the Toltecs that this age and first world, as they call it, lasted 1716 years; that men were destroyed by tremendous rains and lightning from the sky, and even all the land, without the exception of anything, and the highest mountains, were covered up and submerged in water fifteen cubits [caxtolmolatli]; and here they added other fables of how men came to multiply from the few who escaped from this destruction in a ‘toptlipetlocali’, that this word nearly signifies a closed chest; and how, after men had multiplied, they erected a very high ‘zacuali’, which is today a tower of great height, in order to take refuge in it should the second world (age) be destroyed. Presently their languages were confused, and, not being able to understand each other, they went to different parts of the earth.” --Fernando de Alva Cortés Ixtlilxochitl

The similarities between this tradition and the narrative found in Genesis is obvious, I hope. This sounds like the Flood account on several points, including the time frame from creation to the Flood. The Bible gives a time frame of around 1656 years (approximately) while this tradition is just 60 years different! It describes a global Flood and the Tower of Babel and the dispersion after the confusing of languages. That's amazing!

Percy Bullchild, a member of the Blackfeet tribe, describes his people's history according to their tradition. He describes a spirit that blew life into the nostrils of a human made of mud. He describes how this spirit removed a rib from the human and created a mate for him. This is uncannily similar to the Biblical account.

Vine Deloria, who is not friendly towards Christianity at all but favors the stories of his ancestors and their traditions, says concerning flood stories in these cultures, “Scholars in comparative religion, anthropology, psychology, and folklore usually steer well clear of using flood stories for anything except demonstrating that all societies have these kinds of traditions … Accepting that these flood stories speak of a planetary event, not so long ago, involving significant psychological trauma, would free minds to make progress in all sciences.” He is no friend of the Bible at all but notes that many of the histories told by various Native American tribes are extremely similar to the Biblical account. Of all the things that man would hold to a mythology on, we can see how creation and the afterlife would be strong candidates. But why a flood story? Why are there cultures all over the world, literally, that have a “mythology” that includes a global flood? It is worth noting, also, that some of these flood stories were part of the traditions of people who lived nowhere near large bodies of water.

Also of interest is that many of the Amerindians also tell stories of how they arrived in the Americas. Many claim to have come from the east, not the west. That's interesting, right? A number of people reject these ideas because they believe people from so long ago were not advanced or intelligent enough to travel successfully across the Atlantic. Just this month a man used a 20' row boat to cross the Atlantic from Newfoundland to the Scilly Islands. He used a row boat! He also set a record, which is pretty cool. If you think of it, people were traveling several thousand miles from the Mediterranean to India (around the continent of Africa and over 5000 miles) long ago. This trip is much, much longer than the jaunt across the Atlantic (at just under 2000 miles). Is it really unreasonable to believe Europeans, Africans, or Middle Easterners made the trip?

The legends of these people groups not only trace them back to the Flood, but also the Tower of Babel. The Choctaw Indians and Incas of Peru have similar legends that account for the building of a large monument and the confusing of tongues after a terrible flood. From “History of the Incas,” a history book originally written in the late 1500's, it was written: “One thing is believed among all the nations of these parts, for they all speak generally and as well-known of the general flood which they call ‘unu pachacuti’.” The Popol Vuh of the Mayans says, “In the beginning there was only sky and water and the world was in darkness. Coiled in the water lay the Feathered Serpent … in the sky dwelt Heart of Heaven appearing as three kinds of huracan, or lightening … they fashioned a man out of clay … So the gods made a great flood during which resin fell like rain … most were killed … Finally the people separated, going in different directions and speaking different languages … ” Sound a little familiar?

It seems reasonable that these people (from all over the world so far) tell similar stories about a Flood that killed everything except a few on a boat and a confusion of languages after a huge structure was built because their ancestors witnessed these events and passed them on to their descendants. They also include details about how God created, a serpent lied, and man was brought out from the earth. Sure, it could just be coincidence that they all have striking similarities to the Biblical account and confirm it as history, but the number of stories like this seem to indicate a much more likely idea—the story found in Genesis is true and these people can trace their heritage to Canaan (in the case of most Amerindians).

We'll quickly discuss Egypt next, since we're nearly out of space. The final son of Ham to discuss is Mizraim. Mizraim is what the Hebrews have always called Egypt (very often referred to in the Bible). Misr is the Arabic name for Egypt and it's still called Misr by the Egyptians today—the Arab Republic of Egypt where Egypt is translated Misr. The word Misr comes from the name of Egypt's founder—Mizraim. Josephus says, “The memory also of the Mesraites is preserved in their name, for all we who inhabit this country [of Judea] called Egypt Mestre, and the Egyptians Mestreans.”

We all know about the pyramids that the Egyptians are famous for building. Did you know there are pyramids (sometimes known as ziggurats) all over the world? We can connect this to the topic of the Table of Nations. All the peoples of the world built similar structures after the dispersion. They generally built them as temples of some sort, but not always. These structures are found all over South and Central America (my wife and I have climbed a couple of them in our travels), as well as the Middle East, Sudan, China, Greece, America, India, Indonesia, and Turkey to name a few. Skeptics suggest that these structures inspired the story of the Tower of Babel. I believe the opposite is true—the Tower of Babel may have been pyramidal in construction and, therefore, the people groups that left the Tower at the dispersion were mimicking it. They are frequently associated with religious significance.

We are finding that all people groups have a similar heritage—we all come from the same people. We are, really, one race. Since we are one race, we are all the same, essentially. This means, like all humans, we each are under the curse of sin, and as a result we need a Savior. People around the world who have never met a Christian have within their histories a story that resembles the creation account of the Bible. It makes sense that, over time and with telling the story from one generation to the next without it being written for a long time, that the details might get skewed a bit. But the similarities are certainly enough to show that these ancient stories are rooted in real events that we can reliably read about in the Bible, which hasn't changed over the centuries. Any reasonable, objective, and honest person can see how strong this evidence supports the Biblical narrative. Stay tuned! We'll be talking about Shem and his descendants next time.

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What Does the Bible Say About Pride?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 20, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

My grandpa used to ask, “Do you want to see my pride and joy?” Then when you said yes, expecting to see a photo of something dear to his heart, he would show you a picture like this one. (He had a great sense of humor!) Since last week I wrote on what the Bible says about joy and this week I’m writing on pride, it made me think of my grandpa’s joke.

What is pride? Google defines pride as, “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one's own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.” There are two kinds of pride: one kind is a sense of accomplishment in a job well done, and the other is being full of ourselves and giving ourselves more glory than we give God.

Galatians 6:4 says, “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.” 2 Corinthians 7:4 says, “I have spoken to you with great frankness; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.” These verses are examples of the first kind of pride, in which we are pleased with the accomplishments of ourselves or others.

The other kind of pride, the sinful one, is explained in Proverbs 8:13: “To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” Psalm 10:4 explains this further: “In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” Proverbs 27:2 says, “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.” This pride puts ourselves as #1, not God.

We’re told about the consequences of pride in Proverbs 16:18-19: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be lowly in spirit along with the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.” Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

While there are numerous proverbs relating to pride, we also see warnings against it in the New Testament. Galatians 6:3 says, “If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves.” 1 John 2:16 says, “For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Romans 12:16 says, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”

Jesus even told a parable on pride, which is recorded in Luke 18:9-14. It tells of two people praying, one a Pharisee who prayed a very proud prayer, and the other a tax collector who prayed a humble prayer. In verse 14, the parable ends with Jesus saying, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

The first century church in Laodicea had their sin of pride addressed by Jesus in the book of Revelation. Revelation 3:17 says, “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.”

How are you doing with pride in your life? Are you giving God the glory where it is due to Him, or are you taking that glory for yourself?

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Suffered Under Pontius Pilate

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 19, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Today, my daughter Evangeline is two months old on the nose. She’s been a good baby, or at least we think she has since it’s not like we really have anything to compare this experience to, being that she is our first. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about how she deals with discomfort or suffering and it has me thinking about how our human response to it changes over the course of our lives, regarding both our own pain and that of others. Right now, even the slightest pain for Evangeline is a reason to scream her head off. Hungry? Then, scream. Tired? Let’s hear all about it. Dirty diaper? Time to make sure even the neighbors can hear her. As we get older, we begin to learn to deal with pain a little bit better, but still have a tendency to cry in order to get the attention we seek. When my daughter cries right now, it pains my wife and I if we can’t figure out the source. But I remember when I was around the age of 7 or 8 years old and started to cry and whine about something I didn’t like, my dad said, “You can cry about it all you want, but it’s not going to change anything."

At a young age, my brothers and I were taught the importance of endurance and toughness. Thankfully, our parents didn’t prepare us for a world where we always get what we want and all goes according to our plans and needs, because that world doesn’t actually exist. Because of sin, there is suffering. This is something every human being can understand and experience. As we get older, we also learn the difference between suffering for doing good and suffering for doing evil (1 Peter 3:17). Suffering for good doesn’t necessarily make it any less painful, but at least we know there is no guilt attached to it and we are actually being treated the same way as our Lord and Savior was. Peter tells us we should not be surprised at the “fiery ordeal” we face and should not consider it a strange happening, but ought to rejoice that we are able to participate in the sufferings of Jesus (1 Peter 4:12-13). As we transition into adulthood and then continue throughout the rest of our lives, we learn to accept that suffering is a part of life and our focus shifts away from avoiding or ending it to finding a way to endure it. When it comes to enduring suffering, Jesus is once again our example to follow (Hebrews 12:2-3).

The core root of our faith that we’re dealing with this week that ought to bear fruit in our lives is our belief that Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate. It’s not merely that he suffered that brings fruit in our lives, but the fact that he willingly accepted God’s difficult plan for his life, endured it with the toughness and strength we too can have, and suffered in OUR place for what we deserved.

Even though many of the Jews refused to believe that Jesus was the Messiah because he didn’t fit into their idea of a conquering hero, they actually had every reason to believe he would suffer if they paid attention to their ancient Scriptures. The prophet Isaiah told them about his vision of the Messiah: “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, and he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). The suffering he willingly endured did not belong to him, but to us. It was the weight of OUR sins that he bore, yet many looked at him as if HE must have done something wrong in God’s eyes to deserve the curse that was on him. Those who mocked him lost sight of their own sin, so they didn’t even realize their need for a savior. The more he talked about that need, the more they viewed him as an enemy. Speaking of enemies, they wanted a Messiah who would conquer their national foes, but Jesus came to confront the greatest enemy of all, which was SIN.

Isaiah 53:3 shows us that we should’ve been more accepting of Jesus because he was a “man of suffering and familiar with pain." This means that he knows what it’s like to deal with the things we deal with, such as physical pain, emotional trauma, humiliation, and rejection. Despite these obvious reasons for mankind to accept Jesus, we still reject him in favor of whatever makes us feel good in the moment.

Fortunately, Jesus did not reject us, though Satan tried to get him to do so. One of my favorite scenes from The Passion of the Christ is when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his crucifixion, knowing what awaits him, and Satan is right there with him trying to convince him that the whole world’s sin is too great of a burden for him to bear. As Jesus ignores Satan and cries out to God, he receives the strength from his Father to resist the temptation to walk away from his destiny. He then turns back toward Satan and stomps the head of a snake that came directly from Satan himself, symbolizing his victory over Satan, sin, evil, and temptation.

Did you get that? By willingly choosing to suffer, Jesus won the victory for us. That goes against everything we naturally believe and everything those around him believed back then. Suffering meant pain and it only came to those who were “losers” in the world’s eyes, not winners. But Jesus remained in control throughout his entire ordeal and willingness to suffer under Pilate, a Roman governor who ordered the crucifixion at the demand of a hostile crowd because he didn’t have the guts or the humility to stand for truth. Each time Jesus CHOSE to suffer rather than walk away from it, he resisted temptation, thereby setting an example for us to follow when we are tempted to avoid the suffering that comes from doing good.

The writer of Hebrews summed up the ongoing impact of Jesus’ endurance and suffering in our daily Christian lives: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Friends, Jesus didn’t just suffer under Pontius Pilate and endure it so that we could be set free from the PENALTY of sin; he did it to give us power over the PERSUASION of sin. He did it to show us that when we are tempted, no matter what it is, it’s something he already resisted. This means we don’t have to pretend that we aren’t tempted, but instead can approach God directly (something we couldn’t do before Jesus) and ask for the mercy and grace to resist. Let Jesus’ suffering and endurance impact your life in this way today.

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Defining the Fear of the Lord

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, August 17, 2018 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Fear is a topic we often preach and sing against. Some have said there are over 300 references in Scripture with something along the lines of “Do not be afraid” or “Fear not.” This is an important issue, because fear is usually a result of doubt, and doubt is a lack of faith. Anything not of faith is sin, so fear is a result of sin. However, there is one type of fear that must be embraced: the fear of the Lord.

There are many misconceptions about the fear of the Lord. There is one extreme that teaches we need to be terrified of God because he is dangerous and can hurt us. There is another extreme that we should be in awe and reverent of God. Let me set the record straight here: we need BOTH of these at the same time.

Too many people want a safe God, a friendly God. They want a God that is powerful enough to provide what they want, to protect them, and to cater to their desires, but they don’t want one who is sovereign over their lives let alone will discipline them. People love the idea that God is their Father, but they really do not consider what that means, or they did not have a good father relationship growing up.

A good father has multiple roles and I am going to emphasize just a few. He is to be a provider, a protector, the head of the household, the law-maker, and the enforcer of the laws. Many of us love the first two, but not many like the latter three. Those of us in the older generations had fathers who used a belt or a switch (a tree branch) to give us a spanking when we were bad. Some of you in the younger generation might have experienced this, others might not have. We developed a fear of our fathers, not because he was abusive (though if that was the case for you, this is not what I am endorsing by any means), but because we did not want to have to go through discipline. And most of use who endured such discipline turned out to be just fine.

Do we fear God? Do we honor and respect him as the God of the universe? Do we recognize that our own sin is deserving of his wrath and his vengeance? As children we often would brag about how great our dads were and get into boasting matches about how strong or how cool he is. Boys in particular generally idolize their fathers. They want to be like daddy. He is big and strong. When we get into trouble, daddy comes to the rescue. But when we are the trouble, daddy comes to deal with the issue. However, there is a huge difference between being disciplined by daddy and being punished by a judge. The same difference is what each person faces with God. The born-again believer faces God as Father, but the lost sinner faces him as Judge.

I’ll share four examples in the Bible (among others) of God dealing with his people, and sometimes in order to instill fear of him, he had to strike someone down. After the victory at Jericho, Achan stole some loot from the city when told not to. It cost Israel a battle and 36 men from the tiny town of Ai. God had him executed for it. Then when David brought the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, he put it on a cart instead of on the shoulders of the Levites and when it began to tumble, Uzzah touched it with the intention of saving it. God killed him on the spot.

In the New Testament, God struck down Ananias and Sapphira for lying to God about how much money they were giving to the church. Then in Ephesus, when the seven sons of Sceva tried to ride Paul’s coattails and cast out demons in his name, the demons laughed them out of the house, leaving them bleeding and naked from the beating. In all four of these cases, the fear of the Lord came upon the people. We are not to take him lightly.

While God is a good God, that actually is the most terrifying truth in all Scripture according to Paul Washer. It should terrify us because he is good and we are not. For God to be good, he must execute the proper punishment for sin or he would not be a good God. We rejoice when the wicked receive their due; every story illustrates this when the villain is defeated. We need to recognize we are the villains of our own stories. We are sinful, treacherous, violent, evil people in our sinful nature. If we were to be dead honest with ourselves and follow the nature of our own sinful tendencies to their full conclusion, we’d make Hitler look like an angel. I can say that of myself. Apart from the grace and mercy of God, if he were to let me act and fully carry out the sinful tendencies I could have, I’d have the general population calling for my execution. Do you think you are not like that? Just examine your thoughts on the road towards other drivers and if you knew you would never get caught, what would you really do? You do not do it because of fear of getting caught (among other reasons). How many of you hit the brakes the moment you see a cop car, whether you are speeding or not? That is fear of the law. There should be a similar and stronger fear of God.

God is a dangerous God, yet he is good. He is perfectly consistent in his character and if we are his, he will protect us, but in that protection, he must kick out anything that would bring us harm. That includes our sinful nature and the baggage we bring. He is very gentle and yet firm in how he works it out of us.

God does not want fear-stricken converts who only worship him because of dread of what will happen if they don’t. He also does not want careless, casual converts who do not make him their priority. He wants people who will love him for who he is and what he does, but also honor and respect him, rightfully fearing his wrath against sin. Next week, I’ll take this idea and make it practical. How can we live in the fear of the Lord, and what are the benefits of living in such a way?

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The Sons of Ham, Part 1

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, August 16, 2018 0 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week we finished up discussing the descendants of Japheth. Japheth is mentioned in numerous unrelated lineages of people groups who either had no contact with each other or hated each other, yet they independently hold Japheth (or Noah) as their ancestor. These include many royal lines in Europe. The history is there if we are willing to accept it. Today I'd like to move on to Ham, another son of Noah.

Before we get into Ham and his descendants, I wanted to point out that it has been commonly understood that civilization began in the area known as Mesopotamia, aka the Cradle of Civilization. Wouldn't you know, the Bible just happens to mention that this is where civilization began, i.e. somewhere in the Near East. Moses, who likely wrote the book of Genesis, was either divinely inspired to write such a thing or he just happened to get very lucky in the area he chose to write about. He describes for us the Tower of Babel and the events that took place leading up to the confusion of languages by God as a result of man determining he would disobey God's orders and “make a name for himself” by building a great tower to heaven. This was just about 100-200 years after the Flood that wiped out all of mankind except Noah, his wife, their 3 sons, and their wives. We've discussed Japheth, the son that was father to most of Europe, India, and some of China. He traditionally had a fairer skin tone. Ham was known as the brother with a darker skin tone. These traits are also indicated by their meanings of their names.

Ham is the father of most, if not all, of Africa. His son Cush became the father of the Cushites who are known as Ethiopians today. Josephus tells us this about the son of Ham “...time has not at all hurt the name of Cush; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Cushites.” During the 5th century AD, Syrian writers described the Himyarites of South Arabia as Cushaeans and Ethiopians. Explorers of the 1770's indicated that the people of Ethiopia claimed to have descended from Cush, Ham, and Noah after the Flood. It’s interesting that this people was known by everyone as descendants of Cush. The Yoruba, located in Nigeria and other parts of Africa, trace their heritage back to Ham, as do the Beja people. According to Wikipedia, “The Beja are traditionally Cushitic-speaking pastoral nomads native to northeast Africa.” They primarily inhabit Sudan. Hebrews and many others have continually referred to Ethiopians as Cushites. This is found in the Bible quite a lot. The Hebrews also referred to Libya as Phut. Phut was another son of Ham.

Probably the most commonly associated son of Ham to the Bible is Canaan. The Bible indicates in Genesis 10 that Canaan's descendants liked to spread out. They eventually would inhabit much of Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas. The Hittites (mentioned numerous times in the Bible as well) are from the line of Canaan as descendants of Heth. They amassed a fairly powerful empire early on (about 2000 BC or so) and were known to the Egyptians and Chinese as well as other peoples. Their nation's ruling city was in Turkey.

Sin (the person, not the act) is likely the father of the Chinese people. The Chinese have a story that goes like this, according to Tom Osterholm: “The Chinese have a tradition that their first king, Fu-hi or Fohi (Chinese Noah), made his appearance on the Mountains of Chin, was surrounded by a rainbow after the world had been covered with water, and sacrificed animals to God (corresponding to the Genesis record). Sin himself was the third generation from Noah (Ham--Canaan--Sin), a circumstance which would provide the right time interval for the formation of early Chinese culture.” Much of Chinese ancient history has resemblances to the Biblical accounts of creation and the Flood including the sign of the rainbow afterwords. This indicated God promised to never flood the entire earth again with water. In fact, the name ascribed to their “Heavenly Ruler” in Chinese is the phonetic equivalent to El Shaddai, the name given to the Hebrew God. There is even strong evidence that the Chinese written language holds many truths about the creation account and Flood as well as God's requirement for sin atonement and much more. It's remarkable, really. You can read more about that here, but there are books on the topic that are more detailed, I believe.

The Greek astronomer Ptolemy referred to China as the land of Sinim after Sin, the ancient ancestor of the Chinese. The Greek and Latin words for China are “Kina” and “Sina” respectively. The striking similarity to the Biblical ancestor Sin is hopefully obvious to the reader. The word sinology even refers to the study of Chinese history. Evidence also strongly seems to indicate that Ham's sons, Sin and Heth, were the ancestors of most of the people of Asian characteristics—sometimes referred to as Mongoloid. These include the vast majority of peoples from Asia, the Arctic, and the Americas. In other words, most people from Asia are descendants of these 2 men. There is a great deal of evidence suggesting these people made their way to the Pacific Islands and over the Bering Strait to Alaska and then down all the way to South America. Again, Canaan's descendants liked to spread out. However, it is likely that not all of the Native Americans came here over the land bridge between Russia and Alaska (exposed because of the Ice Age after the Flood). Some seem to have come from the Middle East, North Africa, and/or Europe.

This is just the beginning of the record of the sons of Ham. We'll talk more about them next week when we discuss the Native Americans/American Indians (Amerindians) as well as Egypt. Again, the connections that seem fairly commonplace are amazing. I hope you, the reader, are enjoying this series as much as I am. I find this stuff amazing. It's a perfect blend of science (which I love) and history (which I love) and confirms the Bible (which I love). This, like so many other things I've written on over the last several years, expresses the truth of the Bible and the Biblical worldview, and it demonstrates why the Christian faith is one supported by the evidence, not in spite of it. “Blind faith” sees all of this evidence which seems to me fairly conclusive, and says, “That's all fake or from people we can't trust. There is no God and the Bible is made up to control people” or some other nonsensical drivel. That's the blind faith of the atheist or agnostic. The evidence is overwhelming, in my humble opinion. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!

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Oligarchy of Nihilists

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 15, 2018 0 comments

by David Odegard

The world in its infancy knew only one God. He created and ordered the world and all was very good. He walked the earth and everything hummed with worship. But the sky darkened with the devil’s lie, and Adam believed that he too could be a god (Genesis 3:5). Man reached for the forbidden fruit, sunk in his teeth, heard the snap of its flesh giving way, and he swallowed it—hook, line, and sinker. Since that very moment there have been two authorities at odds: God and man, theism versus humanism, God’s rightful authority versus humanity’s usurpatious designs.

No matter how many layers of complexity and nuance one adds to this simple description, it remains basically accurate. The discrepancies in the public arena are exacerbated by the differences in these two foundations. If one believes in God, they will look to Him for objective truth and revelation about the human condition. If one believes that there is no God or that he is completely uninvolved in human affairs, they will conclude that we are on our own and any solutions to the human condition are going to have to come from us. Plainly, these competing religious postures have political implications.

Politics and religion will always intertwine. Humanism is a religion (no matter how much atheists claim it isn’t) in that it is a system of belief that requires a philosophical posture. Religious or irreligious categories inescapably bleed into the public square. Certainly, religious believers can assert that politicians must be honest because the Bible says so. Do believers have to concoct some secular reason to justify truth-telling? What if such secular reasoning is not strong enough to compel individuals (or politicians) to tell the truth?

As Neuhaus has argued, public life must be informed by some set of ethics. Humanistic ethics are always only a social convention. They are ultimately grounded in the opinion of human beings. Nazis believed Jew-hating to be a virtue, and they were voted into power—legally. They legislated their version of morality. Were they wrong? Of course, they were! But they are only shown to be wrong when judged by objective Christian standards.

The concept of “contemporary morality,” is in vogue. The idea that all morality is a social convention erases any idea of objective moral standards. Social ethics grounded in secular humanism will always be subjective. Better hope your personally preferred party stays in power by whatever means necessary or you could be in serious trouble.

By removing religion from the public square, there is no longer anything transcendent to prevent politics from becoming a god unto itself. Not only does this destroy religious expression, but it also destroys politics because nothing higher than political power is believed to exist. What should be a marketplace of ideas becomes a mob war of various parties vying for a monopoly share of government. All that remains is an oligarchy of nihilists – politics descends to rats in a cage, devouring and being devoured.

The political elite grasp for power and then jealously retain it. George Orwell wrote constantly about the temptations the State has toward totalitarianism. In his novel 1984, Orwell explains State power grabbing with the admissions of its main statist representative, O’Brian. O’Brian says, “Always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever."

Christianity, in contrast, is grounded on the objective revelation of God’s character as revealed in the Bible. Nefarious men have used the institutions of Christianity to further personal power, but these goals are illegitimate and not properly Christian. Jesus did not grab for power; He did not allow Satan to gain the world for Him in trade (Matthew 4:8-10). Rather, Jesus surrendered His life as a ransom. God saves those who believe Him and judges those who reject His rightful place of authority.

The terms of God’s covenant remain unchanged yesterday, today, and forever: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). This is as unalterable as the foundations of the universe, as immutable as 5+2=7. Man, for his part, continues to deify himself. He rises, shakes his fist toward heaven and utters in Milton’s famous words (Paradise Lost, lines 105-111):

“What though the field be lost?
All is not lost; the unconquerable Will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
And courage never to submit or yield:
And what is else not to be overcome?
That Glory never shall his wrath or might Extort from me.”

Man exults in his own rebellious power. He does not have authority to contradict the creator, yet he has the ability, for now, to do much as he pleases. What pleases human beings is to play at being God. Psalm 2:1-6 says:

“Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together

against the Lord and against his anointed, saying,

‘Let us break their chains and throw off their shackles.’
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.

He rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,

‘I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain.’”

The foundation of a virtuous public square then must be based on God’s unchanging character. When good behavior and action becomes habitual, it becomes character. Habituated good character is virtue. In the social confusion beginning in the wake of WWI, Western society began to reject character as the most important possession of an individual and especially politicians. Performance ousted character as primary. Today, it seems easily accepted that the personal character of politicians (Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, for example) can be deeply flawed, and yet they are elected because Americans care mostly about results.

In a results-oriented schema, the divide between the humanist and the theist becomes even more grossly conspicuous. Since Jesus Christ orders the universe (even though creation is at odds with him at this moment) and the basis of virtue is God’s character, let us hold ourselves and those who supposedly represent us to that high standard. There can be no greatness without character.

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.


What Does the Bible Say About Joy?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, August 13, 2018 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

It is often said that joy is different than happiness; happiness is temporary and based on circumstances often external to us, while joy is more internal and consistent. Today we’re looking at joy, so what does the Bible say about it?

As with the last two weeks’ posts on self-control and patience, joy is another of the fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23. We have joy in our lives when the Spirit lives out joy through our obedience to following God.

The book of Psalms is a book of songs, and joy and rejoicing are fun things to sing about, so many verses in it reference joy. Among them are Psalm 16:11, “You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.”; Psalm 118:24, “The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad.”; Psalm 30:5, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”; Psalm 71:23, “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you—I whom you have delivered.”; and Psalm 28:7, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

The prophet Isaiah explained God’s invitation to the people of Israel to be in relationship with Him, after their exile was punishment for turning away from Him. Isaiah 55:12 shows the joyfulness of turning back to God: “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Zephaniah also prophesied the people of Israel returning back to God. Zephaniah 3:14 and 17 describe this joyful experience: “Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! … The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Mary, the mother of Jesus, rejoiced after hearing the news that she would bear the savior of the world. Her entire song is in Luke 1:46-55, but it starts out with this: “And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior’” (Luke 1:46-47).

In the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15:1-7, Jesus tells how there is much rejoicing when even one sinner repents and turns to Him. Verse 7 says, “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”

Jesus encouraged His disciples (and us) to live out joy in their lives, even in the midst of difficulties. Not long before His crucifixion, He told them, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). A little later in the same discourse, He said, “So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy” (John 16:22).

The apostle Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while imprisoned for preaching the Gospel, so it’s amazing that he focuses on joy throughout this letter. In the last chapter, he sums up his joy in Philippians 4:4 by writing, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Similarly, in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, Paul simply wrote, “Rejoice always.”

Paul keeps reminding the Roman church to be joyful as well. Romans 12:12 says, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Just a few verses later, Romans 12:15 says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” Romans 14:17 says, “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

James tells us in James 1:2-3 that pure joy comes out of our trials: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” 1 Peter 1:6-7 also echoes this thought: “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

Finally, we are reminded in Hebrews 12:1-2 of the joy that Jesus had in order to accomplish His work on the cross: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

How are you doing with joy in your life? Are you focusing more on temporary happiness, or the eternal joy of know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?

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Who Was Conceived By the Holy Spirit, Born of the Virgin Mary

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Sunday, August 12, 2018 0 comments

by Logan Ames

In this day and age, we all know that being a parent is a lot more than physically creating a child. That being said, even today it is still of paramount importance to know who a person’s BIOLOGICAL parents are. In my previous job as a social worker/investigator for cases of child abuse and neglect, this information was especially necessary if a child had to be removed from a home or if permissions and rights for decisions regarding the child had to be sorted out. While adults made decisions about their relationships regardless of how it affected any children involved, the law and the courts still favored the biological parents and their rights. Knowing the child’s blood line made all the difference.

We may not realize it as Christians, but the exact same thing can also be said about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This week’s root of our faith from the Apostles’ Creed is “who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary." What you have right there are the two biological parents of Jesus. Yes, I know it’s a stretch to say that because the Holy Spirit is God and God is beyond any concept of biology and, in fact, is the One who created biology. But bear with me for the rest of this post because I intend to show you why it is critical to us and to our faith that Jesus was conceived and born as he was.

The details are found in Luke 1:26-38. The young woman, Mary, is visited by the angel Gabriel, who proceeds to tell her she will conceive and give birth to a son, who will be called “Jesus." She is then told her child won’t simply make the honor roll or get a college scholarship, but will actually be called “the Son of the Most High." He will be given the throne of his father (aka “ancestor”) David and will reign forever. Mary doesn’t say, “No way," or “That’s impossible," or “You’re out of your mind”; she simply asks how it will happen since she is a virgin. Do we understand that it’s okay to ask questions of God and his servants? There is a striking difference between skeptical unbelief and faith that asks questions. We ought to remember this when we are faced with long odds or when we are certain God has asked us to do something difficult or seemingly impossible.

The angel is clearly not offended by her question and answers it in verse 35. He tells her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God." We’ve heard Jesus referred to as “Son of God” and “Son of Man." Well, it stands to reason that he would have one “parent” in each category. Mary is told that she will be “overshadowed," which has a root meaning she will be “covered with a cloud." Jews were well aware of the miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit in the form of a cloud from their ancient history. Probably the most well-known of such stories is when God appeared in a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire for an entire night to separate the Israelites from their Egyptian enemies when they camped near the coast of the Red Sea in Exodus 13:21, and then right before they crossed the sea in Exodus 14:19-20. So, that means that when Mary hears the angel tell her what the Holy Spirit is going to do, she knows that the same power that blocked their enemies from attacking them during the exodus is the one that will work the miracle of a virgin birth in her life. She certainly had reason to trust and believe!

We can learn a lot from Mary about asking questions, believing, and trusting, but that still doesn’t really answer the WHY for us. It actually goes back to some Old Testament prophecies and reminds us of how far our God will go to make sure that his promises are not broken and his plan is not thwarted.

Israel was waiting for the Messiah that was promised throughout the Old Testament. While they didn’t know exactly who it would be, they did know some of the conditions surrounding this person. In Jeremiah 36:30, we learn that the Messiah will not be from the bloodline of a man named Jehoiakim, who was a wicked king of Judah who burned the scroll of God’s Word because he didn’t like what it said. Part of his punishment was the curse of his bloodline and the declaration that none of his biological descendants would ever sit on the throne of David. Jeremiah 22:24 tells us that one of his sons is Jehoiachin, who is also called “Koniah” or “Jeconiah." This presents a problem for us because in Matthew 1:11, Jeconiah (aka “Jehoiachin”) is listed in the genealogy of Jesus! It appears that maybe God is contradicting his own word, that is until we look at Matthew 1:16 which clearly says, “and Jacob the father of Joseph, the HUSBAND of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah." God made sure that the Messiah was only connected to that line by marriage and not by blood. Joseph was the one biologically connected to Jehoiakim and thus the cursed bloodline. Had Jesus been born to Joseph biologically, he too would have been cursed and unable to be the Messiah!

Do you see how Satan tried to thwart God’s plan for the Messiah? This was just one of many attempts by Satan throughout history, but God always makes a way. The story here makes one wonder why God would put an earthly father in the picture at all in Jesus’ life. Well, Jesus was to be recognized as “King of the Jews," and the throne was something that could only be passed down through generations from father to son. Joseph inherited the kingdom from his father who inherited from his father and so on. So, for Jesus to receive the inherited throne (but still not be in the bloodline of Jehoiakim), someone like Joseph was needed.

But wait, there’s more. In addition to the curse of Jehoiakim, God also made a promise to David regarding Israel’s future Messiah and his own throne. In 2 Samuel 7:12-13, God tells him that someone from his “own flesh and blood” will succeed him and the throne of his kingdom will be established “forever." David’s immediate successor was his son, Solomon, but the throne lasts forever only in the Messiah, Jesus Christ. So, while the issue of the curse of Jehoiakim was resolved by making sure Joseph did not biologically create Jesus, the promise to David created a separate issue because a BIOLOGICAL descendant of David was still necessary in the birth of Jesus. This looks like another conundrum or possible contradiction until we look at Luke 3:31 to see that David had a son named “Nathan." While Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus is traced through David’s son Solomon and includes the cursed Jeconiah, Luke’s genealogy of Jesus is traced through Nathan, who scholars as far back as John of Damascus have said is a biological ancestor of… you guessed it… MARY!

As you digest all of this information, think about how serious God is about keeping his promises, both the promises of blessing and the promises of cursing when someone has not repented. Just when Satan likely thought he had finally stopped God’s plan for the Messiah, God already had a plan to work it all out, a plan that included conception by the Holy Spirit so that the curse of Jehoiakim was bypassed, a stepfather who could pass the throne to Jesus by inheritance, and a mother who was biologically descended from David so that prophecy was fulfilled. If nothing else, this should remind us that God is never put in a position where he says, “My bad, I just never saw that coming and now I’m not sure what you can do so you’re probably doomed." If God has caused or allowed something into your life that you weren’t expecting and seems like it is contradicting his own word, remember that he is always in control and you can rest assured that his plan is still in the works. It’s a matter of faith for us, but a matter of certainty for the God who never has and never will lie to you.

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.