The Big Bang and The Supernatural

Here’s a new quote from I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist:

…the Big Bang was the beginning point for the entire physical universe. Time, space, and matter came into existence at that point. There was no natural world or natural law prior to the Big Bang. Since a cause cannot come after its effect, natural forces cannot account for the Big Bang. Therefore, there must be something outside of nature to do the job. That’s exactly what the word supernatural means.

This style of point takes me back to Miracles by C. S. Lewis. It takes a lot of brute force effort to remain atheist in the face of this sort of reasoning. It’s actually easier to be a believer; something other than reason is preventing it. Reasoning like in the quote above makes me also wonder why so many Christians don’t accept the Big Bang. Faith, reason and science a completely compatible without sacrificing any aspect of faith. Science is the observation & study of God’s creation.

The Necessity of the Constancy of Natural Process

It’s moments like this that make me realize my mental limits. Someday, perhaps, I’ll be able to absorb these complex strings of words with ease—but not yet. Here’s what I’m talking about:

All purposive action of men rests upon and presupposes the constant operation of natural forces. I plan for tomorrow and for next year on the supposition that the revolution of the earth upon its axis and about the sun will continue. If in following up my plan I walk along a street at the precise moment when a chimney is blown down so that it nearly or quite kills me, that is an “accident”; the fall of rocks from a mountain into an empty valley is not called an accident unless there is a person, or a building representing the purpose of a person, near where the rocks fall. It appears then that while the constancy of natural processes is the necessary prerequisite for intelligent, purposive and moral action, that same constancy may sometimes cut across the sequence of purposive actions and hinder the fulfillment of purpose.

William Temple

Ouch. Free will? Problem of Pain? My brain is hurting.

Unexamined Faith is Not Worth Believing

The following quote is from the book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist:

Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. We believe that the unexamined faith is not worth believing. Furthermore, contrary to popular opinion, Christians are not supposed to “just have faith.” Christians are commanded to know what they believe and why they believe it. They are commanded to give answers to those who ask (1 Pet. 3:15), and to demolish arguments against the Christian faith (2 Cor. 10:4-5). Since God is reasonable (Isa. 1:18) and wants us to use our reason, Christians don’t get brownie points for being stupid. In fact, using reason is part of the greatest commandment which, according to Jesus, is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).

Much—perhaps most—of my life I’ve been apathetic in professing the truth of the Christian faith. My education concerning my faith was faulty, downright wrong in many areas.

I can’t hold a position and argue it if I don’t believe it. The problem wasn’t in Christianity itself, rather it was the erroneous data I had concerning Christianity. Also, it wasn’t honest to blame those who taught me the errors as truth.

It was and is my responsibility to know all I can know of the truth and to be able—in a loving spirit—to profess that truth.

That’s why the quote hit home with me. I’m excited to read more of the book, it’s empowering.

Clippings from “On the Education of Children” (Sermon 95)

Source: The Sermons of John Wesley – On The Education Of Children (Sermon 95)

Of John Wesley’s sermons I’ve read, this turned out to be one of the longest. Recently, when Corbin started confirmation, I began to wonder, “What would Wesley say about the education of children?” and, “Is there something I’m supposed to be doing that I am not?” As I have usually found, there’s a sermon on that—below are my clippings from that sermon:

  • “…good men have not always a good understanding; and, without this, it is hardly to be expected that they will know how to train up their children.
  • “…those who are in other respects good men have often too much easiness of temper; so that they go no farther in restraining their children from evil.
  • “…as the only end of a physician is, to restore nature to its own state, so the only end of education is, to restore our rational nature to its proper state. Education, therefore, is to be considered as reason borrowed as second-hand, which is, as far as it can, to supply the loss of original perfection.
  • “Christianity has, as it were, new created the moral and religious world, and set everything that is reasonable, wise, holy, and desirable in its true point of light; so one would expect the education of children should be as much mended by Christianity, as the doctrines of religion are.
  • “…[Christianity] has introduced a new state of things, and so fully informed us of the nature of man, and the end of his creation; as it has fixed all our goods and evils, taught us the means of purifying our souls [and] of pleasing God[.]
  • “…is it not reasonable to suppose that a Christian education should have no other end but to teach them how to think, and judge, and act according to the strictest rules of Christianity?
  • “…those that educate us should imitate our guardian angels; suggest nothing to our minds but what is wise and holy; help us to discover every false judgement of our minds, and to subdue every wrong passion in our hearts.
  • “…it is as reasonable to expect and require all this benefit from a Christian education, as to require that physic [medicine] should strengthen all that is right in our nature, and remove all our diseases. Let it be carefully remembered all this time, that God, not man, is the physician of souls; that it is He, and none else, who giveth medicine to heal our natural sickness[.]
  • “Let it be carefully remembered all this time, that God, not man, is the physician of souls; that it is He, and none else, who giveth medicine to heal our natural sickness[.]
  • “[It] is generally his pleasure to work by his creatures; to help man by man. He honours men to be, in a sense, “workers together with him.” By this means the reward is ours, while the glory redounds to him.
  • “…what is that way wherein we should train up a child, let us consider, What are the diseases of his nature? What those spiritual diseases which every one that is born of a woman brings with him into the world? Is not the first of them Atheism?
  • “Indeed it may be said that every man is by nature, as it were, his own god. He worships himself. He is, in his own conception, absolute Lord of himself.
  • His own will is his only law; he does this or that because it is his good pleasure.
  • “Another evil disease which every human soul brings into the world with him, is pride; a continual proneness to think of himself more highly than he ought to think. Every man can discern more or less of this disease in everyone — but himself.
  • “The next disease natural to every human soul, born with every man, is love of the world. Every man is, by nature, a lover of the creature, instead of the Creator; a ‘lover of pleasure,’ in every kind, ‘more than a lover of God.’
  • “Whether this be a natural disease or not, it is certain anger is. The ancient philosopher defines it, ‘a sense of injury received, with a desire of revenge.’
  • “A deviation from truth is equally natural to all the children of men.
  • “All natural men will, upon a close temptation, vary from, or disguise, the truth. If they do not offend against veracity, if they do not say what is false, yet they frequently offend against simplicity.
  • “Everyone is likewise prone, by nature, to speak or act contrary to justice.
  • “Neither is any man, by nature, merciful as our heavenly Father is merciful…
  • “Now, if [Atheism, pride, love of the world, anger, deviation from the truth, acting unjust, and being unmerciful] are the general diseases of human nature, is it not the grand end of education to cure them? And is it not the part of all those to whom God has entrusted the education of children, to take all possible care, first, not to increase, not to feed, any of these diseases; and next, to use every possible means of healing them?
  • “What can parents do, and mothers more especially, to whose care our children are necessarily committed in their tender years, with regard to the Atheism that is natural to all the children of men?
  • “From the first dawn of reason continually inculcate, God is in this and every place. God made you, and me, and the earth, and the sun, and the moon, and everything.
  • “[And that] God orders all things: he makes the sun shine, and the wind blow, and the trees bear fruit. Nothing comes by chance; that is a silly word; there is no such thing as chance.
  • “Without [God] we can neither think anything right, or do anything right. Thus it is, we are to inculcate upon [our children], that God is all in all.

 

Stand to Reason: A Good Reason for Evil

What is evil? Could it have a purpose? Here is a view of evil from an adult rather than a childish perspective.

via Stand to Reason: A Good Reason for Evil.

Ambassador’s Creed

An ambassador is… 

§ Ready.  An Ambassador is alert for chances to represent Christ and will not back away from a challenge or an opportunity.

§ Patient.  An Ambassador won’t quarrel, but will listen in order to understand, then with gentleness seek to respectfully engage those who disagree.

§ Reasonable.  An Ambassador has informed convictions (not just feelings), gives reasons, asks questions, aggressively seeks answers, and will not be stumped by the same challenge twice.

§ Tactical.  An Ambassador adapts to each unique person and situation, maneuvering with wisdom to challenge bad thinking, presenting the truth in an understandable and compelling way.

§ Clear.  An Ambassador is careful with language and will not rely on Christian lingo nor gain unfair advantage by resorting to empty rhetoric.

§ Fair.  An Ambassador is sympathetic and understanding towards others and will acknowledge the merits of contrary views.

§ Honest.  An Ambassador is careful with the facts and will not misrepresent another’s view, overstate his own case, or understate the demands of the Gospel.

§ Humble.  An Ambassador is provisional in his claims, knowing that his understanding of truth is fallible.  He will not press a point beyond what his evidence allows.

§ Attractive.  An Ambassador will act with grace, kindness, and good manners.  He will not dishonor Christ in his conduct.

§ Dependent.  An Ambassador knows that effectiveness requires joining his best efforts with God’s power.

Source: Stand To Reason

Kingdom Friendships

The Seedbed Daily Text » Blog Archive » KINGDOM FRIENDSHIPS.

One of the best descriptions of friendship I’ve ever read. Below is a quote from the must-read article linked above:

However, not all whom we love should be received into friendship, for not all are suitable for it. Your friend is the companion of your soul, whose spirit is united and joined to yours, and, yes, you wish to be mingled such two are blended into one; you entrust to your friend as to another self, hiding nothing, and from whom you fear nothing.

Certainly, then, you should first choose someone whom you judge apt for this; then you test or try him or her to make sure, and finally you admit the person to friendship. For once friendship is commenced, it should be ever stable, in a sense mirroring eternity, always preserving your loving affection for each other.

We are not to be like children, changing our friendships upon every transient whim. For there is no one more detestable than the one who hurts a friend, and nothing is a greater spiritual torment than desertion from a friend, or an attack from a friend. So a friend must be chosen with all studiousness, and tested with the greatest caution.

But once admitted, however, your friend should be so tolerated, so borne with, so deferred to that, so long as they don’t retreat irrevocably from standard human norms, they are yours, and you are theirs, both in body and in spirit, such that there is no division in your spirits, affections, wills, or purposes. We distinguish, therefore, four rungs by which one ascends to the perfection of friendship: The first is choosing, the second testing, the third admission, and the fourth—in things both divine and human, with all charity and benevolence—completely harmonious unity.

—Aelred of Rievaulx (1110-1167)
Spiritual Friendship

Faith

One must have faith in God. Not in some thing, in everything.

The Apostles’ Creed

Traditional Version

I believe in God, the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth.

And in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord;
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;*
the third day he rose from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and sitteth at the right hand of the Father Almighty.
from thence he shall come again to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic** Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Ecumenical Version

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
born of the virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.*
On the third day he rose again,
he ascended into heaven,
is seated at the right hand of the Father.
abd will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic** Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

*or “He descended to hell.”
**”universal”
These translations are the versions in the current United Methodist Hymnal.

Concerning the Method of Prayer

It might seem superstitious but, for as long as I can remember, I have avoided praying for specific results. When praying I simply request that God have His will in whatever situation about which I’m praying. For me it’s logical—faithful—to rely on the wisdom and mercy of God in prayer.

It’s merely that I don’t want to presume that I am more knowledgable or wise than God. As prayer requires faith for its efficacy, shouldn’t that faith extend to trusting God in what the results will be? If I prayed for God’s help in a matter then followed with instructions for Him as to what or how He should accomplish His work, I would feel lacking in my faith and in doubt He would answer my prayer.

This hasn’t been the case for many of my fellow Christians in charismatic denominations I’ve encountered who say specifically to “name it, claim it” in prayer (strongly rooted in Prosperity Theology). It’s surely comforting to name it and claim it but, for those who trust in the wisdom and mercy of God, the blessings are often overwhelming.

Today I came across this scripture in Paul’s Epistle to the Romans which reminded me of this subject:

Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Perhaps there are church saints in a state of Christian Perfection who are qualified—whether or not inclined—to pray otherwise. But, until I’m closer to that state, I’m trusting in His wisdom over mine—likely more so then.

Related reading: The World’s Last Night by C.S. Lewis and A Plain Account of Christian Perfection by John Wesley

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