Friday, March 30, 2012

The Problem with Evil; a New Perspective - by Dr. Stan Murrell

In his excellent work, A Baptist Catechism, Dr. W. R. Downing addresses the problem of evil:

“The possible answers, according to human reasoning, are:

“first, if evil exists [and it does as a sad and awful reality], then there is no omnipotent [all–powerful], benevolent God—the argument of the atheist.

“Second, evil exists and therefore, if God exists, he must be either limited in his power or arbitrary in his moral character—the argument of those who espouse a non–biblical [pagan] concept of God.

“Third, evil exists, therefore there is more than one God or there are equal dualistic forces [good and evil] in conflict. This is the non–biblical [pagan] argument of those who would posit a dualism (a “good god” and “bad god” or opposing good and evil forces or principles) in conflict for control of the universe.

“Fourth, evil does not exist, except as an illusion in our human thinking. This is the non–biblical view of some western cults and Eastern religions (e.g., Christian Science, Buddhism). This would make any ultimate distinction between good and evil arbitrary, and thus deny the moral self–consistency of the Divine character.

“Fifth, evil exists as a mystery, independent of God, who remains to a given [limited] degree powerful and benevolent, necessarily operating in a utilitarian sense. This is the inconsistent argument of some (including Pelagians and Arminians) who attempt to deliver God from the charge of being the “author of sin” and so unscripturally limit his power in order to retain his goodness.

“Finally, evil exists in the universe of an omnipotent, benevolent God, who is completely sovereign over it and uses it for his own glory and the highest good—the argument of the biblical Christian [consistent Calvinist].

“This final assertion is the only view that can be consistently aligned to the teaching of Scripture (e.g., Gen. 50:20; Judg. 2:15; 9:23; 1 Sam. 16:14; 2 Kgs. 22:16; Psa. 76:10; Isa. 10:5–15; 45:7; Amos 3:6; Acts 4:27–28; Rom. 8:28; 9:11–21). Every other view, deriving from sinful humanistic reasoning, and so calling God and his actions into question (Rom. 9:19–21), seeks to point out an incoherence [inconsistency] in the Scriptures and the Christian system. These views either deny God and his power over evil, or limit God and seek to bring him down to the finite level (Rom. 1:21–25) and destroy his sovereignty and moral self–consistency—and thus any sufficient or consistent basis for Divine coherence.”

While this concise overview of the problem of evil is logical, biblical, and perceptive, the fundamental question as to why God has allowed (decreed) evil in the universe is still problematic. Must it always remain a mystery and without an answer? Perhaps not.

Perhaps Christians simply need a new perspective so that we see that the highest good in creation—including the presence of evil—is not our happiness; it is not even our holiness; it is the manifestation of God’s attributes. Could the love of God, His marvelous grace and infinite saving mercy be fully displayed apart from the black backdrop of sin? If the answer is no, then perhaps the mystery of evil finds purpose, definition, and meaning.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to blog as a cool "Relevant" Pastor...

How to blog as a cool "Relevant" Pastor...

1) Show others that you are not afraid to be open and transparent with your love life... Seekers will really look up to this and will want to convert to Christianity in order to get a better love life like yours.

2) Share with your readers what Rock concerts you've been to recently. When seekers find out that they don't have to give up their U2, Bon Jovi , and INXS - they will realize that Christianity is not such a big step after all. In fact, maybe they'll feel like they can even invite you (their pastor) to some cool (wild) parties.

3) Refer to everybody in your church as a "dude". And for all 37 pastors that work for you, on your hand-picked staff, refer to them in your blog posts as "my boy". So a proper sentence on your blog might be constructed like this: "My boy Justin and I are taking a few dudes to the U2 concert next week". If you have no fear of God whatsoever, you can do what I've seen in the seeker blogs, and also refer to the Lord Jesus Christ as "a dude" as well.

4) Whenever you go to a Rock concert, tell your blog audience how much better your church's Rock worship band is than the Rock band that you just paid to see. Say things like this: "Bon Jovi was cool, but my boys in our worship team Rock!". Also, don't be afraid to talk about how your church's half-million dollar sound system "rocks" ($?).

5) Put lots of pictures of yourself on your blog, especially ones of you "relating" with seekers, but make sure you are wearing jeans and a long untucked shirt. That's what everybody wears, so even if you happen to be 60 years old, show them that you can dress just like them, like a teenager. Then they'll be less afraid to come to church.

6) Use the following words as much as possible, because they really have an enticing effect on other seeker pastors. Then they will read your blog a lot, and perhaps one day they'll ask you to have your own conference to teach them about "your vision". The words are: Leadership, Connecting, Unchurched, Goals, Relevance, Buzz, and Vision.

7) Whatever you do, don't kill your blog by saying words like the following. Not only will you turn-off the seekers, but other relevant-pastors will see that you are not cutting edge and will stop reading your blog. Those words are: Doctrine, Theology, Elders and Deacons, Bible Commentaries (oops some of these are two words), Hermeneutics, or any of those kinds of things that pastors have cared about for centuries.

8) Talk a lot about the TV shows that you watch. Tell your readers how disappointed you were when certain shows ended differently than you expected. Mention how you watch TV with your wife.

9) If you bring up scripture on your blog, keep it short and sweet, perhaps give your "life verse" or maybe mention a verse that talks about "vision", but be sure to quote from The Message. It will often give a completely different meaning than any of the other bible translations, but the important thing is that people will be able to understand what it's saying.

10) Stay upbeat! I can't stress this enough. Christians are always supposed to be happy, and seekers will fuel off of your enthusiasm. It's contagious you know. Even if your dog dies, stay upbeat about it. Remember, even if you are not a very inspirational person, people will think you are, just because you are so enthusiastic.

11) Link to the right people. If you have all of the "cool pastors" in your blog roll, people will think that you too are cool. So be sure your blog has links to Perry, Gary, Tony, Andy, Mark, Ed, and Todd. Talk about those guys a lot in your blog posts, and make it sound like you are best buddies with them by using that familiar "my man" prefix when you refer to them by name.

12) You need to be prepared for anyone who might leave a negative comment on your blog that would seem to question "your vision". Those ruin the whole upbeat enthusiasm thing. The way to handle these is to cover-up any biblical points that they made, by citing the number of baptisms you had last month. Ask them how many baptisms their church had. Show them that "numbers" are the end-all indicator of ministry success, and try to make them feel less successful if they don't produce as many numbers as you do. That might discourage them from arguing with you. If they persist by questioning your obsession with numbers, remind them that "numbers are people" and "we count because we care" etc.

13) Your blog posts should be evenly distributed in this manner: 50% of them should talk about the EXCITING things your church is doing and how unique and innovative your approach to ministry is, 40% of them should be humor, and 10% should talk about your personal life (upcoming vacations, your entertainment preferences , the cold you just got over, your kids birthdays, etc.). Don't get too 'heavy' by talking a lot about things you gleaned out of the bible study time that you were able to squeeze in this week.
 
Full content at http://www.oldtruth.com/blog.cfm/id.2.pid.732

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Forgiveness

"To forgive is to smash a clay pot into a thousand pieces so it can never be pieced together again.”
I love it when God smashes stuff!
Biblical forgiveness is not about a feeling or even about fairness - it is about grace.  

Sunday, March 04, 2012

The age old god called "authenticity".

Thousands of doctors and social science experts continue to encourage their "patients" to choose authenticity (embrace who you are etc..); in fact embracing authenticity they say demands "wholehearted loving and living". 
To them I say - no thank you! The god "Authenticity" is a foolish age old god who does nothing less than entice a foolish people to worship themselves, suppressing the Truth in unrighteousness.