Saturday, December 26, 2015

Though I Walk Through the Valley of The Shadow of Death

One of the unfortunate side effects of growing old (aside from the inevitable toll time takes on the body) is the fact that those around you, loved ones, friends and acquaintances, begin to pass from this life with greater frequency. This was made more obvious and real this week when I received word that my great aunt, who was a sort of second mother to me, passed away. No doubt those of you reading this will likely have experienced the death of a loved one at one time or another.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Generalities, Generalities!

One of the things that we humans engage in without giving it a second thought is the use of generalities when we’re trying to prove a point. For example, you may have a person trying to prove that a certain politician is less than honest by saying something to the effect that “everyone knows that all politicians are dishonest.” Thus, we cement our belief in the dishonesty of the one by appealing to what “everyone” knows  about the others. This is no different when it comes to religion in general and the Bible specifically. As you know, I’ve been reviewing a work by a former member of the church of Christ (or CofC) that is scathing in its accusations and unsparing in its criticisms. This week, I’ll review the author’s penchant for using generalities to try and prove his points.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Proof Texting and Its Dangers

I read a blog article some weeks ago where a Roman Catholic apologist discussed the issue of proof texting and its uses. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the term, proof texting is the use of a select number of texts (usually a verse or two each), to try and “prove” your premise. For example, we in the church of Christ are famous for our use of Acts 2:38 to try and prove that baptism is for the remission of sins and that, without it, no one can be saved. Now, I’m not at all saying that such use of that verse is necessarily wrong. Nor am I implying that there are not doctrines that are very well contained within a couple of verses (take for example what Paul declares to be the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). But I am saying that we can run afoul of the truth of Scripture when we make it a habit to develop our theology from a few isolated verses here and there.

Monday, November 30, 2015

How Much Can We Trust Our Emotions?

It is axiomatic that a man should be careful how much he trusts his emotions or he is likely to be led astray by them. This came to my mind reading the first chapter of “Inside the Churches of Christ.” The cornerstone of the argument the author, Charles Simpson makes, is that in 50 years of membership in the church of Christ, he never experienced much emotion at all, either from himself or other members of the church. It was not until he abandoned the CofC and joined a Baptist church that he began to experience what he termed the right kind of emotion. As an example, he tells us that he had “never wept when praying in the CofC, but the first time I prayed in the Baptist church I wept openly.” The implication is that the CofC lacks the right measure of emotion, as defined by the author, but the Baptist church has just the right amount.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The “Church of Christ”: A Cult By Any Other Name?

I recently read a book titled “Inside the Churches of Christ: The Reflection of a Former Pharisee on What Every Christian Should Know About the Nondenomination Denomination.” Well, that’s a mouthful, isn’t it? I’m sure you already have a good idea of where the author of this book was going when he wrote it. The author, Charles Simpson, tells us that he was a member of the church of Christ for 50 years and that fact, accordingly, qualifies him to speak to the problems that the CofC (as he refers to it throughout the book) has. The book is primarily a harsh critique of such problems and concentrates on the “Pharisaical” attitude that the members of the CofC display in their worship, doctrine, and lives.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Is Theistic Evolution Really A Problem?

I recently came across an article by columnist Michael Brendan Dougherty entitled “In Defense of Creationists.” According to Mr. Dougherty, the article was motivated by a debate he had recently witnessed between creationist Ken Ham, and evolutionary scientist Bill Nye (you will probably remember him from the “Bill Nye The Science Guy” television program on PBS). What I found most fascinating about this whole article was the fact that, although the title seems to indicate that the author is a committed creationist, his views do not at all coincide with Ham’s. It is curious to find an article with such a title which then proceeds to tell us why the one he is “defending” is completely wrong in his assertions.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Politics of Christianity

Politics is once again taking center stage in our country. In just over a year, the United States will elect a new president after eight years of Democratic Party domination of that office (of course, the possibility exists that another Democratic candidate will be elected to the office). Whether that domination has been good or bad depends on who you ask, of course. But it is undeniable that our country has undergone a tremendous change over those eight years. When Barak Obama took the oath of office in January 2009, The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and a myriad of other legislations were the law of the land. Now, just seven years later, they have practically all been abandoned or superseded.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

"Sola Scriptura"

Although our American society has made of October 31st a major holiday of dubious worth, a much more important and significant event took place on this date. Four hundred ninety eight years ago today, Martin Luther propagated his famous 95 theses (you can read them here), an action that reverberated all the way to Rome and launched what has come to be known as the Protestant Reformation. Although there were a variety of issues and abuses that led Luther to oppose the papacy and its authority, the primary issue centered on the sale of indulgences to parishioners. This involved the payment by the laity to the clergy of a fee in order to ensure that their loved ones were released from purgatory. In some instances, their own sins could be forgiven and their penance reduced with such documents (how those in purgatory were to prove that their living loved ones had purchased such documents seemed to have escaped the “faithful”!).

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Christianity and the Mystery Religions

I recently finished reading a book by Ronald Nash entitled “The Gospel and the Greeks.” The thesis of the book is the examination of the link, if such exists, between Christianity and the mythical religions and philosophies of the ancient world, especially the Greco-Roman world. Granted, the regular Joe down the street is not likely to get into a deep theological discussion with you about how Jesus is supposed to be an amalgamation of the different “gods” who died and were resurrected in antiquity. However, as with the Davinci Code and other such films and books, he may have heard something about this and other myths that many internet “scholars” peddle trying to discredit the historicity of the New Testament.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Corrupt Communication

Ephesians chapter four exhorts us to “not let any corrupt communication come from your lips.” But, what exactly does it mean when Paul says “corrupt communication?” Is it determined by the culture? What words did Paul have in mind? Obviously, Paul could not have had English words in mind since the language did not even exist. However, the principle is what we’re dealing with here. You’ll hear many people speak about the fact that words really are just that, words. Remember the saying “sticks and stone will break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” That’s how many approach this subject.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Can Man Really Fool God, Really? - by Harland R. Huntoon

Since earliest times, man has renounced and defied any power greater than himself.  Yet, in moments of greatest calamity, stress and fear, these very men have uttered contradictory statements affirming the existence of a Higher Power.  Whoever said it, the obnoxious Frenchman Voltaire or the notorious atheist, Bertrand Russell, whose book “Why I Am Not A Christian” only magnified his ignorance, what really matters are the dying words spoken by one of them, “Oh God, if there is a God, save my soul, if I have a soul, from hell, if there is a hell.” 

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Evolution or God?

A friend pointed me to this video. Although at first I thought it would be more of the sappy stuff that creationist all too often, unfortunately, are known for, I found it enlightening and informative. Check out the last part of the video especially for an eye opening exposure to the fallacies of evolution and how so many young people, and some not so young, have become captives to the "rudiments of the world." (Colossians 2:8). If you have children who are old enough to understand this, and especially those who are in high school and nearing college age, I hope you'll show it to them. It breaks my heart to see so many kids, most of them even younger than my own and not much older than my grand kids, being fed such falsehoods!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

When the People of God Fall in Love With Their Stuff

No country in the history of the world has been wealthier in absolute terms than the United States. Although there have been nations with more far flung empires (Great Britain, Rome, Spain), none of them even approached the level of opulence that this country has reached. By way of example, consider the gross national product (GDP). At present (September of 2015), the nation’s GDP is over $17 trillion. That’s a figure that the human mind simply cannot comprehend. If you were to visually represent that figure, it would be like stacking $1,000 dollar bills to an altitude of 1,139 miles! That is much more than enough to reach well into outer space.  If that doesn’t impress you, take that number in $1 bills and that string, placed end to end, will be enough to get you to Saturn and back, a trip of nearly 1.6 billion miles!!!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Does the Bible Teach us to Take up the Sword?

The other day I was listening to a webcast where the host read an article about the Bible and the Qur’an. The general premise of the article was that both, the Bible and the Qur’an, called for believers to slaughter unbelievers. When it came to the Bible, the author quoted the instances where God commanded the Israelites to exterminate the Amalekites and other inhabitants of the Promised Land. This was done in an effort to show, or so the writer thought, how both religions have had their “dark periods where they promoted genocide.”

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Evangelism Methodology: What’s the best way to evangelize?

You see them often around the neighborhood and they have likely knocked on your door and left you some literature at time or two. They are the Jehovah’s Witnesses Publishers and the Mormon “elders.” They are in the forefront of what used to be referred to as door knocking and they have made great inroads into the evangelistic world with that tactic.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Should the Bible be Taken as Literal Truth?

I heard a program recently where a Bible teacher expressed his distaste at some of the events portrayed in the Old Testament. Specifically, he was declaring that 1 Samuel 15, where God commands Saul to destroy Amalek to include men, women and children, should not be taken literally. The basic premise for this belief is the fact that, according to this individual, the revelation of God in Jesus would necessarily preclude us from interpreting such events literally. It is not possible, according to the teacher, for God to be the God of the Old Testament, if we are to interpret those events literally, and also be the God that was revealed in the New Testament in Jesus.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Hierarchy of the Early Church

In a fine article concerning the early church and its governing structure, Michael Kruger, the dean of the Reformed Theological Seminary and a noted expert in biblical canonical issues, wrote that the early church’s structure was composed of a plurality of elders in each congregation. These individuals were, in the words of the apostle Paul, the overseers of “the church of God which he purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28). This was not only the biblical model (see 1 Timothy and Titus), but also a historical fact. The early church understood the guidance the apostles provided about such matters and strove to be faithful to it. But as with so many things in the church, however, this structure did not last.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Pitfalls of Verse Against Verse Hermeneutics

I ran across an article the other day on a website called The particular article centered on a question regarding whether the church of Christ is a “good” biblical church. The answer dealt with several different aspects that the author thought were important to the question, but one in particular caught my eye. The third issue identified by the author as being worthy of consideration when it comes to the church of Christ, dealt with baptism and its place in the church.

The article began dealing with this issue by saying, “A third and very important issue is the Church of Christ’s emphasis on baptism as being necessary for salvation. Church of Christ advocates point to Scriptures such as Acts 2:38, John 3:5, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21, and Acts 22:16 as biblical evidence that baptism is required for salvation.” So far so good, you will say. The problem comes as the author goes about trying to refute the idea that baptism is part of the gospel and initial entrance into the church. As with so many people who deny the essential nature of baptism and its place within the church, this individual attempted to dismiss the scriptures just cited by setting them against a number of others that seem to indicate that baptism is not part of the initial salvation experience. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Dangers for the Church part 2

The last time, we discussed a couple of the most salient dangers the church in our age is facing. This time, we close with two additional dangers that assail and will be more threatening to the health of the church and its influence in the world.

Danger number three: Denying the authority of scripture – Similar to the last danger—lack of knowledge—this is an insidious and increasingly common trait in churches. To cite one example, the ever stronger homosexual movement has created an environment where adhering to the authority of the Scriptures is looked upon as antiquated and bigoted. As a response to this attitude, many churches have begun to “rethink” their stance, not only regarding matters of sexuality, but also questioning the authority and even more dangerously, the inerrancy of the sacred text.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Dangers for the Church

Every generation of the church, whether in the 1st or the 21st century, has had to “contend for the faith once delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). From the beginning of the Christian faith, Christians have been called to not only apologize (from the Greek apologia or defend) for their faith, but also to defend it. And certainly, throughout the centuries we have had to defend that faith against various heresies and challenges. Today, our faith is under attack just as it has always been. We in the West have a tendency to have a warped sense of what really is happening with the church in the rest of the world. Our Western-centric world view leads us to discount what others are doing to allow the faith to flourish and continue to gain believers for the kingdom of God.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Some thoughts on Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion"

I've recently read the Richard Dawkins best seller "The God Delusion." From the outset, let me tell you that if you're contemplating reading such a book, you should do so with a big dose of soberness and understanding. It is not for the faint of heart. And I say this, not because I found its arguments compelling, but because every page drips with the contempt that this individual has for religion and for Christianity specifically.

A new blog dedicated to issues dealing with the faith

Welcome to the blog. This blog is designed to give you information on articles, presentations and other media that I discover or examine in my studies. I intend to post reviews, comments and other information that may be too long or too short to do videos or to blog about current events and other matters dealing with the faith. I hope you will find it useful and that you will participate often and add to the knowledge base I seek to examine. Please ensure that whatever you post is first of all true and then respectful and courteous. If you make any claims of a controversial nature, be sure and quote the sources where you found the information. It goes without saying that the internet is full of less than factual information that is passed off as true and accurate. It behooves all of us to ensure that our sources are reliable and that we're not simply parroting what we've heard from secondary or even more removed sources. Check the blog often for new posts. Thank you and may God bless you as you seek His will. Mike