This is an hour long presentation by Dr. James White on the subject of the reliability of the New Testament in the light of textual variants. No longer is this something only scholars need to be familiar with. Each of us needs to know something about this subject so that we can defend our faith in Holy Scripture, especially now that the critics have such a voice in our day.
Thursday, 27 November 2008
This is an hour long presentation by Dr. James White on the subject of the reliability of the New Testament in the light of textual variants. No longer is this something only scholars need to be familiar with. Each of us needs to know something about this subject so that we can defend our faith in Holy Scripture, especially now that the critics have such a voice in our day.
Wednesday, 26 November 2008
Tuesday, 25 November 2008
37. Q. What do you confess when you say that He suffered?
A. During all the time He lived on earth, but especially at the end, Christ bore in body and soul the wrath of God against the sin of the whole human race. Thus, by His suffering, as the only atoning sacrifice, He has redeemed our body and soul from everlasting damnation, and obtained for us the grace of God, righteousness, and eternal life.
 Is. 53; I Tim. 2:6; I Pet. 2:24; 3:18.  Rom. 3:25; I Cor. 5:7; Eph. 5:2; Heb. 10:14; I John 2:2; 4:10.  Rom. 8:1-4; Gal. 3:13; Col. 1:13; Heb. 9:12; I Pet 1:18, 19.  John 3:16; Rom. 3:24-26; II Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:15.
38. Q. Why did He suffer under Pontius Pilate as judge?
A. Though innocent, Christ was condemned by an earthly judge, and so He freed us from the severe judgment of God that was to fall on us.
 Luke 23:13-24; John 19:4, 12-16.  Is. 53:4, 5; II Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13.
39. Q. Does it have a special meaning that Christ was crucified and did not die in a different way?
A. Yes. Thereby I am assured that He took upon Himself the curse which lay on me, for a crucified one was cursed by God.
 Deut. 21:23; Gal. 3:13.
40. Q. Why was it necessary for Christ to humble Himself even unto death?
A. Because of the justice and truth of God satisfaction for our sins could be made in no other way than by the death of the Son of God.
 Gen. 2:17.  Rom. 8:3; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 2:9, 14, 15.
41. Q. Why was he buried?
A. His burial testified that He had really died.
 Is. 53:9; John 19:38-42; Acts 13:29; I Cor. 15:3,4.
42. Q. Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?
A. Our death is not a payment for our sins, but it puts an end to sin and is an entrance into eternal life.
 John 5:24; Phil. 1:21-23; I Thess. 5:9, 10.
43. Q. What further benefit do we receive from Christ's sacrifice and death on the cross?
A. Through Christ's death our old nature is crucified, put to death, and buried with Him, so that the evil desires of the flesh may no longer reign in us, but that we may offer ourselves to Him as a sacrifice of thankfulness.
 Rom. 6:5-11; Col. 2:11, 12.  Rom. 6:12-14.  Rom. 12:1; Eph. 5:1, 2.
44. Q. Why is there added: He descended into hell?
A. In my greatest sorrows and temptations I may be assured and comforted that my Lord Jesus Christ, by His unspeakable anguish, pain, terror, and agony, which He endured throughout all His sufferings but especially on the cross, has delivered me from the anguish and torment of hell.
 Ps. 18:5, 6; 116:3; Matt. 26:36-46; 27:45, 46; Heb. 5:7-10.  Is. 53.
45. Q. How does Christ's resurrection benefit us?
A. First, by His resurrection He has overcome death, so that He could make us share in the righteousness which He had obtained for us by His death. Second, by His power we too are raised up to a new life. Third, Christ's resurrection is to us a sure pledge of our glorious resurrection.
Monday, 24 November 2008
A quick note about the interview itself: One word - brilliant! Brilliant because we see Kirk Cameron & John MacArthur talking truth on a Christian broadcasting network that is simply woefull in delivering content that is consistent with the truth. I am not saying that you will never encounter any truth whatsoever on TBN. There is truth, but, there is also error. A great deal of error. Why is Kirk hosting this program on TBN? The same reason John MacArthur agreed to come onto the program. They both desire to see the truth proclaimed. Understand this: Doctrine is important. Theology is important. Church leaders today who say it is not do not love the truth. If they do not love the truth then they do not love those they lead. It's that simple. For Jesus said these words, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (John 8:31-32)
Sunday, 23 November 2008
"In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, 'Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?' The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!"
Wesley Owen has recently reduced the price of the book from £7.99 to £3.85. Clearly the book is selling. Many Christians are reading it. Many are saying that it is transforming their lives. What is so special about this book? Are Christians reading it because it is biblically sound and it is helping them to understand the Bible better? Is the book biblically sound? The following review, by Tim Challies, helps us to answer these questions.
I am certain that there is no other book I’ve been asked to review more times than William P. Young’s The Shack, a book that is currently well within the top-100 best-selling titles at Amazon. The book, it seems, is becoming a hit and especially so among students and among those who are part of the Emergent Church. In the past few weeks many concerned readers have written to ask if I would be willing to read it and to provide a review. Because I am always interested in books that are popular among Christians, I was glad to comply.
The Amazon reader reviews for The Shack are remarkable. With 102 reviews already posted, it is maintaining a five-star rating with fully ninety three of the reviewers awarding five stars. Only two have offered one star. A search of blogs and websites turns up near-unanimous enthusiastic (and almost unbridled) praise for the book. “This book is a life-changer, a transformer.” “[The Shack] has become a favorite book OF ALL TIME.” “I am changed. I pray indelibly. My oh my!” This book, which was released in May but which has already gone into its fourth printing, is making a major impact. It has obviously struck a chord with Christians.
I’ll warn in advance that this review is going to be long. My major focus will be the book’s content though I’ll pause to glance fleetingly at the book’s style as well. Because I’ve received so many questions and because the author covers so much ground in the book (and sometimes in a way that is somewhat unclear) I am going to proceed carefully and with many quotes.
There are two things I would like to note about this type of book—theological fiction. First, because of the limitations of the genre, it is sometimes difficult to really know what an author means by what he says. There is often some question as to what comes from the author and what comes from the characters. The author cannot always adequately explain himself; nor can he provide footnotes or references to Scripture. It can be challenging, then, to turn to the Bible to ensure that what he teaches is true. This makes the task of discernment doubly difficult, for one must first interpret the fiction to understand what is being said and then seek to compare that to the Bible. We will do well to keep this in mind as we proceed.
Second, we must also realize that, because of the emotional impact of reading good fiction, it can be easy to allow it to become manipulative and to allow the emotion of a moment to bypass our ability to discern what is true and what is not. This is another thing the reader must keep in mind. We cannot trust our laughter or our tears but must allow our powers of discernment to be trained to distinguish good from evil (see Hebrews 5:14). Discernment is primarily a Spirit-empowered discipline of the mind rather than an emotional response.
So let’s look at this book together, doing the task God requires of us when he tells us to be men and women of discernment—Christians who heed God’s admonition to “test everything; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” We’ll simply compare what Young teaches to the Bible.
The Book as a Book
First, a word about the book as it is written. William Young shows himself to be a capable writer, though I would not have believed it through the first couple of chapters. The book began with far too many awkward sentences and awkward sentence constructs (e.g. “One can almost hear a unified sigh rise from the nearby city and surrounding countryside where Nature has intervened to give respite to the weary humans slogging it out within her purview”). But as it went on and as the story took over the book became easier to read. The story itself is interesting enough, though certainly it lacks originality. The last chapter should have been left on the editing room floor and the final paragraph (before the “After Words”) was a ridiculously terse attempt to provide closure to remaining plot lines. But on the whole the book is readable and enjoyable. Never does it become boring, even after long pages of nothing but dialog.
But Young did not write this book for the story. This book is all about the content and about the teaching it contains. The book’s reviews focus not on the quality of the story but on its spiritual or emotional impact. Eugene Peterson grasps this, saying in his glowing endorsement, “When the imagination of a writer and the passion of a theologian cross-fertilize the result is a novel on the order of “The Shack.” This book has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s “Pilgrim’s Progress” did for his. It’s that good!” Could it really be that good? Is it good enough to warrant positive comparison to the English-language book that has been read more widely than any other save the Bible? Let’s turn to the book’s content and find out.
What Is The Shack?
The Shack revolves around Mack (Mackenzie) Philips. Four years before this story begins, Mack’s young daughter, Missy, was abducted during a family vacation. Though her body was never found, the police did find evidence in an abandoned shack to prove that she had been brutally murdered by a notorious serial killer who preyed on young girls. As the story begins, Mack, who has been living in the shadow of his Great Sadness, receives a strange note that is apparently from God. God invites Mack to return to this shack for a get together. Though uncertain, Mack visits the scene of the crime and there has a weekend-long encounter with God, or, more properly, with the godhead.
What should you do when you come to the door of a house, or cabin in this case, where God might be? Should you knock? Presumably God already knew that Mack was there. Maybe he ought to simply walk in and introduce himself, but that seemed equally absurd. And how should he address him? Should he call him Father, or Almighty One, or perhaps Mr. God, and would it be best if he fell down and worshipped, not that he was really in the mood.
As he tried to establish some inner mental balance, the anger that he thought had so recently died inside him began to emerge. No longer concerned or caring about what to call God and energized by his ire, he walked up to the door. Mack decided to bang loudly and see what happened, but just as he raised his fist to do so, the door flew open, and he was looking directly into the face of a large beaming African-American woman.
This large and oh-so-stereotypical matronly African-American woman is God (or at least an anthropomorphism of God she chose to take on in order to communicate with Mack). Throughout the story she is known as Papa. Near the end, because Mack requires a father figure, she turns into a pony-tailed, grey-haired man, but otherwise God is this woman. Jesus is a young to middle-aged man of Middle-Eastern (i.e. Jewish) descent with a big nose and rather plain looks while the Holy Spirit is played by Sarayu, a small, delicate and eclectic woman of Asian descent. By this point many people will choose to close the book and be done with it. But for the purposes of this review, let’s just assume you are able to get past seeing God and the Holy Spirit portrayed in this way and let’s press on.
There is very little action in The Shack and the bulk of the book is dialog, mostly as the members of the Trinity communicate with Mack, though occasionally we see glimpses into their relationship with one another. The banter between the members of the Trinity, most of which is geared towards helping us understand the love that exists between them, leads to some rather bizarre dialog. Take this as a typical example:
Mack was shocked at the scene in front of him. It appeared that Jesus had dropped a large bowl of some sort of batter or sauce on the floor, and it was everywhere. It must have landed close to Papa because the lower portion of her skirt and bare feet were covered in the gooey mess. All three were laughing so hard that Mack didn’t think they were breathing. Sarayu said something about humans being clumsy and all three started roaring again. Finally, Jesus brushed past Mack and returned a minute later with a large basin of water and towels. Sarayu had already started wiping the goop from the floor and cupboards, but Jesus went straight to Papa and, kneeling at her feet, began to wipe off the front of her clothes. He worked down to her feet and gently lifted one foot at a time, which he directed into the basin where he cleaned and massaged it.
“Ooooh, that feels soooo good!” exclaimed Papa, as she continued her tasks at the counter.
Young covers a wide variety of theological topics in this book, each of which is relevant to the theme of Mack’s suffering and his inability to trust in a God who could let his daughter be treated in such a horrifying way. The author is unafraid to tackle subjects of deep theological import—a courageous thing to do in so difficult a genre as fiction. The reader will find himself diving into deep waters as he reads this book.
Much of what Young writes is good and even helpful (again, assuming that the reader can see past the human personifications of God). He affirms the absolute nature of what is good and teaches that evil exists only in relation to what is good; he challenges the reader to understand that God is inherently good and that we can only truly trust God if we believe Him to be good; he acknowledges the human tendency to create our image of God by looking at human qualities and assuming that God is simply the same but more so; he attempts to portray the loving relationships within the Trinity; and so on. For these areas I am grateful as they provided helpful correctives to many false understandings of God.
But the book also raised several concerns. Young covers many topics and time would fail me to discuss each of them. Instead, I will look at concerns with some of the book’s broader themes and will do so under several theological headings.
Young teaches that the Trinity exists entirely without hierarchy and that any kind of hierarchy is the result of sin. The Trinity, he says, “are in a circle of relationship, not a chain of command or ‘great chain of being’… Hierarchy would make no sense among us.” Now it’s possible that he is referring to a kind of dominance or grade or command structure that may well be foreign to the godhead. But a reading of the Bible will prove that hierarchy does, indeed, exist even where there is no sin. After all, the angels exist in a hierarchy and have done so since before the Fall. Also, in heaven there will be degrees of reward and there will be some who are appointed to special positions (such as the Apostles). And the Bible makes it clear that there is some kind of hierarchy even within the Trinity. The Spirit and the Son have submitted themselves to the Father. The task of the Spirit is to lead people to the Son who in turn brings glory to the Father. Never do we find the Father submitting to the Spirit or to the Son. Their hierarchy is perfect—without anger or malice or envy, but it is a hierarchy nonetheless.
There are other teachings about the Trinity that concerned me. For example, Papa says “I am truly human, in Jesus.” This simply cannot be true. God [the Father—a term that the author avoids] is not fully human in Jesus. This melds the two persons of God in a way that is simply unbiblical. Some of what Young teaches is novel and even possible, but without Scriptural support. For example, he teaches that the triune nature of God was an absolute necessity since without it God would be incapable of love. His reasoning is not perfectly clear but seems to be that if God did not have such a relationship “within himself” he would be unable to love. But this is not taught in the Bible.
Overall, I had to conclude that Young has an inadequate and often-unbiblical understanding of the Trinity. While granting that the Trinity is a very difficult topic to understand and one that we cannot know fully, there are several indications that he often blurs the distinct persons of the Trinity along with their roles and their unique attributes. Combined with his novel but unsupported conjectures, this is a serious concern.
Young uses the discussion about the Trinity as a bridge to a the subject of submission. Here he teaches that each member of the Trinity submits to the other. Jesus says, “That’s the beauty you see in my relationship with Abba and Sarayu. We are indeed submitted to one another and have always been so and will always be. Papa is as much submitted to me as I to him, or Sarayu to me, or Papa to her. Submission is not about authority and it is not obedience; it is all about relationships of love and respect. In fact, we are submitted to you in the same way.” Why would the God of the universe seek to be submitted to mere humans? “Because we want you to join us in our circle of relationship.” Genuine relationships, according to the author, must be marked by mutual submission. “As the crowning glory of Creation, you were made in our image, unencumbered by structure and free to simply ‘be’ in relationship with me and one another. If you had truly learned to regard each other’s concerns as significant as your own, there would be no need for hierarchy.” Submission, according to this book, must be mutual, so that husbands submit to wives while wives submit to husbands, and parents submit to children while children submit to parents. While the Bible does teach that we are to submit to one another, it also teaches that God has ordained some kinds of hierarchy. While a husband is to submit his desires to his wife, even to the point of sacrificing his life for her, he is never called to submit to her in an authoritative sense. Wives, though, are commanded to submit to their husbands, acknowledging that the husband is the head of the family. Similarly, all people are to submit to the God-given authorities and every person is responsible to submit to God.
This understanding of absolute equality not just in value (which the Bible affirms) but also in role and function (which the Bible does not affirm), leads to a strange idea about why God created Eve out of Adam. He teaches that it was crucial for man be created before woman, but with woman hidden inside man. Had this not happened, there could not have been a proper circle of relationship since otherwise man would always come from woman (through childbirth), allowing her to claim a dominant position. She came out of him and now all men come out of her. This allows total, absolute equality, says Young. I can think of absolutely no biblical proof for this and neither does the author offer any.
And so we see that Young uses The Shack to teach an unbiblical understanding of submission. And he uses this topic to bridge to another.
Young’s understanding of free will seems to follow from submission. “I don’t want slaves to do my will,” says Jesus. “I want brothers and sisters who will share life with me.” Speaking in veiled terms about conversion or something like it, Jesus says, “We will come and live our life inside of you, so that you begin to see with our eyes, and hear with our ears, and touch with our hands, and think like we do. But, we will never force that union with you. If you want to do your thing, have at it. Time is on our side.” God, it seems, has already forgiven all humans for their sin and has willingly submitted himself to them, though only some people will choose relationship. He is fully reconciled to all human beings and simply waits for them to do their part. Never does Young clearly discuss the consequences that will face those who refuse to accept this offer of union.
Overall, Young presents a God who is unable or unwilling to break into history in any consequential way. He is sovereign at times, but certainly not so in conversion (a topic that receives only scant attention) and is limited by the free will choices of human beings. Scant attention is paid to God’s fore-ordination, the understanding that nothing happens without it somehow being part of His decree (even while God cannot be accused of being the author of evil). Papa explains to Mack, “There was no way to create freedom without a cost.” But nowhere in the Bible do we find that God is somehow made captive by human free will and that He has to allow things to proceed in order to maintain His own integrity as Creator. Always God is sovereign, even over the free will choices of men. Our inability to understand how this can be does not preclude us from the responsibility of believing it.
Much of the story focuses on forgiveness. Mack has to learn to forgive first God (or at least to come to an intellectual understanding of why God was unable to intervene to save Missy) and then, at the book’s culmination, to forgive the murderer. I am adamantly opposed to the idea that we would ever need to forgive God for anything. However, because this teaching is seen only vaguely in the novel, I will pass over it for now and turn to another area of forgiveness—that of unconditional forgiveness.
Nowhere in Scripture will we find the idea that we can or should forgive an unrepentant person for this kind of crime. Rather, Scripture makes it clear that repentance must precede forgiveness. Without repentance there can be no forgiveness. This is true of God’s offer of forgiveness to us and, as we are to model this in our human relationships, must be true of how we offer forgiveness to others. So when, at the book’s climax, Mack cries out “I forgive you” to the murderer (who is not present and has not sought forgiveness) he cannot offer true forgiveness. Neither can true forgiveness exist where Mack is unable to pursue reconciliation with this man. Forgiveness makes no sense and means nothing if we require it in this way. It may make a person feel better about himself, but it cannot bring about true forgiveness and true reconciliation. And so Young teaches a therapeutic, inadequate and unbiblical understanding of forgiveness.
Scripture and Revelation
There are few doctrines more important to Christian living than this one—understanding how it is that God chooses to communicate with human beings. Though the Bible teaches that Scripture is the “norming norm,” many Christians give precedence to other supposed forms of revelation, and particularly promptings, leadings and “still, small voices.” Sure enough, such an emphasis is seen clearly in The Shack. How will we hear from God in day-to-day life (away from the miraculous shack)? “You will learn to hear my thoughts in yours,” says Sarayu. “Of course you will make mistakes; everybody makes mistakes, but you will begin to better recognize my voice as we continue to grow our relationship.” And where will we find the Spirit? “You might see me in a piece of art, or music, or silence, or through people, or in Creation, or in your joy and sorrow. My ability to communicate is limitless, living and transforming, and it will always be tuned to Papa’s goodness and love. And you will hear and see me in the Bible in fresh ways. Just don’t look for rules and principles; look for relationship—a way of coming to be with us.”
Beyond looking for new revelation, The Shack says little about how God has communicated or will continue to communicate with us in Scripture. There are a couple of times that it mentions the Bible, but never does it point to Scripture as a real authority or as the sufficient Word of God. “In seminary [Mac] had been taught that God had completely stopped any overt communication with moderns, preferring to have them only listen to and follow sacred Scripture, properly interpreted, of course. God’s voice had been reduced to paper, and even that paper had to be moderated and deciphered by the proper authorities and intellects… Nobody wanted God in a box, just in a book. Especially an expensive one bound in leather with gilt edges, or was that guilt edges?” Here we see Young pointing away from Scripture rather than towards it. Through Mack he scoffs at the idea that God has spoken authoritatively and sufficiently through the Bible. And if he points away from Scripture he points towards subjective promptings and leadings.
Though common, such teaching is dangerous and directly detracts from the sufficiency of Scripture. When we admit that God has not, in the Bible, said all that He needs to say to us, we open the doors for all manner of new revelation, much of which may contradict the Bible. What authority is there if not the Bible? Ultimately the issue of revelation is an issue of authority and too many Christians are willing to trust their own authority over the Bible’s. What authority does Young rely on as he brings teaching here in The Shack? Does he look to a higher authority or does he look mostly to himself? The reader can have no confidence that Young loves and respects God’s Word has He chose to give it to us in Scripture.
The book contains surprisingly little teaching about salvation. When Young does discuss conversion, he places it firmly in the camp of relationship but also uses the stereotypical phrases such as “this is not a religion” and “Jesus isn’t a Christian.” Jesus apparently loves all people in exactly the same way, having judged them worthy of his love. Young also wades dangerously close to universalism saying that Jesus has no interest in making people into Christians. Rather, no matter what faith they come from, he wishes to “join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa.” He denies that all roads lead to him (since most roads lead nowhere) but says instead, “I will travel any road to find you.” Whether Young holds to universalism or not, and whether he believes that all faiths can lead a person to God, the book neither affirms nor refutes.
Many other topics receive less attention but also raise concerns. For example, Jesus comments on religion, politics and economics saying “They are the man-created trinity of errors that ravage the earth and deceives those I care about.” But Young offers no biblical proof that this is something Jesus would teach. In other places God seems to gloss over sin, judging certain sins almost inconsequential. And so it goes.
So where does all of this leave us? It is clear to me that The Shack is a mix of good and bad. Young teaches much that is of value and he teaches it in a slick and effective way. Sadly, though, there is much bad mixed in with the good. As we pursue his major theological thrusts we see that many of them wander away, by varying degrees, from what God tells us in Scripture.
Despite the great amount of poor theology, my greatest concern is probably this one: the book has a quietly subversive quality to it. Young seems set on undermining orthodoxy Christianity. For example, at one point Mack states that, despite years of seminary and years of being a Christian, most of the things taught to him at the shack have never occurred to him before. Later he says, “I understand what you’re saying. I did that for years after seminary. I had the right answers, sometimes, but I didn’t know you. This weekend, sharing life with you has been far more illuminating than any of those answers.”
Throughout the book there is this kind of subversive strain teaching that new and fresh revelation is much more relevant and important than the kind of knowledge we gain in sermons or seminaries or Scripture. Young’s readers seem to be picking up on this. Read this brief Amazon review as an example: “Wish I could take back all the years in seminary! The years the locusts ate???? Systematic theology was never this good. Shack will be read again and again. With relish. Shared with friends, family, and strangers. I can fly! It’s a gift. ‘Discipleship’ will never be lessons again.” Another reviewer warns that many Christians will find the book difficult to read because of their “modern” mindsets. “If one is coming from a strong, propositional and, perhaps, fundamentalist perspective to the Bible, this book certainly will be threatening.” Still another says “This book was so shocking to my “staid” Christianity but it was eye opening to my own thoughts about who I think God is.” At several points I felt as if the author was encouraging the reader to doubt what they know of Christianity—to deconstruct what they know of Christian theology—and to embrace something new. But the faith Young reconstructs is simply not the faith of the Bible.
Eugene Peterson says this book is as good and as important as The Pilgrim’s Progress. Well, it really is not. It is neither as good nor as original a story and it lacks the theological precision of Bunyan’s work. But really, this is a bit of a facile comparison. The Pilgrim’s Progress, after all, is allegory—a story that has a second distinct meaning that is partially hidden behind its literal meaning. The Shack is not meant to be allegory. Nor can The Shack quite be equated with a story like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe where C.S. Lewis simply asked (and answered) this kind of question: “What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?” The Shack is in a different category than these more notable Christian works. It seeks to represent the members of the Trinity as they are (or as they could be) and to suggest through them what they might teach were they to appear to us in a similar situation. There is a sense of attempted or perceived reality in this story that is missing in the others. This story is meant to teach theology that Young really believes to be true. The story is a wrapper for the theology. In theory this is well and good; in practice the book is only as good as its theology. And in this case, the theology just is not good enough.
Because of the sheer volume of error and because of the importance of the doctrines reinvented by the author, I would encourage Christians, and especially young Christians, to decline this invitation to meet with God in The Shack. It is not worth reading for the story and certainly not worth reading for the theology.
- Source: Challies.com
Saturday, 22 November 2008
If we look around us (and even in our own bodies), there are many structures that seem to show less-than-optimal design. What this means to some evolutionists is that this proves there is no creator. After all, a creator as intelligent as God would not have made imperfect designs.
Debunking this myth requires very little effort. First of all, how can humans judge what is optimal design? Some designs require a balance of efficiency and effectiveness, as we find in the human eye (a structure perfectly suited for human life). Also, we would hardly expect a universe that has been cursed with degeneration for over 6,000 years to maintain optimal design. The fact that we continue to survive, however, is evidence of how well the original design was. Finally, the broadening field of biomimetics (copying design from nature) shows us that God’s creation (even in its fallen state) offers a wealth of design potential—and good design at that.
– Answers in Genesis
Friday, 21 November 2008
We were back in our regular spot along the railing. Many of the artists were plying their trade, as was our antagonist friend, who really, really, does not like us. My earnest hope is that the Lord would soften his heart so do please pray for him.
After standing up to preach it was a good while before a sizeable crowd took shape. However, when it did it was very good in that it stayed for a quite some time. There were a number of hecklers, in particular a young man named Jack. He had many questions and objections and they ranged from things like “Why does God allow suffering in the world?” to ridiculous claims like “It’s been proven that there is no God!” Death and suffering is a result of man’s fall. This world is cursed because of sin and that is how it is. I understand the pain a person goes through when they lose a loved one. Yet I can never lay the blame at God. He is not the author of sin, man is. As to the claim that it has been proven that there is no God, well, I for one would LOVE to see the evidence that supports this claim.
You may be wondering why there are no photos with this report. My bother did have his camera with him; however, he was too busy talking with people to take any pictures. That sure is a blessing! We were all too busy to do so and it really is wonderful to know that the Lord is using us in this way.
Looking back on the evening one thing for me was very clear. When the Word of God is preached, when His holy law is proclaimed, people are convicted of their sin and they are made to examine themselves. This was made so clear to me and I can’t stress the importance of preaching sin, righteousness and judgment in accordance with preaching the love and grace of our great God. Towards the end of his life John Newton said these words: “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things, that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Saviour." We must labour to make this known to people so that they can fully appreciate and appropriate the grace and mercy of the Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Wednesday, 19 November 2008
Disclaimer: I do not support all of the ads that accompany this video. The ad "Is There a God?”, in particular, is written from a Catholic perspective. The teaching of Roman Catholicism is not at all consistent with the Bible. Roman Catholicism is not orthodox Christianity. I would encourage you to read a wonderful testimony of a man who was once a Catholic and is now a born-again Christian. Click HERE to read the testimony.
Monday, 17 November 2008
Apologetics without apology (15th Nov. 2008, Trinity Road Chapel)
Morning service (16th Nov. 2008, Trinity Road Chapel)
Evening service (16th Nov. 2008, Trinity Road Chapel)
Friday, 14 November 2008
The evening was spent handing out tracts and talking with people one-to-one. Carl also had the opportunity to preach twice and both times drew in a crowd who listened intently as he shared with them the gospel.
I am especially pleased that Wesley came along for the second time. Street evangelism is fairly new to him but there’s no quicker way to learn than to get stuck in. We have a great team now and although some of us cannot make it every Friday, the important thing is that we aiming to have a continued presence in Leicester Square every Friday night.
On Saturday morning I headed to Tooting Broadway to meet up with Carl. On the way there a friend from church (also named Carl) rang and said he would come along to join us. It was a great encouragement. Once we arrived another friend from my church, Chin Cong, stopped to join us, since he had seen us as he had been passing by. I asked Carl if he would like to preach, however he insisted I should preach since he had preached the night before. Within minutes of standing up the heavens opened and down came the rain. Seeing that I was preaching the gospel with the rain pouring down a very kind lady (who I am convinced must be a Christian) came and stood next to me with a large umbrella to shield me from the rain. It really was most kind of her. Unfortunately we never got the time to chat as she left as soon as I stepped down. I thanked her for kindness as we said goodbye.
While it was raining we stood at the entrance to the tube station and handed out tracts to those who passed. We also had the opportunity to speak with a few people as well. After the rain eased up I decided to take the opportunity to preach once more. But alas, after a few minutes of preaching, down came the rain again. I preached a much shorter message this time but stressed to those who could hear the importance of surrendering our lives to Christ. I did not see it as a waste of time, as I know that there were people who would have heard the gospel that very wet and rainy afternoon.
Soli Deo Gloria!
While evolution does its dirty work, it leaves behind vestiges of its machinations, or so the argument goes. Evolutionists claim that humans and other animals have leftover organs and DNA that prove the power of mutations and natural selection. In fact, this is often touted as a powerful rebuttal to creationists.
But the myth stops here. If an organ loses function, this proves only that the organ has lost function. Often, however, reports of this kind are premature and based on evolutionary expectations. The appendix, for example, was once a bastion of vestigiality, but now we know its function. One must wonder, in fact, how much evolutionary thought has retarded science by claiming that things are no longer needed.
In the end, the loss of function (after all other possibilities have been eliminated) is better evidence for a world that is in decay, which is exactly what the Bible says about the universe we inhabit.
– Answers in Genesis
Wednesday, 12 November 2008
On Tuesday evening I had the wonderful opportunity of attending a debate between Dr. James White (Alpha & Omega Ministries) and Adnan Rashid. The subject of the debate was: Does belief in the Trinity necessitate shirk? According to Islamic belief, shirk is the concept of the sin of polytheism. In a more general sense it refers to worshipping other than Allah, associating partners with him, giving his characteristics to other than him, or not believing in his characteristics.
During the debate Dr. White made it quite clear that the Qur’an does not accurately identify the doctrine of the Trinity. Therefore it cannot be said that belief in the Trinity necessitates shirk. Consider these words by Dr. White: The doctrine of the Trinity does not involve "shirk." If Muslims would just understand the doctrine correctly (i.e., if they could break out of the errors forced upon them by the ignorance of Muhammad who simply did not understand the doctrine), they would realize that we are monotheists and we are not in any way "associating" separate "gods" with the Father.
The following video clip is quite helpful for our understanding, as it provides a basic definition and introduction to the concept of shirk.
Below are two clips from the Tuesday debate. The first is Dr. White’s closing rebuttal. The second is a short clip from the audience Q & A portion of the debate.
Sunday, 9 November 2008
It was 31st October, and so for many this meant Halloween. For me and many others it meant Reformation Day. What a contrast! In our hearts we desired to remember a great move of God whereby God used men to bring godly reform to an evil religious regime. In the hearts of others was the desire to flirt with evil itself. Many of course were dressed up in costumes depicting monsters, ghosts, zombies, and other gruesome looking creatures. “Happy Halloween!” was being exchanged from person to person much like you would say, “Happy Birthday,” or “Merry Christmas.” I shook my head as I heard this. What is “happy” about a celebration of evil?? Concerning Halloween’s origins, consider the following…
The celebration can be traced back to the Druid festival of the dead. The Roman Pantheon, built by Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 100 as a temple to the goddess Cybele and other Roman gods, became the principle place of worship. In 609, Emperor Phocas seized Rome and gave the Pantheon to Pope Boniface IV. Boniface consecrated it to the Virgin Mary and kept using the temple to pray for the dead, only now it was “Christianized,” as men added the unscriptural teaching of purgatory. In 834, Gregory IV extended the feast for all the church and it became known as All Saint’s Day, still remembering the dead. Samhain, a Druid god of the dead, was honoured at Hallowe’en (“All Hallows Eve”) in Britain, Germany, France, and the Celtic countries. Samhain called together all wicked souls who died within the past year and who were destined to inhabit animals. The Druids believed that souls of the dead came back to their homes to be entertained by those still living. Suitable food and shelter were provided for these spirits or else they would cast spells, steal infants, destroy crops, kill farm animals, and create terror as they haunted the living. This is the action that “Trick-or-Treat” copies today. The Samhain celebration used nuts, apples, skeletons, witches, and black cats. Divination and auguries were practiced as well as magic to seek answers for the future. Even today witchcraft practitioners declare October 31 as the most favourable time to practice their arts (The Evidence Bible).
After a time of prayer and devotions we began setting up for the evening. We were back along the railing which I was pleased about, although, it must be said, that God sure used us on the other side of the promenade and should it be His will I’m sure He will use us there again. I stood up to preach first and felt quite blessed by the Lord that I was able to preach on a day that commemorates the time when the glorious gospel was thundered from the lips of those who fought for revival and reform.
There was much going on with all the fancy dress and partying and I must say this was distracting for me and also for those who I believe would have normally stopped to hear the Word preached. People did stop to listen as I preached however there were few hecklers and so our crowd was small in size. After I finished preaching we all set about handing out tracts and talking with people one-to-one. I got into a conversation with a gentleman from the States named Diego and this would be the sole person I would end up talking with before we headed on home. Diego was very willing to talk, which was great, although it was clear that he had some particular views of his own and would say things like, “Yes, but I believe this…” My focus was to make a defence for God’s Word and to talk on the authority of Scripture and how its precepts and teaching is ultimately what we are called to believe, not blindly, but rather because it is the truth. We spoke for well over an hour and I believe the Lord will continue to speak to him through His Spirit as he ponders what he heard.
Below is a picture of Andrew talking with some Muslim men.
It was a very cold night and by the time it was ready to leave we all struggled to sense any feeling left in our toes. The atmosphere of the evening was somewhat oppressive but praise God, we brought light to a dark place.
Soli Deo Gloria!
Friday, 7 November 2008
A few weeks ago my team and I were ministering in a location not far from my local church in a vibrant part of the community outside a tube station (subway). A young girl came past and blasted us for forcing our beliefs and religion on people. I responded by saying that there is freedom of speech in this country to share one's beliefs. She responded by saying, "Yeah, but it seems to be only Christians who are doing it." Now this may simply be her perception of things, clearly many Muslims are quite active in their attempts to advance Islam in the UK. But her comments are encouraging nonetheless.
We know from Scripture that the people of this world hate the light and love the darkness (John 3:19-20). Jesus said to His disciples, "The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (John 7:7). So the antagonism is actually consistent with the Bible. However, the intensity of the antagonism towards Christianity in this country is a result, I believe, of a lack of godly influence to the people at large. All people all over the world who do not know God hate God. That is a universal reality. However, when godliness is all but removed from society that which is left in its wake is a raging evil embraced by a people who love evil.
The power of Christianity is such that, apart from drawing people into a living relationship with their Creator, it also has the power to transform society through its well rooted ethical values. For example, children today brought up in a humanistic culture are displaying the fruit of their education, namely that they are worryingly lacking in terms of morals and ethical principles. Society is becoming increasingly decadent because of humanism.
Now, not only do we see this to have occurred in our country, we have also seen ideologies and philosophical views brought in that enable people to justify both their beliefs and the lustful desires of their flesh. What do I mean by this? Well, the very concept that there is a God who exists and made this world is to many a work of fiction that is not only foolish but also offensive in what it advocates. It is foolish because in the minds of the populace it has been proven that there is no God. And it is offensive to many because it is seen as a religion that is mutually exclusive and intolerant.
Both of these factors - the removal of godliness and the influx of ideologies and philosophical views - have so run their course in this country so as to all but remove the hard work done in years gone by to lay a sure and godly foundation. The charge to the church in Britain is therefore clear. Make a stand against those views which attack the truth and preach once more holiness and godliness in a most fervent and ardent manner.
Wednesday, 5 November 2008
Myth 3: Antibiotic Resistance
You may have heard this one a time or two. The development and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria (and pesticide-resistant plants and insects) is shouted from the rooftops as proof of evolution happening “right now.” Selection pressures push these organisms to evolve—at least, this is how evolutionists explain it.
Do bacteria develop resistance to antibiotics? Yes, this is documented science. Does this prove Darwinian evolution? No, not even close. Once again, evolutionists take the observations and pass them through their worldview filter. The problem (for evolutionists) is that the mutations that cause bacteria (and other organisms) to overcome environmental pressures are not the information-gaining mutations required for Darwin’s postulation. In fact, these mutations often come at a steep price to the organism—a price that doesn't show up until the environmental pressure is removed—and it often means the inability to compete with non-mutant bacteria.
Bacteria, in fact, show the amazing creativity of God in that they can swap DNA with other bacteria. This amazing feature reveals the provisions God made for them to survive in a fallen world and rapidly changing environments. However, they do not and cannot evolve into anything else. They have been and will always be bacteria.
– Answers in Genesis
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
On October 1st 2008 Cameron Buettel and I were invited to appear on Revelation TV. It was a live 90 minute TV interview addressing the topic of open-air preaching, evangelism and the gospel. A lot of ground was covered during the interview and the gospel was clearly presented. It is a sad truth that the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is central to the Christian message, is so woefully presented and communicated by much of today’s church. It is my prayer that this interview will help a lot of people to understand the message of the gospel and the urgency required to communicate the truth to all those who are lost and dead in their sins.
Monday, 3 November 2008
Can you help us spread the news of these debates and teaching opportunities? Please email this post as widely as you can and pass the word to others you think may have an interest.
James White is the director of Alpha & Omega Ministries, a Christian apologetics organization based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the author of more than twenty books, a professor, and an elder of the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church. James has been married to Kelli for more than twenty-five years, and has two children, Joshua and Summer. He is an accomplished debater, having engaged in more than sixty moderated, public debates with leading proponents of Roman Catholicism, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormonism.
Trinity Road Chapel, Upper Tooting, London is hosting the following events:
8 PM Thursday, 13 November 2008 Debate
8 AM Saturday, 15 November 2008 Men's Breakfast
James White will join us at our men's breakfast.
10 AM Saturday, 15 November 2008 Ministry Morning
An open session for all. James White will speak on the topic
11AM and 6:30PM Sunday, 16 November 2008 Preaching
James White will be preaching at TRC.
Trinity Road Chapel, 205-207 Trinity Road, Upper Tooting, London SW17 7HW. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.trinityroadchapel.org/ for more details.
We also welcome everyone to attend the other debates by James in London:
Tuesday, 11 November 2008
Monday, 17 November 2008
A. We can be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and with a view to the future we can have a firm confidence in our faithful God and Father that no creature shall separate us from His love; for all creatures are so completely in His hand that without His will they cannot so much as move.
 Job. 1:21, 22; Ps. 39:10; James 1:3.  Deut. 8:10; I Thess. 5:18.  Ps. 55:22;
29. Q. Why is the Son of God called Jesus, that is, Saviour?
A. Because He saves us from all our sins, and because salvation is not to be sought or found in anyone else.
 Matt. 1:21; Heb. 7:25.  Is. 43:11; John 15:4, 5; Acts 4:11, 12; I Tim. 2:5.
30. Q. Do those believe in the only Saviour Jesus who seek their salvation and well-being from saints, in themselves, or anywhere else?
A. No. Though they boast of Him in words, they in fact deny the only Saviour Jesus. For one of two things must be true: either Jesus is not a complete Saviour, or those who by true faith accept this Saviour must find in Him all that is necessary for their salvation.
 I Cor. 1:12, 13; Gal. 5:4.  Col. 1:19, 20; 2:10; I John 1:7.
31. Q. Why is He called Christ, that is, Anointed?
A. Because He has been ordained by God the Father, and anointed with the Holy Spirit, to be our chief Prophet and Teacher, who has fully revealed to us the secret counsel and will of God concerning our redemption; our only High Priest, who by the one sacrifice of His body has redeemed us, and who continually intercedes for us before the Father; and our eternal King, who governs us by His Word and Spirit, and who defends and preserves us in the redemption obtained for us.
 Ps. 45:7 (Heb. 1:9); Is. 61:1 (Luke 4:18); Luke 3:21, 22.  Deut. 18:15 (Acts 3:22).  John 1:18; 15:15.  Ps. 110:4 (Heb. 7:17).  Heb. 9:12; 10:11-14.  Rom. 8:34; Heb. 9:24; I John 2:1.  Zach. 9:9 (Matt. 21:5); Luke 1:33.  Matt. 28:18-20; John 10:28; Rev. 12:10, 11.
32. Q. Why are you called a Christian?
A. Because I am a member of Christ by faith and thus share in His anointing, so that I may as prophet confess His Name, as priest present myself a living sacrifice of thankfulness to Him, and as king fight with a free and good conscience against sin and the devil in this life, and hereafter reign with Him eternally over all creatures.
 I Cor. 12:12-27.  Joel 2:28 (Acts 2:17); I John 2:27.  Matt. 10:32; Rom 10:9, 10; Heb. 13:15.  Rom. 12:1; I Pet. 2:5, 9.  Gal. 5:16, 17; Eph. 6:11; I Tim. 1:18, 19.  Matt. 25:34; II Tim. 2:12.
33. Q. Why is He called God's only begotten Son, since we also are children of God?
A. Because Christ alone is the eternal, natural Son of God. We, however, are children of God by adoption, through grace, for Christ's sake.
 John 1:1-3, 14, 18; 3:16; Rom. 8:32; Heb. 1; I John 4:9.  John 1:12; Rom. 8:14-17; Gal. 4:6; Eph. 1:5, 6.
34. Q. Why do you call Him our Lord?
A. Because He has ransomed us, body and soul, from all our sins, not with silver or gold but with His precious blood, and has freed us from all the power of the devil to make us His own possession.
 I Cor. 6:20; I Tim. 2:5, 6.  I Peter 1:18, 19.  Col. 1:13, 14; Heb. 2:14, 15.
35. Q. What do you confess when you say: He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary?
A. The eternal Son of God, who is and remains true and eternal God, took upon Himself true human nature from the flesh and blood of the virgin Mary, through the working of the Holy Spirit. Thus He is also the true seed of David, and like His brothers in every respect, yet without sin.
 John 1:1; 10:30-36; Rom. 1:3; 9:5; Col. 1:15-17; I John 5:20.  Matt. 1:18-23; John 1:14; Gal. 4:4; Heb. 2:14.  Luke 1:35.  II Sam. 7:12-16; Ps. 132:11; Matt. 1:1; Luke 1:32;
36. Q. What benefit do you receive from the holy conception and birth of Christ?
A. He is our Mediator, and with His innocence and perfect holiness covers, in the sight of God, my sin, in which I was conceived and born.
 I Tim. 2:5, 6; Heb. 9:13-15.  Rom. 8:3, 4; II Cor. 5:21; Gal. 4:4, 5; I Pet. 1:18, 19.