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Showing posts from July, 2004
The Resurrection of Jesus, a Jewish Perspective

I have been reading the above-titled book by a Jewish Rabbi, Pinchas Lapide, and have found it very informative. Dr. Lapide is an Orthodox Jew, a theologian, a specialist in New Testament studies, and says "I accept the resurrection of Jesus not as an invention of the community of disciples, but as a historical event." To him, it is Christians' claims about Messiahship rather than about the resurrection, that is the key divide between Christianity and Judaism.

That in and of itself was interesting enough. But I found some perpsective on a traditional apologetic about the resurrection of Jesus--that the discovery of the empty tomb by women adds a measure of authenticity to the account. Apologists such as William L. Craig have often referred to this as evidence that the discovery of the empty tomb was based in history. The rationale for the argument is that the testimony of women was of less value than that of men in ancient…
The Argument from Design
Responding to Objections, Part II

2. God of the Gaps?

This is key: underlying nearly ever design argument, you'll find the assumption of ignorance of something and then the conclusion that since we don't know, then a god must be the proper explanation. Ignored is the question of whether or not an unknown and possibly unknowable god, using unknown and possibly unknowable methods, for unknown and possibly unknowable reasons, can ever be considered a rational "explanation" for anything. After all, it certainly doesn't provide us with much in the way of new and useful information. All that has happened is that our ignorance has been slightly reworded and not at all ameliorated. About.com: Agnosticism/Atheism, Argument from Design The author of this piece from About.com summarizing the objections to the Argument from Design takes on the old "God of the Gaps" argument. Several things may be said in response to this objection.

First, I am…
Just for Fun

A Southern Baptist minister was completing a temperance sermon. With great emphasis he said, "If I had all the beer in the world, I'd take it and pour it into the river."

With even greater emphasis he said, "And if I had all the wine in the world, I'd take it and pour it into the river."

And then finally shaking his fist in the air, he said, "And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I'd take it and pour it into the river."

With the sermon complete, he then sat down.

The song leader stood very cautiously and announced with a smile, "For our closing song, let us sing hymn #365, 'Shall We Gather at the River.'"

Black Holes and Theology
Matter in Black Holes doesn't go to another universe

"Stephen Hawking, the paralyzed wheel-chair bound Cambridge physicist, says he was wrong in his pioneering theoretical research into black holes, those mysterious collapsed stars whose gravity is so intense that it pulls everything into them including light itself. He had originally maintained that matter pulled into a black hole was irretrievably lost--even if the black hole eventually breaks up--leaving absolutely nothing behind. He even put forth the hypothesis that matter pulled into a black hole might be spit out in some alternative universe, a concept employed ever since in science fiction stories and TV shows. New calculations he has developed, though, suggest that matter pulled into a black hole still exists in some "mangled form" and that it might sometimes explode out." Black holes have a bottom This has implications for the Kalaam Cosmological Argument. Many times on debate bo…
The Argument from Design
Responding to Objections, Part I

The Argument from Design has a long history in the Christian and Jewish traditions. It dates back to at least the days of King David (see, e.g., Psalm 19:1), but was put in its most commonly cited form by the great medieval thinker Saint Thomas Aquinas. The Argument from Design can be stated as follows:

"The universe as a whole is like a machine; machines have intelligent designers; like effects have like causes; therefore, the universe as a whole has an intelligent designer, which is God." From The Encyclopedia Britannica. The argument has certainly had its share of detractors over time. The purpose of this essay is to look at a couple of common objections raised against the design argument by skeptics, and to attempt to offer some responses. To avoid setting up a straw man concerning the views held by skeptics, I will quote from the Agnosticism/Atheism page from About.com as the basis for the common form of objections.…
Marcus Borg's Blinders
His failure to account for the first Easter

Several years ago, I picked up a copy of Marcus Borg's Jesus: A New Vision at a library book sale. I spent all of one dollar to buy it, and except for the fact that I find it a useful tool to point out the absurdity of his position, I would find it to be the least valuable dollar I ever spent. I want to take just a second here to point out one of his more ridiculous statements.


"[T]he image of the historical Jesus as a divine or semi-divine being, who saw himself as the divine savior whose purpose was to die for the sins of the world, and whose message consisted of proclaiming that, is simply not historically true. Rather, it is the product of the blend produced by the early church--a blending of the church's memory of Jesus with the church's beliefs about the risen Christ. The former was seen through the window provided by the latter. They remembered Jesus with the 'eye of faith,' that is, …
Jesus, Paul, and "Abba Father"


An anonymous commentor questioned my connection between Paul's
reference to crying out "Abba Father" and the Gospels' reference to
Jesus crying out "Abba Father." Of course, the commentor was Mr.
Carr, who also raised the issue at the Secular Web. At first I
thought his criticism had merit. At first, I originally replied in this
manner:


I think that is a fair criticism of that one point. If it
belongs in the connections between Paul and Jesus, it probably should
be in the category of allusions to his teachings.But upon further review, I find the connection between the use of "Abba
Father" in the Gospels and in Paul's correspondence to be very
probable--certainly the best explanation of all of the relevant facts.
For convenience, I also repeat the point from my earlier post:

7. Jesus prayed to God using the term “abba”
• Gal. 4:6; Romans 8:15-16 (Mark 14:36)The context in Galatians 4 is impo…
What Did Paul Know About Jesus?

It is often remarked that Paul does not know much about Jesus. It
must be admitted that the Gospels give us more detail and information
about Jesus' ministry, death, and resurrection (and in the case of
Matthew and Luke, his birth) than do Paul's letters. Of course,
this is largely due to the fact that Paul was writing letters, not
narratives. And his letters, for the most part, were
"occasional." By "occasional" I mean that Paul wrote in response
to specific issues of which he had become aware. Nevertheless, in
addition to echoing many of Jesus' teachings as preserved in the
canonical Gospels, Paul's occasional letters demonstrate a familiarity
with many aspects of Jesus' life and ministry. I list many of
these references here:

1. Jesus was divine and pre-existent
• Col. 1:15-16 (John 1:1)

2. Jesus was born in human fashion, as a Jew, and had a ministry to the Jews
• Gal. 4:4, Romans 15:8

Search Function Added

I just added a new search function that will allow the searching separately of the CADRE Comments blog as well as the CADRE webpages only. If you want to search the members sites, it needs to be done at the CADRE website. Hopefully, it will work.
N.T. Wright on Justification and Imputation
A summary on 40 bicycles

There is an interesting blog that I have run across called 40 bicycles (don't ask me why).

This blog has a five-part (and continuing) summary of N.T. Wright's ideas on justification and imputation complete with footnotes entitled (coincidentally enough) "N.T. Wright on Justification and Imputation". For those of you looking for good ways to shorten up your reading, this may be worthwhile.

Parts I and II can be found on this page. Parts III, IV and V can be found on this page.
Science, Religion, Copernicus, and Galileo
Seeing the Truth Behind the Myths

Of course, everyone knows that Galileo was persecuted by the Roman Catholic Church for daring to contend that the earth was not at the center of the universe, right? Well, as is so often the case, what everyone knows is probably not historically accurate. I have recently come across two excellent essays on the topic of Galileo. The first is from the Evangelical Outpost and is entitled "The Myth of Galileo: A Story With A (Mostly) Valuable Lesson". The blog points out that Galileo, far from being the pristine man of pure science, was a rather conceited show-off. His initial findings supporting the Copernican view of the universe were not denounced by the church when initially shown. Rather it was only after Galileo made a pain of himself trying to turn the battle into a battle of Biblical interpretation, that the RCC, after much restraint, acted.

In 1610, Galileo used his telescope to make some surpr…
Book-burnings
Does This Further the Cause of Christianity?

A church's plan for an old-fashioned book-burning has been thwarted by city and county fire codes.

Preachers and congregations throughout American history have built bonfires and tossed in books and other materials they believed offended God.

The Rev. Scott Breedlove, pastor of The Jesus Church, wanted to rekindle that tradition in a July 28 ceremony where books, CDs, videos and clothing would have been thrown into the flames.

Not so fast, city officials said.

"We don't want a situation where people are burning rubbish as a recreational fire," said Brad Brenneman, the fire department's district chief.
From CNN on-line news: Fire department bars book-burning.

In my efforts to speak to skeptics about Christianity, one of the obstacles that I need to overcome is the belief that Christianity is anti-intellectual. According to skeptics, Christians burn or banish anything that doesn't comport with our world …
Three Days and Three Nights in the Tomb
A concise explanation from Answering the Skeptics II

Bakunin writes:
Nowhere is there as many contradictions between the
versions of the story as here. Was Jesus resurrected on
the third day or after 3 days, which is on the fourth?

Dr. Foster writes:
This can easily be explained by understanding the Jewish expression of time. The authors did not mean exactly three days or 72 hours or 4320 minutes or 259,200 seconds. The Babylon Talmud records that "The portion of a day is as the whole of it." Esther 3:16 and 5:1 confirm this, as does 1 Samuel 30:12 and 30:13. Also, the Jewish day begins around 6 PM in the evening, since Elohim created the heavens and earth on the very first day out of darkness. There are also fourteen references to Christ being raised "on the third day."

The "three days and three nights" in reference to Christ’s period in the tomb can be calculated as follows. (1) Christ was crucified on Friday. Any…
Minnesota's Step for Truth in Science
Minnesota Science Standards Requires Learning Problems with Darwinism

"Minnesota has become the third state to require students to know about scientific evidence critical of Darwinian evolution in its newly adopted science standards. On May 15, the Minnesota legislature adopted new science standards that include a benchmark requiring students to be able to explain how new evidence can challenge existing scientific theories, including the theory of evolution.

"The benchmark reads, 'The student will be able to explain how scientific and technological innovations as well as new evidence can challenge portions of or entire accepted theories and models including Š theory of evolution. Š' The benchmark is included in the 'History and Nature of Science,' strand of the science standards for grades 9-12." Minnesota Becomes Third State to Require Critical Analysis of Evolution
I know from first hand experience that this topic…
Promising that Every Vote is Going to be Counted?
Who really opposes this?

As the crowd erupted, Kerry boomed: “I’ve got news for you. In 2004, not only does every vote in Florida count but every vote is going to be counted.”

Am I the only one in the world who seems to recall that it was the Democrats who were arguing that the absentee ballots from military servicemen should not be counted in the Florida election?

Friday, December 8, 2000 -- Knight Ridder News Service

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Two Florida judges refused Friday to throw out 25,000 absentee ballots in two counties, handing George W. Bush a minor victory in his battle to hold on to his slim statewide lead over Al Gore.

Bush won the absentee voting in Martin and Seminole counties by a combined margin of 7,612 votes, which loomed all the larger after the state Supreme Court later Friday ordered a statewide manual recount of thousands of ballots that failed to register votes for president when counted by machines.

Circuit Judges Ni…
The Vatican Backs Refusal of Communion to Pro-Abortion Catholic Candidates
Why is this debateable?

In April, the Vatican's leading prelate on the Sacraments, Cardinal Francis Arinze, declared unequivocally that unambiguously pro-abortion politicians should be denied Holy Communion. Last weekend it was revealed that Cardinal Ratzinger, who heads the most important congregation in the Vatican, told U.S. bishops in a letter that pro-abortion politicians who will not alter their stand or abstain from communion after being instructed by church leaders, "must" be refused communion.
Vatican Backs Communion Denial to Pro-Abortion Politicians
I am not a Roman Catholic (as a Lutheran, I have an affinity for much of the Roman Catholic Church's teaching), but I think this is the only solution that the Roman Catholic Church ("RCC") should adopt, and the only outcome Roman Catholic politicians should expect.

I realize that the concern has been since JFK that Roman Catholic…
The Wall of Separation between Church and State
It's not in the Constitution, so where did it come from?

Anyone interested in the answer to this question should read Professor Clayton Cramer's relatively short but wonderfully accurate blog-essay posted July 7, 2004 entitled Playing Telephone With The Constitution. After pointing out that the infamous phrase appears no where in the Constitution (if you don't know that, check it out yourself), but rather appears in a letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Association, Professor Cramer notes:

It seems most likely that Jefferson's remarks were intended as a statement of what states should do--but even Jefferson recognized that the First Amendment was a limitation only on the federal government. State governments throughout the Revolutionary and early Republic period regularly took actions that clearly gave preference to religion in general, Christianity in particular, and in some cases, to specific Christian den…
An Old-Theme Rehashed
Jesus and the Mystery Religions

Another book has recently come to my attention that tries to claim that Gospel accounts of Jesus were simply rehashed version of the stories of the gods of the mystery religions. It is entitled Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. The cover of the book shows on amulet depicting the dying god Orpheus on a cross/anchor. Does this prove that Jesus was a copycat savior?

The overall question of whether Jesus is a copycat savior from the mystery religions has been answered quite authoritatively and convincingly by Dr. Ronald Nash in his book Gospel and the Greeks: Did the New Testament Borrow from Pagan Thought? a book that I would highly recommend to anyone seriously considering this drivel. (I should add, that the idea that this is drivel is not my own. Here is a quote from Publisher's Weekly about the Jesus Mysteries book: "This is at once a wonderful and a terribly …
John Kerry's Failure to Reconcile a Belief that the Fetus is a Person and the Fact that Abortion Kills

From David Limbaugh:

People I've debated on the issue have generally taken the position that the baby in the womb is "potential life" or a clump of cells or a zygote. They seemed to sense that they would have no legitimate argument in favor of abortion if they admitted the baby was a life.

But as secular and humanistic influences have gained ascendance in our culture, I've anticipated the day when moral relativists would become so brazen as to discard their reliance on the argument that "the fetus is not a human life."

Indeed, with the breathtaking scientific and technological advances -- such as the discovery that a baby in the womb smiles and feels pain -- it's practically inevitable that the pro-aborts will be forced to abandon that argument.

In fact, one can detect from the militancy of pro-abortion radicals that to them, at least, the focus is …
Who Said This?
A Vote for Teaching Intelligent Design

It has been the error of the schools to teach astronomy, and all the other sciences and subjects of natural philosophy, as accomplishments only; whereas they should be taught theologically, or with reference to the Being who is the author of them: for all the principles of science are of Divine origin. Man cannot make, or invent, or contrive principles. He can only discover them; and he ought to look through the discovery to the Author.

When we examine an extraordinary piece of machinery, an astonishing pile of architecture, a well executed statue or a highly finished painting where life and action are imitated, and habit only prevents our mistaking a surface of light and shade for cubical solidity, our ideas are naturally led to think of the extensive genius and talents of the artist. When we study the elements of geometry, we think of Euclid. When we speak of gravitation, we think of Newton. How then is it, that when we study the w…
Thoughts About the Gay Rights Movement
The Movement's Undercutting of its own Foundation

To all apperances, the gay rights movement seems to be picking up steam. The supreme judicial court in Massachusetts has declared that the limiting of marriage to only heterosexual couples denies equal rights to homosexual couples. City officials, quite often acting alone, have attempted to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples regardless of the wording of the law in San Francisco, New York and other localities. More of the same is happening in the churches. In the Episcopal Church, the decision has been reached to bless same sex unions and ordain homosexual pastors. In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the issue is coming to a head where the congregations are studying the issue and being fed . . . er . . . led in studies that suggests that the Biblical teaching is unclear on the issue of homosexuality which is ultimately herding that ELCA body towards the blessing of same sex …
Is the 4th of July the "Real" Independence Day?
Every American knows that July 4 is Independence Day. The day that American formally separated herself from England. But as many popular beliefs surrounding America's origins, the truth is more complex. In reality, the Continental Congress declared the independence of the colonies on July 2, 1776, by adopting this resolution:

Resolved: That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.Why then, do we celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July?

Because on that day in 1776 the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. Our Founding Father realized that a glib statement resolving independence was insufficient to launch the Revolution. The United States had a duty to formally and public…
The Virtue Of An Open Mind?
Is an Open Mind an Exercise in Relativism?

It is virtuous to be open-minded, right? Well, maybe not. At least about some things.

* * *

Here is the deal. Being open-minded or close-minded, in and of itself, is morally neutral. It is kind of like faith. Having faith, for the sake of having faith, means nothing. The question is, what is the object of your faith? Likewise, what are you open-minded or close-minded about?
Read the remainder of the essay from The Dawn Treaderhere.
Pascal’s Wager and the Rational Gambler
An Interesting Approach to Blaise Pascal's Wager

The French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal claimed that we are making a similar bet when it comes to God. By the way in which live our lives we are either betting that there is a God or that there is not. Since there are no third options, we are either making the decision either ignorant default or by rational choice.

Like Unwin, Pascal believed that there is no overwhelming evidence that can remove all doubt about which choice we should decide. Practical reason may help us determine which is more probable but it cannot ultimately decide the matter one way or the other. What we can do, according to Pascal, is make a rational gamble.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume (as Pascal does) that the evidence will lead us to choose between Christian theism and atheism.* Each choice will result in different expected values based on the unique payoffs and costs.

In order to determine th…
America (Let’s Not Forget)
A Poem in Honor of the Fourth of July

See the torch lifted high,
  Against the blue Manhattan sky
“Send me your poor and your weak,
  For your huddled masses I will speak."

Great as the freedom that she brings,
  She’s still second to our King.
Jesus Christ our King of Kings,
  To Him we turn for blessings only He can bring.

God bless America,
  Sweet Land of Liberty,
Let’s not forget between the fireworks and barbeques,
  God’s blessing is what really keeps us free.

Rolling hills and countryside,
  For our freedom men have died,
Giving up their lives for liberty,
  They spilled their blood that we should all be free.

But all they fought for would be loss,
  But for God’s work upon the cross,
It’s only through God’s grace that we are really free,
  And through God’s grace our country grows in liberty.

God bless America,
  Purple mountains majesty,
Let’s not forget between the fireworks and barbeques,
  God’s blessing is what really keeps us free.

God bl…
John Kerry, Democrats and Religion

An interesting story comes out of Slate concerning religion and John Kerry's campaign for the Presidency entitled "Pilgrim's Progress? John Kerry's dubious approach to religion". The article commences by pointing out that there is a large number of very religious people in the Democratic party.

"As you may already know, one of America's two political parties is extremely religious. Sixty-one percent of this party's voters say they pray daily or more often. An astounding 92 percent of them believe in life after death. And there's a hard-core subgroup in this party of super-religious Christian zealots. Very conservative on gay marriage, half of the members of this subgroup believe Bush uses too little religious rhetoric, and 51 percent of them believe God gave Israel to the Jews and that its existence fulfills the prophecy about the second coming of Jesus.

"Liberals could read these statistics and sneer about…
The Demands of Letting Go

In First Things Magazine's most recent issue, R.R. Reno makes an interesting point concerning apologetics and the reason that some people won't respond.

"When I conjure in my mind the objections that people I know maketo Christianity, I am reminded of my friend on the couch, enervated by life's manifold demands. Most of these people are not confident rationalists dismissing the supernatural or wanton hedonists rejecting moral constraint; they are not dogmatic about the universe being purely material, and most want to live according to some moral code. Their real objections have to do with stretching, and the fear of breaking. Faced with the Sermon on the Mount they collapse on the couch, as it were, and protest that the degree of demand is just too much. Christianity promises new life in Christ, and our reaction is to shrink from the prospect. We think of our present lives, and we cannot imagine enduring the long commute. We hear St. Paul'…