Category Archives: religious - Page 2

if it were written today

I appeal to you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Luther“; another, “I follow Calvin“; another, “I follow the Pope“; still another, “I follow Christ.”

Is Christ divided? Was Luther crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Luther?

( original text )

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth

I realize that the question was directed at Nate, but I’ll bite.

Consider the contents of the Bible. Collected works which offer an explanation of reality. It’s a complete explanation, offering everything from beginnings and motivations to ends and the means thereof. It’s the manual for a worldview.

The Bible’s worldview is the only one that makes sense to me. Humanists, Muslims, Hindu and many others have their own explanations for why we’re here at what we’re doing. Some are willing to swallow those explantions, but they just don’t hold water, considering the facts that we know, just from observing life and the world around us.

Consider the world (and universe) that we live in. Where did it come from? Logically, we have four choices (two sets of two choices, really). Only one can be right. Consider:

1) It has no beginning.
-1A) It has always existed.
-1B) It has never existed.
2) It has a beginning (it was made).
-2A) Someone/something made it.
-2B) Nothing made it.

Let me answer each possibility individually. 1A: The world and universe have always existed. Of course not, you say. The world began, at some point. Of course it did. Thermodynamics are understood well enough by laymen to know that all things are ‘wearing out’; that energy is dissapating into less usable forms. If the world has always been here, it would not be here now. It would have become a cold block of rock long ago. The same argument can be made for the universe. I don’t know of any worldview which holds that the universe is eternal. Everyone says it started somewhere. If it had not started, it would long ago have run out and stopped.

1B is of course a very ludicrous choice. It has to be considered since it is the logical opposite of 1A, but if anyone really believes this, I will shoot them in the leg and then we can continue the discussion of the non-existance of myself, that person and the bullet I just shot them with.

2A and 2B are where it gets interesting. Consider 2B first: Everyone is familiar with cause and effect. If I shoot the non-rational person in the previous example, he’ll have a hole in his leg, the police will come for me, etc. Cause leads to effect. In fact, each cause is in itself an effect of previous causes. My parents loved one another and were married. They caused my birth. Their parents caused the birth of my parents, etc. Causality chains can be traced back nearly ad infinitum. Eventually, there has to be a first cause though, right? In order for 2B to be truth, there can’t be a first cause. Nothing would have had to have caused something. We can observe from the world around us that this is not the case, ever. There is always a cause. Always. So there must have been a first cause, which leads to all the other causes and effects which we observe in the universe today.

This leaves us with 2A. Someone or something caused the universe we observe around us to come into being. This leaves some possibilities open, you might be tempted to say. After all, isn’t the Big Bang a first cause? No. Where did all that matter and energy come from? Please refer back to 1A if you think it was just always there. That aside though, there must have been some first cause that began all this.

That’s where the Bible comes back into the discussion. It gives answers to the question of beginnings that satisfy my curiosity. It answers the other questions I have about life as well. Usually not in black and white the way I’d like, but answers nonetheless. It gives answers that are consistent with observable facts about the universe around me. That’s one reason why the Bible is the worldview that I subscribe to, and more pointedly, is the Word of God. I’ve found it to be truthful in each aspect that I’ve considered it in. It claims to be the Word of God. I believe that it is. You’re never going to take away that faith aspect. You have to believe it for yourself. As humans we’re thinkers. Muddy as that thinking may be at times, we still like to have good solid answers for what we do. The Bible is my good solid answer. I trust what it says.

Christus factus est

Christus factus est pro nobis
obediens usque ad mortem,
mortem autem crucis.
Propter quod et Deus exaltavit illum:
et dedit illi nomen
quod est super omne nomen.

Phillipians 2:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

I’m listening to Gregorian Chants at the moment. They sooth me when I’m debugging. I feel bad pasting the passage that this came from here for you, since it misses the beauty encompassed in the entire chapter. Nonetheless, I enjoy Gregorian chants because they are based on such a solid foundation and because they are beautiful to listen to. (I don’t even know latin, I have to look up the passages to see what they are)

Pull out a Bible and read the whole of chapter two of Phillipians if you have a mind to. Good stuff.

Dakota Whiz

Well. For those who care, and most don’t. I officially traded my Jade today. It was a hard thing to do, and the decision came about only after lots of thought and prayer. I now own a 4-year old registered American Paint gelding. He is a gray overo. Basically this means that he is white with brown spots. Two of his legs are black, his tail is black, and his mane is both black and white. One of his most interesting physical features is his left eye; it is partially blue.

He is not the athlete that Jade was. He is extremely mellow, where she was full of spirit. He is also a bit pudgy at the moment. I am hoping to fix that come spring. With winter coming on it’s good for him to have some extra weight.

He is taller than Jade was. I’d say he has several inches on her, and he is still growing. I can ride him bareback, double, or even backwards if I chose. He accepts anything without a fuss or an eyeblink. He is definitely not my dream horse, but he is what I will need in order to pursue my dreams at the moment. I plan on owning him for something less than a year (if all goes well) and then trade him for something of Jade’s caliber.

I will miss my pretty Jade. But in due time, I will learn to love Dakota Whiz too.

Hehem. “Dakota Whiz” is his registered name. I had nothing to do with such a stupid monicker.

Come thou fount

Seeing Come Thou Fount linked from BrownPau’s blog (He has awesome layouts, btw. Hit refresh a couple times.) reminded me of something.

I passionately miss Friday night worship with Intervarsity at Rose-Hulman. If I had to pick one thing I miss most about college, I would be hard pressed to find something more wonderful that singing an uplifting and powerful hymn with a group of people that I love dearly in praise of the Creator who bought me with His own Son’s blood.

I guess that’s part of the reason that I’m finding it so hard to find a church. You don’t find (pardon my perhaps uneducated use of the word) fellowship like that just anywhere. I’ve never been to a church where I’ve felt the comradery, the closeness and the love for the other believers that I was gathered with. Never have I felt united as a brother to all the others for the cause of God’s glory.

If nothing else, it makes me ache for heaven, where I can expect to find that sort of thing again, only more so.

I better get back to work, before I start crying or something.

some seed falls in the shallow soil

So I read an article on K5 entitled “Is there a God?”. It was an interesting read. The author obviously spent a large amount of time on this article, as it was well presented. A better title might have been “Is there a reason to believe in God?”, since belief is the only option (and I use the word option loosely). God exists whether I believe in Him or not.

In the end, the article was a bit futile. It got caught up on the issue of evil. You know the questions: “If God is omnipotent and loving, why do people suffer?”. Without the framework of sin, suffering makes no sense.

In the end, a pretty empty read, but worth looking at. It won’t change your mind on anything, but it’s interesting to see the universe through someone else’s eyes sometimes.

flogging alfred norse

Sometimes you can’t win for losing. In the article that Barlow linked, I found myself sorely disappointed and at the same time provoked to think about the subject matter. The purpose of the article is to point out that America’s live-and-let-live approach to religious freedom has blinded them to the reality of islam. It does a very good job of pointing out the fact that Islam at its heart is a militant religion and that unless something changes (unlikely) it could radically change our way of life.

This article (from my limited knowledge) deals well with Islam. It does a fairly poor job of presenting its contrast religion though, Christianity. This is suprising, as the article is written to Americans.

Two examples stand out most loudly. “The Koran, writes Spencer, is more central to the Islamic faith than the Bible is to Christianity. Muslims believe it was revealed directly from God to the Prophet Muhammad.” Whicha-wah? How is one book whose devotees believe is directly revealed to them from the Almighty more central than another book that its followers believe was revealed to them by the Almighty? This distinction is false.

The second example is more historical. Consider the quote: “Unlike in Christianity, there is no scriptural mandate for separation of church and state in Islam…”. The idea that the Bible mandates a separation between church and state is ludicrous. It’s just not there. In fact, the opposite idea is presented.

The seperation of church and state issue can be traced back most squarely to Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the following passages:

” Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God; that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship; that the legislative powers of the government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore man to all of his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.”

” Because religious belief, or non-belief, is such an important part of every person’s life, freedom of religion affects every individual. State churches that use government power to support themselves and force their views on persons of other faiths undermine all our civil rights. Moreover, state support of the church tends to make the clergy unresponsive to the people and leads to corruption within religion. Erecting the “wall of separation between church and state,” therefore, is absolutely essential in a free society.”

Those quotes were yanked from this article at atheism.about.com. That article presents the classical [and in my opinion] flawed view of Jefferson’s idea’s of the seperation of church and state. That first quote was part of a letter that Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists after they wrote to him (the current president) with concern about their religious freedom. They were under persecution because they were not part of the far more popular congregationalists in Conneticut.

Jefferson’s reply shows that he believes there should be seperation between church and state, protecting church’s from the scrutiny of the state, and from state control. This is borne out by the second quote.

Surmising that Jefferson was talking about a complete, two-way seperation between church and state is ludicrous though. After all, the first quote is a direct result of the Danbury Baptist Church’s influence on Jefferson himself. He was not in favor of removing the church’s influence on the state. He was looking for a removal of state sactioned churches (such as were prevalent in his home state of Virginia) and state criticism of church activities. Jefferson [to my knowledge] is never quoted as speaking out against church influences on himself.

In short, I found the article to be written from a one sided perspective (knowledge-wise). The writer just is not familiar with the domestic/Christian point of view. He does bring up some interesting points on the foreign aspects of our current world situation though. Just take it all with a grain of salt.

um, well, no.

so like the slacker that I am, I occasionally read news sites whilst at work. This slashdot article was interesting to me. It’s on student’s using so called l337 speak in assignments. The comments aren’t quite so lacking in thought as many slashdot comments are. It’s an interesting read, if you’ve the time.

Particularly interesting are the renditions of the Lord’s prayer.

First the non-going-to-hell versions:

1611: Our father which art in heauen, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heauen. Giue us this day our daily bread. And forgiue us our debts as we forgiue our debters. And lead us not into temptation, but deliuer us from euill. Amen.

1384: Oure fadir þat art in heuenes halwid be þi name; þi reume or kyngdom come to be. Be þi wille don in herþe as it is doun in heuene. yeue to us today oure eche dayes bred. And foryeue to us oure dettis þat is oure synnys as we foryeuen to oure dettouris þat is to men þat han synned in us. And lede us not into temptacion but delyuere us from euyl.

~1000: Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum si þin nama gehalgod tobecume þin rice gewurþe þin willa on eorðan swa swa on heofonum urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us to dæg and forgyf us ure gyltas swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge ac alys us of yfele soþlice.

Secondly, we have the smellin’-like-brimstone versions:

ch34t l337:
0ur F47h3r, wH0 4r7 n h34V3n, h4110w3d b3 7HY n4m3, 7hy k1ngd0m c0m3, 7hy wI11 b d0n3, 0N 34r7h 4s i7 iS iN h34v3n. G1v3 u5 th15 d4y 0ur d4i1y br34d, & f0rg1v3 u5 0ur tr35p45535, 4s w3 f0rg1v3 7h05e wh0 tr35p455 4g41n5t u5.

l337: Our Father, who 0wnz heaven, j00 r0ck! May all 0ur base someday be belong to you! May j00 0wn earth just like j00 0wn heaven. Give us this day our warez, mp3z, and pr0n through a phat pipe. And cut us some slack when we act like n00b lamerz, just as we teach n00bz when they act lame on us. Please don’t give us root access on some poor d00d’z box when we’re too pissed off to think about what’s right and wrong, and if you could keep the f3i off our backs, we’d appreciate it. For j00 0wn r00t on all our b0x3n 4ever and ever, 4m3n.

The discussion was basically about the evolution of language and the importance of education in preventing the forking off of new languages (think romance languages). I found the last entry interesting not because it’s correct, it’s decidedly not, but because it was not far off. If you fix the “warez, mp3z, pr0n” line, as well as the f3i=evil, it is almost functionally correct.

Ends not justifying means though, I’m not seeing this version having any practical value, ever. It was just interesting. I particularly enjoyed “Our Father, who 0wnz heaven, j00 r0ck! May all 0ur base someday be belong to you! May j00 0wn earth just like j00 0wn heaven.

There. No you don’t have to subject yourself to slashdot. heh.

hop2, the aftermath

So hop2 went fine. The people there were much nicer than those at hop1. Many of them said hi, welcomed us in, things of that nature. This goes a long way for me. I’m not looking for a social club to be part of, but I _am_ looking for a loving community of believers. So, things were positive.

Three hymns were sung to the music of an organ, a piano, and a keyboard. I can’t help but note that the organ reminded me for all the world like a synth organ that belonged in a ballpark. I kept expecting to hear Harry Cary say “Play Ball!” when the organ lady finished a song.

The leaders there were _really_ enthusiastic. It was refreshing. Many churches are very stayed and reserved in their presentation styles. Nothing wrong with that, I’m just observing that this “Whoohoo!” style of getting the service going was nice for a change.

The preacher was, from all I can gather, a visitor. It seems he may be, oxymorically, a regular visiting pastor. It wasn’t terribly clear. More on this later. His sermon started off kinda scary: he was definitely getting all Bible-thumpin’, sweatin’ while he’s preachin’, pound-that-idea-into-hard-skulls-through-repitition style on me. It originally sounded like he was going to exigete (sp?) from the selected passage (James 5:1-11), but he didn’t spend any real time there at all. He focused on the word “patience” from the passage, then just started chain-gunning out other references to the word “patience” throughout scripture.

This style is _really_ sketchy in my book. If he’s going to quote single words and small phrases from front to back of the good book with nary a second to flip and look at the verse myself, I have no idea if he’s uses the word/phrase within context or not. Worse yet, he wasn’t even giving verse references, just book and chapter. I’m just not quick enough to keep up with that sort of thing.

He continued in this manner for about 40 minutes, sometimes spending a little time to bring in a Bible story to back up a point on patience. He kept things on topic, I’ll give him that. He ended with an altar call, something that never rubs me the right way in a regular church service. Then it was over. In short, he just sort of brow-beat the point out that patience is required, and that the prayers of the saints are powerful.

The sermon seemed really lacking. Nothing was inherantly wrong with the message, but nothing was really right about it either.

In short, this church is going on the list of churchs that Melissa and I may go back to, but we’re going to keep looking. Since this pastor was apparently a visitor, the normal pastor (if there is one?) may be much better. I have no way of knowing. It’s not as though I can really ask a member “hey, is this guy always here, or do you have another pastor for me to choose from”? I’m a bit wary of going back just because the church must have invited this guy, so maybe that is the sort of sermon they want? I dunno.

Anyway, this week was light-years better than last. We’re gonna keep up the search.

church hopping, hop2

Well, tomorrow we try Hillcrest Baptist Church. It’s independent, so it’s not associated with any given baptist church. Pray for us. Hopefully no women pastors this week.

It is so nice to not have to go driving all over God’s green earth _every_ weekend now. Melissa and I are having a relaxing weekend at home this time around. Sometimes the simple things in life are the best. ::happy sigh::

In other news, it still hasn’t completely sunk in for either Melissa or myself what it is to be married. We’re still in the blissful state. We’re enjoying it though, so let us have this while we can. I’m just saying, it doesn’t really register a whole lot yet.