I apologize in advance because this blog might seem like a bit of a rant however there is a phrase that I have heard quite often and it is beginning to bug me due to its inaccuracy. That phrase is, "there is no evidence for (insert thing you're against here) I hear atheists say this many times, "there's no evidence for God's existence", and recently I got into a conversation with a non-trinitarian who claimed that there was no evidence for the Trinity until the year AD 330. This statement bothers me for two main reasons. The first is that it is a very powerful, very emotionally charged statement. If there is in fact no evidence for something, then those who adhere to that idea are incredibly foolish for holding to an idea for which no evidence exists. This is the point that many atheists make about deists. The whole point of their claim is to present the other side as absolutely irrational and thus should not be taken seriously and has no merit. I don't want to seem unfair, so I will point out that Christians can do this as well when it comes to the issue of evolution. The second reason that this statement bothers me so much is because it a massive claim and I believe most of the people who make a claim like this do not truly understand what they are saying which is representative of the degradation of rational discourse happening in our modern age. I know that was a lot so let me explain what I just said. The word evidence means, "that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief." So when one says that there is no evidence for something, what they are in fact saying is that there is no ground for belief in whatever idea is presented. Let me suggest that this is much harder to prove then perhaps many people who use this phrase care to admit. Let's take my conversation with a non-trinitarian. He asserted that no evidence for the Trinity existed before AD 330, but in reality what he meant to say was that there was no official church document that can be found which states something to effect of, "This is what the Trinity is and this is what the church affirms." That document would not be made until the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. There are however examples of the concept of the Trinity being taught in the early church, and thus ground for belief that the church has believed in the concept of the Trinity all throughout church history. Putting aside the many texts of scripture that point to the Trinity, we have the letters of Clement of Rome which speak about the divine nature of Christ and the Father, but understand that although both are considered to be God, they are distinct persons. We also have Ignatius who also spoke about the deity of Christ and yet made a distinction between Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and the Father. There are several examples that can be used, and so at this point I have to ask the question, are these examples not evidence? Do they count as a reason I believe the church understood and taught the concept of the Trinity even though there was no official document at those points in time? I believe they are evidence, but they are not undeniable proof like the Council of Nicaea was, and that is really what many people mean when they say, "There is no evidence" What the atheist is looking for is undeniable proof of God's existence and only then will they believe in God, of course at that point, it is no longer a question of belief, but a question of acceptance of reality or not. This is what a person making this claim is truly wanting to say, but because of what I mentioned above, rather than using the word proof, they use the word evidence. There are some things that we can understand to be undeniably true. Some of these things are the concept of gravity, and the fact that the Earth is round. One can drop a pen 100 times and 100 times it will fall, and one can see with their own eyes that the earth is round. Needless to say these things are not really disputed, however I assert that there many more things which are not undeniably provable, and so people must look at the available facts and make an interpretation of them. Facts are not self interpreting, and so even if one has all the facts, there is no guarantee that one is going to interpret them correctly. The trick is making sure that one is being fare with all available evidence and examining their conclusions in light of new arguments, or new facts being discovered. This is a much harder process and it does not convince as many of our modern people who have a short attention span and are emotionally driven as saying, "there's no evidence of (whatever I don't want believe)" As Christians we are seek to truth because as Jesus states in the book of John, He is truth. If we are going to follow Christ then we must be followers of truth, but this does not just mean not lying which many Christians including me struggle with, but it also means being honest and fair with all information, and assessing them in a consistent manner. That is what pleases God, not going for the low hanging fruit of effective but not intellectually honest. What do you think? Am I being fair in my assessment of this phrase? How have you responded when someone told you there was no evidence for something. Comment below and let me know, and as always thanks for stopping by.
There are some Sundays when the music all seems to go together, the sermon is powerful and you feel so close to God like you could almost reach out and touch Him. The same could be said during times of prayer, or in a time of great need. There are times however when God does not feel as close. Perhaps the service just feels more dry than other services, or perhaps you feel like your prayers are getting no higher than the ceiling. There have been different times in my life when I have felt close to God, and there have been times in my life when I felt distant from God. This does not always have to be just an hour or a day. There have been periods in my life when I have felt distant from God for weeks or even months. If you have ever felt this same way, you might be wondering what can do, or what should I do? Fortunately the Bible speaks on this very issue. The person of Job felt distant from God for a period in his life. He suffered great loss, and his friends and wife were of no real help to him. He longed to be close to God, but God only appears in the beginning of the book of Job, and doesn't really make an appearance again till the end of the book. The Psalms are another example, on the one hand they expressed that there was no where one could go to get away from God, but then in other Psalms expressed a distance from God and longing for God to be active in life. It is comforting to know that even in scripture there are people who have felt similar things to us, and dealt with many of the same questions we've had. I want to offer some advice on this issue, seeing how I have experienced this distant from God in my own life. The 1st thing I would suggest would for the one to ask if they have fallen into a sinful lifestyle, or have some recurring sin, that has not been confessed nor repented of. While all of us still have a sinful nature and would be shamed if our all our thoughts and actions were put before us, there are still times when believers can fall into sinful lifestyles or have a particular sin that is not being properly dealt with by the believer. It could be a fantasies about a co-worker, or some unresolved bitterness towards a person. It could even be that one is lying more than they are telling the truth, and so many more sins. Whatever the sin may be, you have felt the Spirit convicting you of it, but as the sin goes unaddressed sin does what it always does which is it separates us from God. if this is the case then you should pray, and confess your sin to God, repent of it, and again put your trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of that sin. Focus on the what it took for God to forgive you of your sin, and concentrate on just how much God loves you. As you focus on the cross of Christ and understand that in that action and not by your actions that you are forgiven you might find that God again feels close. Let's say that this is not the case. The next situation is similar to that of Job, where although one is not perfect they regularly confess their sins, and put their trust in Christ, and strive to live a Christ like life every day loving God and neighbors. Yet God does not feel close for some reason. Here I would advise first going to God's word. We believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God, so when we read the scripture we understand that this is God speaking. This is not just a doctrinal statement in order to make our theology fit together all nice and neat, but it is a truth, a statement of reality that God, our creator, sustainer, and savior has revealed Himself to us in the words of each book in the cannon of scripture. So if one wishes to encounter God, then one need only go to the text. I would also suggest that one go to God in prayer as well. The scriptures is how God communicates with us, and prayer is how we communicate with God. Remember the parable of the old woman who wanted justice from the unjust judge, and understand how much more will God answer your prayers if you continue to pray to Him. It is okay to let God know that you feel distant from Him, and it is okay to ask for comfort for the Lord. In fact we are commanded to cast all of cares and worries to the Lord. Spending time in God's word and prayer is the believer's way of encountering God when the church has not gathered together. Finally it is also important to remember to not place too much emphasis on feelings. Our emotions are important, and serve as an important tool in daily lives, however in this era I believe we have given too much credit to our emotions making them the deciding factor in determining if something is true or not. How do I know it is right, well I feel that it is right. How do I know that I'm in love, well I feel in love. How I do know God is near, well I feel that God is near. By allowing our reality to be determined primarily by our emotions we put ourselves at the mercy of ever changing and sometimes irrational feelings. One does not need to always feel in love, to know that they love someone, and one need not always feel that God is close to know that He is. We can read in the scriptures and see that God is close, and put in our trust in the word of God, and not in the feelings of our heart. I have found in those times when I feel like God is distant that if I go to scriptures, and read about how God loves His people such as in Psalms 23, or if I read about the experiences of Paul in his letters, and the relationship he has with God and if I trust in the words of Jesus Christ that God loves me I find that in time my feelings soon follow what I know to be true. It is a tough time when you feel distant from God, and so this is also where a church family and pastor are also important resources to help you during through these feelings. Have you ever felt distant from God? How have you handled those times? Was this blog helpful to you? Comment below and let me know!
If there is one lesson that needs to learned and learned well in today's culture it is that of consistency. With social media, cameras on every phone and the ease of hacking into websites and private information it has become incredibly easy to find out if one is being consistent between their actions and their words today. The few exceptions to this rule must spend considerable money protecting their inconsistency, but for the rest of us it is important to understand that in this age if we get into the public eye at all, we will be held accountable for our actions and our words. For Christians this is particularly important because hypocrites has long been the excuse for unbelievers to avoid churches and other places where they might hear the gospel, and now it is even being used as a weapon to attack the ethical views held by many Christian institutions. The problem with consistency however is that not many people want to be consistent. In the book of Luke when Jesus first begins his ministry and reads from the book of Isaiah the people around him are amazed, but when begins to talk about mercy being shown to the gentiles the crowds turns on Jesus and tries to throw him off a cliff. They were okay with receiving mercy from God, but they did not want this mercy shown to other people who were not like them. I have known a few Christians who share this same point of view, understanding that God has forgiven them of their sins, but wishing that God would not forgive someone else who they viewed as worse. Perhaps the most glaring problem of inconsistency within the church today however is when people say a phrase but their actions, and beliefs do not stand by that phrase in the least. Let me give an example. One of my primary criticisms of the CBF (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship) is that while they claim to believe in the authority of scripture, they also maintain that one may interpret the Bible any way they choose, even if this interpretation is diametrically opposed to someone else's interpretation of scripture including how people in the Bible interpreted a particular passage. So the question becomes, "how can the Bible be authoritative if everyone can have a different meaning to what it is saying?" The answer is it cannot, but here we see the problem. The CBF claims to believe in the authority of scripture, but once that claim is examined along with their other claims we learn that is does not carry any weight. Such inconsistencies are not limited to the Christians however. It is a common joke about politicians claiming to be for one thing, but in their actions and the policies they push for reveal that they are not for that at all. There are thousands of examples of people being inconsistent in either their actions, beliefs, and/or words, but what do we as Christians do about this? It is clear that Jesus was for Christians being consistent because he commanded that our yes be our yes and our no be our no. We continue to this same thought carried through Paul's letters where he rebukes churches such as the one in Corinth for being inconsistent as well as when Paul rebuked Peter. Because Christianity is truth Christians should be the most consistent people of them all. I believe it for this reason that it stings that much more to the world when we see examples of Christians being inconsistent. It is one thing to see thousands of men being caught having affairs, but it stings worse if we were to learn of just 4 pastors having affairs. I can already hear some of you typing asking the question, "So are we suppose to be perfect? That's impossible!" I didn't say that we should be perfect I said we should be consistent, or more specifically we should be more consistent within Christianity. Christians are called to uphold the law, but we also understand that we will fail in this calling and in fact we will fail over and over, and yet many times Christians try to maintain a sense of perfection to the world. We sweep sinful actions under the rug, and try to move on without letting too much attention be on that sinful person, this comes at the great cost of the world not really seeing the power of the gospel, which is God's power to forgive humanity. While we should strive every single day to be more like Christ and love God and neighbor more, we must confess our sins when we do sin, and mourn over how our actions have hurt others, and offended God, but then we should rejoice in forgiveness we and/or other Christians receive from God and celebrate their repentance. This is consistent Christianity, it is biblical Christianity. What do you think? Comment below and let me know!
I think it is best to start this blog with a quote from Matthew 5:27, "You have heard that it was said, 'You shall not commit adultery'; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." If there is any benefit to living in the moral wasteland that is modern America it's that we can get a better idea of what Jesus meant when he spoke on moral issues. Of course I am talking about the recent event that has happened in our nation the scope of which cannot yet be understood. For those who don' know, recently the website Ashley Madison a website created for the purpose of enabling people to have affairs was hacked and all of the information of their clients were made public for the world to see. This was not a hundred or even a thousand people, but millions of people who have now had their intention to commit adultery exposed to the world, and the reaction has been interesting. This interesting reaction comes from the secular culture which seems to have responded to this event with moral outrage. One might think that their outrage was directed towards those who hacked the website, and to be sure those individuals exist, however I am more interested in those who express moral outrage at the people who sought to commit adultery. The reason why this is interesting is because I had thought that marriage had lost all value in our culture today what with many young people not getting married, the redefining of marriage and the divorce rate in our country. What I missed is what many of these people were upset about, which was not that they destroyed their marriage, but that they were not honest about it. If these people on this website had just divorced their spouse and then went off to date someone else, well then I guess there would be no judgement, but because these people did their deed in secret then they are deserving of culture's condemnation. This plays into one of my favorite hypocrisies which is the hypocrisy of, "I might (insert sin here) but at least I'm honest about it" This is a hypocrisy because it places one sin over another in an attempt for the sinner to justify themselves rather than own up to their own sin. While it is true that the consequences for sin differ from sin to sin, all sin equally separates one from God, and all sin is an affront to God's holiness and goodness. So being honest about your rebellion from God does not make you any less of a rebel than the person who is rebelling against God and lies about it. The hypocrite does not see this because they are focused on the sins of others so that they will not see their own sin. So let's put this cultural condemnation in perspective shall we? "It doesn't matter if I place no value in sex because I jump from bed to bed, if I were to settle down and commit, then I would be faithful." "I might look at a ton of porn while I date my girlfriend, but she knows I do even though we don't talk about it, but I would never cheat on her in real life." "I might sleep with other people but so does my spouse, we have an open marriage, we are progressive, which is why we are morally superior to these people who cling to the old fashion marriage and then fail at that because they had an affair." Of course one's sin need not be sexual in order for one to be a hypocrite. Many of the people who are quick to condemn the people involved in Ashley Madison have a plethora of other sins by which they might be judge. Lying, stealing, rebellion from God, idolatry, are all still sins, and worthy of condemnation from God, and yet we will want to focus on adultery because we are the ones who didn't commit that particular sin. I wonder how many people who have now had their sin laid bare were once standing above another person proclaiming their moral superiority in some kind of fashion. This is where Christians can come in. Instead of seeing these people the way that the culture sees them which is denigrates and morally inferior people, we could instead see them the way Jesus sees them, and in fact the way that Jesus sees us, which is as sinners. Yes every person involved in Ashley Madison is a sinner, and what they did is wrong, and destructive towards marriage, just like the refining of marriage, or having sexual relations before marriage. Yes adultery is a sin, and the people who committed this sin are sinners, but we must consider Jesus' words before we begin to speak so that we may approach this situation from a biblical worldview.The quote I gave at the beginning of this post is from what is called the "sermon on the mount" and in it Jesus lists several sins and explains them in such a way that every single person becomes guilty in some way, which was Jesus' point. Jesus wanted to let us all know that we are all guilty before God the Father and in need of a savior and of forgiveness. Believers, we have an opportunity here to preach the true gospel, to speak to this issue from a biblical worldview. It is an opportunity for us to preach the gospel to these sinners and let them know what Christ did so that their sins would be forgiven. To explain to them that if they would turn from their sin and trust in Him, they can know that they stand justified, and righteous before God even though they have committed adultery because Jesus has died for their sins, just as He has died for yours and mine. This is also where we come to hard part for Christians, and that is forgiving as we have been forgiven. There were many names that came out from this, and many of those names will be Christians or people connected to Christians in some way. It could be someone's spouse or someone's parent who has had their intentions exposed, and so for the Christians who will be hurt from this, and who have loved ones involved in this situation I encourage you to pray for their repentance, to express how their sin has hurt you, and how it has grieved you, but I also call for you to remember how God has forgiven you and so I encourage you to forgive them as you have been forgiven. As for the rest of the believers out there, we should respond to this in two ways. The first way is with grief. We should mourn that so many people are caught up in sexual sin that a website devoted to having affairs could be so successful. We should mourn that our culture has such a low view of marriage and of sex that the sin which is being judged here is not violation of the marriage covenant, but dishonesty, and we should mourn for the broken families that will arrive because of the sins of these people. Our second response should be to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, the one who will wipe away every tear, and the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. We should preach Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sins. We should with humility and grace preach repentance and trust in Jesus. We should keep in mind that one day we will stand before God and every deed we have done will be expressed. We should remember that we are also grievous sinners who have been shown the awesome grace of God, and we should seek to help the families that are going to be broken because of this sin. In short Christians should be Christian. What did you think of this event with Ashley Madison? What do you think of this blog, was it helpful, did it make you think? Comment below and let me know!
Here you can read various thoughts and discussions that come from the mind of our Pastor