Saturday, June 26, 2021

For a few books more

All good.

Books to stimulate a new Christian to orient themselves to the Biblical description of reality.

Here they are:

The Dawkins Proof by Barns

Taking aspects of Dawkins' book The God Delusion and uses them to provide evidence for God that Dawkins must rely on to prosecute parts of his argument. Irritatingly quotes from the AV, for some reason. NASB would be far better.

Evidence for Creation by de Rosa

A brief but sufficient survey of the basic evidence for Special Creation.

Six-Day Creation by Burney

Examination of the defined duration fiat creation of the Bible. Another irritation, he adopts the tedious Puritan authorial habit of enumerating points in ordinals (firstly.....sixthly.... ninthly...), when the modern pattern of simply numbering paragraphs would suffice.

World Winding Down by Wieland

Overview of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and its application to information theory.

Did God Use Evolution? by Gitt

Another tedious presentation, yet with good content from a largely scientific point of view. He doesn't really deal with the theological reasons very well, although he does touch on them relevantly.

Foolish Faith by Judah Etinger

An apologetics summary covering origins, the Bible and faith.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A little bit of this and a little bit of that.

As I grew up in church, we had communion every Sunday morning, with an 'after-meeting' of the evening after the 'gospel' service, for those who were not able to attend in the morning.

The communion service consisted of an over-stiffly performed non-liturgical liturgy about the last supper, wafers of bread were broken (unleavened, for some reason), and fake wine was distributed by ushers moving as 'worshipfully' (means, slowly, stiffly and quietly) as they could.

After many years of this, and after moving to the heart of Sydney, I attended a 'high' and very liturgical Anglican church. If you're a frequent reader of this blog, you will know all about that. Now, if one is going to do ceremony, that is how it is done.

The whole liturgy of the communion was a wonderful stately opera (in a good way) of form, content, gracefulness.

In recent years I've attended both 'Anglo-Baptist' and real Baptist churches.

At least the Anglo-Baptists use a liturgy, as emasculated of splendour as they can muster, while the real Baptists experiment.

One experiment I liked was having a number of communion stations around the gathering hall. We lined up at our choice of servers. We were given the elements, a brief blessing was said, and prayer if requested.

Still not a meal, but more meaningful and moving in a simpler and more accessible manner than the high guys.

I toss up whether it is a meal: where we all break bread, and eat together. Paul hints it either way, so I'm not sure.

But now its none of the above.

Due to everything (the Covid-19 public health debacle, ease of assembly, simplicity of logistics and speed of delivery) the communion elements come in a small plastic individual serve of sealed wafer the size of an old half-penny coin, beneath which is a sealed mouthful of fake wine. 'Individual' gives the game away. Individual is the very antithesis of 'Communion'.

It does, I suppose, but it is risible in a ridiculous way. Like the aircraft meal: it's formally a meal, but not as you'd prefer it to be.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Pastor burn-out

The rector at a relative's church talked about 'pastor burnout'. He talked about the challenges of 'leadership'.

There, in one fell swoop he identified the cause.

To the extent that US heroic 'leadership' is touted as the role of a pastor, elder, organiser, administrator or governor (words today transmuted in to 'leader'), the role is removed from the church and its sacred trust underminded.

We have shepherds (pastors), not 'leaders'. We are led by the Spirit of God, we are followers of Christ. The Pastor's role is to assist us in that walk. To teach, pray with, succor and keep the church within the apostles way.

In a larger church the pastor's main role is to disciple those with direct ministry functions (ministry coordinators, we call them in my church) and help them develop pathways to discipleship for their ministry teams.

Secondarily, it is to participate in the conduct of our gatherings.

Everything else can be done by the other members of that local church.

Friday, June 18, 2021

That ol' time religion

Great study by Peter Jones of the early orthodoxy of Christian faith and the physicality of the very good creation.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Just another crazy creation myth

I read some comments to an article in Quadrant that I can't track down now (I was just flipping the pages on the website) that castigated the Genesis creation account as being of the same order as Aboriginal dream-time tales, in all their inter-clan variety.

As I pondered on this while slurping my coffee, it dawned on me that it is not. I knew this at one level, of course, but hadn't applied that knowledge polemically in this context.

The Genesis account differs markedly from pagan creation stories (and I include modern neo-darwinian evolution in that lot) in three important ways (there are more than three, but this will do for now).

1. It puts mind/person before everything. Most myths somehow presume a 'given' reality that the creation myth is set within. The Genesis account shows the cosmos to be meaningful as resulting from the intelligently applied will of a knowing, pre-existing being: the creator. It is distinct from the creator.

2. It describes a succession of logically ordered events not only in the terms of the sensible (that is, comprehendible) cosmos, but in a historical continuity with our 'life-world' The creation doesn't go through a series of fantasy transmogrifications from one type of thing to another type of thing. People will carp at 'light before the sun'. They need to be reminded that light is but part of the entire electro-magnetic spectrum, the energy infrastructure of the physical cosmos. It had to be first!

3. It sets us in a real reality. The creation is a real thing and is really and reliably perceived. The creation account sets out a rational causality between will (word) and result (the components of the cosmos in our-world terms) that is such as we use within that creation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Spiritual CPR

Letter to Hillsong
I overheard a conversation between a Hillsong outreach man at UNSW and a bloke who asked him what he would say to a person who had 60 seconds to live.

The Hillsong fellow said nothing for about 45 seconds, then, "I'd ask him what his most memorable experience was."

You need to teach your front-line workers salvation CPR. 60 seconds to save his life, so tell him the gospel in simple non-religions terms that he can understand within his pagan worldview and repent.

Every person who is any meet the public role is a front line worker. They are the commandos, the SAS of the Christian mission.

Each and every one of them must be able to answer, coherently and confidently, in simple every day language any standard question about Christian faith.

They must be able to explain the overall Biblical description of reality, man and God, they must understand the Biblical 'world-view' and why it is different from atheism/materialism, paganism, Islam, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Mormonism. 
They must be able to explain why Messiah is the only way to restoration of fellowship with the creator God.

They must be able to explain the place (in the flow of Biblical history) and reason for all the major books of the Bible.
And then, rebut the common ignorance about the Bible and its base documents.

They must be able to give an honest and reflective but simple statement of their own faith, why they are Christian, are part of a church, pray and read the Bible. 

In the army, the guys fronting the attack are the best of the best, not backroom dopes. You need to be the same. Every front-line person must be thoroughly grounded, apprenticed and eager to enter into a gospel-directed conversation.

They must be expert in spiritual CPR.

Mainly Music, or Only Music?

Some churches operate Mainly Music programs for infants and their mothers (typically). Its a good community service in itself, but a church has a mission. The MM program has to be part of that mission.

I've encountered churches where the mission connection is known, but not handled well. MM numbers drop after people are button-holed to come to an Alpha course, or even bring their child to Kid's Club on Sundays.

That's too fast.

There needs to be a step-up of involvement, not a plunge.

A couple of times a year invite attendees (mothers and/or fathers) to a function, maybe an early dinner or coffee/desert (timed for a young families' needs) where a Christian expert in some child-related discipline (medical, psychology, education, etc.) gives a light but informative talk about their experience.

Once a year have a dinner (with creche if needed) for parents to take a break, meet other parents, have a similar talk to above, but the person reflecting on their Christian motivations ('I' not 'you' reflection).

Offer mothers to come to a monthly 'support' group with a coffee and cake, a 'low key' expert available for discussion.

Those mothers who really like it might be invited to a perhaps monthly, or bi-monthly group were 'we talk about the deeper things of life with children, their future and how we use the wisdom of the Bible to help them and us....light discussions in Proverbs might be nice start.

All this is about making a pathway to Christian faith, not forcing a plunge into an icy pool.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

CBS: really?

In both my undergrad degree and masters degree at UNSW I sought and attended the campus Christian groups.

I was invariably disappointed.

I sought depth, challenge and training in 'telling the Truth'. That is, the gospel. I got none.

The campus groups were either self-indulgent shelters from the world of action-evangelism, or cossetted 'safe spaces' for foppish, wide-eyed Christians with no knowledge of their faith.

But, I can't blame CBS

One would expect that Christians would come into Uni as Christians, just like they come into Uni as scholars: having some basic education in the tools, language and expectations of scholarship.

13 years of schooling does it for most people. After 13 years of school most people have encountered the pivotal ideas and practices of science, literature, maths, history, geography, engineering, and had time in forming, leading and/or participating in extra-mural groups, whether it be the Chess club or the stamp collectors.

After a similar time in most Church education/participation programs (what used to be called 'Sunday school' and in some snappily named youth group) there is not a similar level of competence in the Bible, Christian faith and practice, church history, apologetics and evangelism. Zip, nada, nuthin' You come out of these programs entertained, cossetted with some knowledge of disconnected Bible stories, meaningless songs and an ability to pray like everyone else in your denomination. Badly.

CBS and other groups I've encountered don't improve on this. I couldn't even have decent adult/intellectual discussions with the paid workers. I didn't continue.

CBS seems to be more of the same. A sermon club. A producer of T-shirt slogans that are obscure to all but the purveyors.

Maybe its just an in-group club.

You've got 'em for four years.

Here's what you should be onto, CBS fellers:

Year 1

Read the entire Bible, or at least the first 8 books, and the New Testament. The latter in two translations.

Read Mere Christianity and Tactics by Koukl.

Know the structure and historical flow of the Bible and the overarching picture of reality it provides.

Start basic training: Koukl's book and program is a great start.

Be introduced to the basic belief structures of modern paganism (western Hinduism), Islam, Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses, with reference to their similarity to early heresies.

Have had inquiring conversations with the 'belief' purveyors that have proselyting tables around the campus.

Have no sermons. Have training seminars and tutorial groups on the reading you've been doing.

Year 2

Read the entire Bible again

Read Schaeffer's trilogy (old in illustrations and references, but cracking like a whip in today's market of old ideas).

Work through the theology of creation, redemption, with the spotlight on the existential failure of man-made belief systems to deal with the issues that the Bible shows God dealing with, in us.

Train and practice stand-up enquiry based conversations with atheists, pagans, Muslims, JWs and Mormons. The deal here is, head into problems, go away and research what you find you don't know, and go again.

For paganism, Peter Jones' series on Ligonier or truthexchange is great.

Years 3 and 4.

Read some historical theology (Paul Tillich, A History of Christian Thought or better, Jarolav Pelikan’s The Christian Tradition).

Read the Bible more slowly, particularly the major prophets spiced up with the epistles. Read the Gospels every Advent (from now on).

Have deeply informed conversations (enquiry based) with every campus barrow pushing group: socialists, conservatives, enviro-gaiaists, vegans, Muslims, and so on. Make friends, but never compromise. Be less with Christians, except for training and refreshing and mostly talking to pagans, etc. Learn and keep improving your practice. Become knowledgeable in typical objections to Christian faith and analysis of the world and responses to them.

Be able to oppose materialism, paganism and the popular 'religion of me' from the Scriptures (I mean, not quoting the Scriptures aimlessly, but intellectually informed by them) without compromise and lead people to question their own understanding or assumptions about themselves and the world.

Know that social justice is tyranny for all. Nothing to do with the justice, mercy and love of God.

Hard work? No, CBS has support workers to make it easy and exciting.

You will come out of uni able to teach in the average suburban/town church.

Go get 'em.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Dawkins Proof

My comments on this book.

Excellent book. Marred by using AV quotations. Modern translations would be far better (NASB, Phillips for the NT, e.g.). It leans a little heavily on a Calvinistic legalism whereas the 'law' is not like a human conception of law, that is, made by man, rather when he refers to 'God's law', etc. he means what flows from and is congruent with God's nature and therefore reality, deeply set in the ontology of the creation. These aside, the book would be an excellent gift for any younger (in years or faith) Christian. We need books in similar accessible style and length dealing with the doctrine of creation and introductory of the works of both Francis Schaeffer and C. S. Lewis for younger readers.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Marxist? Monist!

James Jeffrey claims you can't be a Marxist and a Christian. He's right, of course. But he misses the point.

The individual is the locus of person hood, not the anonymous group that Marxism relies upon. It puts state/group over the family, and submerges the individual in an insensate collective.

Not only is this playing in to the hands of the oligarchy, it exemplifies the materialism of Marx and its fundamentally monist construction of reality.

You can't join the two because Marxism rides on the pale horse of monism. It rejects the creator and his distinction from his creation.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Just tell me how.

After a sermon on 1 Peter 3:15 (be prepared to give an account of the hope...) there were questions invited.

One question via SMS, but it was 'good' we were told (you know: "Good Question?", like it might have been a poor question).

It was 'how does one 'give an account...?'.

The paid Christian who delivered the sermon said, "It's just practice." Also, "…there’re lots of courses you can do..."

That was it.

So, you tell an 18 year old to 'just practice'. Practice what? Which courses, where?

Completely unhelpful and indeed denigrating answer. If it had been my question at that age, I'd 've been crushed.

Here's my answer:

"I'll be starting a small 'skills' group later this year and I'd invite anyone interested in this question to come along (a bit of quick planning on the hop). In the mean time I want to leave you with three thoughts:

1. Remember its YOUR account. No one can tell you that you're wrong. What is the hope, where it come from, how was hope absent before, what is it now? What's better about now?

2. You don't have to make a 'conversion' in one conversation, just seek to plant a seed/stone in the shoe and answer the question to the depth or not that you want to.

3. When you do speak, manage the conversation. Say what you want to to get the result you want. Have a few types of reasons for why you are a Christian/read the Bible/are part of a church.

and a bonus '4'. Ask questions. When someone makes a spiritual/values type of comment, ask they why they said/think/believe that and explore their response with them.

When you've had such a conversation think about it, maybe keep a journal. Read how other's have presented their faith journey. Study the Bible so you know the way of life (Genesis to Revelation).

Talk to other Christians about your experiences.

Underlining this is be prayerfully conscious of wanting to speak and our Lord will provide the right opportunity at the right time for you to fit into

For me, I was never not a believer. Here's how I might start:

I've always thought that life makes sense that it comes from somewhere. It didn't just happen, but a super always existing mind is behind our own minds, but separate. Not part of us. We're not just an atom assembly, were a real being.

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Theistic evolution vs creator

Theistic evolution merges the creator with the creation to the point of indistinguishability.

It represents a direct contradiction of all that Genesis 1 stands for.

Personhood is absorbed into material and destroyed as a meaningful component of reality.

Unscrambling the new/old world view

I mentioned  PJ a couple of posts ago.

I linked to his talk at the ACL conference of 2019. In it he mentioned an article on the topic.

The article might have been this one.

His YouTube playlist is here.

PJ's website is at TruthExchange.

One of the items is an audio series on paganism.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Who How What Why

Who God is: creator

How God is: the law >> preparing the way for the Messiah

What: Messiah to restore us to fellowship

Why: So we will enjoy God and his (new) creation without end.