Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Miscellany of Links

Some things to pass holiday down time and gear up for the Christmas season.

= Charity:

4 Let's Say Thanks
Sending a free note to make soldiers feel appreciated.

4 Products from Not for Sale
Give Christmas presents that help people break free of slavery.

4 Aid Sudan

= Diversions:
4 Coffee Cup Art

4 Martian Landscapes

4 Nat Geographic's International Photography Contest 2009

= Serious:
4 You’re teaching my child what?
"We know now that teens’ poor decisions are likely due not to lack of information, but to lack of judgement. And there is only one thing that will bring that: time."

4 On Reading Old Books Like the Bible
"Secularists reading the Bible are too often like ethnocentric tourists visiting a foreign country. ... The Bible isn’t what they are used to reading and they read it badly."

4 A Pocket Guide to New Testament Theology

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Smelling Coffee

Contemporary Christian music has a lot of silly fluff, but there is some good, God-centered stuff.

A favorite artist is Chris Rice. He writes songs that are ... different, musically interesting, and full of truth. One of my favorites is Smelling Coffee. Here's the bridge:
Every little breath, every heartbeat
Is a gift of love that You give to me
You keep givin’ even when I’m asleep
‘Cause I know You never stop watchin’ over me
I wake up, my past is gone
‘Cause Your mercy’s new with the mornin’ sun
I’m forgiven, I’m free, it’s a brand new day
‘Cause Your faithfulness is the greatest...
I rarely get through that without a lump forming in my throat. How much I rely on that mercy that's new every morning.

Here's the whole song with a cute, and also kinda different, video:

Monday, November 16, 2009

On the Question of Torture

Would you torture a man to save him?
Little Jashon was missing after his mother's body was discovered. The suspect in his mother's murder is a multiple felon who has killed a child before.

At 17-months-old, even if unharmed, this little boy wouldn't survive long without care. As John at Verum Serum points out, this is basically the ticking time bomb from torture debates.

Any torture debate usually turns into a disjointed mess because people start talking past each other. There are three questions that must be asked, and they must be dealt with independently and thoroughly.

1) Is torture ever acceptable?
2) Is torture ever effective?
3) Is [a given act] torture?

The first question must be answered before the second is discussed because if it is never morally acceptable, it doesn't matter if it's effective.

The third question is essential because we have to decide if a procedure is torture before we try to apply the other two questions to it. For instance, if waterboarding is not torture, it's pointless to bring it into arguments about whether torture is wrong. Both questions need to be resolved separately.

In any debate — whether the topic is politics, religion, a new pet, or updating procedures at work — we need to make sure we pay attention to what the questions really are and whether they're being addressed properly. We serve our Master better with a reputation for clear thinking and honest discussion. And the debate may even prove fruitful.

As to the matter at hand, I'd love to know how you would answer the above questions, but the real, and heart-rending, question is, would you torture a man to save that little boy?

I'm afraid I probably would, but I'm pretty sure I'd be a bit sick to my stomach afterward either way.

[Oh, and they've found a body that's probably the boy's.]

Friday, November 13, 2009

Just Eisegesis

A new(-ish) specialty Bible is about to hit the market. "The Poverty and Justice Bible is your guide to explore God’s messages and challenges regarding the poor," according to "It highlights more than 2,000 verses that spell out God's attitude to poverty and justice."

And when they say "justice," they mean "social justice," by which they mean helping poor people — a good thing as long as it's properly done.

But I have my doubts about this product. The sample on their website shows a highlighted scripture on justice:
"The Spirit will come and show the people of this world the truth about sin and God's justice and the judgment. The Spirit will show them that they are wrong about sin, because they didn't have faith in me. They are wrong about God's justice, because I am going to the Father, and you won't see me again. And they are wrong about the judgment, because God has already judged the ruler of this world" (John 16:8-11 CEV).
Is Jesus talking about poverty and "social justice" here? No, clearly not. But it's got the word "justice" in it, so they highlight it. This is hardly a representative sample (they claim the Bible has over 2000 verses on poverty), but given this and all the other scriptures I've seen these kinds of folks abuse, I fear many verses will be misrepresented as refering to charity and welfare.

They also have a section of essays on poverty related topics including ... military spending?!
"Since 1945, the United States has spent more than $19 trillion on defense. If you were to spend $26 million per day since the birth of Christ, you still would not have spent as much as the United States has spent on defense since the end of World War II."
Um, how much more poverty and suffering would there be in the world if we'd lost the Cold War?

This is not the only essay reflecting such shoddy thought. I don't think I'd want to put this thing in the hands of an impressionable young person.

I'm glad these folks want to remind Christians of our duty to the poor. I'm glad they're trying to help folks understand the Bible. I just don't think they're very good at it. I don't hold out much hope for this product which is looking like the same old Christian Left eisegesis.

(HT: Tim Challies)

Debt Relief and the Jubilee
Helping the Poor Biblically
Loving Neighbors 7000 Miles Away

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Eternal Fire

Verses I wish weren't in the Bible: Matthew 25:41

The sheep and the goats. One to the right; one to the left. Left is bad.
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. ... Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.' ... Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'"
I hate hell. I hate that it exists. I hate that people go there. I hate the finality of it. I hate the eternity of it.

Some have tried to show that hell isn't permanent. They see it more akin to the idea of purgatory but for everyone. I wish I could believe that.

But the way I read it, the way I understand it, the situation seems clear: Those who have rejected the Savior will be rejected by the Savior. He may give some people chance after chance, but in the end everyone has a last chance.

As much as I hate hell, though, as CS Lewis put it, God hates it more. If I would give anything to keep people from going to hell, He gave everything to keep them from going to hell.

But, truth be told, I wouldn't give anything to keep people from going to hell. Some days I can't even manage to walk across the street. It's so easy to expect that tomorrow will present another opportunity. Sometimes it doesn't, though.

I hate hell. But sometimes I don't hate it enough.

Friday, November 6, 2009


A diverse selection of links to help pass the time...

Bible: Have you heard of Glo? It's described as an interactive Bible "experience." Watch part 8 for a good idea of what this can do. It's an interesting concept, though I doubt I'll ever buy it.

Science: DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated
Scary doesn't begin to describe it.

Adult Stem Cells: Stem Cells from Fat Used to Grow Missing Facial Bones
One more nail in the coffin of ESCR.

Abortion: Court rejects Pa. buffer law on abortion clinics
Apparently there are limits to limits.

Politics: What's Wrong with Obamacare?
Please pardon the self-linkage. This is a brief (a relative term) summary of the issues.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chrysostom on Godliness and Evangelism

"Live in a way that won't blaspheme the name of God. On the one hand, don't care about human reputation. On the other hand, don't give reason for others to speak poorly of you. ... There would be no unbelievers if we were the Christians we should be. Everyone would convert to godliness if we generally kept the commandments of Christ, suffered through insults, blessed when we were cursed, and did good when treated poorly."

—John Chrysostom, from Homily 10 on 1 Timothy