Firing Line

I ran across this post regarding an old “Firing Line” episode where William F. Buckley is interviewing Malcolm Muggeridge on the topic of their mutual christian faith.

I have listened to the audio at the link in the following block twice now and I am going to listen to it many times more. Phenomenally good stuff.

Via Dave Armstrong’s site, I found an edited, online transcript of the broadcast as well as a Real Audio feed of the entire broadcast. The picture I posted here is coutesy of Cubeland Mystic.

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“fertile mix of science and religion”

or as I like to say, you don’t replace something with nothing. here is a peek, but go check out the rest of the interview.

KLEFFEL: Armstrong sees the role of religion as a guiding force for ethical behavior. Margaret Atwood brings that notion to life in her newest novel, “The Year of the Flood.” It’s set in a dystopian near future where genetic engineering has ravaged much of the planet. The survivors have created a new religion.

Ms. ATWOOD: This group, which is called God’s Gardeners, has taken it possibly to an extreme that not everybody will be able to do. They live on rooftops in slums on which they have vegetable gardens. And they keep bees. And they are strictly vegetarian, unless you get really, really hungry, in which case you have to start at the bottom of the food chain and work up. And they make everything out of recycled castoffs and junk. So they’re quite strict.

KLEFFEL: Atwood points out that the beginnings of her religion of the future have already appeared in the present.

Ms. ATWOOD: Indeed, we now have the Green Bible among us,….

HT to iain murray

D.A. Carson on God’s existence

How do I know God exists?

HT to Ramblin’ Pastor Man

God’s Glory

An interesting twitter discussion has arisen between Mark Lamprecht Wes Widner and Jacob Hall.

Friends of Mark’s have a six year old son who has developed a brain tumor and on his blog, Mark posted John’s facebook entry about Faith, Sovereignty, and God’s glory. Go take a look at John’s response to this situation and the thanks people are expressing for the faith that he and his wife are showing in this trial. here is some of it, but go read it all.

First of all, I’m unsure about what kind of faith is being talked about. I’ve never been sure that it is God’s will that our Gideon be brought back to full health.

Now, when I say that, I’m not saying that I don’t think God could do that nor do I want you do think that I don’t desire that. I just don’t think that is the way God always works. However, I do know that God does work all things out for Him to get the maximum glory.

Now, many of you may ask “how can God get glory unless he heals Gideon?” My response would be that he definitely gets glory by healing Gideon, but He gets even more glory when we have our full satisfaction in Him and Him alone!

God isn’t all satisfying and worthy of my praise because he makes us healthy and wealthy. He isn’t worthy because He heals my little boy. He is all satisfying because He is God and He always does what is right! He is all satisfying because he rescued me from my biggest problem.

Our greatest problem isn’t poverty, lack of self-esteem, or brain tumors. Our biggest problem is we have sinned against a holy righteous God. He has saved me from my sin, and for that reason alone he is all satisfying. He is enough.

Yes, we have faith in our God, but our faith is that He will do what’s right and what is best…even if that meant taking Gideon from us.

Mark then posted the link to the blog entry on twitter as follows:

How would you react if your 6 yr old had a brain tumor? Would you glorify God? One family’s responsehttp://bit.ly/3IV3Xh

Wes responded with this:

@hereiblog Glorify God for what? Giving the strength and comfort to endure it or for giving the brain tumor? One isn’t glorifying.

Jacobhall jumped in then with this:

@kai5263499 Your view of God is totally skewed. He is worthy of Glory regardless of the situation.

then Wes:

@JacobHall86 Not if he kills innocent people for no reason. Sorry, that’s not the picture of God the bible paints.

then Jacob:

@kai5263499 Noone is innocent. That is the picture painted in the Bible. You assume with Pelagian views. None are Righteous.

Now look up at the two portions of Wes Widner’s entries that I bolded. do you see it? Wes has decided that he knows what brings God glory and he knows who is innocent and he knows when there is “no reason” for a death.

I have some questions.
Why does Wes have such a high view of himself and his own knowledge?
Why does he not approach this topic with a little more humility?
Why doesn’t he even give lip service to the possibility that God has something in mind in this situation that is far higher than our poor power to deduce as we rock along here in our finite bubble of right now with our limited intellects and our limited set of emotional responses?

Does Wes think God doesn’t at least have the ability to control this boy’s tumor?
If so, then what else doesn’t God control in Wes’ world?
If not, then isn’t allowing it to happen functionally the same as causing it?
Wouldn’t God remain culpable for the illness?
If that is the case, then isn’t it better to believe God to be fully sovereign over every aspect of this situation and every other situation in our lives?
Isn’t it better to fully trust a sovereign God who loves us, sent his Son to die for us, and promised us good things, with our illnesses and their outcome?
Isn’t it true that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him, even in the midst of loss, heartache and pain?
Isn’t that what makes God look most fantastic to this lost and dying world?

just asking some questions here.

two on suffering

first courtesy of Vitamin Z we get this comforting bit that we will never be able to fully explain the problem of evil but that we can trust God anyway:

So how do Christians explain the problem of evil?

The reality is, we can’t provide an exhaustive theodicy or explanation of the existence of evil.  Our minds cannot fully fathom “why.”

But, in his recommended book, Return to Reason, Kelly Clark, explains why Christians need not feel intellectually compromised if they cannot explain the existence of evil.  Here is how he concludes the discussion.

The Christian theist need not be troubled by is his ignorance of a theodicy.  This ignorance is not insincere, questionable or obscurantist.  Rather, it is quite consistent with his theistic beliefs.  The Christian theist will believe that God has a good reason for allowing evil, although  he does not know what it is or know it in any detail.  He believes that God has a good reason because of God’s redemptive incarnational revelation.  It is not rationally incumbent upon the theist to produce a successful theodicy; the theist, in order to be rational, must simply believe that God has a good reason for allowing evil.  A God who shares in our pain, who redeems our sorrows and our shortcomings, who wipes away ever tear, is surely a good God. (page 89).

and then Halim Suh is making plans. He is thinking about what he wants his friends to tell him when suffering comes in his life. It is so very helpful to have right theology and right thinking about suffering firmly in place in your mind before the suffering hits. before the cancer diagnosis, before the layoff, before the horrible accident etc. etc. Here are some of Halim’s prospective advices to himself. Go read the rest.

Yesterday in our book group, we were discussing suffering. Honestly, I haven’t endured a lot of suffering, yet, in this life. Especially not the tragic, life-changes-in-a-moment kind of suffering. But, only the Lord knows if it is coming. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would want people to tell me if I do go through a crisis – and these are things that I think I would need to hear:

Tell me that there is a God in heaven, who made the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Remind me that my crisis, my suffering, is not a surprise to Him, and that it has not happened outside of His control. Tell me that my God has a purpose in everything – my suffering included. Remind me that He is the God who sees everything – not one thing has ever escaped His attention. He sees me now.
….
Tell me that there is a Savior that suffered – a lot more than I can ever imagine. No matter how much suffering I am enduring, remind me that Jesus suffered so much more, infinitely more. Tell me that He can comfort me because He knows my pain. He knows my suffering. Tell me that my Jesus is there.

Tell me that God loves me with a fierce love – the kind that rips open seas, that drowns armies, that throws hailstones from heaven, that shuts up lions’ mouths, that saves from consuming fires, that heals the lame, that feeds the hungry and that conquers death. Remind me that my God loves me like that. And that this God doesn’t change, nor does His love for me change. So, if He has ordained suffering in my life, He is still loving me – although I may not see it or understand it.

Halim is one of the staff at Austin Stone Community Church.

I Peter 1:1-13

I have been spending a little time in I Peter again this week. I just love that letter and the more I study it the more that I see everything important is there.

Yesterday in Bible study we looked at the first 13 verses of the book.

Peter is writing to the elect exiles of the dispersion scattered in Asia Minor. These folks were uprooted from their homes in and around Jerusalem and forced to run for their lives around the time Stephen was stoned. see Acts 7-11.

The key bits are here in verses 3-9:

3(G) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!(H) According to his great mercy,(I) he has caused us to be born again to a living hope(J) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4to(K) an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and(L)unfading,(M) kept in heaven for you, 5who by God’s power are being guarded(N) through faith for a salvation(O) ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by(P) various trials, 7so that(Q) the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes(R) though it is tested by(S) fire—may be found to result in(T) praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8(U)Though you have not seen him, you love him.(V) Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9obtaining(W) the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

he reminds them of the work God did in saving them and the thing for which they have been and are being saved.  A living hope, to an inheritance of epic proportions.  Then he references the terrible things that have happened to them and will continue to happen to them (see chapter 4) because of their following Christ.  (as an aside, isn’t it interesting that he mentions that we are guarded by God’s power through faith for salvation.  Thank God and His mercy and grace that we had the faith to believe in Him when we woke up this morning.  what a wonderful blessed relief that my faith doesn’t depend on my power.)

then he gets to verse 13 which is one of my favorites.

13Therefore, girding up the loins of your mind, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

the italicized portion is the word picture Peter used to mean gathering up the loose ends and tucking them in your belt so that you are ready for action. Can’t be tripping over the dress tail of our mind as we engage in setting our “hope fully on the grace” that will be brought to us when Jesus Christ is revealed.

So here are my questions for the guys yesterday and for all of us today:

Is it even possible for us christians who make up the modern evangelical church in America to “set our hope fully on the grace to be revealed at the revelation of Jesus Christ”?

Can we do it if our faith hasn’t been tested in fire and found to be genuine?

Can we do it if we continue to be torn between our stuff here and our own vision of the way the world ought to be for us here and the imperishable undefiled unfading inheritance that is yet to come?

If so, how?

If not, what does that mean needs to happen to us?

who do you trust? part III

all right, now let’s go back where we started. In John 10:10, Jesus contrasts himself and his mission with the thief.

The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Jesus came to bring abundant life.

and here are we sheep in the middle. we have a choice to make.

do I send this email to someone not my spouse that will take me a step further down the road to adultery? Do I make this phone call? do I set up this lunch appointment? Do I…..? whatever it is.

What thoughts are going through my head in that moment? My spouse makes me miserable. I should be happy. This other person makes me happy. I can’t bear the thought of staying home with the spouse that makes me miserable. oh, who am I kidding we make each other miserable. Really it isn’t fair to either of us to stay locked down like this in misery. Surely God wants us to be happy. surely it is better for all of us if we just find a way out. After all, the kids shouldn’t have to watch us fight. I feel so awesome when I am around this other person. they make me feel wanted. They make me feel sexy again. and so on and so on.

Here is the thing. As human beings, we can think and reason. We have an absolutely amazing capacity to rationalize what we want to do and make it seem ok. We have an enemy who wants to destroy us who has thousands of years feeding rationalizations by humans to take them down the path to destruction. we also have the remnants of the flesh in us that want to be gratified.

The combination of these elements means that all we like sheep have gone astray. there is not a single one of us who isn’t bent.

we all need God’s power to keep us from rationalizing ourselves into indulging our flesh.

We also need to believe at a very deep level that pursuing God’s way is better for us. Because the bottom line is that we are going to do whatever we really truly want to do.

That is why I have titled this series “who do you trust?” Because that is the question.

Do we trust God who sent His only begotten Son to die a horrible death on the cross so that we could be reconciled to God with our very happiness?

Or do we trust our limited ability to decide what’s best for us as we rock along in our little bubble of RIGHT NOW.

It is kind of silly for us to think that we can do a better job of deciding what is better for us and those we love than God. God who loved us when we were unlovely. God who made the universe. God who designed us. God who cared enough about us to leave us His Word for us to get to know Him better.

But so many times every day that is what we do. We just decide that we know best. We then get off in the ditch and start begging for God to get us out or worse, we blame God for letting us get off the road in the first place.

God hates divorce. He wouldn’t accept offerings from promise breakers. Jesus said that divorce was only given because people were selfish and hard hearted.

So there it is. Do we trust God with our marriage? Or do we trust ourselves and our own rationalizations as we go down the path to blowing up our lives in the name of “happiness”?