31 January 2012

Freedom of Religion...

...is a myth in our present culture; it has become freedom from Christianity, i.e. freedom from anything that offends me or doesn't affirm who I think I should be. How dare you tell me, or even imply, that I am wrong or that your views are counter-cultural?

Thank God the court affirmed this young woman's fight against intolerance; that's right folks, it works both ways. I even hate using that word "intolerance," it feels so laden with post-modern garbage...

Homosexual "Christianity?"

Whilst reading this article, I was intrigued by some of the statements of Ms. Chenoweth and decided to do some research into the justification of homosexuality as not being sinful. Ms. Chenoweth said:

"I read my Bible and I pray and all of that--I really do." "But at the same time I don't think being gay is a sin..."

To the above...covenant  of works, anyone? I thought you read your Bible...

And "...he [Jesus] wouldn't be going  around [today] saying "You're going to hell," "You're wrong, you're wrong, you're wrong." "I think he'd be accepting and loving."

These comments prompted the aforementioned research and revealed a strikingly twisted world of homosexual "Christians" and others who attempt to conform the words of sacred Scripture to their own theology. A particularly clarifying look into this type of heresy (that's right, I'm calling it what it is; false teaching is heresy) can be found here. For the sake of brevity, instead of addressing each text individually I'm would like to make a few points.

1. The Bible is not subject to your interpretation. For more on correct interpretation see this post.
2. If only one Scripture verse, in context, forbids or demands anything it is binding upon the Christian conscience. For, "all Scripture is God-breathed (or breathed out by God, Gr. θεόπνευστος)..."
3. An understanding of sin is imperative in understanding the true, Biblical gospel of Jesus Christ.

Regardless of philosophizing, reinterpretation, redefinition, or deconstruction, the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is a sin and is the result of the sinful and idolatrous nature of mankind in a post-Genesis 3 world (Romans 1:18ff). It is important to stop here and make something clear: Hatred in any form is clearly anathema to the Biblical teaching of love. There are those in the Church who have failed in this regard and do fail every day (mainly because we are all of us sinners), but loving someone does not mean that the Church or any of its members may endorse, condone, or tolerate sin. To wit, love is not letting a person fall head long off of a cliff when you have the means of calling out to them to stop them (i.e. the gospel). Ad nauseam, letting someone remain in open, unrepentant sin is not loving; it is at best complacency and at worst hatred.

In closing, I return to Ms. Chenoweth's comments, and as I have already addressed sufficiently the issue of homosexuality and the teachings of Scripture, I would like to address her Christology briefly; if Jesus taught about hell one time, it is enough to bind the Christian conscience (see point 2 above). Therefore I will cite one of many texts that clearly relate Jesus' teachings on hell:

"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to council; and whoever says, 'You fool!' will be liable to the hell of fire. (Matthew 5:22, ESV, emphasis added)"

09 January 2012

A very insightful video; thank you Vitamin Z...

Fail at embedding this video...either way, Vitamin Z is a great blog.

04 January 2012

Can A Molecule Make Us Moral?

This is a question asked by Dr. Paul Zak in an oped piece for TED Talk on cnn.com (here), and supposedly answered. Therefore, its worth the time to address Dr. Zak's argument.

Dr. Zak begins by saying (article):

 "The longest debate since humans have been having debates is whether we are good or evil. It underlies the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Jesus and Judas."

First of all, humans are basically evil, despite popular opinion, and I have already covered this issue here, which goes into great detail about the state of humanity post fall. Suffice it to say:

"None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good; not even one." (Romans 3:10-12, ESV)

With the exception of Jesus (see this post for further discussion on the nature of Christ), every human that ever lived falls into the "evil" category.That being said, it is interesting that Dr. Zak uses specifically religious examples at the very outset (trying to make a point?). Next, Dr. Zak asks:

"What is our human nature? Of course, the answer is we can be both good and evil. But what determines which part of our character emerges?"

Human nature was defined above, and as to the answer being both, that's not true. We are evil and when good is done, it is the Imago Dei, the image of God in which we were created (Genesis 1:26), shining through the filth of our wickedness. Dr. Zak here is attempting to address the Theodicy (i.e. the problem of evil), and in one fell swoop define "evil" or "good" in terms of biochemistry. One does not have to be a biochemist to see the difficulty here. For one to define "good" one must have a canon, or measure, to define that which is good. Despite the assertions of existential and relativistic philosophies so prevalent in modernity, "good" or "evil" are not defined by social norms per se. The great philosopher Plato addressed this himself here, and said that to define anything as "good" we must have a perfect "Form" by which to define it (i.e. Good). Which Form, is the only good and righteous being in existence: God. Furthermore, as that God has revealed himself in His Word (cf 2 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:1) and Law (Exodus 20), then sinful man can only define morality based upon the standard of God's Holiness which is the perfect "Form" for all moral understanding.

Next Dr. Zak says:

"We then found oxytocin was responsible for many other moral behaviors, from being generous to sacrificing to help a stranger."

The latter part of this statement is intriguing as Dr. Zak mentions in his video presentation stress and testosterone decreased oxytocin levels, and that chemical is directly related to feelings of trustworthiness. Zak determined this by a test that he outlines in the aforementioned article and video, but there is something to address that is more pressing. Trustworthiness aside, Dr. Zak also said that a decrease in oxytocin levels (peripheral, not central; more information on oxytocin is available here) leads to selfishness. Finally, Dr. Anne Campbell who wrote the article "Oxytocin and Social Behavior," stated that oxytocin release happens only after stimulus (e.g. touching, massage, prayer are all examples Dr. Zak used; Dr. Campbell also cites childbirth). Only one question then remains: What about combat and the sacrifice of one soldier to save his comrade (high stress, no stimulus) or a civilian for that matter? What about a man or woman who braves a burning building or raging river to save a stranger's life (again, reactionary and w/o stimulus)? Dr. Zak has presented the conclusion to his research as definitive proof that a chemical makes someone "moral," yet he fails in the point just presented. Morality is not chemical, it is metaphysical and relies on God for its very definition and existence. The only way one can achieve a saving "goodness" is by the covering of that person by Christ's righteous sacrifice on the cross (Colossians 2:13-15). 

One final thought, all of the responses that related in increased peripheral oxytocin in Dr. Zak's study were empathetic to another party and involved money, and the majority of research about oxytocin in the first place is related to rodents...just saying... 

03 January 2012

Christian Principles for Realistic Politics

Christian Principles for Realistic Politics

A very insightful article by Kevin DeYoung on the nature of Christianity in politics.

Can a molecule make humans moral?

The Article (and video) answering the question in the title, and the journal article challenging the conclusions of Dr. Zak (at least in part).

As a note, a lot of this was over my head but I got the gist (I think); I never claimed to be an endocrinologist. Commentary forthcoming...

02 January 2012

The Gospel Part II

For the sake of brevity one thing was not expounded on in "What is the Gospel?". There is a key component upon which a correct understanding of the gospel stands or falls: sin. Without a correct view of sin the gospel looses its power.

Sin is best described, according to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, is want of conformity unto or transgression of the Law of God. This definition is as condensed a view of sin as possible, but there is more.
In the pages of Scripture sin is described as: whoredom (i.e. adultery; Hosea 1:2), an egregious affront to God's eyes (Habakkuk 1:13), treason (Ibid.), et al. Furthermore, it is said of those who have sinned that they are: of a debased mind (Romans 1:28), unrighteous, evil, covetous, malicious, slanderers, haters of God, inventors of evil, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless (Romans 1:29ff).

How then can anyone have a low view of something the Bible takes so seriously? The answer to that question lies in their own sinfulness; for all have sinned (Romans 3:10ff) and no one is good and our minds are twisted and enslaved (Romans 7:19). Therefore, for the gospel of Jesus Christ to show the gravity of what occurred on Golgotha two thousand years ago, one must understand the situation that all men are in.

In the Garden of Eden it was promised Adam that on the day he ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil he would surely die (Genesis 2:17), but Adam and Eve did not die that day, at least not physically but spiritually. The Apostle Paul words the human condition thus:
      "And you were dead in transgressions and sins 2 in which you once walked following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air (i.e. the devil), the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (i.e. mankind)-..." (Ephesians 2:1-2, emphasis and parentheses added)

Sin is the reason that Jesus Christ died on the cross. Sin is the reason that a holy man, the only Son of God (Philippians 2:6), was falsely tried and convicted and murdered at the hands of those he had come to save (Luke 23ff). Sin is the reason that a Holy God poured out the full measure of his wrath upon His only Son to save sinners (2 Corinthians 2:16ff; Colossians 2:13). Therefore, any view that is less than that of the Bible and therefore God, robs the gospel of its power.