Sapphire Sky

October 30, 2011

Happy All Saints Day!

Filed under: culture — Anthony Biller @ 8:51 pm

Not being big fans of pagan Celtic rituals, witches and goblins, or of copious consumption of cheap candy, my wife and I are always less than enthusiastic about Halloween.  We enjoy our children’s imaginations and encourage them to dress up and pretend, however, Halloween is just soo dark and gross.

In recognition of and support for the church’s past efforts to convert this pagan holiday to All Saints Day, my wife and I challenged our four children to each select a “saint” to write about today.  They each picked a famous Christian, with the youngest picking first. Several of our children wanted to select our nation’s most famous martyr, Nate Saint (1923-1956). Our five year old selected him with the first draft pick. Fitting that Saint was our first saint selected. One of the founders of Wycliffe Bible Translators, Cameron Townsend (1896-1982), was picked second. Amy Carmichael (1867-1951), the Irish girl who wanted blue eyes, but whose brown eyes allowed her to serve as a missionary in India for 55 years, was third; she saved countless girls.  In response to a letter enquiring what missionary life is like, Ms. Carmichael responded simply, “Missionary life is simply a chance to die.”  The Reformer Martin Luther (1483-1586) for whom we should celebrate October 31 each year was selected by my eldest. I hope to write soon regarding my “pick.” Following are the All Saints Day reports written by our children, ages 5, 7, 10, and 11:

Nate Saint

Nate Saint was a missionary in Ecuador who was very brave. He told the Auca indians about Jesus. Auca means “savage.” Mr. Saint had a bright yellow airplane. The Auca indians really liked him. Then one day they got mad at Nate and his friends. They killed him and his friends.

Then the Auca women invited Nate’s sister named Rachel to live with them. She told them about Jesus just like Nate had and they listened to her! They became Christians and were baptized! I think this story is sad because Nate and his friends were killed but I also think it is happy because the indians became Christians.

I think we should celebrate Saints Day instead of Halloween because Halloween was started with the Celts thinking that dead people came out of their graves on Halloween and they had to dress up as scary as they could to scare away the ghosts. Then the missionaries tried to turn it into a holiday called Saints Day to celebrate the saints and missionaries. But then people didn’t listen and started celebrating Halloween again.

Cameron Townsend

As a boy, Cameron Townsend loved to figure things out.  He was nicknamed Cam. Life was not easy.  He helped his father farm.  They were poor but well fed. They thanked God for their lives and they worked hard.

Their father read the Bible to them. They sang hymns and prayed.

In college, Cam had the opportunity to give a Bible to people in need in the Guatemalan countryside.  When he gave a Spanish language Bible to a native villager, the man said he could not read Spanish.  The man then asked if your God is so great, why can’t he speak my language?

From then on, Cameron dedicated his life to translating Bibles for people who had never had Bibles in their native languages. He also taught them how to farm and care for themselves.  The President of Mexico helped him.  Cameron started Wycliffe.

Martin Luther

One day the pope said to a bunch of people that if you dropped a coin into a bucket your sins would be forgiven. Then he said your dead relatives in purgatory will also go to heaven as soon as you dropped that coin into the bucket. Then all the people ran forward and dropped all the money they had into buckets and ran home excitedly. One of those people didn’t run home; he ran to his friend who was a Christian monk named Martin Luther and told him how he freed his relatives and how his sins were forgiven.

Martin Luther was very mad at the pope so he made a list of 95 reasons why the Catholic church was wrong to do that and nailed his list on a church on October 31. Then Luther published the reasons and told a bunch of people about it. Lots of people believed him and Luther wrote lots of books. Then the pope brought Martin Luther to court. Luther said if they showed him in the Bible where he was wrong he would burn all the books he had written. Lots of people got mad and chased him out of the court house. Then some men on horses ran out of the woods and rescued him and brought him to a old castle where he translated the Bible into German so people could learn about Jesus.

When he was 67, Luther got sick and died. Martin Luther was a saint and I think we should celebrate Saints Day instead of Halloween because Halloween was started with the Celts dressing up as bad and as nasty as they could because they thought that ghosts came out of graves and would haunt their bodies so they had to scare them away buy dressing up scary. The saints tried to change Halloween to a Christian religion but it didn’t work. In Austria people still leave bread and water out to welcome dead people back for Halloween. In Sweden they celebrate all Saints Day. There are lots of other countries like Austria that honor their dead relatives for Halloween but Sweden celebrates all Saints Day instead of bad things.

Amy Carmichael

One day, a little Irish girl who loved sweets, was sitting in a tearoom by a window eating small cakes and drinking tea.  She noticed a hungry little girl about her age looking through the window.

Amy’s memory of the girl just wouldn’t go away. She thought that God had a plan for her because she couldn’t forget that girl.  Little Amy felt very sorrow for that girl and decided to write a note saying, “When I am older, I will build a safe place for little girls.”

A long time passed and Amy loved to go on walks. She usually invited local children to her house to sing, clap, and dance and she would read them Bible stories. One morning Amy decided to visit the local Irish slums. She passed out bread and read Bible stories. She felt sad for all the sights of poverty around her. She saw a girl with blue eyes, Amy had always wanted blue eyes instead of brown. The girl was dressed in rags so Amy gave her a piece of bread. She looked so pale and was so small. A women with a shawl instead of a hat, came by a picked up the girl. The women turned and walked away. As she turned, the shawl fell from her face. Amy gasped, surprised.

The woman looked so worn and bent, but SHE was really quite young. Amy discovered this women was known as a “shawlie”. Shawlies covered their head up with shawls instead of hat because the hats cost to much. Amy felt sorrow. It wasn’t long after that visit with the “shawlie”, when she came up with an idea. She began to do a Bible study for the poor, in her own church. But many people in her church did not like that idea. They told Amy that these shawlies would come in their church with dirt, lice, and fleas. Amy did not care what other people thought about the shawlies. She would love, care, and help them like God would want her to. A couple of years passed and Amy’s work soon grew very big. She had a bigger building planned, and made so she could have singing, Bible studies, prayer, and sewing clubs in the building.

Things soon changed for Amy. Her family had to move to England. But she did not know that God had a plan for her to tell more people from different places about him. It was hard for her to leave her family and friends, but she knew God was with her and he would never leave her. When she arrived in India, she learned the Hindus worshiped idols and gods. The rich ladies wore silk but Amy chose wear white cotton like the poor. She told them about Jesus and how nice he was. She told them to burn their idols and love Jesus.

Most Hindus disliked Amy. They also disliked her God. But one girl, named Arulai, chose to like Amy. She would sneak out of her house and meet with Amy when her family didn’t know. When her family found this out, they forbade her right away to see Amy ever again.

After months, Arulia was able to get to Amy again. She quickly ran to Amy but when she got there she was very weak and sick. She slept in Amy’s bed, so sick she could hardly speak. Her father came to take here back to their house but then he found she was too weak and sick. For a long time he came and visited his daughter. Every time he came he found Amy being loving and kind and caring for his daughter. So, when Arulia was healed, her father let her stay with Amy for as long as she wanted.

Another girl, who was Hindu, decided she would like to be Christian and not tell anyone because if they knew she believed in the stuff they hated, her life could be in danger. After three years, she decided she would have to find her way to Amy’s house. At evening, she crept outside, tiptoeing across the road. Soon she saw a Christian banner in sight. “That is probably Amy’s house.” she thought to herself. She came up to the house and knocked on the door, and  Amy let her in, just like she had to the other girls who wanted to be a Christian.

Now, since most of the Hindu girls were becoming Christian, and going to Amy’s house, they locked them up in the Hindu temple and made them work instead of play. One girl’s father died and her mom was too weary to take care of her and had to send her to the temple saying, “At least you will be fed.” The girl was only five and named Preena and at the temple at night she felt very sad and cold. She was never able to go outside or see her mom. Because Preena was not loved, sometimes she hid and cried.

Finally she was able to escape and see her mother. But when her mother saw her she said, “You cannot stay here. Go back to the temple.” The Hindu priests punished her and taught her to obey. But Preena kept dreaming of being free from the temple.

Two more years were passed and Preena was still at the temple. But one day she overheard some people talking, saying there was a woman who lived nearby. Her name was Amy. She was a Christian and was helping other Christian girls to become more like Christ. She heard the people say how this lady was willing to help girls who had no good place to live. So Preena thought to herself, “I wonder if I could escape and I wonder if I escaped if Amy would help me.” So, at night, she crept through the temple, being careful not to make a sound. She tried the door, it was unlocked. So she tiptoed through the streets to find Amy’s home.

She went to the church, and found a women who would help her find the Christian lady, Amy. Being carful for danger, the two set out in search for Amy’s house. Soon they found it and Amy was sipping English tea, with a smile on her face. Her smile looked so loving that Preena felt safe, and at home. She felt so safe, she climbed right on Amy’s lap.

Amy kept this young girl and taught her about Jesus. Soon Preena loved Jesus.

A lot of other Children at the temple were rescued and safe with Amy. They soon learned all about Jesus. As Amy kept getting more and more children, there ended up being no room in the house for them to live, sleep, eat, and hide. Amy moved the children to the country. There was room there for the children to live, sleep, eat, and hide. Amy built a hospital also for the children so they could stay healthy.

Amy loved those children and saved them just like she had promised as a child.

(Based on Renee Taft Meloche, Amy Carmichael Rescuing the Children (YWAM Publ. 2004) (part of Heroes for Young Readers series).

October 29, 2011

The Sexiness of Marriage and Family

Filed under: culture, marriage and family — Anthony Biller @ 5:38 pm

Kate Bolick created a bit of a buzz with her recent article “All the Single Ladies” published in Atlantic Magazine.  Through this long and data-filled narrative, Ms. Bolick argues the modern feminist case against traditional marriage and family roles and justification for the sexual “revolution.”  Ms. Bolick is a talented writer and thinker and interweaves her personal narrative through her polemic against traditional female roles.  In fact, the candor of her narrative keeps the reader turning the pages.  But through her candor, Ms. Bolick raises serious doubt about just how good this “modern” feminist ethics has been for women.

Ms. Bolick embodies the modern feminist lie life – pursuing self and professional fulfillment at the expense of marriage and family.  She is talented, successful, attractive.  She’s reached the top of the professional and social fields in New York City.  By any “modern” feminist standard, Ms. Bolick is accomplished.  She has more former boyfriends than she can recall.

But no love.  No family.  No children.  At no point does she attempt to persuade that her choices brought happiness or fulfillment. Doubt, not happiness, pervade her writing.

In reviewing this illuminating essay, Maggie Gallagher observes,

Who exactly are the new enemies of Eros?

Sex has been divorced from meaning. Men are not being raised to be good family men, and women are not being raised to appreciate good family men. And men are failing to become the kind of men women want. Porn is available for all as a substitute for life.

So Kate, facing a future without children or marriage, wants to celebrate singleness and to kill her youthful idealization.

“Everywhere I turn, I see couples upending existing norms and power structures,” she says, citing a friend who fell in love with her dog walker, a man 12 years younger, with whom she stayed for three years “and are best friends today.”

Well, everywhere I turn in Kate’s essay I see women doing the best they can to celebrate the best they feel they can get, and it’s unbearably sad.

The truth is celebrating singleness—i.e., celebrating “not doing something”—makes no sense. Loving is better than not loving. Choosing to love and commit to a husband or a child is a much higher ideal than choosing not to; that’s why it needs to be celebrated and idealized.

Of course, not everyone marries or becomes a mother, and of course every human life has other possibilities for meaning, and other forms of love to give.

But all of these other loves—the aunt, the grandparent, the best friend—came into being because somewhere some woman gave herself to the independence-shattering act of making a family.

See Maggie Gallagher The New Singleness

Mona Charen commented:

There is a great deal of interesting data in this piece. According to the Pew Research Center, 44 percent of Millennials and 43 percent of Gen Xers think marriage is becoming obsolete. As of 2010, women held 51.4 percent of all managerial and professional positions, compared with 26 percent in 1980. Women account for the lion’s share of bachelors and masters degrees, and make up a majority of the work force. Three quarters of the jobs lost during the recession were lost by men. “One recent study found a 40 percent increase in the number of men who are shorter than their wives.” Fully 50 percent of the adult population is single, compared with 33 percent in 1950.

The resulting decline of marriage has been a disaster for children, a deep disappointment to reluctantly single women and unhealthy for single men, who are less happy, shorter-lived and less wealthy than married men. The sexual revolution has left a trail of destruction in its wake, even when its victims don’t recognize the perpetrator.

See Charen, Blame the Sexual Revolution, Not Men

At about the same time Ms. Bolick was making headlines, there was another, shorter story in the news, a counter-narrative to Ms. Bolick.  This story was about traditional marriage.  It was not filled with data and in-depth analysis.  The story was about Norma and Gordon Yeager.  They were not nearly as attractive or successful as Ms. Bolick. They were from Marshalltown, Iowa.  In the eyes of the world, they were until recently entirely obscure.

Mr. Yeager had promised his wife he would never leave her.  In late October, the Yeagers were in a car accident.  Rushed to the hospital, they lay side by side in critical condition, holding hands.  Mr. Yeager died, still holding his wife’s hand, with their family around them.  Though dead, his monitor still indicated a beating heart. It was his wife’s heart picked up through their holding hands.  An hour later, she died, still holding his hand.  Mr. Yeager was 94; Mrs. Yeager was 90.  They had been married 72 years together.  The Yeager’s son said, “They just loved being together. He always said, ‘I can’t go until she does because I gotta stay here for her.’ And she would say the same thing.”

The Yeager’s testimony on marriage, love and family is compelling.  RIP

As more generations continue to eat the poisonous fruits of the “sexual revolution,” we can only hope and pray that the old becomes new again.

October 24, 2011

Why not Ron Paul?

Filed under: politics, economy, etc. — Anthony Biller @ 1:48 pm

“I mean, arguing over who mows Mitt Romney’s lawn … In the midst of a crisis, a sovereign debt worldwide crisis, the biggest in the history of the world, and the financial system of the world is about to collapse. We’re about to have another devaluation of … our credit rating. This is serious, and no control in the spending.  We’re going to have to get a hand on this.  We have to quit worrying over who’s mowing Mitt Romney’s yard.”  Ron Paul, Meet the Press, Oct. 23, 2011

“Mommy, turn the car.  We’re heading straight for a cliff.”

“Don’t worry, honey, we’re going to slow down some.”

The USA rapidly approaches an economic precipice and it’s much closer than we appreciate.   If so, the 2012 election is a referendum on national cliff diving.   The wreckage of great nations fill the history books, and rarely do last generations recognize the end before it’s too late.

We’re nearly 15 trillion dollars in debt, a number nearly beyond comprehension.  See debt clock here.  No nation in the history of mankind has accumulated such a deficit when compared to the worldwide purchasing power of the respective debt.  A few short years ago, our debt was nearly half of our GDP.  In 2011, at the time of this writing, our federal debt is approximately equivalent to our GDP.  See debt clock here.  Even the CBO acknowledges imminent crisis.  See here.  All levels of government spending presently consume nearly half our GDP.  See debt clock here.  We’re adding trillions of dollars of new debt every year.  How much is that?  If you counted a $1 bill every second, it would take you over 30,000 years to count the first trillion dollars. 

Newsweek’s Andrew Nagorski reports “America’s public debt could skyrocket from 44 percent of GDP before the 2008 financial crisis to 716 percent in 2080. If legislative reforms don’t expand the size of government, the CBO dials the projection back to 280 percent.”   As Mark Steyn observes in his recently published, must-read After America, that’s the difference between dead and more dead. Business Insider magazine reports that only 58 percent of Americans have a job right now; the median yearly wage in the United States is $26,261 and the average American household is carrying $75,600 in personal debt.  Including public and private debt, each American – man, woman and child – is each presently responsible for approximately $175,000 in debt.  And the figure grows. See debt clock here.  

The problem is systemic throughout the industrial nations and social-welfare states and no one is coming to our financial rescue.  Unfortunately, the US is the leader in this fiscal suicide. A leading German economist recently explained, “The alarmingly high national debt many countries now hold, as compared to gross domestic product, is by no means simply a result of fiscal countermeasures taken after the global financial crisis of 2008-2009. It is just as much a product of a policy, carried out for decades and widely accepted, of perpetually borrowing money for public budgets.”

We don’t need to slow down this economic death spiral, we need an abrupt turn-around.  Not a slight change of angle, but a U-turn.  Our current path is unsustainable.

A new tax plan alone is not good enough, even if it means giving Congress a new pipeline to take money from us in the form of a sales tax.  The problem is spending. The government of a free people should not be the largest employer, should not consume nearly half of the wealth of its people and should not burden yet unborn generations with trillions of dollars in debt.  King George III should not get the last laugh.

We used to pride ourselves in being the land of the free and the home of liberty.

Government, particularly the national government, should not be the central or primary organizing power of a free people.

Not only are we not governing ourselves as a free people, but we no longer think of America as a land of freedom.  Love of liberty no longer unifies us as a people.  Our original national motto E pluribus unum means little to many.

So … in light of what appears to me to be a substantial, imminent and self-induced fatal threat to our Republic, I don’t particularly care who mowed Mitt Romney’s yard or about archival copies of President Obama’s birth certificate.  Not surprisingly, Congressman Paul made the same points this past Sunday on Meet the Press.  (Hat tip to and video of  excellent responses to tough NBC interview available at The Corner here.)  I don’t think our primary solution is a better energy program spearheaded by the federal government.  Energy development and independence is important, but in the end, it’s another government project.  We need far less government and we need that U-turn immediately.

Only one presidential candidate has presented any policy proposals that address the scope and root of our impending financial disaster.  Dr. and Congressman Ron Paul’s “medicine” is strong and aggressive.  He promises a balanced budget within three years, ie before what would be his reelection.  It would not be easy or painless.  Ron Paul proposes:

SPENDING: Cuts $1 trillion in spending during the first year of RonPaul’s presidency, eliminating five cabinet departments (Energy, HUD, Commerce, Interior, and Education), abolishing the Transportation Security Administration and returning responsibility for security to private property owners, abolishing corporate subsidies, stopping foreign aid, ending foreign wars, and returning most other spending to 2006 levels. 

ENTITLEMENTS: Honors our promise to our seniors and veterans, while allowing young workers to opt out. Block grants Medicaid and other welfare programs to allow States the flexibility and ingenuity they need to solve their own unique problems without harming those currently relying on the programs.

CUTTING GOVERNMENT WASTE: Makes a 10% reduction in the federal workforce, slashes Congressional pay and perks, and curbs excessive federal travel. …

TAXES: Lowers the corporate tax rate to 15%, making America competitive in the global market. Allows American companies to repatriate capital without additional taxation, spurring trillions in new investment. Extends all Bush tax cuts. Abolishes the Death Tax. Ends taxes on personal savings …

REGULATION: Repeals ObamaCare, Dodd-Frank, and Sarbanes-Oxley. Mandates REINS-style requirements for thorough congressional review and authorization before implementing any new regulations issued by bureaucrats. President Paul will also cancel all onerous regulations previously issued by Executive Order.

MONETARY POLICY: Conducts a full audit of the Federal Reserve and implements competing currency legislation to strengthen the dollar and stabilize inflation.

Dr. Paul lists specifics, to include the numbers.  See here.  Recently, the Vision Forum gave Dr. Paul its highest grade in its analysis on how well the candidates’ proposed policies adhered to the US Constitution.  See here

Having delivered thousands of babies, Dr. Paul is also solidly pro-life.  See here and  here.    He is a strong advocate for homeschooling; his campaign states “no nation can remain free when the state has greater influence over the knowledge and values transmitted to children than the family does.”  See here and here.

Dr. Paul is not nearly as smooth or well-funded as Gov. Romney. Paul lacks Gov. Perry’s executive experience and made for the camera looks.  He has no trace of Mr. Cain’s bold rhetoric and infectious smile.  Dr. Paul has, however, diagnosed a terminal disease in this Republic and Dr. Paul is the only one promoting an adequate cure.  Further, he made and has spent his life’s energy publicizing this diagnoses.  Only now after the Bush-Obama fiscal conflagration do I appreciate the accuracy of what Ron Paul has been championing for years.

October 19, 2011

STUMBLING DOWN THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL

I have been on a whirlwind adventure the past few weeks, hopping around the country from one event to another.  It all started in Orlando, when I was honored to present a workshop for folks attending the CareNet annual conference.  My topic was timely in this coming election year – how can nonprofit charities exercise their First Amendment rights in light of the tax code and IRS regulations that restrict their ability to speak in the political sphere?  CareNet people are passionately pro-life and would love to see pro-life candidates elected.

Charities can participate in lobbying to a limited extent but are absolutely prohibited from supporting or opposing a particular political candidate.
Charities can engage in “issue advocacy,” but need to be wary of traps—candidates talk about issues and plan their campaigns around issues.  Frankly, I believe the restrictions are unconstitutional, but people need to be informed and either follow them or be prepared to litigate a test case.

I decided to make it fun – and easy (or at least easier) – to navigate the rules.  We all wear different “hats” as we move into different roles in our personal and professional lives.  I bought some party hats and gave them names:  “Freddie Free Speech” (individual citizen), “Charlie, President of Choo Choo Charities” (official representative of charity), and “Cathy Candidate” (candidate for political office).  Once you identify your “hat” and know WHO you are when you speak, you can jump into a series of familiar questions:  WHO, WHAT, WHY, WHEN, WHERE, and HOW.

WHO:  Are you speaking as an individual citizen (“Freddie”) with First Amendment rights, or as the representative of a charitable nonprofit (“Charlie”)?  Do you want to invite a candidate (“Cathy”) to speak at your charity’s event, or simply introduce a candidate who happens to attend?

WHAT:  Are you talking about a particular candidate, proposed or pending legislation, or giving a moral exhortation?  Many issues overlap the religious/moral and political spheres in today’s world.

WHY:  Are you trying to support or oppose a candidate – or legislation you want to see passed (or not)?  Are you teaching a Bible study or giving a moral exhortation about an issue like abortion that is also a controversial political issue?

WHEN:  Is it close to the time for an election, or a legislative vote?

WHERE:  Are you at an official function for a charity you represent, or writing in an official publication for the charity?  If so, you can’t remove your “hat.”  Are you away from your charity, speaking solely as an individual and not on behalf of the charity?  If so, you can put on your “free speech” hat.

HOW:  How is the communication financed?  How is it presented—does it appear that the charity is biased in favor or against a particular candidate?  Has the charity provided an unbiased public forum for candidates—or perhaps given a candidate some advantage it doesn’t offer to others?

This is “food for thought,” as the IRS restrictions require some time to digest.  I hope to write a short guide that is reasonably easy to navigate—with a touch of fun.

October 13, 2011

Fatherhood of God

Filed under: theology — Dima Kotik @ 7:42 pm

Originally published at: https://truthonly.com/en/publications/18-fatherhood.html

Last year, I published an article on the uniqueness of Christianity to show that Christianity is fundamentally unlike any other world religion or philosophy. This new essay is bringing our discussion forward to a new unique and seldom explored area of Christian faith: the fatherhood of God. Human civilization, both in the East and the West, has been so profoundly moved and changed by Christianity that this idea hardly seems novel or radical today.

Of course, the idea that deity is like a father is not a Christian invention. The Old Testament has clear references to God as the Father (Jer 31:9 and Isa 63:16). And, almost every pagan religion designates a certain deity as the father or ascribes fatherly characteristics to it. The unique contibution of Christian faith is the new revlotuionary definition of divine Fatherhood.

Divine Fatherhood Is Not By Biological Descent

(1) First, Christianity (with Judaism) uniquely claims that divine Fatherhood is spiritual and not biological (John 1:12-13, cf. John 3). The pagans often described the creation of the world as a cosmic sexual or violent encounter between deities that somehow birthed them. This provided their nation with racist caste ideology, in which the people on top were considered demigods. Pharaoh claimed that he was the “son of Ra,” Greek and Roman warlords that they were “sons of Zeus” or Saturn or Mars, and the viking pillagers that they were “sons of Odin.” The claim to divine descent was their theological justification for abuse of power and mistreatment of others due to their obvious victories granted by the favoritism of gods. To pagans, the divine fatherhood was sexual, sensual, and literal. Their gods came to earth to have sex with women and procreate.

This is where, by the way, Mohammad completely misses the boat on understanding Jesus (Surah 4:171 and 5:116, cf. Surah 72:3), thinking that Christians claimed that Mary was God’s literal wife like pagans would teach. Contrast these verses from Quran with the words of apostle John: “But to all who have received him – those who believe in his name – he has given the right to become God’s children – children not born by human parents or by human desire or a husband’s decision, but by God.” We see clearly from this verse that divine Fatherhood is spiritual and not biological and that it is a result of new birth by faith (John 3). This idea is original, Christian and only Christian.

Divine Fatherhood Is Available To All Believers

(2) Second, Christianity uniquely claims that divine Fatherhood is universally available through Christ (Mat 6:9 and Luke 11:2). Joachim Jeremias contributed the most to the study of divine Fatherhood by devoting his best effort to uncover the significance of Christ’s calling God “Abba.” In his monstrous and detailed research, Jeremias uncovers that, despite numerous descriptions of deities as fathers, there are no extant records of believing communities addressing their deity as their “father” in worship. When Christ taught his disciples to pray “Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy name,” he was turning the world upside down. Every Christian can address God as their Father!

The skeptics, of course, will claim that those words were later inventions inserted into the Bible. The burden of proof, however, still rests on them to explain how and why the early Church, being a jewish sect worshipping at the temple in Jerusalem, would so quickly and radically depart from traditional Judaism in this regard. There is no pagan syncretism in the Lord’s Prayer, which is associated with Christ before the writing of any of the books of the New Testament (Titus 3:4-7 is an early hymn) and present in the earliest liturgical texts before Constantine.

Divine Fatherhood Is The Cause Of Salvation

(3) Third, Christianity uniquely claims that divine Fatherhood is the direct cause of human salvation (Rom 8:15-17, cf. Titus 3:4-7, Gal 4:6-7). Jesus came to proclaim the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth. Jeremias argues that Christ’s addressing God as the Father is primarily connected with eschatological salvation in the context of the coming Kingdom. In plain English: Christian understanding of salvation, as it was preached by Christ, is based on the idea of inheritance. Christ preached that God the Father will establish his Kingdom on Earth, and His children will inherit it.

One of the earliest Christian writings is the book of Galatians, dating to about 45-60 A.D., reads: “But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights. And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who calls “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if you are a son, then you are also an heir through God” (Gal 4:4-7). All those who believe in Christ will inherit the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Rom 8:15-17). Inheritance is salvation attainable by faith and is universally available to everyone who believes in Christ. This idea is original, Christian and only Christian.

Conclusion

Those unique contributions to understanding of God are the result of Christ’s preaching. Before Jesus, no one knew God intimately as their Father. After Jesus, no one can claim that God is their Father unless they accept Jesus as the Son. True are the words of apostle John who said: “No one has ever seen God. The only one [Jesus], himself God, who is in closest fellowship with the Father, has made God [the Father] known [to us]” (John 1:18).

October 10, 2011

Already Compromised

Filed under: books — Anthony Biller @ 1:29 pm

“…what they don’t know is that, like the secular schools they wish to avoid, and like the majority of the great Christian institutions of higher learning of the past, many, many of the Christian schools they attend are…Already Compromised.”–Ken Ham

I recently finished reading Already Compromised by Ken Ham and Dr. Greg Hall.  Already Compromised is a follow-up title to Already Gone.  That first book disclosed poll research showing that a large percentage of children raised in conservative evangelical churches were leaving the faith and that most that leave had made up their mind to do so by high school.  The book also disclosed the surprise correlation showing that a child’s regular involvement with a Sunday school increased the risk.  See also here.  The implication was clear – we’re not doing a good job training and teaching our children.  The book was a call for churches to invest in teaching children and equip families to learn Biblical apologetics in an increasingly hostile and skeptical world.

Already Compromised takes the analysis one step further by examining the next phase of a young person’s life, college. The book analyzes a poll of 200 evangelical colleges.  The poll was again conducted by Britt Beemer of America’s Research Group.  They polled the leadership at universities and seminaries on core questions of faith and doctrine.  The leadership polled consisted of presidents, vice presidents, religion department chairs, and science department chairs.  As with Already Gone, the poll discloses some disappointing and surprising  results.

Perhaps not surprisingly, just because a college calls itself “Christian” does not mean that the school is committed to teaching all the fundamentals of the faith, particularly in the treatment of the Old Testament.  There was overwhelming support for the fundamentals of “New Testament” Christianity, ie virgin birth, Christ’s substitutionary atonement, a literal heaven and hell, the Second Coming, and the bodily Resurrection of Christ.  A large percentage of respondents however were not so committed to “Old Testament” truths, particularly in the areas of creation and the flood.  Accordingly, there was also meaningful weakness in many colleges regarding the inerrancy of scripture.

A high level take-away is to make sure you know what your colleges teach if you or your loved ones are attending an institution because they profess to be a place of Christian learning.  Beemer’s survey in Already Compromised does a good job of asking the right questions from several different perspectives to show that one has to really dig to understand what schools mean when they say they believe in the Bible.  A number of the questions show that some schools appear to engage in “newspeak.”  Buyer beware. 

One of the biggest surprises for me was in the research regarding human origins and the Book of Genesis.  One would assume that since evolutions is “Science,” as compared to the religion department, the science departments would harbor a greater percentage of skeptics regarding the creation account in Genesis and support for old earth/evolutionary theories.  Of course, one would be quite wrong.  In reviewing the survey data, Mr. Ham states, “It turns out that the science department is much more biblical in their beliefs than the religion department! … [O]nly 27 percent of people in the science department believe in nonliteral creation days.  Yet 55.6 percent of people in the religion department believe in nonliteral creation days.”  (emphasis in orig.) Schools that agree with AiG’s statement of faith are listed here.

Already Compromised is yet another call to the church to stand up, defend, and teach God’s word.  Greg Hall has an excellent chapter calling the church to apologetics arms. The books are a must read for those concerned with understanding the condition of the Church in the United States.

October 9, 2011

Kona Ironman 2011 – deja vu, but faster

Filed under: sports, video — Anthony Biller @ 10:34 pm

Craig Alexander wins no. 3 and sets course record at 8:03:56.

The Queen of Kona Chrissie Wellington wins no. 4!

Questions

Filed under: encouragement, theology — Steve Knaus @ 10:30 pm

Can I trust God for what he says?

What if it doesn’t make sense? What if God’s word goes against everything I understand? Can I still trust him?

What if God’s word makes me look foolish to others? Can I still trust him?

 

Am I close enough to God to hear him over the roar of life?

Do I hear him over the council of friends?

Do I hear him over my own prejudices? What if the answer is not what I want to hear?

 

Why do I read God’s word?

When was the last time I let it criticize me?

What did I change?

How long did the change last?

How has it helped me to serve others?

How has it helped me to serve God?

October 1, 2011

30 Minute Power Movie – Must See

Filed under: culture, video — Anthony Biller @ 11:39 pm

Hitler.  Comfort.  Finish this sentence ….  Blue mohawk.  Holocaust.

World Marathon Record Shattered

Filed under: humor, sports — Steve Knaus @ 11:09 pm

In case you missed it, the Marathon world record was broken or shattered last Sunday at the Berlin Marathon.  See here.  Patrick Makau ran to a new world record of 2:03:38.  That calculates to an average 4:43/mile pace!

You have to read the commentary on the record here!

 

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