Monday, May 30, 2011

What is evil?

Everyone struggles with evil.  Everyone has been wronged, cheated, or hurt.  Everyone has wronged, cheated, or hurt someone else.  Evil is guaranteed to be an aspect of human life.

But what exactly is evil?  Is evil a substance?  Is it tangible?  Can we lay hold of it, and lift it up in our hands and say, "Here it is!  Here is evil!"?

The answer of course is no, and I think everyone would agree on this too.

So what is evil, if it's not a "stuff?"

Blindness is a lack of sight.  A tooth cavity isn't a thing either, it's also a lack of something, a lack of enamel.  Likewise evil is a lack of something; it's a lack of goodness in the will of a creature.

Defining evil in this manner can be a good Christian apologetic tool, because it shows that evil did not originate with God.  God created the world and its creatures "good."  Evil is a lack of goodness in the will of humanity.  So think of the cavity, a hole in a tooth, a lack of enamel; that's what evil is like, a hole in humanities' will, a lack of the goodness within man.

This way of defining evil is also useful because it makes the existence of evil dependent on the existence of good.  Also, how can we have a good or evil unless there is an absolute good with which to measure goodness?  If there isn't a transcendent God, then all goodness and evil is merely subjective.  All we have is humans judging each others' morals.  To even begin to speak of evil, there must be good, and there must be God. 

Of course, this definition falls short with the Bible's explanation of sin and evil.  Evil is much more active than a lack of goodness.  It's more than an inactive hole.  Our sinful nature is described as being active and waging war against our souls.  Despite its shortcomings in this area, using this definition of evil can still proof to be a helpful apologetic tool for the Christian. 


Friday, May 27, 2011

Is it Ok for Christians to Have Doubts?

A student of mine wanted to write an apologetics paper on the role or place of doubts in the life of a Christian.  He wanted to find an answer to the question, "Is it OK for Christians to have Doubts?"

His conclusion after reading non-Christian and Christian sources was that one will still be saved even if that person doubts his or her salvation in Christ. 

Here were his arguments:

1. Doubting your salvation is actually good!  Doubting leads one to grow spiritually and intellectually, because a doubter will want to know the answer for the doubt, and through the research can increase trust or connection with the subject he or she had doubt.  For Scriptural support, he cited 2 Cor. 13:5. 

2.  There is no reason to doubt your salvation.  Doubts show a lack of understanding, but God has revealed all that we need to know for our salvation.  "These things I have written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God" (1 John 5:13). 

3.  Salvation is important to any religion and every religion includes doubts as an important step to reach their goals.  Overcoming doubt in Hinduism is an important step to reaching moksha.  Buddhism calls for believers to overcome their religious doubts.  His conclusion here was, "It is important to know how other religions take care of this problem because by knowing those religions, one can increase interactions with other religious beleivers and convince them to become Christian since it is easier for people to move towards Christ if they know that they can still have doubts and be a Christian."  It thought this was an interesting point.  Other religions require a person to overcome doubts for salvation.  Christianity allows a believer to still have doubts.  It's a more inviting offer. 

4.  God will always love you and tries to save you even if you are unfaithful to Him.  2 Timothy 2:13 says, "If we are faithless, he [God] remains faithful - for he cannot deny himself."  Luke 11:10 says, "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened."  The student concluding this point by quoting John 3:16 and saying, "Even though we have sinned too much that we should be eternally separated from Him and put to death, He still saved us and took our punishment upon himself." 

The final conclusion was "you will still be saved even if you doubt your salvation as doubting is an integral part of growing faith in God and trust in the Bible, which is the only source that answers questions beyond our natural knowledge.  This student also stated that this research has "made it easier for me to invite more people to Christ because Christianity is the only religion that only requires faith for salvation, while still allowing a person to be saved even if they have doubts." 

I'll keep the student's name anonymous, but I'd also like to share that he is a Japanese international student. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Are we Good?

This is a video entitled, "Are we Good?", posted by One Minute Apologist.

I meet pluralists, deists, atheists, and agnostics a lot who on the UCI's campus who have this notion that all that matters in this life is being "good."  They usually don't have a problem with us being on UCI's campus sharing our Christian faith, well mostly because we're handing out free coffee, but also because they think it's all "good" what we're doing, as long it makes us better, more loving people.  Just last night someone shared that "all the religions are basically 99% the same, they promote good morals and ethics!"  I agreed that all religions had a moral code of conduct, but that divine redemption within Christianity was a big difference. I've even met people who claim to be Christians and Muslims who have boiled life done to just being good, and God will save those who are good. 

These conversations really made me interested in knowing what One-Minute had to share on this topic, since a lot of my conversations are short and in passing as people get a Cup of Joe. 

I'm slightly disappointed in the video, but how can I be when my last post was advocating, the simple, straight-forward sharing of Law and Gospel as a great witnessing and apologetic tool.  So if you want deep and profound answers, don't look to this video.  If you want to hear what the Bible says on this issue, go no further.

I personally liked this comment I saw shared on this video, "If you made something and didn't like it, you'd throw it in the trash and make something new. but God offered us a way to be redeemed through Jesus Christ. Jesus bless you."  Yes!!! Love it. 

Alright, so I'd love to get feedback on how you would respond to the "Are we Good?" question, or the "We are Good!" statement. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Just share the Gospel - Apologetics

The pastor at my church's church gathering this Sunday said that many Christians are scarred to witness (testify) to their faith. 

I think a lot of this comes down to fear of not knowing what to say, to not having the right answers or the right arguments.  There can be some validity to that, but I don't think Christians need to know all the arguments against every objection to Christianity.  I'm writing this for Christians right now, by the way.

Why should a Christian be required to fully know all the ins and outs of current scientific research and theories, or the history of every religion in the world, or a great response to every objection to the Bible? 

What we are required to know is Jesus!  We need to know Jesus, which means knowing the four gospels, what Jesus taught and did.  Every Christian knows Jesus!  The good news of Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection has the power to save someone.  Our clever arguments do not save people, and when has a person ever become a Christian because they lost the argument.  Ultimately, it's hearing the Gospel that brings conversion. 

One might ask, is sharing the Gospel truly defending the faith?  Yea, in most cases; it is.  Romans 1:16 "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes." 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Macho Man, Randy Savage, Stops The Rapture

Everyone knew that the rapture prediction for yesterday was wrong - at least they should have all known.  If you want to know what Jesus said about the end of of this age, I suggest reading Matthew 24.  The entire chapter is devoted to signs of the end of the age.  In verse 36 Jesus says, "No one knows about that day or hour, no even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."  So if some guy named Harold Camping comes along claiming it's the end - it's not going to happen.

Harold had some sort of formula he claims he got from Scripture to get the May 21st date.  What he didn't count on was the Macho Man, Randy Savage, dying the day before.  I'm a firm believer that a lot of the stuff we do for fun in this life, will also be done for fun in heaven, as long as its not a sin, of course.  Maybe wrestling is a sin, but I don't think so.  Randy was so excited to be heaven (I'm not sure his religious beliefs, but let's just say he was so excited to be heaven), that the first thing he wanted to do with Jesus was have a wrestling match.  "Oh, yea!"  And incidentally, the Macho Man stopped the Rapture.  No one knows the time of Christ's return and no one can predict it. 

"Oh, Yea!  Slam into a Slim Jim!"

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One Minute Apologist Video #1

One Minute Apologist looks at the Bible and the Qur'an - which is the Word of God?  Obviously, neither could the Word of God, but because of contradictions, the both can't be the Word of God.

Here's a summary of the short video:

They both can’t be true.

Historically establish that Jesus predicted his violent death and that he died a violent death, then Bible must be correct and not the Qur’an.  If he didn’t die a violent death, then the Qur’an would be correct on that point, however it would be wrong on Jesus being a prophet, because Jesus predicted he would die a violent death, but he did not.  Catch 22.  

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Broken, Beat, and Scarred - Why does God allow suffering?

"Broken, beat, and scarred.  We die hard.  What doesn't kill us, makes us more strong.  We rise, we fall, we get up again.  What doesn't kill us makes us more strong.  Broken, beat, and scarred.  We die hard!!!"

Some pretty intense lyrics if we think about them.  They come from the Metallica song, "Broken, beat, and scarred".

When I read the writings of the apostle Paul and hear about his flogging, stonings, and imprisonments, I think that I surely haven't suffered much for my Christian faith.  Despite all of Paul's persecution's he kept rising up again.  Forget John McClaine - The Apostle Paul knew what it meant to "Die Hard".  I have not yet shed blood for my faith in Jesus in Christ.  I might never do so, but the words of Paul still ring true for me and all of us when he says that suffering produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character, hope.  And hope doesn't disappoint us. 

But I know I complain a lot about my present sufferings.  I think most of us do.  But here, coming from Metallica, I am reminded that what doesn't kill us makes us more strong.  I think of Paul when he said, "When I am weak, I am strong."  When he's weak, he has no choice but to cling to God!  When he is holding on to God, then he is strong. 

One complaint against Christianity is the problem of evil and suffering in the world.  It's easy to say "what doesn't kill us makes us more strong" when it's simple sufferings, broken arm a bad breakup, but what about genocide, rape, a four-year old with cancer.  We tend to want to wave our fist at God!  What's your problem???  Why didn't you stop this.  We can't see the good that can come from it.  What loving Father would allow such a thing to his children - stronger - yea right! 

The answer lies in Jesus.  Being God, perfect and sinless, he still suffered.  He suffered on our behalf, because of our shortcomings.  It lies in God's patience with us!  Does he want pain and suffering for us - no!  But he allows it.  If he were to intervene now, what would that mean for everyone who doesn't know him.  He is patient in his return, waiting for more people to come to repentance?  It's his will that no man should eternally perish - sadly, we are set to face a physical death as our exodus from this life.  The answer won't satisfy everybody and I hope and pray that I stand firm in the faith and trust God's plan of redemption when the worst of the worst hits my life. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What about the saintly people of other religions?

Christianity is certainly exclusive.  Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ.  Outside of faith in Christ, there isn't salvation.  This rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and I'll be honest, on some days when I think about people I know who are outside of the Christian faith, it upsets me quite a lot too! Click on the topic pertaining to the unevangelized in the blog topics section to some more general answers the problem of the unevangelized and the problem of hell.

Springing from the position of exclusivity comes the argument of the "saintly" people of other religions.  The Buddha had his act together and led many people away from self-centered desires and into enlightenment.  The Dali Lama...come on... that guys more peaceful than Christians who follow the Prince of Peace.  Ghandi...he led non-violent revolutionary protests in India, sparked from reading Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.  Do all the "saintly" people of the other religions in the world go to hell, just because they don't believe in Jesus Christ?

Check out the following trailer for Rob Bell's book Love Wins.  I think he's asking basically the same question about Ghandi and about Christian exclusivity?  

So what about the saintly people of other religions?

Christianity is not a religion about human works.  It's a relationship with the God who stepped down from heaven and did the works required for salvation for us, because we are incapable of doing the perfect works required of us by God.  So, our works don't save us.

These "saintly" people were good in the world's eyes, not in God's.  In God's eyes, we're all sinners deserving his wraith, unless we have faith in Christ or bore that wraith on our behalf.

Following a set of morals and ethics doesn't make a religion true.

And lastly, Bell is off in his presentation in this video.  He's casting questions and doubts trying to raise conversation centered on Christ.  If people mistakenly misinterpret the Gospel as he says, to believe that it is about God having to save us from himself, then he should supply the answer in the video instead of letting it hang as if that's the truth, or that Christians have it all wrong, because Christians don't have it wrong.  The Gospel isn't saving us from God, it's always been God saving us from ourselves, from our sinfulness, and that is through Christ, and that is how all people come to salvation.

Jesus is the Savior of the Buddhist, of the Hindu, of the Jew, of the Muslim, of the atheist, and etc.  To receive that salvation, a person must have faith in him. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Universe #2 - Natural Explanations for the Universes Existence

Clearly the Big Bang Theory and the Law of Entropy dictate a starting point to the universe.  An eternal, all-powerful God is the best explanation for the cause of the universe's existence. 

God doesn't have to be the only explanation for the universe's origin.  There are natural explanations. 

1. The universe could have created itself. 

However this isn't a very good explanation is it?  How could something exist before existed in order to create itself.  That's like saying I existed before my conception and conceived myself.  That's just not plausible. 

2.  The universe could have popped into existence from nothing!

However, when has this ever occurred?  From nothing, nothing comes. 

3.  The universe could have sprang from another universe, like a multiverse that produces more universes. 

That's great in speculation.  It's mere theory.  Is this at all observable?  Is there any date to support this?  Not that I know of.  And does this really solve the God dilemma?  Nope.  This explanation still doesn't account for the origin of the first universe. 

4.  The universe is eternal.  

We're back to the first post now!  This explanation goes against the Law of Entropy, a law, not a theory, and it goes against the Big Bang Theory too. 

Any other natural explanations?

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Universe #1

The Big Bang Theory hypothesizes that the universe had a singular beginning.  This theory is derived from the observations that the universe is outwardly expanding in all directions. 

The Law of Entropy, a scientific law, not just a theory, shows that the universe is in a non-reversible state of decay.  Energy is being dissipated throughout the universe.  It will come a time when the universe turns cold, that everywhere is the exact same temperature.  When this happens, the universe, essentially, will be dead.  This law shows that the universe is not eternal. 

The Big Bang Theory and the Law of Entropy working together clearly show the universe to have an origin.  We cannot make believe that the universe is eternal and has always existed.  What could have came before the origin of the universe?   From nothing, nothing comes, so there must have been something before the universe's beginning. Something must have existed before the universe, right?