November 30, 2007
Several years ago renowned theologian and pastor, Dr. Greg Boyd, wrote the book Satan and the Problem of Evil. This book was written to help Christians understand the requirement by God to have or allow freewill to exist in the universe. These six principles are based upon sound Christian philosophy and show the love and benevolence of God our Creator.
1. Love must be freely chosen (Freedom to choose Love). – In order for a being to choose love, they must do so according to their capacity for freewill. For example, when God created Adam and Eve he desired to have a loving relationship with his new creation. However, in order for this love to be real and genuine, he had to allow them to make that choice freely and not coerced. This decision to choose love could not be pre-program or preordained, but it must be genuinely free. If God coerced or preordained this choice, then God is being controlling or manipulative, and thus impugn God’s character. Even though the subjects would not realize they had been programed to love God, God Himself would still know that this love was not at all genuine - but rather coerced.
2. Freedom implies risk – In order for God to allow mankind the freedom to choose to either love him or sin against him, then there is an implied risk associated with this freedom. In other words, because God gave mankind the freedom of choice (freewill), then He also was aware there was an implied risk associated with this freedom. With any freedom there is an associated or inherent risk that beings could chose unwisely or wrongly. Another example is the US Constitution, although we have tremendous freedom and liberty in this country, we also have the risk of citizens making incorrect or wrong choices. This risk however is an acceptable one given the benefits of living in a democracy.
3. Risk entails responsibility – In the event a being should happen to chose erroneously, God would then act or respond responsibly. In the case of Adam and Eve, in the event they should fall (not that he had planned on them to do so) He was prepared to react responsibly by putting into effect his redemptive plan for mankind.
4. Moral Responsibility is proportionate to the potential to influence other. The easiest way to explain this principle is the greater amount of responsibility a person or being has, then that amount of responsibility is equal to or proportionate to their potential to influence others. For example, a king of a country has a tremendous amount of moral responsibility to his subjects. Because of his position of power and authority, so to is his ability to influence others. God therefore has the greatest position of moral responsibility and influence than any other being ever created. God knowing this has a responsibility to persuade or influence his creation to chose love or moral obedience over rebellion.
5. The Power to Influence is irrevocable – Once a being has the power to Influence others – whether it be for good or evil, this power is irrevocable.
6. Power of Influence is finite or limited – The best case example of this principle is God Himself. The God being a benevolent being, will never violate ones freewill because this would violate Principle No 1 – Love must require freedom. If God is all-controlling, He is not truly benevolent in his nature. Therefore, God’s ability to influence or persuade is limited because of his character. It is only limited to whom he is trying to influence or persuade. God will not influence someone to the point they can not freely choose to love or sin against him. Note: God does from time to time control or influence a persons decisions in order for his plans to be accomplished or fulfilled. These are in no way to control the persons love or hatred of God. When this does occur it is an exception and not the rule.
CASE STUDY: Lucifer and the Problem of Evil.
The following statement is made by Dr. Boyd to prove his 6 Principles when explaining the problem of the creation of Lucifer and his fall:
In short, these 6 Principles take us a long way in explaining Satan and the Problem of Evil, for Satan represents the paradigmatic case of free agent turned bad. God created Lucifer as a freewill being, for he created him with the potential to love (Principle 1). This meant that there was a risk involved in creating Lucifer (Principle 2), as there is in every free agent, for Satan’s potential to become evil and to harm others had to be proportionate to his potential to become loving and bless others (Principles 3& 4). Unfortunately, Lucifer choose an evil course that God must tolerate (Principle 5), until the power of Satan’s influence is spent (Principle 6). The incredible amount of destruction Satan has brought about in God’s creation is a testimony to the vast amount of love and benefit he could have brought had he chosen a different path. God could not have hoped for the former, however, unless he was willing to risk the latter (this is where we get the expression the good outweighs the bad).
The same principles apply to the fall of mankind. God did not predestine man to fall, but was aware of the risk in the event they did choose unwisely. In the event they did fall, he had a plan of salvation in place to rescue the human race and reconcile mankind back to the Father.
Side Note: This may also help explain why many Christian and Non-Christians alike ask the ever pressing question of “why doesn’t God just destroy Satan at the point he rebelled?” Again this would have violated the benevolence of God and would have possibly damaged God’s character with the other created beings in heaven (angels).
The war-torn nature of our cosmos reflects this tragic fall and ongoing war. Satan’s fall was catastrophic, which is ultimately why we experience catastrophic horrors in this world. Yet this fall was not altogether cataclysmic, for even in this worst case scenario God is still victorious. Though he must now operate in a terrible war zone, God’s goal of acquiring a bride cannot be thwarted. Satan and all who align themselves with him will ultimately be overthrown, and God and all who align themselves with Him will ultimately reign victorious.
This greatly grieves my heart as for years now I have come to loathe this very doctrine. I realize for some this is very strong language, but over the past couple of years I have seen what Calvinism can & will do when its taken to its logical conclusions. I am puzzled why anyone would ever think Calvinism is at all a doctrine that shows God in a loving or just light. First, understand Calvinism is not the gospel. Calvinism is nothing more than a doctrine that was developed by a couple of men - these men by no means learned at the feet of Christ, but yet many to this day treat Calvin with more honor than Paul or any of the apostles. There have been times when one would think these men stepped out from heaven himself. But one needs to dig deep to truly see just what type of lives the Reformers truly lived.
Not too many people are aware that John Calvin is responsible for the murder of a fellow reformer by the name of Michael Servetus. On Oct. 27, 1553. John Calvin, along with his good friend Guillaume (William) Farel took part in a heinous crime against an Italian Reformer, Michael Servetus. The rift between Calvin and Servetus started several years earlier when they had a dispute over the doctrine of the Trinity. Calvin and Servetis had many heated exchanges over the years. Calvin , man noted for his veracity in debating others was once quoted as saying of Servetus; "If he [Servetus] comes [to Geneva], I shall never let him go out alive if my authority has weight." STOP! Before we go any further let me ask you this, are these the words of a man who is a follower of Christ and filled with God's Holy Spirit? Calvin is basically saying that because someone does not agree with another persons doctrine or theology he hopes to put this man to death?! Is this an action of a Christian ever mentioned in the scriptures? What does God command when we have a theological difference with someone who is spreading false doctrine? Kill them? Imprison them? Take them before a court?
"He [the elder] must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach -- and that for the sake of dishonest gain" (Titus 1:9-11).Sadly, in August of 1553 Servetus journeyed through Geneva and was spotted and immediately arrested. Several months later Servetus was put on trial and then executed. Here is what was written about his execution. Please note the cruelty by which the Reformers murdered this man and note the comments made by Calvin's good friend William Farel during the execution:
It gets even worse.......
Two other famous episodes involvin Calvin concerned Jacques Gruet and Jerome Bolsec. Gruet, a Libertine and Atheist, had written letters critical of the Consistory and, more serious, petitioned the Catholic king of France to intervene in the political and religious affairs of Geneva. With Calvin's concurrence he was beheaded for treason. Bolsec publicly challenged Calvin's teaching on predestination, a doctrine Bolsec, with many others, found morally repugnant. Banished from the city in 1551, he revenged himself in 1577 by publishing a biography of Calvin that charged him with greed, financial misconduct, and sexual aberration."(The Age of Reformation 1250-1550, pp. 368,369)
Did you see how the author here tries to somehow justify the murder of Michale Servetus. It almost seems it was right for Calvin to murder Servetus because of how fabulous Calvin turned out in life! Servetus was merely like a burned out "meteor" compared to the greatness of John Calvin - clearly he deserved such a fiery death! Folks, this is nothing more than person trying desperately to justify the murderous actions of a darkened individual. God judges the heart of men, not their "legacy". I am sorry, one can only conclude from this evidence that John Calvin's heart was darkened, and not enlightened. Is this really the person we want to obtain spiritual truths from - not to mention an entire doctrinal system? Can such a man even hear from God? What does God's word say about murders:
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually
immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars -- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death" (Rev. 21:8).
"We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, 'I know him,' but does not do what he commands is a liar and the truth is not in him" (1 Jn. 2:3,4).
"And you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding [continuing] in him" (1 Jn. 3:15, NKJV).
We clearly see that Calvin was not at all repentant over the murder of Servetus, but its as if he was proud of this act. From this statement alone we see into the cold heart of a bitter and vicious man - clearly not the reflection of Christ.
This is just ONE of the reasons why I will never be a Calvinist and i will do everything in my power to see to it this doctrine is exposed for what it truly is - false! I could go on about the issues I have with the doctrine of Calvinism. I could also go on about the hatred Martin Luther had for the Jews, I could share with you the Reformers heartless persecution and murders of the Anabaptist and Waldensians. But God will judge what type of men the reformers truly were. Can truth come from such darkness? Could God's Spirit work with such darkened hearts? Personally speaking I hope many who will read this will begin to question the foundations of their doctrine and where they came from. The truths of God have existed long before John Calvin came along, and it is our responsibility to (not John Calvin's) for us to read and discern for OURSELVES the truths of God. Jesus asked if we could discern the weather from just looking at the clouds in the sky, if so then we could understand the truths of God. Then I would pray and ask that you begin to truly examine your beliefs and examine the scriptures without the presuppositions of John Calvin or Martin Luther - as we have seen there can be no Light from the darkness.....
November 28, 2007
not at all. My concern is how much emphasis the church is placing on "experience" rather then worship.
Ravi seemed to have really nailed it for me this morning. He essentially says that if we get down to it worship is a form of communication between us and God (or at least that's what it should be). Historically, the Bible shows us that worship is a response to God and often God will respond to us through worship as well - we clearly see this with the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Therefore, if worship is indeed defined as communication, communication then is defined by two primary elements - substance & form. In order for proper communications to occur between two parties there needs to be a subject matter (substance) and a form or method by which to convey or express this information (speech, writing, etc). According to Ravi, when individuals properly worship God there needs to be both a substance and a form.
However, Ravi said over the past couple of years he has observed a serious dilemma within the church. He brings up the fact that the church within the past 15-20 years has somehow made worship synonymous with music. Granted, music is only one form of communication with God, but there seems to be this concept that this is in of itself is worship. Ravi poignantly makes his point by saying "Music is a way (or form) to worship, but music without teaching (knowledge) is only celebration without substance"! WOW! What a true statement! As I heard this statement I think how hard worship leaders these days try to invoke some mood or experience in order to get people to worship God. In fact a lot of times what we are really doing is as Ravi stated is just having a celebration without substance or knowledge.
Again, we can not truly love that which we do not know. This is logically impossible. Therefore, if people are being prodded into a "celebration" rather than true worship, then just as Ravi has stated, we are just making a lot of noise that has no substance. This can not be pleasing to the Lord. In order for people to truly worship God, we need not try to further fine tune the music, the lights, the sound system, we need not add another smoke machine or better lights, what people really need is knowledge of who Jesus really is. They need the substance that Ravi is speaking of - that substance is the truth of the Gospel and the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Once a person has this - they will have no problem "worshipping" at the feet of our Savior! This is where I think the modern day church is failing miserably. We no longer see the depth of teaching we once use to see so many years ago. How can we?! No longer are the days of feeding Christians real spiritual meat, but we would
rather feed them pabulum so that we may not offend the "seeker" crowd. To know God is to Love God. Let us pray that more people will be able to obtain more substance that will lead to real worship.
November 27, 2007
Scientist: Robert Gentry
Total Running Time: 33 Min
I have to give credit here to my good friend Bruce for coming up with this questionnaire. Take a few minutes to answer these questions and you might be surprised in how you answer!
True or False?
In grace, God grants humans significant freedom to accept or reject His desires and plans for their life.
God enters into authentic, give and take relationships with us.
The Christian life involves genuine interaction between God and human beings.
We respond to God's gracious initiatives and God responds to our responses.
God is endlessly resourceful and competent in working toward his ultimate goals. Nothing can thwart His plans.
Sometimes God alone decides how to accomplish His goals. On most occasions however, God works with human decisions, adapting his own plans in response to our free will.
God does not control everything that happens. Rather, he is open to receiving input from his creatures. In loving dialogue, God invites us to participate with him to bring the future into being.
God can alter his course, and at times, does so in response to our prayers and actions.
It is God’s desire that we know and love Him.
God desires all to be saved, but our eternal destiny is up to us.
If you have a significant amount of “Yes” answers, then you are a functioning Open Theist. You may not mentally ascribe to the theology, but you live and think as though you do.
As a 7-8 year boy I would sit and watch my dad twist dials intently trying to catch the right frequency in order to speak with some foreign land that we only dreamed of visiting. Before digital technology, these radios required precise tuning by the operator to get the right frequency of the person you were trying to speak to in this distant land. Often I would listen to my dad speak to someone in Puerto Rico or Nova Scotia and even Europe. This required both operators to be on the same frequency to obtain an open channel by which to communicate. If one of the operators were between channels, then the reception was very poor or even lost.
This all came to mind for me this morning as I was reading in James chapt 5.
James 5:14-18: Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: (15) and the prayer of faith shall save him that is sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, it shall be forgiven him. (16) Confess therefore your sins one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working. (17) Elijah was a man of like passions with us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth for three years and six months. (18) And he prayed again; and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.
As I read this several things ran through my mind. I thought to myself "Does God have a certain frequency by which he hears our prayers?". From these verses it would seem he does. James advises his readers that in the event a fellow believer is sick to make sure that for one, the elders prays over the person who is afflicted and anoint them with oil. Why elders? Why not just anyone in the church? Early in the church a sign that someone was qualified to be an elder was not how many years they had been in the church , but it was rather distinct qualifications as we see in Titus 1:7-9:
Tit 1:7-9 (7) For the elder must be blameless, as God's steward; not self-willed, not soon angry, no brawler, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; (8) but given to hospitality, a lover of good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled; (9) holding to the faithful word which is according to the teaching, that he may be able to exhort in the sound doctrine, and to convict the gainsayers.
We clearly see one of the main qualifiers for being an Elder was to be "Blameless, a lover of good, holy and self-controlled". These are words my friends that are rarely used any more in the church to describe an Elder. As a matter of fact, I once was told by a leader in a church that being holy and blameless was impossibility. Sadly, this person had believed in a lie that all men are unable to be holy or blameless - however this is a direct contradiction of God's word. Nonetheless, we see James asking that men who are established in their faith and have exhibited a life that is holy and blameless to come and pray over the sick. Does this really make a difference when we pray for someone that is ill or sick? According to the Word of God the answer here is Yes! James clearly makes his point further, in order to be heard by God we must approach His throne with a clean hands and clean heart (v16). Just as in the days of the Holy Temple, priests were to never approach God's mercy seat with unless they were clean - spiritually and physically. This is too is a foreshadowing of the new covenant with Jesus - nothing has really changed that much. In order for God to hear us we need to be on His "frequency" - God's only frequency by which he will truly hear us is a clean and holy heart!
The last verse however is the part of this verse that really has the greatest impact for me. James says that the prayers of a "righteous man availeth or accomplishes much". Is this saying that the prayers that come before the throne of God from a righteous man are more likely to be heard or answered? Yes! In verse 17 we see a small example given by James in the example of Elijah, whereby Elijah prayed for it not to rain and it did not rain for 3 years. Was this just a coincidence? Not at all. If we know anything about Elijah we know he was a man of tremendous faith and he was truly righteous & holy before the Lord. In so much that he was even present during the transfiguration of Jesus. So we clearly see from James that God indeed has a "frequency" by which he will hear our prayers - its to be holy and blameless motivated by our Love for God and his son Jesus! For those that say Christians can continue to sin in word thought and deed everyday and still be righteous is an insult and a contradiction to the character of the Lord. In order to be heard by God our lives must be on the same frequency as His, so what frequency are you on? Let us live our lives out of supreme love and motivation for our God so that we may be holy and blameless in his sight - then we can have an open and clear channel by which to talk to our Father in Heaven!
November 25, 2007
Next we have Richard Roberts, the President of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa OK. We now have learned that he and his wife have had some serious spending habits with University funds. His wife alone is claimed to have had a $39,000 shopping spree in just 1 store! Not to mention use of the University jet to send his daughter to the Bahamas or Jamaica for a Senior Trip.
But what grieves my heart before the Lord is that we see the corporate church continuing to do the same thing over and over again, but still expecting a different result in these matters - this is the definition of insanity. Granted I know I'll get the comments that "we are not to look towards men, but towards God as our example" and indeed this is true. However, if I were to walk up to even the most unrepentant sinner on the street and ask them how a Christian should act and behave I will probably get a better definition from them than I would from the corporate church. Instead , we see the church covering up and doing serious damage control so as not to harm the "marketability" of their establishment.
Sadly, the church as turned into a multi-billion dollar business and is exhibiting the same signs and actions of the corporate business world. Again, we have a so called "men of God" acting in a fashion that is no different than the greedy likes of former and now jailed CEO, Dennis Kozlowski of Tyco fame or Enron CEO Kenneth Lay. We have pastors who are behaving just as sexually immoral as the likes of Britney Spears or Paris Hilton. But the bigger question is why are we seeing this? In an age when per capita there are more churches in this country than ever before? Paul gave us some clear ideas as to why this will occur 2 Timothy 3:1-7.
2Ti 3:1-7 But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. (2)For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money,boastful, haughty,railers,disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,(3) without natural affection,implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, (4)traitors, headstrong,puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; (5) holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away. (6) For of these are they that creep into houses, and take captive silly women laden with sins, led away by divers lusts, (7) ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
The key phrase I want to focus on here is "holding to a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof". Paul here is talking about a form doctrine that has denied "power" to do something. We will see in the last days a doctrine that will hold a form of godliness but we can distinguish it from the real gospel by what it doesn't do. So what is the difference? Being without sin! The true gospel is that we are no longer a slave to sin, but we have been set free from its strongholds, and have been freed and are now slaves of righteousness:
Rom 6:5-6 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection; (6) knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him, that the body of sin might be done away, that so we should no longer be in bondage to sin;
Many preach a gospel that says these verses mean we are freed from the consequences
of sin (Hell) and that we can continue to be sinful. But this is not at all true! If we read further in Romans 6 we see Paul explains this further:
Rom 6:12-14 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey the lusts thereof: (13) neither present your members (body) unto sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves unto God, as alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. (14) For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under law, but under grace
Clearly, Paul is telling us from these two books that a person who is truly saved will no longer allow sin to continue to control their mortal bodies. That in the last days, we will begin to see a doctrine preached that will look & sound like the gospel and even have an essence of godliness. But one will be able to tell the difference by what it lacks. Righteousness! One of the most powerful weapons Satan has in his arsenal is the distortion of theology! We are beginning to see the evidence of this during these troubled times, when churches preach a "me-centered" gospel. It is sadly evident that many churches today have forsaken their first love and have loved another - themselves. Again, when will this insanity stop and realize we are crushing God's heart.