Tag Archives: Christianity

Responding to an Atheist

This link is to a blog post where an atheist lists 5 reasons why he does not believe in God.  Below is my response:

I’m afraid this is going to be long, but I want to address your 5 points.

  1. “I can be good without God.” First, you are confusing epistemology with ontology. That you know right and wrong and can behave does not mean you can justify your Goodwithoutgod2.pngstandard of morality. Of course you, as an atheist, can behave. But, where do you get your standard to determine what is proper and improper behavior? Without a transcendent source, you have no way to justify your morality. Your morality is all based on personal preference. If you then say that morality is defined by the culture, then you are obeying an external moral code forced on you even though you don’t like the idea of a motivational force behind a system of morality. That Goodwithoutgod1culturally mandated morality, however, is also fickle and subject to the whims of the majority. Atheists can be good without God, but the question remains, Why? Secondly, you have a wrong understanding of Christianity. Christianity is not about following a set of rules to earn salvation. It is about the free gift of forgiveness for our sins because of what Jesus did on the cross. This free gift of salvation is offered to those who surrender their lives to God. This surrender then leads to obedience. But, obedience is not for God’s sake; it is for our sake. Sin is destructive to us. God seeks our good; obedience leads to our good.

  2. “The Bible is not enough evidence.” Your point is a bit confusing. I think your objection to the existence of God is because you consider the Bible unreliable. Where is your proof that the Bible is unreliable? How did you come to that Mathmiraclesconclusion? What do you mean by “evidence?” What kind of evidence are you willing to accept? You asserted that “There is no way to prove that the miracles in the Bible are true.” How did you come to that conclusion? As historical events, miracles are amenable to scrutiny like any other historical event using the tools of the discipline of history. So, we can know whether the recorded miracles in the Bible are reliable. You stated “The gospels may just be the writers’ interpretation of what God wants to say but not necessarily what He means.” You have a misunderstanding of the intent of the Gospels. They were not written to convey “what God wants to say.” Instead, the Gospel writers intended their writings to be considered eyewitness accounts. Luke wrote in Luke 1:1–4 “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” Luke is a first-rate historian who wrote the Gospel of Luke as recorded history. You cannot simply dismiss the truth claims in the Gospel accounts because you think they can be subjected to many different interpretations.

  3. “I have unanswered questions.” You have not coherently stated your unanswered questions. Do you really reject the existence of God because people believe that we are important to God? That seems a rather silly objection. Also, why should applying “human” attributes to God cause you to deny his existence? How else Image of god.jpgcould we relate to and describe God if not using familiar terms? What you are not considering is the Christian understanding of God. Christians describe God as a Trinity, three persons in one being. That certainly is not a human attribute. Also, Genesis 1 describes God creating mankind in his image, so why should you be surprised if men and God have similar attributes? You do not seem to have thought this objection through. God is beyond our comprehension, that is why he came to earth as God the Son in the person of Jesus. If there is a God that is omnipotent, omniscient, and infinite, don’t you think he would be able to figure out how to communicate his existence and attributes to us?

  4. “I went too far in the religious spectrum.” I am not sure what you mean by this. Is what you mean by “too far” that you have entered the religion of atheism, so now that is too far to come back to a belief in God? What made you question God’s existence? Did you not get adequate answers for your doubts? What were those doubts? Why do you assume we cannot know anything about God? Your position is self-refuting. By saying God is “incomprehensible” you are saying that you know Religious Spectrum.jpgsomething about God, which means that he is not incomprehensible. A self-refuting statement cannot possibly be true. God is personal and knowable. God is not just a simple solution to a paradox that we do not understand. He is a necessary Cause. Edwin Hubble discovered evidence of an expanding universe; therefore, the universe must have had a beginning. Anything that begins to exist must have a cause. Therefore, the universe must have a cause. This Cause must be eternal, immaterial, personal, intelligent, omnipotent because this Cause was outside of time, chose to create matter out of nothing. The Big Bang means that God is necessary.

  5. “It’s simply a choice.” You assert “There is no evidence that proves or disproves the existence of God.” What do you mean by “prove?” How much evidence is enough? “Proving” the existence of God is not like doing a mathematical equation that can be completed with absolute certainty. As an attorney, I make reasonable conclusions all the time based on evidence. The standard used in making reasonable conclusions is never “proof beyond all doubt.” Just reading your post, it is clear that you reached your atheist conclusion based on flimsy evidence. You did not require proof beyond all doubt to reject the existence of God, so requiring that standard to prove God’s existence would be a bit dishonest. We don’t need choice.jpgthousands of years to determine if God exists. There are compelling arguments and evidence right now. Lastly, you insist no one should impose his beliefs on anyone else. Again that is self-refuting. You are making an imposition that demands no one make impositions. Also, by what standard do you say someone should not be disrespectful? Who says? Why are you forcing that morality on others? Do you see what you are doing there? You are imposing a moral code that demands no one imposes a moral code. Atheism has no mechanism to account for morality so it has to borrow (steal) from Christianity in order to provide a coherent, peaceable world. Wouldn’t you rather follow the Source of morality than follow an atheist religion that has to borrow and steal in order to have a moral code? One thing you did get right is that it is a choice. But, it is a choice with eternal consequences. After all, there are only two kinds of people in this world: one who says to God “Your will be done” and is guaranteed an eternal life of infinite goodness; and one to whom God says “Your will be done” and is granted his wish to be in eternity away from anything that is good.
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Leaping to Embrace the Faith of Lady Gaga

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Recently, I read an article about Lady Gaga’s “radical faith.”  The author of the article extolled her for standing up for “her faith in Jesus, and for every person Jesus related to.”  The author assumed she is a Christian, but then curiously relegated Christianity somewhere beneath the “Gospel.”

Before extolling Lady Gaga’s bravery for standing up for her faith, perhaps we should delve into what her faith really is.  We are commanded to test the spirits to see if they are of God. I John 4:1.  First, her “radical faith” appears to begin with some form of Catholicism. lady-gaga-instagram Lady Gaga, born as Stefani Germanotta, posted a picture on Instagram of her with her priest.  She lauded his homily and highlighted a quote she connected with.  Her priest supposedly said “The Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but the food that God gives us.”  This comment is somewhat silly and does not come near describing the spiritual significance of the Eucharist.

Jesus first instituted this event just before his crucifixion and resurrection.  He used part of the Passover Seder to memorialize his sacrifice that was for the remission of our sins.  See Matthew 26:26-29 and Luke 22:19-20.  The Eucharist is about remembering Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection that our sins necessitated.  It is not about “the food God gives us.”  Lady Gaga’s priest either taught it wrong, or Lady Gaga misunderstood what he said.  Either way the comment and her approval of it demonstrate, at best, an immaturity in Christian doctrine.

What about what Lady Gaga says about her faith?  She said she believes in Jesus.  Mere belief in the existence of Jesus, however, is not enough to have a saving faith.  A saving faith is one that confesses with the mouth that Jesus is LORD and believes in the heart that God raised Jesus from the dead. Romans 10:9.  Making Jesus LORD of one’s life goes beyond saying “I believe in Jesus.”  It requires a surrender of our thinking and our behavior.  We agree with Jesus about our sin and our need for a savior.

James said that mere confession is nice.  Even the demons believe in Jesus, but they are smart enough to tremble. James 2:19.  James stated that a confession of faith is useless unless there are works that prove a true confession. James 2:20.

Can we know if Lady Gaga has a true confession?  Isn’t that judging, and aren’t we supposed to avoid judging?  These questions, you’ve probably all heard, and perhaps uttered, betray a misunderstanding of scripture.  Matthew 7:1 is offered in isolation, usually by people who have not read any other part of Scripture, in order to condemn “judging.”  They fail to read the entire chapter to where Jesus warned us to be discerning (i.e. to judge) when people come to us with doctrines that are false.  “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:19-20.

We can often know if someone has a true confession. True confession is accompanied by good works.  Also, someone’s belief in their heart can be measured by the things they say.  Jesus said “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Luke 6:45.

What are some things Lady Gaga has said that indicates what is in abundance in her heart?  She said “I am spiritual, I pray.”  A lot of people are spiritual. Hindus are spiritual.  Atheists are spiritual, although they would deny it.  Praying may indicate an inclination to the spiritual, but to whom does she pray?  What does she pray about?  Being religious or spiritual does not make one right with God.

She said that all religions, which presumably includes Christianity, teach hate.  She laments that all religions practice bigotry against racial groups, other religious groups, even sexual groups.  “I’m a very religious woman who is confused about religion.”  Even the most mature Christian has questions about the faith from time to time.  However, Lady Gaga’s confession demonstrates she really hasn’t considered the truth of Christianity.  She seems to be forging her own spiritual path that includes only what is convenient.

Lady Gaga goes gaga for gay rights in Washington DC

She is a loud voice for the championing of homosexual behavior.  Her song “Born This Way” is an ode to the lie that homosexuality is an inherent, natural trait.  It celebrates the sin of loving a “different lover” but insists it’s not a sin because “God makes no mistakes.”

She used the example of the woman caught in adultery to show that Jesus loves and protects people and does not judge them. She misunderstands Jesus.  Jesus demonstrated love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, he died for us. But, he had to die because of our sin.  That is a pretty serious indictment on mankind.  Our sin cost us the death of God the Son.  Lady Gaga’s understanding of Jesus does not seem to grasp him in his totality. Jesus didn’t just love the woman caught in adultery.  He did in fact “judge” her by recognizing her sin.  What Lady Gaga left out was Jesus saying to the woman “Go and sin no more.”

The love of Jesus did not leave the woman caught in adultery unchanged. In fact, it is the love of Jesus that compels our change.   Yes, Jesus offers forgiveness, and his blood paid for it.  But what I did not read in the comments from Lady Gaga or in the article by Carlos Rodriguez was the word “repentance.”  There is no forgiveness without repentance.  Repentance is agreeing with God about the nature of our sin.  Repentance sees our sin for the wickedness that it is.

The pastor who wrote the article misses the mark in trying to embrace the “radical faith” of a celebrity.  He warns us not to question her faith because Jesus “said to focus on the log in our eye and not the splinter in Gaga’s.”  This pastor, who admits his confusion about religion and insists the “Gospel” and Christianity are different, ignored the point Jesus was making.  This pastor paraphrases Matthew 7:3-4 without finishing Jesus’ thought.  In verse 5 Jesus said to first take out the log from your own eye, then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. The point Jesus was making was not to never be concerned with the splinter in a person’s eye.  Jesus said that we must remove the similar obstacles in our own lives in order to clearly help those who are struggling with their issues.  The point is about being right with God in order to help others get right with God.

The pastor applauded Lady Gaga’s “experience with God’s tender love and mercy.” I have been a Christian a long time.  In my nearly 40 years of being a Christian, I have matured in the faith.  In that maturity I have discovered Christianity is not about having an experience with God. Experiences are emotionally driven and wear off.  Experiences are of little value unless they transform our minds.

Christianity is about us recognizing our depravity and our utter incapability to be righteous on our own. It is about understanding our need for a Savior. I do not hear that in Lady Gaga’s comments. I do not see the surrender to Jesus in her public life. AND, Jesus in fact did tell us to judge a person by their fruits. See Matthew 7 (the entire chapter, not just verse 1). Her heart might be tender toward Jesus, but she appears to misunderstand who he is and why we need to have our sins forgiven. Her “radical faith” seems to miss the mark as does Carlos Rodriguez’s praise of it.

I know this post is not an emotional, feel-good word.  It’s not meant to be harsh.  But, it is the truth.  It is offered in love.  We are not to be transformed by the renewing of our hearts, but of our minds.  Romans 12:2.  Let us not be too hasty in leaping to embrace the professions of faith from famous people and pop culture icons.  Understanding right doctrine and who Jesus really is will keep our hearts from deceiving our minds about the “radical faith” of celebrities.

Superstitious Christianity

charles-spurgeon-scan“To prostrate reason before the throne of superstition is slavery indeed.”

-Charles Spurgeon

Social media has fostered the spread of Christian superstitions.  I am not saying that Christianity is superstitious.  I am saying that many Christians are superstitious.

A “Superstition” is “a belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge, in or of the ominous significance of a particular thing, circumstance, occurrence, proceeding, or the like.”  It is also “any blindly accepted belief or notion.”

For a lot of Christians they treat Christianity like a superstition.  I have seen several Facebook posts from pages like “Herty Borngreat Music” that exemplify this superstitious Christianity.  One particular post featured a representation of Jesus and the message was “I will bless the hand that types ‘Amen.'”  Several people enthusiastically obeyed the command in hopes of being blessed.  This superstition treats Jesus like a genie to be summoned anytime someone types “Amen.”

superstition2

I find it funny that the hand that “type” this meme made a typographical error.  If Jesus were really speaking, would he make that mistake?

In doing research for this post, I came across a blog that concluded Christians are more superstitious than non-Christians.  He drew his conclusion from a false premise.  The reason Christians were more superstitious is because, he believed, that “suppression of critical thinking, and the encouragement to believe things without justification” is a “central Christian doctrine.”

He reached an incorrect conclusion (Christians are more superstitious than non-Christians) because his premise (Christianity discourages critical thinking) is false.  First of all, how can you quantify “more superstitious” anyway?  Is it calculated by the number of superstitious beliefs or by the severity of the superstition?  Although I agree that some (too many) Christians are superstitious, Christians do not hold a monopoly on A black cat, ladder, magpie and broken mirrorsuperstition.  How often have you heard someone say “This (bad thing) hasn’t happened, yet” and then followed that up with a “Knock on wood”?  Supposedly knocking on wood (or saying you’re knocking on wood) protects you from that bad thing happening.

What about avoiding the number 13, or black cats, or walking under ladders, or breaking mirrors, or having the groom see the bride before the wedding?  What about spilling the salt?  Ironically, bad things came to Harry Dunne, not after spilling the salt, but after taking a superstitious action to avoid the bad things from spilling the salt.

How about all those silly sports superstitions like not stepping on the chalk line on the baseball field when entering and exiting the playing field, or playoff beards in hockey?

Let us not forget the whole superstitious empire of Walt Disney.  His corporation has given us the superstitious sentiments of Jiminy Cricket that “When you wish a upon a star…Anything your heart desires will come to you” and the superstitious song of Cinderella “If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.”  Disney preaches that “if you just believe, good things will happen to you.”  No, I don’t think Christians are more superstitious than non-Christians.

The author of the above-mentioned blog, however, is correct about one thing: a lot of Christians are superstitious.  Mostly, these superstitions are about protection from harm or for “claiming” blessings.  Some Christians are superstitious when it comes to the number 666.  Let some weak-minded Christians get $6.66 in change or a “666” on their license plate and watch them become apoplectic (not literally of course).  These silly Christians believe that accepting money or a license plate with three consecutive sixes brands them with the mark of the beast.  (However did Christians survive the year AD 666?)  Frankly, I was unaware the Beast had come and established his mark.  Perhaps I’ve been reading the wrong Facebook memes.

superstition4Silly Christian, 666 is simply the number that follows 665.  Even when the Anti-Christ establishes his mark, 666 will still just be a number.  Accepting $6.66 in change under the rule of the Anti-Christ will not subject you with the Anti-Christ’s mark.  You cannot inadvertently accept the mark. (Although, scripture says that in the last days you will not be able to buy or sell unless you have the mark, so if you were to get $6.66 in change under the rule of the Anti-Christ you will have already taken the mark.)

Another superstition Christians fall into is to avoid stating unpleasant truths.  Someone will cough and say “I think I’m getting sick.”  A superstitious Christian will then reply “Don’t claim that!  Claim that you are healthy.”  These superstitious Christians believe that by not saying “it,” “it” won’t happen.  Don’t say you’re sick, otherwise you’ll get sick.  These silly, foolish Christians are like ignorant children who place their hands over their eyes and think no one can see them.

Foolish Christian, there is no causal connection between saying you are getting sick and getting sick.  There is no causal connection between saying “Amen” and getting blessings.  In fact Elijah battled just such superstitions of the prophets of Baal.  In I Kings 18, Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal on Mt Carmel.  These superstitious priests cried out to Baal from morning till noon, dancing on the altar, cutting themselves with their swords.  Elijah mocked their superstitious efforts. “Maybe you should cry louder.  Perhaps your god is sleeping and needs to be awakened.  Maybe he is on a journey and needs to be summoned back home.”  The priests of Baal exhausted themselves, having failed to ignite the sacrifice with their superstitions.

Another superstitious Facebook post I’ve seen stated “God’s going to put you on somebody’s mind who’s in a position to restore what you lost.”  These Facebook memes often are meant to motivate us emotionally, but we are also called to use our minds.  If a Facebook post does not line up with scripture we should disregard it as a lie even if it makes us feel good.

“God’s going to put you on somebody’s mind who’s in a position to restore what you lost” sounds more like something you find in a fortune cookie than you find in scripture.  It feels good to think we will get back what we lost but God doesn’t operate through vague, anonymous posts. God said his Word will not return to him void.  The one posting this Facebook meme does not know the people reading it, yet he insists these anonymous people read it and accept as if it is God’s specific Word to them.  This approach to prophecy is like throwing stuff on the wall to see what sticks.  This is the stuff false prophets are made of.  At best this post is merely wishful thinking, at worst it is akin to a horoscope.superstition1

Christianity is not about God meeting our needs or making us comfortable.  It is about our redemption and then our obedience.  We are guaranteed this Christian life will bring us trouble and pain, but we trust in the One who is able to deliver us.  Constantly telling ourselves that God wants to make us happy and prosperous conditions us to believe in lies and doubt God when we face pain and suffering.  Reposting such Facebook memes are not spreading God’s word.  They may actually lead people astray.

Far from being a superstitious religion, Christianity is the antidote for superstition.  Scripture is filled with commands to use our minds to think.  “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2.  Jesus told us that we must love him with all our minds. Matthew 22:37.  Peter affirmed in 2 Peter 1:16 that “We did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”  The apostles dealt in facts and evidence, not in mystical incantations or spells.  Christianity is not about saying the right things at the right time.  Christianity is about using our minds to follow the evidence to the truth.

Christianity is not about believing in something without the evidence.  Christianity is not a blind faith, where if we believe hard enough we can make something true.  No amount of wishful thinking can create truth. Too many Christians are like Lloyd Christmas, trying to create truth merely by using the right words.  “Cannot. Triple stamped it. No erasies. Touch blue make it true.”  No amount of confession or even sincerity will create truth.  Superstition, however, is an attempt to create truth.

Christianity, however, is about believing the truth, not creating it.  Truth either exists or it doesn’t.  It cannot be created through using the right words.  The Church needs to grow up from superstitions.  Too often Christians look like Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunne, arguing over triple-stamping a double stamp, and touching blue to make it true.

Let us use our minds to proclaim truth with our words instead of using our words to create truth for our minds.