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Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Resurrection of Christ Is ...

Proof of the deity of Christ.

"Jesus Christ ... declared to be the Son of God with power ... by the resurrection from the dead" (Romans 1:3-4).

An integral part of the gospel.

"The gospel ... how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

The seal of the finished work of Christ.

"When He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).

Essential for salvation.

"If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1 Corinthians 15:17). "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).

Evidence of the believer's justification.

"Jesus our Lord ... was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification" (Romans 4:24-25).

Vital for possession of eternal life.

"I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die" (John 11:25-26).

Guarantee of the believer's resurrection.

"Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout ... and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them ... to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).

The reason for the believer's hope.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which ... hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1 Peter 1:3).

The assurance of the sinner's judgment.

"He hath appointed a day, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He hath ordained; whereof He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).

"But now is Christ risen from the dead" (1 Corinthians 15:20). "He showed Himself alive ... by many infallible proofs" (Acts 1:3).

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Passover and Resurrection Connection


Ever think about the connection between Passover and Resurrection Sunday? Were you even aware there was one? Passover celebrates the release of the Hebrew nation from just over 400 years of captivity in Egypt and Resurrection Sunday ("Easter") celebrates Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. God planned that the one should have everything to do with the other.

Long before Israel became a nation, God told Abraham that his descendants would be slaves then delivered after 400 years of captivity. The prophecy was fulfilled when God selected Moses (not Charlton Heston) to lead the people out--but under specific circumstances. God performed a series of miracles that would loosen the Egyptian hold on the captive nation of Israel. The circumstance is repeated many times in the Old Testament Book of Exodus: “that you may know that I AM the LORD.” One will find this phrase directed to Israel, to Egypt and to the nations throughout the rest of the OT.

The final miracle involved the death of the firstborn of the land. God was going to move through the land performing two specific acts: first, He would be the angel of death who would kill the firstborn of every family, both man and beast; second, we read that God Himself would stand and cover the doorway of those who marked their houses with the blood of a lamb and prevent Himself from entering.

What is most amazing about marking the doorway with blood is this was a sign that an Egyptian would understand, but it must have caused deep confusion at first and was not fully understood until the following morning.

See, the internal doorways of an Egyptian tomb has distinguishing features; specifically, the doorways of rooms containing the dead are painted red, have red stripes and/or red figures. Imagine what they must have thought that night watching the Israelites paint the lintels of the doorposts red--marking their homes as tombs. These were the homes that God would stand covering the doorway, blessing the home with life. The unmarked homes were visited with death.

Now imagine the next morning when people awoke and death had come through the land. As they mourned, those with marked homes rose with the dawn and stepped out into their freedom. The living walked out of their lamb’s blood, tomb-marked homes. This was the first picture of the resurrection and was communicated in such a way that the nations could understand and know “that I AM the LORD” who has delivered His people.

The blood of the Lamb of God was spilled to cover our sins when God’s wrath was poured out on the cross. Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. Have you repented and by faith been covered by the blood and walk in newness of life?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"So, who's right?"

Here's a question often heard (or something like it): "So, why does your church do ____ and that church does ____ ?" or "Why does your church say _____ and this church says _____ ? Who's right?"

This is actually an ancient question, easily answered with two words. Our Lord Jesus Christ walked this earth and  met many people, one of whom was an outcast woman who lived in the city of Sychar. She asked Jesus directly: "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” (John 4:20 [ESV2011]) In other words, "Who's right?"

Jesus answer: "Believe Me . . ."

That's enough right there. Think it over.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Haik-erick or Limer-u?

There was a young man from Honshu
Who tried limericks in haiku,
But

(Doug Holyman, in Word Ways, May 2007)
[ht: Futility Closet]

Monday, March 25, 2013

Lessons from the "Good Teacher"

Since the outset of His ministry on earth, Jesus has been called (among other things) “Rabbi (which means ‘teacher’)” (John 1:38). Most often Jesus is still called, “Good teacher,” or is referred to as the man revered as a model for humanity.

My question is this: what is He teaching? What is He modeling for us?


What lessons have you learned? 


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Rock Concert


Luke's gospel describes the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. As He entered the city on the colt of donkey, the people sang out praise and laid palm branches and their cloaks along the road while crying out, "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!" The Pharisees wanted to silence this praise, to which Jesus responded, "if these become silent, the stones will cry out."

Science confirms these rocks are made of a volcanic basalt, but cannot explain the particular musical tones they produce when struck. One cannot help but be amazed to hear the Creator speak of particular qualities such as this, embedded within His Creation. Additionally, it makes one wonder exactly how the stones will cry out when these stones must be struck . . .


Friday, March 22, 2013

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Randoms

With Google shutting down Reader in June, I've found an excellent replacement in Feedly.

Great stuff from the Gospel Coalition this week:

Gonna put it in Light Feed now . . .

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Vernal Equinox (Japan)

Today is Vernal Equinox, which means the sun is at one of two opposing points in the celestial sphere in relation to the Earth’s orbit around the sun and the length of night and day are nearly equal in the Northern Hemisphere. Science aside, it’s much easier to say, “First day of Spring.” Prior to 1948, imperial Japanese made this a festival day with regards to ancestor worship. Presently, today is a public Japanese holiday celebrating nature and living things--yet ancestor worship continues in this and other cultures.

Ancestor worship is a spiritual practice that attempts to keep the family together (in so many words). Many view the world of the afterlife as being connected to the world of life, so kinships remain intact. The key feature here is that death is birth into another life. Reincarnation can be included in this system as the family may consist of the unborn living, the living living and the living dead. Simply stated, life is not complete without the presence of those who have passed on. “Goodbye” at death is more of a “see-you-later.”

An observer described a funeral in Japan how, “family and friends remained with the corpse as they believe the spirit of the deceased is still nearby. Anyone is welcome to pay tribute and burn incense before the coffin. Buddhists believe that everyone who dies becomes a ‘hotoke’ (a god). All ancestors have become gods and have to be worshipped regularly.” (Wilma Visser, Newsletter, Japan Rural Mission, 8, No 1. Dec. 1986; p.4)

Ancestor worship is the concept of appeasing the gods as ancestors are viewed to maintain the welfare of the living, the idea that the dead play a significant role in the land of the living. This is why our society maintains a high interest (and reality TV) with ghosts.

The spiritual world is real and questions concerning the future life should be explored for the reason that mankind has a destiny to which every worldview responds. We are made with a sense of the eternal (like it or not) so we live with dissatisfaction, knowing there is more to come, most notable, a sense of justice.

Mankind likes to be in control of life and the idea of death shakes our resolve. Man wants to be his own god and our Creator God shows us this is impossible. Man wants power and fulfillment, not faith and trust in his Creator. Our Creator is directly involved in the affairs of mankind, and does not respond to manipulative bribes from the power of men. He is sovereign and responds to man out of His sovereignty, not out of coercion. 


What other god shows love, integrity, grace and mercy out of his own holiness, righteousness and kindness? These are qualities not found in any other god. He is to be celebrated, not appeased; trusted, not manipulated; enjoyed, not feared.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Church History (Chart)

Church History (as seen by independent fundamental baptists) [ht: Reformed Humor FB Group]

Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Review: "The Abolition of Man," by C.S. Lewis

One may wonder, “why do a book review on a book originally published in 1947?” The book to which I refer is by C.S. Lewis, “The Abolition of Man; or, Reflections on Education with Special Reference to the Teaching of English in the Upper Forms of Schools” (New York: MacMillan, 1978). One answer may be the fact that the 121 page book is still in circulation. Another answer may be likened unto climbing a mountain--because the old thing is there--and this unassuming book is a mountain.

This reader recalls journeys up into the Rocky Mountains and the discovering the elusive nature of the summit. Climb, climb, climb, look up, reach the top only to find one has not summited but only acquired the lip of a terrace with another false peak looming overhead. Lewis give us three such chapters (plus an appendix) that lifts the reader up into the clouds of the author’s deep reflections (perhaps a descending metaphor should be more fitting)--heady reflections. This venture is no small hike.

The first chapter, “Men Without Chests” does not bring us to understand the title until we arrive at the end. Lewis writes a critique of an educational textbook he chooses to keep anonymous, protecting the authors as well; however, a little research may reveal the intentional nature of choosing their false names, calling them “Gaius” and “Titius.” The heart of the chapter is explained in the peculiar relationship between children and those who impress them: “ . . . a boy who thinks he is ‘doing’ his ‘English prep’ and has no notion that ethics, theology and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory they put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all. The authors themselves, I suspect, hardly know what they are doing to the boy, and he cannot know what is being done to him.” (p. 16-17)

The fact that Lewis pens pages of warnings against teaching that wrongly influences a person with questionable motives yet leaves the work unidentified is a strange sort of warning; however, the wisdom of his choice enables him to address larger issues easily identified in so many other similar works. The consequence remains: “the ‘trousered ape’ and the ‘urban blockhead’ may be precisely the kind of man they really wish to produce.” (p. 22) What is a man sans chest? A man who is convinced he may think without emotion. “We remove the organ [of emotion] and demand the function. We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honour and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” (p. 35)

Pause and catch a breath for the second chapter, “The Way” requires a checking of the laces.  This writer fears he may have made the task of reading this particular work easy. Lewis reflects and one must focus to stay with the author’s mindset. His main principle is stated summarily: “The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary colour, or indeed, of creating a new sun and a new sky for it to move in.” (p. 56-57) In other words (and over-simplistically), there is a way to be open-minded and still maintain a firm hold to absolutes. Here we find the author taking relativism head-on, exposing weakness of relativistic arguments throughout; however, the author boldly redefines many ancient doctrines for his purposes, to the confusion of the reader.

Final chapter, “The Abolition of Man” is a hearty beef stew of thought examining the implicit question, “what will man accomplish with his power?” This is where the entire book can be summed in one sentence: if man was to accomplish everything that comes naturally, man will destroy himself, becoming increasingly powerless.

This is no easy read, but one should take the time to climb the mountain of ideas as the discussions started so many years ago are still relevant today.

Friday, March 15, 2013

What "I AM the Vine" Mean in Ministry

"The picture is whatever the vine is, the branch is going to produce in fruit. So if Christ is the vine, then the production of fruit from us--the branches--is really going to be His life manifested through us. What do we see, first and foremost, when we look at Jesus? I think the very first thing that we would probably have to say in consideration of the life of Christ is that Jesus is love. He was loving. He was full of love for people. Jesus was not aloof or detached from people. Jesus loved people, not theoretically, but practically. . . .

We can easily forget that the ministry is about loving people. Preaching is an important thing, obviously. Teaching the Bible is vital to any ministry, but you can sort of undermine what you say by how you treat people. How you deal with people and the attitude that you demonstrates toward them is vital. people always knew one thing about Jesus--they knew that He loved them. And if we are really bearing fruit, I think that God's people are going to see that in our lives."

(Brian Brodersen, "An Abiding Relationship with Christ")

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Randoms

Google Reader is retiring in June. At first I was unhappy about it, but then I realized it's an answer to prayer. Had too many subscriptions anyway.

Free E-book for Holy Week from John Piper (various formats available).

6 Fascinating People Who Own Almost Nothing

5 Thesis on Anti-Intellectualism.

Battling Sinful Sarcasm

Barrel-rolls in an airliner! [ht: Futility Closet]



Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review: "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire" by Jim Cymbala

Cymbala, Jim. “Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire.” Michigan: Zondervan, 1997

[I read old books because they are there]

This short anecdotal book is required reading. Rationale: there is as much prayer in churches as in public schools.

Godly men and women call on the name of the Lord. This is the main teaching Pastor Cymbala’s book, built on the root principle found in Genesis 4. God’s people identified early in scripture as being “those who call on the name of the Lord.” The ungodly do not call on the name of the Lord (Psalm 14:4).

Prayer defines who are as as obedient children of God. Prayer shows that we take God seriously, believing Him. Prayer is central to our worship, the hallmark of the place in which we worship; but, we have become complacent with much, much less. The church is missing the spiritual connection and needs to get plugged back into the power source.

Cymbala’s scriptural applications both admonishes and encourages to stretch our hands and call out to God, who will respond to those who call on Him. Satan is not resisted if we are not pursuing hard after God. Prayerlessness is not God’s plan for His people and we cannot grow unless we go deeper with Him. Prayerfulness reminds us of our increasing need for Him. We cannot be Christian without prayer.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Three Trees for Arbor Day

Today is Arbor Day. If you associate this day with planting trees, then you’ve pretty much nailed it (not sure if pun-intended, but it works). “Arbor” is Latin for “tree.” I just learned that Arbor Day is observed world-wide--this is not just an American thing. While I’m thinking of it, isn’t it sort of ironic that Hallmark doesn't make this card-worthy day? Perhaps they are just going green . . .

Seriously, this is about the time of year planting of trees is favorable, so millions of trees will be planted. I can’t help but reflect how important trees are to mankind. When God created everything, He intended for man to be nourished by sustenance from the ground. “And out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food.” (Genesis 2:9a). The LORD God clearly tells man, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely.” (Genesis 2:16). The weight of the Hebrew reads more like this: “eat heartily from every tree of the garden.” Now, I’m not smart enough to comment too much on this, but I will say that physically, I feel much better eating greens: eating greens is a special treat!

But wait, there’s more! There is more to the story because God shows there are other kinds of trees in the garden. There is a tree of life in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9b). The LORD God makes an interesting statement: every tree is for nourishing man, except for one. Don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It provides no nourishment. Additionally, eating from the tree brings death.

So man is to live by eating, and man can die by eating.
If man dies, who will work the soil?

We know what happens at this point, don’t we? Man disobeys and eats. Man’s relationship with God is severed and he reaps the fruit (as it were) of his disobedience by losing eternal life. Certainly we can ask many good questions here, such as:

  • Does man have a choice? 
  • If so, is God required to respect man’s choice? 
  • Can’t God influence choice? 
  • Why does Adam get to choose to eat/not eat and obey/disobey? 
  • Which choice brings blessing and which brings consequence (sin)?
We don’t know exactly what sort of fruit Adam and Eve ate, but I recently learned there is a tree of particular interest called “The Little Apple of Death.” The scientific name is the “Hippomane mancinella” (classified as the 3rd most deadliest plant in the world) and is presently found in Florida and all over South America as well as a few islands. Note: these trees grow in beautiful places often frequented by travelers who go to enjoy their vacations in “Paradise.” Perhaps it is not so strange that 1) God created everything; 2) God created trees and 3) a “death tree” exists in the Garden of Eden. Whatever it was brought devastation to mankind.

There is another tree. Well, it is often called a “tree” in older usages. This “tree” is the cross on which our Savior died. He cancelled the penalty of sin held against us (spiritual death) and delivered us from the power of sin if we repent and enter into new life by faith in our Saviour’s death, burial and resurrection. Those who obey His Will (to repent), will enter into eternal life, restored to mankind by God Himself.

There’s more! We read in the last book of the Bible of yet another tree. This one must be massive because from out of the throne of God flows a river. This river is straddled by a tree that bears twelve kinds of fruit, one every month, for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:1-2). What I like most about this tree is “there shall be no longer any curse” (Revelation 22:3).

Sin is gone, broken relationship restored, and we get to enjoy God forever.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Eight Hour Day

Ever wonder why we work an 8-hour work day? Surely someone, somewhere decided this is how we would order this part of our lives. Well, today’s the day it happened and we have the Australians to thank for it.

The setting: Skilled workers logged 58 hour  work-weeks (or longer) at 10 hours (or more) per day while shop-owners worked even longer. Child labor was typical, but not without caution (limiting work to 50 hours per week, and no work for children under the age of 13). Self-improvement, education, enjoying life, rest, worship were un-civil and unprofitable activities.The goal of the long hours: produce wealth for employers and taxes for the State. 

“On 18 August 1855 the Stonemasons‚ Society in Sydney issued an ultimatum to employers that in six months time, masons would only work an eight-hour day. However men working on the Holy Trinity Church in Argyle Cut, and on the Mariners‚ Church (an evangelical mission to seafarers, now an art gallery and cafĂ©) in Lower George Street (98-100 George Street), could not contain their enthusiasm and decided not to wait. They pre-emptively went on strike, won the eight-hour day, and celebrated with a victory dinner on 1 October 1855. In February 1856 the August (1855) ultimatum expired and six months to the day, Sydney stonemasons generally went after a reduction of hours on the eight-hour model. Their demand was opposed by employers, even though the masons made it clear they were prepared to take a reduction in wages proportionate to the reduced hours. The main opposition came from the builders engaged on construction of Tooths Brewery on Parramatta Road. Less than two weeks of strike action overcame that hindrance and the masons won in late February, early March, 1856.” source)

So, how did it come to America? “The National Labour Union at Baltimore in August 1866 passed a resolution that said, ‘The first and great necessity of the present to free labour of this country from capitalist slavery, is the passing of a law by which eight hours shall be the normal working day in all States of the American Union. We are resolved to put forth all our strength until this glorious result is achieved.’ At its convention in Chicago in 1884, the AFL (American Federation of Labour) resolved that ‘eight hours shall constitute a legal day's labour from and after 1 May, 1886, and that we recommend to labour organisations throughout this jurisdiction that they so direct their laws as to conform to this resolution by the time named.’"  (source)


Some still don’t get to clock in and out. Consider mothers--always on the clock, always on call--and expected to be proficient in areas men never consider. Regardless, God designed us to work and have rest. No matter who you are, God asks for one day out of all the others to focus on Him and rest. How are you doing with that?

Friday, March 08, 2013

Bookshelves

Some may look at this, shrug and click on through. Others will open their e-mail or pick up the phone wondering if I've lost my mind. Perhaps I have. I thought I would try something different. Everything's still in order--it just looks different.

While rearranging I discovered a few surprises, one being that each stack has a life of its own and many require a delicate touch. These are more than just piles of books, but an exercise in balance and quiet control, thoughtfulness. One does not just take a book from the shelf. One must handle softly, move, rearrange, stack and re-stack. The shelves become ever an ever-changing work of art.

Less than 15 minutes after finishing, one faculty member froze in his tracks outside my door then spent nearly 10 minutes commenting on the fresh look. He mentioned that he, too, might do the same and he would call me for advice. I refused to help, not because of the workload (there's not much, really--and it's quite fun), but the experience is singular for the bibliophile.


Ordered Chaos.
Disarray under control.

Oh, and did I mention how much shelf space opened up with this new arrangement?


Thursday, March 07, 2013

Randoms

The Word-less "Church".

Every Man Should Carry a Handkerchief.

Collect Micro-meteorites in your backyard!

The Socratic Method--for grade school students.

Seven Ways To Engage the Culture.

"Atheists, humanists and freethinkers face widespread discrimination around the world with expression of their views criminalized and subject in some countries to capital punishment, the United Nations was told on Monday [2/25/13]."

This is actually beyond "scary":

Intro to Outbox from Outbox on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Failure of Natural Science in Scientism

Going door to door is a lost art but Austin L. Hughes, the Carolina Distinguished Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of South Carolina boldly stands on the doorstep of natural science and shows how “scientism” has become a cruel neighbor in his article, “The Folly of Scientism.” Generally speaking, “science” means “knowledge,” and “natural science” concerns itself with one facet of knowledge; however, “it is frequently claimed that natural science does or soon will constitute the entire domain of truth.” Hughes systematically exposes the flaws of the so called “universal competence” of science, or “scientism” by asking the most important question that scientism cannot answer, “Is it really true that natural science provides a satisfying and reasonably complete account of everything we see, experience and seek to understand--of every phenomenon in the universe?”

Taking scientism by the hand, Hughes moves through the neighborhood of disciplines starting with Philosophy and the assumption that Philosophy must be a valuable tool for the scientist. Scientism actually claims to have outgrown its need for philosophy, substitution institutional theory for plain logic; in other words, “good science” and “bad science” are defined by where the National Science Foundation wants to put its money and philosophy is too cerebral and less experimental. The claim is that science never goes backwards (as philosophy tends to do) and always moves forward, never repeating itself, leading the public with the assumption that science must be right because the ideas sound less philosophical and more scientific. The question remains: how are scientific evaluated without the ability to identify something called “false”?

Next, Hughes contrasts scientism with three areas of inquiry: metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. If philosophy is dead to the natural scientist, then the conclusions touching subjects as cosmology fall more in the realm of science-fiction. “Universe” has lost its meaning as a word that encompasses everything known and unknown on every level, giving rise to concepts such as “multi-verses.” This makes no sense, especially because theories of the “multi-verse” must still answer the questions of existence these tries to avoid. Why is our universe governed by scientific laws at all? Natural selection may try to explain species but it cannot explain the fitness benefit of comprehending the universe, or explain why the universe is comprehensible at all.

The contradictions abound! Concerning ethics: how can science assert there is no universal right or wrong and still be science? “If ‘we know now’ that he selfish behavior attributed to our ancestors is morally reprehensible, how have ‘we’ come to know this? What basis do we have for saying that anything is wrong at all if our behaviors are no more than the consequence of past natural selection? And if we desire to be morally better than our ancestors were, are we even free to do so? Or are we programmed to behave in a certain way that we now, for some reason, have come to deplore?”

Hughes correctly concludes that philosophers has the last laugh because the so-called “self correction” of practicioners of scientism find themselves following in the footsteps of Aristotle, attempting to discover the person while in pursuit of happiness. Scientism clearly has not and cannot alone answer questions that fall outside its purview.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Book Review: "How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th-Century Pagan"

Adler, Mortimer J. “How to Think About God: A Guide for the 20th Century Pagan.” New York: Simon and Schuster, 1980. [why read old books? Because they are there]

The famed author of "How to Read A Book" helps us think about God. Adler’s central proposition is there exists an interest in the question of God’s existence and some are willing to consider the question; however, the author admits, “the God that is the object of pagan philosophical thought is not the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob, or of Moses, Jesus and Mohammed.” In other words, the pagan decides who God is. Is this possible?

Adler divides his book into six major sections populated with two to three chapters per section. The first section serves as an extended prologue where the author explains himself to his intended audience across two chapters. The second section discusses errors to be avoided. Section three (the longest section) sets the stage for the discussion of “God”, followed by the section examining “why the best traditional argument fails.” Section five delves into “a truly cosmological argument”, seeking to answer one remaining question. The book closes with the Epilogue and “what lies ahead for the reader.”

The author proposes two errors to be avoided, the first addressing the affirmation that the cosmos began, for to do so assumes the existence of a Creator (hence, avoid begging the question). The preferred (philosophical) assumption would be that the universe has always existed and always will exist. This is a logical and logistical impossibility for there could be no “present” from an infinitely regressing eternal past without a starting point. Time would have no meaning.

The second proposed error is to necessarily avoid inquiry concerning first cause. Adler properly demonstrates there can be no painting without a painter (p. 42), yet attempts to say natural causes are without  a cause-er. “In the case of the painter and the painting, we start out knowing the relation of the causes involved in the production of the work of art [painting is evidence of a painter]. But in the case of natural phenomena, we start out knowing only how the phenomena we study are related . . . . Nothing requires us to go behind the scene to find a hidden principle cause that is pulling the strings to make these natural puppets move.” (p. 44) In other words: a painting is evidence of a painting. “ . . . the world can exist without God.” (p. 46) That is, a painting can exist without a painter.

Adler introduces a question at this point: what is meant by the word, “God”? The author suggests (in so many words), “it depends who you ask” (pp. 49-50). “It is a noun . . . a name word designating singular or unique objects . . . members of which which either exist or about which we can ask whether or not they exist.” (p. 51). Is it a noun that should be capitalized (p. 54)? The author correctly refines the proper name, “God” as a definite and unique singularity that belongs to no class of objects (p. 56). Alder discovers a dilemma: this noun identifies a singularity who occupied time and space with identifiable disciples and witnesses. His solution? “[W]e must be prepared to substitute for the word ‘God’ used as a proper name, a definite description of the object named.” In other words, there must be found a pagan replacement for the object found as real, brought into question.

Adler suggests the uniqueness of this singularity defies description or category, which actually underscores the very meaning of “unique.” “I hope to show that we cannot think of God as a physical object,” and by this he means “imperceptible”(p. 64-65) He wants to find a new description, but finds difficulty thinking non-theologically about theology, so he offers two steps.

First, critiquing Anselm’s Ontological argument and Kant’s rebuttal (and dismissing both), Adler still agrees with the ontological argument, “if the supreme being must be thought of as one that cannot not exist, then the supreme being must be thought of as a necessary being.” This reader infers that the author’s difficulty is that this “supreme being” of the ontological argument is not the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. The second step attempts to define the “supreme being,” seeking to answer the questions, “what is he like?” and “what is he unlike?” His answer leads to another probing question for exploration: “Only if we have some reason for thinking that God exists not only as an object of thought, but also in reality, quite apart from our thinking, do we have reason for believing in God’s real existence.”

The next section covering two entire chapters, Adler wields Occam’s Razor (as he did in previous chapters) discussing “Why the Best Traditional Arguments Fail,” taking The Cosmological Argument for God’s existence head-on. The failure of the argument proves to be insufficient with regard to perspective; that is, he makes a conclusion on insufficient evidence. This is intentional, given the direction of the following proposition: “If the existence of the cosmos as a whole needs to be explained, and if it cannot be explained by natural causes, then we must look to the existence and action of a supernatural cause for its explanation” (p. 131).

We are taken now to consider finally: since the cosmos exists, what sustains its existence? Why is there simply “nothing” as much as anything at all? Additionally, there must be a preservative cause preventing the collapse of everything into nothing.

The reader will be greatly rewarded to think with the author through the particulars toward absolutes. The author demonstrates the adequacy of philosophy toward an irrefutable conclusion the 20th century pagan must confront.  The only question now is: what does one do with his find? “Tolle lege.”

Friday, March 01, 2013

His Presence

"My Presence shall go with thee." (Exodus 33:14)

Cherish no doubt of it,
Ever abide in it,
Travel about in it,
Rest and reside in it,
Walk in the midst of it,
Work in the might of it,
Let your whole life be lived
Full in the light of it.

(Beatrice Cleland)

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