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Friday, January 23, 2009

Nice People or a New Creation?

Much has been made of Rick Warren’s participation in the inauguration of Barak Hussein Obama as President of the United States. Writing for Salon.com, Mike Madden asks, “How the hell did Rick Warren get inauguration tickets?” On The Huffington Post Jeffery Feldman wrote, “News that Obama invited Rick Warren to say a prayer at the inauguration is a troubling sign for a president elected to be a new kind of leader.” He added that, “Marriage equality for gays and lesbians…is the current epicenter of the civil rights movement in America.” Gene Robinson, the openly gay Episcopal priest, called the choice of Warren “a slap in the face.”

On Obama’s choice of WarrenTime magazine’s Amy Sullivan recently wrote about the “Two Faces of Rick Warren.” I doubt, however, that he was much offended. Two-faced is probably one of the tamer insults hurled at Warren by those who were livid at the fact he was chosen to participate in the inauguration. According to Sullivan, the uglier side of Warren is “The one who proclaimed a week before the 2004 election that the five ‘non-negotiable issues’ for Christian voters were abortion, gay marriage, human cloning, euthanasia, and stem-cell research.”

She summarizes that, “In short, Warren wants to be both the universally admired pastor who speaks to the nation and the influential leader who mobilizes religious conservatives for political ends. But those are two inherently conflicting roles, and he cannot be both, no matter how hard he tries.”

All of this is very revealing. Many outside of Christianity, and many who feign to be a part of it, have an especially distorted view about what it means to be a follower of Christ. They seem eager to embrace His message of love and forgiveness, as well they should, but they easily forget His message of repentance and salvation. Also, they fail to notice that He was and is, of all things, a very controversial and divisive figure.

Consider these words or accounts of Christ: 
“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven (Matt. 10:32-33).” “Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent (Matt. 11:20).”
“If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out (Mark 9:43).” When sending out His disciples He said, “But when you enter a town and are not welcomed, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that sticks to our feet we wipe off against you…’ I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town (Luke 10:10-12).”

In John 14 Jesus said, 
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him (John 14:6-7).”

Of course, the thing that got Jesus in the most trouble was putting Himself on equal footing with God. It is, after all, what got Him crucified. His miracles were done not only to help others in need; they were also meant to validate His claim as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. He not only performed miracles, but He also forgave sin and directly claimed to be the Son of God. As C.S. Lewis put it, this either makes Him Lord, liar, or lunatic, not simply some great moral teacher who did good deeds that we need to emulate.

You see, what many people seem to want out of Christianity and its followers are simply nice “do-gooders” who go about their business without causing any trouble. The greatest miracle recorded in Scripture that Christ performed was raising someone from the dead. (There are three recorded instances of this occurring.) This was not done merely out of “niceness,” only to save the lives of those who had died. They would, after all (with apologies to James Bond), “die another day.” His ultimate goal was to give them “everlasting life.”

This could be said of every miracle Christ performed. It is true that He healed, fed, and cast out demons because of His great love for those in need. However, these acts alone did not save anyone. Those healed of one disease or sickness would someday die of another. Those fed would someday be hungry again. Christ’s ultimate goal was to bring people into His Kingdom. In other words, God became man not simply to improve us, but to make us into new creatures.

“Niceness” and “good deeds” are excellent things. Jesus told His followers to 
“let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16).” Inversely, as C.S. Lewis puts it, “When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world.”

Lewis continues, “We must try by every medical, educational, economic, and political means in our power, to produce a world where as many people as possible grow up ‘nice’; just as we must try to produce a world where we all have plenty to eat. But we must not suppose that even if we succeed in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world—and might even be more difficult to save.”

It is not cruel, or even rude, for a Christian to speak out against, or even condemn, acts such as abortion, homosexuality, lust, greed, etc. We are, after all, in a war—a spiritual one with eternal consequences. There is little time to worry whether others see us as playing “nice.”

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Cell Phone Ban Unnecessary

So, the National Safety Council (NSC) wants state governments to ban cell phone use, even hands-free cell phones, while driving. I think the NSC should have gone after a far more dangerous practice before taking on cell phones: farding while driving. Yes, you read that correctly. That’s “farding” with a “d.” It means “to paint one’s face.” What I’m talking about, of course, is the practice of putting on make up while driving.

Think about it. At least while using a cell phone, one’s eyes can be trained toward the road. To apply make up, most folks must look in the mirror, unless of course they have perfected the art with much practice. Don’t worry, ladies; I’m not limiting my criticism to you. I feel just the same way about men who would dare to fard while driving. But I digress.

Seriously, along with things like farding, eating, changing clothes, reading, and shaving, would not our current reckless driving laws already cover dangerous cell phone use? I mean, Mr. Bean was able to change his clothes and brush his teeth while driving to the dentist (search for it on YouTube). However, I doubt most of the rest of us could pull that off, at least without getting a well deserved ticket.

I do believe that I have neglected to mention the most dangerous act (other than the very serious DUI, of course) that can take place while driving: parenting. Any parent of small children knows exactly what I’m talking about. How many of us in such a situation have spent many rides with much of our attention devoted to the rear view mirror and the delinquent juvenile behavior taking place in the back seats?

The president and chief executive of the NSC, Janet Froetscher, likened talking on cell phones to drunken driving, while adding that hands-free phones are just as dangerous as hand-held ones. “It's not just what you're doing with your hands — it's that your head is in the conversation and so your eyes are not on the road,” Froetscher said.

Really? So a cell phone conversation by a driver is more dangerous than having a conversation with someone who is actually in the automobile? What about listening to the radio? Is that more dangerous than a phone conversation? I like to listen to talk radio, ballgames, and sometimes music while driving.

I mean, if the ballgame is a UGA football game, I’m probably doing some serious coaching while driving. Would that be more dangerous than talking on a cell phone? I sometimes like to listen to music and sing while driving. In those cases, the radio is loud so that I don’t have to hear myself. Is that more dangerous than talking on a cell phone?

Georgia’s reckless driving statute says, “Any person who drives any vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property commits the offense of reckless driving.” To me, that reads as if any act that would prevent one from driving safely is covered under this statute. Why would we need another law?

If we have a law covering cell phones, what about all the other, even more dangerous acts that can take place while driving? Will we then get laws banning those specific acts as well? What about Amber Alerts, Levi’s Calls, and other emergencies? How are officers to judge when appropriate use of a cell phone is taking place?

The point here, of course, is that we don’t need special legislation covering cell phone use and driving. This would be another example of unnecessary government, which inevitably will cost taxpayers more money. So please, let us all obey the current driving laws and use good common sense when behind the wheel. And ladies, please spare us all and do your farding at home.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Get Ready for ‘Evolution Weekend’

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809. This year will be the two-hundredth anniversary of his birth. Evolutionists in this country and across the world will be celebrating. In mid-February evolutionists have planned ‘Evolution Weekend,’ where they will celebrate their hero in, of all places, their churches. So far, over 500 congregations in all 50 U.S. states (and 9 other countries) are planning to participate in Evolution Weekend and rejoice in Darwin and his evolutionary teachings.

Furthermore, thus far nearly 12,000 U.S. Christian clergy have signed what is called the ‘Clergy Letter Project,’ which is a petition that, as Answers In Genesis (www.answersingenesis.org) puts it, “denies God’s Word and endorses evolution by declaring that ‘We believe that the theory of evolution is a foundational scientific truth . . . .’”

It should not be surprising that so many Christians and Christian churches (I use these terms very lightly.) have bought into the lie of Darwinian evolution. Today we have ‘churches’ that endorse everything from homosexuality and gay marriage to abortion. We would be foolish to think that such people would accept the biblical account of the origins of mankind.

Actually what these ‘churches’ have done is deny the authority of Scripture in each of these matters and gone with the wisdom of man instead of the truths of God. In fact, the slippery slope of scriptural denial begins with Darwinian Evolution. If you don’t believe what the Bible has to say “in the beginning,” why would you accept what it reveals on any matter? When you deny the creation account in the Bible, you destroy the foundation upon which all of Scripture rests.

In other words, if there is not a literal Adam and Eve, a literal garden, a literal tree, a literal fruit, a literal serpent, and a literal ‘fall from grace,’ the whole message of the Bible is tainted. The answer to each of the following questions is in Genesis chapters one to eleven: Why is there death and suffering in the world? Why is marriage only the union of one man and one woman? Why do we wear clothes? Why did Jesus Christ have to die on the cross?

The Bible is all about God’s love for mankind and His redemption of it through the sacrifice of Christ. If you deny Genesis chapters one to eleven, then why was it necessary for Christ to die for the sins of all mankind? Yousee, the very foundations of Christianity rest upon the history contained in the first eleven chapters of Genesis.

Over the last 100 years or so, the church has done a poor job of teaching this foundational history to its flock. Now more than ever it is time for Bible-believing denominations and congregations to stand up for the truth of all Scripture.

The Christian ministry Answers In Genesis (AIG), to which I refer often, is holding two conferences in February, called ‘Answers for Darwin’ (www.AnswersForDarwin.com), to counter the evolutionary message of ‘Evolution Weekend.’ The first will be held on the west coast on February 6-7 at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in California. The second will be held on February 16-17 at Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg,Virginia. (This is the church that the late Jerry Falwell founded.)

AIG notes that, “These West Coast and East Coast conferences are specifically designed to equip you with the answers and resources you need to effectively share the truth of God’s Word with a world that is increasingly turning its back on Him. And because Darwin will be “everywhere” next February, you need to be able to answer the questions posed by your friends (and maybe even some family members) about evolution during that time. Get equipped at these faith-building conferences.”

I suspect that a list of U.S. Christian clergy who oppose Darwinian evolution would dwarf the list of those who support it. In fact, according to a 2006 CBS poll, the majority of Americans (53%) hold to the creationist view that “God created human beings in their present form within the last ten thousand years.” If you are in this majority, and if you believe that the Bible is true, make sure you equip yourself with the proper answers to the evolutionary thinking that will be prominently on display this year.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com