Poems and assassinations

Reading Time: 5 minutes

God wants everyone to worship and follow him and, if they don’t, they burn in hell for all eternity. What does this type of attitude say about his character? By definition, he would be described as a tyrant.

My wife told me my titles, 43 Questions Christian’s can’t answer, 42 Questions Christian’s can’t answer, 41 Questions… are boring.  So I changed it. This question deals with unbelief, choices and consequences, authority, and love and it is the 10th one on the list of 50.

If we were to define God as an all powerful, all knowing, creator of the universe, and final source of moral authority, why would we not choose to follow and worship him? Why would anyone even begin to question a being who is the cause of their own existence, creator of the universe and time itself? The problem is, those who ask this question do not believe God is all those things. If they believe in God at all, it would be a lower case ‘g’ god.

The god they consider might be a powerful being, maybe, but more likely in their view, we are all just chance, as if chance has creative power. Chance requires elements to be put in place for us to look at the odds of an event taking place.

No doubt if we were to look at a human who demanded we worship and follow him or we would be tortured and killed, he would be defined as a tyrant. Some names in history come to mind, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Mussolini, and Bin Laden, but we are not talking about dictators. We are talking about a holy, perfect, just, and righteous God.

I know some exclaim, “What kind of choice is that? Fall on my knees and worship God, or burn forever.” If you give it a moment’s thought, you would realize that life is full of choices with consequences. For example, if we pay our taxes, we are allowed to continue in our daily routine. If we don’t pay our taxes we are fined. If we continue not paying our taxes, we then enjoy free room and board, free health care, and the company of others who have biceps the size of small watermelons.

After choices and consequences, this kind of question deals in part with the issue of authority. Imagine that a young man punches someone at school. We have rules and laws against that kind of behavior in school. Depending on the situation, the young man might find himself in the principal’s office, or expelled from school. What if the same young man decided to punch a police officer? No doubt, he would at least find himself in jail for his actions. Finally, what if this same fellow punched the President of the United States? The consequence would be serious indeed. If you just threaten the President, it falls under a ‘Class D’ federal offense, with 5 to 10 years in prison and a possible $250,000 fine.

In fact, in 2010, Johnny Logan Spencer was sentenced to 33 months in jail for posting a poem about assassinating the president.  He did not lay a hand on the president and he is in jail for nearly 3 years. 1 Why is that?

It should be obvious that consequences become more serious depending on the authority of the figure. We understand that and don’t question it, unless it involves God. For some reason, when God demands a consequence commensurate to His position, atheists cry foul and label Him as a tyrant. He is an all loving, all knowing, all powerful, eternal being, who demands justice. In fact, I am not sure stating He demands justice is accurate; some might say His character requires it. He can do no other.

Finally, there’s a mindset that an all loving God could not send someone to hell for eternity. Holding people accountable is not a popular mindset in today’s culture. Ziggy Marley, son of Bob Marley, wrote a song, “Love Is My Religion”. The lyrics read:

I don’t condemn, I don’t convert.
Yeah, this is a calling, have you heard?
Bring all the lovers to the fort
Cause no one is gonna lose their soul.

No one is gonna lose their soul? Why? Because an all loving God could not possibly send someone to hell for eternity, and we have a generation of people banking on that misguided understanding of the person-hood of God.

Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler wrote the book, Who Made God. In it we find this explanation, “God’s justice demands that sin be punished, but his love compels him to save sinners. So by Christ’s death for us, his justice is satisfied and his love released. Thus, there is no contradiction between absolute justice and unconditional love. To illustrate, God is like the judge who, after passing out the punishment to the guilty defendant, laid aside his robe, stood alongside the convicted, and paid the fine for him.” 2

Alister McGrath put it this way, “Like a skilled physician, Christianity offers a diagnosis of the human situation – not in order to pass judgment and then pass on, but to identify what must be done to transform the situation. Identification of the malady is the essential precondition for a cure.” 3 He went on to say, “Christianity does not simply make sense to us; it also makes sense of us.” 4

In Seeking Allah Finding Jesus, Nabeel Qureshi told a story about his best friend David, who had shared the doctrine of substitutionary atonement. If you can imagine, it was a conversation between a Christian, Buddhist, and a Muslim in a smoothie bar. David, (the Christian), shared, “A better analogy would be a son who has stolen from his father’s business. If after wasting the goods, the son returns to the father and sincerely seeks forgiveness, it is within the father’s right to forgive him. But not all would be settled yet; the accounts haven’t been balanced. Someone has to take the hit for the stolen goods. If the father wants, he has every right to pay for his son’s debt from his own account.” 5

How many tyrants will take on the debt of his people? On the contrary, tyrants put their people in debt and bondage to benefit their own position and power, with no compassion or concern for those he is in position to rule. Yet God takes on the debt of his people in the person of Christ.

You can think about God in many different ways, but he is not just a force in the universe. Although he does not have a body like you and I, he is a person. If you are a human, you are a person, but not every person is a human. Angels, for example, are persons. God is certainly a person, but he is perfect in his person-hood. 6 As persons, we have many qualities that God has, but unlike us, his reasons, his intentions, are morally perfect.

There is nothing wrong with requiring justice for wrong doing, and the greater the person wronged, the greater the consequence. Walking away from, turning your back on, ignoring, the greatest being, who is responsible for all creation, would reap serious consequences indeed.

Sources:

1. Siegel, Elyse. “Johnny Logan Spencer Sentenced To Nearly 3 Years In Prison For Threatening Obama In Poem.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 06 Dec. 2010. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.
2. Zacharias, Ravi; Geisler, Norman. Who Made God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003. Print.
3. McGrath, Alister E. Surprised by Meaning. Louisvelle: John Knox Press, 2011, Print.
4. Ibid.
5. Qureshi, Nabeel. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2014. Print.
6. Ganssle, Gregory. Thinking About God. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004. Print.

 

 

Creative Commons License
Poems and assassinations by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at dev.christianapologetics.blog.

42 Questions Christian’s can’t answer

Reading Time: 8 minutes

Why can’t the all-powerful God forgive someone of their sins after they die? Example: A Christian man that is seemingly on God’s good list makes a stupid decision and decides to drink a little too much at the fish fry. On his way home he crashes into a mini-van killing a mother, her two children and himself. This man led a very faithful life and made one stupid, yet grave mistake. If this man did not ask for forgiveness of his sins before the electrical activity in his brain ceased, then God will judge him and send him to hell to burn for eternity.

I had read other blogs about Pucket who had asked the above question, and 50 others, and I had read he was a former Christian, who had a solid grasp of the Gospel. Frankly, this question shows a tremendous amount of ignorance concerning salvation and the good news of the Gospel, so it surprised me.

The New Testament is packed with scripture that gives us a view of salvation that is simply based on our acceptance of the gift Christ offers. Christ saves all those who believe in Him, and it is not conditional on our asking forgiveness on every single sin we commit. Not only is that unnecessary, but impossible.

The above illustration by Pucket can be carried to the extreme with another simple example. Say a Christian man who has lead a nearly sinless life was walking across the street carrying a gift and flowers for his wife of 30 years. Walking across in the opposite direction is a lovely young girl, in a short skirt, and top that shows off her nearly perfect figure. For a moment, this Christian man lets his thoughts wander into sin after they passed each other. Then, suddenly, a car that had been speeding ran the red light and instantly killed this man.

To suggest God would condemn this man to eternal separation from Him due to this one moment, before he could ask forgiveness, is silly. The verses of scripture that address this are numerous, so instead of constructing an argument, I will let scripture speak for itself. I have listed just list a few below.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

John 6:37 “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

Acts 4:12 “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Romans 1:16 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

2 Corinthians 5: 15-19 “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

Titus 3:5-7 “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.”

Acts 13:39 “Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses.”

This question, and the scripture above, are a perfect lead in to asking, “Who then is going to heaven?” It is surprising how many think they are, due to their general, good behavior. The Pew Research center did a survey a few years ago asking how many Americans believed in a God or some kind of universal spirit, and over 90% responded positively. 1 Out of those respondents, 74% believe in heaven, but only 59% believe in hell. Pewpoll11

 

 

 

 

 

That suggests quite a few people have the notion that we are going to heaven no matter what kind of life we led.  In other words, some people believe that everyone will get a ‘get out of jail’ Monopoly card that will work in the afterlife, guaranteeing a seat in heaven.

Heaven33

 

Pewpoll22

 

Another figure that was worth mentioning was the percent of those who have a religion, felt that many religions can lead to eternal life. A shocking 70% feel that their way, (their own religion), is not the only way. Not surprising was the religions of Hinduism and Buddhism lead the way with 89% and 86% believing their religion is not the only way into heaven. 2 Not far down the list is the Evangelical believers, and 57% of them feel Jesus is not the only way to heaven.

With these kinds of figures, I would ask what is the point of Jesus? If we can just lead a relativity good life, where our generous actions and behaviors out weigh the selfish actions, and that would usher us into heaven, then why bother with the whole Jesus thing? Obviously, many Christians believe that. Where do they get that idea? Another Pew Research poll said, “Even among white evangelical Protestants, nearly three-quarters (72%) of those who say many religions can lead to eternal life name at least one non-Christian religion that can lead to salvation.” 3

Salvation is a gift. It is not something you can earn through good works or asking forgiveness each and every single time you sin. Salvation through Christ allows you to live a life free from condemnation, but with the realization that there was a price paid, because a just and righteous God demands it. This realization comes into play every day as we recognize it is impossible to live a perfect, sin free life. Ravi Zacharias said, “Jesus did not come into this world to make bad people good. He came into this world to make dead people live.” 4

When a person repents, accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, their sins are forgiven, past, present, and future. This does not mean you go and sin all you want because of the get out of jail free card. God looks at the heart of a man, He knows their intent, their purpose. 1 Samuel 16:7. Gill’s Exposition puts it this way, “…though the heart is deceitful, it cannot deceive him, because he judges not according to outward appearance; he sees and knows the heart; and none but the Lord, or he who is Jehovah, can so search the heart as thus to know it.”

Mark Mittelberg told a story of a business man who was on an airplane sitting next to a pastor. Their conversation was polite and surface at first, but after a few minutes turned to more serious topics. The pastor was asking the man if he believed in heaven, and if so would he be allowed in. The business man felt he would because his good deeds surpassed his selfish deeds.

The pastor then gave the man an illustration on a napkin, by drawing a ladder that would reach up to heaven. Each rung on the ladder represented a spot for one person on earth. Up at the top is God, because He is perfect. Each person on earth would be placed on the ladder according to their good deeds. The higher up the ladder, the more good deeds a person did. The lower the part of the ladder were the Hitlers, child molesters, and mobsters.

The pastor brought up Mother Teresa, who has admitted she has sinned many times in her life, this, despite her being considered one of the most caring, giving, and ethical persons who ever lived. She would not consider herself even past ½ way up the ladder. The pastor then mentioned Billy Graham, who many in America consider to be an outstanding moral and ethical man, who has lead a long dedicated life serving the Lord. The pastor pointed out that Billy Graham would not consider himself above Mother Teresa, and has said he has sinned many times in his own life. The pastor then marked a spot for Billy Graham below Mother Teresa on the ladder, and both were below the ½ way mark.

He then asked the man where he would be on this ladder, who hesitantly wrote his name near the bottom below both Mother Teresa and Billy Graham. The pastor let that sink in for a minute as the business man contemplated his good deeds compared to those icons of honorable human behavior.

The pastor then asked the business man where he thinks the cut off point on the ladder would be for those who ‘get’ to go to heaven for their good deeds, and if he would be above it. The business man replied, “I guess I am screwed.” to which the pastor replied, “Well welcome to the club. We’re all in that kind of predicament. And here’s the real problem: do you think, if you got serious and tried to to do good for the rest of your life, you could ever hope to climb above Mother Teresa?” 5

The point is driven home in the above story. It is not about leading a good and moral life, but accepting the gift of salvation, and realizing it is a gift that everyone should be thankful for. The latter illustration works well because each and everyone of us can be placed on this ladder according to our deeds in this life. Everyday we walk by, talk to, work with, wake up next to someone who may be above us or below us on the ladder, but where we are placed on the ladder has nothing to do with being ushered into heaven.

laddertoheavenAccepting the gift of salvation that Christ offers, and realizing we can never reach the top of this ladder because of our own works is key. Our nature tells us to hang on tight to whichever rung of the ladder we are clinging to. We try not to get our fingers stepped on by the person above us, and at the same time try to mash the fingers of the person attempting to climb past us. If we are not careful we might slip down further, below those we were above moments before. All the while Jesus is telling us to let go, lean back, and fall into His arms, and he will then lift us, not only above the spot where we were on the ladder, but then, up and past those who were above us because of their good deeds.

It is that moment you fully realize no one on the ladder will ever make it into heaven, because you can’t climb into heaven, but only fly there, in the arms of Jesus.

Sources:

1. “Religious Beliefs and Practices.” Pew Forum. Pewforum.org, 1 June 2008. Web. 17 September 2014.
2. “Many Americans Say Other Faiths Can Led to Eternal Life”, Pew Forum. Pewforum.org, 18 December 2008. Web. 19 September 2014.
3. Ibid
4. “A Loving God Wouldn’t Send People To Hell” The Mumbling Christian. Mumblingchristian.com, 20 February 2009. Web. 20 September 2014
5. Mittelberg, Mark. The Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2010. Print

 

 

Creative Commons License
42 Questions Christian’s can’t answer by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.dev.christianapologetics.blog/.

Mommy can I kill this?

Mommy can I kill this?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Above image by Nicci Coertze-Kruger from Pixabay

On the first day of school a little boy whose father owned the local apple farm brought his teacher a gift in a box.

Many others had done the same, but his was the largest and last to be opened. It was a game they were playing, and before she opened each gift, she had to try to guess what it was. The boy placed it on her desk and stood waiting for her to open it. All the other little boys and girls were gathering around to see what it was because children are naturally curious about things, and the little boy had refused to tell anyone what it was.

The teacher, who was young in years and to the profession, stood up and noticed the bottom of the box was wet, and a small puddle was forming on her desk. She exclaimed, “Oh Johnny, I think it must be broken!” Johnny said, “Oh no, it can’t be broken.” The teacher dipped her finger in what looked like apple juice, tasted it, and asked, “Is it apple juice?” The boy smiled and said, “Nope.” The teacher again dipped her finger in the puddle, tasted it again and asked, “Lemon-ade?” Again the boy smiled and said, “Nope!” Unable to contain his excitement any longer he exclaimed, “It’s a puppy!”

It is so important to know what things are before we take action. The above story is an amusing example of someone taking a simple action, (tasting what she thought was apple juice), and it turns out to have been a poor idea. Hollywood often runs with that kind of theme where aliens, (the kind from another planet, not just south of the border), come to visit earth, and they encounter someone who assumes they are hostile invaders. Inevitably, someone takes a shot at an alien and starts a war, when all along everyone could have been best of friends.

New hunters are reminded never to pull the trigger unless they know what they are shooting. I know about this first hand, having been shot myself. 

Swat teams have the same mindset and can’t just kick in doors and start shooting at anything that moves. Members of the sheriff or police departments can’t just start banging away at every bad guy they think they see, not with the valid concern of shooting innocent people, or worse yet, children.

I know Hollywood does not portray these kinds of actions very accurately. Most often, in Hollywood shootouts, hundreds of rounds are zipping through the air, the majority of which hit buildings, cars, and windows because everyone is such a lousy shot. Anyone that does get hit is often just an expendable good or bad guy. It is important to know what someone is shooting at before they pull the trigger.

With that in mind, it would also be important for someone to ‘know’ what they are aborting in an unwanted pregnancy. If it is just a ‘mass of cell tissue’ or a ‘lump of flesh’, then we have nothing to discuss, but if it is more than that, it would be valuable to know.

I did hear Greg Koukl give this example of a boy walking up behind his mom, who was doing the dishes. The boy was behind her and asked, “Mommy, can I kill this?” 1 Well, what is the first reaction out of the mouth of the mother? She would turn and look, or she would ask, “What is it?” Now, if it was an unwanted household pest like a spider or a cockroach, most of us would give permission. If it was a snake or a bird, then probably not. If it was a dog or a cat, definitely not. If it was the infant from next door, emphatically not!

I don’t know if it was Greg Koukl who came up with the acronym SLED, or if someone else had thought of it first, but it can be a simple tool to make your case for the right to life. SLED stands for:
Size
Level of Development
Environment
Degree of Dependency

Let’s take a moment and look at each one. Starting with size and equating the value of a person on how large or small they are is foolishness. I don’t think anyone would dispute this. Are basketball players more valuable due to their size? Are parents more valuable than their children? How many of you remember William Perry, aka The Refrigerator, who played for Chicago Bears after being hand-picked by Mike Ditka. In high school, he played at 295 pounds! Those of you over the age of 40 might remember the song by Randy Newman, “Short People”.  A song I would play for my girlfriend back then, (she was short). We can laugh at songs like that, especially those of us who are tall, but in all seriousness, height or size has nothing to do with the inherent value of a person.

Level of Development is another consideration for those considering an abortion. Does the value of a human being lessen because of their level of development? Is a 16 year old boy more valuable than a 6 year old boy? If the level of development matters, then anyone prior to puberty would have less value than someone past puberty. Same would be true from an infant to a toddler, or a newborn to an infant. Does a fetus in the first trimester have less value than one in the 2nd trimester? Some might argue that point, but if that is true, then we should be able to apply that to everyone. Obviously we can’t, so level of development cannot determine the value of a human being.

What about environment, or location? Does your value increase or decrease depending on where you are located? Do you have more or less value because you are at work, home, in your car? Do you have more value on the left side of your sofa then on the right side of your sofa? How about those in another country? Do those that live in third world countries have less value than those in developed countries? Does the value of an astronaut change if he is orbiting the earth or walking on the moon? Does your value change when you have traveled from mother’s uterus, though the birth-canal, to the hands of a waiting physician? Absolutely not. Value cannot be placed on a person depending on where they are found.

Finally, we have the degree of dependency which again is a point some might argue. If you look at this issue sensibly, then you will see it has nothing to do with the value of a person. How many of you know someone with skills or talents that have allowed them to be less dependent on others, in particular parents, sooner than others. Is the young adult who is pro-active and finds a job right out of high school have greater value than another who has not found a job? As a child grows and matures, do they have greater value as the months pass and they become less and less dependent? Do those that collect welfare have less value than those contributing to our tax base and have full time work? Do those working full time have more value than those working part time? How about those who need dialysis or heart medication on a weekly basis; is their value less due to the medication they need? Obviously the answer to this is no, and to suggest the value of a person is dependent on their level of dependency is foolish.

After hearing these reasons, someone might respond, “So what? I agree with all this, but you still should not take away a woman’s right to choose.” I would respond, “Choose what?” Think about it, a woman’s right to choose what? Do women have the right to choose to kill an innocent human being? No, they don’t and neither does anyone else, because if size, level of development, environment, and level of dependence does not make a difference in the value of a person, then abortion is the killing of innocent human beings.

Someone might respond, “So you believe even in the case of rape, you would take away a woman’s right to choose?” Again I would ask, “A right to choose what?” “Because a woman was raped, does that give her the right to kill an innocent human being?” Ray Comfort asked, “Which is worse, rape or murder?” 2

Greg Koukl puts it this way, “Let me put the issue plainly. If the unborn is not a human person, no justification for abortion is necessary. However, if the unborn is a human person, no justification for abortion is adequate.” 3

Psalm 139:13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (NIV)

Psalm 127:3-4 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. (NIV)

1. Koukl, Greg. “Abortion-Only One Question”. Ambassador Basic Curriculum. Signal Hill, 2003. Lecture.
2. Comfort, Ray. “180 Movie” YouTube Video. YouTube. 21 September. 2011. Web. 25 July. 2013.
3. Koukl, Greg. “Abortion: One Key Issue” str.org. Stand To Reason, 30 March. 2013. Web. 20 July. 2013.

Sources:
http://standtherefore.com/blog/sled-the-case-against-abortion/
http://www.nrlc.org/NewsToday/SLED.html
http://www.str.org/videos/women-will-die-from-back-alley-abortions-if-abortion-was-made-illegal#.Ue8aJW3akQk
http://www.prolifetraining.com/five-bad-ways.asp
http://hopeafterabortion.com/?p=103
http://www.safehavenministries.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7y2KsU_dhwI
http://www.str.org/quickthoughts/abortion-one-key-issue#.Ue8adG3akQk

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