Monday, March 31, 2014

Erica Campbell's new release

MaryMary has a singer named Erica Campbell, and she released an album last week.  I have spent most of my life not listening to MaryMary, but I listened to "Help" today and loved it.  It meets the good music criteria for me.  It meets the good theology criteria for me.  I don't know much else about her or MaryMary, but this album is worth buying.

The first song was my favorite: Question.  Who killed Jesus?  She concludes that no one killed Jesus, but he laid down his life for her.  That is excellent.  So many people think people took Jesus's life, whether Roman or Jewish.  Some think God the Father made him die for us.  But no, Jesus could have called a legion of angels to help him out.  He determined to save his people by dying for them before the world was even created.

The title song, "Help" has help from Lecrae who I like theologically.  It is very God-centered and I might have to read the lyrics at some point.

She has one song called "POG." Power of God.  Sometimes gospel singers will emphasize the power of God as far as it can help in our daily lives.  Erica did not do this.  This is really about God's Power for his power's sake, not for what we can get from it.  Still, I prefer my acronym WOG (word of God).  That's the same thing.  I just want people to focus on Jesus and not on how his name can do special things.  Erica Campbell does this.

I will end with the song that's stuck in my mind: I Need a Little Jesus.  It's very simple and it kind of makes me laugh.  And it's catchy.

Taylor Chapter 2: Revolutions

Chapter 2 of Taylor introduces the Industrial Revolution in England.  Before this time, people lived in the country and lived off of the country.  Now these people were surrounded by factories and machines and concrete.  They could no longer appreciate the beauty of nature without extra effort. 

Taylor explains that no scientific work happened between Aristotle and the 19th century.  I’d have to see his sources on that. Instead, any scientific discovery in this time was actually a rediscovery which had been lost in the past 2000 years.  Chapter 2 focuses on 19th century individuals who sought to bring nature closer to the concrete jungle of industry.

Carl Linnaeus studied botany and medicine, all in Latin because that was the academic language.  He laid the foundation of natural history by classifying all the plants and animals into genus and species, all with Latin names.  This was based on the study of kinds.  The Hebrew word for a created kind is “min.”  The Latin word is “species.”  Species was used to identify the different created kinds created on creation week: dog, cat, horse, shellfish, etc.  It was based on what animals could reproduce with each other.  His system did rate organisms from simple to complex, humans being at the top.  He even placed humans with the orangutan.  However, this was not evolution.  It was simply an appreciation of all the variety God created in life.  This idea was hijacked shortly afterward, but its idea is to rejoice in the different kinds of life and the variety within those kinds that cannot be reproduced with other kinds.

Comte de Buffon was born to a wealthy French family.  He could communicate his ideas about science and math to all his peers.  Having everything on a silver platter, he also had a high self-esteem.  “He once declared that there were only five great men in the history of mankind: Newton, Bacon, Leibniz, Montesquieu -- and himself.”  At some point he rejected the Christian faith and became the biggest critic of Linnaeus.  He was the first to really champion the idea that species change in reaction to their environment.  This went against Linnaeus’s teaching that all species were fixed.  He proposed that the earth was created as a chunk pulled from the sun, and then the moon was a chunk pulled from the earth.  This began millions of years ago.  Since the Church was more influential at this point, his views were censured as heresy.  However, the seeds grew 100 years later to influence Darwin and all his followers.

Buffon died before the French Revolution, and then the French Revolution came and ousted anything royal or religious.  They wanted to start the free society where people made their own decisions.  Buffon’s son was sent to the Guillotine.  Buffon had worked for the Royal Garden.  Now it was named the Palace Garden.  Jean-Baptiste Lamarck worked there.  He died in poverty and people discredited his theories.  He decided that fossils in the rock layer disappeared but then reappeared in a later era.  This caused him to believe that life could form spontaneously from the right conditions.  He also believed that animals could pass characteristics on to their offspring, changes that could occur in reaction to the environment.  “The inheritance of inquired characteristics” is called “Lamarckism.”  He rejected the Genesis Flood and replaced it with gradual changes over long periods of time.  The Church could not object because the French Revolution had destroyed it.

Secular scientists dismissed Lamarckism as silly.  Baldness is inherited by genetics and not from any environment.  Jews circumcise their boys, but that marking does not show up in the next generation.  Lamarckism was not cool.  However, it does resurface.

Georges Cuvier became part of the natural history museum in Paris at a time when people debated whether the flood caused the fossil record or if different catastrophes through time caused it.  Cuvier developed a paleontological technique that could identify an animal based on its bone, even an extinct one.  He believed in the Christian faith and developed a geological theory that could be reconciled with the Flood account.  “He explained that God had not provided us with details of the early stages but had simply given the record since the quiet time before the great Flood. The theory allowed six thousand years or so from the beginning of the Bible record to the present time. He believed in the fixity of species, but in mid-life wavered towards the theory of the ‘chain of being,’”  Between Creation and the Flood, it seems that God sent many catastrophes until the big Flood, and then he only rescued Noah’s family and the animals.

Despite the French Revolution, the pro-God ideas of Linnaeus and Cuvier seemed to prevail.  Lamarck and Buffon were not taken seriously until the 1800s when unpopular ideas could be published more easily.

I'm still not completely sure why the French and the Industrial revolutions are lumped together.  England and France are so close together in geography, but one made life more socialistic and the other made it more capitalistic.  Both countries were challenged with less appreciation for God and his nature, and both had Christians defending the truth against blatant fancies such as Lamarckism.  The fancies will become more cool in the 1800s, but for this era, even the secular scientists are laughing at spontaneous generation.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

First Galileo, then...It just depends on the Spirit's illumination

I will quickly sum up the final thoughts of chapter one of Ian Taylor's book after the coming and passing of Galileo.  This all led to:

Voltaire, Rousseau, Locke, Hume, and Mill all envisioned a Utopia without a priest or a king.

Francis Bacon: A member of the Church of England.  He was unimpressed with most of Aristotle but he did like his empirical method for finding knowledge.  He adapted those principles of induction into the modern method for scientific investigation.  However, I think he was a Christian who believed in the supernatural.  Induction is a wonderful thing.  It alone can’t produce faith; only Jesus can do that.  But it is not only for people who doubt.  It can strengthen faith in God.  It only depends on the Holy Spirit’s action.

Rene Descartes began to question Bacon and wondered if the human senses were reliable at first sight.  He decided to doubt everything, and then he became aware of his self-awareness.  If he could think, then he was real.  “I think, therefore I am.”  That was his base for building a rational philosophy.  What’s funny, is Descartes was also a true believer.  He was woefully mistaken to make himself the base of knowledge and God.  Where would his thinking come from if not from God.  Christ is the only reason for knowledge whether by faith or empirical.  Descartes believed but his folly led so many people into humanistic thinking.

“Furthermore, his position contains the implication that man is good and therefore not subject to self-deception. But self-deception is caused by preconceived ideas or prejudice and lies at the very root of many problems in science, as we will see in subsequent chapters. Preconception causes us to hear only what we want to hear and to see only what we want to see, sometimes even seeing objects of our expectations, objects that do not exist. All this is well known to researchers today, yet preconception still leads to erroneous interpretations of data.”

Isaac Newton proved the theory of Gravity, making it a law.  He saw the mathematical laws that govern the universe.  This also has led people to believe that man and the cosmos are just mechanisms and nothing more.  But if we go back to Aquinas’s thinking, where would the mechanisms come from?  For something to be in motion, it must have had a start.  If people would take off their deistic biases, then the mathematical order in the universe would prove God and his constant care.

In a way, both Bacon and Descartes are right.  The inductive scientific method is great for honing our knowledge of God.  It ultimately cannot produce faith but can strengthen it depending on if a person is saved or not.  And Descartes is right to doubt the senses as humans do err, and faith is so much beyond the senses.  Both can accompany in belief in the supernatural and do not mean that people disbelieve in the resurrection and God’s miracles.  I greatly believe in them with my whole life, but I cannot verify the stories people tell about NDEs without the Bible’s testimony which says nothing about them after the year 70.  Faith isn’t based on somebody almost dying and seeing heaven or hell.  It is based on the testimony of the Holy Spirit found in the Scriptures.  With that we can be certain of God and his intervention.  We have no need for people who saw heaven or tongue speakers or healers.  We only need to be content with God and the situation he has us in now, trusting that it will all end for his Glory.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

John Knox's life and beyond

I will dedicate today's post to finishing the John Knox articles in March's Tabletalk.  There is always so much info to include.  I think I will start by including the dates in the article by Sinclair Ferguson.

Early 1500s -- Scotland had one thing in common with the rest of Europe: a deeply corrupt and spiritually impoverished church with morally moribund leadership.

This was the same Scotland that though copies of the New Testament were recent books by Martin Luther.

1539 -- The Trial of Thomas Forret; a prosecutor pulls a book out of his glove and says, "Behold, he has a book of heresy."  This book of heresy was also the New Testament.  The presiding bishop is told that and then says, "I thank God that I never knew what the Old and New Testament was."

1528 -- The first Scottish Reformer, Patric Hamilton is burned.

1546 -- George Wishart executed.  Knox was his bodygurd.

Between 1513 to 1515, John Knox was born.  He learned locally and at the University of St. Andrews.  He became a priest.

1547 -- Knox joined a group of Reformers at St. Andrews.  French ships came to St. Andrews and put it under siege, and they carried of Knox and his friends to be a galley slave for the next year and a half.

1549 -- Knox was released and pastored in Berwick, England.  He then moved to Newcastle.  He was royal chaplain to King Edward of England, leading the people in the Regulative Principle of worship: if Scripture doesn't mandate it, then it is forbidden.

1553 -- King Edward died and his half-sister "Bloody" Mary Tudor became Queen.  Knox fled back to the continent.

Between 1553 and 1559 -- He lived as a nomad and spent some time in Geneva with Calvin.

1555 -- He returned to Scotland to strengthen the reformation there.

1556 -- He married Marjory Bowes and returned to Geneva

1558 -- Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots was supposed to marry the dauphin of France.  Also, Bloody Mary died and was succeeded by Elizabeth I  He went to England for a time.  He then moved back to Scotland and had many debates with Mary  Queen of Scots.  Later, James VI became king and also James I of England, uniting the kingdoms.  He was influenced by John Knox

Summer of 1572 -- He had a stroke.  On November 24, he asked his wife to read to him 1 Corinthians 15 and then to read John 17 where he first cast his anchor.  He died that night.

He died a natural death.  And by that time, RC anger against Reformers finally came to a toleration.

Three ideas came to the world via Scotland.  Presbyterianism: Knox saw sense in a system that gave its authority to many church leaders who were elected by the people.  This made elder leadership cool.

The Westminster Standards: Both the Church of Scotland and the Church of England wrote them at the Westminster Assembly in London.  The Scots continued using the Westminster Confession of Faith and its Shorter Catechism, learned in every home.  The Confession, though written in England, was replaced by the Anglican 39 Articles.

The Sabbath: This is one I both agree and disagree with .  There actually is no Biblical precedent to celebrate Easter, Christmas, or Pentecost.  Instead, each Sunday is to be a holiday that celebrates all three.  The other 6 days of the week are for working.  Sociologists still call this the Protestant Work Ethic.  I personally love Christmas, Easter, and even Lent.  True, the New Testament ideal is to just celebrate it all on Sunday each week, but Jesus celebrated Hanukkah.  I can celebrate holidays, too.

All three of this ideas became transported to America.  A bunch of Presbyterians moved to Ulster, an area of Ireland.  Then the Scots-Irish ordained Francis Makemie who led them all to Maryland.  Makemie is the "Father of American Presbyterianism."  They moved down to Virginia and eventually to Georgia and the North Carolina Highlands.  This is pretty much why we have rednecks today.  Strongwilled people from Scotland gave way to revolution.  Scots such as John Witherspoon helped form the American Revolution and the Declaration of Independence was mostly signed by Presbyterians.  James Madison was Witherspoon's foremost pupil.  Ultimately, fighting for religious liberty is very Scottish, and standing for truth is something all Christians should strive for no matter what their nationality.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Take Me to the King

First, I'm going to try to talk more about music again on my blog.  I know am the music person at the Atlanta LifeWay, and so few Reformed bloggers talk about music.  I love Tim Challies and David Murray and RC Sproul, but they talk about books.  I love books.  They rarely talk about music.  More people will listen to music than take the time to read a book.

In the past 20 years there has been excellent Reformed music.  Caedmon's Call was really the first one I remember.  Derek Webb broke out and did his solo stuff.  Later on, I no longer listen to Derek Webb as he seems to be okay with the gay lifestyle.

In recent years the best theology is either by Indelible Grace, Sovereign Grace, or rappers such as Lecrae or Trip Lee.  Oh, and also Shai Linne.  Trip Lee even writes for Tabletalk.

The sad news is that people in south Atlanta rarely listen to good theology.  They go for Lecrae.  I like Lecrae.  He does seem to compromise with his secular supporters but he does rap the Gospel.  I think the next person I will try to listen to is Trip Lee even though I'm not a fan of rap.

I think of all the R&B gospel I've been listening to recently, my favorite is Tamela Mann.  Of all these singers, she seems to be one who truly sings for the Lord and not simply about what he can do for her or about miracles or dreams.  She truly sings repentance and the Gospel.

I recently listened to WOW Gospel 2014.  Great songs are on it.  "Take Me to the King" is not on it.  Of all songs, that song should be on it.  I also noticed that the song came out in 2012.  So maybe Tamela Mann was on that album.  In Christian songs that are generally popular among the citizens of Atlanta, this is a singer who truly gets it.  I listened to her other songs yesterday.  They are also very God-centered, cross-centered, centered on Jesus.  All people should be singing "Take Me to the King."

I hope to find other popular music that Reformed people should like.  There needs to be a revolution in music the way there has been in books and popular preachers.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Outside in the Cold: 7 reasons to baptize infants (yes a ranting about children's ministry)

You ever watch TV and see those Humane Society commercials.  They call you to adopt a pet before it gets euthanized and to incorporate it into your own home.  Usually Sarah McLachlan sings in the background.  Don't worry, I hate euthanasia.  I think it's horrible that pets get taken off the streets only to put them to death.  Why don't people simply let them be free and let them live in our cities with us?  Money?  It always comes down to money.

But anyway, I get even more angry that innocent human children are murdered in their wombs for the crime of being conceived at the wrong time.  Children in other countries grow up in baby cribs and are chronologically 10 years old but look like infants.  Why won't people take more time to give them more attention?  I know I'm guilty, too.  I haven't adopted any kids.  Even if I did, I can't really afford it.  If I got pregnant, I'd happily await a child nine months later, but still, how would I feed him or her?

[Just so you know, this post is inspired by church today.  I love that church dearly, but I greatly think the children need to be taken more seriously.  So here goes:] And then, I go to church and see a spoof of the Humane Society commercial in order to call for volunteers to serve in the children's ministry.  I admit, it was kind of funny, but it was tragic, too.  First, children are equated with pets.  Second, they are in the church but we never see them and they aren't actually considered in the church.  Third, the church won't baptize the infants and recognize them as members of the church because of no professing faith, but kids are growing up outside of Christ's visible family and being influenced by worldly influences because their parents see them as second-class somehow.  I know these arguments are rather ad hominem and kind of unfair, but think about it.  If our babies are denied baptism, then they are cut off from God's visible community and will be raised as if they are cut off from the invisible one as well.

So, in order to cause much controversy, I'll give some reasons you need to baptize your infants.

1. What if he grows up to be my autistic brother who will never knowingly consent to the faith simply because he cannot?  Should he be cut off from the visible church because of his disability?

2. What if a parent is afraid to lead a child to Christ when he is three because she clings to the idea that he's not to the age of accountability yet?  You know, the age of accountability that is nowhere in the Bible.  That will open a can of worms for another day.

3. Would you raise your infant boy or girl on the front porch until he or she was old enough to recognize mom and dad as the parents?  No, you take that child in and raise him until he grows up and either rebels or not. 

4. If he does rebel and returns, then does he have to re-enter his family by some ritual?  No, the family recognizes him as family even if he is prodigal.

5. Do all consenting adults who get baptized have a clue what they are doing?  I'm certain a vast majority of them don't based on the people who call themselves Christians but never read their Bibles or repent of their sins.

6.  Isn't God the only one who can decide who is in and out of the church?  Yes, whether we like it or not.  He's the one who led wicked king Manasseh and the Son of Sam to repentance.  He leads Muslims and atheists to his fold.  And godly leaders get into scandals and fall.  Just ask David and Solomon.

7.  Seriously, if you raise a girl to believe that she must get baptized to complete her Christian conversion, then you've raised her to believe in one more thing she has to do to be saved in her own power when you should be preaching that if she is saved, then Christ did everything for her.  If that is the case, then baptism is a visible sign that should be applied to her from out of the womb.

I can't think of any more reasons right now but I'm sure they will come.  The bottom line: honestly, when you have a baby, whether you baptize him or not, do include him as part of the visible church community.  Consider him a part of the Church until by his lifestyle he proves not to be.  And even then, continue to pray for him.  And if you do baby dedications, keep in mind you are doing the same thing we paedo-baptists do.  Just add water and consider the boy or girl in the family.  Not outside in the cold.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

More Ian Taylor: From Aquinas to Galileo

I was hoping this would be my last blog on the first chapter of In the Minds of Men by Ian Taylor.  There really is so much information needs to break down.  So, depending on how fast my husband gets home, I'll see what I can cover.

So far, Taylor gives a history of belief in the supernatural v. anti-supernaturalism.  People who believe in the other world and those who do not.  At first this develops into Plato v. Aristotle.  Plato believed that this visible world was only shadows and that the unseen was the real thing.  Aristotle did believe in God, but he was more of a deist.  His faith was only in what could be seen and experimented. 

Move through about 1000 years of Christendom, this debate morphs into Augustine v. Thomas Aquinas.  I like the former more than I like the later, but it's hard to be against Aquinas when RC Sproul likes him so much.  I don't like him like he does, but I think he was a decent man and a true Christian who was wrong on things.  I think the same about both Sproul and John MacArthur, though I go more for Sproul who is Presbyterian and amillennial. 

Augustine followed Plato, both the good and the bad.  He believed in a much more real world that could not be seen, this one being all shadows.  He originated the modern belief in predestination and total depravity based on Scripture and his own testimony.  Ultimately, he believed without question.  Thomas followed more Aristotle.  The thing is, Thomas was not a deist.  He was a real Christian who believed in the supernatural.  However, his love for Aristotle led him to believe in transubstantiation, the idea of "accidens."  It could look like bread but could really be the Body, and the look would be the accidens.  Really, that sounds more Platonic than Aristotelian, but just the same, Thomas had to experiment more to come to what he believed.

Now to start the rest of the blog.  I will post words and post my thoughts on them.

Renaissance: Means "new birth" and began when Arab traders began having commerce with the Europeans.  They brought with them Greek texts, Greek science, and exciting innovations.  Sure they destroyed Constantinople and Jerusalem, but these guys were progressive!  The good news is that people began to read the original Greek and Hebrew Bible.  The bad news, is that it did lead to a more humanistic view of life.  However, the Renaissance saw a resurgence of art, music, and devotion to the Lord that was more interested in what the Bible said over what church tradition taught.  So at this time there was the tension between Church tradition, the Bible, and humans wanting to be free from restraint.  There is much overlap but also many differences.

Printing Press: Johan Gutenberg invented it in 1465.  Now books and literature were cheaper and more accessible to the public.  Now, the average Joe had access to the Scriptures.  Some places where translating them from Latin into the vernacular languages.  Luther would not have been nearly as successful had it not been for this watershed technology.  And it was invented by a devout Christian who spread the Bible to the known world.  It was a Renaissance concept, but one from the Lord.

Ptolemy of Alexandria: he was an Egyptian Aristotelian who really popularized the concept of a geocentric universe.  He was to that believe as Darwin is to evolution.  It existed before him, but he got his name on it.  The Muslim traders adopted this view and passed it on to Latin Europe.  To think that this is Aristotelian actually makes no sense to me.  If this belief is supposed to be based on inductive reasoning, then there is no way a person could come up with an earth-centered universe made of revolving spheres that rubbed against each other.  This is more based on seeing that the sun and moon does seem to move in the sky around the earth.  But there is no inductive reasoning that could lead to the idea of the spheres.  This is more of a theory that was not proven but accepted as fact since no experiment could be conducted to prove it one way or another.

This is exactly what has happened with Darwinism today.  There is no empirical process to lead anyone to those believes.  Sure there is speciation and natural selection, but it does not mean that they all came from one species that also evolved from nothing.  You can't prove it took millions of years or one hundred.  Without God's Word to contradict it, you can't prove it false either.  So it just melted into accepted fact and the church began to accept that as dogma.  It was the new geo-centrism proved by twisting Scripture texts so that church men could sleep at night.

John Wycliffe: I wish I could write that name and someone would not mispronounce it.  That would be a false hope though.  It's not pronounced like Wyclef Jean.  It is Why, not Whi.  As a priest in England, he noticed that his parishioners believed in faith as a part of their culture and their tradition.  They believed whatever the priest said.  They could not check the sources.  He translated the Bible into English, and soon people began to follow that.  The church authorities became concerned that they could not control the people or keep their coffers filled since they could think independently.  Therefore, they made it illegal to translate the Bible.  Many people burned at the stake because they wanted all people to know the complete truth for themselves.  Men like Jan Hus who was promised safety but then burned because the church didn't keep promises to "heretics."  And he was only a heretic because his beliefs opposed the pope and called him into question.  The good think is John Wycliffe did not get martyred until after he died.  The church exhumed his bones and burned them to ashes when they linked him to Jan Hus.

Martin Luther: He enjoyed the privilege of living after the invention of the printing press.  Wycliffe and his followers known as the Lollards had to copy the Bible over and over by hand and use a lot of paper and ink.  The printing press catalyzed the process by the time Luther was nailing theses to the Wittenburg door.  That was how his 95 these got translated to German and copied for all the town to read.  That was how it spread to Rome. 

Plus, in Luther's time, more people were able to translate the Bible into German and Italian and English and print it.  Luther was concerned about the sale of indulgences.  He was not completely against them, but he noticed how people who purchased them did not really repent of their sins.  He also suffered from never thinking that he could be good enough to be accepted by God after completing penance after penance.  If asked if he loved God, he would say, "Sometimes I hate him."

Luther read the epistle to the Romans and realized that the Bible's teaching was nothing like what the Church taught.  This lit the powder keg that exploded into both the Reformation and the split of the Western Church.  What does this have to do with Aristotle and Plato?  It really seems that empiricism leads to more Biblical truth and more accurate science, making this more after the fashion of Aristotle.  But Luther realized he needed Plato's "sixth sense" to be able to accept both the supernatural and see that the visible world confirms it.

Copernicus: Sometime between Halloween of 1517 and the Council of Trent, Nicolas Copernicus became concerned that the dogmatised geo-centrism had too much influence from the Arabs and from Aristotelian deism.  Neither the Bible nor his observation of the skies confirmed it.  He theorized about the universe making more sense if the sun was placed at the center with all the planets revolving around it.  He died at a ripe old age before his findings could really become popular.

Council of Trent: Between Copernicus and Galileo, the mother Church finally decided to do something about Luther's teachings.  They definitely needed to be addressed.  It was at this Council that they affirmed the 66 books of the Bible, plus the Apocrypha.  Luther had decided that the Apocryphal books were not authoritative Scripture as they came from Alexandrian Egypt during the exile and nobody knew who wrote them.  The Jews knew who wrote the Protestant Old Testament by the time it was canonized but could not account for these extra writings.  They had good stories and history, but Luther saw them as authoritative as any other non-Bible book you can buy at LifeWay.  It wasn't evil.  Jesus celebrated Hanukkah.  But it wasn't exactly in sync with Scripture.  The Council of Trent included the Apocrypha. 

They affirmed many things I agree with.  There is no salvation outside of God's church.  Paedobaptism is the proper form of baptism as it initiates a baby into the visible covenant community.  They affirmed the need of Christ and God's grace.  The sad thing, they did not accept salvation by faith alone and grace alone through Christ alone.  They believed that a believer needed to practice penance and work off their sin even in Purgatory after Christ had initially saved them.  They taught the need to go to an intercessor to get to Christ, such as a saint or Mary.  They anathematized the Protestants who believed Christ's sacrifice was good enough for all time and that he is the intercessor.  He is the intercessor between God and man and needs no other agent to link us.  From what I can see as a devout Protestant is that the RC church practically excommunicated itself and chose not to believe in Christ the same way the Jews decided not to believe.  They've become more accepting of non-Catholics since Vatican II, but they have never recanted their anathemas and actually went to far in accepting anyone in trying to be tolerant.  We still can't reunite the churches today, although Christ will come someday and put our Humpty Dumpty church back together.

Galileo: I think I'm going to end this everyone's favorite controversialist: Galileo Galilei.  He read Copernicus's writings, then built a telescope, and he observed that the heavens orbited around the sun and not the earth, just as as Copernicus had theorized.  His friends in the church helped him to keep this knowledge a secret for a while to avoid persecution, but by keeping it secret, everyone knew about it.  The Church had already excommunicated Luther and his followers as heretics. 
Galileo was presenting yet another thing that went against church dogma and refused to investigate.  They would not look in the telescope and believe.

In the same way the church is refusing to even listen to the reasoning of 7-day Creationists who have reinterpreted the geology, the fossils, the genetics so that they do not contradict Scripture.  They want to keep believing that man knows more about creation and salvation than God does who invented it all.  We may not always understand paradoxes this side of heaven, but at this point, it is clear that both Scripture and science negate evolution and millions of years just like they proved a heliocentric universe.  And this is not a Catholic/Protestant issue.  This isn't even a divide between natural and supernatural.  This is simply a choice of will you trust God's account of his own creation and speculate along those lines, or are you going to give in to any negativity that has solidified into faulty dogma?  Is it man's word or God's word that you will follow?  You have to choose at some point.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Taylor: from Ancient Greeks to Medieval times

Last week I started analyzing a book written by Ian Taylor called In the Minds of Men.  At least for chapter 1, Taylor discusses the supernatural and the history of people who believed in it.  He unjustly mixed belief in the supernatural with belief in near-death experiences where people see heaven or hell.  I'm a testimony that I believe in God and all that he makes clear in the Bible.  I doubt many NDE stories.  It looks like today, I will consider the historic figures that he listed and discuss their beliefs in the other world.

Socrates believed in an afterlife.  He couldn't put a name to what he believed but he knew it was out there and he knew it was not the Greek pantheon of gods.

Plato also believed in God but also believed in reincarnation.  His religion took a more pantheistic turn.

Protagoras was an atheist.  To him, man was the measure of all things.

Aristotle took a more deist approach that lived on in Benjamin Franklin.  God is there but he's like an absentee landlord.  He made the world and all its creatures, but he left them to run at their own pace.  He gave all people organs with a build-in purpose to develop according to plan.  This was not chance, but still God is not actively involved other than in getting the ball rolling.

Plato and Socrates believed because of revelation.  Plato had come in contact with Old Testament writings in Alexandria and was exposed to the correct God.  He believed in this sixth sense of knowledge that cannot be described in human language.  This is not the kind of knowledge that saves from hell.  Direct belief in God's promised Messiah saves from hell.  We're not sure if Plato achieved a correct understanding of that or not.

Aristotle based his knowledge completely on experience.  He had to experience something to know it.  He had very little time for revelation.

Democritus took the original philosophies of Thales, et. al., and developed the atom theory.  The ancients believed that creation could be broken down to its elements of water, air, earth, and wind.  Based on that idea, Democritus believed that all matter could be broken down to indivisible atomic elements unseen to the naked eye.  This paved the way for the periodic table of the elements and has been built upon.  Looking at the space within an atom, this theory leaves no real room for the supernatural, at least not empirically. 

Constantine fought for Rome at the Milvian Bridge.  He saw a sign in the heavens of the Chi-Rho, the first two letters in Christ and a symbol for the Christians.  A voice said to fight under that sign.  From that point on, Christianity was legalized and got to enjoy peace for about 1000 years.  Plato had a very muddled understanding of Christ.  I don't know if he completely accepted it, but he was not against it.  Constantine had a very good understanding of theology and a supernatural experience, but he still followed the Arian Christology that was declared a heresy under his own rule.  He did not fully accept Christ's deity.  It goes to show that even if these visions do exist, they do not necessarily signify salvation or even someone's integrity.  Even king Saul prophesied.

But Plato most likely had a life free of any signs or wonders, and I'm certain he would have accepted the real Christ with his full deity had he been completely exposed to it.  He was certainly a better scientist than Constantine.  The latter was simply a good politician.  It is possible to doubt in the veracity of someone's supernatural vision and still believe in all the supernatural activity that God makes clear in his Word.

From Constantine, the world mostly took Plato's paradigm.  Augustine loved Plato, even to his detriment.  Many of Plato's wonderful ideas about form and reality did pave the way for gnostic sentimentality to creep into the church, and this was when people really started to avoid sexuality and to deny their bodies in the confusion that visual matter was not important or even evil.  It is true that God's unseen world is much more substantial than what we can see, but he did give us physical bodies, a planet, and sent Jesus in a physical body.  God is more important, but he does place importance on the body and natural biological functions.  It is just not godly to take on a complete monasticism when God's gifts are to be enjoyed and used to populate the earth.

The 1200s came, and people began to read more Greek manuscripts.  The Church began to imbibe more Aristotelian philosophy that was sold by the Islamic scientists who made all the technological advancements.  Ian Taylor has a lower view of Thomas Aquinas than I have.  I don't like him as much as RC Sproul does, but he was a true believer who really did try to honor God.  Sadly, he tried to reconcile the irreconcilable: Biblical supernaturalism with Aristotle's naturalism.  They cannot completely mix.  He basically opened God's revelation to be scrutinized by human reason.  He decided that neither the supernatural nor the natural can be tested, so he accepted both.  This cannot happen. 

This is what opened the church to become more focused on man and what he can do to attain salvation rather than simply trust the Christ gave the Church salvation completely free.  He solidified the 7 sacraments which have a lot of basis in truth but places too much import on human action.  They started turning their backs on Augustinian theology and moved toward Pelagian theology.  They went from being complete sinners in need of salvation to basically good people who can succeed with the right education.  The Bible teaches the former.  It is against the later.  We are woefully lost and corrupt without God's grace.  There is nothing alright about us without him.

Just the same, the Church took on the "man-is-basically-good" paradigm and began to develop legalistic rituals without explaining their meaning, and they integrated secular science in with their dogma.  When people were able to start reading the Bible for themselves after the time of Gutenberg, this started a riot on Wittenberg that shattered the unity of Christ's church until the time Christ returns to put Humpty back together again.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Knox and the Kirk

Hallelujah, it's March and Tabletalk is dedicated to John Knox!  How much do we know about the Scottish Reformer who took John Calvin's ideas and transported them all over the world?  We know of Luther.  We know of Calvin.  We even know of Henry VIII.  But we know so little about the English and Scottish Reformations that brought Henry to the point of wanting to leave the RC church, selfish reasons aside.

"Give me Scotland, or I die!"  John Knox prayed this.  My supposed ancestor, Mary Queen of Scots would say, "I fear the prayers of John Knox more than all the assembled armies of Europe."

The Scottish Reformation started with Patrick Hamilton, born in royalty and given a job as an abbot, he studied in Paris in 1520.  In Paris, he began to read the works of the Church's favorite heretic, Martin Luther.  Afterward, he went back to Scotland and lectured at the University of St. Andrews.  Archbishop James Beaton began to threaten Hamilton, so he exited to Marburg and became even more acquainted with Luther's teachings and met William Tyndale.  Safe or unsafe, Scotland needed this knowledge that he came to love in Germany to his Scots.  Sure enough, Archbishop Beaton caught up with him and had him burned at the stake on February 29, 1528 in front of St. Salvatore's Chapel at St. Andrews.  He was the first martyr for the Scot Reformation.

The leaders of Scotland said, "No manner of person, stranger, that happens to arrive with their ships within any part of this Realm shall bring with them any books or works of the said Luther."  They would not even hear what he had to say.  He sent ripples through Europe, and Scotland would always be Scotland.  This started four decades of burning Protestant writings and then men who brought them to shore.

The next big name was George Wishart, also born to Scotland royalty in 1513.  He taught at the University of Aberdeen and taught languages.  Through reading the Greek New Testament, he found a Gospel that was completely different and infinitely better than the religion that the people practiced.  The Scot leaders also branded him as a heretic, so he fled to Switzerland where he met Calvin.

During that time, Henry VIII could no longer keep his pants zipped, so he started the Anglican Church.  He invited Wishart to England to possibly help him arrange a Protestant marriage for Prince Edward.  He did go back to Scotland.  He also decided to stay and have nothing to do with Henry.  Cardinal David Beaton, relative of James Beaton, had Wishart burned at the stake on March 1, 1546.  In no time, both Mary Stuart and Mary Tudor (Bloody Mary) were ruling the British Isles, and many people such as John Knox had to flee to the continent.  This bloody time ended with the martyrdom of Walter Myln, burned as a heretic at age 82.  He said, "I am fourscore and two years old, and could not live long by the course of nature; but a hundred better shall arise out of the ashes of my bones."

Time went on and Bloody Mary died.  Elizabeth I was Queen of England.  Full of hope, John Knox returned to Scotland.  He and other Protestants started a rebellion in 1559.  1560, the Scottish Parliament ended papal authority, removed Mass, and adopted the Scots Confession and the First Book of Discipline.  This was the beginning of the Kirk, the Presbyterian Church.

At first there were not many trained teaching elders in the land.  This church had an office of "reader" who would read the Bible from the pulpit and "expositors."  These guys were licensed to "exposit" on the Scriptures read.  Soon, more men became ordained to the Kirk.  Knox began to interpret John Calvin's doctrines to identify three marks of a true church: proper preaching of the word, proper administration of the sacraments of Communion and Baptism, and church discipline.

At some point, after James IV of Scotland and I of England ruled the united kingdoms, King Charles I, more Catholic-minded, and Archbishop Laud arranged for a Scottish Book of Common Prayer.  The goal was to use it in church in Glasgow where Knox preached.  Jenny Geddes was a marketer who would come to church and bring her stool to sit on as there was little room in the sanctuary.  Shen she heard the minister reading from the Prayer Book, she threw the stool at his head and said, "The Devil cause you colic in your stomach, false thief.  Dare you say Mass in my ear?"

As you can see, without Scotland, there is no Southern American pride.  When they found the truth and found that they loved it more than living, they willingly burned at the stake and chucked stools and clergymen so that the land of Scotland would no longer be starved for the true Gospel, only to rot in meaningless rituals again.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ian Taylor's Muddled Chronology

I'm getting very close to the end of Justin Martyr's canon.  At this point, his brilliant ideas simply repeat.  That means I'll remember them better, but I'm also going to wander over to other philosophers on the internet.

Today I ran into Ian Taylor.  He was born in Britain and worked as a metallurgist.  When he became a Christian he joined up with a Canadian evangelist.  He wrote this work called In the Minds of MenIt is available to read.  I think I'm going to follow this for a while.  He presents really good information on philosophy, science, and major paradigms throughout history.  The factual part is very good.  The chronological aspect is terrible.  It's like, he mentions the Council of Trent, followed by Wycliffe who had been dead for some time by that point, followed by Luther which was the reason for the Council of Trent, then the Renaissance which was more the reason for Wycliffe, and then to Voltaire.  It's like he gets the Renaissance and the 17th century Enlightenment confused.  No, these span a good 400 years and are not the same thing.  Similar, but not the same.

He starts out by mentioning Plato's story of the soldier on his funeral pyre who suddenly woke up and talked to his dad about what he had seen on the other side.  He then talks of Near Death Experiences and how some people believe in them and many don't.  Then he explains how mostly people who believe in NDEs believe in supernature and a Creator God.  Those who don't eventually stop believing in divine revelation.

It's not that easily divided, Ian.  I will die for my believe in Jesus, God the Creator in 6 days, the Virgin Birth, and Resurrection.  However, as a cessationist, I do not believe new revelation has come from the Lord since the death of the Apostles.  For that reason, I seriously doubt people can see glimpses of either heaven or hell at least accurately before they have completely died.  According to Ian Taylor, you'd think I agreed with Darwin in that NDEs are not certain because they are not testable.  Far from that.  Divine revelation is a given fact of history testified by witnesses.  NDEs simply happen on surgical tables or in car wrecks and get published into popular books.  I greatly believe in revelation, just not in isolated events that are merely legend.

Other than that, I do feel like he accurately describes Plato, Aristotle, Galileo, the medieval Roman Church, the French Endarkeners, and even Thomas Aquinas.  He is really hard to pin down and I might have to break down this first chapter into pieces because it is so hard to process at one time.  So far, I see this man as brilliant who shows his process and sources, but is not discerning as to what is real revelation or not.  That is very dangerous.  Anyway, I shall proceed later.