googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: October 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Greatest Apostle

Jesus has several disciples: perhaps hundreds or maybe even thousands. The Greek word translated as disciple is μαθητής (mathētēs) which Strong’s defines (word #3101) as, “a learner, i.e. Pupil – disciple.” Luke 6:13 says there came a time when Jesus called His disciples and chose from among them twelve men whom He also named, “Apostles.”

The word, “apostle” is the untranslated Greek word ἀπόστολος (apostolos). Though the word apostle has now made its way into English, the word originally meant, “a messenger, ambassador, or envoy.” It is literally, “he that is sent.” The cognate verb of ἀπόστολος is ἀποστέλλω (apostellō), “to send forth.” “Apostle” is an appropriate title. These were the men Christ chose to be sent out into the world with His gospel.

As I was reading in Luke the other day, I came across this interesting passage:

δὲ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτοὺς ὅτι καὶ ταῖς ἑτέραις πόλεσιν εὐαγγελίσασθαί με δεῖ τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ θεοῦ, ὅτι ἐπὶ τοῦτο ἀπεστάλην.

But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent" (Luke 4:43).

ἀπεστάλην is the first person, singular, aorist, passive of ἀποστέλλω, meaning, “I was sent.” Isn’t that interesting? Jesus was sent. He was literally the first Apostle – the Apostle of God to the world! This got me to thinking about other passages where the word was used.

One very interesting passage comes from John:

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τοῦτό ἐστιν τὸ ἔργον τοῦ θεοῦ ἵνα πιστεύητε εἰς ὃν ἀπέστειλεν ἐκεῖνος.

Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent." John 6:29

So, to do the work of God, we are to believe in that one whom God sent.

John also gave us this insightful example:

καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ὕπαγε νίψαι εἰς τὴν κολυμβήθραν τοῦ Σιλωάμ ἑρμηνεύεται ἀπεσταλμένος. ἀπῆλθεν οὖν καὶ ἐνίψατο καὶ ἦλθεν βλέπων.

"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing. John 9:7

Here we have ἀπεσταλμένος, the passive, perfect, participle of ἀποστέλλω, meaning “the one having been sent.” Jesus told the blind man that, to be healed, go to the One who has been sent.

The good news is not the word of Paul, John, or Peter. It is the message of the greatest of those who were sent – Jesus. And if we want healing for our souls, we need to go to The One who was sent.

The Hollywood Left is at it Again

We have a new movie – a pseudo-documentary from that wise-cracking, cable-TV guy, Bill Maher titled, Religulous. It’s meant to be an irreverent look at religion in America but, from some commentaries I’ve read, it’s more of an attack on Christianity in particular. Needless to say, it’s received some warm reviews from Hollywood critics.

I read the 14 or so critics’ reviews of Religulous and, overall, they gave it a “B.” E-online (who gave it an “A”) said this about the movie:
“Beginning and ending in Megiddo, Israel, "the spot where the Christians believe the world will end in the book of Revelation," Bill Maher manages a mind-blowing documentary about religion less blasphemous (and vicious) than you'd expect from the fiery host of HBO's Real Time…

Beginning at a trucker's church in Raleigh, N.C., his greatest target is the corruption of Christianity and Catholicism, which he notes has been about "f--king little kids and burning people alive."…

Surprisingly, Maher is only occasionally mean-spirited”
Only occasionally?

As I write this, Religulous has been in theaters 3 weeks and has grossed just over $9 million. It opened in the number 10 spot on the Weekend Box Office and has fallen to number 16 currently.

Interestingly though, there is another movie that came out the week before Religulous, the overtly Christian film, Fireproof. Admittedly it’s been out one week longer than Religulous, but in its 4 week run it has grossed so far over $20.5 million, more than twice the ticket sales of Religulous. It spent the first 3 weeks of its run in the Top Ten of the Weekend Box Office, opening at the number 4 spot. It currently sits at number 11.

So, by any measure, the religious film, Fireproof has been far more successful than the irreligious film, Religulous. But how have the critics received it? Well, I wouldn’t know. According to Yahoo movies, no critic has thus far seen it! I’m not kidding, there’s not a single review from the professional critics.

Maybe I’m over reacting. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence that Yahoo movies snubbed a conservative movie and gushed over a more liberal one. That’s not a common practice, is it? Well, there are also 2 more movies out currently: the (alleged) biography of President Bush, W. and the conservative spoof of Michael Moore, American Carol. W. received a “B-” after being reviewed by 14 critics. American Carol? You guessed it – again not a single review!
What exactly is going on here? Does Hollywood think that if they ignore the religious or conservative movies that they’ll just go away? I guess so. But as long as people keep voting with their pocket book and go see the Christian friendly flicks, there will hopefully continue to be companies out there willing to produce them. Maybe someday the Hollywood elitists will get it!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Another Case Study in Evolutionist Arguments

bobxxxx is back.

A mysterious poster left a comment on another blog that I had to moderate because it contained offensive language. Well, bobxxxx has returned and this time has left FOUR comments on my last blog (this time free of vulgarity)! Occasionally, I take the opportunity of a commenter’s remarks to make additional points. Since bobxxxx’s comments have typified several evolutionists’ comments, I wanted to use his comments as a sort of case study. Bobxxxx’s comments will be listed in green below and indented. I will respond in normal font and paragraph.
You obviously know nothing about science. What makes you think you're qualified to talk about it?
Apparently bobxxxx was not persuaded by my blog, What is the Scientific Evidence for Creationism. In it I made the point that non-scientists are allowed to form opinions on evolution. I gave the following analogy:

In the US, it’s average citizens who are called on to sit on juries. We're not all lawyers, scientists, policemen, or criminologists of any kind. Yet we go and listen to the testimony of the “experts”: the lawyers plead the case, the scientists present the forensic evidence, we hear from the eye witnesses, and then we (the average folks) are called on to render a verdict. Perhaps it's not a perfect system but most people feel it is the best system.

bobxxxx still seems to believe that only trained scientists are qualified to criticize evolution. I guess the rest of us are supposed to sit down and shut up? I’m not sure of bobxxxx’s qualifications but I would be surprised if he were a scientist. I guess non-scientists who believe in evolution are qualified enough to embrace the theory; it’s only us non-believers in evolution that need to study more.
We know a new species can develop from another species. Of course it's a very gradual process, but it has been going on for billions of years.
I’d like to make a couple of points here.

First, bobxxxx is equating speciation with evolution. This was another quibble that I had wanted to include in my blog, Evolution by Definition. If the trend seen among peppered moths had continued and only one variety of moth were left, or if the light/dark moths were somehow separated into separate populations, the new population of moths might be identified as a new species and then “macroevolution” is said to have occurred. Well, it has occurred by definition but it still doesn’t demonstrate how all life could have descended from a common ancestor.

But also, speciation usually occurs by removing traits from a population. I wrote about speciation in a previous blog titled, The Real Origin of Species. Evolution requires organisms to acquire traits. For a hairless reptile to become a hairy mammal, it has to acquire hair. I would be more persuaded by evolution if it proposed that dinosaurs were actually birds that LOST feathers – of course, that doesn’t explain how feathers evolved in the first place.
How can biologists be so certain of this? Because they can see the history of life with their own eyes when they compare DNA sequences of living animals. For example biologists now have the complete genome of the human apes and the chimpanzee apes. Biologists who compare the DNA of these two ape species are discovering every day more evidence for the fact these two animals are closely related.
Similar DNA is only assumed by evolutionary biologists to be evidence of common descent. If DNA codes for structure, shouldn’t similar animals have similar DNA? A human is more like a chimp than a fish; I would predict human DNA would be more like a chimp’s than a fish’s. Lo, that’s actually what we see! I made more comments on this point in my blog, Evolutionist spin on DNA.
Biologists are absolutely 100% certain people and chimps share ancestors who lived about 5 or 6 million years ago. Biologists are as certain about this fact as astronomers are certain about the earth's orbit around the sun.
Oh, I agree they’re 100% convinced. But that by itself is not evidence of anything.
Don't believe me? Then look it up. The powerful and rapidly growing evidence for evolution from molecular biology and genetics is available to anyone who knows how to use google.
Wait a minute! I didn’t think I was qualified to have an opinion on anything scientific. You mean ANYONE can look up scientific facts? Gee, I’m anyone so I guess that would include me too!
Creationists need to grow up and face facts. They disgrace their religion when they deny modern scientific discoveries.
This argument has always killed me. Why do people who seem to be so irreligious seem concerned that we “disgrace” our religion. They don’t seem to have any qualms about disgracing our religion. They seldom have anything nice to say about it.
They should learn how educate themselves without letting their religious indoctrination get in the way. They need to study and understand scientific discoveries first and worry about the religious implications later. It's a terrible waste of a life to never understand how the natural world works.
This is a typical argument that creationists are “science haters.” It’s a bald assertion. See my post, I Don’t Hate Science.
Now, I'm a full-blown, young-earth creationist (YEC). [quoting RKBentley]

That's disgraceful. Your idea that the earth is just a few thousand years old requires the denial of just about every branch of science.
Ditto my last comment. Also, see my blog, Defining Creation Away.
It's your life you're wasting, not mine. So I don't care what you believe. I just hope you have the decency to keep your breathtaking ignorance out of our schools.
Ah, but he does seem to care what I believe though he’s obviously unaware of my position about creation in schools. See my blog, The Strengths and Weaknesses of Evolution.
I'm not a scientist [quoting RKBentley]

Yes, it's extremely obvious you're not a scientist. You don't even know what science is. (Hint - scientists don't invoke magic fairies. Even the most religious scientists know they can't say "Here a miracle occurred". They know invoking God is not doing science. Instead it's called preaching. No competent scientist in the world would invoke supernatural magic to solve a scientific problem.)
Hmmm. This just seems to be an elaboration of bobxxxx’s first point above. He wants to make creation a non-issue by definition. That is, “Creationism cannot be real because it’s not scientific.” I refer you again to my blog, Defining Creation Away.

Wow. This was too easy. bobxxxx’s arguments are so cliché that I had already answered most of them in advance of him making them. There are few original arguments made by lay-evolutionists. As Christian apologists, we need to be aware of the usual claims so that we’re ready to answer them (1 Peter 3:15). Read also my blog, A Case Study in Bad Arguments for some other examples.

I want to thank bobxxxx for visiting my blog and for the opportunity to use his comments as material for a new post. Future, profanity-free comments by bobxxxx likely be published but ignored.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Evolution by Definition

How many times have you heard that we “observe” evolution happening? But I don’t believe evolution happens at all. How can these seeming opposite views both be true? It all boils down to this – what does someone mean when he says, “evolution.”

Consider some of these definitions of “evolution” given on the popular, evolutionist site, (TO).
"In the broadest sense, evolution is merely change, and so is all-pervasive; galaxies, languages, and political systems all evolve. Biological evolution ... is change in the properties of populations of organisms that transcend the lifetime of a single individual. The ontogeny of an individual is not considered evolution; individual organisms do not evolve. The changes in populations that are considered evolutionary are those that are inheritable via the genetic material from one generation to the next. Biological evolution may be slight or substantial; it embraces everything from slight changes in the proportion of different alleles within a population (such as those determining blood types) to the successive alterations that led from the earliest protoorganism to snails, bees, giraffes, and dandelions."
That’s a fairly lengthy way of saying, “evolution is change.” When we see any change in a population, we are seeing “evolution.” The same article goes on to say:
"In fact, evolution can be precisely defined as any change in the frequency of alleles within a gene pool from one generation to the next."
This is, by far, the most commonly accepted definition of evolution by secular biologists. As far as utility, it’s not a bad definition. It’s certainly objective. The problem is that it’s still just a clinical way of “evolution is change.”

There is still another definition offered in the same TO article:
"evolution: The gradual process by which the present diversity of plant and animal life arose from the earliest and most primitive organisms, which is believed to have been continuing for the past 3000 million years."
OK, this is more like it. This is more along the lines of what most people think of when they hear “evolution.” But NO! TO doesn’t like that definition. In fact, they condemn it in the strongest way:
“This is inexcusable for a dictionary of science. Not only does this definition exclude prokaryotes, protozoa, and fungi, but it specifically includes a term "gradual process" which should not be part of the definition. More importantly the definition seems to refer more to the history of evolution than to evolution itself. Using this definition it is possible to debate whether evolution is still occurring.” [bold added for emphasis]
Now we see what’s going on. Evolutionists don’t like this definition because it makes it harder for them to claim evolution is still occurring. But do evolutionists really do that? Do they point to just any example of change and call it evolution? You bet your booty they do!

Consider the peppered moth. In this famous example, during the time of the industrial revolution, birds would eat particular coloration of moth depending on which offered better camouflage. When soot began to settle on trees, light colored moths were less camouflaged and so were eaten more frequently. Consequently, there were more dark moths in the population. This certainly fits the definition of “change” which evolutionists call, “evolution.”

The peppered moth is a textbook example of “natural selection.” You’ll notice that no new features appeared in the moths – only environmental pressures acting on already existing information. Time is of no consequence to the experiment. How long, for example, would birds have to eat one color moth before NEW colors would begin appearing among the moths? How long before the moth was anything besides a moth? It doesn’t matter if it happened for 10 years, 100, or a million. The moths will always be moths.

But evolutionists don’t want you to think that. It’s small changes like this that evolutionists claim can lead to big changes over time. Consider this quote from Wikipedia:
“Critics have argued that the "peppered moth story" showed only microevolution, rather than speciation or other changes at the larger macroevolutionary scale. Biologists agree that this example shows natural selection causing evolution within a species, demonstrating rapid and obvious adaptiveness with such change, and accept that it is not proof of the theory of evolution as a whole. However, though creationists accept "microevolution" of varieties within a "kind", they claim that "macroevolution" does not happen. To biologists there is no dividing line between the two, and in the modern evolutionary synthesis the same mechanisms are seen operating at various scales to cause both evolution within species and speciation at a macroevolution level or wider changes, the only difference being of time and scale.”
There it is in black and white. Evolution is change, we see change, and that’s all we need for all life to have descended from a common ancestor. Never mind the kind of change. Never mind that the peppered moth example only removes traits from a population. It’s still change and change is evolution.

I’ve read a lot of examples of “evolution” being observed. Most of them fit into the same category as the peppered moth. It’s not the kind of change that could turn a fish into a frog. It’s not the kind of change that could turn an ape into a man. But it fits the definition of evolution.

It seems to me evolution only occurs via definition.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Isaiah 64:6: Filthy Rags

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." Isaiah 64:6

The Bible always has an especially vivid way of painting pictures with words. For many years, I had heard this passage and always pictured my “good” works seen as rags. But it dawned on me recently that it’s more than that.

You see, when I was growing up, we used to save old t-shirts and sometimes use them for rags. We used them to wash cars, dust furniture, clean up paint brushes, etc. They were actually quite useful. My family used to refer to wash cloths as “wash rags” and dish cloths as “dish rags.” I even would buy boxes of rags for use in my garage. I’d use them to wipe off my oily hands after I’d worked on the cars or to clean up spills in the garage.

But Isaiah didn’t refer to our “good” works as rags. He referred to them as “filthy rags.”

A rag is only useful when it is clean. A filthy rag is worthless. When I was done working on the cars, I would wipe off my hands with a rag and then put the rag in a box to be cleaned. If I tried to clean up with a dirty rag, I’d just get myself dirtier. And if a rag was especially dirty, I would simply throw it away. An oily rag in the washing machine would only make all the other clothes dirty too.

If you’ve ever tried to “clean up your act,” it’s not likely you’d have a lot of success. Even the best we can do doesn’t make us clean before God. If we try to make up for our past sins by being good, we’re just wiping ourselves off with filthy rags.

The remedy for our sins is not a wiping off with our own filthy works. Rather it is through repentance and turning to Christ.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9

Saturday, October 18, 2008

An Open Door

Οἶδά σου τὰ ἔργα, ἰδοὺ δέδωκα ἐνώπιόν σου θύραν ἠνεῳγμένην, ἣν οὐδεὶς δύναται κλεῖσαι αὐτήν,

“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” Revelation 3:8

While rereading Mounce’s, Basics of Biblical Greek, I came across this interesting example of the Greek aspect of the perfect verb.

In Greek, the perfect aspect represents an event that occurred in the past but the effects continue to the present. When translating this to English, the perfect aspect is sometimes identified by the helping verb “have” but this is not always the case. Perhaps the most recognized and forceful example of the perfect aspect is in the repeated use by Jesus of the phrase, “It is written” (γέγραπται). God said it once and it continues to be the truth forever.

In the verse from Revelation, we see 2 examples of perfect verbs. The first is δέδωκα, “I have put.” The Lord has put this door before us and it remains there. It has not, and indeed never will be, removed. The second perfect verb is ἠνεῳγμένην, “having been opened.” Jesus Himself opened the door and it continues to stand open. To reinforce this, the passage goes on to say, “that no one can shut.” More literally, the Greek says, “one which no one is able to shut it.”

He has given us an invitation represented by an open door. He Himself has given us this invitation and it stands open, even now, waiting for us to enter in. No one (including us) is able to shut the door. We see again still another example of God’s unilateral, unconditional, and unending love for us.

What an awesome promise He has made.

Is God Cruel?

It’s brought up all the time: "Look at the atrocities ordered by God in the Old Testament." One passage often cited is 1 Samuel 15:2-3, where God said to Saul (via Samuel):

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts, I remember that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt. Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”

Wow! That sounds mean. Why did God have to order every man, woman, and even every infant child to be killed? He even killed the animals to boot! This is one example yet there are other passages like this. Critics will latch onto these passages as evidence of the cruelty of God. But is there any merit to their argument?

There are a few logical fallacies in arguments like this. First, even though God did these things, does that somehow prove the Bible isn’t true? Hardly. This is what is known as an “appeal to emotions” or the "argument of outrage." That is, God can’t be God because He’s so mean. Even if God were “cruel,” that’s not automatic proof that He’s not God.

But this does raise the issue of God’s character. Is God guilty of murder? Is God worthy of worship? The answers respectively are “no” and “yes.”

It started back in the Garden of Eden where God commanded Adam not to eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. God explained the consequences to Adam:

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

You know the story – Adam did that which God commanded him not to do. When he did, he exchanged his immortal body for a body of flesh; he went from a body that would never die to a body that would die. We are the children of Adam and we have inherited his body of flesh.

According to the Bible, there is precisely one penalty for sin - death (Romans 6:23). All have sinned; all die (Romans 5:12). The mortality rate among people is exactly 100%. Some people die in their sleep; some people die at the point of a sword; some people die very old; some people die very young; but everybody dies!

God is the author of life and He decides when it ends. He is like the potter and it's His right to shape clay however He wants (Jeremiah 18:1-6). The Bible says it is appointed to man to die (Hebrews 9:27). We are not in a position to say to God, "This person's death is OK but this other death is murder!"

My grandfather died when he was 90 years old. My father died when he was 50 years old. I had a nephew that died at birth. Is that "fair"? Are we going to say that God "murdered" them? Is God not God because we think He's cruel?

We all have the same destiny - a grave. We all also have the same opportunity - salvation through His Son. When we stand before God in judgment (and we all will), I'm going to receive mercy because I have believed in His Son. Others are welcome to tell God you think He's a murderer and that He's being unfair.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The Electoral Map

There's an interesting, interactive, electoral map at that lets the user toy around with different scenarios to see how the 2008 election might pan out. As I write this, things are looking grim for McCain. If all the Obama leaning states go to Obama, and all the McCain leaning states go to McCain, then Obama is only 1 undecided state away from winning the electoral college. On the other hand, McCain would have to win every single undecided state to take the White House.
The good news is that 100 of the Obama leaning electoral votes are only "soft leaning" to Obama. That is, he has only a 5% lead over McCain in the polls. If you consider only those states where the candidate's support is "likely" or "safe", then the electoral votes are 164 to Obama and 156 to McCain.
I'm going to add a widget to help readers follow the polls as they shift.
Tonight's debate is a "make or break" for either candidate. Senator McCain, if you're listening, I urge you to put your conservative foot forward. In addition, take this opportunity to point out that Obama is the most liberal Democrat in the Senate (and has the third most liberal Democrat as a running mate)! If you do that, you will win.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The VP Debate

Ok. I watched the debate and was thoroughly disappointed. Joe Biden was true to form so I guess I don’t have a complaint with him except that I disagree with nearly everything he stands for. My disappointment is more with Palin.

I like Gov. Palin. She seems to be fairly conservative in her politics. But since she’s on the same ticket with McCain, I guess she has to back up his moderate ideas. There were many issues where I couldn’t tell a difference between her views (or at least her comments) and Sen. Biden’s comments.

How many times did Gov. Palin talk about the “greed and corruption” on Wall Street? How many times did she talk about “oversight, oversight, oversight”? How many times did she have to defend McCain, assuring us that he wasn’t for deregulation? How many times did she talk about taking on the “Big Oil” companies?

Look, Gov. Palin, we’re supposed to be a free market! Ever heard of capitalism? It’s usually the Democrats that are for more regulation, more government control of business, more for punishing “big business” with confiscatory taxes, and more for the social practice of redistributing wealth. Yet she seemed proud of the fact that McCain is going to do all of these things even better than that most liberal of all Senators, Barack Obama.

And did you notice her stance on global warming? She’s promising to reduce carbon emissions. Now, where have I heard that before? Oh that’s right - Biden was saying the same thing! The only difference seemed to be that Biden unequivocally blamed human activity for increasing global temperatures whereas Palin would only concede were partly to blame.

I guess her performance was Ok. She seemed charming and personable. She spoke directly to the people and she spoke with confidence. She’s certainly attractive. There’s a lot to like about her; She just didn’t convey a conservative message. When McCain picked Palin as his running mate, she was supposed to woo the conservative base of the Republican Party. But we’re not electing her for President. It’s still McCain at the top of the ticket. And Palin can’t do as much wooing if she only parrots the luke warm positions of McCain.

McCain didn’t ask for my advice but here’s my opinion anyway: McCain needs to move to the right. Conservative voters are NOT going to vote for Obama but they might stay home and not vote. If he wants their vote, he needs to give them something to vote for. If he’s trying to garner the “undecided” middle, he won’t do that either unless he can distinguish himself from Obama. Conservative issues win elections. Remember the Contract with America? McCain should stop using Palin’s appeal to try to win the base since she’s not doing anything but repeating his moderation. Instead, he should use these last 2 debates to show us his conservative side – that is, if he really does have one.