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Saturday, November 20, 2010

An Interesting Article from Christianity Today

More than previous generations, 20- and 30- somethings are abandoning the faith. But why?

When I ask church people, I receive some variation of this answer: moral compromise. A teenage girl goes off to college and starts to party. A young man moves in with his girlfriend. Soon the conflict between belief and behavior becomes unbearable. Tired of dealing with a guilty conscience and unwilling to abandon their sinful lifestyles, they drop their Christian commitment. They may cite intellectual skepticism or disappointments with the church, but these are smokescreens designed to hide the reason. "They change their creed to match their deeds," as my parents would say.

I think there's some truth to this—more than most young leavers would care to admit. The Christian life is hard to sustain in the face of so many temptations. Over the past year, I've conducted in-depth interviews with scores of ex-Christians. Only two were honest enough to cite moral compromise as the primary reason for their departures. Many experienced intellectual crises that seemed to conveniently coincide with the adoption of a lifestyle that fell outside the bounds of Christian morality.
Excerpted from The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church, by Drew Dyck. The rest of the article is just as interesting.

Bottom line for the faithful: "He that thinks he standeth, take heed, lest he fall." Playing around with adultery may seem like the exercise of adulthood. Overindulgence of the new-found privileges of coming of age may feel heady and grown up and may not appear all that threatening. But beware. Intentional sin always greives the Holy Spirit and often leads to the very sin against the Holy Spirit which cannot be forgiven. Take care, indeed, lest you lose the gift of faith that you were given at your baptism.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Asia Bibi sentanced to hang for blasphemy

Asia Bibi, a 45-year-old mother-of-five, denies blasphemy and told investigators that she was being persecuted for her faith in a country where Christians face routine harassment and discrimination.

Christian groups and human rights campaigners condemned the verdict and called for the blasphemy laws to be repealed.

Full Article

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CrossTalk: Creator of Heaven and Earth

It is much more than mere Christian opinion that God created the heavens and the earth. It is simple reality. For whatever is the cause and creator of everything is by definition god. Every single person has such a god. Atheists, no less than the religious, firmly believe that something brought about the cosmos. Of this there is no doubt. The only real questions are: what? and why?

Stephen Hawking, a prominent atheist of our day, recently published yet another book denying the existence of God. In it he argues that there is no need for God to create heaven and earth because everything that exists could be brought about by the laws of gravity acting upon matter (The Grand Design, Random House, 2010). He never seems to notice that he is merely asserting that gravity itself is god. In his world, you need not obey the laws of the God who created gravity. But, by god, you had better obey the law of gravity!

Such was always the folly of the pagan mind: "[they] worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator" (Romans 1:25). Christians know better. By obeying the law of gravity, everything already is submitting to the God who created it. There are other divine laws as well. To disobey any of these laws will cause death and destruction just as surely as stepping off a cliff.

Thinking men throughout history have seen this to be the case in physical as well as moral laws. Hatred leads to death just as surely as cancer. A culture where stealing is permissible by law is a culture where everyone is poor. Cultures that kill the innocent undo themselves. Witness Carthage, the Incas and the Soviet Union.

We could go on with more examples, but we need not. For God, in His grace and mercy, has revealed to us these very laws which He built into the universe. They were boiled down to ten simple commandments and etched on stone at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 5). You can defy them if you like just as you can defy the law of gravity--with similar results.

Christians know that, unlike Hawking's god, He who stands behind gravity and created it is a God of purpose and His purpose is to give life. God's first act toward gravity was to bring it about. God's first act toward the world was to bring it into existence. God's first act toward you was to bring you from the state of nothingness to the state of life. Life is not the result of gravity or anything whatsoever. Therefore, your creator is not a "what" but a "Who."

All of this leads to one inescapable conclusion: everything that exists, exists because God wants it to exist. More to the point. You are here because God wants you to be. Here is the answer to both questions: Who? and why? God, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, is who created you, the source of your very being; and His desire for you to exist is the reason why you exist.

Think on that the next time you feel worthless--the next time you are told that they way you live doesn't matter. Think on that whenever you are tempted to believe that your life has no meaning. You have meaning to God, the Creator of heaven and earth. In a universe of His own making, He created you to exist, not to deny His existence. He created you to receive the life that He gives, not to hate that life and wish it away.

Moreover, His purpose for you is still that you might "have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10). When you take to heart His purpose for you, you will be overwhelmed by how often you live contrary to that purpose. Do not give up hope. Come into His Church to be forgiven and restored by the life and death and resurrection of His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. For in this, the Creator of heaven and earth is still giving life and fulfilling His deepest desire for you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Martin Luther, born: November 10, 1483

Today is the second of our trilogy commemorating Martins. Martin Luther never set about or intended to start a new church body -- much less to bestow his name upon any human organization!  Both of these things happened quite against his will.

But that is the way of the will of God. We are done to by One who is wiser, stronger and more merciful that we could ever possibly imagine. And in this "being done to" God re-recreates us after His own image. Reforms us into the form, image and likeness that we had been created to be.

From one point of view, Luther's enemies both excommunicated the reformer and tagged his followers with the mocking name "Lutherans." But from a divine point of view, Jesus Christ, the suffering One, was and is preaching His own eternal word in these humiliating events. And by that Word and suffering He is still bringing life to the world.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Martin Chemnitz, Teacher (1522-1586)

"In the Lord's Supper we do not receive ordinary flesh, not even that of a holy man, but the actual life-giving flesh of the Logos Himself. For sinse His life is in accord with His nature as God, and since He is one with his His flesh, He shows that His flesh is life-giving. Therefore, we do not regard this flesh as that of anyone among us. For how can the flesh of man according to its nature be life-giving? But it became the property of Him who for our sakes was made and called the Son of Man."
Martin Chemnitz, The Two Natures of Christ, CPH, p. 371

Here, Chemnitz is quoting St. Cyril of Alexandria's, Epistola Synodica ). His book "The Two Natures of Christ" has remained THE standard on the subject in all the world for four and a half centuries. Charles Porterfield Krauth describes Chemnitz thus:
The learning of Chemnitz was something colossal, but it had no tinge of pedantry. His judgment was of the highest order. His modesty and simplicity, his clearness of thought, and his luminous style, his firmness in principle, and his gentleness in tone, the richness of his learning and the vigor of his thinking, have revealed themselves in such measure in his Loci, his Books on the Two Natures of our Lord, and on the True Presence, in his Examen of the Council of Trent, his Defence of the Formula of Concord, and his Harmony of the Gospels, as to render each a classic in its kind, and to mark their author as the greatest theologian of his time – one of the greatest theologians of all time. (Charles Porterfield Krauth, The Conservative Reformation and Its Theology [Philadelphia: General Council Publication Board, 1871], p. 310).

Today we mark his commemoration day of who it was said:

Si Martinus non fuisset, Martinus vix stetisset
"If Martin (Chemnitz) had not come along, Martin (Luther) would hardly have survived"