Archive for August 31, 2015

The Myth of Faith Versus Reason

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Faith vs Reason

This sponsored post was prepared by Dr. Craig Biehl of PilgrimsRock.com.

Are You Rattled or Ready?
Have you ever been told, “you have faith but I trust reason and science”? Does the suggestion that you believe fairy tales while unbelievers stand on facts and solid intellectual ground bother you? Can you easily answer the claim and prepare your children to answer this and the many other sophisticated arguments of unbelief?

What if the Opposite Is True?
What if you could easily see that all such arguments are built on unreasonable blind faith, that your trust in the Word of the Creator and Sustainer of all things is reasonable and supported by every known fact in the universe? What if you could increase your joy, comfort, and faith in Christ and Scripture in the face of the most sophisticated attacks of unbelief? And, what if you could do this all without reading countless technical books? Well, you can.

Using simple language and illustrations, the Unbreakable Faith course and companion books God the Reason and The Box explore the amazing nature and implications of the infinite excellence of God’s perfections, exposing the unreasonable blind faith of unbelief while boosting your knowledge and love of God.

Everyone Has Faith…in Something
All people reason by faith in an ultimate authority by which they interpret God and the universe. Atheists trust their own ability to interpret the world and answer ultimate questions about God and reality, while Christians trust God’s explanation of such things.  Atheists reason by faith in themselves while believers reason by faith in God.  Both use reason and both have faith. But who reasons rightly? And which object of faith can speak with authority and be trusted to answer ultimate questions about God, life, and the universe? Here lies the issue.

We Have Limits
If my atheist neighbor can’t know the contents of my garage without having a look, he can’t be trusted to explain the nature of an infinite God and His universe. God must tell us such things. And complete knowledge of the universe and beyond, or the omniscience of the God the atheist denies, is required to know that God does not exist.  (For simple and fun examples of how to see and expose the unreasonable faith of unbelief, see The Box: Answering the Faith of Unbelief.)

A Rock and an Empty Place
Believers trust the One who created, sustains, and knows all things, who clearly displays His power and genius in the universe, who orders and sustains every law by which we do science (random chance produces no laws), whose moral law is written on every heart, whose goodness appears in every raindrop, flower, and morsel of food, who dwelt among us and suffered to display His perfect nature and purchase our eternal happiness.  Believers trust the God who has personally and clearly explained His nature and works, including the ultimate nature of the universe He created and upholds. Atheists trust their opinions.  

No GodNo Science
Every scientific discovery affirms the genius and power of God. And speculation about God, as well as science, would be impossible in a random chance universe—no laws, language, truth, knowledge, logic, experiment, or scientist would be possible. Our world cannot exist apart from the personal and powerful God of Scripture. Whose faith, then, is reasonable?

Want to Learn More?
To further your love and knowledge of God’s excellence, and increase your joy, comfort, and faith in Christ and Scripture, I would like to offer you a free eBook copy of The Box as my gift to you. Click here for your free copy. 

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My Wife’s Plea to Christian Men

But Then I Had Hope

Over the weekend I could see that Aileen had something on her mind. We spoke and she told me about reading the news, about seeing more Christian men fall into scandal, and, in the face of it all, her confusion, her despair, the crumbling of her hope. I asked if she would write about it. Here is what she said.


How long ago was it now? Was it ten years? Twelve? How long has it been since I faced it for the first time? It was a whispered rumor here, a shaded suggestion there. Then it was the devastated wife weeping in my basement as I tried desperately to draw on some wisdom, some biblical truth, that would help her. Little did I know, all those years ago, that this was simply the tip of the iceberg. But I had hope.

Six years ago, Tim wrote Sexual Detox, and I followed up with False Messages. The number of letters we received shocked us—heart-breaking, soul-crushing emails from guilty men and women married to unfaithful husbands. I wrestled and fought to understand it all from a biblical perspective. Why do so many men, and even so many Christian men, have such weakness when it comes to sexual sin? But even then I still had hope: hope in the truth of the gospel, hope in the power of the Holy Spirit.

In the years since, I have listened to more stories of more Christian men falling, wept with more women, and prayed a whole lot. I have tried to explain to women how their husbands think about sex: Your husband doesn’t just want it, he wants you. I’ve tried to tell them that sex is a good gift that God gives as a means of grace in marriage, a means of bonding a husband and wife together. I have counseled single young women to pursue purity. I have been teaching all the right stuff. And I have believed it all. I had hope.

Then came Ashley Madison and the suggestion that hundreds of pastors would have to resign after being caught with accounts on this website that glorifies adultery. And it’s not just pastors—hundreds of other Christian men, both single and married, have been caught up in the scandal. Now there are more broken homes, more devastated churches, more weeping wives, more mocking of God. And I have to tell you, this week, today, I am struggling to find hope.

I have fought to understand the struggle men face. I have fought to have compassion. I have encouraged wives to extend forgiveness, to willingly and joyfully give themselves to their husbands. But you know what? I just don’t know how I can keep doing it. Not when so many husbands are deceptively defiling the marriage bed. Not when so many young, single men are recklessly defiling the future marriage bed. Not when so many men seem just plain unwilling to change.

Men, you are supposed to be modeling holiness before the world (Titus 2:6-8). You are supposed to be cherishing your wives as Christ cherishes his church (Ephesians 5:25). You are supposed to be abstaining from all sexual immorality (1 Thessalonians 4:3). You are supposed to be fleeing youthful passions (2 Timothy 2:22). Why are so many of you failing at these basic tasks? Is it really that difficult? You would almost think that this one sin is beyond the power of the Holy Spirit.

You who keep choosing to sin, you who keep visiting those websites, you who have secret lives you keep hidden from your friends and your wives: Why won’t you stop? You know that God loves to give victory over every sin. You know that God calls you to pursue sanctification. You know that the Holy Spirit equips you to succeed. God has given you everything you need in the gospel. So why do you keep failing? The only conclusion I can come to is that you are so consumed with self-gratification that you are not willing to fight, and I mean really willing to fight, this sin. If it’s not that you can’t, it must be that you won’t.

I plead with you. I plead with you on behalf of your wives, on behalf of your future wives, on behalf of Christian women everywhere: Stop. Just stop.

Stop believing that this is a special sin that women just can’t understand—we do understand sin. This isn’t a special sin, it is just sin: God-belittling, Christ-mocking, Spirit-despising sin. Stop pretending like there are no future consequences to your actions. Stop putting your selfish desires first. Stop engaging in activities that bring shame on the gospel. Stop doing things that leave us picking up the pieces of your devastated wife. Stop indulging in your sin, and start thinking and acting like a God-honoring, Christ-praising, Spirit-glorifying man. For the love of God and his church, stop.

A La Carte (August 31)

If you have ever wanted to get oriented in Biblical Theology, you will appreciate these two books from Crossway: What Is Biblical Theology? by James Hamilton ($3.99) and Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church by Michael Lawrence ($3.99). Both are reader-friendly introductions. Other Kindle deals include Going Beyond the Five Points edited by Rob Ventura ($1.99), The Bookends of the Christian Life by Jerry Bridges ($2.99), and The Bible Answer Book (Volume 2) by Hank Hanegraaff ($1.99). Also, Amazon has several hundred Kindle books on sale today. The sale is targetted at students, but open to anyone.

One Strategy to Rule Them All

Nancy Pearcey shows how to answer skeptics from Romans 1. The article is a brief overview of the heart of her book Finding Truth which I have reviewed here.

How Katrina Changed New Orleans

TIME has an interesting infographic that displays how Hurricane Katrina changed New Orleans.

This Day in 1688: John Bunyan died at the age of 59. Bunyan is remembered in history as author of The Pilgrim’s Progress, one of the most-read books of all-time. The book has been translated into more than 200 languages and, to this point, has never gone out of print.

Lazy Writing, Cheap Restoration

Whether or not you agree with every part of this review of War Room, I think you will find that much of it resonates. “This is precisely where War Room, like so many Christian films, stumbles. The characters and situation are so thinly drawn that even those of us who believe in the film’s ultimate message have a hard time with the package wrapped around it.”

Tragedy and Transforming Truth

It sounds like The Purpose Driven Life may be back in the headlines soon. The Grace To You blog is beginning a short series to remind us what the book is about and why many parts of it are concerning.

Leading Your Leaders Retreat

Kevin DeYoung has some good things to say about leading (and enjoying) a church leaders’ retreat.

Preaching, by Tim Keller

9Marks reviews Tim Keller’s newest book Preaching. They offer a handful of measured critiques but in the end “highly recommend this volume for its clear and convincing exhortations to be more culturally literate in our preaching and teaching ministries.”

Begg

We’re to love our children for who they are, not for what we want them to become. —Alistair Begg

Why You Should Not Wear a Crucifix

Why You Should Not Wear a Crucifix

Crucifixes have long been a fixture in Roman Catholic worship. But in the past few years I have begun to see more and more Protestants wearing them as well, exchanging their empty cross for one that contains an image of the suffering Savior. J.I. Packer once addressed the issue of the crucifix, and addressed it well.

What harm is there, we ask, in the worshipper surrounding himself with statues and pictures, if they help him to lift his heart to God?

We are accustomed to treat the question of whether these things should be used or not as a matter of temperament and personal taste. We know that some people have crucifixes and pictures of Christ in their rooms, and they tell us that looking at these objects helps them to focus their thoughts on Christ when they pray. We know that many claim to be able to worship more freely and easily in churches that are filled with such ornaments than they can in churches that are bare of them. Well, we say, what is wrong with that? What harm can these things do? If people really do find them helpful, what more is there to be said? What point can there be in prohibiting them? In the face of this perplexity, some would suggest that the second commandment only applies to immoral and degrading representations of God, borrowed from pagan cults, and to nothing more.

But the very wording of the [second] commandment rules out such a limiting exposition. God says quite categorically, “you shall not make an idol in the form of anything” for use in worship. This categorical statement rules out, not simply the use of pictures and statues which depict God as an animal, but also the use of pictures and statues which depict him as the highest created thing we know—a human. It also rules out the use of pictures and statues of Jesus Christ as a man, although Jesus himself was and remains man; for all pictures and statues are necessarily made after the “likeness” of ideal manhood as we conceive it, and therefore come under the ban which the commandment imposes.

Packer goes on to say that whatever else the second commandment teaches “there is no room for doubting that the commandment obliges us to disassociate our worship, both in public and in private, from all pictures and statues of Christ, no less than from pictures and statues of his Father.”

Why? Why is this prohibition in place and why is it so important that we heed it? He offers two reasons.

1. Images dishonour God, for they obscure his glory. The likeness of things in heaven (sun, moon, stars), and in earth (people, animals, birds, insects), and in the sea (fishes, mammals, crustaceans), is precisely not a likeness of their Creator. “A true image of God,” wrote Calvin, “is not to be found in all the world; and hence … his glory is defiled, and his truth corrupted by the lie, whenever he is set before our eyes in a visible form … Therefore, to devise any image of God is itself impious; because by this corruption his majesty is adulterated, and he is figured to be other than he is.” … The heart of the objection to pictures and images is that they inevitably conceal most, if not all, of the truth about the personal nature and character of the divine Being whom they represent.

…The pathos of the crucifix obscures the glory of Christ, for it hides the fact of his deity, his victory on the cross, and his present kingdom. It displays his human weakness, but it conceals his divine strength; it depicts the reality of his pain, but keeps out of our sight the reality of his joy and his power. In both these cases, the symbol is unworthy most of all because of what it fails to display. And so are all other visible representations of deity.

2. Images mislead us. They convey false ideas about God. The very inadequacy with which they represent him perverts our thoughts of him, and plants in our minds errors of all sorts about his character and will. … It is a matter of historical fact that the use of the crucifix as an aid to prayer has encouraged people to equate devotion with brooding over Christ’s bodily sufferings; it has made them morbid about the spiritual value of physical pain, and it has kept them from knowledge of the risen Savior.

These examples show how images will falsify the truth of God in the minds of men. Psychologically, it is certain that if you habitually focus your thoughts on an image or picture of the One to whom you are going to pray, you will come to think of him, and pray to him, as the image represents him. Thus, you will in this sense “bow down” and “worship” your image; and to the extent to which the image fails to tell the truth about God, to that extent will you fail to worship God in truth. That is why God forbids you and me to make use of images and pictures in our worship.

Image credit: Shutterstock. Quote drawn from Knowing God, chapter 4.