Sam Harris- Atheism’s New Bulldog

Awhile ago I wrote this post about a debate that Rick Warren had with Sam Harris, one of the leading Atheists.  I was actually a little surprised at how Warren handled it and thought he could have done worse.  Then I ran across this article from the BIOLA Connections magazine that Tim Dinkins, the Student Ministries Intern gets.  I thought it was interesting for a Christian college magazine to dedicate an cover to someone who would be so against Christianity.

Harris believes that religion is the biggest danger that faces humanity and that our culture must get beyond the political correctness and criticize religion.  He sees no rational reason for people believing holding so blindly to religion and that the world would be a better place if we erased religion from the face of the earth.

I’m not going to take the time to recap what that article says, so I encourage you to read it yourselves.  Instead, I have bought his two main books, “The End of Faith” and “Letter to a Christian Nation”.  I’m trying to work my way through “The End of Faith” and will post views as I get through the book.

My thoughts so far pretty much echo the thoughts of the men in that BIOLA article.   Harris throws out empty accusations without providing examples.  He equates Yahweh with Zeus and says we must see God as we see Zeus.  When speaking of the Bible he says it is ‘a book showing neither unity of style nor internal consistency.’  But then he provides no examples.

When he does try to wade in the Bible, he shows himself to have a very poor grasp on theology and hermeneutics.  He says that Christianity fails to live up to the Bible because we don’t go and kill unbelievers like God commanded people to do in the Old Testament.  He fails to realize any idea of covenants.  Harris is NOT a theologian and tends to embarrass himself when he tries to criticize what he doesn’t understand.

He cannot understand why people would believe what he sees as being totally inconsistent, and says that people believe the “incredible claim about the universe and seem to require no evidence whatsoever.”  He thinks that Christians are those who just unplug their minds and equates the existence of God with the idea that there is a yogurt that will make you invisible if you eat it.  He makes these claims and they become very popular with those who follow him, but there is no depth behind his statements.  He just throws stuff up against a wall and goes with whatever sticks.

He doesn’t separate radicals from moderates because he believes that if people were to really follow their beliefs, then they should be radical.  He believes moderates are just bad religious followers, but still carry the idea that they are intolerant towards other religious followers of different systems.

He sees that Christianity has made no doctrinal progress over the years and says that people just hold to dogmatic positions.  He says that geography, astronomy, and medicine have made leaps and bounds, but doctrine hasn’t.  He says, “There are two explanations for this: either we perfected our religious understanding of the world a millennium ago- while our knowledge on all other fronts was still hopelessly inchoate- or religion, being the mere maintenance of dogma, is one area of discourse that does not admit of progress.”

These are just some thoughts on what I’ve read recently, and as I continue to read, I’ll post some more thoughts.

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Carlton Pearson Re-Writes the New Testament

We live in a world where it is hard to know what is truth and what is not. I know we have this thing called ‘the Bible’, but that thing is so vague and outdated. That’s why it is so helpful that we have people like Carlton Pearson. You’ve probably heard of this theological-trendsetter, but if you haven’t, here’s the deal.

Carlton Pearson was a pentecostal preacher who led a church that had 5,000-7,000 attenders each week. He was a big draw and preached the terrors of hell. That is, until he got a new message from God. One day, he was thinking about Hell and thinking about the nature of Jesus, and realized that the two didn’t match. he says, “‘God I don’t know how you’re gonna call yourself a loving God and allow those people to suffer so much and then just suck them into hell.’ And I believe it was the Spirit of God in me saying, ‘Is that what you think we’re doing?'”

So this great preacher began to change the way he looked at Hell and came up with the “Gospel of Inclusion”. He decided that it was better to abandon the almost two thousand years of men and women with solid teaching, and abandon the teaching of the New Testament itself because of a feeling he got while watching the news.

Another thing I heard in another interview was Carlton saying that a close friend of his came and told him he was gay. Instead of applying the Word of God to his friends heart, he instead questioned God. He said he was a very spiritual person for 3 reasons:

1. He loved the Lord- a seemingly very subjective thing. And does he love the Lord as the Bible calls him to, or as the culture around him calls him to?

2. he loved Gospel music- OF COURSE!!! The second main sign of someone who loves God is someone who loves Gospel music. that’s solid.

3. he was a doctor- i’m sorry, but you have three evidences for salvation and these are the best three that you can come up with?

Pearson goes on to say that the New Testament is outdated and says “slaves obey your master” and “hate your parents”. Obviously, Pearson has a very clear grasp of context, biblical interpretation, and general NT theology.

The interviewer asked the following question: You mean Hitler is in Hell? And Pearson responded by saying, “You think Hitler’s more powerful than the blood of Jesus? I mean, I got a hell to put a lot of people in. I’d sent Hitler and every slave trader straight to hell and a few deacons in my church if you wanna know the truth—I’d send people to hell, but I’m not God. He’s the atoning sacrifice for our sins and not ours only, but the sins of the whole world.”

Is he listening to himself? It’s one thing to believe in annihilationism, and its a whole nother thing to believe in universalism. You basically have to ignore too many texts of the NT, but that’s not a problem for Pearson, who has decided that he likes his new definition of God rather than the Biblical one.

Thankfully, his congregation dwindled to a few hundred people, and has lost his church. He now has started a new church and is spreading his glorious truth of the ‘Gospel of Inclusion’, which will successfully include more people in hell, which it ironically stands against.

Old School Seeker’s Prayer

I ran across this prayer today. It is an old Puritan prayer by John Gerstner, who was very influenced by Jonathan Edwards, for what he would call seekers. His definition of seekers are not those who seek salvation, but those who seek answers. Quite a different definition of a seeker than we have today.

Dear God, whom I hate with all my being precisely because you hate and threaten me with hell, I hate this punishment perhaps even more than I hate you. Or, maybe I should say that I love my comfort even more than I hate you. For that reason I am asking a favor of you. I want you to make me love you, whom I hate even when I ask this and even more because I have to ask this. I am being frank with you because I know it is no use to be otherwise. You know even better than I how much I hate you and that I love only myself. It is no use for me to pretend to be sincere. I most certainly do not love you and do not want to love you. I hate the thought of loving you but that is what I’m asking because I love myself. If you can answer this ‘prayer’ I guess the gift of gratitude will come with it and then I will be able to do what I would not think of doing now—thank you for making me love you whom I hate. Amen.

This can be hard to read and harder to read to someone that isn’t saved, but it lines up with Ephesians 2.

New FaceDown CD

I’m proud to announce that our youth band has released its 4th album, “Grace Abounds” this last week. For those of you who are not familiar with FaceDown, they have been our band and are led by Paul Hoover. Paul is the Worship Director at our church and my former roommate in college. The band is manned by other people on our staff, and most of the songs are written by Paul.

There are three songs on the CD that you may be familiar with, including “How Great is Our God” written by Chris Tomlin and “Blessed Be Your Name” written by Matt Redman. The later song is partially taken from the book of Job, where Job rejoices in the Lord, whether he gives or takes away. The third song is one from Sovereign Grace Ministries called “Grace Unmeasured”. This is probably my favorite one. This rejoices in the grace of God that brings us to salvation, leads us through life, and delivers us to Heaven, where we’ll see His face and never cease to thank him for his grace. Amazing song!
The songs written by Paul are the following: “Sacrifice”, about living as a sacrifice to God; “Enraptured”, which speaks about living in way that is enraptured with who God is (If every breath I take is a privilege, I’ve wasted many sighs throughout my life, I need to have a hope to convince me, Enrapture me with all your beauty) good song; Other songs include “No Other Name”, “Love One Another”, and “Grace Abounds”. My other favorite is “Shall I Attempt to Speak”. Here are the lyrics:

“You make the clouds a garment for the sea,
And by your voice, command the dawn its place.
You store the snow and hail that is to be
Inside your treasuries’ infinite space.

What can I reply?
My hand I lay
Upon my lips, shall I attempt to speak?

You have begotten drops of dew and rain
The constellations in their season guide
You gave the horse his might, his neck a mane
You bid the hawk to soar both far and wide

who has given, Lord, you should repay?
For you alone are mighty, i am weak.”

This cd has a great mix of upbeat music with softer songs mixed in. Paul is a great songwriter and we have greatly benefited from the gift that God has given to him. I would greatly recommend the cd to you. We’re selling them for $10, and I’ll be sending a package back to NH for people to buy them there. Let me know if you’d like a copy!

CORE Week Update II

Wanted to take a minute to update you all about how CORE Week is going. The Lord has continued to be bless us with His faithfulness to change lives. On Monday, three teenagers made professions of faith, and then Wednesday night two more made professions as well as three more that were very convicted of the power they were giving sin in their lives. And that is just who has walked into our decision room. we’ve heard many more stories of people who have been convicted of the way they are living, and God is still working in some of the kids hearts to bring them to that point.

Last night, I spoke about the defendant and how he stands before the judge. We spoke about what sin really is, that it isn’t a mistake, its not the influence of the negative world, and they are little problems in our life. We spoke of how the Bible defines sin and then spoke for awhile about how we have often domesticated our sin and have become content to not put it to death.

Tonight I will be speaking of the verdict, the sentence, and the substitution. Please pray for the lives of some kids who have really been on my heart this week. They have yet to really embrace the message of the cross and are content to be ‘casual christians’. I’m praying that tonight will be a turning point in their lives.

Please also pray for a young man that I led to Christ on Monday. he comes from a Muslim family and is from Indonesia. His dad is apparently ok with the path that he has taken, but he is receiving quite a bit of opposition from his mother. She has apparently forbade him from attending church. We’re meeting for lunch today, so you can pray that I have the right things to say and that he has the strength and grace to continue in his faith. He is very young in his faith and is already facing pretty significant opposition.

Some People Just Can’t Get Away From It All

I saw this interesting article. Apparently, camp grounds are beginning to offer Wi-Fi.  Campers need no longer to go somewhere else to log on, but can surf the internet from the comfort of their camp-site.  This is another alarming bit of evidence that Americans don’t know how to be still and quiet.  They can’t stand to actually slow down and think.

A big reason why camps are so successful in student ministries is because it gets people away from their life.  I couldn’t begin to imagine the disastrous effect this would have on those camps.  I don’t know if some would take it this far, but this is pushing God further and further out of the sight of people.  Living in a city, I am able to see how much they are monuments to man and their accomplishments.  God becomes less and less visible through the Creation that surrounds man because man does everything that they can to distract themselves from it.

I know that most of the people who read this live in the country and don’t have this perspective, but it is sad to see how man is becoming less and less aware of the beauty of God’s creation.  When we take our kids to Hume Lake, they are immediately struck with the beauty of Creation.  The hills and mountains cry out that God created them, and now people are doing more to ignore that.  just sad.