Monthly Archives: April 2009

Why Worry About Atheists?

I have been getting into a lot of discussions lately with atheists and about atheism in general.  Between the recent surge in book sales of the “new atheists” like Dawkins and the recent iMonk uptick in atheist commenters after the ARIS study articles and the Drudge exposure and even my own post here which drew an atheist commenter who didn’t return for any follow-up discussion, I feel like I have been spending a lot of time dealing with atheist viewpoints.

The Internet Monk had an interesting post about atheism on his blog  that contains some questions/suggestions about how evangelicals can possibly coexist with atheists and work together to see a better world and more understanding between the two.

I don’t wish to thoroughly beat a dead horse by rehashing the data, but I disagree with a couple of the premises.  The huge increase in those claiming “no religion” is the last twenty years is not necessarily a triumph of atheism or even a surge in atheism.  I have found an increasing number of “born-again” Christians who would rather be called almost anything else than a Christian.  Call them followers of the Way or some other self-made or ancient moniker and they are fine, but they would not self identify as a Christian, even though their theology would say they are.

Are there more atheists today than 20 years ago?  I would say that it quite likely, even though I doubt the numbers are as high as the study leads one to believe.  Atheism is not new.  It has been around longer than Christianity in fact.  There are several references in the Hebrew Scriptures (a.k.a. the Old Testament) that refer to those who say there is no God.  Despite its persistence, it has never gained a majority of adherents at any time recorded in human history.  Could that change?  It would take a miracle, and that group isn’t likely to ask for one.  One of the bloggers that I enjoy reading, who also took the time to dissect the “new atheist” books on their bad logic and info, recently pointed out that these latest examples of atheism don’t look good these days.  He linked to an article written by a atheist who isn’t happy with these very public faces of modern atheism:

With its talk of “spells” and “delusions”, it gives the impression that only through stupidity or crass disregard for reason could anyone be anything other than an atheist. “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence,” says Dawkins, once again implying that reason and evidence are strangers to religion. This is arrogant, and attributes to reason a power it does not have.

This is most evident when you consider the poverty of the new atheism’s “error theory”, which is needed to explain why, if atheism is indeed the view evidence and reason demands, so many very bright people are still religious. The usual answers given to this are not good enough. They tend to stress psychological blind-spots and wishful thinking. For instance, Dawkins says “the meme for blind faith secures its own perpetuation by the simple unconscious expedient of discouraging rational inquiry.”

But if very intelligent people are so easily led astray by such things, then shouldn’t the new atheists themselves be more sceptical about the role reason plays in their own belief formation? You cannot, on the one hand, put forward a view that says great intelligence is easily over-ridden by psychological delusions and, on the other, claim that one unique group of people can see clearly what reason demands and free themselves from such grips. Either many religious people are not as irrational as they seem, or atheists are not entitled to assume they are as rational as they seem to themselves.

In the debates between atheists and believers, I have found that it is generally the atheist who assumes their counterpart to be an ignorant rube.  This is an atheist paradigm that is fostered in the media as well.  It doesn’t take into account the centuries of brilliant thinkers who have populated the ranks of the Christian Church to this very day.  The vogue thing to do these days is to call onself enlightened by discarding “primitive religion.”  What is often ignored is the fact that Christianity isn’t some religion started by a bunch of people looking for something good to do or teach.  Christianity was started by a group of men who were confronted by the fact of the resurrection, despite their doubts, who were then unshakable in their belief that God had done this amazing thing right in front of them.  Christianity isn’t intended to be the best argument or the smartest or most popular choice.  It is simply what is.  It is the truth.  No argument can change it.  No amount of disbelief can make it go away.  But as long as God allows people to inhabit His creation, the rebels will pretend to be the smartest people in the room.  Frankly, I am not worried and God is not surprised.  What do you think?

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Categories: Agnostics, Apologetics, Atheists, Christianity, Culture | 7 Comments

Sunday Morning 4/26/09

There is no sermon audio for this Sunday.  We had a Gideon speaker come and deliver a testimony about the ministry of the Gideons in our area and around the world and I didn’t want to make him nervous by asking to record him.  I will share just a few thoughts from this morning however.

I reported back to the church regarding the flood relief offering we took up last Sunday.  You can read some of the background info here and here.  As a church we gave almost $400 in a one-time offering to help in the effort.  It is the times like this that I am most appreciative of the strength of the cooperation of Southern Baptist churches.  I will return next week with the next passage in the book of 1 Corinthians.  In the meantime, may God bless you and keep you.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

News from the Flood Zones

We are at the Pulse Evangelism conference in Fargo right now and we spent the afternoon session going out to the areas that were under the mandatory evacuation orders last month to hand out packets that had gift cards for people to use for necessities.  There is no cost to those who get them, our convention and some local businesses have worked together to make this possible.  It was such a blessing to be a small blessing in someone’s life.  It was cold and rainy out this afternoon, but we didn’t mind.  I think there were about 70-100 people that went out to help hand these out today.  They were handing them out yesterday as well and the churches here in Fargo will keep working to get the to as many people as possible.  Pray for those people who are still getting over the flood.  There is a lot of cleanup to do yet.  I have some pictures of the dike in the neighborhood we visited.  The dike still goes down the middle of the street as you can see in the pictures.  It has been opened to make a way for people to get to neighborhoods that were on the other side of the dike.  There were still dikes up on the interstate on-ramp and offramp that we took and along the interstate itself.  The flood waters are slowly receding, but the cleanup will be long and hard.  Thanks for all of your prayers for those who have fought the flood fight.  Here are three pictures that I took

Categories: adventures in the cold, Christianity, Giving, Love, ministry, personal, Prayer Needs | 3 Comments

A quick update

Just a few words.  As my regular readers can see, there hasn’t been a whole lot of new content.  We are traveling to Fargo tomorrow and will be there through Saturday morning, so I am not sure that any blogging will get done in the next few days either.  I have managed to get ahead in my classwork, but my blogging has suffered as a result.  If you are bored and want to read, there is plenty of stuff in the archives going back several years and you can always kill a half an hour or more listening to a sermon if you want.

Please be in prayer for our efforts in Fargo this week.  We are planning to distribute the gift/recovery bags on Thursday and Friday afternoon.  I gave our church an opportunity to give to the cause and we collected $352 as a special offering.  I am blessed to be a pastor of a church that loves to give.  If you want to donate to the cause, you can still do so.  See the previous post on this blog for a link to more information.  Any amount above the goal is planning to be used to distribute these care packages in other towns affected by flooding.  Most likely they will go to Valley City, where most of the town was flooded or evacuated due to sewer issues.

Thanks for your prayers and God bless.

Categories: ministry, personal, Prayer Needs, School | Leave a comment

Sunday Morning 4/19/09

Here is the sermon audio for this Sunday morning.  Click on the play button below to listen from here or click on this link for downloading the sermon as a podcast.  I have also included the sermon notes for those who like to follow along that way.  This sermon covers 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 and is primarily about spiritual gifts and their use within the body of Christ.

Spiritual Giftedness

Sermon Notes for 4/19/09 (1 Corinthians 12:1-11)

  1. The place and use of spiritual gifts within the body of Christ

    1. Verse one refers to spiritual things not specifically gifts

    2. Paul gives a reminder about our knowing our brothers and sisters in the Lord

    3. Paul is talking about gifts, service and activities that all work together in the body of Christ, the Church (v. 4-7) see Romans 12:6-8 for another list of gifts

  2. Paul’s list of spiritual gifts

    1. Wisdom

    2. Knowledge

    3. Faith

    4. Healing (Matthew 24:24)

    5. Working of Miracles (Rev. 13:1-4, 12-15)

    6. Prophecy

    7. Discernment

    8. Speaking in tongues – this gift is dependent on interpretation

    9. Interpreting tongues – this gift is only needed with tongues speakers

  3. All gifts, service and activities must work in harmony or there is no point to any of them – v. 11

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Podcasts, Sermon, Spiritual Gifts | Leave a comment

Springtime Rush

When you live in a state where winter tries to drag on forever, any sign of spring is a subconscious call to action.  The need to get stuff done that has sat undone all winter is amazing.  Add to that the workload with my classes and the other extra stuff I have put on my plate, I haven’t had much time for blogging.  I have several posts in my mind or in the drafts folder and will try and get a real post out later tonight.  I haven’t even had much time to read blogs.  For those of us who follow here and pray for us, please pray for a couple of members of our church who are in the hospital right now.  Pray also for us as we travel to Fargo this week for an evangelism conference.  We are also going to be distributing care packages to people in Fargo who have been affected by the flood.  You can find out more about that effort and ways to help on a practical level through a post at wrote at SBC voices last week if you would like to be a part of this work.

In the meantime, thanks for your prayers and I hope to get to more regular blogging as soon as the springtime rush dies out.

Categories: adventures in the cold, Giving, personal, Prayer Needs, Southern Baptist | 2 Comments

Sunday Morning 4/12/09

Here is the sermon audio from Sunday morning.  Sorry to be so slow with getting it put up.  I had some schoolwork that had to be completed.  We had a good Resurrection Day at church.  We had a few new visitors and a lot of familiar faces as well.  The player seems to be working for folks since I have had no complaints otherwise.  So you can play the sermon below or click on this link for the downloadable version as a podcast.   May God richly bless you this week, because Jesus lives and is risen.

The Resurrection is Everything

Sermon Notes for 4/12/09 (1 Corinthians 15)

  1. This is the most important thing Paul has written to them about

    1. This may be the earliest written record of Jesus’ resurrection

    2. Paul is giving an appeal to eyewitness testimony

    3. Paul spells out the gospel as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as it was explained by Scripture (O.T.)

  2. Without Jesus’ resurrection, there is no Christianity at all

    1. A denial of the resurrection is a deathblow to the Christian faith.

    2. Jesus resurrection is a confirmation of His identity

    3. The baptism of the dead?

  3. What kind of body do we get?

    1. The analogy of a seed to a plant

    2. The comparison of Adam’s body to Jesus’ body

  4. The joy of the Last Trumpet

    1. Not everyone will die before the resurrection

    2. Some will be changed at this trumpet sounding

    3. Jesus has taken the sting of death away for all

Categories: 1 Corinthians, Easter, Podcasts, Resurrection, Sermon | Leave a comment

Dealing with the Evil Question

I have run into the argument plenty of times in various forms and I am sure many of you have as well.  If God is absolutely good and all-powerful, why is there evil in the world?  The question takes many forms, including the most unusual one I have seen recently, “why won’t God heal amputees?”

I was very intrigued by a column by Vox Day today at WorldNetDaily that tackled this very issue in a rather interesting way.  I have made some variation of this argument before, but I have never seen it stated so succinctly as he concludes:

If evil did not exist, then man would not be condemned by God. If man were not condemned by God, there would have been no reason for Jesus Christ to incarnate, to die and to rise again to pay the price of man’s redemption. Therefore, while one may use the problem of evil to argue against the existence of an omnibenevolent and omnipotent God, only an irrational fool would attempt to use the problem of evil as the basis of an argument against the existence of the Christian God or the tenets of the Christian faith.

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.– John 7:7

I invite you to meander over and take a look at Vox’s logic.  What do you think?  Is this a good way to handle the question of evil?

Categories: Agnostics, Apologetics, Atheists, Christianity, Culture, Grace, Questions, theology, Truth | 11 Comments

A Collection of Good Friday Thoughts

I have been reading the blogs of many of my blogging friends today and have been consumed in the remembrance of Christ’s crucifixion on a hill far away.  I don’t often do linking posts, in fact I am never sure that I have done one for just that purpose, but this is a day of firsts for me anyway.

I invite you to go and read my sister’s reflections on her trip to Israel last year during the time shortly before the celebration of the Resurrection.

Some of the other bloggers who are frequent commenters here have reflections on today as well.

Will, over at willohroots,  has a post entitled Good Friday? that reflects on the odd sensibility to call something so horrific good.

Steve, of theoldadam renown,  has some great words about the traditional Good Friday service and what it means as well as why it isn’t observed as much anymore.  Really good stuff for folks like me who have never been much a part of Good Friday before.

Another internet buddy, Joe, over at MayHeIncrease, has been running a series all week leading up to the crucifixion and has a great post with a lot of information today as well.

And if you still have time to kill or just want more stuff to read or listen to, I have posted the sermon audio from tonight’s Good Friday service at our church.  Also, I have contributed a new post over at SBC Voices about the cultural traditions of Easter and Christmas versus the biblical example of each.

Categories: Christianity, church, Culture, devotional, friends, Gospel | 4 Comments

Good Friday Sermon

Our church was the site for the community Good Friday service this year.  I am posting the audio of the sermon.  It is much shorter that my normal Sunday morning ones have been of late, but I thought that the Word from God was powerful to my heart.  I pray that you may be blessed by it as well.  There are no notes for this sermon.  I did include the closing hymn, because I believe it is no longer under copyright, but if I am mistaken and someone tells me otherwise, I will remove it.  The hymn was Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, for those who know it.  It is kind of hard to make out the words as the congregation sings, but take my word for it, that whole room was ringing with the wonderful sound of God’s people praising His name.

Listen by clicking play above or follow this link to download it as a podcast.

Categories: Crucifixion, Good Friday, Podcasts, Sermon | 2 Comments

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