Theology

Creation Science

Parableman put up Christian Carnival CXXXVI yesterday and one of the posts caught my eye: Dr. Hovind and the Age of the Earth from Imago Dei. I wanted to write my thoughts on it here for a few reasons: firstly, Christianity and science are very near and dear to me, and secondly, the writer was getting a decent amount of persecution from non-Christians about the subject and I wanted to throw out my Christian perspective on the subject that (hopefully) won’t be seen as persecution but an alternate position. Also, I have written on some of this way back in my post Science vs. Religion (with the original post and comments at my old blog here), so feel free to check that out as well. I will be linking to many different sources in their post including Wikipedia. I recognize that Wikipedia is not the best source for information, but it is often easier to understand than other sources and they have links to other sources if you want additional information.

Before I start, I feel I should make this disclaimer. I am a devout Christian. I am a Bible believing Christian. I also have degrees in Physics and Astronomy. I am perfectly okay that some Christians will reject this, that is their prerogative and salvation does not depend on what we think about these things. However, I think that, as Christians, we are called to use the things that God has given us, this includes our minds and our “powers” of observation. Science is a wonderful thing and it can be used to tell us about the amazing universe that God did indeed create (just maybe not in the way that some Christians think). On with the post!

Amanda’s post starts with a look at different forms of evolution:

1. Cosmic Evolution – the origin of time, space, and matter. This is the big bang. 2. Chemical Evolution – the origin of higher elements from hydrogen. (If the Big Bang produced hydrogen and some helium, how did we get the others? 3. Stellar and planetary Evolution – the origin of stars and planets. (No one has ever seen a star form. What you see is a spot getting brighter and you assume a star is forming. It could be the dust is clearing and there’s a star behind it. No one has ever proven the formation of a single star. Yet it’s estimated that there are enough stars for every person on earth to own 2 trillion stars.) 4. Organic Evolution – the origin of life. Somehow life has to get started from non-living material. (But spontaneous generation was proven wrong 200 years ago.) 5. Macro Evolution – Changing from one kind of animal into another. (Nobody has ever seen a dog produce a non-dog. Big or small it’s still a dog. Dog, wolf, and coyote may have had a common ancestor, but they’re still the same kind of animal.) 6. Micro Evolution – Variations within kinds (big dogs and little dogs). Only this one has been observed.

I would like to take a look at each one of her statements.

“1. Cosmic Evolution – the origin of time, space, and matter. This is the big bang.” Yeah. And numerous independent studies lead in the direction of supporting the big bang. This isn’t just one group suggesting the big bang is what happened. This is numerous physicists and astronomers showing that their work supports a singularity some 13-14 billion years ago.

“2. Chemical Evolution – the origin of higher elements from hydrogen. (If the Big Bang produced hydrogen and some helium, how did we get the others?” This is “simple” nuclear physics. Happens all the time. This is called stellar nucleosynthesis. (Info links: Wikipedia, Astronomy Notes, Science Week, and there is lots more out there.) The larger scale of this would be Big Bang Nucleosynthesis. (Info links: Wikipedia, Berkeley Astro, Berkeley Cosmology, and many more.) Also check out Wikipedia’s articles on the Proton Proton chain and the CNO cycle.

“3. Stellar and planetary Evolution – the origin of stars and planets. (No one has ever seen a star form. What you see is a spot getting brighter and you assume a star is forming. It could be the dust is clearing and there’s a star behind it. No one has ever proven the formation of a single star. Yet it’s estimated that there are enough stars for every person on earth to own 2 trillion stars.)” This is also a very well evidenced science. There are numerous places where star birth can be seen, check out The Eagle Nebula (and Proplyds on Wikipedia). I am not really sure what the number of stars has to do with anything, but yes, there are lots of them. Our own Milky Way Galaxy has somewhere between 200 and 400 billion stars in it. Even looking at a TINY sliver of space thousands and thousands of galaxies can be seen. The number of stars in our own galaxy and the number of galaxies in the universe suggests that there are easily 2 trillion stars for each person (some 70 sextillion are suggested).

“4. Organic Evolution – the origin of life. Somehow life has to get started from non-living material. (But spontaneous generation was proven wrong 200 years ago.)” I am no biologist and have not studied this extensively. It seems to me that evolutionists have yet to suggest how life actually started. What supposedly caused amino acids to combine for form proteins and then eventually form DNA? I understand that there is a chemical process there, but what makes something go from inert to life? How did life actually start?

“5. Macro Evolution – Changing from one kind of animal into another. (Nobody has ever seen a dog produce a non-dog. Big or small it’s still a dog. Dog, wolf, and coyote may have had a common ancestor, but they’re still the same kind of animal.)” While simplistic, I tend to agree with Amanda here. Macro Evolutionary theory seems to be lacking in support. I think that any honest evolutionist would admit that this is just a working theory and that it has a long way to go.

“6. Micro Evolution – Variations within kinds (big dogs and little dogs). Only this one has been observed.” Yes this has been seen. But it is not the only one that has been observed. #4 and #5 are the ones that lack scientific support.

Amanda goes on to say: “There are two options: 1. Somebody made the world (In the beginning God…) 2. The world made itself.” Okay, that is fine. But I am not sure why believing in the Big Bang automatically puts me as a #2 believer. That doesn’t follow.

Then: “So…we all came from a dot and the dot came from nothing. This is what they teach in schools. All of the dirt in the universe was in the little dot and it started spinning faster and faster until one day it exploded. The pieces became galaxies and stars.” There was nothing, then God created the universe: how is this different from “we all came from a dot and the dot came from nothing”?

“I believe that 6000 years ago God created everything” – but on what basis do you ignore scientific evidence? “I believe In the beginning God… (Gen. 1:1) You believe In the beginning dirt…” No, I believe that In the Beginning God… and God created dirt.

So where did the laws come from? Gravity, centrifugal force, intertia, etc. Where did the energy come from? It takes energy to make something move. And what about the conservation of angular momentum? That means that if a spinning object breaks apart in a frictionless environment (like the big bang) the pieces that fly off are going to spin in the same direction as the original object because the outside is moving faster than the inside. If the universe began as a spinning dot, shouldn’t everything be spinning the same way? Venus and Uranus spin in different directions than the other planets. 8 of the 91 known moons are spinning backwards. Jupiter, Saturn, and Neptune have moons orbiting in both directions. Some galaxies spin backwards.

Firstly, I am not sure why she thinks that the Big Bang would be frictionless, it wasn’t. If nothing had interacted with anything, then yes, everything would be rotating the exact same way. But that is not that case at all. Everything interacts with everything else. Gravity is an extremely small force, but will still have a huge impact. Microscopic variations in the smooth early universe caused clumping to occur. Clumping of matter eventually caused it to coalesce into larger bodies. As the continued to occur, the smooth early universe became more clumpy with voids.

“Dr. Hovind believes things are spinning backwards because God created everything and He did it on purpose to make the big bang theory look stupid.” That makes me sad. That statement just makes me think that Dr. Hovind (whom I have had no experience with) hasn’t actually studied astronomy or physics.

I am not going to comment on her mention of the 2nd law of thermodynamics because it doesn’t really make sense. Nor will I comment on her look at macro evolution, not because I agree with everything she says, but because I by and large agree with her conclusions (that macro evolution is lacking and doesn’t seem to work).

I know I am picking on this particular blogger. I do not doubt her faith or salvation, I just think she is off the mark in this belief. It seems like the rejection of science often completely stems from a literal reading of the beginning of Genesis. I cannot see any other reason to reject a 13 billion year old universe (cosmic evolution, #1). (And I don’t see any reason to reject chemical [#2], or stellar and planetary [#3] evolution.) But why is it seen that a literal reading is to be had? It seems that many Christians are perfectly willing to use a poetical reading at some times but not others. It comes down to good exegesis. We can’t blindly say one passage is literal and one is poetical. We have to find intent and purpose. Genesis was not trying to give a science lesson: six days of creation was never meant to literally be six days. Genesis is a narrative of how God brought us into being, the details of how long that took are not included because they were not relevant. I want Christians to understand that their reading of the beginning of Genesis is a particular interpretation that not all Christians need to follow. In my view, it is actually inappropriate for Christians to follow that reading. Science and the scientific method came out of Christianity and Christians’ desire to know more about the world that God gave us, why would we reject that now just because it happens to go against your particular interpretation?

In summary: Christians can and should embrace science, they are not opposing belief structures. Believe the Bible, yes, but don’t reject science out of hand. God has given us glimpses into how the universe was made and what goes on there, embrace those things as gracious gifts from God. Again, I also want to point out that salvation is not dependant on your take on this issue. I just want you to move beyond a rigid understanding of what you think the Bible says, it probably was not intended that way. Exegesis is a good thing.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

Are you a Christian?

I have a somewhat sociological question for the blogosphere. What make someone (YOU) decide to call himself or herself a Christian? This question can be applied to many things, but I am specifically interested in its relation to Christianity.

To YOU, what is a defining characteristic that would lead you to say, “Yes, I am a Christian!”? I am assuming for many “devout” Christians this will be a fairly simple question. I would really like to hear from people who consider themselves “marginal” Christians (not marginal people, mind you), those who don’t consider themselves devout.

Why do some people consider themselves Christian if certain Christian beliefs aren’t held? I am guess that many people would consider Jesus a good person but if asked about his divinity, they might shy away. Or if pressed about Christianity being the Truth and therefore nothing else could be, there are Christians that might distance themselves. My question, then, is why is there the need to call yourself Christian?

It seems there are many “church-goers” out there, but it is always difficult to have an accurate representation of “real” Christians. Of course this brings up the problem of what a “real” Christian is. Far be it from me to say who is and who isn’t. For this “exercise” I am more concerned with why people feel they have to fit into that category if they don’t consider themselves devout. Is being a Deist not inclusive enough?

I am quite curious to hear what people have to say about this.

Shalom

UPDATE: The discussion has been great in the comments section, I would love to hear from more of you!

UPDATE: Glenn (hope you don’t mind the link Glenn!) has posted some more insightful thoughts on this subject over here.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

“Theology, Music and Time” by Jeremy Begbie

Here is my first book review at Regent. The parenthetical references refer to the page number in the book. This was really difficult in that my first draft was 1800 words and that was already somewhat slim. I had to then get it down to 1500! The guidelines were as follows: Explain title and how it relates to subject, thesis, and purpose. Set out the basic structure of the book. Evaluate the book. Two things that impressed positively and negatively. All in 1500 words! Here it is!

Matt Jones
Regent CollegeOctober 4th, 2004
INDS 500: The Christian Life (Section B)
John Stackhouse
Word Count: 1497

Book Review #1
Theology, Music and Time
Jeremy S. Begbie

Begbie, Jeremy S. Theology, Music and Time. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Jeremy Begbie, in his book, Theology, Music and Time, strives to show the connection between the three nouns in his title. He aims to show that theological understanding can come through music and its relation to time. “Here we try to show how the experience of music can serve to open up features of a distinctively theological account of created temporarily, redeemed by God in Jesus Christ, and what it means to live and with time as created creatures” (7). Begbie’s title is a straightforward assertion of his subjects with theology and music being the most important and time being the medium in which a relation is formed between the other two. His motive for this task is his “guiding conviction” that music can serve to enrich and advance theology, extending our wisdom about God, God’s relation to us and to the world at large” (3).

He structures his book under three main categories: ‘Introduction’, ‘In God’s good time’, and ‘Time to improvise’. Each of these main categories includes subcategories relating to the main theme. The introduction outlines what Begbie hopes to achieve as well as give a jumping off point into the two other main themes. The first subcategory deals with the actual capabilities of music to “say” anything. He talks about the relationship between music-making, music-hearing, and our emotions. This discussion leads into the next subcategory pertaining to the nature of time and the temporal relationship to music as “the production and reception of music deeply implicates physical realities and these realities are themselves time-laden” (31). This subcategory goes into a discussion about the past, present and future which deals with time existing and how we perceive it. Music should not be looked at as moving through time, but that time is its medium (67). The main goal of the introductory chapters is to define relationships and characteristics associated with time and briefly relate those to theology. After time is introduced, the next category naturally arises: its relation to God.

“In God’s good time” combines the nature of time with what we can learn theologically through music. The first question that arises is whether time is a good gift from God or if it is merely a threat to us. Music demonstrates that change through time does not necessarily imply chaos or a negative view of time. There has arisen a view that suggests “that because something takes time to be what it is, it is thereby of deficient value or goodness compared to that which is not subject to created time” (86). Music is in direct opposition to that and therefore cannot, in this sense, be rushed and therefore cultivates patience (87). Time is divinely created and should be looked upon as such. This talk of time as a medium takes us to the first subcategory that deals with tensions and resolutions that are created in music. “Through its layered patterns of tension and resolution, music relies for much of its effect on generating a sense of the incompleteness of the present, that not all is now given” (99). Begbie then delves into a discussion on metrical waves. Metrical waves are used to show how tensions and resolutions are patterns that occur at multiple levels (from single bars to entire pieces). “The more levels resolution involves, the greater sense of an immanent final closure” (107). Music can show that the end of something is actually a beginning of something else. The next subcategory follows from the discussion of finality and the eternity of God. Begbie goes into the next subcategory and deals with the relationship between repetition and the sacrament of the Eucharist. In music, repetition is used heavily and does not get boring because repetition is natural to music. The complexities in metrical waves through their tensions and resolutions reveal that nothing is ever exactly the same, even in repetition. This is important in the ritual of the Eucharist because we are called into something holy that should never become stagnant. The liturgical nature of repetition leads to the next main category that offers a different view of how music relates to theology.

“Time to Improvise” moves away from a highly structured view of music to that of improvisation. The three sub-sections show that the practice of musical improvisation correlate to the “theology of freedom, election and ecclesiology” (269). Areas such as giving, constraints within freedom, creativity and tradition are all crucial points in this category and subcategories.

Begbie did a very thorough job of relating time to music and theology and then using that foundation showed that there were many principles in music that can offer insight to us about the theological understanding of God. Our understanding of Jesus’ saving grace is heightened by Begbie’s discussion of tension and resolve; our understanding of the Eucharist would benefit from the musical standpoint of repetition; and our desire to give might be lacking without the arguments put forth by his discussion of improvisation. Those three theological examples are merely samples of what Begbie has been able to in this book. He was able to argue quite extensively for his position and didn’t seem to leave anything out. This is a difficult subject to make any very definite claims about as music is not something tangible. It is not possible to say “this equals that” because music is not descriptive in that manner. Begbie was aware of that and addressed it. What he did was show that there are some very direct relations that can be applied to music and theology. Begbie never asserts that music can be used as a primary authority when learning theology, what he does do very well is to show, through music, that you can learn subtle nuances, reaffirm certain theological beliefs that are held as well as gain new insight. “Examining the temporarily of music has elicited conceptual tools -ways of thinking, models, frameworks, metaphors – for exploring, clarifying and re-conceiving the dynamics of God’s world and his ways with the world” (271).

One thing that impressed me negatively was his somewhat over extensive discussion of time. As time was one of the major themes of the book it makes sense to have a formal discussion of its nature. I felt that, at times, Begbie went too far, especially in his discussion of the nature of the past, present and future. I believe his arguments would still be valid without going into details about how some people think the past and future don’t really exist in certain ways. I feel that what was most important was relating time to its divine creation and how temporality affects music. The other discussions seemed to be superfluous.

Another thing that impressed upon me negatively was that he didn’t use as many examples as I would have liked. There were many places, especially in the discussion of metrical waves that Begbie could have brought in examples from the Bible to show how they are used. He did bring up the main examples to show tension and resolve and how that relates to promise and fulfillment, but I feel he could have pulled some examples in especially to show how metrical waves have many different layers.

That being said about examples, his discussion about promise and fulfillment did impress me in quite a positive way. The nature of Biblical promises has always interested me in that they were always fulfilled but not necessarily in the way we (including the original people) thought it would. “Fulfillments, far from lessening hope for resolution, serve to heighten it” (106). Fulfilled promises in the Bible are not a final word, they are pointing to something more and that is a great thing that music alludes to. The “very conclusion in Christ, climactic and utterly decisive as it may be, also brings with it an intensification and an enrichment of the promise originally made to Abraham” (109). The tensions and resolutions throughout the Bible are very artistic and all come to the final conclusion when Jesus returns and the Kingdom of God is fully realized.

“It is because the universe is so finely tuned to produce life, but only through the process of death, that death receives from life the highest possible tribute and value – it is not possible to have life on any other terms than those of death; but where you do have death, there immediately you have the possibility of life” (92). This concept put forth by Begbie also impressed me positively. Christians live in this world where we are in the “now” but “not yet” and are continually dealing with death. Music greatly points out that through death there is new life. This is a great comfort in our daily lives when we see death around us but also eternally where we can find that promise of everlasting life through Jesus Christ. I was very glad that Begbie pointed this out as I have never related musical themes to the nature of death and new life.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

The Nature of Hell

I just got out of my Old Testament Foundations class here at Regent and an interesting topic was raised. Essentially the question came down to hell, eternity, and its nature. Iain Provan answered in a wonderful way, that I had never though of before. I will “warn” you now, this may not be how you have though of hell before. I challenge you, as well as myself, to think about this. I will attempt to do some more research in order to find some Biblical support for this as well (which he did not directly do in class as this was supposed to be a “brief” question at the end of class). I also invite any non-Christians to offer comments and thoughts on this as well.

This, I would say, is the common belief about hell: You have not accepted the Gift that Christ has offered in His saving grace. You are therefore damned by your sin / sinful nature to hell. Hell is full of fire and brimstone that you are stuck in for eternity in pain and suffering. Sound about right?

The first part I agree with. Sin without salvation, unfortunately does lead to hell. At this point I could get in a long discussion on how this truly is Godly and is not what God wants, nor intends for people. I will say this: It would be inconsistent with God to pretend, at the end, that sin did not exist. To say that God loves so therefore we can just “go” (which is another issue I will talk about on another day) to heaven does not follow from the nature of God. Sins have consequences that we all must be held accountable for. As Christians we recognize this fact that hand our sins over to God which he has then paid for by sacrificing His Son / Himself in agonizing pain at Golgotha. If you do not accept this payment for our sins, you are still to be held accountable. Therefore it is consistent with the character of God to allow hell to exist.

What happens in and during hell may be somewhat different that what you have heard or thought of before. Provan essentially suggests that hell is not eternal. Now hold on, because he is not suggesting what you are now thinking. This does not mean that people essentially “pay” for their sins by their tenure in hell and then are allowed into heaven. That possibility left when they made decisions while they were still on earth as we know it. What he is suggesting is this: Hell is essentially designed as a place of reflection and coming to terms with your sin. (it is still painful, fire, brimstone, gnashing of teeth, etc…) Through this reflection you come to realize the sovereignty of God and His true nature and desires. Again, this does not mean that you can get out now In order to remain consistent with God’s love this cannot go on forever. If it did, it would imply a few things. Firstly it would imply that eternally there is a place in which God does not occupy. This is not consistent with the all encompassing eternity of God. Secondly it would imply that God will allow eternal suffering which I think is inconsistent with His love. Provan suggests that in order to remain consistent with God’s love and justice, those in hell would eventually cease to exist.

Doing some brief research, I have not found any instance where reference to hell suggest an eternity there. Nor have I found anything that would suggest that you can get out of hell. That is all got right now. Provan had some more insight that I am forgetting now and was more eloquent, but so be it :) If you want me to do more research on the matter, please let me know. What do you think? Comments? Questions?

Shalom

Addendum:
In Revelation, Satan is thrown into a pit for a 1000 years, after that he comes back and is then bound and thrown into hell with the rest. It seems that he is actually thrown into the same place – hell – as everyone else.

I am not sure how widely accepted it is, I will have to ask him for more details. I would say that the reason he has come to this conclusion is because the Bible supports it, God’s nature is found there which leads to this conclusion. The only place I can find that goes against this in in Revelation: 20:10 “And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Now that does seem to go directly against this theory. Although let me make a few comments on that. First is that Revelation is apocalyptic literature and therefore cannot always be taken literally. It is poetry. I am not going to go much further than this as I have not studied apocalyptic literature and therefore cannot make any claims to this passage and how literal it is to be taken. Second is that it could simply mean that the theory that Provan suggested today does not apply to the devil and his helpers (the Antichrist and false prophet). They theory could still remain entirely valid as I think it is supported by God’s nature, and just doesn’t apply for the ultimate deceiver. Anyway, that is what I have come up with. Any thoughts there?

Everything the Bible has said does suggest that hell is, indeed, a real and literal place. Both the OT and the NT make claims of its existence in many forms of literature.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

Discussion of “Christ and Culture” by Niebuhr

Here is my first brief paper discussion on Richard Niebuhr’s “Christ and Culture”. There were also a lot of good things that I didn’t think of that were brought up in discussion. I would definitely recommend this book to others, but it will take a while to get through. This is not an essay and therefore is not written in essay for and not always in complete sentences, deal with it :)

Matt Jones
Regent College
Theology of Culture
John Stackhouse
Word Count: 1077

Christ and Culture Discussion Paper

1. What is “the enduring problem,” and why does it “endure”?

The enduring problem with discussion of Christ and Culture is that there are many ways to view how Christ relates to culture. The Bible can support multiple theories of how we should relate to culture. It is not explicit about one particular way we are supposed to interact with culture. Jesus makes many statements that can give credible support to the five types of interaction that Niebuhr outlines. Also, many strong and influential Christians throughout the ages have been “members” of each of these types suggesting that belief of one type or the other does not make a person a better or worse Christian.

2. Briefly define each of Niebuhr’s five types

Christ against culture: Christ is here to claim authority over the earth and therefore throws out all ideas of culture. Culture is bad and sin is transmitted through it. This type “affirms the sole authority of Christ over the Christian and resolutely rejects culture’s claims to loyalty.” Typically seen as “either-or”. This group is essentially separatist in belief that culture should be rejected. All forms of activity in culture (military, political, etc…) should not occur. The monastic tradition is one representative of this type.

Christ of culture: Christ defines what culture is. He is a “guide of men in all their labor.” Problem that arises with this is that what that culture is is looked at through a particular culture and is often ascribe those values. “Christianity itself needed to be regarded as an ellipse with two foci, rather than as a circle with one center. One focus was justification or the forgiveness of sins; the other, ethical striving for the attainment of the perfect society.” This Christ also give man power over nature. Often looked at as being two-minded: having a loyalty to both Christ and civilization. Wants society to be peaceful and co-operative which will achieve these things by moral training. Jesus as a great enlightener is a common them. Gnostic tradition takes the enlightener theme especially. Kant and Leibnitz are two of the main proponents of this type. Jesus as hero.

Christ above culture: This group is similar to the second group in that it sees Christ as “the fulfillment of cultural aspirations and the restorer of the institutions of true society.” The difference is that their view of Christ incorporates aspects of Christ that are not part of, nor belong to, culture. Christ uses culture to point to himself as savior but the other characteristics are what actually save man. He gives capabilities that humans could not conceive of. Thomas Aquinas is seen as a major representative.

Christ and culture in paradox: This group is similar to the Christ against culture type in that the see Christ at opposition to culture but differ in that they do not feel removal from society should happen. “Obedience to God requires obedience to the institutions of society and loyalty to its members as well as obedience to a Christ who sits in judgment on that society.” Luther is seen as the greatest representative of this type.

Christ the transformer of culture: Also called the “conversionist” type. Similar to first and fourth group in that they see that culture has been perverted and is fallen but differ in that this group see Christ as a person who is the “converter of man in his culture and society, not apart from these, for there is no nature without culture and not turning of men from self and idols to God save in society.” This means that, while culture is the transmitter of sin, Christ still uses culture to save and redeem man. John Calvin and Augustine are two of the key figures of this type.

3. Is there a difference (for Niebuhr? For you?) between “Christ and Culture” and “Church and Culture”?

I do believe that Niebuhr sees a difference between Christ/Culture and Church/Culture. The Church must evaluate the culture that it is in and respond to it in an appropriate manner. Christ did the same thing except that Christ was only responsible to God. The Church is responsible not only to God but also its members. The Church’s members are also part of culture and will relate the Christ differently and therefore the church will have to take that into consideration.

I would say that there, at the heart, is not a difference between how Christ relates to culture and how the church SHOULD relate to culture. Christ looked at the culture He was in a told stories, talked to people, challenged people, in a way that would make sense in that culture. If He had come today, in our culture, he would have done things differently. He still would have looked at the culture and told stories, talked to people, and challenged people, but he would have done in it a way that was relevant to our culture. Some things would look the same, some things would look drastically different.

4. What is one thing that impressed you positively, and one thing that impressed you negatively, about this book?

One thing that impressed me positively about this book is that Niebuhr did a wonderful job of outlining five ways of thinking about the relationship between Christ and culture. He goes on to say that there are many ways of dealing with this topic but I would imagine that it would be a very strenuous task to delve into the many possibilities on our own. Niebuhr did us a great service of bringing out the most important types of relation and giving us a deep understanding of what those types are as well as why they have been thought.

One thing that impressed me negatively about this book was its style or tone. To me it was somewhat difficult to read. I found it similar, in my mind, to reading the King James version of the Bible: the content is there and wonderful but because of how it was written it made it somewhat of a slow read. I felt that at some places passages were overly difficult but only so because of his style of writing. It is definitely an academic book and should be read as such and part of it is me needed to change, or at least prepare, for different ways to get across information.

A good point that was brought up in discussion was that Niebuhr says that we should not pass judgement on the different types of relation, but I would disagree with that. Some views of relation are supported only when viewing particular Bible passages out of context and that should definitely be judged. Otherwise you get the idea that you can make the Bible what you want of it and truth becomes relative.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

Science vs. Religion

This is something I wrote quite a while back but thought I would post it here and see if anyone else has anyone to say. :) (If you want to read any of the previous comments, head over here. [Sorry, the post and comments are no longer available]) [EDIT: I have made some additional remarks at my post Creation Science]

Since physics and astronomy have been a big portion of my life and interest, I enjoy thinking and writing about such subjects. The String Theory post was the first attempt at such a discussion on my blog. There is much discussion in and out of the Christian community about such things as the age one the universe / earth, evolution, big bang, “creationism” and other such scientific (and un-scientific) theories. This will be my first attempt to tackle such issue all at once. Obviously I won’t be able to address everything and I will try and be as concise as possible (I tend to ramble and I will apologize for that now). This will probably be a long post so bear with me (or not, your choice). Also, one thing to say before people jump on me for not supporting some of my claims with specifics: I will try and do the best I can to make references but I am moving soon so my books are packed up and are not at an easy reference point. If need be I will reference them after I move. So here it goes.

There are many Christians who believe in Creationism or Creation Science. I am not one of those people. This in NO WAY implies that I doubt their salvation. This merely means I disagree with some of their beliefs, these beliefs are not primary to salvation and therefore essentially DO NOT MATTER. That being said, I am a science guy and enjoy discussing such things and believe that people should always be furthering their understanding of God and His universe. What I have learned and believe does not fall in line with some of the main tenants of Creation Science. I guess the purpose of this entry is to suggest to both Christians and non-Christians that someone who is saved can still believe in the Bible as well as what science tells us.

It seems that most Creation Science is primarily used to go against evolutionist ideas as well as big bang theories (among others). The goal of Creation Science, I think, is good. It is an attempt to ratify things seen in the universe and to mingle them with ideas in the Bible. The problem that I see is that they don’t always really look at everything seen in nature. I suppose I should start with evolution. Evolution is the subject that I know the least about as it has not really been part of my studies so I will attempt to keep this brief. There has never been any proof that macro evolution (the changing of species from one to another) actually happens. This theory is followed like a religion and takes just as much faith to follow. Micro evolution (the adaptation and genetic changing of a species) has had reasonable evidence to suggest that it is possible and does indeed happen. Logically speaking it would be a fallacy to suggest that because micro evolution happens so does macro. On this topic I would probably be siding with the Creationist as there is little evidence to support this theory. The problem that arises is that evolution is often associated with the age of the earth because it takes millions and / or billions of years for evolution to take place. It is at this point that I generally break with beliefs of both evolutionists as well as Creationists. I do believe that the earth is approximately 4 billions years old but not because evolution mandates that. The evidence collected from both the earth and moon in a variety of ways suggests this age. I do, however believe in the timeline suggested in the Bible since the birth of Adam. The Bible puts forth that there is about 6000 years from Adam’s birth to current day. I have no reason to believe that the Bible would not be literal about these ages.

So why do I believe that humans have been since Adam about 6000 years ago while I do not believe that the age of the earth is similar? Because I believe in the Bible and in science. Let me start with the Bible.

Genesis 1.5: God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.

The Hebrew yom is translated primarily as “day” and is from a primitive root meaning day, but it is also translated as many other things such as age, always, Chronicles, completely, continually, eternity, forevermore, lifetime, period, some time, years, and multitudes of others, but you get the idea. To me it is clear that the mere use of the word yom does not necessarily imply a single day. It must be read in context in order to correctly translate the word. So how do we read Genesis in context so we can understand what “day” should actually mean to us? The Creation narrative tells us where we come from and that we are under God’s authority. I think ultimately the usage of “day” comes from the fact that it is something we can understand. The 7 day week we are used to, we understand the Sabbath and that there is a division between the days. I think that this usage helps us follow along with the narrative. There doesn’t seem to be anything explicit about the passage that would let us know exactly. It is not a simple matter of taking the text literal or not it is a matter of listening to the narrative and the narrative is not explicit about what a “day” means. I suggest, then, that we should turn to science to see when the universe did begin.

Research into the age of the earth yields an age of around 4.5 billion years. Determining this age can be difficult because of the earth’s molten core that causes surface features to be replenished. Even though many features change there have been rocks found that date to around 3.5 billion years using different radiometric dating methods. This therefore establishes a lower limit on the earth (which is much older than many Creationists assert). Because it is hard to directly measure the exact age of the earth, indirect methods must be used. The best way to do this is determine the age of the Solar System which should roughly have the same age as the earth. Meteorites that have fallen to the earth can be used to find the age of our system and generally turn out to consistently be between 4.3 and 4.5 billion years (I know I am not citing sources, I apologize, you can find them for yourself.). Also, magnetic “markers” at the mid-Atlantic ridge show an age of around 80 million years. This follows from the fact that as magma emerges from the mid-Atlantic ridge the earth’s magnetic field essentially imprints its signature into that rock. As is spreads away from the ridge on either side there are locations where the magnetic field drops to 0 and then comes back with the opposite polarity (Magnetic north becomes magnetic south and viceversa). This reversal has been observed some 170 times. There is some inaccuracy here because it is not completely know how long it takes for the earth to change its magnetic field (meaning the 80 million years is essentially an estimate). This age is definitely not the best in determining the age of the earth because of replenishment of the earth’s core as well as the inaccuracies of determining how long it takes for the magnetic field to flip. That being said, it still seems to suggest that it is older than what Creationists suggest. (note: it has also been directly observed on the sun that magnetic fields do flip)

What is my point? My point is simply that scientific evidence cannot be ignored. It is also that when you don’t ignore scientific evidence you don’t have to throw the Bible out. They can indeed coexist. Even if you want to argue the age of the earth it is now nearly impossible to argue the age of the universe (at least a minimum age). The Big Bang theory has significant evidence to suggest that it (or at least a form of it) is correct. Direct observations in the sky lead to an age of the universe of about 13 billion years. The big bang theory always blows my mind because to me it fits perfectly with Christian theology. It always confuses me when it is used by scientists to suggest that it shows Christianity is wrong and thrown away by Christians because they say it doesn’t fit with the Bible. To me, both parties are blind to what the big bang really tells us about God’s creation.

Big Bang theory suggest that at a quantum singularity (normal physics breaks down at a singularity, it should also be noted that this did not happen IN space as there was nothing at all before the big bang, not even space) 13 billion years (or so) in the past “exploded” (which is not the best description as it didn’t really explode, it just became and started to expand) and the universe came into existence.

Genesis 1.1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Ummmmm… These two beginnings seem remarkably similar. The age can be extrapolated from current expansion of the universe as well as ages of stars and galaxies. All measurements of expansions lead to a singularity where density and heat are essentially infinite (check the Hubble Law as an example of such evidence). Cosmic microwave background radiation also points to a single creation event as the radiation is fairly smooth and even in all directions.

Personally, everything I have learned about physics and astronomy have drawn me closer to God and given me even more reason to believe. It blows my mind that some scientists can study the same things and not see a divine creator. It would be too much to go into here, but the complexities of the universe, cosmologically speaking, are so amazing that to deny a divine creator seems ludicrous. Similarly, it seems blind to me that many Christians can deny what legitimate science indicates. The science supports the Bible, it does not change it or challenge it.

There may have been a few more subjects I wanted to discuss, but it is getting late and I have forgotten what they are! I know this is a bit long, but I hope it has at least made sense. I really look forward to any comments that are out there. I will try and respond to them as I really do enjoy discussion. I probably won’t post another blog entry for a while as this is pretty involved and I do need to focus on getting ready to move to Canada, so possibly in another week I will try and get something else up. I named this entry “Science vs. Religion” because that always seems to be the argument, but indeed, they can coexist. Science cannot prove a religion but it can definitely support it.

I look forward to hearing from you! Shalom!

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

Jesus IS God

There is a lot of talk about this subject, naturally. One tenant of the Christian faith is that Jesus IS God and is also Man, both 100%. This seems to be a paradox that only the Godhead can understand. I am ok with that. This, of course, brings up controversy. Many people suggest that Jesus really is not God, just a good man. (There are many problems with this argument, I am only going to discuss one.) People will support this claim by saying that Jesus never actually said “I am God.” There are actually many instances where Jesus actually does claim that He is God just not in the way that we want Him to. Claiming authority over the temple is just one example of his claim that He is God (only God can claim authority over the temple), and this is only one of the examples. I would like to point to John chapter 8 as a full on claim that He truly IS God.

John 8.58 – Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.”

Please do go read this passage in context and it will have even more impact. Jesus states a few things in this passage. First, he is claiming that he has been around since before Abraham, this should make it very obvious that He is more than just a man. What really make this an “I am God” statement is his use of the phrase “I am.” Any good Jew would realize that this is a direct allusion to the burning bush. Exodus 3.14 “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM'; and He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you.”‘” Jesus is making a full allusion to something that the Jews would know about. Claiming “I am” is putting himself as God, as the burning bush, as the God of Israel. To further support the claim that Jesus is indeed claiming to be God, directly after Jesus says this, the Jews pick up rocks to stone Him as, in their eyes, he was a blasphemer and should, by law, be stoned to death. “I am” is not a simple statement. The OT אֲדֹנָי (Adonai) is used to replace the unspeakable YHVH יהוה.

Anyway, this isn’t really the entry that I had been planning on tonight. Had a good Bible study and this stuff was brought up so thought I would think about it a bit more. I will hopefully get an entry up about stuff pertaining to age of the Earth and such things.

Shalom

Addendum in response to a question about Mark 10.18:

17 As He was setting out on a journey, a man ran up to Him and knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”
18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.
19 “You know the commandments, ‘DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, Do not defraud, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.’”
20 And he said to Him, “Teacher, I have kept all these things from my youth up.”
21 Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

I am assuming you are asking because this passage seems to suggests that Jesus is not God, yes? To me, and I haven’t done much research into this yet as I am at work, hopefully I can get more indepth later, I would say that Jesus is essentially speaking on behalf of all humans. Jesus is suggesting that humans are lacking and only God is complete. Humans fail and sin, God does not. Jesus is 100% man and could therefore speak on our behalf, but he is also 100% God and, unlike us, can resist temptation and sin. I hope that makes sense, and like I said, I will hopefully be able to look more into this one.

Let me quote William Lane as he put it better than I can.

Jesus responded by directing attention away from himself to God, who alone is the source and norm of essential goodness. The apparent repudiation of the epithet “good” only serves to radicalize the issue posed by the question of verse 17. The inquirer’s idea of goodness was defined by human achievement. He undoubtedly regarded himself as “good” in the sense that he was confident that he had fulfilled the commandments from the time he first assumed their yoke as a very young man…. Jesus’ answer forces him to recognize that his only hope is an utter reliance upon God, who alone can bestow eternal life.

Which I suppose is somewhat similar to what I stated above, just more eloquently. Jesus’ statement is not about being separate from God, it is about humans relying on God. I think this verse, along with the others you address are part of what makes the Trinity so confusing (and often a matter of faith). The Godhead IS indeed three separate “pieces” if you will. God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are distinct in their attributes, but still God.

The Trinity should be kept in mind when reading Acts 7.55 (well and always I guess). Stephen is under the same persecution as Jesus was essentially, blasphemy. As he looks to Heaven he sees God who is bringing him into His kingdom because of the sacrifice of the “son of Man” in Jesus. The are two separate beings partly because they ARE separate beings in the Trinity but also because they have each played an important role in Stephen’s role and are important to the context of Stephen’s story.

I don’t feel that 1 Cor 11.3 is meant to contrast God and man in a similar way you would contrast man and woman. The passage is to convey a relationship between the two parties. Gordone Fee suggests “Paul’s understanding of the metaphor, therefore, and almost certainly the only one the Corinthians would have grasped, is “head” as “source,” especially “source of life.” … Thus Paul’s concern is not hierarchical (who has authority over whom), but relational (the unique relationships that are predicated on one’s being the source of the other’s existence).” So this passage directly relates to the Tiniity in that God truly is the Godhead and is the source of everything, including Jesus. But Jesus has a very close relationship with the Godhead being a member along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

“Godhead” is merely a term used when talking about all three persons in the Trinity – God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Passages you have pointed out, and others, point to the fact that God and Jesus are separate, this is true. THere are also numerous passages where Jesus is indeed claiming to be God, the specific one I have used in this thread comes from John. The way this dichotomy is resolved is where the Trinity comes in. The Trinity is One being – God – that has different aspects to it that have different “roles.” “Roles” is a somewhat bad term to use because the lines are blurred a bit, but I will use it none the less. Some think of it like this (again, this can’t be done to strictly because each “role” does all of this things as well, but that is another issue): The Father is the one in charge, Jesus is our salvation and God’s “represenative” to us, Jesus is also able to relate very closely to each and every one of us because he is Man, the Spirit is, as you said, God’s “active force” essentially, the Spirit also is somewhat of a moderator between us and God the Father. Individual pieces of one God.

Let me (loosley) use a metaphor that Hugh Ross used in helping to understand the Trinity. If God exists He would have to be outside of our dimensions as He is all encompassing. There are probably 11 dimensions (at least that is what current String Theory tells us) and God resides over all of those dimensions. For simplicity’s sake, I will only make reference to our three space dimensions. If God is above all 11 dimensions, he is definitely over our three space ones. Let us go down even farther and imagine that we are two dimensional beings (this will help in understanding the three dimensional version becase it is difficult, even impossible, to imagine a 4 space dimensional being or object). As a two dimensional being you are constrained to a surface and can go left and right, forward and backward, but not up and down, you don’t even have any thickness. You are gliding along one day and all of a sudden three dots appear in front of you . . . seems odd that they would randomly appear, then those dots start to grow and turn into circles o o o they keep growing O O O until they get larger and they start to touch OOO as they continue on they actually merge into one large oval ( ) . This all seems very odd as they came out of nowhere, but none the less they were still in your two dimensions. Now, if you, being a two dimensional person, had the capacity and comprehension to visualize and see a third dimension you would have seen that it was merely a three dimensional person sticking three of his fingers through your two dimensional plane. (for this to make a little more sense, imagine the 2-d plane is your desk and imagine pushing your fingers through it, what the plane of your desk sees is a dot where your finger starts and then growing into a larger circle. Make sense??) Now, to the two dimensional being it seems very odd for this to happen but to the three dimensional being it was just normal, the 3-d person has a higher range of motion. Let us carry this over to our three dimensions. How would a 4-dimensional being interact with our 3-dimensions (or a much higher order dimensional being even)?? To us, it might look very strange, but to them it is normal. The other, and very important, thing to note here is that the two dimensional being saw three distinct circles. If the person had not continued to push his fingers through they never would have merged into one shape (part of the hand). To the 2-d person those three O’s were COMPLETLY separate, individual objects. It is only with the knowledge and understanding of a higher dimension that you would be able to see that those three separate pieces were indeed all part of the same unit – the hand. While the Trinity’s different pieces may seem completly separate, even if closely related, they may actually be part of the same object but because of our limited understanding, we cannot see the entire piece. Wow, I hope that made sense, I hope Hugh Ross doesn’t read this and plot my death.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.

A Short Biography of St. Andrew

Once again I was listening to one of my favorite bands, Five Iron Frenzy, and was listening to their song “The Cross Of St. Andrew.” I realized that I didn’t know much about Andrew. Theses are the things that I knew and found out (a lot of the info has come from “Eerdman’s Dictionary of the Bible,” here, and here.)

Andrew (which means “manly” in the Greek) was one of the 12 apostles and the brother of Peter. He was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee by trade. Tradition tells us that he went to preach in Scythia (Greece) and crucified in Achaia (a region in Greece) at Patras. There is an apocryphal book called “Acts of Andrew” which is largely thought to be fictional but in the spirit of the Christian mindset in the 2nd century. The story goes into Andrew’s missionary trips throughout Asia performing different miracles. The account tells of Andrew healing and converting the wife (who then takes an oath of celibacy) and brother of proconsul Aegeates. Aegetes then takes revenge by having Andrew flogged and crucified. Traditions has it that he was to be crucified in the same way that Christ was but objected saying he wasn’t worthy so the crucifix was turned sideways like an X (a saltire). Andrew preaches from the cross for three days and reportedly says “O good cross! Made beautiful by the limbs of Christ, so long desired, now so happily found! Receive me into thy arms and present me to my Master, that He who redeemed me through thee may now accept me from thee!”

Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland whose flag bears the white cross (actually the X, saltire) of St. Andrew. Andrew is also the patron saint of Russia where many flags are also adorned with the saltire.

Andrew has become a symbol for spreading God’s Gospel and someone who truly understood Jesus’ grace and mercy at the Cross.

“The Cross Of St. Andrew” – Five Iron Frenzy

One missed step can make you stumble,
you set yourself up for a fall.
You punish yourself for each failure,
dogma beat out alcohol.
When all of your principles were fashioned,
you thought that your new rules made you new.
But maybe those X’s on your hands,
are what’s killing you.

 

[Chorus]

The Cross of Saint Andrew,
never meant to take His place.
The Cross of Saint Andrew,
echoes of His grace.

 

When Saint Andrew knew the measure,
he knew the cost of sacrifice,
he left all that he knew behind him,
great things come at such great price.
But all of this never brought the answers,
obedience comes with controversy,
what changed him changes me today,
Christ has mercy.

 

[Bridge]
All your sins can be forgiven,
all of this was always free.
Jesus loves without condition,
this is what freedom means to me.

 

Nihil ergo nunc damnationis est
his qui sunt in Christo Iesu qui non
secundum carnem ambulant.

[Translated: Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (Rom 8.1f)]

I found this to be a pretty interesting search for info on someone I didn’t know that much about!

Shalom

Addendum:
So here are a few thoughts of mine if reference to what the first stanza (especially the dogma beat out alcohol line).

I am not positive about this one, but this is how I see it: Christians set very high standards for ourselves because, even though we know it isn’t true, we feel we have to show ourselves worthy to get in to heaven. Because of this we are really hard on ourselves when we screw up. Hence the first few lines of the song. I think the next step is we can be come very legalistic about some things, including (especially?) relating to alcohol. We try and remove anything that could be construed as bad and become legalistic about things so we can try and remain closer to God. [Edit that wasn’t in the email, thought I should be a little more concise here] This is what the “dogma beat out alcohol” line means, our legalism, dogma, have tried to remove anything “bad” even though alcohol isn’t necessarily bad. Then they go on to say “When all of your principles were fashioned, you thought that your new rules made you new.” They say this because it turns out that our legalistic nature is, indeed, not what has saved us but God’s good grace. The crosses on our hands are those rules we think we have to follow in order to be Christ but they are killing us because that has become our focus instead of Christ himself.

Any thoughts there?

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Predestination and Free Will

There can be a lot of discussion in (and out) of the “religious” community about predestination and free will. I thought that I would share my thoughts on the subject and see if anyone else cared to share theirs.

The discussion (or arguments, depending on who you are talking with) seems to revolve around the fact that the Bible does not explicitly say “you have complete free will” or “your entire life is predestined.” Although, it does come pretty close to stating both.

Free Will (the ability to choose in any way desired without external circumstances getting in the way. This relates to the Christian faith in that God allows people to choose for themselves if they will accept salvation. Self-Determinism): These words never actually appear in the Bible but their concepts do. The Bible often suggests that we should conquer sin by choosing to repent from it and choose righteousness and follow Christ. The following verses definitely give rise to the thought that we do indeed have free will to choose things and that we do, indeed, need to choose Christ and repentance in order to be saved: Col 3.5 – John 3.16 – John 12.48 – Rom 10.9ff – 1 Peter 5.1ff

Predestination (all things are preordained, there is a sovereignty that has planned history and it is unfolding as time goes on, fate. More specifically, this relates to the Christian faith in that God has predestined, or already chosen, everyone that will or will not accept, and receive, salvation. “election”): The term “predestined” does appear in the Bible and does refer to the foreknowledge and sovereign power of God. The following verses lead directly to the conclusion that we are, in fact, predetermined to be (or not be) saved: Rom 8.28ff – Gal 1.15 – 1 Cor 2.7 – Eph 1.4f, 11 – 2 Thess 2.13

How does the Christian (or non-Christian, skeptic, atheist, agnostic, whomever) ratify the two seemingly paradoxical beliefs? The way I see it is that they are not paradoxical at all. Predestined means that God is sovereign and omniscient (has complete knowledge). Free will means that He has brought us into relationship with Him and has allowed us to choose Him or not. The two distinct beliefs only become paradoxical if we think 4 dimensionally. We would be confining God to our space-time. We are very used to things going forward in a linear fashion and, I think, have put God in the box of our timeline. What we fail to realize is that God is above that and does not have to be confined to the 4 extended dimensions that we are familiar with. String theory (which I who to write about at another time) suggests that there are actually 11 dimensions (10 space – the 4 that we know and 6 additional, very small, curled up ones – and 1 time). I will loosely apply a metaphor to this discussion that Brian Greene talked about in “The Elegant Universe” in describing other dimensions:

God is above time and can therefore see all choices (that we are free to make) at any point in time. Look at it like this (I discussed that a bit in another post): We walk along a string in one direction and from our vantage we can only see down the string. We can only walk in that one direction (like time). God, as he is above all dimensions, can see the entire string and therefore our entire life displayed before him. His foreknowledge is such that He can see the entire string and all of our choices. God knows who will choose Him and has known since before we were born. The fact that He knows does not me that we are REQUIRED to choose Him. Predestination, many people seem to think, means that we are forced into things and that therefore we have no freedom and then there would be no point. I believe that free will and predestination on their own lack completeness. If they are put together there is less chance we will but God in a box.

I think I have left some stuff out that I wanted to discuss and may remember it later. And yes I know I have rambled a bit, but deal with it.  Please feel free to comment or add anything.

The discussion on multiple dimensions is pretty interesting and hopefully I will discuss that later along with string theory.

Shalom

Addendum:
A side comment about “predestination” and “foreknowledge.” The words are very closely related but are subtly different. Foreknowledge seems to merely refer to a knowledge about something before it happens. God does have foreknowledge but, more importantly, he has indeed predestined things to happen. The subtle difference is that knowledge is just an understanding that something will happen where as predestination is that God has indeed laid things out in a particular way. Predestination does mean that history will unfold in a particular way that God has described. This, to me, in no way takes away from our free will to choose.

Predestination has once been described in this manner (which I believe incorporates free will): God is like a chess-master. When a chess-master is on top of his game (which God always is) he can see every move that his opponent will make and see the outcome of the game. Each move can still be made by choice but ultimately the chess-master knows what will happen. I like this analogy because it implies at least one important thing: God helps guide us, if we listen. A chess master can make certain moves that will lead his opponent where he wants him to go, in a similar way, God allows us to choose but will also make certain moves (this can manifest in different ways in our life) that lead us a certain way. We can completely ignore those things and make other moves, but if we listen to God he will lead us where we enter into a deeper relationship with him. The analogy does break down here because a chess-master makes his moves so that his opponent will lose the game, real life is not a game and God makes His moves so that we will draw closer to Him.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This post is from a previous blog so the original comments no longer exist.