Archive for March, 2015

The “God Particle”

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Good news saints. Physicists say they found the “God particle.”

Yes, that is right. In what will no doubt bring some nerdy scientist a Nobel Prize, scientists said that after a 50 year search they are confident that they have found a Higgs boson, the elusive subatomic aspect sometimes called the God particle.

And you thought God created the world in 7 days out of nothing.

Not so you weary saints! Sagacious scientists tell us that they finally have discovered the definitive, ontological ground zero: the God particle. They suggest that the particle acts like molasses or snow. When other tiny basic building blocks pass through it, they stick together, slow down and form atoms.

Well that makes sense. Silly me—I thought God “spoke” matter into existence. What was I thinking?!?

A scientist states, “The discovery [of the God particle] explains what once seemed unexplainable and still is a big hard for the average person to comprehend.” You think???

Apparently this little God particle gathers a bunch of little baby atoms together, at random, by chance into an atom of oxygen, that sticks to some hydrogen, like my granddaughter’s Tootsie Roll Pop left by mistake on Christmas, next to the dry sink (don’t tell Karen—it has been my job to clean behind the darn thing), has gathered sundry lady bugs, stink bugs, dust particles, and a dime I dropped on President’s day.

This God particle gathers up stuff and shazzam—life! Man I wondered how that happened—I am relieved that California Institute of Technology has unlocked the mysteries of science.

But wait? Pardon me, I am just a poor liberal arts guy, but do I not remember from 7th grade earth science class that the best theory, the most plausible theory, is the simplest, most direct, commonsense theory? Right now I am having a really hard time understanding, much less believing the God particle Tootsie Roll theory. What do you think?

First this: God created the Heavens and Earth—all you see, all you don’t see. Earth was a soup of nothingness, a bottomless emptiness, an inky blackness. God’s Spirit brooded like a bird above the watery abyss. God spoke: “Light!” And light appeared (Genesis 1:1-3).



Thursday, March 26th, 2015

To a large degree, we are to do nothing. We are to wait. The Hebrew understanding of “waiting” is “to stand firmly and actively watch God’s will be revealed.” The Greeks and the Romans and some of us today tried to build society upon their gods. But these gods will not be big enough because they are finite, limited. Even mighty Rome, with all its power, did not have satisfactory answers to the questions plaguing humankind. So they fell. They are finished. They were Hazael.

But we serve a God who never slumbers or sleeps. A God who in a blink of an eye created the universe. A God who has no beginning nor an ending. A God, also, who loves us enough to send His only begotten Son to die for us . . . that is one response to Hazael–embrace the Son of God as our Savior–do not rewrite the rules of the game–play another game!

When the three young students refused to worship mighty Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar they were thrown into the fiery furnace (see Daniel). “We believe God will deliver us,” they said. “But even if we die, we shall not worship you.”

Home schoolers, are we willing to stand firm in our faith no matter what the cost? If we are, then Hazael shall not have our souls . . . even if someday he takes our lives.

Will we stand with Joshua on the edge of the Promised Land and proclaim: “You may follow whom you will but as for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord!”

As Elisha weeps, he stands with saints of all ages–he stands on Carmel with Elijah–with Moses on Horeb–with Abraham on Moriah–and he asks us again, “If Baal is god then worship him; if God is God worship Him! But choose ye this day . . .”

I know that it seems that we are looking into the face of Hazael . . . and we are. But let us stand–as countless saints before us stood–let us stand firm and choose life this year. . . eternal life! If the present home school movement does nothing else let us call our nation to be hopeful in the face of Hazael because . . . our Redeemer liveth!

Elisha Wept . . .

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

“I weep because I see what you will do to Israel . . .” 2 Kings 8:12

At times we are called on to deliver messages we do not want to deliver. When Elisha was sent to Syria By God, he met Hazael. As he looked into the face of this future rule of Syria, Elisha saw how much Israel would suffer at Hazael’s hand in the future. No wonder the prophet, who loved his people, wept. It is always good news to hear that a sick man will be well . . . unless the man who gets well will kill your children.

Elisha wept . . .

After September 11, 2001, we in America are especially somber. I am not in anyway mitigating the horrendous crime that was committed on September 11, 2001. It was a great disaster. However, may I suggest, that we have looked into the face of Hazael. We are both the perpetrators and the victim in our present situation.

In our own country, at the beginning of the millennium, in spite of unprecedented prosperity, we see the seeds of our destruction everywhere. Increased crime, poverty, and unemployment. Hopelessness and domestic violence. Some of us wonder whether our American covenant is being recklessly compromised by some leaders who are choosing to condone practices that we see as immoral. We see Hazael. He will survive . . . but will we? Will the American dream survive?

Edward Gibbon in his seminal work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire says that the following five attributes marked Rome at its end. First, a mounting love of affluence. Second, a widening gap between the very rich and the very poor. Third, an obsession with sex. Fourth, freakishness in the arts, masquerading as originality, and enthusiasms pretending to be creativity. Fifth, an increased desire to live on welfare. Sound familiar? Are we looking at Hazael?

That must have been the way the disciples felt. Only three years with Him. Three short years. And while his work seemed to fall on deaf ears, the evil Romans prospered. Caiphas prospered. Herod prospered. Evil would win after all . . . and Elisha wept.

Jesus wept too. In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus spent the last night of His life. Alone. He had to die. He knew it. And He was so afraid that He wept blood. Sometimes I think we make the cross into something less than it was. It was a horrible death. To wear a cross, for instance, in Jesus’ day, around one’s neck was like wearing an electric chair around our neck today. No, Hazael will live. Jesus will die. And Elisha wept. . .

Elisha began his ministry during the last half of the ninth century B.C. Leaving his parents’ farm in the upper Jordan valley, he trained under Elijah for several years, then served in the northern kingdom for over fifty years.

Elisha was not isolated and unpredictable as Elijah often was. Instead, he spent time with people, sharing meals and staying in their homes. He traveled throughout the kingdom on a donkey, visiting villages and the communities. Elisha’s miracles among these people reflected a deep compassion for the poor and needy.

Despite his loyalty to Israel, Elisha relentlessly fought against the idol worship of her kings. Obedience to God’s instructions took him as far north as Damascus, where he appointed the Syrian king who would eventually oppress Israel. A similar mission in Israel brought the downfall of her evil kings and a massacre of the prophets.

But, Elisha knew all too well, that Hazael would live and someday he would destroy his nation. The rich and the poor alike would suffer. They would suffer because the nation was evil. . . was unfaithful to God. And Elisha wept . . .

Up All Night

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

It was no easy task. I have always enjoyed going to sleep around 9 PM CST so the notion of staying up all night seemed impossible.

There was some precedence. For fiscal reasons mostly, and because, honestly, there was a definite enervated nightlife in southern Arkansas, we would spend hours “parking” with our girl friends. It worked like this: the couple would find some obscure corn field, or my personal favorite, a road next to the Mississippi River, and would sit and talk and allegedly would do other things—although I never did. No, really, ask Martha Lynn—or, perhaps, given my handicap—Vanderbilt and Harvard notwithstanding—you really do believe me!

A complicating incident occurred, however, that changed everything.

In March, 1971, I made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. I invited Him into my life. Cornered, and then conquered by Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” I could no longer deny, could not escape, the fact that God loved me so much that He sent his only Begotten Son (John 3:16) and, as if He had not done enough, He died for my sins on the Cross at Calvary. This was an incorporeal, metaphysical reality I could not escape! Yes, I was captured by the love of God!

No, I had a problem. On one had, I had schemed to do all sorts of “wicked” things on Prom Night. It was expected. It was necessary. It was my corporeal reality. Now, I had to consider an agenda, a world, which I could not see, but had more influence on me than the world I could see!

I was experienced, for the first time, a worldview battle. A worldview is a way that we relate to, and responds from a philosophical position that we embrace as our own. Worldview is a framework that ties everything together, that allows us to understand society, the world, and our place in it.

A worldview helps us make the critical decisions, which will shape our future. A worldview colors all our decisions and all our artistic creations. In the first Star Wars movie (1977), for instance, Luke Skywalker clearly values a Judeo-Christian code of ethics. That does not mean that he is a believing Christian–indeed he is not–but he does uphold and fight for a moral world. Darth Vader, on the other hand, represents chaos and amoral behavior. He does whatever it takes to advance the Emperor’s agenda, regardless of whom he hurts or what rule he breaks. You see, there are basically two worldview roots, two “worlds” from which we draw our decisions and realities. One originated with Aristotle who argues that the empirical world is primary. Thus, if one wants to advance knowledge one has to learn more about the world. Another root originated with Plato (and later with the Apostle Paul) who argues that the unseen world is primary. In Plato’s case, that meant that if one wishes to understand the world he studies the gods. In our case, we agree with Plato to the extent that we believe that God–who cannot be seen, measured–is in fact more real than the world.

Now, in my newfound freedom in Christ, I was faced with a metaphysical dilemma: Do I make decisions according to an abstract reality, like the Word of God? Or do I succumb to societal standards? Who/what will be my primary worldview? Prom Night, in bold relief, caused me to make a choice. This choice is the choice all people must make in their lives. I went to the Prom (still hate those things!) but did nothing that would dishonor our Lord.

A Metaphysical Dilemma

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

In the spring of 1971, during my last year in high school, I was confronted with a metaphysical dilemma that summarizes the paradox facing all human beings . . .

Allegedly I was a Vanderbilt bound smart aleck but, secretly, I desperately wanted to go to the University of Arkansas, like my girl friend, Martha Lynn, and marry when I was 17 ½ . This was the apex of the southern Arkansas pantheon—being a Razorback and attending school with one’s sweet heart. Prom night reminded me, again, that while Rick Sammons could be a Boll Weevil and my brother—another borderline nerd—could be a Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech, I was burdened with being a “Vanderbilt Commodore.”


The fact is, I perennially suffered from high school prom phobia. Besides the fact that I abhorred dancing, I also dreaded the obligatory rituals that surrounded Prom night. On prom night, it was expected that one was to stay out all night and do wicked things with one’s girl friend/ boy friend or something like that. My friend Ray and I had successfully avoided the life scaring scorn surrounding prom avoidance by escaping to his hunting camp, a modest metal building across the levee. But my buddy was smitten this year and had his own girl friend. Likewise, this year, as I mentioned, I had a girl friend too.

It is no easy thing to be a nerd heading to Vanderbilt University, and possibly Harvard Graduate School. This cooled any ardor I could muster and my social status stock was at an all time low. I mean, my reputation was at rock bottom. In the unforgiving southern Arkansas social realm, I was somewhere north of a leper and south of a northerner. My fate promised another year of social isolation.

Thus, my girl friend and my already tarnished reputation demanded that this year I was to stay out all night. I just had to.

Where is Dante When we Need Him? (cont.)

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Faust Part One is a complex story. It takes place in multiple settings, the first of which is heaven. Mephistopheles makes a bet with God. He says that he can deflect God’s favorite human being (Faust), who is striving to learn everything that can be known, away from righteous pursuits. The next scene takes place in Faust’s study where Faust, despairing at the vanity of scientific, humanitarian and religious learning, turns to magic for the revelation of ultimate knowledge. He suspects, however, that his attempts are failing. Frustrated, he ponders suicide, but rejects it as he hears the echo of nearby Easter celebrations begin. He goes for a walk with his assistant Wagner and is followed home by a stray poodle. God is only one among equals—epistemology is more important than faith, truth is subjective, not objective. We are no longer enjoying sunsets with William Wordsworth and speculating on their origins—we are looking into Hell itself, the New Age, Modernism, what Nietzsche calls “the vacuum.”

With Goethe, we move forward four hundred years through the Reformation, through the Renaissance, and into the Enlightenment. The period of Neoclassicism and Romanticism, the greatest epoch in German literature, fell within the lifetime of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The age of Goethe went beyond the Enlightenment’s substitution of science for religion, inasmuch as it ascribed to science only a peripheral position in relation to the ultimate questions of life. It insisted upon the value of feeling in face of the limitations of reason. Impulse, instinct, emotion, and intuition acquired a quasi-religious significance as being the links that connected man with divine nature—one way to define Romanticism. The ideal of the classical age was that of the fully developed personality in which intellect and feeling should be harmoniously balanced. We see the enigmatic Doctor Faust representing all three movements. Three phases may be distinguished in the evolution of this new outlook: Sturm und Drang (storm and stress), Classicism, and Romanticism. Goethe belonged to and profoundly affected the Sturm und Drang movement, which aimed at overthrowing rationalism. There is, however, something that is modern: the emphasis on an amoral vision. We see the beginning of a Friedrich Nietzsche’s “survival of the fittest” mentality. It continues today . . .

Where is Dante When we Need Him?

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015

Where is Dante when we need him? Faust: A Tragedy is indeed a tragedy, but neither Goethe or Faust know it. The tragedy is that this Romantic tale lacks a tragic ending. We Christians earnestly, fervently hope that it does. The notion that there is no moral universe with no consequences, no cause and effect, invites inevitable chaos and nihilism that is so much a part of our Post-Modern world. Faust’s yearning for experience and knowledge created a type for the Modern (1900-1990) and Post-Modern (1990-Present) ages still known as the Faustian hero, though in reality Goethe’s Faust is more a villain than a hero; and the purported villain–Mephistopheles–is one of the most likable characters in the play. His yearnings draw him toward the heavens, yet he is also powerfully attracted to the physical world. Ultimately the tragedy of Goethe’s tragedy, is that mankind cannot have his cake and eat it too: we cannot reject Christ as Savior and suppose that we will spend eternity in his presence. The fact that Goethe thinks otherwise is remarkable in its presumptuousness.

Faust is a very learned professor, who is dissatisfied with human knowledge, which by its nature is limited. Using magic, he conjures up the Earth Spirit in his darkened study. Regarding himself as more than mortal, he tries to claim the Earth Spirit as a colleague, but the Spirit rejects him scornfully and disappears. Despairing, Faust contemplates suicide. He is saved by the sound of the bells welcoming Easter morning. He and his research assistant, Wagner, go out into the sunlight and enjoy the greetings of the crowd, which remembers the medical attention given to the people by Faust and his father. Faust is still depressed, denying the value of medicine and feeling torn between the two souls in him, one longing for earthly pleasures, the other seeking the highest spiritual knowledge. A dog follows Faust and Wagner home. The dog, of course, is Mephistopheles! The overall theme of this work is the struggle mankind undertakes to overcome evil and to discriminate between good and evil.

More Trouble with Evolution (cont.)

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

The four epochs above manifested seven basic world views. The world view are best discerned through works of art and of literature. The world view of an artist/writer is a reflection of how the author expresses his views on essential issues like: God, Man, Morality. The following are seven world views found in art and literature:

Theism: God is personally involved with humankind. Theism argues that the universe is a purposive, divinely created entity. It argues that all human life is sacred and all persons are of equal dignity. They are, in other words, created in the image of God. History is linear and moves toward a final goal. Nature is controlled by God and is an orderly system. Humanity is neither the center of nature nor the universe, but are the steward of creation. Righteousness will triumph in a decisive conquest of evil. Earthly life does not exhaust human existence but looks ahead to the resurrection of the dead and to a final, comprehensive judgement of humanity (adapted form Carl F. H. Henry, Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief). This is the only viable world view until the Renaissance. Examples: Homer, Virgil, C. S. Lewis, A. J. Cronin, Tolkien.

Deism: God was present, but is no longer present. The world is like a clock wound up by God many years ago but He is now absent. The clock (i.e., the world) is present; God is absent. Still, though, Deism embraced a Judeo-Christian morality. God’s absence, for instance, in no way mitigated His importance to original creation. He was also omnipotent, but not omniscient. His absence was His decision. He was in no way forced to be absent from the world. He chose to assume that role so that Socratic empiricism and rationalism could reign as sovereign king. Speculative Theism replaced revelatory biblical Theism. Once the Living God was abandoned, Jesus Christ and the Bible became cognitive orphans (Carl H. Henry). Examples: Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson.

Romanticism: Once Americans distanced themselves from the self-revealing God of the Old and New Testaments, they could not resist making further concessions to subjectivity. Romanticism, and its American version, Transcendentalism, posited that God was nature and “it” was good. The more natural things were, the better. Nature was inherently good. Nature alone was the ultimate reality. In other words, nature was the Romantic god. Man was essentially a complex animal, too complex to be controlled by absolute, codified truth (as one would find in the Bible). Human intuition replaced the Holy Spirit. Depending upon the demands on individual lives, truth and good were relative and changing. Romanticism, however, like Deism, had not completely abandoned Judeo-Christian morality. Truth and the good, although changing, were nonetheless relatively durable. Examples: James Fenimore Cooper, Goethe.

Naturalism: If God exists, He is pretty wimpish. Only the laws of nature have any force. God is either uninterested or downright mean. All reality was reducible to impersonal processes and energy events (Carl F. H. Henry). All life, including human life, was transient. Its final destination was death. Truth and good, therefore, were also transient. They were culture-conditioned distinctions that the human race projected upon the cosmos and upon history (Carl F. H. Henry). This maturation, as it were, of the human race, necessitated a deliberate rejection of all transcendentally final authority. Examples: Joseph Conrad, Stephen Crane.

Realism: Akin to Naturalism is Realism. Reality is, to a Realist, a world with no purpose, no meaning, no order. Realism insists that personality has no ultimate status in the universe, but is logically inconsistent when it affirms an ethically imperative social agenda congruent with universal human rights and dignity. Realism, then throws around terms like “dignity” and “human rights” and “power.” What Realists mean, however, is that these concepts are real when they fulfill a social agenda that enhances human dominance over the universal. Thus, Realism believes in a world where bad things happen all the time to good people. Why not? There is no God, no ontological controlling force for good. The world is a place where the only reality is that which we can experience, but it must be experience that we can measure or replicate. Certainly pain and misery fit that category. If an experience is a unique occurrence (Example: a miracle) it is not real. Examples: Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Absurdism: A modern movement where there is neither a god, nor any reason to have one. Everything is disorganized, anarchy rules. There is a compete abandonment of explaining the cosmos and therefore an abandonment of being in relationship with the deity. It is not that Absurdists are unsure about who creates everything, or in control of everything. Absurdists simply do not care one way or the other. Examples: John Barth, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

Existentialism: The submergence of God in overwhelming data and in experience is the first step toward putting God out to die. Truth is open to debate. Everything is relative. A very pessimistic view. Examples, Albert Camus, Franz Kafka, and Jean Paul Sartre.

More Trouble with Evolution . . .

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

From Aristotle vs. Plato a panoply of world views evolved in four main epochs. The following are characteristics of each epoch:

Classical Theism:
Ancient Times to Augustine
Pernicious gods involved in human affairs
Christian Theism: Augustine to Goethe
Loving God involved in human affairs
Modernism: Goethe to Camus
Faith in science
Post-Modernism: Camus to Present Authors
Faith in experience; suspicious of science

Most of you have not heard of this particular world view paradigm.  It is called a cultural world view paradigm (as contrasted to a socio-political paradigm).  Both are useful.  Both are accurate. However, most Americans obtain their world views from culture, not from scholarship and education.

While socio-political descriptions of world views are completely accurate, they are not used by American universities or the media at all.  When have you hear the word “Cosmic Humanist” used on television?  In a movie?  Very few people use this terminology in the real world.  Therefore, if Christians wish to be involved in apologetics they must use a language that the unsaved can understand.  Chesterton once lamented that Evangelical Christians are like Americans who visit France.

Chesterton generalized that Americans, by and large, speak their words slower, articulate their words more carefully, and speak fewer words to complete a thought.  However, what they should do, Chesterton argues, is to speak French in France!  If we believers want the world to hear us we need to speak their language.