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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Science – Atheism – Christianity

John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Adviser at Green Templeton College, Oxford. He is also an adjunct Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics and is a Senior Fellow of the Trinity Forum. His most recent book, on the interface between science, philosophy and theology, is God’s Undertaker – Has Science Buried God?, Oxford, Lion-Hudson 2009. He has lectured extensively in North America, Eastern and Western Europe on mathematics, the philosophy of science and the intellectual defense of Christianity.

He debated Richard Dawkins on “The God Delusion” in the University of Alabama (2007) and on “Has Science buried God?” in the Oxford Museum of Natural History (2008). He has also debated Christopher Hitchens on the “New Atheism” (Edinburgh Festival 2008) and in Samford University, Alabama on the question: “Is God Great?”

Below are videos of Lennox’s lectures on “Has Science Buried God?” They are well worth the time to watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEcGKIQLTo4&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Sav9fp5swE&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEu-P475dPs&feature=related

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The Preservation Of Civil Government

Quoting Fisher Ames:

The happiness of a people, and the good order and preservation of civil government, essentially depend on piety, religion, and morality.

THE PATH OF SOLOMON

He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity. When goods increase, they increase who eat them, and what advantage has their owner but to see them with his eyes? Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

There is a grievous evil that I have seen under the sun: riches were kept by their owner to his hurt, and those riches were lost in a bad venture. And he is father of a son, but he has nothing in his hand. As he came from his mother’s womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-15 ESV)

In one respect, Ecclesiastes is the diary of a man of God who on many occasions finds himself desiring to experiment and experience (Ecclesiastes 1:17) the false happiness of the secular world. Each time he finds the experience unfulfilling. Why? The man of God can only find true happiness in doing everything to the glory of God. Robert G. Lee (1886-1974) shares his thoughts on the verses above:

Wisdom, the many things he knew, brought him not to the house of abiding happiness…brought him not that joy which is ever rich and abiding. Wine turned out to be a mocker, as it always does-mocking him with the shadow instead of the substance of good things, mocking him with the desert where it promised an oasis.

And wealth had no power to satisfy. Amid all his abundance there was a lack? Something that rested not and was not still, something that hungered and was not fed, something that was thirsty and found no satisfaction… Solomon built palaces. Solomon established great public works. Solomon increased the size and magnificence of his city. Solomon transported forests.

He did mighty things in the matter of building cities and other great public works. He accomplished such things as multitudes have expected to provide satisfaction for life’s labors. But when he had finished all his great works he looked out upon them and cried, “Vanity of vanities!”

“And Solomon’s wisdom excelled the wisdom of all the children of the east country, and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all men…and his fame was in all nations round about.” (I Kings 4:30,31)

“But Solomon was building…He built also the house of the forest of Lebanon…And he made …Then he made…Solomon made…” (I Kings 7)

“And Solomon built Gezer, and Beth-horon the nether, and Baalath, and Tadmor in the wilderness, in the land, And all the cities of store that Solomon had, and cities for his chariots, and cities for his horsemen, and that which Solomon desired to build in Jerusalem, and in Lebanon, and in all the land of his dominion.” (I Kings 9:17-19)

Which, moreover, brings us the willingness to obey the exhortation given in I Cor. 15:58, namely:

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (“Paths of Disappointment”)

Making Christianity Illegal?

Dr. Benjamin Wiker writes the following article on Church/State relations:

While we are not asked to worship the president, congress, or the courts, we are, step by step, being compelled to bow to their moral agenda.

Consider Bill H. R. 1913, the “Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009.” Allegedly, it only dealt with so-called “hate crimes,” that is, violent crimes against someone “motivated by prejudice based on the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of the victim.”

So, it would seem that preaching against homosexuality, having in your possession a Bible that contains passages that clearly state that homosexuality is a sin, or belonging to a church that has a well-defined moral rejection of homosexuality would not land you in jail.

Or would it? The problem, as critics pointed out, is that under current U.S. law, any action that “abets, counsels, commands, [or] induces” a perceived “hate crime” shares in the guilt of that crime, and is therefore punishable.

Consider another angle, and another moral issue. Will it soon be illegal to oppose abortion? If an abortion clinic is bombed, then isn’t any opposition to abortion, however peaceful and reasonable, aiding and abetting the perpetrator? Or, who would ever have thought that the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), that was fashioned to combat organized crime, would be used against peaceful protestors outside of abortion clinics?

If you think things won’t go too far, look northward, to Canada. In 1998 a pair of abortion protestors were arrested outside a clinic, one with a sign that said, straight from the Bible, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” The result: jail in a maximum security prison.

Another Canadian Christian, a nurse, was fined by the nurses’ association for speaking out against abortion—to the tune of $15,000 Canadian dollars. A Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission nailed the same nurse for speaking out against homosexuality. The fine? $20,000.

The list goes on. In 2002 a Canadian Catholic high school was forced by the Ontario Supreme Court to allow a male student to take his boyfriend to the prom. A Lesbian pair is suing Vancouver’s Knights of Columbus to allow them to rent a hall for their wedding, seeking the state power of the British Columbia Human Rights Council to bring the hammer down on the heads of the Catholic Knights. A homosexual choir is suing a Mennonite church who won’t allow them to use their camp retreat premises for a weekend retreat, asking the friendly folk at the Manitoba Human Rights Commission to compel the Christians to open their doors.

Continuing reading this issue of tothesource. . . .

The Spirit Of Religion And Freedom

From the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville:

The character of Anglo-American civilization…is the product…of two perfectly distinct elements that elsewhere have often made war with each other, but which, in America, they have succeeded in incorporating somehow into one another and combining marvelously. I mean to speak of the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom. (Democracy in America)

Faith

John Henry Jowett (1863-1923) writes about “faith”:

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not cast it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:19-20 ESV)

Faith is energy! Always and everywhere faith is force. Take an advocate at the Bar. His duty to his client will endow him with a certain force and persuasiveness of speech, even though he has no confidence in the inherent justice of the cause he advocates. But let it be further assumed that he believes his own brief, that he has a deep, unshaken confidence in the rectitude of his cause, that he has entire and absolute assurance in his client, and what tremendous heritage of power attaches itself to his attack or defence! It is faith that tells. It is not otherwise in the Senate. Let a politician support a measure for the removal of some injustice, let him do it, not because of his conviction in its inherent right, but with his eyes fixed upon votes and popular distinction, and his support is altogether unimpressive and futile. But let a man speak with faith, with a solid core of definite confidence burning in his soul, and the glowing energy of his soul will get into his words, and his ministers will be a flaming fire. It is faith that tells. I need not elaborate the matter. On familiar planes the principle is evident. Faith is energy. “Lord, what shall we do that we may work the works of God?” This is the work of God that ye believe! Energy for all work is there.

But there are different degrees and qualities of faith. There is faith in oneself, and such faith is by no means unaccompanied with power. No one can read the life of Napoleon Bonaparte, from his obscure early days in Corsica to the brilliant days when he strode across Europe like a Colossus, without being impressed with the amazing energy which attached to an audacious self-confidence. He fought for no principle, he had no ideals, he was allured by no constant and noble ambition. His confidence was not in a cause, but in himself, and his confidence generated a marvelous strength. But there is a faith and confidence higher than this and endowed with a corresponding larger dynamic and resource. There is a faith in principles, in causes, in the tenacity of truth, in the indestructibility of virtue, in the invincibility of the righteous order of the world. Such faith is uninfluenced by bribes, undismayed by majorities, untroubled by threats and frowns: it tightly holds to the truth, and confidently waits its day. But still higher is the plane to which we can rise in the ascending gradient of faith. There is a faith in the living God, a faith in His love and good will, a confidence in His blessed Presence and companionship, an assurance that we are one with Him in the sacred inheritance, and that in Him we are partakers of all the mighty ministries of grace. That is the sublimest of all faiths, and it carries with it the most tremendous of all energies, for it has behind it the omnipotence of God. (“The Energy of Faith”)

Robert Murray McCheyne: Do Not Doubt His Love

In the words of Robert Murray McCheyne:

God’s children should not doubt His love when He afflicts. Christ loved Lazarus peculiarly, and yet He afflicted Him very sore. A surgeon never bends his eye so tenderly upon his patient, as when he is putting in the lancet, or probing the wound to the very bottom. And so with Christ – He bends His eye most tenderly over His own at the time He is afflicting them… A goldsmith when he casts gold into the furnace looks after it. (“Comfort in Sorrow”)

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