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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 Practice Of Piety

Isaac Barrow

Quoting Isaac Barrow (1630-1677):

“It is a fair adornment of a man and a great convenience both to himself and to all those with whom he converses and deals, to act uprightly, uniformly, and consistently. The practice of piety frees a man from interior distraction and from irresolution in his mind, from duplicity or inconstancy in his character, and from confusion in his proceedings, and consequently securing for others freedom from deception and disappointment in their transactions with him.” (Godliness is Profitable for All Things by Isaac Barrow)

It Is Impossible To Teach Christianity Without Teaching Dogma!

Oxford-educated Dorothy Leigh Sayers (1893-1957) was one of the most popular authors of the Golden Age era. Born in England in 1893, Dorothy Sayers received her degree at university in medieval literature. Following her graduation, besides publishing two volumes of poetry, she began to write detective stories to earn money. Her first novel, “Whose Body?” (1923), introduced Lord Peter Wimsey, the character for which she is best known.

Dorthy Sayers

Sayers was also a committed Christian. Below is an excerpt from a talk she gave to one Christian group. The subject she addresses, if possible, is even more relative to the conduct of modern church life:

And when he is come, he will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. (John 16:8-11)

[I]f we really want a Christian society we must teach Christianity, and that it is absolutely impossible to teach Christianity without teaching Christian dogma. . . .

Writing the other day in The Spectator, Dr. Selbie, former Principal of Mansfield College discussed the subject of “The Army and the Churches.” In the course of this article there occurs a passage that exposes the root cause of the failure of the churches to influence the life of the common people:

“… the rise of the new dogmatism (he says) whether in its Calvinist or Thomist form, constitutes a fresh and serious threat to Christian unity. The tragedy is that all this, however interesting to theologians, is hopelessly irrelevant to the life and thought of the average man, who is more puzzled than ever by the disunion of the Churches, and by the theological and ecclesiastical differences on which it is based.”

Now I am perfectly ready to agree that disputes between the Churches constitute a menace to Christendom. And I will admit that I am not quite sure what is meant by “the new dogmatism”; it might, I suppose, mean the appearance of new dogmas among the followers of St. Thomas and Calvin respectively. But I rather fancy it means a fresh attention to, and re-assertion of, old dogma, and that when Dr. Selbie says that “all this” is irrelevant to the life and thought of the average man, he is deliberately saying that Christian dogma, as such, is irrelevant.

But if Christian dogma is irrelevant to life, to what, in Heaven’s name is it relevant? — Since religious dogma is in fact nothing but a statement of doctrine concerning the nature of life and the universe. If Christian ministers really believe it is only an intellectual game for theologians and has no bearing upon human life, it is no wonder that their congregations are ignorant, bored and bewildered. And indeed, in the very next paragraph, Dr. Selbie recognizes the relation of Christian dogma to life:—

“… peace can only come about through a practical application of Christian principles and values. But this must have behind it something more than a reaction against that Pagan Humanism which has now been found wanting.”

The “something else” is dogma, and cannot be anything else, for between Humanism and Christianity and between Paganism and Theism there is no distinction whatever except a distinction of dogma. That you cannot have Christian principles without Christ is becoming increasingly clear, because their validity as principles depends on Christ’s authority; and as we have seen, the Totalitarian States, having ceased to believe in Christ’s authority, are logically quite justified in repudiating Christian principles.

If “the average man” is required to “believe in Christ” and accept His authority for “Christian principles,” it is surely relevant to inquire who or what Christ is, and why His authority should be accepted. But the question, “what think ye of Christ?” lands the average man at once in the very knottiest kind of dogmatic riddle. It is quite useless to say that it doesn’t matter particularly who or what Christ was or by what authority He did those things, and that even if He was only a man, He was a very nice man and we ought to live by His principles: for that is merely Humanism, and if the “average man” in Germany chooses to think that Hitler is a nicer sort of man with still more attractive principles, the Christian Humanist has no answer to make. It is not true at all that dogma is “hopelessly irrelevant” to the life and thought of the average man. What is true is that ministers of the Christian religion often assert that it is, present it for consideration as though it were, and, in fact, by their faulty exposition of it make it so. The central dogma of the Incarnation is that by which relevance stands or falls. If Christ was only man, then He is entirely irrelevant to any thought about God; if He is only God, then He is entirely irrelevant to any experience of human life. It is, in the strictest sense, necessary to the salvation of relevance that a man should believe rightly the Incarnation of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Unless he believes rightly, there is not the faintest reason why he should believe at all. And in that case, it is wholly irrelevant to chatter about “Christian principles.” If the “average man” is going to be interested in Christ at all, it is the dogma that will provide the interest. The trouble is that, in nine cases out of ten, he has never been offered the dogma. (“Creed or Chaos?”)

James Madison On The Spirit Of America

James Madison

Quoting James Madison:

Is it not the glory of the people of America, that whilst they have paid a decent regard to the opinions of former times and other nations, they have not suffered a blind veneration for antiquity, for custom, or for names, to overrule the suggestions of their own good sense, the knowledge of their own situation, and the lessons of their own experience? To this manly spirit, posterity will be indebted for the possession, and the world for the example of the numerous innovations displayed on the American theatre, in favor of private rights and public happiness. (Madison, Federalist No. 14)

Marriage And Children

June supervises the boys and their friends, To...

"Leave It To Beaver"

From: The Heritage Foundation

Given the downward trends affecting marriage in the middle class over the last 40 years, the likes of Ward and June Cleaver may be added to America’s endangered species list. Dr. W. Bradford Wilcox, director of The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, discussed the decline of marriage in a Monday address at The Heritage Foundation about his recently released report, When Marriage Disappears: The New Middle America. . . .

Wilcox found that middle-class Americans (those holding only a high school diploma) were much more likely to experience divorce and to have children out-of-wedlock than more highly educated citizens. While many Americans still hold a high regard for the institution of marriage, they are also increasingly tolerant of pre-marital sex, cohabitation, and non-marital childbearing. These attitudes are most prominent in the middle class, where the cultural battle for the health of marriage is raging.

The decrease in marriage and higher rates of divorce in Middle America signal trouble not only for the men and women who risk missing out on the economic and social stability of marriage, but also for their children. A child raised in a single-parent household is six times more likely to live in poverty than a child raised in a stable, married household. The decline in marriage also affects taxpayers, regardless of class, since in FY 2010 alone the federal government spent over $300 billion on welfare programs for low-income, single-parent families.

Continue reading here. . . .

“CHANCE”

Many people view chance as some type of force which actually exists.  Thus they believe in luck.  The word “chance” refers to mathematical probabilities and is an abstraction with no material properties.  Chance does not have the power to effect objects or outcomes.  Chance is nothing and cannot do something.

On the other hand, all things are accomplished through diligence and hard work.  Diligent labor should never lead to despair because this is the means by which all things are accomplished.  Samuel Johnson writes: “Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.”

An Unsteady Course

President James Madison served as the second R...

James Madison

Quoting James Madison:

“The sober people of America are weary of the fluctuating policy which has directed the public councils. … They have seen, too, that one legislative interference is but the first link of a long chain of repetitions, every subsequent interference being naturally produced by the effects of the preceding.”

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