God Is Not the Author of Uncertainty

If you don’t make it to church this Sunday, please take some time to read this.


My Notes:

postmodern dialogue – what is it?

true humility or arrogant unbelief – which is it?

If we can’t know what Scripture says, or know what it means by what it says, does that mean God is not powerful enough to communicate or not loving enough to want to communicate?  In other words, do we believe God is loving enough and powerful enough to get His message across to us.



Feed: Grace to You Blog
Posted on: Monday, October 10, 2016 2:00 AM
Author: letters@gty.org (Grace to You)
Subject: God Is Not the Author of Uncertainty


by John MacArthur

Atheists love to discredit the Bible. Those who are truly committed to their cause invest a lot of time and effort looking for confusion and contradictions in God’s Word, hoping to vindicate their unbelief. They also love to claim that there are simply too many different interpretations of Scripture to come to a clear understanding of it.

But there’s no such thing as an atheist according to God. Everyone knows that He exists. Deniers just prefer to “suppress [that] truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18). In other words, the problem is never a lack of evidence for God, but rather a consuming love of sin.

Nonetheless, atheists can have refreshing and revealing moments of transparency. Mark Twain is quoted as saying, “It ain’t those parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” Twain may have been an unbeliever, but at least he had the honesty to admit it was because he didn’t like what God said—not that he didn’t believe or understand what God said.

Sadly, churches today are overrun by postmodern pseudo-Christians who could do with a good dose of Twain’s honesty. There are many who now argue Scripture is too mysterious to be delivered with conviction. Most would never come right out and deny that the Bible is the Word of God, but they say as much when they insist that no one has any right to say for sure what the Bible means.

Brian McLaren epitomizes this mentality in the introduction to his book A New Kind of Christian:

I drive my car and listen to the Christian radio station. . . . There I hear preacher after preacher be so absolutely sure of his bombproof answers and his foolproof biblical interpretations. . . . And the more sure he seems, the less I find myself wanting to be a Christian, because on this side of the microphone, antennas, and speaker, life isn’t that simple, answers aren’t that clear, and nothing is that sure. [1] Brian McLaren, A New Kind of Christian (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003), 14.

Thus “evangelical” postmodernism has transformed doubt, uncertainty, and qualms about practically every teaching of Scripture into high virtue. Strong convictions plainly stated are invariably labeled “arrogance” by those who favor postmodern dialogue

Now, obviously, we cannot righteously be dogmatic about every peripheral belief or matter of personal preference. Virtually no one believes every opinion is worth fighting about. Scripture draws the line with ample clarity: we’re commanded to defend the faith once delivered to the saints; but we’re forbidden to pick fights with one another over secondary issues (Romans 14:1).

Some are now suggesting, however, that humility requires everyone to refrain from treating any truth as incontrovertible. Instead, we are supposed to put everything back on the table and “admit that our past and current formulations may have been limited or distorted.” [2] Brian McLaren, A Generous Orthodoxy (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004), 30.

This approach has been referred to by some as “a hermeneutic of humility”—as if it is inherently too prideful for any preacher to think he knows what God said about anything. Of course, such a denial of all certainty has nothing to do with true humility. It is actually an arrogant form of unbelief, rooted in an impudent refusal to acknowledge that God has been sufficiently clear in His self-revelation to His creatures. It is actually a blasphemous form of arrogance, and when it governs even how someone handles the Word of God, it becomes yet another expression of evil rebellion against Christ’s authority.

Christ has spoken in the Bible, and He holds us responsible to understand, interpret, obey, and teach what He said—as opposed to deconstructing everything the Bible says. Notice that Christ repeatedly rebuked the Pharisees for twisting Scripture, disobeying it, setting it aside with their traditions, and generally ignoring its plain meaning. Not once did He ever excuse the Pharisees’ hypocrisy and false religion by apologizing for any lack of clarity in the Old Testament.

Jesus held not only the Pharisees but also the common people responsible for knowing and understanding the Scriptures. “Have you not read . . . ?” was a common rebuke to those who challenged His teaching but did not know or understand the Scriptures as they should have (Matthew 12:3, 5; 19:4; 22:31; Mark 12:26). He addressed the disciples on the road to Emmaus as “foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe” because of their ignorance about the Old Testament’s messianic promises (Luke 24:25). The problem lay not in any lack of clarity on Scripture’s part but in their own sluggish faith.

The apostle Paul, whose writings are most under debate by scholars today, wrote virtually all his epistles for the common man, not for scholars and intellectuals. Those addressed to churches were written to predominantly Gentile churches, whose understanding of the Old Testament was limited. He nevertheless expected them to understand what he wrote (Ephesians 3:3–5), and he held them responsible for heeding his instruction (1 Timothy 3:14–15).

Paul and Christ both consistently made the case that it is every Christian’s duty to study and interpret Scripture rightly (2 Timothy 2:15). “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 11:15; 13:9, 16; Mark 4:9).

Protestant Christianity has always affirmed the perspicuity of Scripture. That means we believe God has spoken distinctly in His Word. Not everything in the Bible is equally clear, of course (2 Peter 3:16). But God’s Word is plain enough for the average reader to know and understand everything necessary for a saving knowledge of Christ. Scripture is also sufficiently clear to enable us to obey the Great Commission, which expressly requires us to teach others “all things” that Christ has commanded (Matthew 28:18–20).

Two thousand years of accumulated Christian scholarship has been basically consistent on all the major issues: The Bible is the authoritative Word of God, containing every spiritual truth essential to God’s glory, our salvation, faith, and eternal life. Scripture tells us that all humanity fell in Adam, and our sin is a perfect bondage from which we cannot extricate ourselves. Jesus is God incarnate, having taken on human flesh to pay the price of sin and redeem believing men and women from sin’s bondage. Salvation is by grace through faith, and not a result of any works we do. Christ is the only Savior for the whole world, and apart from faith in Him, there is no hope of redemption for any sinner. So the gospel message needs to be carried to the uttermost parts of the earth. True Christians have always been in full agreement on all those vital points of biblical truth.

As a matter of fact, the postmodernized notion that everything should be perpetually up for discussion and nothing is ever really sure or settled is a plain and simple denial of both the perspicuity of Scripture and the unanimous testimony of the people of God throughout redemptive history. In one sense, the contemporary denial of the Bible’s clarity represents a regression to medieval thinking, when the papal hierarchy insisted that the Bible is too unclear for laypeople to interpret it for themselves. (This belief led to much fierce persecution against those who worked to translate the Bible into common languages.)

In another sense, however, the postmodern denial of Scripture’s clarity is even worse than the darkness of medieval religious superstition, because postmodernism in effect says no one can reliably understand what the Bible means. Postmodernism leaves people permanently in the dark about practically everything.

That, too, is a denial of Christ’s lordship over the church. How could He exercise headship over His church if His own people could never truly know what He meant by what He said? Jesus Himself settled the question of whether His truth is sufficiently clear in John 10:27–28, when He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”


(Adapted from The Truth War.)

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Vote all you want. The secret government won’t change. – The Boston Globe

    • Though it’s a bedrock American principle that citizens can steer their own government by electing new officials, Glennon suggests that in practice, much of our government no longer works that way. In a new book, “National Security and Double Government,” he catalogs the ways that the defense and national security apparatus is effectively self-governing, with virtually no accountability, transparency, or checks and balances of any kind. He uses the term “double government”: There’s the one we elect, and then there’s the one behind it, steering huge swaths of policy almost unchecked. Elected officials end up serving as mere cover for the real decisions made by the bureaucracy.

    • he sees the problem as one of “smart, hard-working, public-spirited people acting in good faith who are responding to systemic incentives”—without any meaningful oversight to rein them in.

    • I was curious why a president such as Barack Obama would embrace the very same national security and counterterrorism policies that he campaigned eloquently against. Why would that president continue those same policies in case after case after case?

    • IDEAS: Why would policy makers hand over the national-security keys to unelected officials?

       GLENNON: It hasn’t been a conscious decision….Members of Congress are generalists and need to defer to experts within the national security realm, as elsewhere.

    • IDEAS: Do we have any hope of fixing the problem?

       GLENNON: The ultimate problem is the pervasive political ignorance on the part of the American people.

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Christians in Jerusalem want Jews to stop spitting on them – Haaretz – Israel News | Haaretz.com

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Warning: If you don’t already know the answer to that question, when you find it, your worldview will change.

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The High Price of Not Being Racist

The high price of not being racist.

  • If you can prove with lies that everyone is equal you will have peace, right?
  • Is race worth fighting for?
  • Is it right for a black man to stand up for his race?
  • Is it right for a white man to stand up for his race?
  • Is this equality?

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Jesus, He Traumatized People

Whatever Happened to the Fear of God?

by John MacArthur

How would you react if you were suddenly face-to-face with God?

While many Christians today think of the Lord in friendly, passive terms, the truth is that none of us would be leaping into the arms of our Father. The testimony of Scripture is clear: All sinners—even strong believers with mature faith—are right to cower in the light of God’s holiness.

For example, in Genesis 18 Abraham confessed in the presence of God that he was dust and ashes. Similarly, Job said after his pilgrimage, “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees You; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5–6). Ezra 9 records the high priest’s profound sense of shame as he came before the Lord to worship. Habakkuk had a vision of God’s power and majesty, and his knees began to knock: “I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me” (Habakkuk 3:16 ESV).

Isaiah’s Encounter with God

In Isaiah 6:1, Isaiah describes how he saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. He heard the seraphim cry back and forth to one another in antiphonal response, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (v. 3). God’s holiness fills all—even when it is hidden from our view.

As Isaiah perceived the holiness of God, he cried out: “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6:5).

Some might think that Isaiah did not have a very good self–image. He was not thinking positively; he was not affirming his strengths. Surely, Isaiah knew that he had the best mouth in the land! He was a prophet of God! He was the foremost spiritual leader in the nation. And yet he cursed himself. Why?

The answer is very clear. We find it in the words “My eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.” Isaiah had seen a vision of God in His holiness, and he was absolutely shattered to the very core of his being by a sense of his own sinfulness. His heart longed for purging.

Perceiving God’s Holiness and Our Sin

When we see God as holy, our instant and only reaction is to see ourselves as unholy. Between God’s holiness and humanity’s unholiness is a gulf. And until a person understands the holiness of God, that person can never know the depth of his or her own sin. We ought to be shaken to our roots when we see ourselves against the backdrop of God’s holiness. If we are not deeply pained about our sin, we do not understand God’s holiness at all.

Without such a vision of God’s holiness, true worship is not possible. Real worship is not giddy. It does not rush into God’s presence unprepared and insensitive to His majesty. It is not shallow, superficial, or flippant. Worship is life lived in the presence of an infinitely righteous and omnipresent God by one utterly aware of His holiness and consequently overwhelmed with his own unholiness.

You and I may not have a vision of God like Isaiah’s, but nonetheless, the lesson is true that when we enter into the presence of God, we must see Him as holy. Our sense of sinfulness and fear is proportional to our experience of the presence of God.
If you have never worshiped God with a broken and a contrite spirit, you’ve never fully worshiped God, because that is the only appropriate response to entering the presence of holy God.

My heartfelt concern is that there is too much shallowness today with regard to God’s holiness. Our relationship to God has become too casual. In the modern mind, God has become almost human, so affable and ordinary that we don’t understand His holy indignation against sin. If we burst into His presence with lives unattended by repentance, confession, and cleansing by the Spirit and the Word of God, we are vulnerable to His holy indignation. It is only by His grace that we breathe each breath, is it not? He has every reason to take our lives, because the wages of our sin is death. We have lost our sense of that fear, and too many people approach God with a casual familiarity that borders on blasphemy.

Much that is done in the name of worship today clearly does not genuinely regard God as holy, and thus it falls woefully short. A lot of catchy songs are being sung, poignant feelings are being felt, congenial thoughts are being thought, and pleasurable emotions are being cultivated. But too often these things are merely self-indulgent exercises masquerading as worship without any serious acknowledgment of the holiness of God. That kind of worship bears no relationship to the worship we see in the Bible.
It may be more psychological than theological, more fleshly than spiritual.

The response of a true worshiper to a vision of God should resemble Isaiah’s. We should be overwhelmed with our own sinfulness and consequently consumed with a sense of holy terror. I am certain that if the people today who claim to have seen God really saw Him, they wouldn’t be lining up to get on the latest Christian talk show; they’d be lying prostrate on the ground, grieving over their sin.

Reverence and Godly Fear

A true worshiper comes into the presence of God with a healthy but soul-shattering fear. God does, after all, punish sin, even in those who are redeemed. Hebrews 12:6 reminds us, “Whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.”

Hebrews 12:28 goes on to say, “Let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (KJV). The word translated “serve” is latreuo, a word for worship. The writer is talking about acceptable worship, and he lists two key elements: “reverence and godly fear.” Note the reason he gives for such worship: “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).

“Reverence” carries a positive connotation. It describes a sense of awe as we perceive the majesty of God. “Godly fear,” on the other hand, is a sense of profound awe and intimidation as we see the power and holiness of God, who “is a consuming fire.” That refers to His power to destroy, His holy reaction against sin.

True worship, then, demands a clear awareness of God’s holiness, a deep sense of my sinfulness, and a sincere cry for purging. That’s the essence of the proper attitude of worship. Let me illustrate that principle from the life of Christ.

The Response to Jesus

It seems to be difficult for Christians today to get away from the idea that Jesus was a passive, amiable, meek–and–mild being who walked through the world making people feel good. Actually, when our Lord was here on earth people were quite often afraid of Him. It was overwhelming for people to come face to face with the living God incarnate. In fact, it might be fair to say that whenever someone stood face to face with Jesus and came to a true understanding of who He really was, the normal reaction (from believers and skeptics alike) was fear. He traumatized people.

Even the disciples were fearful when they faced squarely the reality that He was God. In Mark 4:37–41, we read that while the disciples were crossing the lake in a boat with Jesus, a storm struck, and their boat began to sink. The disciples panicked and awoke Jesus, who was sleeping through it all. He calmed the storm, and rebuked them for their unbelief. Verse 41 tells us that after Jesus stilled the storm, they were exceedingly terrified. There’s at least one thing more frightening than a fierce storm outside your boat: having to face the holiness of God inside your boat.

In the next chapter of Mark, Jesus encountered a man possessed by a legion of demons. When Jesus sent the demons into a herd of pigs and they went into the lake and drowned, the people of the town came out and pleaded with Him to leave their country (Mark 5:17). Their reaction to Jesus was not because they were resentful about the loss of the pigs. If that had been the case, they would have demanded compensation. Rather, they were terrified in Jesus’ holy presence. They clearly sensed that the One to whom all judgment has been committed had come into their midst, and they were terrified of Him. They did not want to face their own sin in His holy presence.

In Luke 5, Peter was fishing and couldn’t catch anything. The Lord came along and told him where to let his nets down. Peter obeyed, and his catch was so great that he couldn’t haul it in. When he finally got help from another boat to bring in the catch, there were so many fish that both boats began to sink. It was a demonstration to Peter of Jesus’ deity. Peter “fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'” (Luke 5:8). All he could see was his own sinfulness when confronted with the power and presence of our holy God.

We need to cultivate that same attitude, remembering that we not only live our lives before the eyes of a holy God, but that His Holy Spirit dwells within us. Being ever mindful of God’s presence is vital if we’re going to live worshipful lives that glorify Him.

(Adapted from Worship: The Ultimate Priority.)

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Think about

How can a person understand the holiness of God?

What are the consequences of exalting God’s love over God’s holiness?

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Theology word of the week: Theodicy

Theodicy (from Gk. theos, ‘God’, and the root dik, ‘just’, seeks to ‘justify the ways of God to man’ (Milton), showing that God is in the right and is glorious and worthy of praise despite contrary appearances. Theodicy asks how we can believe that God is both good and sovereign in face of the world’s evil—bad people; bad deeds, defying God and injuring people; harmful (bad) circumstances, events, experiences and states of mind, which waste, thwart, or destroy value, actual or potential, in and for humankind; in short, all facts, physical and moral, that prompt the feeling, ‘This ought not to be’.

All theodicies view evil as making for a good greater than is attainable without it. Thus, Leibniz (who coined the word ‘theodicy’ in 1710) argued that a world containing moral and physical evil is better, because metaphysically richer, than one containing good only, and that God must have created the best of all possible worlds. Hegel, a closet pantheist, held that all apparent evil is really good in the making; it looks and feels bad only because its character as good is as yet incomplete. Process theologians picture their finite God struggling against evil in hope of mastering it some day. Biblical theists, however, reason differently. Affirming with Augustine that evil is a lack of good, or a good thing gone wrong, they begin by agreeing that:

1. Pain, though it hurts, is often not really evil. The stab of pain acts as an alarm, and living with pain can purge, refine, and ennoble character. Pain may thus be a gift and a mercy.

2. Virtue (choosing good) is only possible where vice (choosing evil) is also possible. An automaton’s programmed performance is not virtue, and lacks the value of virtue. In making man capable of choosing the path of grateful obedience, God made him capable of not doing so. Though not sin’s author, God created a possibility of sin by creating the possibility of righteousness.

3. Moral growth and maturity are only possible when the consequences of action are calculable. Since God means this world to be a school for moral growth, he gave it physical regularity so that conseouences might be foreseen. Frustrations through miscalculation, and natural events called disasters because they damage humans, are therefore inevitable. Unfallen man would have experienced them. In fact, we mature morally through coping with them.

Beyond this point in theodicy, speculations intrude. John Hick posits universal salvation, arguing that nothing less can justify all the evil that God for soul-building purposes permits in his world. Advocates of the ‘free-will defence’ (of God, against the charge of being the source of evil) speculate that God cannot prevent humans from sinning without destroying their humanity—which would mean that glorified saints, being still human, may sin. Some Calvinists envisage God permissively decreeing sin for the purpose of self-display in justly saving some from their sin and justly damning others for and in their sin. But none of this is biblically certain. The safest way in theodicy is to leave God’s permission of sin and moral evil as a mystery, and to reason from the good achieved in redemption, perhaps as follows:

a. In this fallen world where all have turned from God and deserve hell, God has taken responsibility for saving individuals and renewing the cosmos, at the cost to himself of the death of Jesus Christ his Son (see Atonement; Redemption; Substitution). The cross shows how much he loves sinners (Rom. 5:8; 8:32; 1 Jn. 4:8–10), and induces responsive love in all whom he calls to faith.

b. God enables believers, as forgiven sinners, to relate to all evil (bad circumstances, bad health, bad treatment, even their own bad past) in a way that brings forth good—moral and spiritual growth and wisdom, benefit to others by example and encouragement, and thanksgiving to God; so that facing evil becomes for them a value-creating way of life.

c. In heaven, where the full fruit of Christ’s redemption will be enjoyed, earth’s evils will in retrospect seem trivial (Rom. 8:18), and remembering them will only increase our joy (Rev. 7:9–17). Thus through God’s sovereign goodness evil is overcome; not theoretically, so much as practically, in human lives.

This unspeculative, confessional, pastoral theodicy leaves with God the secret things (cf. Dt. 29:29), justifies and glorifies God for what is revealed, calls forth wonder and worship, and resolves the feeling, ‘This ought not to be,’ into the contented cry, ‘He does all things well!’—which is a supremely positive declaration that God is in the right, and is to be praised. Meantime, logic declares it possible, and faith, reasoning as above, thinks it certain, that the final state of things will demonstrably be better than anything God could have achieved by taking a different course at any stage. [1]

Sinclair B. Ferguson and J.I. Packer, New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 37.

Source: http://www.deliveredbygrace.com/dbg-weekend-spotlight-9-2-16/

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Edward Snowden and The Abolition of Man: America’s Rejection of Morality | Inside Classical Education

    • The power of these technologies are increasing rapidly, and while they may bless the man on the street, they also bolster the man at the bureau.
    • Lewis notes that when a culture has jettisoned objective value (what he also calls the Tao)—real, knowable truth and goodness—then gradually the way it wields power shifts from serving people to conditioning them to act the way the power-holders think best.  And what a power-holder thinks best is not determined by an objective standard of what is right and good, precisely because such standards have been rejected.
    • Could it be that immense power in the hands of few, in a culture without objective value will lead to man-moulding policies that seek to shape citizens into conformity with the prevailing ideals of those exercising this power?
    • In Orwell’s 1984, the protagonist Winston Smith (after a great deal of conditioning) learns to love Big Brother, with tears in his eyes.  But Lewis suggests that Big Brother never loves the little brother, the man on the street.   Neither does Orwell.
    • do we regard even Edward Snowden as good?  If so, by what standard?
    • I think that roughly half of all American have rejected objective value, and we are the midst of living out the consequences of this
    • Could it be that half of the people working in the FBI, CIA and NSA are themselves without a polished moral compass?
    • We may call for investigations and committee hearings and protest loudly, but until we return to the Tao, we will have no basis to criticize or demand reform.  Instead we will pit the impulses of the man on the street against the impulses of the man with the power, with no doubt as to who will win.

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