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Random thoughts and views of Tim Young

Archive for January 2009

So What is YOUR View of God?

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Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man.  Were we able to know exactly what our most influential religious leaders think of God today, we might be able with some precision to foretell where the Church will stand tomorrow.

This is what A.W. Tozer wrote in his book The Knowledge of the Holy some years ago, and I think he’s completely correct.   Our conception of God informs our view of religion which in turn governs our thoughts and actions.  If we view God as a cosmic tyrant who actively seeks out our every wrong so that he can punish us, then we are likely to have a very legalistic view of religion, and a very rigid, rule and fear oriented life.  On the other hand, if God is viewed as an overly compassionate cosmic giver who exists only to meet our every need, then we will likely have a religion with little to no focus on our moral condition, and a great emphasis on manipulating God to get what we want.

So just what is the typical churchgoer’s view of God?  Hard for me to say really. I think, first of all, of the health and wealth preachers who paint a picture of God that looks more like a cosmic genie than anything else.  They promise us the world so long as we can enter the magic throne room and rub the magic throne with enough faith to move mountains.  Then there is the God of the emergent church movement who is so vague that he is of no use.  He somehow transcends categories of language and becomes a God who is so unrestrained and indefinable that he floats away on a cloud of nothingness without anyone ever caughting a glimpse of who he really is.  Then, there’s the mainstream view of God by the average churchgoer.  He’s a God who has enough compassion and warm and fuzzies to give everyone seven helpings.  The downside, though, is that he has no power or say in everyday dealings and practical affairs, thus no relevance outside the church building.  He’s only there to make you feel good for the couple of hours you spend at church on Sundays, but once church is over it’s time to leave the feel-good-fest and return to the real world which is no place for the soft delicate God who waits anxiously in the church building for your next visit.

I don’t say any of this to make fun of anyone, Lord knows I’ve had my fair share of misunderstandings concerning God (and no doubt I still do).  It’s just that with so much misinformation out there, it is all the more important that we understand who God is.  Undoubtedly all of us will have incorrect conceptions of God, but the only way to work with the problem is to study who God is, and this should be our life long pursuit.  God ought to be the most important object in our lives.  

 

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Written by Tim

January 28, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Posted in Christianity, God

Deeper, Spiritual Significance to a Horror Flick?

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In R.C. Sproul’s The Holiness of God he makes an interesting point about what it “feels” like to have an encounter with the holy God:

Otto spoke of the tremendum (awe-fulness) because of the fear the holy provokes in us. The holy fills us with a kind of dread. We use expressions like “My blood ran icy cold” or “My flesh crept”

We think of the Negro spiritual: “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” The refrain of the song says, “Sometimes it causes me to tremble…tremble…tremble.”

Ok, so maybe having an encounter with the holy God is not exactly like peering at Jason through the small space between your fingers as you frantically use your hands to cover your eyes in an effort to hide from the gruesome scene unfolding on the screen before you. But still, you’ve got to admit there is some similarity between the feelings you get when your heart races from watching a horror flick, and when you fall to your knees in utter awe and fear at the bigness and holiness of God.

Written by Tim

January 21, 2009 at 8:58 pm

Historic Event

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Proud new moment for our country:

Obama

Whatever your views, do not forget to pray for our new President.

Written by Tim

January 20, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Happy MLK Day!

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mlk1

Though far from perfect, he is truly a hero of the civil rights movement, and for the rights of the oppressed.  He was a man who sought to destroy social injustice.

But more basically, I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the prophets of the eighth century B.C. left their villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their home towns, and just as the Apostle Paul left his village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to the far corners of the Greco Roman world, so am I compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my own home town.

(King – “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”)

Indeed.  Let us not forget his legacy, or the general call of all Christians to advance the gospel, and to have a heart for the oppressed.

Written by Tim

January 19, 2009 at 5:04 pm

Confronted by God

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When confronted with The Law, Josiah’s response is what our response ought to be when confronted by God:humility


The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. He did away with the pagan priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people. He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes, which were in the temple of the LORD and where women…

2 Kings 23


…and it continues on for the majority of the chapter. Because of Josiah’s response, v. 25 says, “Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”


Shouldn’t Josiah’s response be our own? When confronted by God shouldn’t we want to clean up our own lives? I know there is the current tendency toward “touchy feely” and “seeker sensitive” Christianity so that we don’t offend anyone, BUT once someone truly has an encounter with the Holy God his response should be utter awe, conviction, and fear. Just as Isaiah when he cried “Woe to me!..I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5)

Written by Tim

January 17, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Posted in Christianity

Format Problems

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I’m noticing that Firefox displays text differently and some of my posts are unreadable (on my computer anyway). Just to let you guys know, I am trying to figure this problem out.

Written by Tim

January 17, 2009 at 1:37 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Abortion (Part 3): So Human Life Begins When?

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So far we have a pro-choice argument in which the permissibility of abortion is grounded in two conditions:

1. The non-human status of a fetus

2. Relevant circumstances which have been met

There are a couple of ways of responding to this. We could show that either (1) or (2) is false, or we could show that even if true, (1) and (2) taken together do not constitute sufficient grounds for the permissibility of abortion. I’m going to focus my efforts on showing that (1) is false. I will return to (2) at a later point in the series.

teardrop-photo1

The question of when human life begins is an important issue in the abortion debate. So just when does human life begin? Perhaps a better way of putting it is this: At what point does a new human being come into existence? Ultimately I think we have to understand that this is a scientific question. It is not a question that can be answered by theologians, philosophers, lawyers, etc., so in discussing this question we must look at what the scientific literature says. When we do, I think we find that there is a strong scientific consensus that fertilization brings about a new human being. In his article “A Distinct Human Organism” Robert P. George, Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, writes:

…the answer is to be found in the works of modern human embryology and developmental biology. In these texts, we find little or nothing in the way of scientific uncertainty: ‘…human development begins at fertilization…’ write embryologists Keith Moore and T.V. N. Persaud in The Developing Human (7th edition, 2003), the most widely used textbook on human embryology. [1]

Quotes like the one above are pretty much what I find whenever I look into the issue. Randy Alcorn, for example, on page 52 of his book ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments has a collection of quotes found in medical textbooks and scientific reference works regarding the issue of when life begins (emphasis are in original):

Dr. Bradley M. Patten’s textbook, Human Embryology, states, “It is the penetration of the ovum by a spermatozoan and the resultant mingling of the nuclear material each brings to the union that constitutes the culmination of the process of fertilization and marks the initiation of the life of a new individual”

Dr Keith L. Moore’s text on embryology, referring to the single-cell zygote, says, “The Cell results from Fertilization of an oocyte by a sperm and is the beginning of a human being.” (emphasis his)

Doctors J.P. Greenhill and E.A. Friedman, in their work on biology and obstetrics, state, “The zygote thus formed represents the beginning of a new life.”

Dr. Louis Fridhandler, in the medical textbook Biology of Gestation, refers to fertilization as “that wondrous moment that marks the beginning of life for a new unique individual”

Doctors E. L. Potter and J.M. Craig write in Pathology of the Fetus and the Infant, “Every time a sperm cell and ovum unite a new being is created which is alive and will continue to live unless its death is brought about by some specific condition.”[2]

Princeton University’s website has another collection of textbook quotes which can found at:

http://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes2.html

http://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/embryoquotes.html)

Dianne N. Irving in her article “When do human beings begin? “Scientific” myths and Scientific facts” writes:

“…a human being is the immediate product of fertilization. As such he/she is a single-cell embryonic zygote, an organism with 46 chromosomes, the number required of a member of the human species. This human being immediately produces specifically human proteins and enzymes, directs his/her own further growth and development as human, and is a new, genetically unique, newly existing, live human individual.” [3] (emphasis her’s)

Now I am certainly no expert on the subject, but it seems to me that essentially what is taught and understood within the scientific community is that fertilization brings about a new human individual, aka “human life.”

Also, life is understood as a continuum. It starts at conception and continues till death. We give labels to the different stages of development (zygote, fetus, infant, child, teen, adult, etc.), but a human being is present at every point in the continuum. A zygote may not look how we presently look, but he/she looks just as we did when we were at that same stage of development.  George writes:

The adult that is you is the same human being who, at an earlier stage of your life, was an adolescent, and before that a child, an infant, a fetus and an embryo. Even in the embryonic stage, you were a whole, living member of the species Homo sapiens. You were then, as you are now, a distinct and complete — though, of course, immature — human organism.[4]

In any case, I think we can make a strong case for (1) being false. Human life begins at conception. However, is there some way for the pro-choice argument to proceed from here? Is there some sort of response that can be given? Yes. And it is at this point that we get into the real “meat” of the pro-choice position. But more on that next post.

Further reading

When Does Human Life Begin? A Scientific Perspective – White Paper

WHEN DO HUMAN BEINGS BEGIN? “SCIENTIFIC” MYTHS AND SCIENTIFIC by Dianne N. Irving

Notes

[1] George, R. P. (2005, November 22). A Distinct Human Organism. Retrieved January 2009, from NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4857703

[2] Alcorn, R. (2000). ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments. Multnomah Books.

[3] Irving, D. N. (1999, February ). WHEN DO HUMAN BEINGS BEGIN? “SCIENTIFIC” MYTHS AND SCIENTIFIC FACTS. Retrieved January 2009, from Princeton University: http://www.princeton.edu/~prolife/articles/wdhbb.html

[4] George, R. P. (2005, November 22). A Distinct Human Organism. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4857703

Written by Tim

January 16, 2009 at 4:21 pm