The Dirty Laundry of the White Lab Coat Set

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There is little doubt that in our increasingly secularized society we have a new priestly class.

We call them scientists.

As generations before us looked to religious authorities to provide an accurate view of life, so in our day we turn to people with PhD’s to explain all of reality to us.

Instead of pastors, we share our failings with psychologists.

Instead of looking to a revivalist with a saw dust tent meeting for a miracle, we anxiously wait for the masters of technology to provide us with signs and wonders.

Instead of a white collar, our new priests are easily identified by their white lab coat.

And for many, this new “age of reason” is a marked improvement from the past.

After all, scientists are only interested in the facts.

No personal bias.

No passion.

No prejudice to foul up our brave new system.

With our new faith in science – what we could call “scientism” – we have no need to worry about people spiking, altering, or censoring facts just to get a grant, or to maintain a position at an institution of higher learning, or just to be thought of highly by their peers.

We now get the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help us Darwin.

Right?

Well, maybe not.

The fatal flaw of faith in scientism is pretty easy to spot.

Scientists are people.

And all people come custom equipped with a few fatal flaws.

Like personal bias.

Like prejudice.

Like the desire to protect position, status or even a reliable pay check at the end of the month.

And if truth gets amended a bit in the process..

Oh, come on, now.

Isn’t that a pretty serious charge?

Do you have some evidence to suggest that the products of human frailty, not the hard cold facts have been fed to us by a significant part of the white lab coat set?

Glad you asked.

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal relays a story of science gone to seed on one of the most important issues of our day.

Settled Science?

Computer hackers reveal corruption behind the global-warming

“consensus.”

By JAMES TARANTO

“Officials at the University of East Anglia confirmed in a statement on Friday that files had been stolen from a university server and that the police had been brought in to investigate the breach,” the New York Times reports. “They added, however, that they could not confirm that all the material circulating on the Internet was authentic.” But some scientists have confirmed that their emails were quoted accurately.

The files–which can be downloaded here–surely have not been fully plumbed. The ZIP archive weighs in at just under 62 megabytes, or more than 157 MB when uncompressed. But bits that have already been analyzed, as the Washington Post reports, “reveal an intellectual circle that appears to feel very much under attack, and eager to punish its enemies”:

In one e-mail, the center’s director, Phil Jones, writes Pennsylvania State University’s Michael E. Mann and questions whether the work of academics that question the link between human activities and global warming deserve to make it into the prestigious IPCC report, which represents the global consensus view on climate science.

“I can’t see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report,” Jones writes. “Kevin and I will keep them out somehow–even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!”

In another, Jones and Mann discuss how they can pressure an academic journal not to accept the work of climate skeptics with whom they disagree. “Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal,” Mann writes. . . .

Mann, who directs Penn State’s Earth System Science Center, said the e-mails reflected the sort of “vigorous debate” researchers engage in before reaching scientific conclusions. “We shouldn’t expect the sort of refined statements that scientists make when they’re speaking in public,” he said.

This is downright Orwellian. What the Post describes is not a vigorous debate but an attempt to suppress debate–to politicize the process of scientific inquiry so that it yields a predetermined result. This does not, in itself, prove the global warmists wrong. But it raises a glaring question: If they have the facts on their side, why do they need to resort to tactics of suppression and intimidation?

Unfortunately, the global warming/climate change controversy is not the first example of our modern priesthood not only establishing a non scientific orthodoxy that cannot be challenged, but also actively attempting to ferret out and suppress any dissenting voices as “heresy”.

It has already happened before  – when Darwinian evolutionism became to new coin of the realm.

In the research for my book Reasonable Doubts – Is Your Faith Based On Fact or Fiction? I came across a story that I called “The Strange Case of Forrest Mims”.

Mims was a writer for Scientific American Magazine. His contributions were articles on how to do home physics experiments.

The articles were free of editorial comment and well received.

That is, until Mims let it slip that he believed in – Oh, the horrah! – Intelligent Design!

Mims was immediately sacked.

The word from top?

It didn’t matter that Mims never touched on theological issues in his “how to” physics experiments.

It didn’t matter that he was an award-winning researcher with impeccable credentials.

“No good scientist could believe in intelligent design.”

Often times I have heard evolutionists proclaim that if creationism is not at odds with solid science why isn’t this point of view published in the leading journals?

Maybe the problem isn’t to be found at the content level. Perhaps the real problem is at editorial.

And so the high priests of science have made an all too human progression – from explainers of fact, to proponents of an unprovable philosophy called naturalism, to heresy hunters with an intolerance and arrogance that would have done the Spanish Inquisition proud.

Thomas Huxley, a man known as “Darwin’s Bulldog” for his ardent faith in evolutionism, once said “Science commits suicide when it adopts a creed.”

Whether it is the “Let’s fudge the data to fit our view of the facts” phenomenon coming to light in the climate change debate, or the “No creationists need apply”  signs at the front door of scientific journals and halls of higher learning, the conclusion is clear.

The dirty secret of the white lab coat set is that they are just as human and fallible as the rest of us.

And just as inclined as the rest of us to say,”Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind is made up.”

It seems that the words of the apostle Paul are more relevant now than ever.

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools (Romans 1:18-22)

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The Gandalf Study Bible?

Have you ever noticed that we live in the land of the “Monday Morning Quarterback”?

It seems that along with American citizenship comes not only the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but also the certification to second guess the experts.

In fact, most of us tend to believe that we are measurably smarter than our elected officials, the coach who calls the plays, or the pastor who stands behind a pulpit.

And when it comes to providing a “post game show” style, after-the-fact evaluation of a government policy, a decision to go for it on fourth and two, or whether that message on Sunday was really “right on”, most of us are more than happy to offer an opinion or two.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Kicking around the issues of the day can sharpen our minds and clarify our convictions.

But what happens when that innate sense of being an expert gets a bit out of control?

What happens when we are so convinced that our opinion is the only one that matters, that we feel its our duty to not only silence debate, but censor any information that might differ with our world view?

We come up with what we could call “The Gandalf Study Bible”.

Ian McKellen returns as ‘Gandalf the White’ in The Lord of the Rings.
When openly gay actor Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, among other memorable roles) stays in a hotel with a Bible in the nightstand drawer, he rips out pages that contain a certain passage from Leviticus, according to a new interview with the actor by Details magazine.

(The passage says: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman; that is detestable,” as translated by the New International Version; the King James Version uses the word “abominable.”)

McKellen, about to turn 70, came out late in life at age 49, according to the magazine.

Here’s part of the interview:

Details: Is it true that when you stay at hotels you tear out the Bible page that condemns homosexuality?

Ian McKellen: I do, absolutely. I’m not proudly defacing the book, but it’s a choice between removing that page and throwing away the whole Bible. And I’m not really the first: I got delivered a package of 40 of those pages — Leviticus 18:22 — that had been torn out by a married couple I know. They put them on a bit of string so that I could hang it up in the bathroom.

This “enlightened” form of vandalism raises a couple of questions.

First, the right to free expression that McKellen takes for granted has its roots in a decidedly Judeo-Christian world view.

In fact, McKellen might find a very different set of consequences for the open practice of his sexual preference if he was a citizen of Iran, rather than the United Kingdom.

Second, would McKellen be equally comfortable if the same spirit of intolerance and vigilante censorship that he applies to an organization like the Gideons who place Bibles in hotel rooms, was applied to his films or personal possessions?

It is one thing to say, “I disagree with what the Bible teaches concerning homosexual practice. Let’s discuss the issue openly, honestly and with respect for differing views.”

It is quite another to take the additional step of exalting yourself to the role of editor of Holy Writ – “I don’t like Leviticus 18, so I’ll not only rip it out, but encourage others to do so as well.”

Unfortunately, McKellen is not alone in his rather crude attempt at selective theology.

I encounter more and more professing Christians who have a cafeteria style view of spirituality.

The parts of the Bible that speak of God’s love? Sign me up!

The parts that speak of God’s justice? Ehh, maybe not.

The parts of the Bible that talk about heaven? Groovy!

The parts that speak about Hell? Where’s my X-acto knife?

The bottom line? Each of us either consciously or unconsciously makes a crucial decision when confronted with the Bible.

Will we accept it as it claims to be – the very inspired Word of God, and place ourselves under its authority?

Or will we see it as something less, and place it under our authority?

Personally, it makes sense to me to have the same view of the Bible as Jesus did.

“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)

Critics and those who have taken it upon themselves to even attempt to destroy the message of the Bible have come and gone.

The French skeptic Voltaire once proclaimed:

“One hundred years from my day there will not be a Bible in the earth except one that is looked upon by an antiquarian curiosity seeker.”

Interestingly, he said this some two hundred years ago.

And ironically, after his death, the printing press Voltaire used to publish his writing was purchased and used by a Bible publishing society.

Voltaire has vanished, but the Bible remains.

Gandalf and his page ripping associates will go the same way.

But the Word of God stands forever.

As Martin Luther once put it:

Mighty potentates have raged against this book, and sought to destroy and uproot it—Alexander the Great and princes of Egypt and Babylon, the monarchs of Persia, of Greece and of Rome, the Emperors Julius and Augustus—but they prevailed nothing.

They are gone while the book remains, and it will remain forever and ever, perfect and entire as it was declared at first. Who has thus helped it—who has protected it against such mighty forces? No one, surely, but God Himself, who is master of all things.

“ All flesh is as grass,

And all the glory of man as the flower of the grass.

The grass withers,And its flower falls away,

But the word of the LORD endures forever.” (I Peter 1:24-25)

Springsteen and Every “Idol” Word

“That which I greatly feared has come to pass.”

Classic words from the oldest book of the Bible, Job.

And if you’ve been wandering around here on this fallen world for any length of time, you’ve probably had the occasion to mutter that phrase yourself.

Maybe it was the time you made the most important business presentation of your life, only to discover you did so with your zipper at half-mast.

Maybe it was returning home after a promising first date, only to discover a blob of secret sauce had been hitch hiking on your upper lip since lunch.

Or, if you are Bruce Springsteen, maybe it was the time you “misfired” up a crowd.

‘Hello, Ohio!’ (Psst! Boss, we’re in Michigan)

Red-faced Springsteen describes mistake as ‘every front man’s

nightmare’

Bruce Springsteen performs with The E Street Band.

Um, you’ve got the wrong state, Boss.

Legendary rocker Bruce Springsteen made an onstage geography goof Friday when he bellowed “Hello, Ohio!” to adoring fans at the Auburn Hills Palace — in Michigan.

The “Born in the USA” crooner referred to the neighboring state several times before trusty E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt whispered their actual location into his ear.

What is it that makes this story so relatable?

There isn’t a single one of us who hasn’t had the opportunity to commit a verbal blunder or two.

From the embarrassing slip of the tongue, to a full blown case of foot in mouth disease, we’ve all known what it is like to say something seemingly innocent and innocous only to have people give us the patented “I can’t believe you just said that!” stare.

And believe me, the impact of speech gone awry is only magnified when it happens in front of a group.

I’ll never forget the morning I was asked to do announcements at one of the first churches I served in as a fledgling assistant pastor.

Let’s face it,  announcements are one of the least inspiring parts of any church service. So I wanted to inject as much humor and enthusiasm into the assignment as possible.

There was to be a baby dedication happening later on in the service.

So I said, “As you can see we are going to be dedicating a beautiful baby later on in the service..”

Then I paused.

I should have shut up and sat down.

But nooooo.

For reasons beyond human ability to comprehend, I decided to go off the cuff.

“Well, I don’t know about beautiful. All babies kind of look like Winston Churchill when they are born.”

The collective blank stare from the congregation should have given it away.

I was in big trouble.

“Ah, no big deal”, I thought. “Everyone knows I was just kidding.”

Yep.

Everyone except the parents, who began the dedication by saying, “We wanted everyone to see just how beautiful our baby really is.”

Ouch. That left a mark.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. A verse in Scripture took on a depth of meaning I had never seen in it before.

My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.  For we all stumble in many things. If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. (James 3:1-2)

As the old proverb goes, “Make sure your words are sweet and tender for some day you may have to eat them.”

And as Bruce Springsteen and I have both discovered from personal experience, even little words can have a huge impact on our lives.

Jesus told us the same thing.

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:35-37)

The words we speak really do matter.

If we do something damaging, in most cases  we can always undo it.

But have you ever noticed that if we say something damaging we can never “unsay” it?

I guess that is why we all need someone like Steven Van Zandt in our lives.

Let’s face it, publicly correcting an internationally known show man like Bruce Springsteen while on stage would be a pretty challenging task.

Van Zandt’s account of the incident is fascinating.

“The first time I was like ‘Did I just hear that?’ The second time I looked at [bassist] Garry [Tallent] and said, ‘Did you hear what I just heard?’ At that point I knew I had to get Bruce’s attention, but I couldn’t get it through the rest of ‘Wrecking Ball.’ There was no time to really have that conversation [laughs hysterically]. I’m like, ‘Please, God, don’t give him a chance to do it again before I get a chance to talk to him.’ Sure enough, he did it a third time and I’m like, ‘That’s it. This crowd is about to rebel. They’re going to attack us!’ I just grabbed him and said, ‘You don’t realize it, but you’re saying Ohio and we’re in Michigan.’ He was like ‘What!?’

He just goes to a place onstage. At certain times he’s down on earth where we can have a conversation and a lot of the times he’s not. It’s a full adrenaline rush where you can’t have a conversation. I looked him right in the eye and he knew I wasn’t just saying something casual. It took him two or three times for him to come down to earth and hear what I was saying. He made a great joke out of it. He said, ‘I’ve been worried my whole life I’m going to do that and I finally did that.’ I guess the last gig was Cleveland. Maybe it was that. He didn’t have the city wrong. In his mind he knew he was in Detroit, but somehow Detroit wound up in Ohio for a minute.”

Fortunately, there was enough of a relationship between Van Zandt and Springsteen that what could have been an embarrassing break down turned into a joke.

And since we are all prone to embarrassing breakdowns from time to time, can I ask you a question?

Do you have a Steven Van Zandt in your life?

Not a professional musician, but someone who is close enough to you to tell you when you’ve said something off the mark?

No doubt it’s hard to receive that kind of correction. It’s much easier to get defensive, rationalize or point out the times that others weren’t exactly silver-tongued orators.

But when we humbly receive correction,

whether on stage,

in a sermon

or even in a privately shared conversation,

we discover that with God’s help, even our tongues can be tamed.

If You Won’t Preach, I Won’t Do Theoretical Physics

Have you ever noticed how people, no matter how successful or accomplished, always want to be something else?

7 foot centers always want to dribble the basketball up court.

5’6″ guards always want to dunk.

Actors always want to sing. (Like Clint Eastwood in “Paint Your Wagon”)

Singers always want to act. (Like Mariah Carey in “Glitter”)

But to our list of people rising to the level of their own incompetence we could also add this increasingly common and annoying trend.

Scientists always want to play theologian.

And theologians always want to play scientist.

Or at least try to be loved and admired by scientists.

To wit:

The Vatican joins the search for alien life

The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is holding its first ever

conference on alien life, the discovery of which would have profound

implications for the Catholic Church.

Pope Benedict and the Alien. The Vatican joins the search for alien life
What is the point of this conference?
The Vatican seems to be saying to the scientific community, “Hey! We’re really on the same team now. We’ve accepted  a Darwinian theory of origins as compatible with church doctrine. We’re even willing to accept the logical corollary that life is not special and unique to this earth. Can’t we all just get along?”
The response to this olive branch offering is predictable.
The article describing the conference  indicates  scientists aren’t really buying it.

Among other things, extremely alien-looking aliens would be hard to fit with the idea that God “made man in his own image”.

For centuries, theologians have argued over what the existence of life elsewhere in the universe would mean for the Church: at least since Giordano Bruno, an Italian monk, was put to death by the Inquisition in 1600 for claiming that other worlds exist.Furthermore, Jesus Christ’s role as saviour would be confused: would other worlds have their own, tentacled Christ-figures, or would Earth’s Christ be universal?

However, just as the Church eventually made accommodations after Copernicus and Galileo showed that the Earth was not the centre of the universe, and when it belatedly accepted the truth of Darwin’s theory of evolution, Catholic leaders say that alien life can be aligned with the Bible’s teachings.

Father Jose Funes, a Jesuit astronomer at the Vatican Observatory and one of the organisers of the conference, said: “As a multiplicity of creatures exists on Earth, so there could be other beings, also intelligent, created by God.

“This does not conflict with our faith, because we cannot put limits on the creative freedom of God.”

Not everyone agrees. Paul Davies, a theoretical physicist and author of The Goldilocks Enigma, told The Washington Post that the threat to Christianity is “being downplayed” by Church leaders. He said: “I think the discovery of a second genesis would be of enormous spiritual significance.

“The real threat would come from the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence, because if there are beings elsewhere in the universe, then Christians, they’re in this horrible bind.

“They believe that God became incarnate in the form of Jesus Christ in order to save humankind, not dolphins or chimpanzees or little green men on other planets.

So is Dr. Davies correct?

Would the discovery of an alien civilization spell the end of Christianity?

In a word, no.

If you are a regular listener to Scott Richards Live, you know that I am extremely skeptical concerning the existence of alien civilizations.

The centrality of events here on earth, from the creation, to Jesus’ incarnation, to the re-creation of the new heavens and new earth strongly indicate the unique place we hold in God’s plan.

But Christianity stands or falls on the basis of a single event in human history – the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 3:11)
Although I disagree with the conclusion, Christian writers like CS Lewis  have speculated that if there are other intelligent, soul endowed creatures in the universe, then Jesus also went and died for them as well.
They point to passages that indicate that Jesus’ sacrifice has provided hope for the entire creation.

For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. (Romans 8:19-21)

Suffice it to say, whether we are unique in our place the universe or not, the validity of faith in what Christ has done for us would not be effected.
The great Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee used to tell a story about a standard operating procedure he would use when asked to speak at a church.
He would find the worship leader before the service, and with his thick Texas drawl would say, “Friend, if you won’t preach, I won’t sing.”
In this same spirit, I make the following promise:

I will not waste Paul Davies’ time with my takes on the Hadron Accelerator and the search for the Higgs Boson, if he will keep his takes on the future of Christianity to himself.

In the same way, both theoretical physicists and well-intentioned clergymen would be a lot better off if they stuck to their field of expertise.

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Sincerity Strikes at Fort Hood

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Quick quiz:

What do Adolf Hitler

Osama bin Laden

and Nidal Malik Hasan have in common?

Murderous rage?

No doubt.

A wanton disregard for human life?

Undeniably.

But they also share another common trait –

Sincerity.

By now , you undoubtedly know about the tragic event that took place at Fort Hood, Texas last week.

According to the AP:

Hasan, 39, is accused of opening fire on the Army post on Thursday, killing 13 people and wounding 29 before civilian police shot him in the torso. He was taken into custody and eventually moved to Brooke Army Medical Center, where he was in stable condition Monday and able to talk, hospital spokesman Dewey Mitchell said.

The more details emerge, the more it becomes inescapably clear that Hasan’s actions were the work of a devoted and dedicated terrorist.

Prior to the attack he had a long and troubling track record of making pro-Islamist statements both on the internet and to his fellow soldiers.

He even used an academic lecture to deliver the following op-ed on how infidels should be dispatched.

He gave a Grand Rounds presentation. . . You take turns giving a lecture on, you know, the correct treatment of schizophrenia, the right drugs to prescribe for personality disorder, you know, that sort of thing. But instead of giving an academic paper, he gave a lecture on the Koran, and they said it didn’t seem to be just an informational lecture, but it seemed to be his own beliefs. That’s what a lot of people thought.

He talked about how if you’re a nonbeliever the Koran says you should have your head cut off, you should have oil poured down your throat, you should be set on fire. And I said well couldn’t this just be his educating you? And the psychiatrist said yes, but one of the Muslims in the audience, another psychiatrist, raised his hand and was quite disturbed and he said you know, a lot of us don’t believe these things you’re saying, and that there was no place where Hasan couched it as this is what the Koran teaches but you know I don’t believe it. And people actually talked in the hallway afterwards about ‘is he one of these people that’s going to freak out and shoot people someday?’

Now we discover that he had made a number of attempts to contact Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaida network.

After methodically giving away all of his furniture, he spent the day before the shootings passing out copies of the Koran in his neighborhood.

And when his murderous binge began he was shouting the terrorist war cry – “Allahu akbar!”

To say that Hasan’s actions were not religiously motivated strains credulity.

He was spiritual – and sincere about it.

One of the most important lessons to be learned in the aftermath of this act of terror is not likely to be discussed on the alphabet networks, or even the cable news and commentary shows.

Sincerity, unless it is invested in a worthy object of faith, is worse than worthless.

It is dangerous.

Hitler placed his faith in the idea of a master race and a return to German paganism.

Millions died.

Osama Bin Laden placed his faith in a twisted hope of bringing in a world wide caliphate where sharia law would govern the earth.

His followers were so sincere they willingly flew jet liners into the World Trade Center.

Hasan came under the teaching of a Jihadist cleric who has since fled to Yemen.

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Anwar al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico of Yemeni descent. He lives in Yemen, which is home to at least 300 al-Qaeda militants. According to his website he served as an imam in Denver, San Diego and Falls Church, Virginia

He wrote on his blog yesterday: “Nidal Hassan [sic] is a hero. He is a man of conscience who could not bear the contradiction of being a Muslim and fighting against his own people. No scholar with a grain of Islamic knowledge can deny the clear cut proofs that Muslims today have the right — rather the duty — to fight against American tyranny”

On October 7 he wrote: “America and its allies in the area are plotting against the mujahedeen, nevertheless their growth increases by the day. May Allah grant the true believers victory and grant them steadfastness on His path”

He holds a degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University and a master’s degree in educational leadership from San Diego State University.

He was interviewed by the FBI after the September 11, 2001, attacks when he was accused of serving as “spiritual adviser” to two of the attackers at his mosque in Falls Church. He was detained by Yemeni authorities in August 2006 and held for more than a year as part of a secret investigation.

It is clear that faith will take a person either as high, or as low as its object.

That is why the Bible teaches not faith in a church, or a cleric, or a community.

It teaches faith in Jesus Christ.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Faith in a church leads to crusades.

Faith in Christ leads to charity.

Faith in a cleric leads to confusion.

Faith in Christ leads to clarity.

Faith in a movement leads people to butcher their brothers.

Faith in Christ leads people to lay their lives down to reach others.

Perhaps the most important question that is raised in the aftermath of the Fort Hood massacre is very personal indeed:

Who are you putting your faith in today?

When End Times Predictions Lay An Egg

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How do you know you are finally growing up as a Christian?

In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul gives us a crucial bench mark of spiritual maturity.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ,

till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting (Ephesians 4:11-14)

Paul’s measurement of maturity?

Spiritual stability.

That is, that we aren’t blown away by “every wind of doctrine” that comes down the pike.

One of the more predictable heretical hurricanes I have seen stir things up among believers is when someone makes the breathless prediction – “I know when Jesus is coming back!”

It’s not a new phenomenon, and hang on to your hats, the same ill wind is getting ready to blow again.

10 Failed Doomsday Predictions

With the upcoming disaster film “2012” and the current hype about Mayan calendars and doomsday predictions, it seems like a good time to put such notions in context.

Most prophets of doom come from a religious perspective, though the secular crowd has caused its share of scares as well. One thing the doomsday scenarios tend to share in common: They don’t come to pass.

Among the top 10 the article describes were:

The Prophet Hen of Leeds, 1806

History has countless examples of people who have proclaimed that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, but perhaps there has never been a stranger messenger than a hen in the English town of Leeds in 1806. It seems that a hen began laying eggs on which the phrase “Christ is coming” was written. As news of this miracle spread, many people became convinced that doomsday was at hand – until a curious local actually watched the hen laying one of the prophetic eggs and discovered someone had hatched a hoax.

Mormon Armageddon, 1891 or earlier

Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church, called a meeting of his church leaders in February 1835 to tell them that he had spoken to God recently, and during their conversation he learned that Jesus would return within the next 56 years, after which the End Times would begin promptly.

This end of the world fascination isn’t the sole property of the spiritually minded. For the more high-tech among us:

Y2K, Jan. 1, 2000

As the last century drew to a close, many people grew concerned that computers might bring about doomsday. The problem, first noted in the early 1970s, was that many computers would not be able to tell the difference between 2000 and 1900 dates. No one was really sure what that would do, but many suggested catastrophic problems ranging from vast blackouts to nuclear holocaust. Gun sales jumped and survivalists prepared to live in bunkers, but the new millennium began with only a few glitches.

And, of course,  for the supermarket tabloid/insomniacs among us:

Heaven’s Gate, 1997

When comet Hale-Bopp appeared in 1997, rumors surfaced that an alien spacecraft was following the comet – covered up, of course, by NASA and the astronomical community. Though the claim was refuted by astronomers (and could be refuted by anyone with a good telescope), the rumors were publicized on Art Bell’s paranormal radio talk show “Coast to Coast AM.” These claims inspired a San Diego UFO cult named Heaven’s Gate to conclude that the world would end soon. The world did indeed end for 39 of the cult members, who committed suicide on March 26, 1997.

There is a reason why these kinds of predictions have a way of showing up with the same delightful regularity as flu season or tax day – people fall for them.

They pack pews.

They sell books.

They fill theaters.

And like any other false doctrine it takes two essential components to spread like wild fire.

A deceive-er and a deceiv-ee.

How can we make sure we aren’t on the losing end of this time-tested recipe  for spiritual disaster?

Three quick suggestions.

Don’t Ignore the Obvious

Jesus did promise to return. But also said that no one would be able to predict the day and hour.

Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Matthew 24:42-44)

If you hear a supposed Bible teacher try to do a song and dance around this clear statement (“Yes! But He didn’t say we couldn’t know the minute or the second!”) run, don’t walk out of there – or change the channel.

Put Your Faith in the Right Place

Make sure you are getting your perspective on prophecy from a consistently credible source.

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,  not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. (II Thessalonians 2:1-2)

Even during the time of Paul there were people putting out predictions that were at odds with Scripture. The same is true today.

I have seen more than one so-called prophet with a national television ministry lay as big an egg as that chicken from Leeds.

It’s not wrong to get input on prophecy from Christian media. But just because someone makes a statement on the air doesn’t make it true.

Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bath Water

False prophets and publicity loving teachers of dubious integrity have caused some to become cynical about the whole notion that Jesus will return for His people.

Coming to the conclusion that Jesus’ Second Coming is something for the Christian Chicken Little set is something the Bible says we need to guard against.

Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:35-37)

Living each day with the solidly Biblical perspective that Jesus reserves the right to catch us up into His presence at any moment is a powerful motivation for consistency and excitement in our walk with the Lord.

I have yet to meet a person who truly believed that Jesus could come at any moment who was bored or on cruise control in their Christian life.

Yes, there will continue to be outlandish predictions of “Doomsday” from both secular and spiritual sources.

And yes, there will be those charlatans and hucksters who will try to use these predictions to build their own spiritual empires.

But those who know the Lord and love Him will continue to look for His return like well-loved children anticipating the arrival of their parent at the end of the day.

And the rewards for living out that kind of balanced perspective will be great.

For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand.  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. (II Timothy 4:6-8)

 

 

 

 


 

Muhammad Meets the Matrix: What Could Go Wrong?

http://ralphlosey.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/matrix-neo.jpg

It’s called “Groupthink”.

It works like this.

A powerful person comes up with a “can’t miss” idea.

The people who surround this personality have made being on the boss’s good side their number one goal in life.

No one wants to be the “wet blanket” at the meeting by raising even a reasonable note of caution about the idea.

All in favor say “Aye”.

And a really bad decision gets made.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of this phenomenon when I read the following headline that ran in yesterday’s Guardian.uk on line newspaper.

Matrix producer plans Muhammad biopic

Barrie Osborne, part of the Oscar-winning team behind the Lord of the Rings films, says the new production ‘will educate people about the true meaning of Islam’

Producer Barrie Osborne cast Keanu Reeves as the messiah in The Matrix and helped defeat the dark lord Sauron in his record-breaking Lord of the Rings trilogy. Now the Oscar-winning American film-maker is set to embark on his most perilous quest to date: making a big-screen biopic of the prophet Muhammad.

Budgeted at around $150m (£91.5m), the film will chart Muhammad’s life and examine his teachings. Osborne told Reuters that he envisages it as “an international epic production aimed at bridging cultures. The film will educate people about the true meaning of Islam“.

Osborne’s production will reportedly feature English-speaking Muslim actors. It is backed by the Qatar-based production company Alnoor Holdings, who have installed the Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi to oversee all aspects of the shoot. In accordance with Islamic law, the prophet will not actually be depicted on screen.

“The film will shed light on the Prophet’s life since before his birth to his death,” Ahmed Abdullah Al-Mustafa, Alnoor’s chairman, told al-Jazeera. “It will highlight the humanity of Prophet Muhammad.”

The as-yet-untitled picture is due to go before the cameras in 2011. It remains to be seen, however, whether it will be beaten to cinemas by another Muhammad-themed drama. Late last year, producer Oscar Zoghbi announced plans to remake The Message, his controversial 1976 drama that sparked a fatal siege by protesters in Washington DC. The new version, entitled The Messenger of Peace, is currently still in development.

I wonder if anyone at the meeting that gave the OK to a movie version of the life of Muhammad raised their hand and said, “Uh, when they tried this the last time, didn’t that movie “The Message” end up creating a riot where two people were killed –

..In the US..

Back in 1977..

Before the Iranian Revolution?

And before the war on terror broke out?”

Nowadays Muslim extremists go ballistic over a newspaper cartoon of Muhammad, and someone thinks a full feature film won’t stir up some problems?

And whose version of Islam is going to be presented as “the true meaning”? Shi’a or Sunni?

And what will be the reaction from the side who feels slighted?

And in light of the fact that the goal of the picture is to “highlight the humanity..of Muhammad” does that mean his controversial marital life will be accurately represented?

Jihad declared in 5..4…3….2..1..

Yes, if you want to cause a ruckus, simply try to bring the object of a religion’s faith to the big screen.

Unless of course, the object of faith is Jesus.

While the world winces in anticipation of the reaction to Barrie Osborne’s project, just last week we had the opportunity to see a study in contrast.

Larry David, the star of HBO’s  “Curb Your Enthusiasm” used a portrait of Jesus as the basis of humor too crude and offensive for me to describe in this space.

The reaction from Christians?

No riots.

No death threats.

No casualty counts.

A few people canceled their cable subscriptions.

And a few people made the point that if David had used a portrait of Muhammad as the butt of his joke he would have to hire someone to start his car in the morning.

Why the difference?

I think it comes down to confidence in the One you choose to follow.

Whether it was Martin Scorsese remaking Jesus into a dithering, sin ridden hypocrite in “The Last Temptation of Christ”, or Dan Brown trying to make him into the figment of Constantine’s imagination in “The DaVinci Code”, believers in Christ know that He is far above such lame attacks.

In fact, when the Christ rejecting world does its best to trash Jesus, it only serves to cause the truth of Who He is, as revealed in His Word, all the more compelling.

Don’t get me wrong.

When Hollywood or HBO tries to drag Jesus into the mud it does offend me.

I love Jesus, and like anyone else I love, seeing them slandered doesn’t sit well with me.

But I have found the best response is to simply say, “Yes, and isn’t it amazing how different Jesus is than all of that?”

And what usually follows is the opportunity to share His love with one more person who really needs to know the true Jesus Christ.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds,  casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:3-5)