Original Sin

(…continued from Judging God)

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She is doing what millions of billions of people have done since the serpent deceived Eve and Adam.

“This is the real score: God doesn’t want you to be like him, to know good and evil”, the serpent said.

But Eve and Adam decided that it was indeed desirable to be like God, to know good and evil. They thought that it was unfair of God to keep them from being like him in that way—so they went ahead and ate the forbidden fruit.

This is the original sin: the desire to be like God, able to decide for oneself what is good and what is evil—independent of God!

Man the creation looks at God the Creator and says, “I can be like you, you know. I can decide for myself what is good and what is evil. I can set my own standards. I don’t have to depend on your standards”.

So man sets his own standards for judging what is good and what is evil. Then he compares his standards with God’s—and then evaluates God’s standards according to his own standards.

“Well, OK, I know that you said that is wrong, but, you see, it actually depends. That may be wrong in this situation, but I think you’ll have to agree that it can actually be the right thing to do in this situation…”

Then…
“You know what? I’ve done a lot of thinking. That thing you say is wrong? It’s not just the right thing in some situations, but come to think of it, it’s actually the right thing in all situations!”

Still later…
“There’s no real right and wrong anyway. It all depends. If I may say so, you were a bit off there, God, when you gave us the entire notion of sin, of right and wrong. No such thing, big guy. It all depends.”

“How do I know? I’ve got wisdom, big guy. I know what’s right and what’s wrong. I ate the fruit which—in your selfishness!—you told me not to eat”.

And…
“I don’t need you to tell me what is good and what is evil, what’s right and what’s wrong. I can decide all that for myself, thank you. I don’t need your standards. I don’t need your guidance.”

“In fact, guess what? I don’t even need you at all.”

“You give me no good standards. What you call evil I call good. What you call good, well, me no like.”

“You don’t give me wisdom. You don’t make me happy. In fact, I’ve found other gods who give me more wisdom. They give me more happiness. They deserve my loyalty more. Jealous yet?”

Finally…
“I can be wise all by myself, and if I need it find more wisdom elsewhere. I can be happy without you, and find still more happiness elsewhere.”

“I don’t need you.”

“Remember you said I would die if I ate that fruit? Hah! Newsflash! I’m still alive! And you’re—dead! Bam! Goodbye!”

“You were right about that fruit, though—I AM much wiser now.”

And the serpent laughs.

To be continued

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This is Part 2 of a series. Other posts in this series:

Part 1: Judging God

Part 3: To Understand, Stand Under

Part 4: Dying for Rebels

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American Idols Shout to the Lord

I don’t really watch American Idol, so I missed the two episodes last week where, it turned out, the remaining contestants sang Darlene Zschech’s beautiful song Shout to the Lord.

I was just alerted to this through my favorite blog Parchment and Pen, which asked: What’s up with American Idol and Jesus? and posted a link to this YouTube video:

Maybe the program is just pandering to the strong conservative Christian market base, but that’s OK. Thanks be to God that praises to Jesus Christ are sung on US TV primetime.

(Seems that something happened behind the scenes, though, because the name “Jesus” was replaced by “Shepherd” in the first night’s performance, during the actual Idol Gives Back telecast. But the same song was sung again the following night, with the name “Jesus” placed back!)

Canadian Idol, on the other hand, seems to be already open to Christian songs. Their 2004 winner, the very talented Kalan Porter, performed this awesome number on that show, a moving rendition of MercyMe’s I Can Only Imagine:


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(Bonus clip 🙂 : Porter also sang this powerful song, for which a fan made a video montage on YouTube:)

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(Note: Wikipedia has a note about the performance of Shout to the Lord in last week’s Idol Gives Back show where the name “Jesus” was replaced by “Shepherd”, but was placed back in the following night’s repeat performance of the song. The Parchment and Pen post from which I got the original heads-up has interesting views on this from various commenters.)
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Expelled Victims

Here’s an interesting account of three scientists featured in the movie Expelled. As I have posted earlier, the movie is about alleged prejudice experienced by scientists and professors who either support Intelligent Design, or fail to support evolutionary theory.

The article was written by Dr. Ray Bohlin, holder of MS and PhD degrees in molecular biology from the University of Texas at Dallas. Here’s a brief intro on the three scientists he writes about:

Richard Sternberg has a double PhD in evolutionary biology. As editor of a scientific journal, he oversaw the publication of an article promoting Intelligent Design and critical of evolution. As a result, he was harassed and falsely accused of improper peer review. He has been blacklisted.

Caroline Crocker is a a PhD with degrees in pharmacology and microbiology. A research scientist who taught introductory biology, she made the mistake of including questions about evolution contained in science journals. She was accused of teaching creationism and eventually lost her job, and has been unable to find work ever since.

Finally, Guillermo Gonzalez is a well published astronomer who has accumulated over sixty peer-reviewed publications in various science and astronomy journals. In addition, he has presented over twenty papers at scientific conferences, and his work has been featured in such respected publications as Science, Nature, and Scientific American. He has been denied tenure because he supports Intelligent Design.

…Trust me, you’ll find it hard to believe what you read.

Check out the article here.

You can find more data on the article’s writer, Dr. Bohlin, as well as the other speakers and writers of Probe Ministries.here.

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Related post:

EXPELLED! No Intelligence Allowed!
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Life After Life After Death

Since I mentioned Easter in my last post, here’s a good “teaser” regarding the concept of resurrection, which I stumbled on just today: N. T. Wright on Resurrection.

Good comments by the readers at the end, too.

Quotable quotes from Bishop Wright (possible answers to the question Where do we go from here? 😉 ):

Heaven is important, but it’s not the end of the world.”

There is life after life after death.”

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I think the writer of the movie Gladiatormeant it in a different way, but the line that he gave for the character of Maximus is true: “What we do in this life will echo in eternity”.

God bless you, and by His grace and mercy grant you resurrection life through Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.
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Judging God

Last March 16, my wife and I were guests on a radio show where we talked about Palm Sunday.

Palm Sunday is the first day of what Christians call the Holy Week, which culminates in Easter Sunday. We observe Holy Week every year to commemorate the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

On Palm Sunday, we celebrate that day when Jesus entered Jerusalem and was hailed by the people as a king. The people took off their robes and laid them on the road for Jesus’ donkey to walk on. They broke off branches of palm trees and likewise laid those on the road.

In the Gospel according to Matthew, the people shouted “Hosanna to the son of David!” They hailed Jesus as the descendant of the great king David, the greatest king the nation of Israel has ever had.

In Mark’s account, the people shouted “Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming!”

And according to Luke, the people shouted “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Clearly the people saw Jesus as the king-descendant of David, who would re-establish the kingdom of Israel and sit on David’s throne. He was the Messiah who had been proclaimed by the prophets and whom the nation had been waiting for for hundreds of years.

Finally the shame of Israel would be ended! Finally they would be a great kingdom again! Finally they would be able to throw off the shackles of the Roman empire!

This Jesus would be the one to lead them! This Jesus—his teachings and his mighty miracles for the past three years show that HE is the promised deliverer of the nation: the Christ, or Anointed One, Yeshua ha mashiach, Jesus the Messiah! This Jesus is THE Christ!

Less than one week later, they were shouting, “Crucify him!”

“Give us Barabbas! Crucify Jesus!”

What happened?

Expectations.

They had expected a human king who would help them overthrow the Gentile colonizers.

He had come to destroy the powers of Satan, the usurper. He had come to overthrow the ruler of this world [1]. But that wasn’t what they expected, and that wasn’t what they wanted.

That still isn’t what most people want.

Because of His miracles, they thought they could expect Him to feed them forever [2]. They didn’t understand, nor did they care, that He had come to give them more than physical bread and more than physical water. He had come down from heaven as the bread of life [3], and he assured them that whoever came to Him for drink would never thirst again [4]. But that wasn’t what they wanted.

Most people still don’t care for those.

He had come to deliver them from sin and death. They expected to be delivered from the Romans and from poverty.

Then they woke up on Friday to see that this supposed Messiah had been arrested and tortured by the Romans, handed over to the conquerors by their own religious leaders. And he couldn’t say anything in his own defense, couldn’t call on an armed group to try to free him.

What kind of liberator is that? What kind of Messiah is that?

So when their religious authorities told them to ask that the Zealot Barabbas be released instead of this pretender Jesus, well—at least that one had tried to do his part in overthrowing the hated Romans.

“Give us Barabbas! Crucify Jesus!”

They judged and evaluated God, and rejected Him when He didn’t meet their expectations.

Until now—people still stand in judgment of God. The created still evaluates the Creator.

And when He does not meet their expectations, they reject Him. They prefer “saviors” who would save and feed them in ways they expect and understand. They create their own gods, according to their own expectations, according to their own image.

Almighty God has very graciously revealed Himself to us through His prophets, through the Scriptures, and ultimately through His own Son [5], but humans prefer their own imaginations over the divine revelation.

In his post The Gospel According to Oprah?, Pastor Eyriche Cortez cites the story of the “world’s most powerful woman” being turned off by the revelation that God is a jealous God—she then proceeded to look for a god whom she would be more comfortable with.

According to the story [6], she judged God, found that the revelation He gave about Himself in the Bible did not meet her expectations and preferences, and decided that the God of the Bible was not the true God.

She is not alone in this.

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To be continued…

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[1] cf. John 12:31
[2] cf. John 6:1-26
[3] John 6:35
[4] John 4:14; 7:37-38
[5] Hebrews 1:1-4
[6] I found the original version of this Oprah story here. Check it out. Worth reading.

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This is Part 1 of a series. Other posts in this series:

Part 2: Original Sin

Part 3: To Understand, Stand Under

Part 4: Dying for Rebels
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Muslims > Catholics? > All Christians?

A friend emailed me the news clipping below. It’s about Islam surpassing Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest religion.

This confirms a trend which a Catholic priest shared with me when I interviewed  him in 2004, while Perry and I were in the Netherlands.

Father Ype said that church membership and attendance in the various parishes he had served in the Netherlands had been declining steadily over the years. In fact, he said, some parishes had to be dissolved and merged with adjacent parishes because of the lack of parishioners.

The church has also had to withdraw from some buildings because of lack of funds, aside from dismally low attendance. Some of these church buildings, government properties, were then leased to Muslim communities—and converted into mosques.

Fr. Ype said that this was not just because of the fact that Muslims generally do not practice birth control, although that was true (he surmised that birth control might be against Islam’s teachings, just as its more popular forms are also contrary to official Vatican teachings—the problem is, Muslims generally follow their official teachings whereas Catholics do not practice many of their church’s official teachings).

But much more important than the comparative growth in population, Fr. Ype says, the biggest factor in the decline of the Christian faith in his country and the rapid rise of Islam, is that Muslims pass the faith on to their children, whereas Christians do not.

Muslim parents are generally very diligent in teaching their children about their faith and traditions, and can be very strict in seeing to it that these are adhered to.

In contrast, Christian parents are very lax and lenient. They usually adopt the attitude of letting their children choose which belief, if any, they would follow. And, of course, in the setting of postmodern relativistic Europe, and in the midst of the attendant peer pressure and molding from the educational system and the media, the children, unguided by their parents, usually end up not believing in Christianity.

That is why Fr. Ype predicted, and I also predict, that it will not be long before the Netherlands, and in fact most of Western Europe, will be predominantly Muslim societies. what with the influx of Muslim immigrants with very strong respect for their religion and traditions. Christian households already have less children than Muslim families, yet they do not care to pass on the faith to these few children. When the Christian parents die, who will carry on the faith in the next generations?

The demographics of Europe will change dramatically in the coming years because of strong Muslim influence—and Christian parents who do not care for their faith or traditions.

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Muslims more numerous than Catholics

By ALESSANDRA RIZZO, Associated Press Writer

Sun Mar 30, 2:48 PM ET

Islam has surpassed Roman Catholicism as the world’s largest religion, the Vatican newspaper said Sunday.

“For the first time in history, we are no longer at the top: Muslims have overtaken us,” Monsignor Vittorio Formenti said in an interview with the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano. Formenti compiles the Vatican’s yearbook.

He said that Catholics accounted for 17.4 percent of the world population— a stable percentage—while Muslims were at 19.2 percent.

“It is true that while Muslim families, as is well known, continue to make a lot of children, Christian ones on the contrary tend to have fewer and fewer,” the monsignor said.

Formenti said that the data refer to 2006. The figures on Muslims were put together by Muslim countries and then provided to the United Nations, he said, adding that the Vatican could only vouch for its own data.

When considering all Christians and not just Catholics, Christians make up 33 percent of the world population, Formenti said.

Spokesmen for the Vatican and the United Nations did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Sunday.

Copyright © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

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