Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hopeful or Hopeless? part 1

I realized that in my two posts about Darwin I kinda left you in a depressing state; speaking of the hopelessness and destruction Darwin's philosophies brought. So these next two posts are going to contrast the hopelessness by explaining the hope that Calvin brought through accepting the unswerving truth of Scripture!

In contrast to Darwin, John Calvin did not reject truth, but wholeheartedly sought truth as found in the unchanging Scriptures. As a 16th century pastor, theologian, and reformer, he was known as a gentle, loving man who had a heart for people. His thorough and meticulous study of the Bible and the writing that flowed from it brought many to embrace biblical truth. Studying the doctrines of the Bible led to his belief in the depravity of man and the perfect holiness of God. His work Institutes in Christian Religion is one of the results of his detailed effort, as it is outstanding in its explanations, refutations, and overall establishment of doctrine, as well as one of the most influential Protestant works. He significantly affected western civilization through his theology that led to the beginning of reformed denominations and the growth of many churches. Calvin believed God’s Word.

Unquestionably, Calvin’s understanding of biblical truth, especially the doctrine of the depravity of man, led to a clear and accurate understanding of man. Calvin believed that man was completely depraved and unable to do good. Calvin explained this in the form of the doctrine of original sin, which states that when Adam sinned we all sinned. Calvin expressed,
“Original sin, therefore, appears to be a hereditary, depravity and corruption of our nature, diffused through all the parts of the soul, rendering us obnoxious to the divine wrath”.
Because salvation is not of ourselves and dependent solely on the grace of God, it brings great hope and joy because we can trust and be certain that we have been saved from the wrath and judgment we deserved for our sins. In Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion he states,
“For if it had not been clearly stated that the wrath and vengeance of God and eternal death rested upon us, we would scarcely have recognized how miserable we would have been without God’s mercy, and we would have underestimated the benefit of liberation”.
From Calvin’s studies emerged ideas that would effect great change.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Rejecting truth leads to...

If you read my post on the importance of understanding what you believe, you saw how Darwin’s rejection of the truth of Scripture led to his theories of natural selection. However, what else did it lead to?

Rejecting truth led to dire consequences for Darwin and his followers, including the devaluing of life. Darwin proposed the theory of natural selection, or survival of the fittest. He believed that the animals that possess the traits most capable of surviving in future generations would live, and the weak would die. Because there is no God and man is merely an evolved animal, the purpose and importance of each life of is diminished. But Darwin expanded this concept further and further by encouraging people to marry those who had desirable genetic traits and suggesting that those with defects should not marry, because the undesirable traits would be passed on. He asserted that instead of the “random chance” of natural selection we should actually take control of natural selection in order to improve it. Darwin articulated:
“There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to smallpox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man.”
From Darwin’s theories developed eugenics, human selective breeding, which declared that only the strongest, smartest and most beautiful were of value. Tragically, Hitler embraced this dreadful philosophy and applied it by murdering millions in order to achieve a more perfect mankind. When man is lowered to the category of a mere animal, it’s easy to rationalize horrendous behavior. His ideas, which have infiltrated the school system, have resulted in our nation accepting evils such as abortion, birth control and euthanasia for the purpose of assisting the ongoing process of evolution.

So once again, please study the truth found in God's Word and begin to apply it by refuting the lies that come from our culture! :)

*second paragraph taken from my essay submitted to the Darwin vs. Calvin essay contest by Vision Forum.

Monday, July 20, 2009

To any who haven't noticed....

My sister Katie has returned to the blogging world. If you don't remember or weren't here when she "left", she took a three month computer break and came back in the beginning of June. Since then she's been posting frequently, so be sure to keep checking her blog! During her time offline she evaluated the purpose of her blog, and now has posted some great stuff, with more to come!

I know she would love for you to stop by her blog. :)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Purpose of Friendships

What do you think is the true purpose of friendship? Why should we bother to become good friends with people? Is it just because we share a common interest or like being around them? What should be our purpose in developing friendships?

Here are my thoughts on the purpose of friendships:

To Sharpen. Prov. 27:17 says “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another”. By our words and conversations we can sharpen one another!

To Encourage. Friendships are good to develop “that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith”. (Romans 1:12)
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up”.
1 Thess. 5:11
“We...encouraged you ... to walk in a manner worthy of God”
1 Thess. 2:12
“Therefore encourage one another with these words.”
1 Thess. 4:18

To Exhort. “He exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose” Acts 11:23. 1 Tim. 4:13 tells us to “devote yourself to… exhortation”. Heb. 3:13 even reminds us to “exhort one another every day”. What a great goal to set—to exhort someone every day!

To Hold Accountable. Everyone needs accountability. So use your friendships to ask questions and hold each other accountable!

To Challenge. How can you challenge your friends today? Is there a specific situation going on in their life that you can challenge and encourage them in?

To Learn From. Phil. 4:9 declares “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things”. No one is perfect, and we each have different strengths and weaknesses. But we can each learn from one another in so many ways! This is especially true with those older than you; make sure you listen to those who are older and wiser to learn! And don’t forget that there are always those younger than you, and you are the person that those younger friends are learning from!

To Inspire. 1 Timothy 4:12 “But set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Through discussions and example we can inspire one another towards godliness! Isn’t that an amazing thought?

To Minister. Friendships should not be selfish, thinking of what you can get out of the other person, but instead giving. Think of how you can minister to those around you, the ones God wants you to be friends to.

Do you have other thoughts? Other reasons why you think it is healthy to develop godly friendships? Practicals on how to develop godly friendships? I would love to hear your thoughts. :)

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Do I have to understand what I say I believe?

The topic of “worldview” is frequently mentioned and discussed in our home. Because every single thing you read, watch or listen to has a worldview, we have to be careful to not passively allow anything to fill our minds. We need to closely analyze and determine whether or not the things we fill our minds with are in line with what we believe, because they do have an influence on us.

Another thing to note is that we need to know and understand not only what we believe but why we believe something; whether doctrinally, theologically, or practically. The reason it is important is because if we do not understand why we believe something we cannot refute it, nor can we stand against the many philosophies the world will throw at us. (Col. 2:8)

I have a sorrowful example of this. Everyone knows Charles Darwin as the “founder” of the theory of evolution and natural selection. But at a point in his life Darwin actually believed in God (the extent or depth of this belief I do not know) and intended to become a clergyman! If you are exclaiming “Unbelievable!” right now, allow me to disclose how someone could go from a belief in God to the complete opposite...

After discarding the ideas of becoming a doctor or clergyman, Darwin, aged 22, was invited to go on the voyage of the HMS Beagle as company for the captain. Darwin used this time to study specimens and the environments of animals. Because of his weak understanding of the Bible, he gradually began to doubt the doctrine of creation and started speculating that animals could have changed from one species to another. Darwin read the writings of Lyle, who believed that new varieties could only be formed within the species. Making a huge jump, Darwin claimed that animals could evolve into new species. Likewise he read Malthus’ theory that population exceeds the amount of available food, and thus asserted that there is a continual “struggle for survival”. Darwin’s repudiation of the truth of the Bible initiated when he doubted the first chapters in Genesis. In his autobiography he stated:
“I had gradually come by this time, i.e. 1836 to 1839, to see that the Old Testament was no more to be trusted than the sacred books of the Hindoos or the beliefs of any barbarian”.
A miserable decline continued as he rejected the gospels, the New Testament, and eventually God completely.

Did you pick up on that? Because of his weak understanding of the Bible, Darwin began to doubt the truth of Scripture. My friends, Scripture is infallible! If there is anything that we are uncertain about when it comes to whether something is the truth or not, we should immediately turn to Scripture and allow God’s Word to teach us. The reason I can assert that Darwin had a weak understanding of the Bible is because of his statements regarding it. Let me give you an example:

Darwin declared:
“I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.”

It may sound like a reasonable statement, but it reveals a weak understanding of the doctrine of the Fall and sin. The reason we have sin and death is because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience to God and giving into the temptation of Satan. God originally created everything “good” (Gen. 1). He did not desire for the world to be full of evil and suffering, but a holy, just, and righteous God could not allow disobedience without consequences. Since the Fall there has been sin, destruction and death.

I hope that if you didn’t already comprehend the significance of knowing why you believe something that you’re beginning to grasp it. I am not suggesting that you come up with great ways to debate your opinions. Instead, please turn to Scripture, the source of all truth, and study it! Also ask your parents or pastor questions to help you understand difficult truths. We need to actively study the Bible and learn what we mean when we say we believe something so we can refute the worldly philosophies that are thrust upon us, especially the ones under the title “Christian” that sound pretty good.