Archive for September, 2011

After a talk to about 1000 scientists, John Lennox (PhD) explains to a physicist, that mocked Christianity, how his understanding of science is really much less grounded than he really thought.

Someone called in later mentioning that this guy that called in is actually Jewish – who knows. Just amazing how irrational antisemitism is.

Listen to full audio here.

Statehood is based on sovereignty of a nation. How were nations formed & accepted before the UN existed? Listen to the legal challenges brought up in the following audio segment. Extract from Wall Street Journal article also posted below.

The U.N.—General Assembly or Security Council—has no power to create states or to grant all-important formal ‘recognition’ to state aspirants. The right to recognize statehood is a fundamental attribute of sovereignty and the United Nations is not a sovereign. Those who cite as precedent the General Assembly’s 1947 resolution providing for the partition of Palestine misread that instrument and its legal significance.

Resolution 181 outlined a detailed (and rigorous) process whereby the British Mandate in Palestine was to end and two new states, one Jewish and one Arab, were to be established. It recommended that process to Great Britain (as the mandate-holder) and to other U.N. members. It did not create or recognize these states, nor were the proposed states granted automatic admission to the United Nations. Rather, once the two states were established as states, the resolution provided that “sympathetic consideration” should be given to their membership applications.

In the event, the Arab countries rejected partition and Israel declared (and successfully defended) its independence. Israel’s statehood was recognized, in accordance with international law, by other states—including the United States and the Soviet Union.

The Palestinian Authority, by contrast, does not meet the basic characteristics of a state necessary for such recognition. These requirements have been refined through centuries of custom and practice, and were authoritatively articulated in the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States. As that treaty provides, to be a state an entity must have (1) a permanent population, (2) a defined territory, (3) a government, and (4) the capacity to enter into relations with other states.

As of today, the PA has neither a permanent population nor defined territory (both being the subject of ongoing if currently desultory negotiations), nor does it have a government with the capacity to enter into relations with other states. This pivotal requirement involves the ability to enter and keep international accords, which in turn posits that the “government” actually controls—exclusive of other sovereigns—at least some part of its population and territory. The PA does not control any part of the West Bank to the exclusion of Israeli authority, and it exercises no control at all in the Gaza Strip.

The PA does not, therefore, qualify for recognition as a state and, concomitantly, it does not qualify for U.N. membership, which is open only to states. All of this is surely understood by the PA and its backers, and is also why the administration has correctly labeled this effort as a distraction—”stunt” being a less diplomatic but even more accurate term in these circumstances. What is unfortunate is that the Obama administration has failed to present the case against a Palestinian statehood resolution in legal rather than tactical terms, even though these arguments are obvious and would greatly reinforce the U.S. position, also providing a thoroughly neutral basis for many of our allies, particularly in Europe, to oppose Mr. Abbas’s statehood bid.

The stakes in this battle are high. The PA’s effort to achieve recognition by the U.N., even if legally meaningless, is not without serious consequences. To the extent that state supporters of that measure may themselves have irredentist populations or active border disputes with their neighbors—as do Russia, China, Britain and Turkey—they will certainly store up future trouble for themselves.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Listen to full audio here.

Ever noticed that the ‘ones taken’ in the “parable of the weeds” are the weeds first? Interesting.

Note that I personally I don’t dogmatically hold to the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture anymore, even though I don’t see it as a doctrine worthy to spend much study on or to cause division.

The Parable of the Weeds
24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”

Note the comments from a (well-informed) Jewish radio host, Aaron Klein, saying that many (unorthodox) Jews “have abandoned Israel” (at 6:20 in the audio) & don’t care enough to vote according to the interests of Israel – but many Christians (mentioned as the backbone of Israel support in the audio) are unwaveringly standing behind Israel – Ironic? Strange? Interesting anyway.

Aaron Klein. Listen to full audio here.

When is the ‘hidden meaning’ of the scriptures taken too far?

This Jewish method gets its name from the first letter of each ‘level of interpretation’. The Jewish Encyclopaedia notes that the “Christian mode of exegesis (which was well known to the Spanish Jews) probably served as a model; in this the fourfold sense (historical or literal, tropological or moral, allegorical, and anagogical) had long since been formulated”.

Peshat (פְּשָׁט) — “plain” (“simple”) or the direct meaning[1].
Remez (רֶמֶז) — “hints” or the deep (allegoric: hidden or symbolic) meaning beyond just the literal sense.
Derash (דְּרַשׁ) — from Hebrew darash: “inquire” (“seek”) — the comparative (midrashic) meaning, as given through similar occurrences.
Sod (סוֹד) (pronounced with a long O as in ‘bone’) — “secret” (“mystery”) or the mystical meaning, as given through inspiration or revelation.

Each type of Pardes interpretation examines the extended meaning of a text. As a general rule, the extended meaning never contradicts the base meaning. The Peshat means the plain or contextual meaning of the text. Remez is the allegorical meaning. Derash includes the metaphorical meaning, and Sod represents the hidden meaning. There is often considerable overlap, for example when legal understandings of a verse are influenced by mystical interpretations or when a “hint” is determined by comparing a word with other instances of the same word.

Check out Line of Fire Radio. Listen to full audio here.

For the emotional problem of evil – pain, death & suffering, see this post.

The best apologetic (defense) on this topic that I have yet come across by William Lane Craig (from Reasonable Faith). It is often not clear that the problem of evil (why a good & all-powerful God would allow evil to exist) contains some implicit assumptions. This discussion brings those assumptions into the open & illustrates the flaws in them. It also shows why, with the Christian world-view the existence of evil in the world is expected (to some degree).

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

You can also download the MP3s here: Part 1, Part 2 & Part 3.

Should faith be based on evidence? Yes, but have you considered that people often lose faith in something in everyday life, as soon as emotions enter in, for no good reason? Why does seeming irrational fear grip us from time to time – when all rational reasoning & evidence up to that point should convince us otherwise?

What makes people lose their faith? Most due to reason & argument? Hardly.

The audio is an extract taken from “Mere Christianity”, probably the most famous book by C.S. Lewis.

Richard Dawkins doesn’t recommend atheism, but militant atheism. What if the militant atheists get their way? What would they prefer to have written into law?

Listen to John Lennox’s comments.

John Lennox is Professor of Mathematics in the University of Oxford, Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science, and Pastoral Advisor at Green Templeton College, Oxford. He is also an adjunct Lecturer at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford University and at the Oxford Centre for Christian Apologetics. In addition, he teaches for the Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme at the Executive Education Centre, Said Business School, Oxford University.

Pride – the utmost evil? Exaggeration? What is the nature of pride? How does pride inflame many other vices? How about a quick test on how much pride you have?

Proverbs 6:16 – There are six things that the Lord hates,seven that are an abomination to him: a proud look, a lying tongue and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies and one who sows discord among brothers.
Proverbs 16:5The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.
Proverbs 11:2 – When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.
Psalm 10:4 – In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
Job 40:11 – Unleash the fury of your wrath, look at every proud man and bring him low.
Deuteronomy 8:14 – Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.
2 Chronicles 26:16 – His pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God.
Psalm 59:12 – For the sins of their mouths, for the words of their lips, let them be caught in their pride.
Proverbs 13:10 – Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.
Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 29:23 – A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honour.
Ecclesiastes 7:8 – The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride.
Isaiah 2:11 – The eyes of the arrogant man will be humbled and the pride of men brought low; the LORD alone will be exalted in that day.
Isaiah 13:11 – I will punish the world for its evil, the wicked for their sins. I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
Isaiah 23:9 – The LORD Almighty planned it, to bring low the pride of all glory and to humble all who are renowned on the earth.
Daniel 5:20 – But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.
Psalm 138:6 – Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.
Proverbs 16:19 – Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.
Proverbs 18:12 – Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.
Isaiah 2:12 – The LORD Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled).

The audio is an extract taken from “Mere Christianity”, probably the most famous book by C.S. Lewis.