Featured Post

Resurrection in Jewish and Christian Thought

The notion that humans who have died can be resurrected by God is found in both the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament, and al...

Friday, June 29, 2018

Theology: Mathematical Precision or Conviction Based on Faith?

If we Google the term theology, we find that term defined as "the study of the nature of God and religious belief" or "religious beliefs and theory when systematically developed." Of course, when we speak of the study of God and religious beliefs, we would all hope for objectivity and the unbiased pursuit of transcendental truth (how realistic those expectations might be is another matter). However, when we speak of theology in terms of a system of beliefs, we would all do well to be very careful in our use of the terms true and false.

For Herbert Armstrong and his followers, theology was/is an exercise in mathematical precision. Everything is based on proofs, direct or indirect. For these folks, everything (or at least the fundamentals) is clear. There is truth, and there is falsehood or error.

Hence, it is no surprise to find a minister among the Armstrong Churches of God speaking of "True Theology" see http://cgi.org/audio-archives/2014/3/17/wayne-hendrix-true-theology?rq=true%20theology To these folks, the Sabbath is a feature of TRUE theology, while Sunday is a feature of FALSE theology. Likewise, the Feast of Tabernacles stands in stark contrast to the observance of Christmas. Binitarianism is TRUE theology, while trinitarianism represents error.

Then, along comes Pope Francis, who proclaims: "This is the novelty that grace ignites in the heart of those who open themselves to the mystery of Jesus: the non-mathematical certainty, but even stronger, interior, of having met the Source of Life, the life itself made flesh, visible and tangible in the midst of us." see https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/belief-in-christ-cannot-be-reduced-to-a-formula-pope-francis-says-95860 Of course, there are a great many Catholics who would agree with the ACOG view of theology (the truth vs. error aspect, not the particulars).

Who is correct? For Christians, should our pursuit be one of mathematical certainty or one of reinforcing our conviction that Jesus is the Way to Life? And, Is the pursuit of absolutes even reconcilable with a Faith-based approach? Hasn't the pursuit of mathematical precision only led to confusion, embarrassment and disillusion? And, doesn't certainty short circuit our study of God and religious beliefs? What do you think?

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Nature of Reality and A New Theory of Everything

Scientific American has published an article on Dissociative Identity Disorder that should be of interest to everyone who has ever thought about the nature of the life (and world) that we currently enjoy. Bernardo Kastrup, Adam Crabtree and Edward Kelly wrote the article together, and it is based on some of their observations regarding the research of others. You can read the entire article for yourself here: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/could-multiple-personality-disorder-explain-life-the-universe-and-everything/

The article was of particular interest to this blogger in relation to past posts that have appeared here. Indeed, regular readers of this blog will recall that I have discussed the possibility that our individual minds/consciousness could be small parts of the mind/consciousness of God. Stated another way, we could say that EVERYTHING (including us) exists within the mind of God. And, of course, such a theory would have profound implications for the very nature of reality itself.

Kastrup, Crabtree and Kelly provide a sequential and easy to understand framework for the philosophical tree that underpins their article. With this background in place, they are in a position to make their point. They write: "So, for idealism to be tenable, one must explain—at least in principle—how one universal consciousness gives rise to multiple, private but concurrently conscious centers of cognition, each with a distinct personality and sense of identity.
And here is where dissociation comes in. We know empirically from DID that consciousness can give rise to many operationally distinct centers of concurrent experience, each with its own personality and sense of identity. Therefore, if something analogous to DID happens at a universal level, the one universal consciousness could, as a result, give rise to many alters with private inner lives like yours and ours. As such, we may all be alters—dissociated personalities—of universal consciousness."
They conclude: "Idealism is a tantalizing view of the nature of reality, in that it elegantly circumvents two arguably insoluble problems: the hard problem of consciousness and the combination problem. Insofar as dissociation offers a path to explaining how, under idealism, one universal consciousness can become many individual minds, we may now have at our disposal an unprecedentedly coherent and empirically grounded way of making sense of life, the universe and everything."

Was the Eighteenth Century philosopher George Berkeley right after all? Could this help to explain the mathematical universe that Max Tegmark has so eloquently written about? Doesn't the ability to imagine such things at the very least make them a possibility? A world/universe within a single mind - is that possible? (think JRR Tolkien and George RR Martin) What do you think?

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Seeing Yourself in Scripture

While we would all do well to learn from the life examples recorded in Scripture, we should all resist the temptation to see ourselves in prophecy! To be sure, there are lessons that are relevant and applicable to our lives from the stories of folks like Adam, Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Job, David, Peter and Paul. Nevertheless, the alarm bells should be deafening for any of us who would attempt to insert him/herself into Biblical prophecy, or for anyone who might feel self-important enough to interpret some passage as applying to them personally!

Unfortunately, this very thing happened many years ago to a man named Herbert W. Armstrong, and it appears to be an affliction that he has shared with his would be successors. Over at Banned by HWA, there was a recent post about a new booklet by Mr. Gerald Flurry of the Philadelphia Church of God. You can view the article here: http://armstrongismlibrary.blogspot.com/2018/06/pcg-gerald-flurry-will-soon-be-sitting.html (there is a link there to the booklet). The article and the booklet make plain Mr. Flurry believes that "King Gerald will soon be sitting upon that throne <King David's> passing out judgment and hastening righteousness."

Clearly, Mr. Flurry is delusional, and anyone who accepts his interpretation is even worse off than he is! I hereby prophesy that the only throne that Gerald Flurry will be occupying anytime soon is one of porcelain construction. Moreover, I am also certain that he will need a roll of Charmin because what he is going to be passing out on that throne will likely require copious amounts of t.p. to clean it up! What do you think?

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Christians and Counterpunching

"When someone attacks me, I always attack back...except 100x more. This has nothing to do with a tirade but rather, a way of life!" --Donald J. Trump

"But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." --Jesus Christ

"Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord." --The Apostle Paul

Friday, June 1, 2018

SHOULD CHRISTIANS BE EATING LUCKY CHARMS?*

In answering this important question, we must first address the fact that we are talking about “LUCKY” Charms. Notice what Verse By Verse Ministry has to say about Christians employing the notion of luck: “From an earthly perspective, things may seem to happen at random, but throughout the whole of Scripture, it is clear God is in control of all His creation and is able to take the random acts of natural law, the free will of both good and evil people and the wicked intent of demons and combine them all to accomplish His good and perfect will (Genesis 50:20; Job chapters 1 and 42; John 9:1-7). Christians, specifically, are given the promise that God works all things, whether seemingly good or bad, together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).” They go on to “recommend a Christian not use the phrase ‘good luck.’”https://www.versebyverseministry.org/bible-answers/should-a-christian-use-the-phrase-good-luck

The folks at Compelling Truth remind us that “The word "luck" does not appear in the Bible.” They go on to inform us that “Eastern religions in particular believe luck can be somewhat controlled by superstitious actions. Religious rites are performed (like rubbing the stomach of a Buddha statue or lighting incense) to induce supernatural powers to change the fortune of an adherent.” Continuing, they underscore the fact that “What the Bible categorically condemns is the use of superstition to gain the favor of God or any deity to bring fortunate results. Religious rites to draw luck from a pagan god are useless, as pagan gods don't exist and, therefore, can't act on behalf of anyone. And God so hates being manipulated by worship practices that He'd rather we abandon those traditions He put into place and worship Him from the heart than obey Him for the sole purpose of gaining favor (Amos 5:21-24).” https://www.compellingtruth.org/luck.html

Hence, it should be clear that Christians should not be involved with anything that relies on the pagan notion of luck. Likewise, it should be noted that a typical box of Lucky Charms is literally full of little marshmallows that take the form of PAGAN symbols! We have hearts, stars, horseshoes, clovers, blue moons, UNICORNS, rainbows and red balloons in each box of cereal. Do we, as Christians, really want to be eating these pagan symbols? Do we want to expose our young children to these symbols?

And let’s not forget that this cereal isn’t just tasty – it’s “magically delicious!” In fact, if we go to the cereal’s own website, we are told that consuming it could be “The Most Magical Part of the Day!” The manufacturer goes on to tell us: “All you need is some extra magic to start your day off right. And lucky for you: Lucky Charms marshmallow charms are pretty magical.” https://www.luckycharms.com/

What does the Bible have to say about magic and those who practice it? In the book of Acts, we read about a man named Simon “who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria” (Acts 8:9). We are further informed that this Simon “saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles' hands,” and that he offered them money to share their power with him! (Acts 8:18-19) Peter, however, rebuked the man and told him to repent of his sin! (Acts 8:20-21) We are also reminded of the fact that Moses had to face Pharaoh’s sorcerers and magicians in fulfilling his God-given commission to free the Israelites (see Exodus 7). In fact, sorcerers and magicians are portrayed throughout the Bible as being antithetical to God and His religion. Indeed, we are told twice in the book of Revelation that they will have no part in God’s Kingdom! (Revelation 21:8 and 22:15)

It should also be noted that the cereal is promoted by a leprechaun! Indeed, an image of the magical creature adorns the very box that contains the cereal! LIVESCIENCE informs us that “Leprechauns are a type of fairy, though it's important to note that the fairies of Irish folklore were not cute Disneyfied pixies; they could be lustful, nasty, capricious creatures whose magic might delight you one day and kill you the next if you displeased them.” https://www.livescience.com/37626-leprechauns.html Do you want your children exposed to such pagan rubbish?

Remember, God’s Word tells us “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deuteronomy 4:2) Remember too, that God instructed the Israelites: “When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.” (Deuteronomy 18:9) And, finally, Christ reminded his followers about something that Isaiah had said about the people of his day: “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9)

Do we want to satisfy the lust of our eyes and bellies or follow the will of God? Do we want to pollute our temples with a highly sugared cereal (one 36 gram serving contains 30 grams of carbohydrates, most of which is sugar!) or do we want to eat healthy foods without any taint of paganism? For TRUE Christians, the answers to these questions should be obvious. Christians should NOT be eating Lucky Charms!

*This post was intended as satirical commentary on Herbert Armstrong's reasoning surrounding Christian avoidance of things with pagan origins. This Christian blogger enjoys a bowl of Lucky Charms every now and then (and even shares a bowl with his grandchildren on occasion)!