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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chick-fil-a, Marriage, and an Open Letter From a Traditional Marriage Supporter.

"The diversity crowd has two fundamental tenets: the first is that they have an absolute commitment to free speech and second tenet is 'shut up'" - Pastor Douglas Wilson.


If you've been keeping up with what's current in the American culture war arena, then you've undoubtedly heard something about the controversy surrounding America's tenth most popular fast food chain, Chick-fil-a.

You may ask what is the cause of all the uproar surrounding the chicken chain, an uproar that has resulted in personal and corporate boycotts of the chain, charges of "hate", "bigotry", and "homophobia", as well as potential Chick-fil-a restaurants potentially being barred from cities like Boston and Chicago.

Well, look no further than CFA president and professing Christian Dan Cathy.

In speaking to the "Baptist Press", Cathy had this to say:

 "We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit. We are a family-owned business, a family-led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that. We operate as a family business ... our restaurants are typically led by families; some are single. We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that"
Hardly controversial or surprising given CFA's history of espousing biblical values.

However, what really got people's blood boiling was Cathy's statements on the Ken Coleman radio show:

Then all hell broke loose.

The Jim Henson company (Jim Henson being the creator of the "Muppets") has now ended it's partnership with the chain citing its CEO's "strong [support]" for "gay marriage" as the reason.

The company had previously provided toys for CFA's kids meals.

In addition, the Democratic mayor of Boston, Thomas Menino, has made public statements akin to declaring an (un)holy war against the restaurant chain.

Mayor Menino told the following to the Boston Herald:

  Chick-fil-A doesn’t belong in Boston. You can’t have a business in the city of Boston that discriminates against a population. We’re an open city, we’re a city that’s at the forefront of inclusion. 
"That’s the Freedom Trail. That’s where it all started right here. And we’re not going to have a company, Chick-fil-A or whatever the hell the name is, on our Freedom Trail.
“If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies." (emphasis mine)


And in my state of Illinois, former White House Chief of Staff and current Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel opined to the "Chicago Tribune":

"Chick-fil-A values are not Chicago values. They disrespect our fellow neighbors and residents. This would be a bad investment, since it would be empty".

Furthermore, in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood the Alderman Joe Moreno has vowed to to use his special political privilege (aldermanic privilege) to stop the chain from opening on his neighborhood, saying:

"It's a very diverse ward-- economically, racially, and diverse in sexual orientation." We've got thriving businesses and we want more but at the very least don't discriminate against our LGBTQ folks."

Mr. Moreno did not comment on how exactly Chik-fil-a was discriminating against anyone.

 However, it didn't stop their, many celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon against Dan Cathy and Chik-fil-a.

Grant Gustin, who who plays the openly homosexual "Sebastian Smythe" on the hit TV show Glee tweeted:

  "I'm officially done with Chick-fil-A. Your food is not good enough to take from a bunch of ass holes".

Also, Roseanne Barr of the former "Roseanne Show" tweeted: 

“Anyone who eats S**t fil A deserves to get the cancer that is sure to come from eating antibiotic filled tortured chickens 4 Christ,”

Other celebrity critics include, Jon Stewart and Ed Helms of the "The Office".
Remember that all of this is the result of CFA president Dan Cathy saying that he believes God should define marriage, not man, and because CFA supports oraganizations who believe the same.

It is for this reason and others I have composed this open letter:

    Dear Celebrity, Politician, Lawmaker, Neighbor and Friend who thinks myself and people like me are "bigoted", "homophobic", and [insert pejorative adjective here], because we believe that marriage is between a man and a woman,

You should know that I am not a bigot or an "a**hole", nor are my Bible believing friends and family members.

  We live in your political districts, watch you in your movies, babysit your kids, help you at the grocery store, and sit by you at work.

  We love people and while we don't always show it like we should, we don't go out of our way to see people hurt.

  We understand that nothing is more important than loving and serving God, even when our faith puts us at odds with the people we love.

  We believe in marriage as the sacred union of a man and woman not because we hate those different than us, or wish to see people hurt or discriminated against, but because God has ordained marriage to be the sacred union of a man and woman.

  We believe that while other types of relationships may carry certain benefits, marriage is inherently a man-woman union, and to treat different things differently is not discrimination, but common sense.

  We care for our fellow citizens who disagree with us and who may be hurt by our beliefs, but out of love for God, the truth, and our fellow man, we cannot and will not compromise our commitment to the truth about sexual ethics and marriage.

 We also support the rights of an organization to expand and thrive even if it's leaders have beliefs that contradict popular opinion.

  We are committed to pray for you even though you may despise us and it is our hope that you may come to understand our point of view just as we try to understand yours.

          In the love of Christ....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

More Thoughts On the Failure of Atheism

Yesterday, I wrote a post about how the "new atheists" in America are failing miserably at being atheists because they refuse to accept the logical and philosophical consequences of their world view when it comes to the issue of morality.

Rather than accept the moral nihilism bestowed them by their atheism they instead espouse moral objectivism, despite the fact that such a position cannot be rationally affirmed on a world view that does not accept the existence of God. 

You can see that post here.

While doing some research for my post yesterday, I came across a short three paragraph blog post that perfectly summed up my charge against the "new atheism" concerning this matter. 

The author of the post is James Kirk Wall an atheist, blogger, and author of the book "Agnosticism: The Battle Against Shameless Ignorance".

I'd like to offer some thoughts concerning his blog post which is titled "Colorado Movie Theatre Massacre: An Atheist Perspective".

Before I do let me say very clearly that I applaud James Kirk Wall for trying to offer a coherent and consoling secular perspective concerning the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.

In fact, I wouldn't have even bothered with it if not for the fact that he shamelessly uses this horrific event as an excuse to make cheap-shots at theism.

This unblinking manipulation of a tragedy in order to attack believers in God deserves to be rebutted, especially when Wall's post so clearly exemplifies the inadequacy of toady's "new atheism" to stand on it's own two feet.  

Well here we go:

It only takes Wall the second sentence of his post to make a claim that can in no way be substantiated on atheism, saying, "It's not fair what happened".

Fairness has no meaning when applied to highly evolved animals whose each and every action is determined by natural causes.


On atheism, what happened in Colorado was the result of nature's blind controlling influence on a random creature, whether one likes this conclusion or not.

So while I agree with Wall that the shooter is a "heartless psychopath", what, on his atheism, is the difference between this psychopath and the brave men who died shielding their girlfriends from gunfire, besides the fact that nature caused the shooter to "fizz" one way and the brave man to "fizz" another way?

I know these things are hard to hear, but on atheism this is the reality of the situation, whether atheists want to admit it or not.

Also, on atheism, how do we hold people morally accountable for actions they themselves are not in control of?

However, it is in his second paragraph that Wall launches into his attack on theism:

"Atheists have no comforting lies to help deal with grief. We reject any notions of the spirit world, rebirth, resurrection or heaven to make believe death is not the end. We accept the cold realities of life being fragile and temporary. We also reject any notion that ruthless killers will go to heaven if they simply repent and accept religion before they die. We reject any warped morality that places brainless obedience over individual responsibility".

My point isn't to go on a rabbit trail and address Wall's unwarranted attacks on theistic dogma or misrepresentations thereof, but to challenge the idea that his brand of atheism offers "no comforting lies to help deal with grief".

In his post Wall says things like, we should live "good lives" and "value our lives and the lives of others", human life is a "sacred resource", and that the U.S is "infested with violence, corruption and greed".


But here is the point that Wall doesn't get: not a single word of the above--not a single word of it-- makes any sense on his atheism.

On atheism, we humans have no meaning, or compulsion to live "good" lives because their is neither "good", nor moral compulsion. 

And for him to say that our lives are a "sacred resource" or to make any judgement about so-called "corruption" is completely unjustified on an atheistic platform, because humans have no worth and "corruption" is in the eye of the beholder.

Again, atheism is damned by logic and philosophy.

If the reader doesn't take anything else away from this post let it be that Wall's article is not an "atheist perspective" and that America has not seen consistent atheism in a long time.

The minute atheists start going around telling the America public at large that humans have no worth, there is no good or evil, and that people can't be held accountable for any crime they commit, the spread of atheism will be retarded in our country.


Because Americans, and people in general, understand that these sentiments simply aren't true.

I don't need empirical proof to tell me that anyone who would shoot a six year old girl point blank in a movie theatre is evil (that is what moral intuition is for).

Before I close, I want to put forth some questions Christians can ask our atheist friends and family members to help them to evaluate whether or not they are living out their atheism consistently:

1. What is the source of your moral values?
a. If they come from yourself, how can you condemn the actions of the murderer and rapist who simply acts on a different set of moral values?
 b. If from nature, aren't your moral values subjective and therefore not binding, since nature changes and the evolution of human beings could have produced a different set of creatures with a different moral intuition?

2. What compels you to do good acts?

 a. if something other than an objective source what makes that compulsion any more real than the god you don't believe exists?
 b. if something like the "good of mankind" or the "flourishing of sentient life", what makes these things good and why, even if they are good, are we compelled to do them?

In closing, it is my hope that when atheists (including James Kirk Wall) see that their world view simply does not allow for objective good or evil, and genuine human value they will begin to look for a world view that does.

This can only happen as long as we Christians don't let the implicit moral assumptions of our atheist friends go unchallenged, but rather give them something to think about and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.    

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Failure of Atheism: How the "New Atheists" Stink At Being Atheists On the Issue of Morality

I often peruse atheist blogs and webpages in an attempt to stay on top of what's current in the anti-God scene in America and to remind myself of the grave challenge confronting American Christians who are facing an onslaught of secular thought from a small but vocal minority in our country.

In reading material from the so-called "new atheists" and other related secularists, I have been puzzled, to say the least, at what appears to be the abject inability on the part of these atheists to consistently live out the philosophical and logical consequences of their world view when it comes to the issue of morality.

Namely, the "new atheists" and their cohorts are constantly pontificating about the moral ills caused by religion and the need for social justice (of a secular variety, I assume), despite the complete inability of the the atheist world view to ground the objective moral values and duties the Christian theist and the "new atheist" both affirm.

While much can (and will) be said about this, before I go on I want to define a key term and lay the foundation for why the God of theism provides a sufficient foundation or ground for objective moral values and duties.

First a terminology clarification:

~ objectivity ~ wholly binding apart from human opinion/will ( ie: if all humanity thought elective abortion was morally permissible, abortion would still be morally impermissible).

Objective moral values and duties are binding regardless of what people believe, don't believe, or want to believe about them or anything else.

Because God, by definition, is the greatest conceivable being and therefore the greatest good, the Christian theist has an eternal and objective standard for moral values.

In addition, because of God's absolute and innate goodness His commands are therefore a necessary reflection of His goodness, meaning we have an objective standard for moral duties as well.    

These two facts are true whether the God of our faith exists or not (p.s: He does exist).

Now let's go back to atheism, which by definition precludes the existence of God.

From where do the "new atheists" derive their ground for objective moral values and duties in the absence of God?

On atheism, we are accidental organisms on a tiny planet in an unfathomably huge universe who have evolved to our present state recently through undirected random processes.

With this in mind, our sense of moral values and duties is simply the leftovers of purposeless socio-biological conditioning that has resulted in a "herd morality" natural selection has deemed advantageous for our survival.

On this view, our "moral" sense is no more objective than our sense of taste or smell.

The point of this post is not to argue that this naturalistic view of man is wrong (though it is), but that on this view moral values and duties are in no way objective.

(In)Famous Atheists such as Soren Kirekegaard and Friedrich Neitzsche and others understood this. 

However, people like Hemant Mehta, atheist activist and chair of the "Foundation Beyond Belief", when writing on his blog calls the Boy Scouts of America "bigots" and says that they do not "deserve [his reader's] support" and encourages people not to support a "discriminatory organization".

All of this following the the BSA decision to affirm it's policy barring openly homosexual Scouts and Scoutmasters from their private organization.

I would ask Hemant why a "bigoted" and "discriminatory" anything is not deserving of support?

Certainly not because bigotry and discrimination are wrong, right?

If so, on what basis should we conclude that such things and are wrong and even if they are wrong, who or what compels us to not support or engage in them?

Surely, Hemant does not think that "is" implies "ought".  

How many times have you as a Christian been confronted with or heard from un-believing skeptics that certain biblical commands and positions are "immoral", "evil", "homophobic", misogynistic", "hateful", "bigoted", and on and on it goes.

When atheists make statements like these they are saying implicitly that there are actually good things (tolerance, inclusiveness) and actually evil things (homophobia, bigotry) and that we should do the good things and that we should not do the bad things.

These moral assumptions made in complete denial fact that the atheistic worldview can give absolutely no basis for the very existence of objective good and evil, much less an imperative to do or not do such good and evil acts.

The atheist really wants to have his cake and eat it too.

To show that this inherent contradiction is present in even the highest ranks of the "new atheist" movement, look no further than biologist, secular provacateur, and leading spokeman for the "new atheist" movement Richard Dawkins:

'We are machines built by DNA whose purpose is to make more copies of the same DNA...This is exactly what we are for. We are machines  for propagating DNA and the propagation of DNA is a self-sustaining process. It is every living object's sole reason for living'.

I (Eric) like Dawkin's use of the term "machine" because on atheism there is no free-will, but our actions are completely determined by natural processes.

Like a leaf floating down a river.

On this view there can be no objective moral values and duties because ought implies can and a person who commits an "immoral" act, on atheism cannot do any different because nature determined that he do the act.

However, Dr. Dawkins does not allow himself to be deterred by logic and philosophy and continues to make statements like:

"It would be deeply depressing if the only way children could get moral values was from religion. 

Either from scripture, and God knows we don't want them to get it from scripture, I mean, just look at scripture.

 Or, from being afraid of God, being intimidated by God. Anybody who is good for only those two reasons is not really being good at all. 

Why not teach children things like the Golden Rule, do as you would be done by, how would you like it if other children did that to you, so why do you do it to them... I think it's depressing that anybody should suggest that you actually need God in order to be moral. 

I would hope that our morals come from a better source than that, and therefore they are genuinely moral rather than based on outmoded scripture, or based on fear". (2009, BBC interview) 

This statement is bursting at the seams with moral judgements, admonishments, assumptions, and criticisms.

Excuse me, but what does a "self-propagating DNA machine" care about any of this? 

Let's face facts: in order to be a consistent atheist in the realm of morality, one must be a moral nihilist.

No moral values.

No moral duties.

No evil.

No good.

Just random activity determined by nature.

Besides good old fashioned intellectual dishonesty, why do the "new atheists" refuse the moral nihilism bestowed to them on account of their world view?

I believe there is one reason the "new atheists" refuse to accept the logical connotations of atheism: the moral law that God has written on their hearts.

In other words, these atheists know in their heart of hearts that to rape and murder a little girl for the heck of it is truly evil and that to give of yourself and to love others and treat them with dignity and respect is truly good, because God has revealed it to them.

And they will continue to believe this even though it refutes atheism. 


So they are caught between their rejection of God and their insistence on affirming objective moral values and duties.

"(Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law.  They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.)" Romans 2:14-15

With their words the "new atheists" emphatically say 'No God!', but with their actions they say the exact opposite, and Christians ought to confront our atheist friends and family members gently and lovingly with this truth, showing them that the God they refuse to acknowledge is the One who gives life and meaning to their view of morality.

 More thoughts on this to come.

Friday, July 20, 2012

When Death Strikes: Truth In the Midst of the Colorado Calamity

 Fourteen people are dead and many, many more injured in Aurora, Colorado in what makes the fifth mass shooting by an American on U.S soil in thirteen years:

 - gunman kills seven at Oikos University in Oakland, California.
 -  six dead in from gunfire in the Tucson, Arizona massacre that injured congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
 -   extremist kills twelve at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas.
- thirty-two dead from gunfire on the Virginia Tech campus.
In reality these are only a few of the incidents of mass violence in recent memory.

 As Christians we watch such horror unfold, looking on helplessly, wondering what we can do in the midst of such tragedy, and asking what was God's purpose in allowing such evil to transpire.

Thankfully, God is not silent on the issue of suffering, evil, choice, and our final hope, so we would be remiss to neglect the word of God when tragedy strikes.

 I'd like to put forth three basic principles found in Scripture that help us to better understand our faith when confronted with evil and to better communicate words of truthful healing to a death-riddled world like ours.

 Man is Free and God is Good

Though the word "free-will" is not used in the Bible it is clearly a biblical concept.

 D.A Carson, a New Testament professor and theologian, puts forth nine different types of biblical texts that can be used as evidence for libertarian free will:

(1) People face a multitude of divine exhortations and commands. 
(2) People are said to obey, believe, and choose God. 
(3) People sin and rebel against God. 
(4) People’s sins are judged by God. 
(5) People are tested by God. 
(6) People receive divine rewards. 
(7) The elect are responsible to respond to God’s initiative. 
(8) Prayers are not mere showpieces scripted by God. 
(9) God literally pleads with sinners to repent and be saved (Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility: Biblical Perspectives in Tension, pp. 18-22)

 If not understood in context with genuine free-will, these biblical facts turn the Bible into a show with God as the one and only actor!

However, we can draw from the biblical concept of free-will that God is not the ultimate cause and determiner of everything. 

While time and space (and limited education!) does not allow me to go through every passage of Scripture in the free-will/determination debate, I believe for the nine reasons listed above, we are justified in holding that God is not the ultimate cause of man's actions, including his evil.

Are we to suppose that our holy and pure God, who cannot even look on evil with favor (Hab. 1:13), would determine or desire that a madman murder a group of movie goers?   

It is illogical nonsense to suppose that our God who hates sin, causes people to sin, and then punishes them for the sin that he caused them to commit.   

Instead in Scripture we see that "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

This is not to say that God is soft on sin or never enacts divine judgement, but that he is patient, not a hot-head, but a God who truly loves His people and, out of His love, stays his hand of judgement for our sake (Jonah 4:2, Ezekiel 18:32).

Death Is Not The End

Death was never part of God's plan for mankind, but came as a result of man's sinfulness (John 10:10, Genesis 2:17).

From that fateful day in the Garden to the shooting today, death has wracked our world and will continue to do so until the Lord reigns on the earth in all of His glory.

But take heart because that day is coming!

 But for now we can comfort our friends and family with the message that Jesus Christ has conquered sin and death and lives today with the promise to save all those who come to Him (Matthew 11:28-30, Revelation 22:17)!

Death does not need to be the end, so please take the time to share the good news of God's salvation so that one day we can all say with Paul, "Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" (I Corinthians 15:55).


Friday, July 13, 2012

Bible Bowl and Lessons Learned

Note: Musings is not meant to be personal blog, per say, but it is my hope that this testimony would have broader implications for those who might be of the same mind as me or are facing similar circumstances:

Just a couple days ago, one of the most intimate aspects of my personal life came to a sudden halt as I completed a very involved 4 year Bible Bowl career.

After the National Tournament I experienced a tremendous low, one not even worthy of such a great game such as Bible Bowl.

I didn't take me long to realize that I, to my shame, had unknowingly been judging the overall success of my Bible Bowl career solely by trophies and scholarships (for however long I don't know), so that when I played my last Nationals and left empty-handed, I felt crippled inside. 

However, I now believe strongly that coming away from Nationals without a single accolade was a blessed gift from God. 

A gift which, in my sinfulness, I never could have really appreciated if not for the Holy Spirit in me.

I'll explain:

I struggle with pride and, as is often the case with the prideful, insecurity. 

"Am I good enough?" 

"Do I really measure up?" 

Winning ANYTHING--and I mean anything--could have satisfied my pride enough for me to rest on my laurels and define my self worth by a prize, rather than in my Saviour, until that temporary fix dried up and I had to look for something else.

I truly believe I experienced a divine humbling and a clear message from God telling me that I MUST learn to trust in Him completely, believing that if I find myself in Him and only in Him that will be enough. 

And just understanding this frees me appreciate the vast number of blessings that have come from my four years in Bible Bowl.

Through Bible Bowl I have met people young old and visited places near and far where the presence of God has consumed and strengthened me, and I know that I will never be the same. 

And, of course, it is my prayer that He used me to help strengthen other as well. 

In summation, I'd like to end with some of my favorite verses from some of the texts I've memorized through Bible Bowl:

            1 Kings 18

     (21.)  Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.

(36.)  At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”
(38.)  Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.
(39.)  When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The Lord—he is God! The Lord—he is God!”

       Jonah 2

6. To the roots of the mountains I sank down;
    the earth beneath barred me in forever.
But you brought my life up from the pit,
    O Lord my God.

7. “When my life was ebbing away,
    I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
    to your holy temple.

8 .“Those who cling to worthless idols
    forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
9. But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
    will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
    Salvation comes from the Lord.”

2 Corinthians: 1

 3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

        Chapter 3

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

    Genesis 9

21. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though[a] every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22. “As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

               Matthew 11

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

I praise God for the time I had in Bible Bowl and am excited to see how he will continue to use the game to glorify Him and bring believers into greater communion with His Word and, consequently, with Him.