4/02/2016

The Morally Superior Atheist

I have made much of the argument for Christianity’s truth based on the moral argument.  The basic idea of the moral argument is that atheism has no basing for objective morality; there is no reason for an atheist to be moral given their way of thinking about the world.

This form of argumentation is often miss-characterized by those in the vocal atheist movement.  They say we are accusing them of being amoral, evil people who do not live lives that meet a high standard of right and wrong.  Some web sites ever accuse us of saying atheists eat babies because they are so immoral.  This is a fundamental misunderstanding of the argument. 

In fact, the argument only works if most atheists are outwardly morally outstanding people.  The idea is that a morally superior atheist has no objective basis for the moral life he or she is living.  They are borrowing a set of moral absolutes from another worldview, unusually Christianity itself.  A person only borrows a concept that he or she knows to be true at some level.

The atheist who is a fine, upstanding, and moral person proves by their very life that the atheist view of the world is inadequate.  A better way to see the world is to admit there are moral absolutes established by a loving creator God.  This is the only way to provide and intellectually tenable moral system (For a defense of that position by a professional defender of the Christian faith, see this book.).


12/24/2015

A Christmas Hymn for 2015

In keeping with a Christmas tradition of mine, I wanted to share one of my favorite hymns, sung at a recent church service I attended.  I will also take the time to explain some of the lyrics.  

The song I have chosen this year is “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence,” a solid performance of which can be found here.  This song takes much of its imagery from Isaiah Chapter 6 and Revelation Chapter 5 and Chapter 19.  The hymn was probably written in 275 A. D.

The first verse says:

Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
Ponder nothing earthly minded,
For with blessing in His hand,
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
Our full homage to demand.

These verses from John Chapter One come to mind: 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth…from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.  For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. (John 1, ESV)

The Gospel of John was written in about 90 A. D., well within the generation of the earliest disciples of Christ.  This imminently reliable gospel begins with the startling fact that Jesus was the Divine Son of God, the very Deity in human flesh.  Jesus was what D. James Kennedy used to call “The Eternal God-Man,” a man distinct from God in person, yet one in essence with Him.  How could we not be in awe of the fact that the glory of God was revealed in the Person of Christ? 

Should we not say, with the prophet Habakkuk, ”But the Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him" (Habakkuk2:20, ESV)?  Should we not shout from the roof tops, “Be silent, all flesh, before the Lord, for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling” (Zechariah 2:13, ESV)?


Followed by:
King of kings, Yet born of Mary,
As of old on earth He stood,
Lord of lords, In human vesture,
In the body and the blood;
He will give to all the faithful.
His own self for heavenly food.

Our Lord’s deity is again praised using phrases said of Jesus from Revelation 19:16: ”On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” The vision switches briefly from the lowly Christ, born in a manger, to the exhausted Christ coming to earth in his glory to judge the nations.

Christ’s words from Luke 22:19-20 are then referenced: “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Christ gives his life as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of his people, and the “heavenly food” of The Lord’s Supper strengthens them for the long journey through this life to heaven to come.

Verse three:
Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
As the Light of light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
That the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.

In another allusion to Revelation Chapter 19, we hear of the risen and ascended Christ coming to earth to judge the world.  As Christ himself said, “For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27, ESV).  This coming judgment should compel us to reach for God’s mercy to forgive our sins.  This grace and mercy was bought by Christ for all of those who repent of their sins and place their trust in him.


Verse four:
At His feet the six-winged seraph,
Cherubim, With sleepless eye,
Veil their faces to His presence
as with ceaseless voice they cry:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Lord Most High!

The imagery progresses to the heavenly vision seen by the prophet Isaiah in Chapter Six of the book that bears his name: “Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”” (Isaiah6:2-3, ESV).  We are transported through the vision of the prophet into the very throne room of God Almighty to see Christ at his most glorious.  We praise him with the seraphim, specially created angels of God who are specially equipped to fly in God’s direct presence.  We sound our “Hallelujahs” to “The Lord Most High.”  We praise him, not just for what he has done, but for who he is: the Lord God Almighty.


This humble blog post only begins to ‘scratch the surface’ of the wondrous message of “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence.” May the God of all grace bend our knees and humble our hearts before the risen Christ this Christmas season.


11/06/2015

Operation Christmas Child National Collection Week: November 16-23, 2015

It's that time of year again.  Time to participate in the world’s largest Christmas project of its kind: Operation Christmas Child. The annual Samaritan’s Purse project is a favorite of many families, churches and groups.  They spread joy to millions of children around the world by filling shoeboxes with a “Wow!” item—like a doll or soccer ball—other fun toys, school supplies, hygiene items and notes of encouragement.

I had the great privilege of going to Lima, Peru, in 2008 to help hand out some of those shoeboxes to children in need through local churches.  To read my story, follow this link and read several posts from my trip.  It was an unforgettable experience.

Operation Christmas Child is a project of Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief and evangelism organization headed by Franklin Graham. Since 1993, Operation Christmas Child has delivered gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 124 million children in more than 150 countries and territories. For many of these children, a gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received.  You would not believe the places these shoeboxes can be delivered for just $7 per box!


With a computer or mobile device, you can conveniently pack a personalized Operation Christmas Child shoebox gift on the Samaritan’s Purse website at samaritanspurse.org/occ.  You can even select toys and gift items, write a note of encouragement and “pack” them in a shoebox online. Using special tracking technology, we can follow our boxes to discover where in the world our gifts are delivered by using the donation form found at samaritanspurse.org/occ. These gifts of hope will go to children in some of the hardest-to-reach countries, and they are distributed through local churches so life-changing connections can be made with the body of Christ. 

Drop-off locations can be found at this link.

You can volunteer for year-round positions at this link.  It's a very rewarding experience.

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