A Response

This is my response to this post.

Wow. A lot here. Way too much for me interact with all of it. I will deal with two aspects however:

  1. God’s glory in creation, and
  2. God’s freedom in creation

God’s Glory in Creation
God—omnipotent, omniscient, perfect in every way—created to display his own glory and worth in creation[period]. This means he gets glory from every aspect of creation, including sin. Jesus was not a divine plan b. He was Plan A, all things were created through him and for him. This is precisely the pinnacle of God’s glory in creation—the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was the sole purpose of creation, for God to display the riches of his grace in the redemption of his people through Jesus Christ.

I would credit God with demanding glory, or as you put it, being narcissistic. He is the only being worthy of the honor to demand glory. Why? Because he created everything. Does not the potter have right over the lump of clay? Not only that, he’s perfect. I’m not arguing for some conception of a being, the “greatest conceivable being.” I’m saying that the Creator of heaven and earth is absolutely perfect, and has the right to demand total allegiance and worship. Creation is all about God.

Every other reason you proposed as a potential reason for God creating boiled down to man as the chief end of God’s purpose. This is to be denied at every turn. It is patently humanistic in every sense of the word, which really doesn’t surprise me. Our natural inclination is to think that the universe revolves around us—was created for us. We were created for his glory, which brings me to my second point.

God’s Freedom in Creation
His omniscience is complete, but not only does he know everything, he knowingly foreordains everything that comes to pass. I alluded to this above. There is nothing outside of the sovereign reach of God. You see, I wouldn’t ascribe to God the same nonchalance and passivity in his creation that you do. Mainly because he doesn’t.

You look at the various problems plaguing humanity and think the historical incidents of brutality and atrocities committed against one another—The Holocaust. Rwanda. The Japanese Rape of Nanjing. Child abuse. Worldwide starvation and extreme poverty. Medieval witch hunts. Hate crimes. Murder. Torture. Terminal illnesses. Extinction events. Ruthless competition.—somehow diminish God’s moral perfection. I look at them and say that man’s appetite for death is unending, and the effects of sin are atrocious.

At this point you may say “hold on, didn’t you just say that God does all that he pleases? How can man be faulted, for who can resist the will of God?” I agree, there is a tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. I won’t pretend to know how to resolve that tension. Suffice it to say that I will not place myself as judge over the Judge. My point is that God is completely free over his creation. I’m ok with that, his ways truly are higher than ours. This is far from a mental safe zone. In fact, it’s a very large chunk of truth to swallow.

When you suggest what type of world might have been “more moral” for God to create, I simply ask you what makes you think that God is subject to your fallen notion of fairness.

But to help you get a grasp of man’s responsibility I’ll return to your discussion of man’s “free” will. You left out one important aspect of man’s will, namely, that it is not free at all. Our will is enslaved to sin. We gave our allegiance to the enemy, and when we did we sold ourselves into slavery.

Therefore, everything we get that isn’t death is a grace, totally undeserved. We have no right to demand anything from God, especially a suffering-free life. All we deserve is suffering, for we are traitors, guilty of treason. We are utterly dependent upon God to rescue us from our rebellious will. Otherwise, we have no hope, for we will rebel against our Creator until we return to dust.

Conclusion
I suppose though, that I’ve written all of this for nothing anyway, because I haven’t given you proof of this God. Well to that I say that I’m sorry, I have no proof. I can’t stand with William Lane Craig and give you a “more probable god.” For me, the very fact that we are having this conversation is proof that there is a Designer. Contrary to your belief, I would say that the burden of proof is upon your shoulders. You should have to tell me why you know anything, if knowledge was not given to you.

No amount of evidence I would give to you would ever be enough to overcome the burden of proof you suppose. I would always lack sufficient evidence. You have the created order in front of you, yet you have the audacity to claim that there is no good evidence that God exists. I’m sorry, but like I said before, I will not place myself in the position to judge God, I don’t have that right. There is no neutral ground between us, for God created all of it.

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The Kingdom of Heaven Is At Hand

Directed Panspermia” is the theory that life may have been sent here by a spaceship from a distant planet. This theory has been suggested by a Nobel Prize winner. Of it, Wayne Grudem, in his Systematic Theology, notes:

It seems ironic that brilliant scientists could advocate so fantastic a theory without one shred of evidence in its favor, all the while rejecting the straightforward explanation given by the one book in the history of the world that has never been proven wrong, that has changed the lives of millions of people, that has been believed completely by many of the most intelligent scholars of every generation, and that has been a greater force for good than any other book in the history of the world. Why will otherwise intelligent people commit themselves to beliefs that seem so irrational?

I’ll tell you why—they’re suppressing the knowledge of God, that’s why. Man, in his natural state, is willing to believe anything as long as it doesn’t require him to humble himself before the God of scripture. One day though, the Holy One of Israel will appear. What a day it will be! There will be no more suppression of who he is. Woe to the man that suppresses the knowledge of God now. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.

Do You Believe In Fish?

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If you found a reason to ask me if I believe in God, I’d answer your question with a question—do you believe in fish? You might think it a silly question, but in fact, that’s the point. Why would a person need to believe in fish, they’re right there in the lake. Then I point to those same fish, and say well why would anyone need to believe in God, he’s upholding those fish and the lake by the word of his power. If he quits speaking, they quit existing.

We Are the Reason….. Really?

Now if that doesn’t get you feeling all warm and fuzzy this morning, meh, I don’t know what will. I almost sprouted a goose-bump. Apparently, this Christmas morning we can rejoice, for “we are the reason”! I don’t know about you, but to me, I find that just a bit self-centered. It really does beg a question…

Why did Jesus die for you, Christian? Is it because you were worth dying for? Is it a fact that Jesus dying on a cross for your sins declares your value to God? As we think about these questions, let’s ponder what prompts them. Sometimes, and probably with good intentions, it is asserted to congregations across America that they should not fret because when Jesus died on the cross it was saying that they were worth that much to God, in fact, that we were the reason. They are told that their value to God is so much that he would send his only son to die for there sins, so that they could have a personal relationship with him, should they decide to do so. It sounds good, and it’s a real self-esteem booster. I mean think about it, the Creator of the world thinks I’m to-die-for! But do we attend church to have our self-worth increased? Didn’t a certain character of the scriptures utter the words “he must increase, but I must decrease”? This is what I want to explore in this post.

As a side note before we dig into the word: I am not posting this to destroy your self esteem. My goal is for you to see Christ as your supreme treasure and worth, laying down his life for his sheep, not necessarily because of the worth of the sheep, but for spread of his Glory. Besides, I don’t think you should be esteeming yourself in the first place. Esteem that which is esteem-able, God, then be in awe of His great love for us.

  • To say that Jesus died because we are worth dying for is to make God an idolater. This may hit as strong, offensive words, and they should, for it is an utterly heinous offense to suggest that a sinner could be of equal or more value than the son of God. If Jesus is God (John 1:1, Col 2:9), and God is supremely glorious, then to assign His worth beneath, or less than anyone else’s is idolatry, even for God himself. God seeks his own glory above everything else, for this is the most loving thing he can do for his beloved creatures. John Piper, in his book Desiring God, puts it like this, “He would deny the infinite worth of His own glory. He would imply that there is something more valuable outside Himself. He would commit idolatry.” God cannot assign his worth and his glory to something less than himself. It would make his word untrue. “I am the Lord; that is my name, my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” (Isaiah 42:8) “For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” (Isaiah 48:11) Ephesians 1:5-6 clearly states that we are saved according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which brings me to my next point.
  • To say that Jesus died because we are worth dying for is to rob the Gospel of any and all grace. The bible makes it clear from cover to cover that we are wretched sinners and that it is by grace we have been saved. Isn’t saying that we were worth dying for the same as saying that we deserved salvation. Romans 5 tells us that we were still sinners when Christ died for us, while we were enemies of God. We know that sinners deserve wrath, for we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. There was nothing lovely in us, yet he looked upon our pitiful state, had mercy on us, and overcame our sinful rebellion and resistance, granting us repentance from our sinful inclinations! Praise be to the Holy One of Israel! To say that we were worth it is to say that it was owed to us, and God Almighty is in debt to no one.
  • There is no scriptural basis for making such a statement. None. There are plenty of scriptures that show us that God loves us (Eph. 2:4, Eph. 5:2, Psalm 36:7, Titus 3:4), has mercy on us (Eph. 2:4, Psalm 23:6, Mat. 9:13, 1 Pet. 1:3), and cares for us (Zech. 10:3, Psalm 8:4, 1 Pet. 5:7). I haven’t seen a single scripture that suggests that we deserve any of it.

Don’t take me wrong in all of this, what I’m telling you is not bad news. It is amazingly GOOD NEWS! God saves wretched, undeserving enemies of God: because he wants too! In fact, He has designed it such that this is the way He will receive praise for all eternity. This is jaw-dropping good news! The cross was the ransom paid for your life, not because your life was worth it, but for his glory, according to his purpose, to praise of his glorious grace, and for your joy! We have a reason to rejoice, and that reason is Jesus.

Merry Christmas!

I Hate Open Letters So…


Let’s Call This An Open Invitation

To what, you might ask. Discussion. Not debate. Dialogue. Open, honest discourse. As a Christian, I hear the christian opinion everyday. I read it in blog posts. I hear it in Youtube videos. Naturally, I gravitate to it. In the course of things, I come across other points of view as well, but one thing that I don’t get too much of is communication with everyday, regular, nonbelievers as to why the believe (or don’t believe) the way they do.

I have some very dear friends, and family, whose views are totally opposite of mine. You are my target audience. Or should I say the intended recipients of my invitation. I want to talk to you. I want to know what makes you tick. I am not looking for a debate per se, although debate may occur as a natural consequence. I just want friendly discussion about our differing views of religion, philosophy of life, etc. I am not looking to pick a fight.

Our proposed conversation could take place in a variety of forms, I’ll let you decide. Some options would be:

  • blog posts
  • Facebook notes
  • private email
  • talking on the phone
  • I would say that we could go 15th, 16th century style and take turns publishing books to state our viewpoint, but for the sake of time (and the fact that I’m not smart enough to do that), we’ll use one of the above methods, or another reasonable method of your choice.
  • I’d prefer to stick to a written format, but if talking we must do, then talk we shall.

    I promise not to try and convert you (unless you ask me to 😉 ). I deeply respect each of you that I have in mind, and would not undermine the intelligence I know you all possess. I’m just curious about your position is all. I am firmly established in what I believe, so you would have a hard time converting me as well :).

    In particular, I’m looking for the following positions to discuss: atheists, anti-theists, secular humanists, agnostics, or new agers/ middle eastern philosophy. I know that the members of these groups are usually pretty intelligent, willing to reason. Come, let us reason together.

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    Right now I’m not really focusing on other religions like mormonism or witnesses, although I’d probably be willing to talk, shoot me a line if you feel compelled.

    If any of these are you, and you’re willing to open up about it, and follow things out to logical conclusions, then I ask you to contact me. Feel free to comment below, or contact me privately via jcrappel at gmail dot com. Thanks for reading, and I’m looking forward to talking to you.

    For the Thinkers…

    I pulled this little excerpt from this blog post over at rzim.org. It astonishes me that the people claiming to be thinkers don’t think things through. Ironic, don’t yo think?

    Take, for instance, Hawking’s statement quoted above: “Because there is a law of gravity the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” Clearly, he assumes that gravity (or perhaps only the law of gravity?) exists. That is not nothing. So the universe is not created from nothing. Worse still, the statement “the universe can and will create itself from nothing” is self-contradictory. If I say, “X creates Y,” this presupposes the existence of X in the first place in order to bring Y into existence. If I say “X creates X,” I presuppose the existence of X in order to account for the existence of X. To presuppose the existence of the universe to account for its existence is logically incoherent. One might add for good measure the fact that when physicists talk about “nothing” they often mean a quantum vacuum which is manifestly not nothing. Could this be “much ado about nothing”?

    Hawking here is using the same incoherent “argument” as Oxford chemist Peter Atkins, also a wellknown atheist, who believes that “Space-time generates its own dust in the process of its own self-assembly.” (3) Atkins dubs this the “Cosmic bootstrap” principle, referring to the selfcontradictory idea of a person lifting himself by pulling on his own bootlace. His Oxford colleague, philosopher of religion Keith Ward, is surely right to say that Atkins’s view of the universe is as blatantly self-contradictory as the name he gives to it, pointing out that it is “logically impossible for a cause to bring about some effect without already being in existence.” Ward concludes: “Between the hypothesis of God and the hypothesis of a cosmic bootstrap, there is no competition. We were always right to think that persons, or universes, who seek to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps are forever doomed to failure.” (4)What this shows is that nonsense remains nonsense even when talked by world-famous scientists.

    Born Again Hypocrite

    So there are a few of you out there who know me… well, knew me. I’m sure most of you haven’t seen me in at least a couple years, but you have seen my posts on Facebook or Myspace. I’m pretty sure that at least once you’ve wondered, “What is he talking about?!!” or, “Who is this?” So it’s obvious that I’m not the same person that you partied with, smoked some-n with, or watched get arrested. So who is this new me, and where did the old me go? Well I can tell you first off that the old me is dead, buried and gone, never to return again. The things that have occurred in my life in recent years have been nothing short of miraculous. In a very short span of only five years I have gone from broke, drunk every night, on probation, job-hopping, “self-medicating”, getting arrested, fighting with anyone who wanted to, and being a not-very-nice boyfriend, to being free-er than I’ve ever been, [happily] married with two wonderful boys, a wonderful career in the palm of my hands, and the son of a King.

    It could almost seem like an overnight transition, if not for the many times I fell flat on my face during the transition period. I mean I’ve gotten drunk, fought with my wife, been arrested, and disgraced this King that I claim to love more times than I care to remember. With all of this, in light of this evidence you could even question if the change is genuine, and you would be right to do so. I can tell you this though, the change in me is more genuine than the most passionate animal lover you know. I am not the same person, and I am never going back. The crazy part is this, I could go back, in an instant, if not for the grace of God. It’s by this same grace, this grace that keeps me suspended in a constant state of joy, longing to separate myself from sin to the nth degree, that has saved me in the first place. If not for this grace I would be in the same wretched and vile state I was in before I ever realized Jesus as my savior.

    These failures that I speak about, they have caused those around me, people I love, to question the sincerity of my commitment to this Christian life. They have even caused some in my circle to call me the same name that every Christian dreads to be called, a hypocrite. But I stand guilty of the accusation. I was a hypocrite, and still am in some ways, I must confess. I still make mistakes. I still let myself down. I still let my loved ones down, but thank God that I can never let Him down… because I never held Him up. Just as I stand here guilty of the accusation of being a hypocrite, which I may as well be a murderer because by my actions I may have killed who someone was going to be-and the bible says that if you break one law, you’ve broken them all, but just as I’m guilty of that, I stand with a conscience free of guilt, knowing that the price for my sins has been paid. I will not and can not be held accountable in the High Court for my actions. It is for this reason that my mind is overwhelmed daily, and at the same time relieved. Overwhelmed because I know that if for one second God were to remove His hand of grace from my life, I would again return to my foolish ways, just as a dog will always return to lick up its own vomit. Relieved because I know without an iota of doubt that my Father has me securely in His hands, and there is nothing that can separate me from the love that Christ has for me. In the words of Marvin Gaye, “How sweet it is, to be loved by YOU!”

    The Mad Scientist

    Acts 17: 22-25

    Romans 1: 19-20

    To my unknown god,

    You’ve always been there, right inside of me

    I could always feel you watching

    Not once have you not been there, guiding me

    I’ve never seen your face, I don’t even know your name

    No one has told me about you

    But your creation speaks of your might

    Hummingbirds tell of your beauty

    Who am I? That I would arouse your anger

    When thunderstorms display your awesome splendor

    You have marked my path, every way that I should go

    Not a single landmark is out of place

    For my soul knows that you love me

    It is apparent in the way that you’ve cared for me

    You’ve placed the sun in it’s place

    And the moon according to the boundaries you’ve set

    Every breath I take is a gift, I am but a worm

    And my soul knows it very well…

    Continue reading “The Mad Scientist”