ornament 8 March 2005 ornament

Free Books! (If you win)

March Giveaway

Tim Challies of the eponymous Challies.com is giving away Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and Richard Ganz’s 20 Controversies That Almost Killed A Church. To enter the drawing for the books, sign up here before March 17th, 2005. Enter referral I.D. # 41225.

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Starring Bill Moyers as Chicken Little

Bill Moyers is off his rocker. Newly retired from his journalistic career at PBS and other outlets, Moyers has been keeping the fires burning via a string of articles, speeches, and interviews all with basically the same point: fundamentalist Christians who think the rapture is coming soon have taken over the government and are eliminating environmental policies and starting wars because the world will be ending soon anyway. I know, it’s hard to take all that in at once, so have a seat, and read it over again. Now do you see the urgent need for alarm?

Moyers’ latest take is in the NY Times Review of Books, but I’ve found at least five other variations of his new manifesto available on the web. In each one, warnings such as these are present:

For them the invasion of Iraq was a warm-up act, predicted in the Book of Revelation, where four angels “bound in the great river Euphrates” will be released “to slay the third part of man.” A war with Islam in the Middle East is not something to be feared but welcomed—an essential conflagration on the road to redemption. The last time I Googled it, the Rapture Index stood at 144—approaching the critical threshold when the prophesy is fulfilled, the whole thing blows, the Son of God returns, and the righteous enter paradise while sinners will be condemned to eternal hellfire.

The “them” to which Moyers refers are premillenial dispensationalists, which he equates with the whole of evangelical Christianity. Evangelical Christians, of course, control the Republican party, which in turn controls the White House—the most powerful office in the world. Lions and tigers and bears—oh my!

Ironically, Moyers’ rantings are more crackerjack than the strawman he attacks. As often as he speaks of “Googling the Rapture Index” (why doesn’t he just type in the address rather than Google it every time?), one would think that every evangelical checked it as much as they did the weather. The truth is, most evangelicals who know about it—dispensational or not—think that the Rapture Index is little more than chiliastic hogwash. Sure, there are a few out there who won’t get on with their lives because they’re convinced that credit cards and bar codes are the mark of the beast, just as there will always be retired, angry journalists who concoct doomsday conspiracies just because their political party of choice has taken a turn for the worse.

With this in mind, let me just make a few notes for Mr. Moyers and his ilk so they can avoid confusion next time:

  • Not all evangelicals who believe in the rapture think that we can (or should!) hasten it.
  • Not all premillenialists believe in a pre-tribulation rapture
  • Not all evangelicals are premillenialists (surprise!)

That should clear up a few things. Oh yeah, I almost forgot: Not all retired journalists punctuate their careers with ill-informed crackerjack conspiracy theories.

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ornament 6 March 2005 ornament

A Mystery Unshrouded?

Check out N.D. Wilson’s article, “Father Brown Fakes the Shroud,” describing his experiment to reproduce an image on a cloth in the manner of the Shroud of Turin. The conclusions are interesting but the methodology and creative thinking is even more facsinating.

Hat Tip: J. Mark Bertrand

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ornament 3 March 2005 ornament

McCain-Feingold Comes To Blogging?

In an interview with CNET, FEC commissioner Bradley Smith discusses possible effects of impending internet regulation on bloggers. Smith notes that if bloggers reproduce any of a campaign’s material (think of the ubiquitous GeorgeWBush.com news feeds on blogs in the 2004 campaign), it could constitute a violation of Campaign Finance Law:

If Congress doesn’t change the law, what kind of activities will the FEC have to target?
We’re talking about any decision by an individual to put a link (to a political candidate) on their home page, set up a blog, send out mass e-mails, any kind of activity that can be done on the Internet.

Even though such activities as blogging and e-mailing friends about a candidate are unpaid, the value to the campaign could be quantified—after all, opinions have value.

RINO-extraordinaire John McCain’s efforts to curb free speech have already gone too far. The ridiculosity of counting the voicing of personal opinions as a campaign finance issue is magnified when you consider just how far such thinking could be extended. What’s next? Will any act of political discussion have to be considered as financial aid to a campaign?

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ornament 2 March 2005 ornament

One Point Five

I just finished upgrading to WordPress 1.5 and it works beautifully (as far as I can tell…). If you have any problems, let me know—I’ve already been banned from the comment section once. All in all, the upgrades look very helpful. I’m anxious to poke around more and see all its expanded capabilities.

The upgrade was tedious, but not difficult. I followed this guide step-by-step and everything worked perfectly (I did have to reconfigure the comments area, but the guide indicated that this might be a problem). I configured my site layout into a WordPress theme and everything was ready to go. Congrats to the WordPress team on a job well done!

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ornament 1 March 2005 ornament

Faith, Evidence, and Credibility

A recent Guardian article on the psychological/physiological nature of belief proves once more that the widespread understanding of faith is misunderstood:

Faith has long been a puzzle for science, and it’s no surprise why. By definition, faith demands belief without a need for supporting evidence, a concept that could not be more opposed to the principles of scientific inquiry. In the eyes of the scientist, an absence of evidence reduces belief to a hunch. It places the assumptions at the heart of many religions on the rockiest of ground.

This seems to be a typical tactic among the naturalist crowd. If you claim that the required evidence is absent, you never have to deal with it. In short: ignore it, and it will go away.

In fact, belief itself requires evidence. Without evidence, there is no belief, be it science or faith. Even if I make something up in my mind, and subsequently believe it, the made up something serves as evidence for my belief. What validates a belief is the credibility of the evidence. This is what should be continually tested, not the apparent lack of evidence.

As one who has faith in Christ, my evidence for belief is found in God’s general revelation, his written word to us, and the internal witness of the Spirit (this last is the most difficult for establishing credibility among those outside the faith, but it is highly credible to the believer). The naturalist who claims that these evidences do not exists without thouroughly examining their credibility is nothing more than a lazy naturalist.

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