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the iron horse 05-22-2016 12:57 PM

Sunday Dispatch
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And if my thought dreams could be seen
They'd probably put my head in a guillotine

~ Bob Dylan

I would not want all my bad dreams and thoughts revealed to others, would you? We all have bad thoughts. We all make wrong choices. We all say and do stupid things. We are a flawed people. We are nowhere near perfect.

Not to say we do not try to do the right thing or try to control our thoughts, we do try but the truth is we still miss the mark of perfection. Even a young child will lie to parents. We do not have to be taught to lie or be selfish, it is the result of our flawed condition.

We were made in the image of God but our image has been broken by sin. Sin is missing the target of perfection.
Sin is a problem in our lives. It is also a problem for God. Why? Because God is perfect. God is holy.

God’s response to sin is not emotional, it is conditional. It is in his nature. Consider our response to fire. When our hand touches a hot iron, it is in our condition (our makeup) to instantly repeal from the heat.

This is why sin must be judged and removed from God’s presence for us to be reconciled to God.
We are indeed in a mess with ourselves and with God but there is good news.

This good news is the central message in the scriptures reveals to us the beautiful plan of God to forever fix this problem. Because God’s condition requires judgement a sacrifice had to be done. All through the scriptures God reveals that a sacrifice must be without flaws. It must be perfect. Since we are not perfect, God set his plan in motion.

The fix was God coming to earth as a human being. He lived a perfect life. He never sinned and because he was sinless he could take the judgement for us. He took our punishment. I don’t think we can even imagine what he experience in those few hours on the cross. I read one person describe it as three hours of eternity. God’s laying down his life for his friends.

After his death on the cross, he came back alive for eternity. By being human he is forever linked to us. He knows who we are as humans.

If we accept this plan, we appear in God’s presence as perfect. We are made sinless in his eyes. This does not mean that we no longer sin. The scriptures say we are a fool if we claim to be without sin but we are to confess our sins (acknowledge them) and repent.

Don’t get tripped up by the word repent. Repentance simply means to turn, it is the activity of reviewing one's actions and feeling contrition or regret for past wrongs. It is an action of our hearts.

And then we move onward towards God. We will continue to make mistakes, to be imperfect, to miss the mark but we are no longer haunted by our imperfects, we know that God has and will take care of us and our future is settled. The Kingdom of God is a Party and we will be there. This is the good news.

We can be at peace because we know God has set things right. We are in a relationship not a religion or system that enslaves us.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

~ Matthew 11:30 (The Message )

Paul expresses this well in Romans 3.

Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.

Romans 3:23-24 (The Message)

the iron horse 05-29-2016 05:29 PM

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And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!

~ John 8:32

the iron horse 06-05-2016 12:26 PM

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We do not draw people to Christ by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.

~ Madeleine L'Engle

the iron horse 06-12-2016 12:17 PM

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Has the biblical text been corrupted over the centuries?

Jonathan Morrow: One of the most common objections today is that the Bible has been changed and corrupted over the centuries. Often the “Telephone game” played in elementary schools is used as an illustration of how the copies of copies of copies of copies (you get the idea) have been changed and the message garbled over the years. This is not a good illustration because that is not how the biblical text has come down to us.
To see why, let’s briefly look at the New Testament.

There was an intentional process of transmission in place and people cared about getting these texts right because eternal matters were literally at stake. When it comes to recovering the text of the New Testament, we need to ask the right questions:

- How many manuscripts do we have to work with?
- How early are the manuscripts we have to work with?
- How important are the textual variants between these manuscripts?

When we examine these questions, the New Testament is by far the best-attested work of Greek or Latin literature in the ancient world—it’s not even close! I go into much more detail in my chapter in Questioning the Bible, but the bottom line is that we have a lot of manuscripts to work with; we have early manuscripts to work with, and none of the differences between the existing manuscripts affect any central teaching or practice in the Christian faith. You can trust that what was written in the first century is essentially what we have today.

~ Selected from Bible Gateway interview of Jonathan Morrow about his book, Questioning the Bible: 11 Major Challenges to the Bible’s Authority

the iron horse 06-19-2016 11:13 AM

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Father! — to God himself we cannot give a holier name.

~William Wordsworth

the iron horse 06-26-2016 12:29 PM

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The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.

~ Dorothy Parker

the iron horse 07-03-2016 11:37 AM

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“Initially, the God of the Old Testament might seem overwhelming and domineering to you, or tyrannical, or perhaps even evil, which is good. It is the first telling that God is indeed God, by sheer definition, and not some ear-tickling fairy by which one in his depravity is guaranteed to find another form of stale romanticism or love at first sight. For such a first impression as the latter would be problematic to the essence of Christianity. Therefore the Christians are right in saying that the nature of imperfect men cannot ultimately co-exist with the nature of a perfect God; and that the hope of each man is now desperately found in God's sending of Christ.”

~ Criss Jami

the iron horse 07-10-2016 10:07 AM

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Jesus called the crowd together again and said, “Listen now, all of you—take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life; it’s what you vomit—that’s the real pollution.”

He went on: “It’s what comes out of a person that pollutes: obscenities, lusts, thefts, murders, adulteries, greed, depravity, deceptive dealings, carousing, mean looks, slander, arrogance, foolishness—all these are vomit from the heart. There is the source of your pollution.”

~ Mark 7: 14, 16, 20-23 (The Message)

the iron horse 07-17-2016 09:04 PM

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No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.


the iron horse 07-24-2016 12:34 PM

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“Society tells me to follow my own truth, but I don't let society tell me what to do.”

~ Criss Jami

the iron horse 07-31-2016 02:10 PM

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Answers to Common Objections

Christian theologians have differed wildly over every doctrine of Christianity. If Christianity were true, this would not be the case.

There are two huge problems with this argument. First, it is primarily a theological argument. How do we know that God, if he exists, would not allow error of any kind into the church? In fact, if the letters of Paul and the other apostles are any indication, there were people in the early Christian churches who held all kinds of wrong ideas and yet were considered -by Paul and the other apostles- to be real Christians.

Second, although I would not minimize the theological differences between major theologians of history, I think it a gross exaggeration to claim that there is no core doctrinal agreement amongst them. In fact, the situation seems to be quite the opposite. Every major Christian theologian (especially those quoted most frequently by the Neoatheists) would affirm the major historic creeds of the Christian church, the deity of Christ, the doctrine of sin, the doctrine of atonement, the historicity of the Resurrection, and the authority of the Bible. In fact, if I look at my own personal spiritual influences as a Christian, I find that they include men from all kinds of denominations, including Charles Spurgeon (Baptist) Tim Keller (Presbyterian), Martin Luther (Lutheran), John Calvin (Presbyterian), C.S. Lewis (Anglican), and David Martin-Lloyd Jones (Methodist). Again, I am not denying that there are areas in which these men disagree seriously.

However, it seems to me quite disingenuous for a skeptic to throw up his hands and claim that there is such disagreement that the Christian message is utterly obscure. If I could presume to speak for these men, I think they would unanimously affirm (with the apostle Paul) that the core of Christianity is and has always been "Jesus Christ and him crucified". Matters of other doctrine are important but ultimately secondary and should be faced only after we have answered the question: who is Jesus?

Short answer: although Christians certainly disagree in many areas of theology, the central message of Christianity ("Jesus died for our sins and was raised to life for our justification") has been affirmed by every Christian theologian throughout history, including those cited repeatedly by the Neoatheists.

~ Neil Shenvi

the iron horse 08-08-2016 08:42 AM

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“It is no more narrow to claim that one religion is right than to claim that one way to think about all religions (namely that all are equal) is right. We are all exclusive in our beliefs about religion, but in different ways.”

~Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism

the iron horse 08-21-2016 12:02 PM

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“Jesus, unlike the founder of any other major faith, holds out hope for ordinary human life. Our future is not an ethereal, impersonal form of consciousness. We will not float through the air, but rather will eat, embrace, sing, laugh, and dance in the kingdom of God, in degrees of power, glory, and joy that we can't at the present imagine.”

~ Timothy Keller

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“Read and listen to one thinker and you become a clone; Read two and you become confused; Read ten and you get your own voice; Read a hundred and you start to become wise.”

~ Timothy Keller

the iron horse 08-28-2016 06:23 PM

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Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

At this the Jews there began to grumble about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” They said, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?”

~ John 6:28-52 (NIV)

the iron horse 09-04-2016 09:56 AM

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A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.

~ Dave Barry

the iron horse 09-11-2016 10:22 AM

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Grieving, my soul thinks back;
these thoughts cripple, and I sink down.
Gaining hope,
I remember and wait for this thought:

How enduring is God’s loyal love;
the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion.
Here they are, every morning, new!
Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day.

~ Lamentations 3:20-23 (The Voice)

the iron horse 09-18-2016 09:31 PM

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Have you ever studied Jesus's approach to talking with people? He didn't always fill the space with answers for them. Let's learn to do that with our fellow learners. Let's give them room to think and answer for themselves.

~ Charles R. Swindoll

the iron horse 09-25-2016 10:48 AM

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If one feels the need of something grand, something infinite, something that makes one feel aware of God, one need not go far to find it.

~ Vincent Van Gogh

the iron horse 10-02-2016 12:28 PM

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Christians were never meant to be normal. We’ve always been holy troublemakers, we’ve always been creators of uncertainty, agents of dimension that’s incompatible with the status quo; we do not accept the world as it is, but we insist on the world becoming the way that God wants it to be. And the Kingdom of God is different from the patterns of this world.

~ Jacques Ellul

the iron horse 10-09-2016 01:24 PM

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The word 'Christian' means different things to different people. To one person it means a stiff, upright, inflexible way of life, colorless and unbending. To another it means a risky, surprised-filled adventure, lived tiptoe at the edge of expectation...If we get our information from the biblical material, there is no doubt that the Christian life is a dancing, leaping, daring life.

~ Eugene H. Peterson

the iron horse 10-16-2016 11:04 AM

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God’s glory is on tour in the skies,
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.

Their words aren’t heard,
their voices aren’t recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.

God makes a huge dome
for the sun—a superdome!
The morning sun’s a new husband
leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
racing to the tape.

That’s how God’s Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.

The revelation of God is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of God are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of God are right,
showing the way to joy.

The directions of God are plain
and easy on the eyes.
God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of God are accurate
down to the nth degree.

God’s Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You’ll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.

There’s more: God’s Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool?

Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.

Psalm 19:1-14 (The Message)

the iron horse 10-23-2016 11:36 AM

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October, baptize me with leaves! Swaddle me in corduroy and nurse me with split pea soup. October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins. O autumn! O teakettle! O grace!

~ Rainbow Rowell

the iron horse 10-30-2016 06:01 PM

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Director Brian Baugh on his film ‘I’m Not Ashamed’
Selected from SFGATE, October 17,2016

When I got a call about doing a film on the life of Rachel Scott, the first victim of the Columbine shooting, I fully expected I would pass on the project. I started reading the script thinking it was going to be about some boring, sheltered, high school church girl who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was wrong.

Rachel’s life was a surprising, interesting, beautiful mess of teenage contradictions and struggles. Her faith led her to want to make a difference in the world, to be a light in her school, but she battled against her demons and temptations. She was just like me. There was a core to the story that was so accessible … so real.

However, because Rachel had a faith, the story got labeled as faith-based, and I didn’t particularly want to direct a so-called Christian film. I don’t consider movies Christian, any more than I think there are Christian bicycles, Christian hamburgers or a Christian piece of plywood.

Products and art don’t normally get described by the religion of their investors or creators, so why should films? Do we call Hugo’s “Les Misérables” a Christian play? Or Handel’s “Messiah” a Christian symphony? Or DaVinci’s “The Last Supper” a Christian painting? Does anyone label a Martin Scorsese film a Catholic film? I’ve never heard them referred to as such. To me, movies are just good, bad or somewhere in between. They either connect with an audience or they don’t.

So much to my surprise, after learning about Rachel’s life, I was willing to take the risk. She was a fascinating high school girl with a powerful story that could connect with audiences in a real way. She was a young artist who loved writing, drawing and acting. And she left behind these beautiful journals that told of her inner journey.

the iron horse 11-06-2016 11:30 AM

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God does not need our good works, but our neighbors do.

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.

~ Ephesians 2:7-10 (The Message)

the iron horse 11-13-2016 12:45 PM

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F-E-A-R has two meanings: 'Forget Everything And Run' or 'Face Everything And Rise.' The choice is yours.

~ Zig Ziglar

the iron horse 11-20-2016 05:36 PM

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God’s love is meteoric,
his loyalty astronomic,
His purpose titanic,
his verdicts oceanic.
Yet in his largeness
nothing gets lost;
Not a man, not a mouse,
slips through the cracks

~ Psalm 36:5-6 (The Message)

the iron horse 11-27-2016 12:45 PM

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A cheerful disposition is good for your health;
gloom and doom leave you bone-tired.

~ Proverbs 17:22 (The Message)

Those who laugh often never grow old.

~ Benjamin Franklin

the iron horse 12-04-2016 12:28 PM

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To us who face a day of calm
To us in the middle of a storm
a prayer

To us who are strong in faith
To us who are weak
a prayer

To us who walk forward in your commands
To us who have fallen
a prayer

To us who are healthy
To us in sickness
a prayer

To us whose table is full
To us with only crumbs

To our Father in heaven we pray this prayer
Forgive us our sins Lord

We thank you for your many blessings
We thank you for our salvation

Thank you Lord for your love and mercy
We thank you Lord this day

May our hearts be stronger
May our faith grow
May we continue trusting and following you
May your will be done in our lives

And Lord may we praise and give thanks always

In the name of Christ
We pray this prayer

the iron horse 12-11-2016 01:31 PM

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Suddenly I heard the words of Christ and understood them, and life and death ceased to seem to me evil, and instead of despair I experienced happiness and the joy of life undisturbed by death.

~ Leo Tolstoy

the iron horse 12-18-2016 11:56 AM

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Come down to the manger, see the little stranger
Wrapped in swaddling clothes, the prince of peace
Wheels start turning, torches start burning
And the old wise men journey from the East

How a little baby boy bring the people so much joy
Son of a carpenter, Mary carried the light
This must be Christmas, must be tonight

A shepherd on a hillside, while over my flock I bide
Oh a cold winter night a band of angels sing
In a dream I heard a voice saying "fear not, come rejoice
It's the end of the beginning, praise the new born king"

I saw it with my own eyes, written up in the skies
But why a simple herdsmen such as I
And then it came to pass, he was born at last
Right below the star that shines on high

~ Robbie Robertson

the iron horse 12-25-2016 12:47 PM

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For it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas, when its mighty Founder was a child Himself.

~ Charles Dickens

the iron horse 01-01-2017 12:51 PM

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Happy New Year to you, your family and friends!

I want to say thank you today for taking time to read the Sunday Dispatches every week. The purpose of the dispatches is to encourage believers in their faith and to encourage those interested in the Christian faith to investigate further.

A daily dispatch is also posted on Facebook. If interested, search for public group b o r d e r c r o s s (space letters/no caps) You can easily join or unjoin.

Again, Happy New Year!

the iron horse 01-08-2017 12:47 PM

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We tend to think that it is being unhappy that leads people to complain, but it is truer to say that it is complaining that leads to people becoming unhappy. Become grateful and you will become a much happier person.

~ Dennis Prager

Give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God’s will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.)

~ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 (The Voice)

the iron horse 01-15-2017 01:28 PM

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Grab your coat, and get your hat. Leave your worry on the doorstep Just direct your feet to the sunny side of the street.

~ Dorothy Fields

the iron horse 01-22-2017 02:46 PM

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Christ Holds It All Together

He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding. Not only that, but all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

~ Colossians 1:18-20 (The Message)

the iron horse 01-29-2017 11:40 AM

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Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like the violin.

~ John Lubbock

the iron horse 02-05-2017 12:49 PM

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The Obstinate Toy Soldiers

Did you ever think, when you were a child, what fun it would be if your toys could come to life? Well suppose you could really have brought them to life. Imagine turning a tin soldier into a real little man. It would involve turning the tin into flesh. And suppose the tin soldier did not like it. He is not interested in flesh; all he sees is that the tin is being spoilt He thinks you are killing him. He will do everything he can to prevent you. He will not be made into a man if he can help it.

What you would have done about that tin soldier I do not know. But what God did about us was this. The Second Person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man-a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular colour, speaking a particular language, weighing so many stone. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a foetus inside a Woman's body. If you want to get the hang of it, think how you would like to become a slug or a crab.

~ C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

the iron horse 02-12-2017 05:47 PM

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“Reading and naps, two of life's greatest pleasures, go especially well together.”

~ Will Schwalbe, Books for Living

the iron horse 02-19-2017 10:22 AM

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1. There is not nearly enough evidence to convince me that God exists.

First, this objection is necessarily personal. It is possible to claim that our personal, subjective threshold for evidence has not been met, but this fact would only disprove God's existence if we were certain that our personal standard of proof is correct. How do we know it is correct? And what do we even mean when we talk about the "correct" standard of proof?

A second question deals with the burden of proof. The skeptic often presumes that the burden of proof lies with the theist to prove that God exists (the evidence must "convince me" to move from atheism to theism). But why should the burden of proof not lie with the skeptic to convince the theist that God does not exist? We might answer that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." But then we are left asking who determines the definition of "extraordinary." People with different worldviews may share many presuppositions about the intrinsic likelihood of certain events, but in other areas there will be a genuine lack of agreement about what is intrinsically likely or unlikely. For instance, an atheist might consider a miracle wildly implausible. On the other hand, a theist would consider the creation of the universe ex nihilo by anything other than God wildly implausible. We need to recognize that our presuppositions are intrinsic to our worldview and are truly presuppositions. They determine what we consider plausible and implausible, prior to our examination of the evidence. Although this truth may seem unremarkable when we share basic assumptions about reality, it makes an enormous difference when we come to issues that touch on these presuppositions directly (see Resurrection and Worldview for one such example).

Finally, this objection actually addresses the theist's warrant to believe that God exists rather than the question of whether He exists. In other words, it says that the evidence is not sufficient to compel me to believe in God. But our warrant to believe in a fact does not affect the truth or falsehood of this fact. For instance, physicists in the 1910s had little warrant to believe that quantum mechanics was true. But it was true! So even if we grant that theists are not warranted in the belief in God's existence, He could exist nonetheless.

Short answer: first, this statement is personal and subjective. Second, this statement assumes that the burden of proof ought to fall on the theist; how do we know this? Third, there is a difference between claiming that belief in God is unwarranted (i.e. is not reasonable based on the evidence at hand) and that He does not exist. See also The Necessity of Faith and Resurrection and Worldview.

~ Neil Shenvi

the iron horse 02-26-2017 11:12 AM

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The idea that salvation is an idea unique to Christianity ought to shock us. After all, don't the vast majority of religions center on salvation? Buddhists long for release from suffering and the illusion of the material world. Muslims seek a heavenly paradise. Hindus desire to escape the cycle of reincarnation. But what is fascinating is that when we use the word "salvation" to describe the hope of these religions, we actually use it in a way that is in utter contrast to our non-religious use of the word.

Given that the etymological root of "salvation" is in the word "save" (both come from the Latin salvare), consider the following secular uses of this word: "A passing motorist dove into the icy water to save the drowning child", "The surgeon saved my father's life by performing open heart surgery" or even "The goalkeeper made six spectacular saves over the course of the game." Two ideas are common to these examples. The first is the idea of rescue and the second is that of inability. When we use the word "save" in a non-religious context, we assume that the object itself is utterly incapable of some action and is rescued from the natural course of events by some external intervention.

In this sense, I would argue that the word salvation is inappropriate to describe how other religions envision our reconciliation with God. If we really take "salvation" to imply "rescue", then it seems to me that this word can only truly be used to describe the Christian gospel. In fact, to avoid any confusion, I will substitute the word "rescue", "rescued" and "rescuer" for the words "salvation", "saved" and "savior" from now on to capture what Christians mean (or ought to mean!) when they use these words

~ Neil Shenvi

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