Friday, September 27, 2013

Sarcastic Apologetic Response of the Day

One of the characters that I met through my university forum had an excellent response to a few aggressive feminists and postmodern pro-"transgender" debaters on a discussion thread a while back. I think it was succinct and powerful enough to be worth sharing here.

If I may demand of society how it perceives me in one way, then why not in another way? What limits that principle to gender?
Why can't I demand to be perceived as a different species? So my DNA says I'm human. Who cares? Species is a social construct, just like gender. Species is genetic, while species expression is external. I choose to live as a T-Rex.
[omitted for conciseness]
[OPPONENT], if I or my ancestors make money and I become wealthy, then I am wealthy according to the natural order. If I run for office and get elected President, then I am President according to the natural order. If I am born genetically human, then I am human according to the natural order. And so on. If I am born with XY sex chromosomes, then I am a man by the natural order.

I'm a middle class male human being. Economic and genetic reality dictate those facts beyond any doubt. So if I were to declare right now that "I am a millionaire" or "I am a T-Rex" or "I am a woman", why would the first two statements be nonsense while the third wouldn't?

~ Rak Chazak

Journal Entry: Sickness and My God-Given Health

Journal Entry from earlier this week.

NOTE: Might be TMI for some people. I'm describing symptoms, so proceed at your own tolerance.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013. Day 322. C1: 1141(1214). C2: 719.

                        Pretty sure if “most people” had what I had from Sunday evening through last night and lingering but nearly gone this morning, they would’ve been out sick from work for three days and bedridden. Not to brag. I have been richly blessed with an excellent physical and genetic health from both of my parents. To this day, I have not broken a bone, had a cavity, or needed any organ removals (think tonsils and appendices). I think the last time I had a cold with a fever that I was aware of was when I ran States in Junior year for Cross Country. I found out that I’d had a fever of 101° when I arrived home—I’d walked and then run a 5K course while having a fever. My muscles were burning afterward. It was painful to sit in the car because of the discomfort to my leg and butt muscles. I didn’t do it knowingly, but it’s highly dangerous to do intense physical exercise when you have a fever. I now know a little bit of what it feels like because of that. A side note, the last time I was sick with a stomach bug was in spring 2011, which knocked me out for a few days. I’ve always been much better able to tolerate headaches than stomachaches. The heaving was so uncomfortable. If I have had a cold or flu infection at any point since high school, I’m completely unaware of it. There have been days when I haven’t felt great, sure. But because of having to work through my seasonal allergies, if I’ve had symptoms similar to that, then it’s likely that I wouldn’t have been able to recognize it as an illness. Other classmates have shared that they're sick usually 3 times a winter. I’ve been sick, on average, once every 3 winters, if the two cases I mentioned are the only ones. And if they are not, that’s an exciting thought—that my biology is on such a level as to be able to power through an infection without me even realizing that I had one! THAT is something to be continually thankful for.
                        I got a bit of pressure and a slight headache but no real sinus problems starting Sunday night, and a bit of burning in my quad muscles began then. I felt better in the morning, after taking Dayquil (actually equate’s knockoff version, but it all works), but in the mid-early afternoon, I felt a wave of nausea. I had to sit down for a bit. That didn’t continue any, although a mild-pressure headache and burning in my lower back and butt muscles as well as my quads persisted through the day until bedtime. Speaking of which, I went to bed before 8:00. A couple times during the day, I had a few nasty hocks (is that how you spell it, or is it ‘hawk?’) of phlegm from the back of my throat, which made my throat feel clear and much more pleasant. The way the big mucus-balls looked, I recognized them as things I’ve had before in the winter, unassociated with any sick feelings or fever, so I wonder if that means that it’s not connected at all to the headache, or if it means that when I have coughed up (that stuff) before, it means that I had the beginnings of a cold but got over it? That each such moment, usually in the morning, would mean that “any other person” would be sick and miss work or school, subsequently? It makes me feel oddly superhuman. I say oddly, because I’m not accustomed to thinking of myself as so different from others. But anecdotal evidence shows that other people get sick almost at the drop of a hat, whereas sickness for me is such a rare phenomenon that I don’t even know how to tell that I am sick when it comes.
                        When I was feeling really bad Sunday night, I prayed for God to make me better. I didn’t know if I was sick or just felt sick, so praying to not be sick wouldn’t help much if I wasn’t, so my prayers involved a lot of conditional statements. I asked for relief so that I wouldn’t be forced to miss work. Aside from a little bit of reduced speed, I think I was able to do my job quite well yesterday. I thought about what I’ve written above now, this morning, and considered that while a supernaturally miraculous recovery would’ve been nice/convenient, what I went through instead was certainly passable(!) if I was supposed to have been writhing in bed for three days. And if it had necessitated a miraculous intervention, that would mean that I would otherwise have in fact been sick much longer, much more severely. The lack of an obvious miracle allowed for divine Providence to show itself. Providence is, to give a short definition, the everyday ways that God is sovereign over all the minute aspects of the world and our lives, working to achieve big results through small actions, rather than drastic large-scale actions. My quick recovery and minor illness (I may not even have had a fever, though it felt like it. We couldn’t find the thermometer!) is an example of God’s providential care in my life. I’m much less familiar with the supernaturally, dramatically miraculous than I am with the providential, and I am just as much, if not more, happy/satisfied/with reason to rejoice/thankful for my experience of the latter than the former.  

~ Rak Chazak

Friday, September 20, 2013

Daily Life Update

Third Paycheck
It's nice to be making money. I looked online yesterday but I realized that I had never had any on-line profile with whoever my Stafford Loan lender is. It was the private loans that had those. I'm going to have to go hunt through the old binder to calculate how much the repayment is going to be, based on how much I was loaned. Really hoping there's a convenient phone number that's reasonably placed on a piece of paper somewhere. One of the worst things when trying to sort out financial stuff is when you can't figure out which of the dozen phone numbers you're supposed to call. And then you have to deal with a machine operator for 10 minutes before you get a real person. Anyway, what does this have to do with paychecks? Simple. The main reason I'm stocking up money right now is to have a buffer for when the loan repayments are going to begin, to save myself stress. As of right now, I don't know what the payment's going to be. So I'm putting everything except whatever goes toward food into my mental "savings" category.

Exercise Routines
I began August doing situps in bed (in bed, because it's soft. Have you ever done them on a hard floor, even on a mat, and gotten really sore on your backside? Well, that happens to me, so when I did a lot of situps back in High School, I developed a habit of doing them in bed every night, then rolling over and letting the ceiling fan cool me off). I went from 20 to 50 but slacked off a bit in the last few weeks, in all honestly probably because of the cold. I've had the fan off. Yesterday was the first day I ran my 2x1 mile distance since starting work, and boy am I sore in my quads today! I bet that's because I biked to and from work the day before, (I've been biking a lot this past month and a half for the purpose of transportation) and running rather than resting must've overworked the muscle. I made myself run because I noticed I'm inching up the scale and wanted to counteract that. At work I get to move around but there's a lot of standing in one place, which doesn't burn a lot of energy.

March of the Wooly Caterpillars
On the days when I have biked to work, I've noticed the annual migration of wooly caterpillars crossing the road, always going from East-Southeast to West-Northwest. I wonder what makes them do that. It's like they're fleeing winter. They're a harbinger of cold weather.

My Tree Transplants vs. Grubs
I moved three small loblolly pine trees from the corner of our yard two years ago, to the side yard where there aren't a lot of trees. I'm not much of a gardener but I like landscaping. I guess I just want to make bigger things. I'd rather change the topography than worry about keeping the lawn uniform. Building a hill 10 feet high and 20 by 40 feet wide/long in the back yard sounds like an exciting project! Me planting the trees is motivated by my excitement at seeing them get big over time. But now one of them appears to have died. I saw a collection of about 15 small grubs (at first they looked like caterpillars, but their head shape is beetle-like) hanging on to my biggest one, and I shook them off and threw them over the fence. I'll have to keep an eye on them. 'Would hate to lose my hard work to an insect pest infestation. 

Coworkers Gaming the System: Anecdotal Evidence of the Statistics
When I was spending my days arguing politics on my university forum, I'd often refer to statistics. Statistics can be very useful, but also very misleading. The irritating tendency of people I argued against would be to use statistics all the time to try to make points, but reject anything I said that utilized them. One example of such a statistic would be abuse of government welfare, such as unemployment benefits. I was mocked by the "older, wiser" liberals for talking about things I'd only read about, when I "hadn't experienced life" myself. This is maddeningly illogical but I'll address that another time. Here I'm going to make the point that now I have lived a little, and I have some anecdotal real-life experience to demonstrate the actuality of the general claims I made.

Two of my coworkers are gaming the system. One is only scheduled for two days a week, and they leave at 1 or 2pm, a really awkward time, if we happen to be having a rush that stretches on until 3pm. I was surprised to learn of her short hours because I'd overheard her say that she was anticipating working more when school started for her kids. I had it explained to me by another coworker that they were working as much as they could to be at the bare maximum level that they could in order to still qualify for unemployment. 

Another coworker is a promotion higher than me, and is one of the best crewmembers there. I asked someone if he'd been given an offer for promotion and he had--he had turned it down. Why? His girlfriend would lose her 'assisted living' benefits if he got the higher rate/position, whichever.

Now here's the question: can you blame them? On the one hand, they're intentionally choosing to get free money by taking less responsibility. They're incompletely ambitious. But on the other hand, if their benefits now are significantly better than the slight increase they'd get from being paid a little more per hour/working full time, respectively, then aren't they making the most rational decision, the one that's best for them? The fact that they're in a situation where they're pressured to make the decision they've made is, pure and simple, the fault of our intrusive government. It isn't the government's job to get so involved with people's lives that it makes them dependent on continual handouts. That messes with the economy and it messes with people's lives. They're stuck in a rut because they're afraid to be ambitious lest they lose. Our "benevolent overlords" have conditioned them to do that.

So who is the enemy, and who is the victim, in this? Think it over.

~ Rak Chazak

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Treatise: Married Women, Turn-offs, Turn-ons, and Plato’s Forms

                        I realized something right around the time when I was beginning to enjoy Christian music and spend time with other believers on campus. There were several couples who attended Campus Crusade (now known as just “Cru”), and I was happy to see that. Rather than focus on the obvious downside (“bummer, one less fish in the sea”), seeing a happy couple in a good relationship gave me encouragement because they, by their very existence, demonstrated that a committed relationship between young Christians could work. The obvious extrapolation of this observation is that if it works for them, it can work for me. Instead of being disappointed when I see a beautiful woman who’s “taken,” I draw enjoyment from their enjoyment by being glad that God is strengthening their bond and using them as a lamp for His glory, and look forward to the day when I can experience the same joy, personally. 

Yet, I want to make clear that what I like about a young Christian couple is the fact of their relationship itself and not an attraction to the woman in the relationship—getting these two confused can lead to catastrophe, and I think that inappropriate approaches to people in relationships, both by Christians and nonchristians, is one of the root causes for a lot of strange relationship problems that exist. I acknowledge that I initially recognize the woman as an attractive person. Sin is when that becomes lust—the desire to have HER for myself, which I’d like to think I don’t often do, but I acknowledge my imperfection and won’t dare to suppose that I’m less prone to that sort of thought than any other man. What I hold to be attractive about seeing her, happy, in a loving bond, is not her but the fact that she is happy, the fact that someone like her can be happy, and the fact that there can be such a loving bond that can generate such happiness. 

Let me briefly explain Plato’s forms. Plato used his brain of brains to wonder about things like definitions—what makes a thing the thing that it is? Is it arbitrary convention or is there an abstract concept that defines it? Let’s give an example: a chair. What makes a chair a chair? Is it that it has four legs, or three, or five? Is it its shape or its material that it’s made of, or its size? Why do we recognize every new chair that we see as a chair, and not as a completely new thing, since not all chairs are exactly alike? Plato would hold that there is a form called chair that defines “chair-ness,” and describes what it means to be a chair. Chairs are destructible and material but forms are eternally existent and immutable. Every chair possesses the form of “chair-ness,” and that’s what enables us to recognize it as a chair.  This is all a complicated way of getting to my point, which is this: I am attracted to the form of marriage. It is recognizable only in actual examples of marriage, but each actual marriage possesses some quality of “marriage-ness” that points to the form marriage, which is what I’m attracted to and desire. 

When I see a happy marriage between two Christians, it is not THEIR marriage that I desire. But there is something in their marriage that points to, that “reminds” me of some quality of the ideal of marriage, and it is THAT that I want. So when I see something in this ideal of marriage displayed in an actual marriage, it gives me hope because it shows that it’s not just an unreachable abstract idea, but a concrete reality that isn’t impossible to achieve—they did, and that means that you can have it too. That’s why I can be turned off to a particular woman upon realizing that she’s in a relationship (this is true. I would almost consider it a spiritual gift, but I suspect it’s just biology or psychology), yet turned on to/by something more abstract about her that isn’t HER, but a quality that she possesses that I yearn for in my own life. I don’t want their relationship. I want a relationship like theirs. And what that really means, in Christian theology, is that I want an earthly relationship with a woman that as closely mirrors the heavenly relationship, that God has with His Church, as possible.

~ Rak Chazak

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Thought for the Day: Providence Turns Downsides into Upsides

Some people live to channel negativity. Others are almost always positive. What gives? What's the difference between the two? My answer, from a human standpoint, is simple: choice. Some people just wake up and choose to be angry that day (or every day). And so they are. They react rudely and unnecessarily to things that I personally wouldn't ever think to take the effort to react that way to. I'm seeing these two different types of people very often as I'm working at the fast-food restaurant as a cashier. Some people are very cheerful, for little apparent reason, whereas others are very irritable and contentious, for little apparent reason. With all sincerity, I can tell you that the former type are much more pleasant.

Last Sunday, I ran into two interesting people that I otherwise would not have if I hadn't been working at a cash register that allows me to talk to hundreds of people each week. The lunch rush was over and when the young lady complimented me on my service and cheerful attitude (there's a theme in this blog post, see if you can find it), and made a comment to the tune that I was either really good at the job or seemed like I didn't seem to fit as a crew-member, I mentioned that I had graduated in May with a Bio degree. She turned out to be a regional recruiter for a job-recruiting company (that serves as an intermediary between businesses and candidates) and would pass me along to a friend/coworker who covers biology jobs. She gave me her work email and number and asked me to send her my resume. I told her I'd get in touch when I was next online. Then, just a few minutes later, I made a remark in passing, to another customer, that that conversation had just taken place, and he gave me his email and told me to send it to him so he could "tear it apart." That was exciting, and really improved my mood for the rest of the day.

Why'd I begin this by talking about people who choose to be negative? This is why. At my university, as I've already made mention of on this blog before, I've accumulated a number of persistent critics ('enemies' is a more appropriate word), whose every effort seems to be focused on tearing down and destroying with their words. It rarely hurts emotionally, because they cannot mock what they do not know. They'll make rude comments that just make themselves look silly. What it does make me feel is exhausted, just to bother reading it. How do they have time to be so deprecatory? So aggressively cynical and rude? It's a topic for another post. 

Here's the conclusion to what I've been writing about. I'm very faithful, as you can readily tell, and my faith in Christ has given offense to proud bigots at the university that I attended. They know of this blog and will on occasion make rude remarks behind my back. I am certain that by pointing this out here, they are sure to do so more frequently, thinking that I have nothing else better to do with my time than to pay attention to them. At any rate, upon discovering that I had become employed at a fast-food restaurant, several of them seized upon the opportunity to mock me for it, making comments to the effect that it was all I would ever accomplish. You may see where I'm going with this. Their attitude is very poor, since they make the assumption that there are categories of jobs that are "beneath" a person, and this is really only unwarranted arrogance on their part making itself known. But it could turn out that God is going to use my current position in order to initiate the next phase of my journey through life. Could it be that via the people I met this week at work, I'll be given a job opportunity? Maybe not. But if it does happen, then I'm humble enough to realize that it would not have happened if I hadn't been working there, and I'll give God glory for it. He'll have taken the very thing my enemies mocked, and used it as the vehicle to springboard me into a better career.

Speculation. It might not happen now. But whether you appreciate the position you're in or become morose due to thinking you are being treated in a way you don't deserve is dependent on your choice. Will you honor God no matter where you are, even if you aren't getting what you hope for or expect? That's what I'll strive to do, at any rate.

~ Rak Chazak


I wrote this yesterday. The first part is notes to myself, but I've decided just to put up the notes and not bother writing an intro. I don't want to take away from the short message I wrote after it. This is written solemnly and it is my hope it will be received as such.

Sept 11? Draw from Ken Ham and Jonathan Cahn to say that the national sorrow was human sorrow (feel bad for self) not godly sorrow (we have sinned, let us repent), and led to greater pride (we will rebuild / let us fight back against those who struck us), and so when the nation turned deeper into sin (of which legalized gay marriage is primarily the MARKER), it invited further judgment and  calamity to ‘shake us’. 

The sad thing about Sept 11th isn’t that 3,000 people died, (3,000 people die in abortion every single day) it’s that it reminds us that our nation is under divine judgment for its gross sins against the Almighty. Which is more terrible? That a few thousand perish in a day, or that hundred millions are perishing spiritually at this very moment and are on their way to encounter the eternal wrath of God? In God’s calculus, human catastrophe doesn’t even compare, and He’s fully willing to use shocking disasters as trumpet-calls to alert us, nationally, to stop going the wrong way—and individually as Christians, to urge us to evangelize the lost. This September 11, what did you think of? Do you have a sense of urgency for the souls of your countrymen? If you don’t, then the attacks on September 11 were meant for you. Not to kill you, but to wake you up. Wake up, and “move with godly fear,” to preach the Gospel with urgency in expectation of increasingly frequent and severe calamities to come.

Ken Ham and Ray Comfort would say, no one died on September 11 who was not going to die. Death comes to us all. And we all need to be prepared for it. The focus shouldn’t be on thinking that it was so terrible that these people died unexpectedly, but the focus should be on realizing that you can die unexpectedly, and to prepare yourselves—you do not know when you will die. All that separates you from eternity is a single heartbeat. What have you done to secure your future? And this is how the Christian should turn the question to the sinner, taking the center of the conversation off of the dead and putting it on the dying. Bring the sinner to a conscious recognition of their sin, and then present them with the Gospel. The wonderful thing is that it provides the promise that we won’t stay dead, but live again, forever, with God, if we repent of our sin and put our faith in Him. That’s the only message that really matters, this September 11. 

~ Rak Chazak

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Topical Bible Study I -- Righteousness and Goodness

Part of the reason for utilizing a blog is to hopefully bless others through the sharing of my personal experiences. Some of the random insights I've come across are too short to rise to the amount of material necessary for a full sermon -- so there aren't many you can find online about that. And they're obscure enough that the big-name commentary and theology-glossary sites like Biblehub (used to be but they've apparently purchased an easier domain name) and GotQuestions haven't devoted resources to it--or if they have, it's too hard to find among the thousands of pages on their websites. Therefore, be it thus resolved that I'll share some of these insights periodically and call them "Bible Study" or "Word Study" or other names like that, and make a series out of them over time. Here's my first attempt.

Righteousness and Goodness: A Biblical Word Study

The way I think of these words now is probably very different from the way a typical person uses them, because I think of them in Biblical terms. Without getting too technical, let me spell out the distinction between them, and then give some verses to back up my point.

Righteousness is one of two things: godly behavior (what we would usually think of) OR the positional righteousness that saints have because of the Cross--namely, that God considers us to be perfect like Jesus even though we're not, because we've traded places with Him so that our sins could be dealt with separately from us.

Goodness in the Bible can be something we do as humans, indicated by Galatians 5, but it is appropriate to translate the word 'good' as perfection, which is consistent because goodness as a fruit of the Spirit is something that we don't manufacture on our own, but it comes from God. 

Here's my super-simplified idea: No one is good, but some are righteous. Lemme show you my proof-text:

Romans 5:6-8
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodlyFor scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

This verse used to make no sense to me. What is the distinction between righteous and good? And why is righteous seemingly placed below good on an apparent grading-scale of holiness? The verses arrange it like so: ungodly-->righteous-->good. If righteous and good aren't the same thing, then what do they mean? And here's the answer:

Good Means Perfect

Mark 10:17-18
17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?”
18 So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. 19

Jesus isn't saying that He's undeserving of being called good. On the contrary, He's subtly implying that since the 'rich young man' of this passage recognized Him as good, that He IS God. This is yet another example of Jesus' sense of humor, as I see it. But notice what He says--no one is good except God. And God is perfect. So this passage identifies the Biblical word "good" as equivalent to our modern English definition of the word "perfect." Consider this, and we'll look at another example of the same.

Genesis 1:31
31 Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Logically, since there was yet no sin in the creation, everything was still sinless, and thus perfect. So the use of 'very good' at the conclusion of the creation account is to be understood as 'totally perfect.' If I understand the scholarship, the word translated 'very' in the Hebrew signifies completeness, lacking nothing. 

Of interest, since I now have the conclusion that good = perfect in Biblical terminology, I wondered if this would hold up concerning Galatians 5 where one of the fruits of the Spirit in believers listed is 'goodness.' I looked up the word in GotQuestions and cross-checked the word in the Mark 10:18 passage with the Greek interlineary provided by BibleHub and verified that the exact same Greek word was used. Agathosune is the Koine Greek for 'goodness' as read in the New King James Version (the one I prefer to use on BibleGateway because it's less cluttered with hyperlinks), in both locations, and is understood to mean selfless acts for the benefit of others.

What really nailed it down for me was the James 1:17 passage that GQ included which said that "every good and perfect thing comes from God above" (paraphrased the ending), which affirms that goodness doesn't come from us but God, since God being the only perfect being, is the only One who can cause goodness to be done in the earth. 
Out of curiosity, I searched the BibleHub database for the Greek word translated as 'perfect' in that passage, and it is teleion, which appears to be the Greek counterpart in this passage to the Genesis 1 Hebrew word "very." Look at the 7 uses in the New Testament listed and see if you agree. I think a safe definition for teleion would be "completeness." Don't you?

Righteousness Means You're Not Righteous

I'm just being cheeky, here. But when you consider that righteousness is a word that comes with certain qualifications, you realize it's not a word that confers any opportunity for pride to a person. Not in itself, at least. The word "self-righteous" means that you think you are righteous in and of yourself, and this is wrong. The correct way is to be "God-righteous," to be considered righteous by God's standards. So how can we do this?

Isaiah 64:6
"all our righteousnesses [not even our sins!] are like filthy rags."

Titus 3:5
we were not saved because of any righteous acts we did.

Romans 3:21-26
21 But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, 26 to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

I highlighted the key part. Do you see that God, when He justifies the repentant sinner, GIVES His righteousness to them, through Christ? This means that God considers us righteous, but it's not our righteousness that we have, it's HIS righteousness. So that's why it's called 'positional righteousness.' We are righteous by virtue of our relationship to God, and not by any special ability to be good that we inherently have which other people do not. In fact, the whole point is that we don't have the ability to be righteous by ourselves, that's why God has to give us His righteousness. Otherwise we couldn't be saved. That's why the doctrine of substitution is so important. 

This is a repost of the video from "The Gospel in 60 Seconds." It explains substitution from 2 Corinthians 5:21 -- "He made Him, who knew no sin, sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."


None of us are good. The good we do is by the power of God.

None of us are truly righteous. Those of us whom God considers righteous have the righteousness of Jesus Christ credited to us, we have no inherent righteousness of our own.

Good to know, huh? :) I hope this was an interesting and informative read. And now you'll know what I mean in future posts if I refuse to use the words good or righteous to refer to someone...or on the other hand, what I would mean if I do use those words.
Also see these previous posts for similar articles:

Jesus, King of Insults
Be Careful What You Pray For
Feeling Bad in a Good Way

~ Rak Chazak 

Friday, September 6, 2013

Roaring with Hunger

After writing that long theological post, my mind turned to more mundane things. I haven't eaten since the morning, and now my stomach is growling. Or is that roaring? I love the Swedish word for being very hungry, which is vrål-hungrig. Literally, "roar-hungry," or "roaring with hunger," rather. I think it accurately captures the strong emotional aspect of being severely hungry.

"Behold, he was greatly wroth, and desired to eat. And lo, a burger would cost him many shekels."

My stomach.

~ Rak Chazak

Statement of Faith

Formatting the blog so that I can have links on the side is on my to-do list. Until then, I figure I would make a blog post for the purpose of anyone curious about the faith doctrines that this author holds.

It's very convenient--I agree wholeheartedly with the statements of faith on the GotQuestions and Answers in Genesis websites. I will reproduce them below, and then add some thoughts of my own, to 'personalize' it.

AiG Statement of Faith

Section 1: Priorities

  • The scientific aspects of creation are important but are secondary in importance to the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ as Sovereign, Creator, Redeemer, and Judge.
  • The doctrines of Creator and Creation cannot ultimately be divorced from the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Section 2: Basics

  • The 66 books of the Bible are the written Word of God. The Bible is divinely inspired and inerrant throughout. Its assertions are factually true in all the original autographs. It is the supreme authority in everything it teaches. Its authority is not limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes but includes its assertions in such fields as history and science.
  • The final guide to the interpretation of Scripture is Scripture itself.
  • The account of origins presented in Genesis is a simple but factual presentation of actual events and therefore provides a reliable framework for scientific research into the question of the origin and history of life, mankind, the earth, and the universe.
  • The various original life forms (kinds), including mankind, were made by direct creative acts of God. The living descendants of any of the original kinds (apart from man) may represent more than one species today, reflecting the genetic potential within the original kind. Only limited biological changes (including mutational deterioration) have occurred naturally within each kind since creation.
  • The great Flood of Genesis was an actual historic event, worldwide (global) in its extent and effect.
  • The special creation of Adam (the first man) and Eve (the first woman), and their subsequent fall into sin, is the basis for the necessity of salvation for mankind.
  • Death (both physical and spiritual) and bloodshed entered into this world subsequent to and as a direct consequence of man’s sin.

Section 3: Theology

  • The Godhead is triune: one God, three Persons—God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
  • All mankind are sinners, inherently from Adam and individually (by choice), and are therefore subject to God’s wrath and condemnation.
  • Freedom from the penalty and power of sin is available to man only through the sacrificial death and shed blood of Jesus Christ and His complete and bodily resurrection from the dead.
  • The Holy Spirit enables the sinner to repent and believe in Jesus Christ.
  • The Holy Spirit lives and works in each believer to produce the fruits of righteousness.
  • Salvation is a gift received by faith alone in Christ alone and expressed in the individual’s repentance, recognition of the death of Christ as full payment for sin, and acceptance of the risen Christ as Savior, Lord, and God.
  • All things necessary for our salvation are expressly set down in Scripture.
  • Jesus Christ was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.
  • Jesus Christ rose bodily from the dead, ascended to heaven, and is currently seated at the right hand of God the Father, and shall return in person to this earth as Judge of the living and the dead.
  • Satan is the personal spiritual adversary of both God and mankind.
  • Those who do not believe in Christ are subject to everlasting conscious punishment, but believers enjoy eternal life with God.
  • The only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other, and has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God.
  • It is the duty of Christians to attend a local Bible believing church, as portrayed in the New Testament.
  • All human life is sacred and begins at conception (defined as the moment of fertilization). The unborn child is a living human being, created in the image of God, and must be respected and protected both before and after birth. The abortion of an unborn child or the active taking of human life through euthanasia constitutes a violation of the sanctity of human life, and is a crime against God and man.

Section 4: General

The following are held by members of the Board of Answers in Genesis to be either consistent with Scripture or implied by Scripture:
  • Scripture teaches a recent origin for man and the whole creation, spanning approximately 4,000 years from creation to Christ.
  • The days in Genesis do not correspond to geologic ages, but are six [6] consecutive twenty-four [24] hour days of creation.
  • The Noachian Flood was a significant geological event and much (but not all) fossiliferous sediment originated at that time.
  • The gap theory has no basis in Scripture.
  • The view, commonly used to evade the implications or the authority of biblical teaching, that knowledge and/or truth may be divided into secular and religious, is rejected.
  • By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.
Updated: December 12, 2012

GotQuestions Statement of Faith

Section 1: The Bible
We believe the Bible, comprised of the Old and New Testaments, to be the inspired, infallible, and authoritative Word of God (Matthew 5:18;2 Timothy 3:16-17). In faith we hold the Bible to be inerrant in the original writings, God-breathed, and the complete and final authority for faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:16-17). While still using the individual writing styles of the human authors, the Holy Spirit perfectly guided them to ensure they wrote precisely what He wanted written, without error or omission (2 Peter 1:21).

Section 2: God
We believe in one God, who is Creator of all (Deuteronomy 6:4;Colossians 1:16), who has revealed Himself in three distinct Persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14), yet who is one in being, essence, and glory (John 10:30). God is eternal (Psalm 90:2), infinite (1 Timothy 1:17), and sovereign (Psalm 93:1). God is omniscient (Psalm 139:1-6), omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-13), omnipotent (Revelation 19:6), and unchanging (Malachi 3:6). God is holy (Isaiah 6:3), just (Deuteronomy 32:4), and righteous (Exodus 9:27). God is love (1 John 4:8), gracious (Ephesians 2:8), merciful (1 Peter 1:3), and good (Romans 8:28).

Section 3: Jesus Christ
We believe in the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is God incarnate, God in human form, the expressed image of the Father, who, without ceasing to be God, became man in order that He might demonstrate who God is and provide the means of salvation for humanity (Matthew 1:21;John 1:18;Colossians 1:15).

We believe that Jesus Christ was conceived of the Holy Spirit and was born of the virgin Mary; that He is truly fully God and truly fully man; that He lived a perfect, sinless life; that all His teachings are true (Isaiah 14;Matthew 1:23). We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for all humanity (1 John 2:2) as a substitutionary sacrifice (Isaiah 53:5-6). We hold that His death is sufficient to provide salvation for all who receive Him as Savior (John 1:12;Acts 16:31); that our justification is grounded in the shedding of His blood (Romans 5:9;Ephesians 1:17); and that it is attested by His literal, physical resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28:6;1 Peter 1:3).

We believe that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven in His glorified body (Acts 1:9-10) and is now seated at the right hand of God as our High Priest and Advocate (Romans 8:34;Hebrews 7:25).

Section 4: The Holy Spirit
We believe in the deity and personality of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3-4). He regenerates sinners (Titus 3:5) and indwells believers (Romans 8:9). He is the agent by whom Christ baptizes all believers into His body (1 Corinthians 12:12-14). He is the seal by whom the Father guarantees the salvation of believers unto the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14). He is the Divine Teacher who illumines believers’ hearts and minds as they study the Word of God (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).

We believe that the Holy Spirit is ultimately sovereign in the distribution of spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11). We believe that the miraculous gifts of the Spirit, while by no means outside of the Spirit’s ability to empower, no longer function to the same degree they did in the early development of the church (1 Corinthians 12:4-11;2 Corinthians 12:12;Ephesians 2:20;4:7-12).

Section 5: Angels and Demons
We believe in the reality and personality of angels. We believe that God created the angels to be His servants and messengers (Nehemiah 9:6;Psalm 148:2;Hebrews 1:14).

We believe in the existence and personality of Satan and demons. Satan is a fallen angel who led a group of angels in rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:12-17;Ezekiel 28:12-15). He is the great enemy of God and man, and the demons are his servants in evil. He and his demons will be eternally punished in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:41;Revelation 20:10).

Section 6: Humanity
We believe that humanity came into existence by direct creation of God and that humanity is uniquely made in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26-27). We believe that all humanity, because of Adam's fall, has inherited a sinful nature, that all human beings choose to sin (Romans 3:23), and that all sin is exceedingly offensive to God (Romans 6:23). Humanity is utterly unable to remedy this fallen state (Ephesians 2:1-5,12).

Section 7: Salvation
We believe that salvation is a gift of God’s grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christ’s death fully accomplished justification through faith and redemption from sin. Christ died in our place (Romans 5:8-9) and bore our sins in His own body (1 Peter 2:24).

We believe salvation is received by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone. Good works and obedience are results of salvation, not requirements for salvation. Due to the greatness, sufficiency, and perfection of Christ’s sacrifice, all those who have truly received Christ as Savior are eternally secure in salvation, kept by God’s power, secured and sealed in Christ forever (John 6:37-40;10:27-30;Romans 8:1,38-39;Ephesians 1:13-14;1 Peter 1:5;Jude 24). Just as salvation cannot be earned by good works, neither does it need good works to be maintained or sustained. Good works and changed lives are the inevitable results of salvation (James 2).

Section 8: The Church
We believe that the Church, the Body of Christ, is a spiritual organism made up of all believers of this present age (1 Corinthians 12:12-14;2 Corinthians 11:2;Ephesians 1:22-23,5:25-27). We believe in the ordinances of believer’s water baptism by immersion as a testimony to Christ and identification with Him, and the Lord’s Supper as a remembrance of Christ’s death and shed blood (Matthew 28:19-20;Acts 2:41-42,18:8;1 Corinthians 11:23-26). Through the church, believers are to be taught to obey the Lord and to testify concerning their faith in Christ as Savior and to honor Him by holy living. We believe in the Great Commission as the primary mission of the Church. It is the obligation of all believers to witness, by word and life, to the truths of God’s Word. The gospel of the grace of God is to be preached to all the world (Matthew 28:19-20;Acts 1:8;2 Corinthians 5:19-20).

Section 9: Things to Come
We believe in the blessed hope (Titus 2:13), the personal and imminent coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to rapture His saints (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). We believe in the visible and bodily return of Christ to the earth with His saints to establish His promised millennial kingdom (Zechariah 14:4-11;1 Thessalonians 1:10;Revelation 3:10,19:11-16,20:1-6). We believe in the physical resurrection of all men—the saints to everlasting joy and bliss on the New Earth, and the wicked to eternal punishment in the lake of fire (Matthew 25:46;John 5:28-29;Revelation 20:5-6,12-13).

We believe that the souls of believers are, at death, absent from the body and present with the Lord, where they await their resurrection when spirit, soul, and body are reunited to be glorified forever with the Lord (Luke 23:43;2 Corinthians 5:8;Philippians 1:23,3:21;1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). We believe that the souls of unbelievers remain, after death, in conscious misery until their resurrection when, with soul and body reunited, they shall appear at the Great White Throne judgment and shall be cast into the Lake of Fire to suffer everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:41-46;Mark 9:43-48;Luke 16:19-26;2 Thessalonians 1:7-9;Revelation 20:11-15).

These statements are located at these links:

Additional Thoughts from me, for the purpose of clarity

I reject the following heresies:

Arianism, which supposes that the Son was created by the Father, rather than being eternally coequal. The Bible declares that the Son is God.

Pelagianism, which supposes that man can choose to be good by conscious effort and that he is not internally corrupted by a sin nature. The Bible declares that all men are sinners by nature, that none willingly seek after God and that no one can come to God unless God draws them.

Semi-Pelagianism, which supposes that though original sin prevents a man from coming to God on his own, that human effort can nevertheless cooperate with divine will to reach God. Semi-pelagianism still falls short of the Biblical truth by claiming that human will can initiate belief in God, whereas the Bible says that faith in God is a gift given to us by God's grace alone.

Gnosticism, which supposes that flesh is inherently evil and that thus Jesus could never be both God and Man, because that would mean that God united His pure nature with an evil nature. The Bible declares that matter is not inherently good or evil -- in Genesis 2, the universe of matter that God had created was declared "very good." Christ was fully human and fully divine without being tainted by sin.

Gnosticism further supposes that divine truth is attained through private personal revelation from God, bypassing the Holy Scriptures. The Bible declares that the Scriptures are sufficient to bring a person to the knowledge of salvation (1 Timothy 3:16-17).

Docetism, which, similar to Gnosticism, supposes that God is too pure to experience things such as suffering and thus claims that Jesus was not God incarnate, He only appeared to be human but was not. This would mean that Christ did not actually suffer for the sins of mankind and that He did not actually rise from the dead. The Bible declares that Christ's suffering and death on behalf of mankind is the means by which our sins are dealt with and by which we can be forgiven if we repent and place our faith in Him.

Tritheism, which denies the Trinity and supposes that there are three gods who exist as separate beings.

Monarchianism, which goes in the opposite direction and supposes that there is only one person, God the Father, and that the Holy Spirit is not a person but a force or presence of the Father.

There are two common subcategories of this heresy:
Adoptionism, which supposes that Jesus was merely a man who was tested by God and upon conclusion of his testing was granted supernatural powers by the Father.
Modalism, which supposes that God is only one person and manifested Himself in different ways throughout history. Supposedly He was the Father in the Old Testament, then revealed Himself as Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and after the Resurrection now interacts with us as the Holy Spirit. The Bible declares that all three persons of the Trinity are equally God and exist simultaneously, not at different moments. An alternative version of Modalism might suggest that God still acts as either the Father, Spirit or Son, but nevertheless only as one at a time, changing from one to the other as He sees fit. This is the error.
Similar to Modalism is Patripassionism, which states that God the Father was incarnated as a human and died on the Cross. The slight difference is that Modalism says that the Father became the Son. Each concept is Biblically false.
Monophysitism, which accepts that Jesus was God in a physical body, but denies that He had a human nature, only a divine nature. The Bible declares that Jesus had both a human and divine nature. Otherwise He could not have, as a man, died in the place of other men for their sins, and the sacrificial atonement on the Cross would have been impossible. Remember the kinsman-redeemer.

Nestorianism, which supposes that there is a distinction between Jesus' human and divine nature, and that they are not one single nature but two separate ones. Specifically, two separate persons. If this is true, then if the human person died on the Cross, then it would not have the power to save all sinners--that resides in the divine nature. And if the divine person died on the cross, then it would not have managed to save us according to the kinsman-redeemer concept. The Bible declares that Jesus was both fully human and fully divine, at the same time, and not with an internal division in His nature.

Apollinarianism, similar to Nestorianism and Gnosticism, says that Jesus' mind was fully divine. Apollinarianism doesn't deny the human nature and it doesn't separate it from the divine, but attempts to diminish its significance, making Jesus "more God than Man." The Bible declares that Jesus was fully God and fully Man, so even this attempt to rationalize the problem from a human perspective fails to honor the witness of the Scriptures.

Socinianism, which denies the existence of hell and supposes that the Cross was simply an example of self-sacrifice that God desires humanity to strive towards. The whole concept of substitutionary atonement is ignored, either because sinfulness of man is denied, or if it is accepted, then because eternal punishment for sin is denied. The Bible declares that sinners who do not repent will be punished eternally in hell, and that to escape punishment for our sins, we need to accept Jesus' sacrifice on our behalf so that we can be forgiven them.

Kenosis, which supposes that Jesus gave up some aspects of divinity while on earth, such as omniscience. The better thing to say would be that Jesus voluntarily chose not to exercise all of His divine powers at all times, not that He was less than fully divine. The Bible declares that He was fully divine and so the explanation for His demonstrated inability to know the future in a few cases must be due to a voluntary refusal to see the future at His whim. After all, He voluntarily chose to be born as a man and to die on the Cross.

Subordinationism, which supposes that the Son is inferior to the Father and the Spirit inferior to the Son, rather than accepting what the Bible teaches: that they are equal in power and divine attributes, but operate in an "economic trinity" voluntarily. The Bible teaches that the different personas of God have distinct roles, but are nevertheless equally God.

Donatism, which supposes that the effectiveness of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper (and one can expand this to consider prayer and repentance/salvation from the eyes of the individual) are based on the moral purity of the one performing the act. If the person's moral character is in dispute, the baptisms performed would be invalid. The Bible teaches that all people are sinners and so NO ONE is perfectly morally pure, and thus the concept that someone ought to be morally pure is a non-starter, because it's impossible. The power of prayer, faith, and any act of the Church does not come from the people performing them, but from God, whose power by which they are performed.


I also deny mysticist beliefs, such as that saying certain words can grant a person's wishes. Saying "Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus" in the hopes that you would "bring Him near" is foolish. First, because it's superstitious, but foremost, because it's a failure of understanding what the Bible says about Jesus. If you are saved, He is always near to you. It is not as if He sits up in space and waits for you to call Him so that He'll have a reason to come floating down to earth. No. Absolutely not. This activity is wrong in all its permutations. It includes the modern popular concepts of saying "I declare..." or "speaking to..." as if your words have divine power to alter the universe. They do not. Now, God does have the power to alter the universe in a way that includes your words. It's called prayer. When you talk to God personally and ask Him to help you with something--not when you rabble off a magic phrase that's supposed to make Him "jump" for you and perform the deed you desire Him to do. It doesn't work that way. God reserves the right to say "no" to you.

Other mysticist beliefs are more obvious, such as the "crossing oneself" that Roman Catholics do. I also came across something recently on the Spurgeon website that pointed out the mistaken belief that the actual physical blood of Christ washes away our sins. As the long article goes to show, (scroll down to the letter at the bottom for a shorter read) it's not the actual physical blood that cleanses us of sins. That's mysticism! When we say that the blood of Jesus takes away our sins, it's a figurative way of saying that His death made possible our forgiveness by substituting in our place. The value of the blood lies in its being shed in death. 

Final points:

Saints are people on earth and in heaven who have been saved. They are not an elite brand of super-holy believers that you can pray to for special blessings, as if God had too much on His hands to be bothered with listening to your prayers personally. If you have repented of your sin and put your faith in Christ and are now being sanctified, then you are a saint

Penal Substitutionary Atonement

Meat Doctrines: TULIP
Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints
There's so much more I could refer to, but I'd have to stop sometime. I think this makes a pretty complete statement of faith. I hope you agree with what you read.
~ Rak Chazak