Thursday, May 12, 2016

.Isaac Newton
.French revolution
.Statue of Liberty
.John Wesley
.Time- Space
.Natural/Special revelation
.Great awakening
.Einstein- Unified theory

NEW STUFF [past posts- verses below]
In 1687 Isaac Newton published the bombshell book, ‘Mathematical principles of natural philosophy’ [Gravity].
It was a bombshell not only in the scientific sense- but for those who were looking to expel Christianity from society.
In France you had the Encylopedists- people who advocated for an atheistic world view.
In their minds- the Church was part of the ‘old world’ and as man advances- he needs to realize that the church itself is a hindrance.
Now- Newton showed us that the world [cosmos] operates more along the lines of a machine- with set principles- and not so much by ‘the power of God’.
This is a classic mistake that many make- they look to the natural laws of ‘nature’ and say ‘see- this explains everything’.
Actually- not.
But anyway- the French revolutionaries wanted change- and change they got.
Near the end of the 18th century- emboldened by the American Revolution- they stormed the Bastille- and it was the beginning of the age of Progress.
The Bastille was a former fortress- that became an infamous prison in France.
It was believed that many freedom lovers were held captive there.
Actually- upon breaking in- there were only about 7 criminals held- but it still became the standard for Revolution.
King Louie tried to institute reforms- but they did not go far enough.
Eventually Napoleon Bonaparte takes control- and he tried to form an agreement with the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Priests and churches were attacked during the time of the French Revolution- and the great Notre dame university had a lady representing ‘reason’ on the altar.
The churches were turned into ‘houses of reason’ and girls dancing in the streets represented a sign of Liberty for the French.
But the liberty they were talking about was not in the same sense as the American Revolutionaries.
The French were being ‘liberated’ from Christianity- as well as the oppression of the nobles and Priests.
So- the famous gift from the French to America [1886] the Statue of Liberty- might have meant something a bit different than what we understand today.
The statue itself was of the Roman goddess ‘Libertas’.
The church came thru a period where they showed how reason and religion do not contradict one another.
Many of the great thinkers/philosophers were indeed believers.
Yet some in Christianity felt there was a danger in too much reliance on reason and rationality.
We refer to this as Pietism- Men like Philip Spener and Count Zinzendorf played a role in helping believers return to a more spiritual communion with God.
The famous Methodist founder- John Wesley- was effected by the witness of the Moravian Christians on one of his journeys back and forth to America.
Wesley and George Whitefield were coming to America and spreading revival by their preaching- on one occasion John Wesley was on board ship- the seas were rough- John feared for his life.
Yet he noticed the Moravian brothers had no fear.
He later asked them why they seemed to be fearless at the possible point of death.
They told Wesley they had true assurance they were saved by Christ-and there was no need for fear.
Later John Wesley had an experience at a meeting on Aldersgate St. - they were reading from a Romans commentary- notes from Martin Luther.
And the story goes Wesley felt his heart ‘strangely warmed’ and he saw this as a conversion experience.
Wesley never intended to start the Methodist Church [as his movement later became known in the states] - he simply wanted to revive the ‘dead faith’ of his fellow Christians in the Anglican Church.
Yet eventually- thru men like Francis Asbury- the Movement Wesley started would spread thru America and eventually become a separate denomination.

Alexander sought to implement the ideals of his teacher- he wanted to unify the known world under one people/culture- a belief that Aristotle held- a sort of ‘unified theory’ [Einstein] that would seek to bring all learning/knowledge together under one supreme [Divine] principle.

Alexander’s experiment was called Hellenization- which was the Greek worlds attempt to impose Greek culture/language on all their conquered enemies- and at the same time allow them to hold on to the their own culture too. Alexander did amazingly well at this experiment- at the young age of around 24 he had accomplished most of his mission. The cities were a sort of composite of Greek culture mixed in with their own culture- this is where we get the modern term Cosmopolitan.

Alexander died young and his kingdom was divided between 4 generals- one of them- Ptolemy- would himself make it into the history books because of his keen intellect.

The system of cosmology developed under him would last [and work!] until some 17-18 hundred years later when it was overthrown by the Copernican revolution during the time of Copernicus and Galileo.

Alexander’s generals would do their best to carry on the system of Hellenization- and other nation’s generals would keep the system going even after Greece fell. One of them- Octavian [Roman general] makes it into the history books by another famous name- Julius Caesar.

Alexander established a great library in the Egyptian city of Alexandria [named after him] and many of the great writings were preserved during this time.

The writings of Aristotle would be discovered again during the time of Thomas Aquinas [13th century Catholic genius/scholar] and this would lead to Scholasticism [a peculiar school of thought developed/revived under Aquinas] and give rise to the Renaissance.

Okay- before the birth of Christ- the Jewish people resisted the imposing of Greek culture upon them- you had the very famous resistance under the Jewish Maccabean revolt- where the Jews rose up and fought the wicked ruler Antiochus Epiphanies- and till this day the Jewish people celebrate this victory at Hanukah.

Eventually Rome would conquer the Greek kingdom and the Jewish people were allowed to keep their culture and temple- yet they were still a people oppressed. Hassidism [getting back to the beginning] developed during this attempt to not lose their Jewish roots- the Pharisees of Jesus day came from this movement.

Alexander was pretty successful in his attempt to unify language- even though the bible [New Testament] was written by Jewish writers- living under Roman rule- yet the original bible is written in the Greek language.

Bible scholars till this day study the Greek language to find the truest meaning of the actual words in the bible [I have a Greek Lexicon sitting right in front of me].

It would take a few centuries before a Latin version appeared on the scene [the great church father- Jerome- would produce the Latin Vulgate].

Yet it would be the re- discovery and learning of the Greek texts [under men like Erasmus- and the Protestant Reformers] that would lead to the Reformation [16th century] and other movements in church history.

 The Jews had various responses to the empires that ruled over them during various times.
Alexander the Great instituted Hellenization- a sort of cultural compromise over the people he conquered.
They could keep their religious/cultural roots- but would be subservient to Alexander and Greek rule.
Some Jewish people rejected any compromise- we call them the Essenes- they moved out of town- so to speak, and lived in what we refer to as the Qumran community.
This was a few centuries before the time of Christ- and this was where the Dead Seas Scrolls were found in the 20th century.
A Bedouin boy was looking for his goats- threw a rock in a cave right off the Dead Sea- and that’s how we found the scrolls.
The scrolls might have been hidden there by the Essenes-
Now- when my friends asked me about them- I told them that it’s been a while since I read up on any of this- but to the best of my memory the thing that made them significant was the fact that they were very old manuscripts- from the bible- and they backed up what we had had all along.

[1587] OVERVIEW-  Lets over view a little today- in the last post I mentioned how we will be getting into Marx, Freud and Nietzsche in the coming months- yet I have so many things going on at this time that just in case I never get to them I want to lay out some stuff. First, most challenges to the Christian faith/God- have come from the point of view that said ‘yes- we believe that there is some being out there- God- but we challenge the purveyors of religion and how man has used religion to control- manipulate the masses’. It was not until the rise of these men that the popular approach of ‘no God’ would take a foothold in the minds of many unsuspecting ‘masses’. Before we delve into the ideas and contradictions of these men- let me explain why most thinkers of the Enlightenment did not take the atheistic approach- and instead opted for some form of Deism/Theism. The original debate of ‘where did everything come from’ did not start during the Enlightenment- it dates back as far as 4-5 centuries before Christ- the question is obviously older- but you can read the debate taking place in the great minds of the Greek philosophers; Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Though the idea of God in the minds of these Greek thinkers was not the same definition that Christianity would hold to- yet they did believe in some type of being who for the most part was what we would think of as God- they referred to him as The Prime Mover- a term that the great Catholic thinker Thomas Aquinas would use in the 13th century as he too argued for the existence of God. Okay- the Greeks taught that the universe/cosmos always existed- and there was an initiator who started the ball rolling [motion]. Their ideas about how the solar system worked were primitive- the famous idea espoused by Ptolemy had a sort of crystalline sphere
Actually reading thru the bible- in context- is one of the best habits you can develop.
Rome was the city of influence at the time of Paul- located just east of the bend of the Tiber river- about 18 miles from the Mediterranean Sea.
The letter to the Romans- would be read orally to both Christians and Jews in the city- in the days of the writing of these letters [which now make up our bible] they were living in an ‘oral’ culture- and the letters were intended to be read aloud to those in the early Christian communities [remember- you didn’t have books back then- like we have today- and the mass production of writing/publishing did not yet exist].
So- Paul was a strategic thinker- and he penned this letter hoping it would be a ‘shot in the dark’- that is the darkness of sinful man-
The letter to the Romans is the closest thing to a systematic theology found in the New Testament.
Its impact in church history is great- John Chrysostom- the great 5ht century preacher- had it read aloud to him- once a week.

Saint Augustine attributes it to his radical conversion- the story goes he heard some kids singing ‘take up and read’.

He picked up a copy of the letter to the Romans- and history was changed.

Luther- the great 16th century reformer- was teaching this letter- as a Catholic priest/scholar- out of Germany- when he read ‘The just shall live by faith- therein is the righteousness of God revealed’-
It lead to what we call today ‘The Protestant Reformation’.

A few hundred years later- the Great Methodist founder- John Wesley- would say his heart was ‘strangely warmed’ while hearing a message at Aldersgate- and it lead to his conversion- sure enough- the message was from the letter to the church at Rome.

So- when the great Apostle sat down and penned this ‘arrow’- hoping it to go forth and have great impact for the Kingdom of God- his hopes were indeed realized.

ROMANS 1: 1-16 many believe this letter to be Paul's best, I wouldn’t disagree. The letters of the New Testament do not appear in chronological order, some feel this to be a huge obstacle
(944)1ST CORINTHIANS 1:18-31 Paul declares the actual preaching of the Cross to be the power of God. The Jews sought for a sign [remember the sign of Jonas?] and the Greeks prided themselves in wisdom. Paul declares that Jesus IS the wisdom and power of God. In Christ is contained all the wisdom and power [signs] in the universe! Paul says God destroyed the wisdom of unregenerate man and that Gods foolishness is wiser than men’s greatest achievements apart from God. Wow, what an indictment on enlightenment philosophy. Man goes thru stages of learning and knowledge [renaissance, enlightenment. Industrial, scientific revolution] these are not bad achievements in and of themselves. Many of the greatest scientists and scientific discoveries were made by men of faith [Newton, Pascal, Faraday, etc] the problem arises when men think that sheer humanistic reasoning, apart from God, is the answer. Right now there is a movement [11-08] going on where some atheists bought ad space on the sides of buses that say ‘why believe in a god? Do good for goodness sake’. So they had both sides [Christian /Atheist] debate it. The simple fact is, sheer humanism cannot even define ‘what good is’. ‘Good’ becomes a matter of what serves me best at the time of my decision. Without God and special revelation [scripture-10 commandments] good can be defined by Hitler’s regime as exterminating one class of society for the benefit of the whole. Only Christian [or Deist, Jewish, Muslim] beliefs place special value and dignity on human life. It is a common misconception to think that all the enlightenment philosophers were atheists; this was not the case at all. Locke, Hume and others simply believed that thru human logic and reason people could arrive at a sort of naturalistic belief in God. This would form the basis of Deism, the system of belief in God but a rejection of classic Christian theology. Benjamin Franklin and other founding fathers of our country were influenced by this style of belief. Now, getting back to the Greeks. Paul says ‘God destroyed the wisdom of this world’. What wisdom is Paul talking about? The enlightenment  philosophers of the 18th century had nothing on the Greek philosophers going all the way back to a few centuries B.C. Plato, the Greek wrestler turned philosopher, had one of the most famous schools of Greek philosophy. At the entrance of the school the words were written ‘let non but geometers enter here’. Kind of strange. Geometry simply meant ‘form’ in this use. Most of the great theoretical physicists were also great mathematicians [Einstein]. The Greek philosophers were seeking a sort of ‘unified theory’ that would explain all other theories and bring all learning together under one intellectual ‘roof’. Sort of like Einstein's last great obsession. The Greeks actually referred to this great unknown future ‘unifier’ as ‘the Logos’. Now, some atheists will use this truth to undercut the New Testament. They will take the common use of these words ‘The Logos’ and say that Johns writings [Gospel, letters] were simply stolen ideas from Greek philosophy. This is why believers need to have a better understanding of the inspiration of scripture. John’s writings were no doubt inspired, he of course calls Jesus the ‘Logos’ [word] of God. But he was simply saying to the Greek/Gnostic mind ‘look, you guys have been waiting for centuries for the one special ‘Word/Logos’ that would be the answer to all learning, I declare unto you that Jesus is this Logos’! So eventually you would have ‘the wisdom of the world’ [both Greek and enlightenment and all other types] falling short of the ultimate answer. They could only go so far in their journey for truth, and ultimately they either wind up at the foot of the Cross [the wisdom of God] or the ‘tree of the knowledge of good and evil’. God said this ‘tree’ [sources of wisdom and knowledge apart from God] would ultimately lead to death if not submitted to ‘the tree of life’ [the Cross]. You would have some of the enlightenment philosophers eat from this tree all the way to the ‘death of God’ movement. Man in his wisdom would come to the conclusion that ‘God is dead’. If this is true, then the slaughter of millions of Jews is no moral dilemma. If God is dead then man is not created in his image, he is just this piece of flesh that you can dispose of at will. To all you intellectual types, it’s Okay to have a mind, but you must love God with it. If all your doing is feeding from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you will surely die.
(1142) MAN, GODS UNIQUE CREATION- Okay, we already saw how God made the animals and fish and birds, but when he describes mans creation he shows us that it is unique. Out of all the other created things, man alone is in ‘Gods image’ and bears his likeness. Man is a moral being with a built in conscience, he has the capacity to know God and live with him forever. This is the basis of the Judeao Christian value on human life. Those religions who believe in the Genesis account of creation, see man as having special value. The Darwinian worldview [social Darwinism] sees man as a simple blob of meaningless flesh, no different than the other life forms along the line. I always found the atheists reasoning to be a little illogical; they will argue that they are the real intellectuals, the so called ‘brights’ [a recent term they have come up with to describe their group] they will then explain to you how their view of their mind and brain is purely naturalistic, their brains are simply these jumbled masses of cells that are the result of thousands of years of meaningless process. Their whole being started as
(1284) FOR A LAW SHALL PROCEED FROM ME AND I WILL MAKE MY JUDGMENT TO REST FOR A LIGHT OF THE PEOPLE Isaiah 51:5  I found out last week that one of my friends converted to Islam, he spent some time in New Jersey jails and rehabs and the Muslim influence is strong in Jersey. He explained to a friend how ‘God doesn’t share his glory’ and that he was taught that the Christian view of Jesus violates this truth. First, it would take too much time to overview the entire history of various beliefs and questions on different expressions of the Trinity, suffice it to say that there have been Christian groups from the first century up until today who have had difficulties with the Orthodox expression of the Trinity. I am Trinitarian, but understand how these various groups have had difficulty. Just to name a few; the Ethiopian Orthodox churches reject Trinitarian language. The Oriental Christian churches in general reject the language. The invading barbarians who attacked the Roman Empire were eventually converted to a form of Christianity that would reject Trinitarian language. The great Blas√© Pascal thought it to have been a false teaching. I could go on and on with many groups who believed in God and Jesus but did not accept strong Trinitarian language. The point being, if someone thinks that all Christians hold the same views on the language, they are mistaken. I wrote a letter to my friend who converted to Islam, I simply shared the main difference between Christianity and Islam [and all religions], that Christianity teaches forgiveness and acceptance with God as a gift that comes thru the Atonement of Christ. Jesus died for men’s sins and rose again as a sacrificial atonement for man, Islam has some well meaning teachings in it but at the end of the day it is a religion that is legalistic. People attempt to gain Gods favor thru their own efforts; this is opposed to the Christian view of grace. I basically think it to be a red herring to use the language of the Trinity as a reason to reject Christianity and become Muslim, as I already stated there are many Christian groups who would agree with some of the issues that Muslims raise; this does not deal with the fact that man cannot atone for his own sins, man is unable thru any religious works to make himself right with God. The ‘law that proceeds from God’ to the nations is a law based on grace, not works. Paul calls it ‘the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ [Romans] he contrasts it with the law of works. Now the whole history of Justification by faith and how different Christian groups see it is another intramural war that rages within the church, N.T. Wright recently put out a book on it, John Piper wrote one in defense of the historic Reformation view- Wright’s view has some excellent points, but would be considered New Perspective. So there are differences in the way Justification by Faith is seen, but all groups agree that man is accepted by God based on the free gift of Grace that comes thru the Cross. Yes, Catholics and Protestants agree with this language, though there are other differences. The point today is I believe we as believers need to make clear the differences between law based religions and Christianity, Jesus offers free forgiveness based on his death burial and resurrection. Law based religions might seem noble at the start, but at the end of the day they lead to condemnation and frustration, they are a vain attempt by man to make himself pleasing to God- an impossible task.
these areas will ‘abide forever’ that is your impact will affect many generations to come. Right after the 16th century Reformation you had what is referred to as the Enlightenment, or the ‘age of reason’. Many thinkers began to challenge the institutional church [and institutions in general] and believed that reason and rationality would lead the way. In France [1700’s] Paris became a center of thinking for these Deists. These men were smart enough to realize that the total denial of God was too ridiculous to accept, they instead embraced Deism. Deism is a type of belief that said God started the ball rolling, but he left the rest on auto pilot; the same belief that the Greek philosophers embraced. Now, one of the famous ‘Philosphes’ [sic] was a man by the name of Voltaire, he is well-known as an infamous atheist today, but he did not totally reject God. These men did have tremendous influence and they produced the French Encyclopedias which backed up their cause. Eventually they would overthrow the Catholic Church and kill the king in their mad rush towards ‘reason’. They were wrong on their basic understanding of reason and rationality as they applied it to the church. They believed that rational thought meant  ‘naturalistic thought’ that is in order for things to be rational, they could not be supernatural. They were wrong, in fact those who would later take the next step into full atheism would deny the laws of reason and logic all together. I saw Richard Dawkins do an interview the other day, he is one of the popular atheists of our day. These men who reject God accept a view of creation that violates the laws of logic; they teach/believe that all things came from ‘no-thing’ a scientific impossibility. This idea violates the law of ‘reason’ known as the law of ‘non contradiction’. This law states that a thing cannot be and ‘not be’ at the same time and in the same relationship. For all things to have come from nothing [self creation] would mean that all things created itself. It would have to 'have been’ before it was. This common system of belief is absolutely irrational, even though the atheist believes it to be rational. To believe that God is a self existent being who created all things does not violate the laws of logic, you might think it does, but it doesn’t. For someone to have existed forever does not violate the classic laws of logic. So these thinkers who thought that their rejection of God was ‘rational’ were in fact wrong. Their ideas led to effects that were horrendous, they in effect ‘planted seed’ [bad doctrines] that would outlast them and their generation, their bad ideas had bad consequences. But the truth of God and his kingdom have also been  ‘planted’ in the world, these seeds will last forever. If you want to effect society for good, then plant the seeds that will have an eternal impact, for ‘he that does the will of God will abide forever’ [1st John].

I have a catalog sitting here- from the company that I order courses from. A few years ago I got on their mailing list [How- ?] and ever since I have been bombarded with monthly catalogs.

I mean every month- a bit much. Then I realized that one month out of the year they put a bunch of courses ‘on sale’ for around 70% off the regular price- and that’s probably where they do their best business [I now only buy from the discounted monthly catalog].

Anyway- I read the intro to their course on Dark Matter/Energy- these teachers are really good- they are
Basically you can’t argue a moral position [is something right- wrong] if you reject the reality of morality itself. This mistake is easily refuted in the field of apologetics. Sam Harris [another contemporary atheist] makes these same arguments.

I found it interesting to hear Governor Cuomo and other supporters of the law- they were oozing with moral language ‘we are proud to be part of the struggle for the rights of all people’ and other language like this. I’m sure these well meaning folk don’t realize they are contradicting their core argument ‘who is society- the church- to say what’s right or wrong!’ And then they say ‘it’s wrong for them to think that way’.

Okay- I hope you see the point. Immanuel Kant saw this some 300 years ago when the ‘age of reason’ was just taking off. Many thinkers of his day began questioning the wisdom of having religion/morality as part of the fabric of society. Kant recognized the need for the basic idea of right and wrong [What he called ‘oughtness’ you know what you ought to do] and even though he disagreed with Descartes’- he did not believe you could ultimately prove God through reason- yet he saw the need for ‘God’ to exist in the fabric of human society- in his mind there had to be an ultimate judge who could carry out justice- and there had to exist a basic idea of what you should and should not do.

Paul speaking in a ‘nationalistic sense’. Sort of like saying ‘if Germany walks away from the faith, they will be ‘cut out’. [France would have been a better example! Speaking of the so called ‘enlightenment’ and the French Revolution]. In essence ‘you Gentiles, don’t think “wow, look at us. God left Israel and we are now special!”’ Paul is saying ‘you Gentiles [as a whole group] stand by faith. God could just as quickly ‘cut you out’ and replace you with another group’. I also think the Arminians could use this type of argument for the previous predestination chapter [9]. But to be honest I needed to give you my view. One more thing, Paul quotes Elijah ‘lord, I am the only one left’. He uses this in context of God having a remnant from Israel who remained faithful to the true God. God told Elijah ‘there are 7 thousand that have not bowed the knee to baal’. Paul uses this to show that even in his day there were a remnant Of Jews [himself included] who received the Messiah. An interesting side note. The prophetic ministry [Elijah] seems to function at a ‘popular level’. Now, I don’t mean ‘fame’, but Elijah was giving voice to a large undercurrent that was running thru the nation. If you read the story of Elijah you would have never known that there were ‘7 thousand’ who never bowed the knee! Often times God will use prophetic people to ‘give voice’ or popularize a general truth that is presently existing in the ‘underground church’ at large. Sort of like if Elijah had a web site, the 7 thousand would have been secretly reading it and saying ‘right on brother, that’s exactly what we believe too’!

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