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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Descent of the Diocese

Charles Darwin, in his work 'The Origin of the Species' (unabridged version of 'The Origin of the Species' and 'The Descent of Man' published by Random House, page 148) said "If it could be proved that any part of the structure of any one species had been formed for the exclusive good of another species , it would annihilate my theory, for such could not have been produced through natural selection."

This is a perfectly reasonable analysis because the theory presented by Darwin requires a process of death and struggle with the fittest species surviving at the expense of the weakest.

The question to be asked is "Has a case been made to demonstrate the occurrence of a structure formed for the exclusive good of another species?"

In this posting I would like to show that a structure has been located. More than that - a complete species has been observed replete with structures all working for the exclusive good of other species.

The existence of this ..... how shall I call it? .... altruistic species, by Darwin's own test, falsifies and renders invalid his theory on the origin of life.

Some 2000 years ago there appeared, in what we today call the Middle East, a man, "if it be lawful to call him a man" who did such wondrous things as to reveal he represented, in the order of life, the emergence of a species so contrary to experience that a total reappraisal of life and its purpose is demanded. Of course, I speak of Jesus of Nazareth.

He was not of man as we know man for he had capacities no man has been known to have and yet he was fully man.

Consider his activity of instantaneously turning water into wine. Most reasoned arguments hold that the resultant wine was alcoholic. In an instant and seemingly by will alone Jesus of Nazareth did what natural processes aided by the intellect and physical efforts of man takes months or years to do. That the end product was of high quality to impress recipients suggests a lengthy period of time and process were collapsed into a momentary event. Surely, Jesus of Nazareth possessed the authority of one who, from the beginning, was able to determine or alter the physiological order of things in an instant. On display here is the capacity of one who could instantly make, from the dust of the earth, all manner of living things. This is the adding of information to 'raw' substance required for prevailing theories on the formation of life.

The incidents of feeding a multitude from a seemingly impossible supply of bread and fish speak of one able to produce material substance when, according to the laws of nature, there was insurmountable limit.

The calming of the wind and the waves coinciding with the utterance of a few words is an otherwise unheard of event. The utterance of the words must have been for the benefit of the hearers because the oral language of a Middle Eastern people surely have no meaning or bearing on natural elements. The timely utterance of the words helped the people know it was Jesus of Nazareth who was ordering this event. On display here was a will or thought capacity able to order and maintain natural elements otherwise out of the control of man but within the capacity of a Creator.

The healing of a paralytic at the pool of Bethesda is an intriguing event. The man had been paralyzed for 38 years yet just as Jesus of Nazareth tells him to get up, pick up his mat and walk, the man is able to do so. All observation of the natural order tells us that, aside from impediment causing paralysis, this man would not, up to this moment, have the leg muscles to enable him to stand and walk. Unused muscles waste away. Also lost, would have been functioning balance to stand upright and walk. Muscle is material substance whereas balance is non material information operating within material substance. Ordinarily, each is intrinsic to human life but only function with repeated application by the host. Jesus of Nazareth here instantaneously provides functioning material substance where there had previously been limitation but, more than that, he also provides functioning non material information where there previously had been none. Surely this is a demonstration of one who could instantly create living things fully functioning with material substance and non material information. On display here is the one who created fully functioning Adam and other land dwelling creatures on day 6 of creation week.

Consider Lazarus dead 4 days and instantaneously raised to life by Jesus of Nazareth. Immediately upon death, the corpse of Lazarus would have commenced decomposition and would have been in an advanced stage by the time Jesus of Nazareth arrived at the tomb. By the will of Jesus of Nazareth, the lump of decaying non life instantaneously became life with fully functioning material substance and non material information. The process of "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" had been ruptured, even reversed, for a time. This is again reminiscent of, as the Holy Bible instructs, the Creator creating life from "the dust of the earth" albeit, on this occasion, a somewhat advanced composition of the natural elements of the earth.

All these things he did for the good of others. There was nothing to compel him to do these things except the compulsion to be true to his very being. And his being? As I hope to show, it is nothing less than the highest order of altruism.

Finally, Jesus of Nazareth, in his resurrection from the dead did more than he did with Lazarus. He arose with a 'new' body. It had some features identifying with the old (eg marks of crucifixion) but it was an eternal body over which the process of "ashes to ashes and dust to dust" had no hold. There is much more the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth signifies but for brevity and direction it will suffice to say his resurrection body set him over and above the order of this life by transcending laws of nature, as exampled by the manner of his appearances in enclosed spaces after resurrection.

In his deeds, Jesus of Nazareth demonstrated capacities appropriate to the Creator of the universe and all thing in it. Yet he was born into the world as a man with a genealogy dating to the first man, Adam - our ancestor. His conception in the womb differed to us in that it involved Divine activity upon a woman but in all his physicality and emotions he was as much a man as the rest of us. Yet with all this similarity he bore no sin of his own. He was of a type the world had not known.

We can identify with his weeping at the scene of mourning for Lazarus (John 11:35), his anger in the temple court (John 2:15), his disappointment over Jerusalem's failings (Luke 13:34), his tiredness in the boat (Mark 4:38), his temptations and hungering (Matt. 4:1-2), his thirst (John 19:28) and his love for those close to him (John 13:23). These are the ways of man as we observe life but in all this he did not sin.

We can also observe the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth in his complete subjection to the law even though, in his Divine self, he was the full embodiment of the law; his subjection to baptism even though he had nothing to repent of and his sufferings and bearing of sins which were not his own in crucifixion. These are things which bear much contemplation for even the Angels look into these things with wonder. Yet, if nothing else, they are testimony to the humanity of Jesus of Nazareth.

What of the things he said of how a man was to live, a way he lived himself as man. He did not say blessed are the strong, aggressive, cunning, manipulative or adaptive. He said blessed are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the peacemakers and those who are persecuted because of righteousness. He said and lived "do not resist an evil person", "give to the one who asks you", "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you".

In the the things he said and lived, Jesus of Nazareth exemplified the mutual grace relationship existing within the Godhead before the creation of the world and maintained during Incarnation except when temporarily fractured on Golgotha.

Mutual grace relationship is 'other person centred.' It is displayed in the Godhead where the Son agreed before the creation of the world to give up his glory and position with the Father to come into the world as a "Lamb" to suffer indignity and separation from the Father and Holy Spirit so that God's love could be bestowed on the world. It is displayed in the Father giving to the Son "all authority in heaven and on earth." It is displayed in Holy Spirit coming at the behest of Father and Son to dwell in us and transform us to the glory of Jesus Christ. It is displayed in the Son giving all the glory of his triumph to Father that God may be all in all. All this other person centredness employed for our benefit that we, the unworthy, might enjoy God and his blessings forever.

Israel, upon agreeing to be the People of God were given the Ten Commandments to aid living as the People of God. Implicit in the Ten Commandments is 'other person centredness.'

Other person centredness (or mutual grace relationship) is diametrically opposed to Darwin's theory on the origin of species through natural selection. Natural selection occurs but it is a consequence of the Fall, not the means of original creation. It is a product of the Curse on all creation after sin. It has no root in God but in the fracturing of other person centredness by participants in the Garden.

Charles Darwin observed natural selection but he had no knowledge of the origin of it. If he had a thorough understanding of the things of God, Charles Darwin would have recognised, in Jesus of Nazareth, all the qualities and characteristics of God. That which Charles Darwin said would destroy his theory was available for him to see in the words and deeds of God in the Old and New Testament and most demonstrably exemplified in Jesus of Nazareth who is rightly called the Christ.

The highest order of altruism is found in the person of Jesus Christ. Had Charles Darwin seen this the world might have been saved from a soul destroying and most costly philosophy on the origin of life. Also, Satan would have been denied a tool for the weakening of Christian faith.

The Church must divest itself of anything of Charles Darwin's theory. It is so far removed from the Person of Jesus Christ as to be a heresy. It is a heresy widely held in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney and is to the ruin of the Diocese.

Neil Moore

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Dead End

I know this is a bit removed from the theme of previous postings and comments but I wonder if others have noticed what my family have noticed in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney in recent times.

It seems to me like the outworking of what Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones called "Dead Orthodoxy." To clarify this term for those unfamiliar with it I shall say that "Dead Orthodoxy" is the teaching of Scripture so intellectualised that sermons are so dry that the life of the Gospel is drained from it. There is little or no experience of God in it.

The situation is aggravated by the in-flow to the ministry of people from the St Matthias inspired Ministry Training Scheme. Training must involve opportunity to preach (or is it teach?)
from the pulpit. Congregations then, in most situations, receive a structured sermon from young men still learning about life in our time let alone the activity of God in the life of a people he chose some thousands of years ago. The result is a sermon basically sound in its presentation of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Atoning Sacrifice. But is it presented fresh and alive with something for a long term Christian family to go home and feed on for the rest of the week? Or even for a couple of hours.

Don't get me wrong, all Clergy have to start somewhere and allowance has to be made for their infancy in the ministry. But does the training these people receive within the Anglican Diocese of Sydney mean they are only regurgitating a dead intellectualism, perhaps, a little further down the path towards the "Department of Redundant Churches" as exists in England?

That there is a problem within the Diocese must be known because something is being done about it. Recent coverage in the Diocesan journal "Southern Cross" on the issue of music in the Diocese tells us where many Anglicans have unwittingly been looking for a solution to the creeping death of "Dead Orthodoxy."

Some years ago, influentials in St Matthias, Centennial Park, were cautious about the excesses of music pursued by the "Charo's" and "Penties" but today the Anglican Diocese is, in practice, going after them, although, at this stage at a little distance. Read the "Southern Cross' story and readers follow-up comments and you will see how much more influence music has in the conduct of church services today in comparison with forty years ago. Try this measure of influence - compare the ratio of floor space for musicians to the floor space for Bible preaching/teaching/reading and for prayers to God. Perhaps even compare the "Sanctuary" space to the music space.

The growth of music beyond its past influence is a dangerous experiment. It is fed by a desire for something more spiritually satisfying than what is coming out of the pulpit and is aided by new songs/choruses coming out of the various Katoomba Conventions and the array of "Charo" chorus writers from sources elsewhere. And what about the influence of the music making the "charts'" in secular music over the past fifty years? One influence which amuses and disturbs me is secular music's use of the words "Yeah" and "Baby" - perhaps the two most used words in the history of music charts. Well, the word "Yeah" is now creeping into Christian songs and now, as a "Babe", I await with interest, or is it dismay, the word "Baby". Then again, "Baby" is not really singing about God so it shouldn't emerge should it? Or does that really matter nowadays?

The danger of music is that it influences the emotions. Influencing emotions is not a bad thing but, for Christians, the primary influence on emotions ought to be the experience of God. Consider the activity of God in the times of Revival some centuries ago. It was not music that was the primary influence but the experience of God in the preaching of his word. Preaching with life and emotion that touched the heart of the hearer. Preaching that came with power "from on high". Preachers were a variety of skilled and not so skilled orators. You can read some of the sermons and wonder why they might have had effect. But they did! They had to have been accompanied by something not visible in the pages of the written record of them. It had to be the Spirit of God using men who were close to God, who knew something of the character and love of God and who had a burning desire to share this experience of God with hearers.

Learn a lesson from the secular world's interest in music. Its satisfaction level has its limits. First it was alcohol and now it is drugs which are pursued to get more out of music.

Lively preaching of God's word emanating from a deep knowledge and love of God, not music, is the antidote to "Dead Orthodoxy." Music has a place but not not as much as we are giving it and especially not if the lyrics and melody lack substance.


Friday, April 13, 2007

Sandy does Genesis . . . to a crisp

Text of a letter I sent to a few clergy brothers after Sandy Grant had published his views on the interpretation of Genesis 1 in The Briefing, last year.

Dear brothers,

I was very disturbed to read of an article in The Briefing, which attempts to find a common ground between contemporary belief and the revealed word of God in Genesis 1 (and on).

It is commendable to seek common ground where we can, to enable the clear proclamation of the gospel, but when the exercise of finding common ground means that the word of God is made subservient to the transitory beliefs of a culture which has turned its back on God, it is essential that godly men stand up and name the sin.

I do not doubt Sandy's (the author's) genuine desire to assist in the proclamation of the gospel; but he has done so by firstly denying that Genesis 1 is factual, and secondly, does this to allow the survival of a set of beliefs about the world which are not the result of scientific endeavour, as he describes it, but are the fruits of men who have taken as their basic axiom that the Bible has nothing to say on the matter of God's work in the totality of our world's history. Sandy has confused modern science with modern materialism and *its* axioms which reject most profoundly that our God has anything to do with our lives, if he exists at all.

The witness of the scripture is overturned and our Lord's reliance on it denied in a flourish of post-modern artifice at Sandy's hand. He undoes himself though.

Does he really think that Moses thought he was compiling a passage which didn't actually reflect events which God used to bring about the world? Does he really think that the modern invention of some form of non-historical history will assist us to proclaim the gospel to those who reject the God we worship? Whenever Christians have attempted to render the scriptures compatible with atheistic beliefs, it is not atheists who have become Christians, but Christians who have surrended their faith, and become atheists. I think of prominent men such as Richard Rorty, the philosohper, EO Wilson the evolutionary sociobiologist, Templeton, once a colleague of Billy Graham's who turned from his faith and quenched the Spirit, it would appear. Remarkably, Josef Stalin is another who was bewitched by evolution from his priestly studies to become the leader of the most foul regime of all time.

If we don't stand on the Scripture, we are, finally, undone, and Sandy's approach may represent the threshold of a path which will undo the gospel in Sydney.

Nor does his logic assist us. If Genesis does not really relate what happened, but is a mere figment; which is what it must be if those events did not occur; then God's statement in Ex 20:11 is nonsense. I don't think the sense that Sandy has of the text is one that was abroad much before the 19th Century with the rise of Hegelianism (unless we discount the gnostics of the early centuries of the faith). I am doubly disturbed that he applies a meaning which is contrary to the text and cannot emerge from the text itself. There is nothing in the literature which would indicate it is anything but factual.

Two features which are often cited against this are the use of ordinals to structure events, but in Numbers 7 we have a similar feature, and the use of chiasmis is thought by some to undercut factuality, but most of the Bible features chiasmis from the beginning to the end, and right through the historical books.

But back to his illogic.

If the events of Genesis 1 did not occur, then the only means God has given us to tell us what happened that shows he is our Creator and king cannot in fact show us that as it relies on the actual events! Deny the events, you must deny what only they can imply. If we have no truth about God creating, how do we say he is creator? All we are left with is the godless hopelessness of atheistic materialism. Why, I ask, does Sandy send us here, and not to a stronger proclamation of the gospel from Genesis on, as a prophetic church should be doing, fearlessly exposing the pretensions of men to the criticism of the gospel, firm in our confidence that the Spirit of God will not mislead us, but will vindicate our faith for his glory through the salvation of the lost?

I must also note, as a final remark, that it is where the long ages of earth history and the corollory theory of evolution are challenged by logic, science and the word of God that people are brought to faith. I know of many who come to faith this way; but none by the denial of the veracity of God's word in Genesis.

It is a final irony that Chistians incline their ears to the earth history times given by modern geological conventions, but fail to see that these conventions do not emerge from science or observations, but are the result of a prior commitment to naturalism. That is, the conventions start with the statement that there is no God and reality is finally material, not finally spiritual, and ethics is an emergent phenomenon of material, whereas the Bible tells us that it is basic, because God is love.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Dr on Dawkins

Comments by Dr Frank Stootman on the book “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins. Some minor edits.

[Frank is the host of the Sydney L'Abri Fellowship resource centre, and lectures at Western Sydney University in computer science. His PhD is in physics.]

In his latest best seller, Richard Dawkins is passionately flying the flag of atheist pride, moving beyond naturalistic science into an attack on all religion and particularly Christianity. He sees himself as the spokesperson to rid the world of the scourge that religion has brought to humanity and in his passion to prove his point there is a distinct lack of scholarly balance. To Dawkins, evolutionary development to intelligence is a process in the universe, therefore any God needs to come after, not before. Dawkins discounts revelation from a creator God and thus the idea of self is ultimately a biochemical illusion.

From a Christian perspective the revelation form God resonates so deeply with our humanity. God answers our real human wonder at the universe, making sense of the symmetries, categories and logical laws. The revelation from God addresses our real desire for meaning and values, and deals with our fundamental problem of sin. We learn from his non-exhaustive revelation that God has a solution, in Jesus, to re-establish relationship with himself.

Organised religions and their less than ideal cultural and historical outworkings cause in Dawkins deep disillusionment. I share his frustration at the pain caused by so many believers who act contrary to the Bible. Sin, however, is the common factor in the promotion of self in humankind, whether expressed in religion or atheism. Evolution which requires self-centredness, cannot provide a basis for morality. Only something outside of ourselves: God, satisfies our need for final justice. While followers may be imperfect we should evaluate any ideology, whether religious or atheistic, by examining its founder. Unlike Mohammed or Marx, Jesus cannot be discounted at any level of his being.

Dawkins cannot accept the miraculous in the record of biblical history. Physics without metaphysics precludes such things (1). However, I am prepared to look more carefully at these stories and no not set them aside as fiction even if they seem at odds with the normal form of the universe (2). I live in an open universe as Dr Francis Schaeffer would say, in which God is sovereign and able to do things outside of my normal experience (3).
(copyright not asserted, April 2007)

1. Physics, like all enquiry of the creation, proceeds on the basis of a metaphysics, indeed, on the basis of axiomatic beliefs. As it happens, Dawkins metaphysics is the fatally flawed positivism admixed with dogmatic naturalism. Together these fail as Frank has sketched, and as further explored in reviews of Dawkins' book by Alvin Plantinga (check the Christianity Today website) and Philip Bell (check the website)
2. Interestingly miracles are in radical contradiction of the fallen universe, they demonstrate God’s being external to the flow of created causality. Similarly, his action to create must be, by definition, external to this flow.
3. Our experience is very limited, of course, and often leads to the use of inductive reasoning. This is hopeless to arrive at real understanding (as Locke says). A lot of evolutionary boosting is pure induction, and induction on the basis of a prior commitment to naturalism, with a failure to meet the challenge of contradicting results except by special pleading. I like Popper's challenge to inductivism with the testing of hypothesis by attempts to fail them.