Sunday, August 31, 2014

It is Impossible to Prove that Evolution is an Unguided, Naturalistic Process

Evolution is the poster-boy for the naturalism – the worldview that claims that you don’t need God to explain anything, since everything can be explained in terms of natural causation and science. Consequently, students are taught that God is irrelevant since the natural laws explain everything.

I encountered a young college student working on her master’s degree who told me this very thing. She had been raised as an atheist and therefore explained:

  • I don’t need to invoke an irrelevant deity. Science explains everything. Of course, we can’t explain everything right now, but evolution proves that science is all that we need to make sense out of this world.

While I don’t believe in macro-evolution – evolution of the big or vertical changes – I could tell that I would be wasting my time by trying to prove evolution wrong. So I argued these points instead:

  1. The theory of evolution in no way can prove that an Intelligent Designer wasn’t guiding the process. Evolutionists will counter by saying that evolution seems to be a design-less process with many dead-ends. They then reason that if a God had designed the world, it wouldn’t have progressed in this manner. However, in order to conclude this, they would first have to prove what a designed process looks like and how anything that deviated from their model could not have been designed. But admittedly, they do not know the mind of God or His possible reasons for doing things in a way that might seem chaotic to the evolutionist.

  1. Even if unguided evolution could be proved – which it can’t – it doesn’t prove that the existence of everything can be explained by unguided processes.

  1. Besides, evolutionists lack a detailed explanation for how anything – whether proteins or DNA – could have arisen naturally.

  1. Most damning of all, the evolutionist must appeal to pre-existing laws and properties, all of which give the appearance of design, harmony, universality and immutability. And there exists no natural explanation to explain these things. Besides, such explanations are impossible. Science cannot explain the origin of natural laws before “natural” causation even existed. As such, it makes more sense to invoke an intelligent and eternal Being to explain a universe that had a beginning.

  1. For naturalism to be considered a viable theory, it must be able to explain all existence. However, there are many things, in addition to the laws, that seem to defy a naturalistic explanation – DNA, Life, the Cell, Freewill, Consciousness, Objective Moral Law, Irreducible Complexity…

As a consequence of their fundamentalist attachment to the religion of nature-did-it, they see only what will agree with their naturalistic presuppositions and ignore the fact that their theory is fraught with many unsolvable problems. Meanwhile, the evolutionist has also stripped life of any inherent meaning or purpose other than the animalistic pleasures and survival.

The atheist listened carefully but didn’t answer. The conversation moved on, but I hope that some thoughts lingered on.

Christ, Racism, Hatred, Persecution, and Messianic Judaism

I know something about racism and its twisted fruit. As a youth, I couldn’t hide being Jewish. Our public school would make embarrassing announcements for the Jews, who had to catch the bus to Hebrew school, to line up in the hall. Hostile snickers would inevitably follow. What did the other Jews feel? I don’t know. They never mentioned it. Instead, they acted as if they never heard anything. But for me, this was nothing less than a reenactment of the Holocaust.

Meanwhile, I stood there as at a firing squad, vacillating between shame and murderous rage. This was compounded as I was regularly pushed in the hallway and called “Jew bastard.” I was amazed that some Jews were able to simply laugh it off. Sometimes, I would explode and fight. Other times, I cowered in shame.

Going to school was fearful.  Even my Gentile friends distanced themselves from me when the anti-Jewish taunts would begin. I became convinced that they too secretly despised me.

For me, the world only had two kinds of people – Jew and Gentile, one a friend and the other a menacing enemy. History taught me that the Gentile would either kill me or try to change or convert me into something less detestable to them. And I hated them back. I couldn’t fight all of my classmates, but I could hate them and look down on them. I grew to love everything Jewish and to hate everything Christian.

When I heard that a Jewish family in my neighborhood had converted to Christianity, I was disgusted to the point of nausea. Nothing could be so shameful, not even if they were caught selling child porn.

My hatred of Gentiles – and I regarded Gentiles as Christian, since they all seemed to have Christmas trees – became more intense. I was convinced that they had a stench. It was difficult for me to get into an elevator with too many of them at the same time.

Eventually, I became a Zionist, convinced that Israel was the only place that Jews could live. I thought I’d be happy there. In some ways, it felt like home. I had family there and the streets were not named after Gentiles – no “Lincoln Rd.” or “Washington Ave.” – but they had sweet-smelling and familiar Jewish names. However, the happiness, community, and an all-encompassing meaning for life evaded me.

I reluctantly returned to the States several years later with a wife and child, yet still convinced that everyone was a secret anti-Semite. However, years later, I had a horrific chainsaw injury. In the midst of a pool of blood, I had a miraculous encounter with my Savior Jesus.

I knew that I had to go to church, but that lingering sense of nausea returned.
After taking a series of baby-steps, I succeeded in entering a church. While the congregants greeted me in a friendly manner, I was still convinced that they had a dagger under their belt that read “kill the Jew.” My feelings were so strong that they took captive all of my other perceptions of the lovely Christians I had encountered. Perhaps they didn’t stink, but I was sure that, at their core, they were the worst hypocrites.

Thankfully, there were no Messianic congregations in traveling distance, so fortunately, I had to tough-it-out in the exclusive company of Gentile believers, but the Word had begun its work within me.

As I began to grow in Christ, I also began to appreciate His surpassing value, a value that takes precedence over all of my other loyalties and identities. Along with this, I began to slowly esteem my new brethren.

While Jesus was talking to His followers, someone announced that His brothers and mother were waiting and wanting to speak with Him. However, Jesus’ response showed that His familial priorities:
  • He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”  Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50)
Jesus’ response reflected the fact that, in Him, we have a new family and new family responsibilities, and we must embrace this new reality. Somehow, we are now so interconnected that when “one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Cor. 12:26). Consequently, we grow together, rejoice together, and bleed together (Eph. 4:15). In Him, we even share the same value and essence:
  •  So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)
When we fail to acknowledge this connection, the unity that we share in the Body of Christ, we bring judgment upon ourselves (1 Cor. 11:27-31). When we maintain this unity through love, we show the world the reality of Christ in our midst. Jesus therefore prayed:
  •   “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—  I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:20-23) 

Are we narrow and chauvinistic to love the Body of Christ before all else? No? The best way to love the world is to love our brethren. Nothing else will communicate the reality of Christ and His salvation like the love we have for the brethren.

Will the elimination of differences build a better world? No! It is only the love of Christ that will overcome the barriers.

No matter many differences are eliminated, there will still be republicans and democrats, conservatives and progressives, blacks and whites, rich and poor. Instead, we have to learn to love in spite of the differences!

For 25 years, I have been trying to make my wife to become like me. I like the windows closed, she likes them open. I like my meat medium; she likes hers rare. Despite my best efforts, I haven’t been able to change her. However, through Christ I have learned to love her, and that’s made all the difference.

I have learned that I am no longer my own. I have become one spirit with Christ (1 Cor. 6:17) and with His family. I have also died with Christ that I might live in glory with Him (Gal. 2:20).

Yes, I am still Jewish. I identify with my history and culture. I am a product of my parents and their parents, but, before all else, I am a child of the One who died for me – Jesus the Messiah. Consequently, when my Jewish brethren introduce me as a Messianic Jew, I laugh and gently correct them:

  • I am a Christian. Christ overshadows everything else, and I want the world to know it!
And when Christ is #1, changes begin to take place. My wife and I recently took a trip to Eastern Europe, where so many of my family had been butchered. I hadn't wanted to go, but I am so glad that I did. Christ has given me such a love for the peoples I had once hated. He has freed me!

All of us must regard our Savior as superior to everything else in our lives, even our family. We must realize that to seek Him first is life itself (Matthew 6:33) This is my prayer for all persecuted people struggling to find their identity in Christ alone. To Him be all the glory!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Resisting Evil?

Christians are now experiencing escalating persecution worldwide. This raises several questions:

“Should Christians ever bring legal charges against their persecutors?

Some feel that we shouldn’t and cite:

  • Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them… Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:14-19)

They reason that, since we must “bless and… not curse” and “never avenge” ourselves, bringing legal charges isn’t an option. Instead, we are to trust that God will bring “vengeance” (justice) - “the wrath of God” - on the Day of Judgment.

However, is “the wrath of God” only reserved for that Day? According to Paul, “the wrath of God” is also meant to be exercised through the court system:

  • Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4)

God also takes vengeance through the “governing authorities.” They are His invention to bring about justice. Therefore, to “leave it to the wrath of God” is to bring the matter before those whom God has ordained.

Paul repeats that we are required to submit to these authorities in the next verse. He then instructs Christians to pay them “taxes” (13:6) and “honor” (13:7).

How do we honor them? By respecting their office, by being witnesses against evil (Eph. 5:11) and even by pressing charges, when appropriate! If we know a gang is committing rapes and we fail to testify against them, then we become moral accomplices and bring disrepute upon our faith by allowing them to continue unchecked.

We also honor the authorities by allowing them to do their job.  It is not our job to bring justice. We cannot form vigilante groups or take revenge. However, we can help the governing authorities by bringing to them charges of criminal wrongdoing. If we fail to do this, we are guilty before God:

  • He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous are both alike an abomination to the Lord. (Proverbs 17:15)

If we give the wicked a free pass, our God is not pleased.

“Is it ever right to use physical force against the evildoer?”

Some would argue that personal physical force is never justified:

  • To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:20-21)

They argue that, if we are to overcome “evil with good,” there is no place for physical force. However, this teaching, along with many others, pertains to the behavior of individual Christians not governments. Very few of the teaching in the New Testament were directed towards the authorities in their public roles. There was certainly no expectation that their Roman over-lords should “overcome evil with good” or to forgive their enemies. Instead, the authorities, whoever they were, ruled by fear – by the sword (Rom. 134). Anything other than this was unthinkable.

Ideally, the civil authorities are the ones to exercise justice and administer punishment, but what would happen if kidnappers broke into a home with young children? Should not the husband protect his family in the absence of the police? And what if the husband didn’t protect his family but misapplied the Jesus’ teaching about turning the other check, saying “You want my three-year-old-daughter? Take my four-year-old also.”

Such a response would be ignorant and bring disrepute upon the church. The next victim could then rightfully say, “Since you didn’t resist the kidnappers, you enabled them to come to my home on the following night!”

Of course, this scenario is absurd, but it demonstrates where this foolish thinking about non-resistance can take us. Instead, even Jesus taught that physically resisting evil was sometimes acceptable:

  • Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. (Matthew 24:42-43; Luke 12:39)

The homeowner had a perfect right to protect his family, even with the use of physical force. Even Jesus Himself resorted to physical force when He drove the money changers out of the temple.

“How then are we to overcome evil with good?”

I was asked, “What would you do if you ran into someone who had just enlisted to go fight with ISIS?”

I answered that I would invite him for a cup of coffee and an apple pie. In gentleness, I would then try to reason with him to repent. However, afterwards, I would call the authorities to have him detained.

Our calling to love our enemies is not in conflict with our calling to support the authorities. Instead, they should both go together.