Volatile or Eternal Word?

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All throughout our technology driven age there have been predictions of the death of the written word. Over twenty years ago Sven Birkerts composed his literary Gutenberg Elegies warning of the fate of reading in the electronic age (1). As a English professor he had become alarmed by his television-age students “loss of depth… vertical consciousness” and general inability to grasp “natural wisdom.”

Earlier yet, Neil Postman warned that the flickering screen of televised mass media had robbed us of the ability to learn and communicate serious ideas and therefore we were Amusing Ourselves to Death (2).

Even so, I was encouraged to hear Birkerts acknowledge the existence of at least one refuge for contemplative meditation on the written word–Bible reading Churches. Here, he observed, written words were revered and meditated on daily. It seemed to me that this normative Christian behaivor could lead us back to a greater depth of reasoning and thoughtful communication.

Today there is no longer any debate about the precipitous decline of all publishing–books, magazines, and newspapers. And there is no sign that electronic media can ever fill the void. All of the grave concerns raised about the loss of reading and reasoning came before the advent of the mobile computer, tablet, and smartphone. Now the latter is no longer unique, but ubiquitous. One can only imagine what those prophets of the literary end of days might say about the current state of affairs.

At this point I really must acknowledge I have plunged deeply into much of what passes for modern technology. Though I regularly read conventional books, I also listen to audio books on my phone since this allows me to fit supplemental “reading” into other activities. I rarely resist the temptation to Google almost anything my aging memory failed to “backup for future reference.” Further, I employ several eBibles, Bible study tools, and scripture memorization Apps to supplement conventional study aides. The case for the power and convenience of these tools is compelling. This very blog was written and published on my favorite iPhone Apps.

There is, however one manifestation of the written Word that I have not given up. My big, fat, King James, Defenders Study Bible (3). Like so many “old school” Bibles it is thoroughly marked up with marginal notes as a record of personal study of what God has revealed. You see, I find it difficult to search and meditate on the scriptures daily (Acts 17:11) without laying them open before me. Clearly, I do recognize and utilize numerous modern means for learning and understanding God’s Word. However, for thousands of years faithful believers have sacrificed so many things–including their very lives–just to read the written Word of God. I will never forget the Seattle exhibit of the Dead Sea Scrolls when I read from the sriptures opened to Psalm 119:91, “Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve you” (4)(5).

Yet in church services we App-Switch to rarely used eBibles while cyclical and distracting social media, breaking news, and text pop-ups interupt and arrest our attention. And while most could bring an old-school Bible, we rarely do.  At best, a few scriptures hover in volatile memory just before the screen saver dims. So goes “modern meditation” on God’s Word. (6)

I do hereby challenge myself and others to meditate on the words, meaning, and application of these few representative scriptures related to meditation on God’s Word (7):

“I have chosen the way of truth: thy judgments have I laid before me.”Psalm 119:30, KJV

“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed…” Luke 4:16-18, ESV

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” Isaiah 40:8, NIV 1984

Like every generation before us we simply must find the way to refocus our attention on God’s revelation before it dims and then blanks out the very words of God.

Footnotes:

  1. Sven Birkerts, The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in the Electronic Age, Faber and Faber, 1994. pp.74-76.
  2. Neil Postman, Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, 1985.
  3. Henry M. Morris, The New Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishing, 2005.
  4. Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV, Zondervan, 1984.
  5. Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit tells stories from then and now, Seattle Times, 9/20/2006. http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/dead-sea-scrolls-exhibit-tells-stories-from-then-and-now/
  6. It is debatable whether a fast-paced and dynamic church service (which I enjoy and appreciate) is quite the right place for serious meditation on God’s Word. Perhaps that is best experienced in private study. However, there does seem to be Biblical precedent for such meditation in the community of believers. See Nehemiah 8:1-8; Luke 4:16-18.
  7. We may need to consider the following scriptures as well: Psalm 119:15, 18, 30, 48, 52, 97, 148, 160; Deuteronomy 17:18-20; Amos 8:11-12.
  8. A bit of irony: I am attempting to come to an understanding of the eternal nature of Biblical revelation in a volatile blog post.

Unborn Baby Jokes!

Jokes babies plan to tell…                             after they’re born.

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  • Knock Knock. Who’s there? Adjust. Adjust who? Ha Ha Ha, Adjust told my first joke!
  • What did Baby Corn say to Mommy Corn? – Where’s Pop Corn?
  • Why do we dress baby girls in pink and baby boys in blue? Well, they can’t dress themselves!
  • What is a baby’s favorite constellation? – The big diaper!
  • Knock Knock. Who’s there? Boo. Boo who? Don’t cry, it only a joke!
  • Knock Knock. Who’s there? Dish. Dish who? Mama, dish idd you baby!
  • Knock Knock. Who’s there? Spit-up. Spit-up who? No, seriously, I just spit-up on you.
  • Knock Knock. Who’s there? Fetus. Fetus who? Ha ha! Everyone does know an unborn baby is a person!
  • Knock Knock. Who’s there? Ice-cream. Ice-cream who? No, I scream poo! It’s time to change my diaper! (Imagine a baby giggling right now.)

Atheists Agree – The Universe Is Designed!

The_Heavens_DeclareAccording to Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of Cosmos, the universe is so extremely fine tuned that the odds are extremely high that it’s an artificial computer simulation – designed by aliens. http://www.techinsider.io/neil-degrasse-tyson-thinks-the-universe-might-be-a-simulation-2016-4

Richard Dawkins has suggested that intelligent design theory might be a legitimate pursuit, since, “It could have happened…that a civilization…designed a form of life they seeded onto, perhaps this planet… There could be a “signature”… And that designer could be a higher intelligence…” (Excerpt from the movie Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed, with Ben Stein): https://youtu.be/BoncJBrrdQ8

The late Carl Sagan, in his book and movie, Contact, suggested that if advanced extraterrestrial life did attempt to make contact with us it could use an intelligently designed message (like a string of 26 sequential prime numbers). However, he also admitted that for the code, “To describe the basic structure of a tree, or a blade of grass, or even a one-celled animal you’d need many volumes…” Cosmos E11, The Persistence of Memory, https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x1h5ole_carl-sagan-s-cosmos-e11-the-persistence-of-memory_tv#tab_embed

So yes, atheists agree the universe and you were designed, just not by God, but by aliens.

The Bible characterizes such thinking as follows:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” Romans 1:18-20

Footnotes:

  1. Elon Musk,  We Are ‘Almost Definitely’ Living In A Matrix-style Simulation: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2016/06/03/we-are-almost-definitely-living-in-a-matrix-style-simulation-cla/
  2. Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, 2001, by Crossway Bibles, Good News Publishers.

Not As Bad As Hitler!

I have come to believe that much of the appeal of the so-called reality shows and the spawned “reality stars” comes from a desire to characterize and condemn “Hitlers.” So what are some examples of these modern day monsters? The most villanous might include: Dance Moms, Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Real Housewives of…, and of course Donald Trump. You see, once we have pointed out how outrageous is their behavior we can step back and say, “At least I’m not as bad as Hitler!” Let me share an example I personally observed:

My wife and I were invited to a party that we only learned on arrival was an after-party for a pro-abortion rally. (The picket signs stacked in the front yard were our first warning.) After we sat down and tried to relax, a guy who declared he was Jewish set up a bar stool from which he began to “preach” to like-minded friends. He began to complain about how pro-life leaders were a bunch of self-righteous Christian hypocrites who believed they were the only ones with the truth and that everyone else was going to hell. He kept up his complaints about hell, hard-heartedness, and religious bigotry for quite some time, and each time he raised his voice somebody echoed, “Yeah!” My wife and I could only exchange concerned glances. When the “preacher” was finally satisfied he had rendered all due judgement, he seated himself right next to me. At that point I leaned over to him, introduced myself, and told him I was a Christian and that I believed the only reason I could ever go to heaven is because Jesus died on the cross for my sins. The shock on his face was obvious—he had gone too far. Then it was like something pushed him back and he declared out loud, “I actually do believe there are some really, really, really bad people—like Hitler—who are going to hell.” I then asked him, “So, how really, really, really bad do you have to be to go to hell? Where do you draw the line? And how can you be sure you have not crossed the line?” My new acquaintance went silent. By the end of the party my wife and I had shared about our faith in Christ with everyone who either affirmed a need to get back to church or even return to faith in Christ.

For my part, I have found there is no peace when I compare myself to “bad people.” However, when I finally recognize how holy is the life of Christ then I finally see my own need for forgiveness and God’s goodness and loving kindness are revealed:

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit…”- Titus 3:3-5

 

Scripture quotations from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, 2001, by Crossway Bibles, Good News Publishers.

By faith we understand…

Faith is the essential means for knowledge of anything. Only through faith in the wisdom, power, holiness, goodness, and love of God do we ever truly understand things—that is, their purpose. Hope in the future is grounded in faith that history has a meaning that points to a righteous conclusion. True history corroborates faith in a Biblical creator as the impetus for the rise of the scientific method, since the founders of its chief disciplines, “Had faith in the possibility of science” (1).

All reductionist campaigns to discover a supposed set of elemental processes and laws of the universe have uncovered ever deeper levels of specified complexity. And with each such confirmation of intelligent design the best inference leads us to an Intelligent Designer upholding the universe. Now, as ever, it is most reasonable to accept what scripture reveals, “In him, all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).

As C. S. Lewis concluded, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else” (2).

Therefore according to Hebrews 11:3:

By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Footnotes:

1. Alfred N. Whitehead, Science and the Modern World (New York: Macmillan, 1925). Reprinted (New York: Mentor Books, 1948), p. 13.
2. C. S. Lewis, “They Asked For A Paper,” in Is Theology Poetry? (London: Geoffrey Bless, 1962), pp. 164-165.
3. All scripture quotations from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, 2001, by Crossway Bibles, Good News Publishers.