Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Richard Dawkin's Moral Relativism, can it work?


Frank Turek, the well known co-author of the book “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” says, “If there is no objective morality then love is no better than murder.” At first glance this statement appears to be quite extravagant to say the least. Any rational person knows that there is a stark contrast between love and murder, so isn’t it absurd to say that there is a world where these two things could be equal?

Surprisingly enough the world of moral relativism lays the groundwork for this kind of absurdity to exist in real-time. The fact that we all know innately that love and murder are opposite concepts on the moral spectrum is reason to believe that moral relativism is a bankrupt idealogy. In the world of relative morality we find that the definition of right and wrong is decided by popular opinion and human desire. This means, one society could consider murder as a grevious crime while at the same time a different society could consider murder as a utilitarian good, and neither could say the other is acting immorally.

The need for a transcendent and objective moral code is made obvious by the morally bankrupt nature of relativism. Unless absolute morality exists, morality itself is an illusion. Most people would see it as a self-evident truth that morality is much more than an illusion but rather something grasped innately by all rational people. To argue that morality is an illusion, is to argue against the fabric of human conscience itself. Moral relativism IS the argument that morality as an objective truth is nothing more than an illusion. Is this the kind of world we are meant to live in?

Even worse, if molecule to man evolution is true, our conception of morality is nothing more than a chemically constructed belief. Richard Dawkins said:

“The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”

I must say that I appreciate the frankness of Dawkins in this statement as many atheists try very hard to avoid the logical conclusion of moral relativism. Dawkins faces this absurdity right in the face and admits it. One must ask, “Is this the kind of world we want to live in?” A world in which love and murder could be considered equally moral? A world in which there is no higher morality available to humankind so that we may live in a way that is truly honorable? Thankfully the world of relative morals is the imaginary one.

The world of relative morals is the the world brought into existence by secularists who are bent on ridding society of God. Is it the only alternative to the reality that murder is objectively wrong and love is objectively good as confirmed by a Transcendent Creator who has the proper qualifications to define good and evil absolutely. Many Atheists are terrified at the reality that the only way to truly justify morals is if they come from and All-Knowing, All-Loving, Omnipresent, All-Powerful, Eternal Being. Namely the God of the Bible.

If the source of morality is not omnipresent or eternal then He would not be capable of true omniscience as there may be a time in the past or a place that He doesn’t know about. If the source of morality is not Omniscient, then there may be a better version of morality that He hasn’t learned of. If the source of morality is not All-Loving, then morality is destined to produce standards which fall short of real love. And finally, if the source of morality is not All-Powerful then perfect morality would be useless and unable to be implemented in such a way that the greatest good would ultimately result.

Moral relativism can only be considered objectively good if moral relativism is false. This renders it a logically incoherent worldview worthy of rejection from all reasonable people. Unless objective morality is embraced by humankind once again, we are destined to cannibalize ourselves with opinionated morals that have no foundation in a transcendent truth.

Written by: Kyle Bailey, D.Min.

View the video version of this article here:

Friday, November 22, 2019

The Resurrection of Jesus PROVEN in 5 Minutes



Gary Habermas an American Historian and New Testament Scholar puts forward 6 independent pieces of evidence that the vast majority of scholars, even skeptical scholars agree as being established facts regarding the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. These include:

1) that Jesus died by crucifixion; 

2) that very soon afterwards, his followers suddenly and sincerely came to believe Jesus resurrected from the dead; 

3) that their lives were transformed as a result, even to the point of being willing to die specifically for their faith in the resurrection message; 

4) that these things were taught very soon after the crucifixion; 

5) that James, Jesus’ unbelieving brother, became a Christian due to his own experience that he thought was the resurrected Christ.

6) that the Christian persecutor Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) also became a believer after a similar experience.

These 6 facts directly support the claim that Jesus did rise from the dead. But are their any feasible alternatives in explaining the rise of the world’s most influential religion? Christianity gives a straightforward explanation, that the bodily resurrection of Jesus gave the apostles and early Christians the motivation needed to carry forward their message even unto death. Unhinged and unrelenting skeptics have proposed a variety of alternative and untenable reasons that the early Christians would come to believe in the Resurrection. These proposals include the mass hallucination hypothesis, the elaborate conspiracy hypothesis, and what I call the “Jesus didn’t really die” hypothesis. Which even the early Roman historians rejected. The Romans were exquisite executioners and would’ve laughed at the idea that they would let someone survive their most gruelling punishment, the method of crucifixion.

But what shall we say to the other proposals? Regarding the mass hallucination hypothesis there are multiple problems. One is the diversity of resurrection appearances. To persuade someone that a mass hallucination occured it would be more tenable if the hallucination happened with one group, in one location, at one time. Jesus not only is recorded as having appeared to different individuals but also different groups in different geographical locations under different circumstances.

There is also the familial element to this matter. It is well known that the brothers of Jesus, two of which wrote letters in the New Testament, did not think that Jesus was anything special prior to His Resurrection. However, after the Resurrection they became highly involved leaders in the Christian movement facing great persecution ending with James the brother of Jesus being killed in Jerusalem. It’s one thing to propose that those who already believed in Jesus hallucinated, however strange that may be, but it’s an entirely different thing to propose that unbelievers such as the brothers of Jesus would come to a sudden and sincere belief in the resurrection of Christ through hallucinatory means.

As it pertains to the elaborate conspiracy hypothesis we also find many irreconcilable problems in addition to the fact that there was no material benefit to being an early Christian because you would be persecuted violently and in many instances have your property seized. Forensic experts such as Warner Wallace explain that real conspiracies rarely actually succeed. Wallace shows that you need 5 minimum requirements for a successful conspiracy which are:

1. A small number of conspirators

Preferably no more than 2. In the case of the New Testament we have a reported 513 witnesses.

2. A short conspiracy timespan

Keep in mind the apostles preached the resurrection without defecting for upwards of 40 years.

3. Excellent communication

In the New Testament the apostles spread to many different locations with only unreliable communication methods such as sending letter via horseback.

4. Strong familial relationships

The 513 New Testament resurrection witnesses including the apostles were from a variety of familial backgrounds.

5. Little to no pressure to confess

Early Christians were severely persecuted until 312 a.d. When Emperor Constantine converted to the Christian faith.

The claims of Christianity have none of these minimum requirements in terms of being able to make the elaborate conspiracy hypothesis tenable. Being that the main proposals from skeptics are found to be left wanting in every way we can arrive at the realization that even though these alternative explanations could be presented as “possible” they cannot be presented as “reasonable.” The infeasible nature of the alternative explanations to the resurrection count as additional proof for the credibility of the resurrection. Combine this with the 6 established facts that even skeptical scholars agree with and you have proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead. Chuck Colson, the special counsel to President Nixon during the Watergate scandal says:

“I know the resurrection is a fact and Watergate proved it to me. How? Because 12 men testified they had seen Jesus raised from the dead, then they proclaimed that truth for 40 years, never once denying it. Every one was beaten, tortured, stoned and put in prison. They would not have endured that if it weren't true. Watergate embroiled 12 of the most powerful men in the world-and they couldn't keep a lie for three weeks. You're telling me 12 apostles could keep a lie for 40 years? Absolutely impossible.”

The rise of naturalism in modern times has produced a widespread disbelief in the supernatural. This is because naturalism as a worldview rejects any possibility of the supernatural as a core tenant of their belief system. This means that the naturalist cannot objectively evaluate evidence concerning the Resurrection of Jesus because they have already concluded that resurrections are impossible from the start. This prohibits the naturalist from “following the evidence wherever it leads.”

In the late 19th century and early 20th century a movement to try to compare Christianity to pagan myths that described dying a rising gods arose like Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, and others. Scholars of that time wanted to explain away the resurrection of Jesus by trying to say that it was influenced by these ancient pagan myths. Soon after the movement fell apart within New Testament scholarship.

This mainly because the parallels were shown to be spurious because in reality these “dying and rising gods” were merely symbols of the seasonal cycles that ancient people experienced from summer to fall and so forth. In fact, these gods were not dying and rising at all when examined closely. Also, there has been no ability to show causal connection between these pagan myths and the early disciples who were Jewish. The Jewish disciples were part of a culture that rejected pagan myths, especially in the realm of the disciples in particular who are portrayed as devout, law observant Jews in the New Testament.

Written by: Kyle Bailey, D.Min.

Calvinism vs Arminianism



Calvinism and Arminianism have come to represent two major themes over the years as it relates to the salvation of mankind with Calvinism placing an emphasis on God’s sovereignty and Arminianism placing an emphasis on human free will. Thus we have the popular disagreements that surface all across Christendom regarding free will vs the Sovereignty of God.

It became a major issue during the 15 and 1600’s after Martin Luther started the Great Reformation which birthed the Protestant church. John Calvin was a prominent protestant theologian of that era who wrote his thesis entitled “The Intitutes of the Christian religion.” Within Calvin's theology we find many teachings that later developed into what we know today as Calvinism.

Jacobus Arminius was a critic of John Calvin’s theology and after some time his disciples developed 5 counter points to John Calvin’s teachings on salvation and human free will. This was all brought to a formal organization of theology in 1610 in a document called the Remonstrance. About 9 years later at the Synod of Dort followers of John Calvin rejected the 5 points of Arminianism and developed their own five points which are widely used today in an acrostic spelled “TULIP.”

The T in tulip stands for total depravity. This means that humans are sinful in every component of their nature including mind, will, and emotions. So much so that they are unable to even respond positively to the gospel without the regeneration of their hearts by the Holy Spirit beforehand. Arminianism would argue that the flip side of this means that God leaves most human beings in a condition in which they are unable to be saved and this goes against His loving nature. They argue that human beings are depraved but everyone has a dose of Grace that gives them the ability to receive the Gospel freely if they choose.

The U in tulip stands for unconditional election. This means that those who are chosen by God are not chosen on the basis of their free decision to receive the Gospel but rather with no conditions at all in mind. That is God chooses them on the basis of his own private reasons and not any action that they chose to do. Arminianism would argue that this makes God's choosing arbitrary, rather than His Word teaching that he chooses to save all who humble themselves and receive the Gospel.

The L in tulip stands for limited atonement. This is often an element of Calvinism that is even rejected by some Calvinists. It essentially teaches that because God already chose beforehand whom He would save then it follows that the atonement of Christ was only specifically for those who would be redeemed and not for the whole world. Arminianism responds to this by arguing that the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus died for the whole world.

The I in tulip stands for irresistible Grace. This is deeply connected with total depravity in that it teaches that because of our depravity God must irresistibly draw the people He has chosen, otherwise the calvinist argues, no one who is totally depraved would ever choose to receive the Gospel. The arminian responds to this by arguing but it goes against God's loving nature to essentially Force somebody to be saved and although human beings are depraved God still by his grace gives them an opportunity to choose salvation.

The P in tulip stands for perseverance of the Saints. This teaches that since God chose those who would be saved irresistibly then it makes no sense that they would not persevere in their righteousness until the very end. As a result no one who is truly saved can lose their salvation. Arminianism responds do this by arguing that God is so loving that if someone wants to walk away from their salvation He would let them.

It's important to understand that many theologians who do not identify with Calvinism or arminianism believe in what is called eternal security. This teaches that True Believers cannot lose their salvation however it's not related to the election of God but rather evidence found within the scriptures. Jesus said in John 10 verses 28 through 30- "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” This goes to show that Christians can believe that you can't lose your salvation without actually being a calvinist as a whole.

It's important to understand that Free Will and God's sovereignty may appear to be contradictory however if we understand the Transcendent nature of God it's reasonable to assume that these two things can be reconciled even if they are difficult to comprehend with our human mind. It is possible within the Transcendence of God for humans to be 100% free to choose to receive the Gospel and for God to be 100% Sovereign at the same time.

Written by: Kyle Bailey, D.Min.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

What is Mormonism?


Mormonism all began in 1820 in Manchester, New York when a 14 year old boy named Joseph Smith became confused about all of the church denominations. He was wondering which one was the “true way to God.” He went into the woods to ask God which church he should join and allegedly God the Father and Jesus appeared to him stating that none of the modern denominations are true and that he was chosen to reestablish Jesus’ true church. 3 years later he was visited by the angel Moroni who told him where to find the “sacred golden plates” under a rock on a hill. Around the same time the angel supposedly gave him “seer stones” which helped him translate the golden tablets into the Book of Mormon which is the core sacred book for Mormons. The translation process was bizarre in that Smith hid behind a curtain while looking into a hat that contained the stones and as writing was illuminated on the stones he dictated it to his scribe on the other side of the curtain.

Joseph was a talented influencer and his followers were persecuted for polygamist activities and strange theological views. It’s reported that Joseph Smith married up to 40 women, some were already married. One of his wives was named “Helen Mar Kimball” and she was only 14 when they married. Its reported that Smith manipulated her into marriage by threatening that and angel with a flaming sword would bring destruction if she didn’t marry him. An angry mob eventually killed Joseph Smith in 1844.

Mormon theology is derived from the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, a book called the Pearl of Great Price, and the King James Bible. Mormons believe God the Father was once a man on a former planet who ascended to Godhood. They believe God the Father and Heavenly Mother produced Jesus as their first born spirit-son. According to Mormonism the Holy Spirit does not have a body but is a spirit. Some unique religious rules in Mormon theology are: no coffee, no rated R movies, no shopping on Sundays, attending church for 3 hours each Sunday, read the mormon holy books, believe in Joseph Smith as a prophet, complete the various “ordinances,” and also participate in “temple work.”

Mormon Temples are important because you can’t perform most ordinances outside of them. The ordinances include being baptized, and being endowed (which is when you are of age you visit the temple, are giving special holy underwear for protection, are given a new name to be called in heaven, learn a secret handshake and secret passwords to get into heaven, if you’re not a full tithe payer you can’t be endowed), other ordinances include temple marriage, as well as “receiving the priesthood” (a formal ceremony enabling males age 12 to 18 to act in the name of God). African Americans were not allowed to receive the priesthood until 1978, but Joseph Smith allegedly gave the priesthood to at least two African Americans, confusing right? Marriage is very important because in Mormon Heaven you and your eternal spouse can produce spirit children and create your own worlds for the spirit children to become humans on and potentially become gods themselves. Baptisms for the dead are common practice in which you can give a person the choice to be released from spirit prison by being baptized for them. Ordinances for the dead are done to attempt to give them entry to a better place in the afterlife.

According to Mormonism everyone comes from a “premortal life” where they were spirit babies with God on a distant planet next to a star call Kolab. God came up with a plan to send us all to earth where we become mortal and have free-will so that we can be tested. God’s first born spirit son Jesus agreed to be sent as a redeemer to us so that we can possibly ascend to godhood like God the Father through becoming Mormons. Satan proposed a different plan in which no one on earth gets free will and would be forced to follow God’s commandments and be saved. God didn’t like this plan but he let everyone in premortal existence choose whose plan they would follow. Thus ⅓ of the pre mortal spirits chose satan's plan and were cast out of heaven with satan and now tempt those who live on the Earth.

According to Mormonism when we are born we cross over from premortal into a mortal existence where we have a choice to do good or bad. The Mormon afterlife has multiple phases but begins with 2 places that you can go. You can go to spirit paradise or spirit prison- spirit prison is similar to a school where those who didn’t become Mormons are taught the mormon gospel and given an opportunity to choose to exit spirit prison. Members of spirit paradise are Mormons who teach the students in spirit prison. After this there is a resurrection and final judgment and then God sends people to one of 4 different options in the afterlife based upon their deeds and whether or not they are a Mormon. The celestial kingdom is for outstanding Mormons who completed their ordinances- full of bliss. The terrestrial kingdom is for people who did not complete their ordinances and non-members, a very nice place. The telestial kingdom, mainly for bad people- still pretty nice. The last option is outer darkness which is reserved for those who have a full knowledge of the truth and deny it in the face of God- they are completely cut off from God.

The governmental structure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints consists of a headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah. The top leader is a Prophet who has two counselors, under them are the quorum of the twelve, and under them are the quorum of the seventy elders. The prophet can supposedly receive revelation and is the mouthpiece of God. The apostles go around preaching in LDS churches throughout the year. When a prophet dies, the longest serving apostle becomes the prophet and the former prophets two counselors return to the quorum of the 12 apostles, then the prophet chooses through revelation his two counselors from among the 12 apostles. Therefore 1 person from the 70 is chosen to be an apostle and fill the vacancy. The senior most apostle is the leader of the apostles. Under the 70 elders are stake leaders and under the stake leaders are local bishops and under the bishops there the local church leaders.

By now you know that Mormonism is certainly strange compared to traditional Christian beliefs. The biggest point of contention is who the person of Jesus is for Mormons. In Mormonism, Jesus is a spirit child of God the Father and heavenly mother and the spirit brother of satan, in Christianity Jesus is the co-eternal, co-equal Son of God the Father who has always existed as God. 

Written by: Kyle Bailey, D.Min.

Friday, November 1, 2019

What is the Gospel?




Galatians chapter 1 verse 8 says “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God's curse!”

This scripture helps us understand how critical it is for us to know what the Biblical Gospel is. The word Gospel comes from a Greek word meaning “Good News.” In order for us to truly appreciate the good news we have to better understand the story of the Bible as a whole. It’s not often that we hear good news in this broken world that we're living in. The headlines are full of death, turmoil, division, and despair. The story of the Bible begins with helping us understand how the world became this way.

In the beginning of the Biblical narrative we find God presented as the Creator of the Universe, but something very different about the world is emphasized in the Biblical narrative. The world was good! In the early chapters of Genesis we find God repeatedly saying that His created world was full of goodness. That is, there was no evil, sin, sickness or death present within the world.

The Garden of Eden reflected a time in the distant past when Heaven and Earth were connected and God and Humanity were in a beautiful relationship with one another. But as the story continues something sinister takes place. We find the demonic appearance of satan in humanity’s habitat tempting them to rebel against God. Yes, the famous story of Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve yielded to the temptation and thus triggered a cascade of disorder and dysfunction that has plagued mankind ever since. We were plunged into a world characterized by corruption in our hearts.

Directly afterwards God in His mercy predicts in Genesis chapter 3 verse 15 that a descendant of Adam and Eve would suffer and defeat the works of satan, this person is known by the Biblical phrase “Messiah.” This is the beginning of the Gospel or “good news.” From here we find a long lineage of descendants who do great things for God but ultimately succumb to temptation and corruption in one way or another. This cyclical pattern emphasizes that a merely natural descendant of Adam and Eve does not have the capacity to defeat the works of satan in and of themselves. Thus the story of the Bible culminates brilliantly in the person of Jesus Christ.

Throughout the initial part of the Biblical story we find the identity of the Messiah becoming more and more specified as a total of 315 prophecies about him were written. By the time that Jesus Christ arrives on the scene the Jewish nation was eagerly awaiting the appearance of the Biblical Messiah. The works of satan were ravaging humanity and the people were yearning for the announcement of good news. At the birth of Jesus we find the angel proclaim:

Luke 2:11- “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

Jesus’ entire ministry was characterized by good news for those whom He encountered. He healed the sick, cleansed the leper, made blind eyes see, caused the lame to walk, and raised people from the dead. When Jesus would arrive in villages thousands of people would show up to see him and hear him teach. In John chapter 7 verse 46 it says

“Never has anyone spoken like this man!”

Even with the incredible miracles done during Jesus' ministry and the many prophecies fulfilled by him there was still a deeper issue within humanity that needed to be addressed. The issue of slavery to sin. In order for our bonds to be broken someone has to pay the price for our redemption. Jesus paid the price to redeem us from sin with His life’s blood. He died on the cross in our place, for our sin, so that we can be forgiven and filled with the Holy Spirit.

There couldn’t be any better news than this! But that's not the end of the story. After 3 days Jesus resurrected from the dead with an immortal, glorified body. The Bible teaches that through faith in Him we get to experience the same kind of resurrection at the end of the age. The gospel is good news about the free gift of eternal life offered to humanity through Jesus Christ.

We cannot save ourselves from the bondage of sin. God became flesh and He alone paid the full price for our redemption through His blood. The good news is, you can know that you have eternal life. Romans 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” and Romans 10:9 says “If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Written by: Kyle Bailey, D. Min.

Can Atheism explain the meaning of life?

I think the reason that Atheism fails on the question of life’s meaning is because the underpinnings of Atheism are typically materialism ...