Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Resolutions for Christian Advancement of Politics and Culture

With this last post of 2013, I would like to establish some resolutions that every Christian in America should adopt to improve our country's political and social structure. This is not an exhaustive list, of course, nor does it necessarily indicate the most important things for Christians to focus on.

1. Witness

It is no surprise that witnessing is sure to help out with any social decline. When we discuss social problems after all, we are usually referring to the increase of certain immorality. We all know that God transforms lives. Thus, a society based on Christianity would naturally have fewer social issues. Of course, that is all from a Christian perspective. Non-Christians would likely view these social issues as no concern at all. That is exactly the reason why witnessing can impact social structure so positively. 

So we see that as the Bible says
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

This is obviously not the most important reason to witness. The most important reason to witness is not any mere practical consequence in this earth, but rather for eternity. This though goes without saying. 

2. Stay Informed

Here's the thing about having Christians to influence politics and culture. It's absolutely fantastic, but it doesn't actually happen if Christians live like hermits in caves, completely unaware of what is going on in the world. We shouldn't obsess over any social, cultural, or political crisis. We are after all called as the cliche says to be in this world, but not of this world. But sometimes, I think Christians forget that we still need to be IN the world. 

You may think it doesn't matter what happens in the world, but we know that the politics of this nation could threaten the right of people in this country to worship the Lord freely. Right now, we are already seeing attacks on prayer in schools and other similar items. We need to be informed about threats to every one of our rights because every right protects the others. 

3. Engage

So we're informed. Christianity now allows our society and politics to advance, right? Not exactly. It does little good to be informed if we don't use that information for good. We must be willing to engage with the society, with the government, with the courts. We need to be prepared to act. There is a quotation attributed to Samuel Adams that goes, 
"It does not take a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men."

If we manage to witness effectively and strengthen a Christian majority in this country, a majority that is now informed about the troubles facing our country, we have accomplished nothing if we don't actively pursue change. Knowing the plagues and issues in our country only will serve to depress us if we don't do something about preventing them. That is the final step for Christians to positively influence America.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christian Apologetics Series 6: The Biblical Canon

There was a time when the church had to decide what books should be included in the canon of scriptures. As difficult as it is to conceive, their aim was to decipher what parts of scripture were divinely inspired. Obviously, this is not an easy task; thus, we should not be surprised to see disagreement among different denominations about the Biblical canon.

I'm not referring to different versions of the Bible (i.e. KJV vs. NIV). Instead I am discussing the idea that certain books of the Bible are included in some canons that are entirely omitted in others. How does one tell if a book is divinely inspired and should then be included in the Bible?

Old Testament Canon (The Hebrew Canon)

We know that Jesus often quoted from books we now call the Old Testament. What some might not know, however, was that the canonized Old Testament was already in place at that very time. 

Indeed the canon we use for the Old Testament is the Jewish canon/scripture that existed in Jesus' time. As Wayne Grudem says in his book, Systematic Theology
"In the New Testament, we have no record of any dispute between Jesus and the Jews over the extent of the canon. Apparently there was full agreement between Jesus and his disciples, on the one hand, and the Jewish leaders or Jewish people, on the other hand, that additions to the Old Testament canon had ceased after the time of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. This fact is confirmed by the quotations of Jesus and the New Testament authors from the Old Testament. According to one count, Jesus and the New Testament authors quote various parts of the Old Testament Scriptures as divinely authoritative over 295 times,but not once do they cite any statement from the books of the Apocrypha or any other writings as having divine authority. The absence of any such reference to other literature as divinely authoritative, and the extremely frequent reference to hundreds of places in the Old Testament as divinely authoritative, gives strong confirmation to the fact that the New Testament authors agreed that the established Old Testament canon, no more and no less, was to be taken as God’s very words."

If it was good enough for Jesus and his disciples, it's good enough for me.

Apocrypha's Introduction to Catholic Canon

We saw in our last quotation from Mr. Grudem that Jesus and his disciples throughout the entire New Testament never once quoted from the Apocrypha. This of course doesn't prove that the Apocrypha isn't inspired and shouldn't be a part of the canon, but it does raise some serious concerns.

The idea that the Apocrypha is divinely inspired is even more doubtful when you consider when it was added to canon. It was the Reformation. Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others were challenging Catholic doctrines. Here the Roman Catholic Church declared that the Apocrypha was divinely inspired and now a part of the canon of Scriptures.

I'm not necessarily accusing the Catholic Church of "pretending" that the Apocrypha was divinely inspired because they needed support for their beliefs, but I have to admit the timing is a bit questionable.

Now of course, there had been much discussion of the Apocrypha before this point (some wanting it to be a part of the canon), but this was the first time that it was actually accepted as canonized. In the years past, it was widely viewed as a supplement, like we might view books by C.S. Lewis or R.C. Sproul today. It was never accepted as divinely inspired, even among the Catholic Church until such time as support for their doctrines was needed.

That just seems a little sketchy to me. Even if the intentions of the Catholic officials were entirely pure, it is so easy to let your own agenda cloud what God is trying to tell you. Considering that, I see no reason to add to the canon accepted at the time of Christ.

The New Testament Canon

The New Testament canon we have today is built upon the ideas developed  by the Apostles. The letters they wrote and the texts they preserved were included to further preserve them. That was the backbone of the New Testament canon.

Today, there is little debate over the books that should be included in the New Testament canon. For whatever reason, almost all sects and denominations can agree on the 27 books we call the New Testament. There were some questions initially about books such as James and Jude, but those concerns have drifted away. 

A Final Note

The faith that we can have in the canon of scripture we hold and read today is not a great testament to the brilliant works of men and their ability to determine what is inspired and what is not. No, indeed, it is a testament of God's faithful hand directing these men's decisions in regard to the Biblical canon. As Wayne Grudam writes in Systematic Theology, 
"Once again, God’s faithfulness to his people convinces us that there is nothing missing from Scripture that God thinks we need to know for obeying him and trusting him fully. The canon of Scripture today is exactly what God wanted it to be, and it will stay that way until Christ returns."

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, Readers!

If you are reading this right now, it might mean you are locked in your room waiting for your Christmas festivities to be ready. I feel your pain. I shall try to make you forget it.

On Christmas morning, we all like to read the Christmas story. Call me crazy, but my favorite Christmas passage comes from Philippians 2. I told you to call me crazy. Bear with me though, I do have a point.

Philippians 2 describes Jesus coming to Earth from his perspective, and really points out that his sacrifice for our sins started way before the cross.

Philippians 2:6-11 states,
"Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

 Just a thought for you this morning. Jesus gave up his throne to live as a servant and ultimately die for your sins. Are you willing to do the same?

Philippians 2:5,
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus."

Monday, December 23, 2013

Duck Dynasty Drama: The Cornerstone of Freedom Under Attack

It was the story of the week. Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson was asked about his beliefs on gay marriage. He did the only possible thing, and freely spoke his mind. Since then, there has been much outrage. Phil Robertson's comments are said to be discriminatory. A&E has in turn, discriminated against Phil, banning him from the TV network.

Immediately, Christians and conservatives around the world have clamoured and claimed that A&E is violating Mr. Robertson's freedom of speech.

But that claim is dead wrong. I'd just like to let you all know at this point that I support Phil Robertson. I believe in all that he said, but I will not change my opinion of freedom based on the political agenda that is being propagated.

Freedom of speech is a civil right. This means it is a right guaranteed us by the Constitution and Bill of Rights (and later the Civil Rights Act), all of which act to restrain government from interfering in our lives (the Civil Rights Act goes a little further; more on that later). As the great Richard Castle (yes, the fictional character) has said,
"Technically, I'd have to be the government to violate your civil rights." 
A&E as a private institution is incapable of violating the civil rights of others. (As far as I can tell, A&E did not stop Mr. Robertson's controversial comments; thus, he was allowed to exercise free speech.) Instead, they themselves have a civil right to running their businesses in a way they see fit. This may seem ridiculous to you, but all private organizations have the right to discriminate against anyone for any reason. We can argue that it is wrong of them to do so (and generally it is), but it is not within governmental jurisdiction to force businesses or any private individual to act in a manner that government sees fit.

The same conservatives speaking out against this "civil rights violation" done by A&E have made the same argument on numerous occasions. A month ago, a cake business refused service to homosexuals. There was outrage, there was want of a government intervention, but conservatives correctly pointed out it was not the government's business.

But now the stakes have changed, pushing down a more conservative agenda, and oh how much difference we see from the world around us. We have to let our principles stand no matter what supports our agenda.

This path that we have been taken on both sides of the political aisle could have massive negative repercussions to freedom in America. In Britain, this idea is completely ingrained in the law.  So when Mr. and Mrs. Bull elected not to allow any unwed couples to stay in the same room together, they were sued for discrimination, and ultimately were forced to sell their business. All because the state didn't agree with their decisions. You see, companies have their own civil rights, and if we're not careful, if we try to protect the individual's civil rights beyond how it applies to government, we will fall in a trap of violating their rights. Remember, that businesses are run by people, not machines. The CEOs are afforded the same right as individuals.

Robin Koerner of explains this situation perfectly,
"Logically, Mr and Mrs Bull can only have committed a crime if the couple they turned away had an actual right to be served by them. Yet, the Bulls are not compelled to offer their service to anyone. So how can it be that party A’s (the Bulls) making a free choice to transact with party B (a married couple) creates a new right for party C (unmarried couple)? What kind of right would that be?"
This strikes to the very core of the issue. Everyone must have the right to their own private property, to handle it as they see fit and appropriate. Ludwig von Mises called it, "The cornerstone of every civilization." It is threatened by this ideology that has taken control of the British system.

But we in America are not much better. As you have seen, this mindset is already set in the minds of many Americans. But not only is it in the people, it is in the legislation. The Civil Rights Act for all its virtues has one major vice. It seeks to enforce its views of anti-discrimination onto private individuals and organizations.

As Senator Rand Paul explains,
"There are ten different titles to the Civil Rights Act and nine out of ten deal with public institutions and I am absolutely in favor of [them]. One deals with private institutions, and had I been around, I would have tried to modify that. But the other thing about legislation – and this is why it is a little hard to say where you are sometimes – is that when you support nine out of ten things in a good piece of legislation, do you vote for it or against it?”
The Duck Dynasty drama and debate is about a much more complicated and important phenomenon than whether A&E or Duck Dynasty are right about their views about homosexuality. Instead it sticks to the very heart of freedom. We should be afraid of the ramifications of how quick we are to apply civil rights to businesses. We should no longer push for such moves so religiously.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Is Laziness a Sin?

Recently, I have been pondering the question found in my title. Is is wrong for us to be lazy?

The Bible does warn against being lazy. In Proverbs 6:6-11, we are told to,
"Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man."

We are here cautioned against the negative consequences of laziness, but I can hear several voices at once, saying, just because it's bad practice doesn't necessarily mean we're commanded not to do it. Thus, our laziness doesn't necessarily count as a sin.

My nature is one to make similar arguments at every turn myself (immediately discounting them of course), so I was still a little skeptical of whether laziness itself should be considered a sin - an unwise practice most definitely, but was it a sin?

As I kept reflecting upon this, God showed me that I was looking at it all wrong. At its core, laziness shows a failure to commit to a cause. It highlights an attitude of selfishness, saying that my effort and time is more important than whatever task we are supposed to be doing.

When we work to serve the Lord, we best not be doing it lazily. We best not be wanting to put our time and effort above the Lord's will. We best not be trying to get away with the bare minimum.

Yet in Colossians 3:22-24, we hear,
"Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."

Well, that's a commandment to do everything like we would do for the Lord, all heartily. I guess laziness is a sin after all.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Christian Apologetics Series 5: Bible Divinely Inspired

We have seen in the last few posts that it is very logical to believe that a God exists. But what can we know about this God? Many different books exist claiming that they are the mouthpiece of God. But none of them compare to the Bible. What this post seeks to prove is that it is logical to believe the Bible is inspired by God, rather than other holy books.

Keep in mind that most skeptics of the Bible admit that it is a historically accurate book.

The Disciples' Unique Position

Many people have believed in many different gods over the years, not knowing whether their views were true or not. When Jesus' disciples began to propagate the principles of Christianity (and of Jesus' resurrection), they were in the unique position to actually know whether their beliefs were true. They saw with their own eyes whether Jesus really did resurrect from the dead. 

If we want to think that the New Testament is a flawed document, we must think that the disciples were willfully sharing a false religion. 

A question for my audience, what would you be willing to die for? Maybe if you found truth, maybe for yourself, but would you be willing to die or be persecuted for a lie that doesn't even benefit you? Not many people would be willing to undergo such persecution to spread any sort of lie. But here are several individuals doing that very thing. 

A Pharisee at the time of the Disciples makes this exact argument in Acts 5:34-40,
"Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God."

Scientific Discoveries 

Most Bible skeptics like to point out Christians and the Bible as always being a hindrance to science. Not only is this statement not even true for Christians, it is exactly the opposite when it comes to the Bible itself. 

As Dr. Hugh Ross, scientist and founder of the think-tank, Reasons to Believe, explained,
"Not only is the Bible filled with the fundamentals of science, but it is as much as 3,000 years ahead of its time. The Bible's statements in most cases directly contradicted the science of the day in which they were made. When modern scientific knowledge approaches reality, the divine accuracy of the scriptures is substantiated...In the crucible of scientific investigation, the Bible has proven invariably to be correct. No other book, ancient or modern, can make this claim; but then, no other book has been written (through men) by God."

In this article, Dr. Ross also lists several times in which the Bible accurately told of a truth about nature many years before science discovered it to be true, including the earth is a sphere (Isaiah 40:22), the difference between individual stars (I Corinthians 15:41), and how the procedures for uncleanness reduced the spread of bacteria.

It is no surprise that God, creator of the world, could know these precepts about nature. But how could men who were not exactly scientists have deciphered these concepts of nature so much sooner than the rest of the world?


Let me remind you that the Bible is either written by God through about 40 different men over a span of 1500 years, or was written by 40 different authors over a span of 1500 years with no supervising director. Those are our only two options. 

What might one expect from a document written from several sources and different time periods? A mess of contradictions is what I would expect. But what do we get with the Bible? 

In the Bible, we see prophecy after prophecy fulfilled. As the aforementioned Dr. Ross indicates, 2000 Biblical prophecies have been fulfilled through both historical events and within the Bible itself. 

One may wish to nit-pick the individual examples of the prophecies and explain them away, but they cannot answer why men would write fictitious prophecies in hopes that one day someone else will write fictitious fulfillments of those prophecies. As Matthew McGee writes

"Are we to believe that the Old Testament prophets each decided to write the beginning of a great story and then said, "Maybe in a thousand years or so, someone will come along and write a good ending to this?" That would be ridiculous. No man would decide to do such a thing on his own, much less a large group of men who did not know each other or even live at the same time. Therefore, the unity of scripture despite a diversity of writers is evidence of the Bible's divine authorship."

Fallible Men Used

Skeptics of the Bible may still not be convinced. They may argue that since fallible men were involved in the process, there couldn't possibly have been an infallible document created. We should know that an all-powerful God has the ability to direct the words of fallible man to create his perfect word. As 2 Peter 1:21 says,
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."

Monday, December 16, 2013

America's Biggest Problem

When we examine our government, we can outline several problems. We have a too strong central government. We have a nation whose people are content living off the government. We have a inconceivable tax burden. We have chosen economic winners and losers in our country. We have furthermore tried to determine on several occasions who wins and loses in conflicts on the opposite ends of the world.

Some wouldn't consider these problems. I do. Whether you do, or not is not the purpose of this post. No matter what you consider problems in America today, the biggest one is the lack of moral compass.

You may think this is no big deal, or that it is a problem with our culture, but certainly wouldn't affect our government, right? Our Founding Fathers would disagree.
"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." -John Adams

"[O]nly a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters." -Benjamin Franklin

Our freedom according to these men is linked to our morality. Our morality, as we have discussed before, is linked with God and Christianity. Thus, our freedom is linked to Christianity and the Christian God.

What is the biggest problem our country faces? That we are not abiding by Psalm 33:12,
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord."

Friday, December 13, 2013

"For Your Sakes:" The Blame Game

In Numbers 20, (a passage I've looked at before), the Israelites complain to Moses about their want and thirst for water. They even go so far as saying Moses took them out of the land of Egypt to kill them in the wilderness due to their lack of water.

Moses immediately does the right thing. He takes his issue up with the Lord to consult his help. This is something we should all do with any trials or difficult positions in which we find ourselves.

God tells Moses to speak to the rock, and water will come out. However, Moses decides God's way is no longer the best way to solve the problem and decides instead to strike the rock as he had done before in Exodus 17.

This disobedience to the Lord would ultimately cause Moses not to be able to enter the Promised Land. As Numbers 20:11-12 states,
"And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."

Clearly, Moses made a mistake, and this mistake kept him out of the Promised Land. Simply, it was his fault and his alone that he was unable to enter therein.

Yet, in the book of Deuteronomy, commonly considered Moses' farewell address, Moses mentions nothing of this. In Deuteronomy 1:37, Moses proclaims.
"Also the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither."

"For your sakes." On two other occasions (Deuteronomy 3:25-27 and Deuteronomy 4:21), Moses blames the Israelites for his own actions, saying the Lord would not let me into the Promised Land "for your sakes." In this area, Moses refuses to take responsibility for his own actions, instead blaming it on the Israelites. Although the point can be made that the Israelites caused his sin by putting him in a precarious situation, it was still his responsibility to handle that situation with obedience to the Lord. In the end, he needed to take responsibility for his own actions and not blame it on someone else.

Of course, we need to do the same. Even the most humble servant of the Lord is not immune to making mistakes. But what is perhaps most telling of our character is how we respond. Do we take the blame or do we find someone else we can assess as the cause of all our problems?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christian Apologetics Series 4: The Existence of God

In our last post of the series, we saw that God must exist to provide a foundation for truth. In this particular post, I wish to further this thought by providing additional reasons why it is very logical to believe God exists.

(Note: Although I certainly believe that the Christian God is the God of which I speak in this particular post, I will not as of yet be entertaining that idea. Instead, I will be analyzing that idea in the following posts.)

Cosmological Argument

It is a warm, sunny day, and you have decided to go to a park with some friends. As you turn around looking for a field where you and your friends can play, you get hit in the back with your frisbee. If you're like me, you immediately turn around to ascertain who threw the frisbee into your back, so you can give them a high-five for their good aim. It will never cross your mind that maybe the frisbee just happened to hit your back because you know that there was a cause (someone throwing the frisbee) to the effect (getting hit in the back). 

This is called the Law of Causality, and it is a universal principle. For every effect, there is a cause. Frisbees just don't hit people in the backs of their own accord! Examining the world around us, however, we see a pretty marvelous effect that would require a very marvelous cause in order to be. In other words, cause and effect is not just true within the world, it is also true of the world. The world must needs have a cause. 

There are a few options as to what this cause could be. One might assert that the universe caused itself into a being - that a big bang exploded the universe into being. This assertion raises the question, what caused this explosion?

The universe could not possibly have created itself. As R.C. Sproul puts it in The Consequences of Ideas
"For something to create or cause itself, it must be before it is. It must be and not be, or exist and not exist, at the same time."

This is a clear violation of any rational thought. We are then left with two options, either the universe is self-existent, or there is a self-existent being (or God) who created the world in the first place. Either way, something has always existed.

The great philosopher Immanuel Kant argues against the cosmological argument on the basis that the law of causality is limited solely to within the world, and not to the world itself. Further, Kant argues that just because reason dictates there must be something self-existent, doesn't prove anything because that assumes the universe is rational. Well, yes, actually, it does. I would like to respond to Kant's views, but since he already tells us that reason would detail that he is wrong, what more is there for me to say? His argument that the universe is irrational cannot be proven, nor disproven. But I believe that just as a frisbee only hits you in the back if there was a cause (someone throwing it), that the universe only exists because God made it.

Teleological Argument

A book is owned by almost everyone. It is a dictionary, and it includes many detailed descriptions of different words commonly used in that tongue. It is well-organized too (alphabetization certainly makes words easy to find). If you are examining a dictionary, you would find that it always has a publisher. Whether it be Webster's, Oxford, or the American Heritage Dictionary, you can tell that it has been intelligently designed by someone. 

This same concept seems obvious in our world today. When we see items of pure beauty, we automatically think about how it was made, of who designed it. Yet many people would deny that this very world with all its intricacies was made by a creator. Instead, they say that this world was developed over time by sheer chance. 

Science is said to be the end-all for answering this type of question, but since science is limited to what we have observed, and no one observed the beginning of the universe, I much prefer to answer these questions with logic and common sense. Common sense dictates that this universe could not have come by random chance. 

There is great order in the universe, and it seems illogical to assume that such order could have been formed randomly. After all, random is defined by Merriam Webster's Online Dictionary as, 
"Lacking a definite plan, purpose, or pattern."

Unplanned order just doesn't happen in the rational world. You don't get a dictionary ordered alphabetically by sheer random chance, and you don't get a world with great order in any similar fashion.

The Biblical Response

We have seen now ample reasons from the world around us to believe that there is a God who existed and created the world. Of course, Christians shouldn't be surprised. We were told this very fact in Romans 1:20
"For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse."

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Bailout by Any Other Name

I love Rand Paul. His beliefs entirely embody mine in many ways. In fact, I was beginning to wonder whether I was dreaming up this perfect politician, but that is no longer a concern (not that I still don't like him, just that now I know he's not perfect).

Last week, Rand Paul unveiled his "free market" solution for a Detroit recovery. His plan entails that Detroit (and other "struggling" cities) will be given "Economic freedom zones," where the federal government will end interference in local economies, specifically mentioning a decrease in federal corporate income taxes. The idea is to attract companies back into Detroit to boost its economy. It is presented as a more free market approach than a direct bailout. Although it is definitely more likely to be beneficial in Detroit than a traditional bailout, its linkage to the free market is questionable.

Bailouts are considered wrong because they distort the market by redistributing wealth as a form of charity. (For information as to why redistribution is wrong, I recommend Davy Crockett's "Not Yours to Give.") These tax cuts do the exact same thing, just with a disguise. Rather than being bestowed money by the federal government, you get to simply keep money that you normally would be required to give to the federal government.

This wouldn't be a problem (and in fact would be quite advantageous) if it was an across the board cut for all cities, but as it stands in the proposal to cut taxes only for struggling cities, it is nothing more than taking money from one city and handing it to another. (Yes, I understand we're talking about corporate income taxes here, but these companies are being diverted from investing in other cities. Thus, the point stands that money is being redirected.)

Using the tax system to redistribute funds is nothing new. For about 100 years, America has used the progressive income tax to redistribute wealth from person to person. Now, politicians want to use our tax system to redistribute income from city to city.

Worse than just being a bailout, Senator Paul's proposal saves struggling economies at the expense of other cities - cities that might not be much better off than the city being saved. This is not a free market solution; it is a distortion of the market that has the possibility of harming more economies than it could ever save.

Despite Mr. Paul's good intentions, this proposal seems destined for disaster should it be passed. It is one stumbling block on an otherwise spotless record for Senator Rand Paul.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Say "No" to Contentment

I bet if you had tried to count how many times someone has told you that you should be content with where you are in your life, you would have lost count a long time by now. We are constantly berated by those around us to have joy at our own state of life. But this advice is not as good as it sounds.

I am not urging you to walk around all dreary-eyed and depressed all the time. Indeed, in most cases, being content about your belongings and circumstances is the best thing for you, but not always. 

In relation to our Spiritual walk with the Lord, we should never feel content with where we are right now; instead we should always be striving for more, and a stronger relationship with the Lord. Contentment with a "good enough" relationship will ultimately mean our relationship is sure to falter dramatically. We must work to enhance that relationship and seek more, or else we will watch it deteriorate. 

So, I urge you in the area of your relationship with the Lord, say "no" to contentment. Go for a stronger relationship. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Christian Apologetics Series 3: Foundation for Knowledge

Now that we have discovered that there is a truth, we must think about how we could attain this truth.

In answering this question, I like to point to Proverbs 1:7,
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."

However, I have not as of yet explained any reason why we should trust the Bible, and do not intend to do so here. So let us constrain our discussion of the foundation of knowledge to the realms of philosophy and logic. Looking at it in this way, we reach the same conclusion, that is, God is the beginning and standard for knowledge.

In this series' first post, we learned that there has to be absolute truth and morals for society to survive. But men do not all agree about what those truths and morals are, so they do not supply an obvious standard for truth. Simply, there must be something more than man to provide a standard - someone perfect, someone eternal, someone immutable.  In other words, there has to be a God to define that standard.  Francis Schaeffer explains this need in How Should we Then Live?, 
"If there is no absolute beyond man's ideas, then there is no final appeal to judge between individuals and groups whose moral judgments conflict.  We are merely left with conflicting opinions.  Yet to say that no judgements are universally true is absurd.  Every instinct within us tells us that at least some moral judgments are absolutely correct."

Do you doubt this belief?  That's ok, Descartes comes to the same conclusion, precisely because he can doubt. 

Most famous for his maxim, Cogito ergo sum - "I think, therefore I am," Descartes would continue his philosophy to explain why he believes in God.

It all starts by acknowledging that Descartes doubts. He was skeptical of the world and not long ago coubted his very own existence. Further, Descartes understands that to doubt is to discern perfection from imperfection.

From here, Descartes reasons correctly that an image of perfection (by which we compare our doubts) doesn't come from thin air. Indeed it must come from a perfect being. For instance, if we saw a three-legged chair, we would say that the chair is broken because we know a chair is supposed to have four legs. If we had never seen a chair before, we would have no mechanism to understand what was amok with the chair.  We would have nothing to which to compare it. Similarly, we would be unable to doubt about the perfection of this world if there was no perfect being to compare it to. Thus, because Descartes doubts, he believes there has to be a perfect being in existence.

Douglas Wilson explains Descartes' beliefs (describing the problem of evil) in a much simpler, succinct way as,
"It is far better to believe in God and acknowledge the problem of evil than to be an atheist and to have no way of even *defining* the evil that you have mysteriously come to believe constitutes such a problem."

Any imperfection in our world, whether it be evil or just the acknowledging of a lie in this world is only known to be wrong because we have a being perfect in all his ways, moral and otherwise, to which we can compare the world. This perfect being is known as God by many throughout this world - the only perfect being from which we get our ideas of both perfection and imperfection.

Thus is how we can attain knowledge of right and wrong or anything else - from the Lord.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Hold the Applause: Why Abraham Lincoln was No Hero

In history, we learn all about great men who worked to advance some noble cause. Deep down, I think we all realize that history has exaggerated these men's virtues. Nowhere is this more true than in relation to Abraham Lincoln.

History would like us to believe that Abraham Lincoln was a strong idealist who led the nation to a civil war in order to advance the worthy and noble cause for emancipation of African-American slaves. I have no reason to believe Abraham Lincoln was upset at this change, but examining his true intentions with the Civil War, we should not be so quick to herald Lincoln as the great liberator in the American south.

What better way is there to determine Lincoln's motivations than Lincoln's own words? In a 1862 letter to Horace Greeley, Lincoln writes,
"As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing"... I would save the Union... If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it...What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union."

Unfortunately, Abraham Lincoln was not an idealist hero. Instead, he was a political planner, who made every decision because "It helps to save the Union." He only freed the slaves because it became politically expedient for him to do so.

However, history has been most kind to Abraham Lincoln. He is now remembered for this exaggerated virtue, that is, idealistically fighting for freedom, rather than his political plans.