Maybe Bowie is Looking Down from Heaven

Since Father Time took the great David Bowie, I have read numerous speculations about what might have been the state of his soul. Bowie, the consummate showman and actor, was a very private man, refreshing in the age of instant everything. So there isn’t a lot to go on, and I am never one to speculate on such things, leaving that to a power infinitely higher than I. But a friend sent me an encouraging piece that doesn’t bother with speculation: “Why David Bowie Knelt and Said the Lord’s Prayer at Wembley Stadium.” Yeah, I didn’t know that either. The title on the video of him kneeling in prayer: “The Bravest Moment in Rock & Roll History.” Given that sex and drugs are two words most often associated with rock ‘n roll, such a prayer before a hundred thousand rock fans could most definitely be called brave.

As I read this piece and then looked at the video of him kneeling before the crowd saying the Lord’s Prayer, I started to see another video for the song Lazarus from his final album, Blackstar, in a different light. (The name of the song kind of gives it away if you’re familiar with the biblical story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead.) Bowie had to be a fan of C.S. Lewis to use a wardrobe so prominently. If you look carefully at the beginning of the song you’ll see a young man open the wardrobe and stare at Bowie laying on what looks like a hospital bed. He starts with the words, “Look up here, I’m in heaven.” The young man appears to become older as the video goes on; maybe an alter ego? Bowie writes in a journal as he struggles with what could be his last thoughts. You’ll notice a skull on the desk as he writes, a la MacBeth? To be or not to be? Ah mortality, the great equalizer, the great question mark over human existence. Leave it to Bowie to ask the most profound of questions as he exits this mortal coil. In the last scene we see Bowie backing into the wardrobe from which the young man came, and shutting the door. Godspeed in Narnia, David Bowie. Thank you for the joy you brought untold millions over so many years.

Chicago March for Life January 17

March-for-LifeI’ve wanted to attend the March for Life events in Washington, DC over the years to protest against abortion on the anniversary of the infamous and ignominious Roe v. Wade decision, but travelling there would just never work. Now a March for Life is happening much closer to home, and for those in the greater Chicagoland area who might have also wanted to stand with their pro-life brothers and sisters, there is now a chance to do that.

Pro-life activists in Illinois are expecting over 5,000 people to join the annual Chicago March for Life event this month ahead of the national march in Washington D.C.

A local version of the march held every year in the nation’s capital on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, the Chicago march on Jan. 17 is expected to be the largest held in the entire Midwest.

Emily Zender, executive director for Illinois Right to Life, told The Christian Post that the number has been growing exponentially, with 2014 having about 2,000 people and last year having 4,000.

“At the very core of the identity of the March for Life Chicago is the idea that love and joy has the power to change even the most hardened hearts,” explained Zender.

“That’s why the March for Life Chicago is always family-friendly a joyful, positive, and loving event. Last year WGN said at times the march looked more like a block party than a protest.”

You can find details at the Illinois Right to Life website. See you there!

Quote of the Day

What is the materialist creed? Modern materialism denies that we have a soul and reduces us to a mere body. In doing so, it assumes that all our actions are determined by physical forces, and therefore denies that we have free will. It therefore declares to be unreal our everyday experience of freely choosing this or that action, and in doing so, removes the possibility of moral action. It reduces love and hate, courage and cowardice to chemistry, and makes of human adventure and human history predetermined paths marked out from the beginning by the laws of nature. And finally, based upon the notion that the universe is a great self-winding, law-driven machine, materialism declares that miracles are impossible and God does not exist.

–Benjamin Wiker, “The Greatest Story, Because It’s True!”

Are The Gospels Historically Reliable?

Came across this piece today, “A Christmas question: Are the Gospels more reliable than scholars once thought?” And the answer is a resounding yes! The Gospels, and the Bible in general, have been under attack since forever, but especially since German Higher Criticism in the 19th Century, which a priori ruled out any supernatural input to the biblical text. Secular critics presuppose the Bible is a completely human document, so can’t come to the text in anything approaching objective analysis. Yet just like in science, the more that is learned the more credible the biblical sources become.

There are many resources to build a foundation of confidence in the biblical text, but a couple that are worth having easy access to are Michael J. Kruger’s website, Canon Foder. The other scholar to be aware of is Daniel B. Wallace, professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. He is also the founder and executive director of the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, the purpose of which is digitizing all known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament via digital photographs.

Christians have an embarrassment of riches in all kinds of apologetics resources today, and it is well worth building confidence in the book we stake our life and eternity on. God has made that abundantly possible.

Quote of the Day

One of the under-appreciated aspects of the old-fogey traditionalist Christian conception of parenthood (conception of conception?) is that by insisting upon the inherent relationship between procreative inputs and procreative outputs it avoids reducing human beings to mere instruments of others’ desires.

For an idea of what the opposite looks like, consider this case of a surrogate mother being pressured to abort unwanted triplets. Consider the moral condition of a society capable of producing this sentence: “The intended parents claimed a provision in their contract gave them the right to order an abortion.”

–Kevin D. Williamson, “Children Aren’t Consumer Goods: A Series”

Modern Science Makes Belief in God More Plausible Than Ever

HubbleUltraDeepFieldImage

I came across an article today entitled, “The Astounding Truth About the Hubble Space Telescope’s Most Famous Image.” In it was an image pretty much like the one on the left. We learn in the piece that:

The specks of color and light you see are not stars; they are galaxies — 10,000 of them in fact! It is the deepest image of the sky over obtained, gazing back approximately 13 billion years.

You might be thinking as I was, 10,000 galaxies! That’s a lot of galaxies! We’re not talking stars, or solar systems; we’re talking 10,000 Milky Ways! And our galaxy isn’t a small place. In fact, it’s 100,000 to 120,000 light years in diameter, and one light year is six trillion miles! Is your brain scrambled yet? Well, that isn’t even the one-forty millionth of it!

Jesus is never mentioned in Psalms, but best-selling author Tim Keller sees him there

Tim KellerWhen I saw the title of this piece by Jonathan Merritt who writes for the Religion News Service, I wasn’t sure how to take it. Was he implying that Jesus isn’t in the Psalms, and that Keller was reading that into the text. After reading the interview, I’m not sure what he thinks, and maybe that’s a good thing. But to question whether Jesus is in the Psalms even though his name isn’t used, obviously, is to ignore that Jesus himself said the Psalms, as well as the rest of the Old Testament did indeed speak of him. In fact, as I happen to be reading through the Psalms now, I am often reminded about the time Jesus spent with the disciples post-resurrection. The very first thing he did with two of them on the road to Emmaus was say this:

25 “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

In that same chapter after he’d appeared to the rest of the disciples and basically freaks them out, he takes a piece of fish, eats it and says:

This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.

Luke adds that “he” opened their minds so that “they could understand the Scriptures.” And it wasn’t just a time or two. Luke tells us in the first chapter of Acts:

After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.

So not only did he spend a lot of time teaching them how the Scriptures, our OT, all pointed to him, but proving to them that he was indeed alive, that he was in fact Jesus of Nazareth risen from the Dead! If you read through the Psalms you can’t miss our risen Lord in it. The whole of the Bible, from the first words of Genesis 1, to the very last words of Revelation, is about Christ. A short and readable book by Edmund Clowney is an excellent introduction to this critical concept not taught nearly enough in America’s Bible-believing churches: The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament.

 

 

D.A. Carson on “The God Who is There”

Free-DA-Carson-eBooks-Kindle-ePub-PDFDon Carson is Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in the Chicago area, an author of numerous books, and just a plain old brilliant guy. I’ve read several of his books, but recently came across a series of talks by him at Apologetics315 called, “The God Who is There,” a book he had written of the same name. The title may sound familiar because it is the same as a ground breaking book by Francis Schaeffer written almost 50 years ago. Dr. Carson does a spectacular job of giving a broad yet detailed overview of redemptive history, from Genesis to Revelation. Although a professor, his speaking style is anything but professorial. And his Reformed theological perspective is refreshing in an age when what we do for God seems more important than what God has done for us.

 

 

 

Is Europe in our Future?

With the horrific slaughter in Paris last Friday, there has been much discussion not only about ISIS, terrorism, and Islamic extremism, but also about boarders, immigration, assimilation, and the nature of society. Europe has become a continent of progressive dreams: a secular, irreligious conglomeration of welfare states. If President Obama could snap his fingers, America would be exactly the same. If you want to get to the heart of the issue, a piece by Samuel Gregg at The Witherspoon Institute called, “The End of Europe,” would be a good start. Gregg looks at Europe today through the thoughts of General Charles de Gaulle, to whom Europe was essentially a spiritual and cultural heritage. Get rid of the heritage, and Europe as we know it is gone. The essence of the problem is the progressive reluctance to embrace assimilation:

Imagine a Europe unafraid of insisting that it has a specific culture rooted in Judeo-Christianity and the various Enlightenments into which newcomers are expected to assimilate. Migrants entering such a continent would be likely to develop specific expectations of what it means to be European. Contrast this with a Europe that affirms the self-evidently false claim that all cultures and religions are basically the same, or that refers endlessly to diversity and tolerance but roots such things in the contemporary cult of non-judgmentalism. The first Europe doesn’t require newcomers to become believing Jews, Christians, or fledging philosophes. It does, however, have a basis for explaining why those unwilling to accept this culture should look elsewhere for a permanent home. By contrast, the second Europe can have no principled objection to significantly diluting or even abandoning Western culture in the name of tolerance.

The terrorists who killed and maimed hundreds last week in Paris come from exactly that second Europe. The progressive insistence on unlimited immigration, and their unwillingness to think critically about foreigners not assimilating in America, could lead us down that same path. Of course the liberal animus toward Western civilization in general and the American experiment in particular could logically lead us to such a “second” America. They don’t believe America is anything special or that America’s ideals are worth protecting. Again Gregg says it well:

European nations are not unfamiliar with large-scale internal migrations or even with considerable numbers of migrants arriving from outside their borders. Indeed, former European colonies such as America, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand illustrate how immigration can benefit host nations. But failure or even unwillingness to maintain control of sovereign borders is another thing altogether. Europe is now paying—and will continue to pay—a high price for this. Why, however, protect sovereign borders when you’re unwilling to say that Europe means anything at all beyond non-judgmentalism, an autonomy devoid of serious ends, and easy access to bountiful albeit increasingly unaffordable welfare systems—all presided over by a political class that promises everything to everyone as long as they remain in charge? Put another way, which of these things is actually worth protecting, let alone promoting?

As we can see from the 21st Century Democratic Party, promising everything to everybody is exactly what animates them. If Americans choose the presidential candidate with the D beside her name next year, we will not be surprised when Europe’s enervation comes to America.

Revisiting ‘Faithful Presence’: ‘To Change the World,’ Five Years Later

To Change teh WorldI read James Davison Hunter’s “To Change The World” several years ago and thought it was a brilliant analysis of the power of cultural institutions to shape the culture. His strategy for cultural engagement, though, left me puzzled. He called it “faithful presence,” and there didn’t seem to be any real sense of wanting to influence culture. It’s definitely worth a read for at least the first two sections about where true cultural influence comes from. The Gospel Coalition has just published a eBook that takes a look at Hunter’s work five years later:

In 2010, noted University of Virginia sociologist James Davison Hunter published the landmark book To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. On the five-year anniversary of its publication, we asked eight contributors to engage the book’s thesis and assess its effect on the ongoing interaction of evangelical Christians with the surrounding culture. The result is The Gospel Coalition’s first eBook, Revisiting ‘Faithful Presence’:To Change the World Five Years Later. You can download the book, for free, to read in your preferred format.

You can find an introduction to the book at The Gospel Coalition’s website, and and links to download it in various formats.