Thursday, October 27, 2005

Not Reason Alone

On this post at RedhurtMachine, Drifter made the following comment:
One other thing that gets me doubting is the whole book of Acts and the other "signs" that the apostles speak of. If these kinds of things were possible by believers...why don't these things happen anymore? Why have I never seen or felt the holy spirit come upon the way it is described as coming onto the converts of the early church? Did they mean what they said more than I do? Why doesn't anyone honestly expierence these things anymore? Why don't we ever hear about people being healed miraculously by other people? Why don't we see people coming back to life? If the things that were true then are supposed to be true today...why are things so different?
My response is this:
First of all, I think we need to escape from the Modern mindset that reason defines reality. Reason is a facutly of man, and as such God is not subject to it. Therefore we can never reasonably draw the conclusion that something God is supposed to have done must be untrue soley because it is unreasonable. Ironic, huh? Instead we have to approach all things about God and His nature with the mindset put forth in Isaiah 55:8-9 :

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

9 "As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

It is the height of human arrogance to believe that we can understand why God does what He does, or presume to say that He should act a different way than He does.

Furthermore, I don't think that the apparent lack of miracles, assuming that it really is universal and not just in my life and yours, is not unbiblical. Look at the old testament. It is full of people preforming miracles, but they are all years apart. What happened between Elisha and the other major Prophets? What happened between Hosea and Jesus? I'm sure the people then were also saying "Where are all these miracles people are always talking about? How come no one is doing miracles now?" It may be that God only preforms such miracles through people at certain times -- specifically times when they will achieve some end that we cannot understand. It may well be that a time may come again when there are many miracles happening often.

Finally, there are people today that claim that such miracles do still happen. As I'm sure you are, I am always skeptical of these claims. Especially by certain groups. However, it may be that such miracles occur where they are appropriate, according to the mind of God. It may simply be that your life and mine have never intersected those times. There were plenty of people in Israel, as small a country as it is, who never saw one of Jesus' miracles. Yet that doesn't mean they didn't happen. Now we're talking about a global scale. Just because neither you nor I ever comes in contact with a miracle or even someone who has seen one (although, as I said before, I have heard a few first-hand accounts, at least one that is mostly credible) does not imply that they are not happening. That would be a wholly unreasonable conclusion to come to. It is notable to mention that there isn't really a sense in Acts that every Christian was able to preform the miracles, mostly only Apostles. An apostle is, literally, "one who is sent." It is also important to note that The 12 Disciples were not the only apostles. Barnabas and Silas are both specifically called apostles. Apostles are people with the highest "calling" in the church who are specifically sent by God to do some work -- not all who are called to evangelism or missions are necessarily apostles. It would not be unreasonable to believe that only Apostles, as those with the highest calling, are given the gift to preform miracles all over the place. That is just my own conjecture, I have no further reason to believe that than it seems like they account for the majority of the miracles in the new testament and it makes at least a little sense.

All that being said, I think that it is unreasonable to use reason as a measurement of truth when God is involved. God can do things that seem unreasonable, or even are unreasonable. Furthermore, the lack of miracles around you may not be so unreasonable at all. The experience that you and I have had does not warrent the conclusion that the accounts in Acts are false. One final point concerning the fear that the Bible has been significantly altered is that the Dead Sea Scrolls were very close to the current manuscripts we were working with at the time they were found, so any significant changes to the old testament were done before 200BC. I suppose that you could claim that people since then changed the new testament letters and not the old since the old were already canonical, but the fact that they didn't change the old provides at least some hope that they left the new generally in tact -- at least enough that they didn't take the truth out of them.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Magic Numbers

What is it about the number 2000 that gets people going? Is 2000 deaths in Iraq really more significant than 1999? 1995? I don't think so. I think I have to go along with Dogbert's reasoning for why the world would end in the year 2000, "Its biiiiig, and rooooound" (meaning the number 2000, not the earth). People are generally simple, and therefore like big round numbers to make things easy for us. Of course, 2000 is not that big. We lost more people in one day on D-Day, 2500 to be exact. Now I will grant that D-Day was probably more significant than the Iraq war -- Hitler was definitely a bigger threat than Saddam. But this was on one day. Our casualties in the Iraq war span years. Every time any service man or woman dies we lose a hero and its a tragedy. But losing 2000 people to liberate a country -- and I optimistically think an entire region -- is a small price to pay, historically speaking. I don't want to marginalize our loss or our troops sacrifice, but I do want to impose some sense of proportion. It is my distinct belief that those making the 2000 death mark a big deal would be saying almost identical things if it were the 10000 mark. I believe that they want this to be a big deal, they want a big number, so they are acting like its a huge number even though it is amazingly good considering how long we've been fighting and the resourcefulness of the enemy we're fighting. I agree with Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, this is an artificial "milestone."

In the article linked above Lt. Col. Boylan says this to the media: "I ask that when you report on the events, take a moment to think about the effects on the families and those serving in Iraq... The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives."
So what does CNN print as the headline on their front page? Yeah, "Deadly Milestone in Iraq War." Thanks CNN. Thanks a lot guys.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


For anyone doubting Harriet Miers' fitness as a Supreme Court Justice, check out her credentials. Now, I'm not saying that anyone who has published so many papers that the titles alone span several pages is necessarily a genius. I'm also not saying that someone who has been involved in law their whole life and given honors in many of the positions they have held is always a good nominee. However, I would say that Harriet Miers is both of these things. She has tons of law experience as well as a great deal of non-legal, "real-life" experience that other candidates may lack. Additionally, she has had a front row seat to the GWOT (or whatever its called now) and its affects on the government and individuals involved. No other candidate has. I think that alone pushes her near the top, if not right to it, as many of the important decisions in the decades ahead will be related to terrorism and how we ought to fight it. Understanding how we have fought it before, what is necessary to fight it, and effects of fighting it certain ways is important to make a good decision. She is in a unique position to rule on matters relating to terrorism and our responses. Also, I agree that it seems like a SCOTUS nominee ought to have been a Judge at some point, but that is certainly not a consistent precedent.

Does anyone else think its ironic that this year she was honored with the "Sandra Day O’Connor Award" from the Texas Center for Legal Ethics and Professionalism?

On a seperate note, I'm really glad that I wrote that post "Define: Evangelical" about Carman defining the evangelical movement because I get more hits from people searching Google and MSN for "Define Evangelical" or various Carman titles than any other search criteria. Maybe that actually proves my point...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Mikey's Back

In case there is anyone who reads this blog and not Michael Yon's:
1. What's your deal? Michael Yon is a must read.
2. He's back in Iraq and now he's writing for The Weekly Standard, which, if I had to choose, would be my favorite magazine. I don't really read it much though and I just let my subscription die. But I had a subscription to it once so that makes it on the top of the list since I've never paid for another magazine in my life.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

The Things We Know

Wow, I almost set a record for "Longest Time Without a Blog Entry" -- maybe I should have held out a little longer so I could claim the title. Grad school will do that... at least when you're taking a class from Jeff Donahoo.

I was reading this article today and was somewhat shocked by this argument made by a cancer patient supporting assisted suicide: '"We are terminal and we know when we have a few weeks left. We know when we're unconscious. We know when we're at the end."' You probably see right away what caught my attention: "We know when we're unconscious." You do? Doesn't that defy the definition of unconscious? But maybe she meant the larger 'We', meaning people in general. Or maybe We.

I think this does get right at the heart of the argument against assisted suicide -- we really don't know. There are people who doctors give a few days to live and they live for years. We may know with some certainty a few days before hand, but I don't think we really know any further than that. We might know that its coming, but that's true for all of us. If the idea that you know you're going to die is grounds fro assisted suicide then we're all eligible -- unless you're claiming immortality. And there are those of us who believe that every day alive is precious, and that -- without taking time (because I don't have it) to expound the argument -- is why we're against ever ending a life before it is really over.

I have to go to class -- grad school will do that. But I really do think we've hit on the key disagreement of the assisted suicide debate here.