Journeys of Faith Transcend Above Normal Life 1

“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”                           (Jn. 8:36)

            Sometimes a journey of faith following God has a life-script that includes the sacrifice…the giving up…of a fundamental component of worldly conventional normalcy…something we otherwise expect to be a normative part of our lives…that becomes an integral part of the cost of taking up our cross to follow Jesus.

            Pieces and parts of worldly conventional normalcy, however, are not intrinsically bad in themselves. 

            “Occupy till I come” (Lk. 19:13) is commendable and admirable in terms of the everyday tasks involved in running well the household manor estates in the temporary absence of the owner away on other business…in this parable.  The many admonitions to right and correct living in the New Testament letters to the early churches spells out what it means to “occupy till I come.”

            But journeys of faith following God are designed to transcend above worldly conventional normalcy in the most positive way imaginable…necessitating parts of worldly conventional normalcy to fall away in the process.

            Certainly, if we are one of the rare few called by God to be a medical missionary doctor in the deepest remote regions of the Amazon rainforest, as a practical matter we will have to leave our Mercedes-Benz or BMW automobile behind…there being no paved roads in the rainforest.

            The classic biblical verse “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1) is a spiritual truth of such depth that it falls far outside of humanistic contemplation and understanding.  It describes the unique gap that only God can create using life events and circumstances…the gap between what we normally can and cannot do according to our human abilities…that produces a beneficial dependence upon God…far outside of our worldly conventional control and sovereign capacity over the normal activities within “occupy till I come.”

            Abraham…the “father of faith”…waiting for the birth of the son of promise Isaac…is a perfect example of not “seeing” for a period of time the fulfillment of the promise through faith in the trustworthiness of the word of God…”the evidence of things not seen” created by the gap in time between God’s initial promise to Abraham and the actual event of the birth of Isaac…years later. 

            This is the first biblical example of a detailed, God-scripted and divinely created scenario for biblically defined faith to actualize.      

            “Faith…is the evidence of things not seen” that creates a gap in time between God’s promises large and small…and their fulfillment in the future…is the inverse opposite of the reality of Adam and Eve impulsively jumping at the chance to gain a knowledge of good and evil by hastily eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden…a decision they made independently of God…against His initial commandment…and without His further instructive council and input.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

God Has Our Back 2

            A real journey of faith following the living God…as recorded in the Bible…is inconceivable and incomprehensible to a person committed to following their own way according to self-rulership.

            This dichotomy of worldviews…two different approaches to life as unmixable as oil and water…should be an obvious red-flag jolt to anyone involved in the debate over the existence of God. 

            The fundamental first question…like the Big Bang (herein defined in this book as the divine creation of the universe ex nihilo …out of nothing…according to Genesis 1:1“In the beginning” around 13.7 billion years ago), the Cambrian Explosion, the body-plan architectures and varied lifestyles of living creatures, and DNA…is what or who is the source of the completely novel and innovative, alternative worldview of a God-composed journey of faith life-script starting with the life of Abraham…continued through all of the biblical narrative stories of faith?

            What explains the origin of this consistent storyline pattern in the Bible of  the cross of Christ (Lk. 22:42)…continuing down to contemporary Christian experience in our modern times…that is so utterly contrary to the conventionality of the accepted life-approach of going our own way in self-reliance and self-autonomy?  

            In modern speech…a biblical-quality adventure of faith…if it is fiction…if it is false…then it would be a “non-starter”…it would have no“there/there.”  It would be without tangible, supportive substance. 

            If there is no active engagement between God and people…then there is nothing extraordinary, unconventional, or supernatural to write about. 

            This is why God-composed adventures of faith life-scripts…having God displacing our ways with His higher ways…are non-existent in other religions, philosophies, and worldviews…outside of the Bible. 

            This is why biblical adventures of faith fall far outside of and above the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

            This dichotomy of two distinct worldviews…delineated exclusively in the Bible…and miles apart in their practical application to human purpose and meaning in life…is a major, commonsense apologetic argument for the divine origin of Old Testament Judaism and New Testament Christianity. 

            It is never raised by atheists and skeptical critics…because they cannot even see it as a target to attack in scripture…as a debatable talking point.

            It can only be raised by Spirit-born and led Christians who have themselves been in the danger zone of faith in a “shooting war” that has real consequences in life…because people personally led and taught of God are the only people on the planet aware of this reality.

            The idea that God-scripted life-plans fall so far outside of conventional thinking…is itself a compelling and persuasive argument for the truth of their divine origin…because this unique genre is inexplicable as humanistically invented, literary fiction.

            If Christians do not see the unconventionality of the cross of Christ skillfully embedded within the script of every biblical narrative story of faith…because they have not experienced God having our back in a crisis…then this positive and compelling apologetic argument for the divine origin of an adventure of faith…completely unknown outside of the Bible…will not be made. 

            It will be missed in the competing marketplace of ideas.

            This is the dual choice we all have…as cognitive beings having free-will…to follow God down an adventurous path of discovery…or to go our own way in conventional normalcy and thinking.

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

God Has Our Back 1

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity.

“But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”  (1 Cor. 2:10)

            God has our back in a crisis.  The only way we would know this for sure is by actual experience…by being in the middle of a shooting war.  

            This has to be true…because it cannot be fiction.  It does not hold up as fiction.  Once it rises to the level of becoming recorded in writing…put down on paper…it enters the arena of being universally testable and falsifiable over time. 

            The interaction between the living God and David….memorialized forever in David’s 23rd Psalm…is true because it cannot be otherwise…it cannot be fictional writing.  Once David writes about walking through the valley of the shadow of death with God at his side…then fiction-writing as the source of its inspiration and origin becomes nonsensical. 

            The uniquely biblical concept of the living God participating in our lives to this extent of personal interaction…at the very center of our life-scripts…is too far outside of the default, conventional worldview thinking of sitting atop the thrones of our lives in self-sovereignty…to make the huge leap across to the other side of the spectrum in placing our lives on-the-line in sacrificially following by faith the living God.

            According to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking, David should be telling us how great and powerful he is…not about successful faith in God…because self-adulation surrounding his achievements would be the normally expected outer limits…the extent of his possible experience.

            What would be the point…the motivation…the inspiration…for David making this Psalm 23 up…if the actual boundaries of human experience stop at the edge of self-sovereignty, self-reliance, and autonomous individualism? 

            Following God into an adventure of faith would not hold water for any period of time within actual lived experience…unless God is real…and that we can experience His active participation in our lives.

            Religious “faith” that is still rooted in self-reliance and self-rulership is not biblical faith.  Biblical faith will connect us with the real God…who according to the narrative stories of faith recorded in the Bible…will displace our ways with a higher life-script that reflects His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9).

            This is the root of what was so threatening to the religious leaders in Jerusalem in the first-century that led to crucifying Jesus Christ.

            The religious leaders in Jerusalem were exposed by Jesus as being blind hypocrites. 

            They said they were the authorized representatives of God (Jn. 8:33, 39, 41) when in fact they were the deadliest enemies of biblical faith. 

            They were firmly committed to the default worldview of self-sovereign self-rulership…of maintaining complete control over their lives…to the point of instigating the death of Jesus through Roman crucifixion…in order to remove the threat of having to surrender this self-guided, self-sovereign status quo (Jn. 11:47-48). 

            They knew roughly about biblical faith…had been exposed to it as they studied the Hebrew Bible…but did not want any part of it themselves (Lk. 11:39-54).    

            This is a component of the “mystery” of iniquity…the conflict between self-sovereignty and God-sovereignty in our lives that produced the radical outcomes of the cross, the resurrection, and our salvation.

            The risk-factor involved in the novelty of voluntarily and willfully walking through a genuine journey of faith following the living God…is on its own a powerful and persuasive evidence that supports the divine origin of the Bible…because as human invented literary fiction…the concept of God-sovereignty displacing our self-sovereignty cannot and would not exist…for any length of time in real practice. 

            Minutes, hours, or days of actual tested experience would quickly expose this concept…if fiction…as empty fantasy…and be discarded as functionally worthless.

            If God is in actuality “not home,” then His brilliantly imaginative solutions in the biblical narrative stories of faith…that soar above human creativity and invention…would not only be inaccessible as real experience…to be recorded as life-history on paper…they would be beyond the creative imagination of human contemplation altogether. 

            David…or someone else inventing the 23rd Psalm…as fiction writing…has no motivational or conceptual legs…it does not take us anywhere within worldly conventional normalcy and thinking. 

Introduction 2

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

A final example for the purposes of this opening introduction…representing one small factoid…again amongst hundreds of thousands of similar everyday commonsense examples that could be persuasive evidence argued in a court of law…in favor of the necessity of an intelligent designer God…is the existence of our navel…our “belly button”…the umbilical cord between mother and baby that is severed and tied at childbirth.  Every human has one.

Is there a plausible series of sequential, gradualistic, random-chance events that would serve as an intermediate bridge between the first dysfunctional umbilical cord leading to immediate death of the human fetus at the very start of a materialistic creative progression…to cross the gap to a totally functional assemblage producing a viable fetus reaching the point in time of nine-month maturity and a healthy childbirth…whereupon the umbilical cord is cut-off from the placenta and tied into a knot?

Commonsense reasoning tells us that this one feature…amongst millions of other complex and tightly sequenced and integrated features in the human body…of a functional umbilical cord with all of its complex processes…must be up and running at just the right time in the embryonic development process of the human fetus occurring within the mother…for successful human reproduction to occur.

This requires intelligent design of the most sublime quality…not trial-and-error iterations having enumerable failures.

The quantity, quality, and the accuracy of the biological information codes and specifications…extrapolated out to every part of the human body to produce a functional living and reproducing organism having all of the features we possess…argues at the surface level of commonsense…for brilliantly intelligent design.

The steady advance of human scientific discovery has produced a deep and detailed understanding of how things work…in our own bodies such as how we produce speech, how we hear, and how we see…extended out into all of the areas of scientific inquiry from the microscopic atomic level to the galactic scale of the astrophysics of our universe.

This information content is now so vast…that a previous naturalistic explanation for the folding of amino acids into proteins did not even exist 100 years ago at the start of the twentieth century…because this area of microbiological knowledge had not even been discovered yet.

The current discoveries in science…with the new awareness of their accompanying explosion of information content…in highly complex and coherent systems…undermines all theories based on the simplistic methodologies of mindless, random chance, trial-and-error search strategies.

What could pass as an “explanation”…as a placeholder for ignorance 50 or 100 years ago under the guise of naturalistic philosophy posing as science…is now overwhelmed by the sheer volume and magnitude of complex and integrated systems of information that fall outside the chance probability of mathematics.

A naturalistic, Darwinian explanation for the complex phenomenon we now understand better in the living and non-living world…no longer “holds water” in this new Information Age.

As a non-scholar layman in the areas of theology and biblical studies…along with millions of other common Christians around the world simply following Jesus within their journeys of faith…I sense that the centuries-old paradigm conflict between philosophical atheism and Christianity is at a balanced apex…at a tipping-point where the evidences for theism may now begin…if they have not already…to surpass the now behind-the-times logic and arguments against supernaturalism and the miraculous in the Bible.

The Big Bang creation of the universe philosophically opened wide the door for intelligent agency…introducing in the first split-seconds of creation all of the natural laws of physics, chemistry, and mathematics… along with time itself…and all of the material particles in the right quantities and proportions to produce the universe we now observe today…out of absolute nothing…sometime around 13.7 billion years ago.

If an independent agent God can do this at the beginning of the universe…create something out of nothing…ex nihilo…along with the accompanying physical laws out of nothing…then the philosophical objection by skeptics that God cannot introduce creative life and “miracles” into the natural world…a natural world incorrectly viewed by some as a “closed system” up until a few decades ago…is now debunked by the discoveries of modern science through the identification of massive amounts of complex and functionally integrated systems of information…everywhere we look in the living and non-living natural world.

The concept of an independent agent…God…injecting vast amounts of complex information into our world utilizing creative foresight…such as the DNA code…the unimaginably brilliant folding of amino acids into proteins…and the body-plan architectural information stored somewhere in the embryonic developmental structure of the living cell that builds cells and tells them their unique function and location in the dividing and expanding embryo…is very similar to our own use of accumulated information and creative foresight in the planned and premeditated assembly of houses, automobiles, airplanes, laptop computers, and pharmaceutical medicines.

Daniel 12:10 tells us that skeptical unbelief will be with us in this world…all the way through the end-times.

Daniel 7:15-25 and 8:23-25 infer that the “mouth that spake very great things” (v. 7:20) will wear-out the best of the great Christian apologists…the saints of the most High…in the last days…taking the arguments as far as we can…until God steps in to decisively expose for all time the subtle and elusive deceptions of the “son of perdition” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3…in a way that we cannot currently foresee.

There is a delicate balance between belief and unbelief…must continue until the end of this present world.

Our part is to faithfully share the gospel message…and then let the Holy Spirit do His work of persuasion and conviction in the hearts and minds of people (Zech. 4:6).

The aim of this post is to make the argument for the importance of the biblical narrative stories of faith…under attack from many angles for hundreds of years.

This attack has successfully undermined for some modern-day Christians the recognition of the existence of the divine life-scripts that comprise these stories of faith…that could only be written by the same God who created our incredibly fine-tuned and information-rich universe.

The issues argued in this blog are among the most important in all of human history.

The integrity of the biblical narrative stories of faith means something.

If it can be shown that these biblical stories of faith could not come from human literary invention…but must have a divine origin of imagination and composition…this accomplishes two important things.

First, it restores the credibility of the participation of God in people’s lives.

Second, it again clarifies for Christians today the God endorsed and sanctioned route for Christians to impact our culture…as the light of the world…as pillars of the earth…in the supernatural way that God intended.

God-composed journey of faith life-scripts stand at the pinnacle…at the peak…of what is possible in human experience.  They exemplify the finest, best, and highest aspirations attainable in a human life.

Once Christians see the common through-line theme of the cross of Jesus Christ skillfully embedded within every biblical narrative story of faith…which could never have come out of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…this then clarifies what God is trying to pattern for us…in and through our own journeys of faith.

These plans of God were prophesied and articulated long ago through the prophet Jeremiah…of new covenant relationships between God and believers in which every Spirit-born person will personally know God from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:31-34).

Introduction 1

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”                                                             (Heb. 11:6)

I once had a lively discussion with a borderline agnostic/atheist who said that he did not dismiss the idea that God existed…but that to believe and have faith he needed more objective, foolproof evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible and Christianity.

In pondering our talk afterwards, I thought of all of the evidences that are out there in the observable world…easily accessible through commonsense contemplation…that in the hands of a skilled litigator in a courtroom…for example…would not only convince most jurors of the existence of God…but also of the divine origin of the Bible and its message.

There are dozens of categories of very persuasive arguments for the existence of God…many of which contain the obvious “miracles” we experience and see all around us…that we accept as “normal” and take totally for granted.

A few of these obvious, commonsense evidences might be the “miracle” of sexuality…or digestion…or our respiratory system…our constant heartbeat…or our balanced and symmetrical locomotion and motor skills…or the generally brilliant assembly and integration of all of our body parts…all of which shout-out for ingenious design rather than random chance assemblage.

Another obvious evidence for the existence of an intelligent designer God…easily accessible to ordinary, commonsense consideration…is the universal cuteness of any infant—a human toddler, a lion cub, a Labrador puppy, a baby elephant, young ducklings swimming after their mother in a pond…displaying the most sublimely complex and artistic information content in action…yet totally inexplicable and unnecessary under a Darwinian naturalistic framework…having no survival-of-the-fittest value whatsoever…but otherwise easily recognizable as a product of intentional, whimsical, premeditated design.

Certainly the mystery of the origin of human speech and the natural inclination of youngsters to acquire, understand, and accurately differentiate subtle concepts in language and communication…at a phenomenal rate of speed…is a reality far too complex and incredibly integrated to be lightly and uncritically accepted as the result of gradualistic, chance descent-with-modification…rather than conscious, deliberate design at a brilliantly creative, extremely advanced level.

In sports…our incredible facility to be able to play professional ice hockey in the NHL…to run back the opening kick-off 100 yards for a touchdown in college football…to hit a 95-mph fastball 400 feet over the left-field fence for a homerun in baseball…to play tennis, ping-pong, badminton, volleyball, run the 100-meter sprint in track & field, run a marathon, compete in the Tour de France bicycling race, surf the Pipeline on the North Shore in Hawaii, and score a goal in World Cup soccer…these amazing human activities we tend to take for granted.

Yet these are physical acuities that are so advanced, so complex, so finely tuned, and so functionally integrated…that to ascribe their origin to blind, mindless, indifferent, naturalistic, trial-and-error processes as asserted in the theory of Darwinian evolution…when we see and observe nothing incrementally progressive or transitional in a major, creative sense anywhere in the natural world…currently or in the course of natural history…seems on its face to be nonsensical.

Certainly the existence of the moral framework that permeates all of the social interactions between people…which we take totally for granted… needs explanation.

Such things as romantic love, friendship, loyalty, bravery, humor, forgiveness, standing up for the right thing even when it costs us something, giving value to other people through respect…and the flip-side—lying, cheating, prejudice, selfishness, injustice, and evil…in the hands of a skilled debater could be persuasively argued to be far beyond the creative naturalistic reach of material particles and energy…given that particles and energy demonstrate no observable capacity for creating complex and functionally integrated systems, concepts, or information.

Add to this the mind-boggling Age of Information explosion of the last two or three decades…in which intelligence has been linked to the origin of information wherever we find complex and functionally integrated systems in human creations…in computer software language codes, literary books of every genre, and inventions of every type.

This corresponds to the information-rich systems we find in the natural world such as the Big Bang creation of the universe, the fine-tuning of the mathematical constants in the laws of science that enable the existence of complex life like ourselves—in the Anthropic Principle, the sudden appearance of new complex life-forms during the Cambrian Explosion, the complexity of information in the DNA code, the orderliness and the intelligibility of the laws of science, the integrated homeostatic systems in the human body, and the intricate body-plan architectures and lifestyle habits of every living creature…to name only a few examples.

Curiously, in the area of the fine arts…we see the seemingly universal necessity of the finale-outcome of good overcoming evil…of the “good” cowboys wearing white hats rounding up the “bad” cowboys wearing black hats…fundamental as a satisfying through-line within the storyline fabric of movies, theater plays, and books.

Oddly this comes from a modern popular culture that otherwise…outwardly at least…claims to avoid the acknowledgment of the concept of biblical sin…the universal imperfection we all share…and that we all try to minimize and to overcome.

How can the existence and complexity of good and evil…sliced-and-diced in every which way in enumerable, fictional storyline settings and conditions…of unending fascination and interest to the human psyche…how can the plausible explanation for the existence of this complex reality…be the sole product of material particles and energy…according to the philosophical worldview of naturalism?

The classic truism that “if we were all angels, we would not need laws and government”…separates human beings from the rest of the living natural world by the unbridgeable and distinctively discontinuous gap of moral reasoning.

The mere existence of the word forgiveness in our vocabulary and in our dictionary argues for a transcendent capacity for moral reasoning and intellectual judgment far above the rest of the natural living world.

The origin of the concept of falling short of some independent standard of behavior and thinking…requiring us to ask forgiveness from other people we have harmed or offended…in a materialistic Darwinian worldview…has no survival-of-the-fittest value.

It is difficult to theoretically ascribe to the capacity of material particles and energy…the advanced potential for creating sophisticated, intellectually functional end-points such as forgiveness from one person to anotherin the highly advanced and complex reality of moral reasoning and interpersonal relationships.