Friday, December 21, 2012

Keeping Our Eyes On The Ball

There is a lot of talk about increasing gun control. This naturally makes people who own, buy and sell guns nervous. Many of us think the second amendment is part of our right to self defense and ultimately a way of preventing government oppression. We suspect that the revolutionary fathers were concerned that the government needed to be kept in check by an armed populace.

But if the government declares marshall law and marches the army down the street to collect the guns, I will turn mine in.

We need to keep our eyes on the ball.

I like living in freedom. I like being able to own and use firearms. But neither of those is my purpose in life.

I am here to bring glory to God through the teaching and preaching of His word. I am here to reach people with the glorious gospel of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

The things God has called me to do are far more important than the second amendment, self protection or freedom from oppression. People need to know about the truth of the gospel. People need to be ready for their existence AFTER this life.

That is what we need to focus on.

Where Do They Get Their Numbers?

I am wondering where people get their numbers about gun related deaths. Any ideas? I heard someone on the news claiming there were 80,000 people killed per year... but it certainly wasn't here in the USA.

The CDC web-site has all the official statistics. Looking at the most recent data - which is from 2011 - here's all I can find. (Check for yourself - http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf)

Total deaths by all causes for the year - 2,512,873

Total accidental deaths - 122,777
Accidental deaths by firearms - 851 (lowest of all accidental causes)

Total suicidal deaths - 38,285
Suicides by firearms - 19,766 (slightly more than half)

Total homicides - 15,953
Homicides by firearm - 11,101

Legal intervention - 258 (I'm guessing these are by firearms...)
Discharge of firearms for undetermined reasons - 222

So add all the firearm deaths together - 851+19,766+11,101+258+222 = 32,198

That is 1.2% of deaths in America.
It is less than the total of accidental deaths by poisoning (33,554)
It is only slightly more than accidental deaths from falls (26,631)

The murder of children is horrific. If I could really be convinced that giving up my guns would keep people from being killed by maniacs, I would turn them in immediately.

But the fact is that the numbers don't add up. Even the "homicides by firearm" number may well include people who were shot in self defense. My guns might contribute to the death of someone who attacks me, but save my life and the lives of my family.

But to say this is the biggest problem in America is silly. Therefore you have to wonder what the real motive is for pushing gun control. It cannot possibly stop homicidal maniacs - but it might make some people more vulnerable to homicidal maniacs.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Where Was God?


Where was God during yesterday’s terrible slaughter of innocent children and teachers?

Some will be asking this with a raging hatred in their hearts. They despise the idea that there could be a loving and all-powerful God who would allow such terrible things to happen. They shake their fists at the heavens and say, “God – you are the one who is ultimately guilty for this horror. You are not good and I reject you!”

But what is their alternative? A world without God - just the continuing natural processes guided by the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. A world where human beings are just another animal and are not guided by real choices – only by biochemical/genetic determination.

If they were right, any particular behavior would be pre-programmed by the natural processes of nature. It is not a moral evil, only another messy step in the impersonal evolutionary process that determines who passes on genetic information to succeeding generations. Male bears will kill and eat cubs. A mother mouse might cannibalize her naked nursing pups.

So why the rage? Why not shrug and say, “How unpleasant, but that is the way nature works?” Why would you expect there to be anything different? Life has no ultimate purpose. It exists. It ends. There is nothing more.

But some of us ask the question with pain and sorrow in our hearts. We believe that there is a loving and all-powerful God, and that he has allowed this terrible thing to happen.

But we also believe that it is because God is infinitely good that such human actions are truly evil. It is God who has said, “You shall not murder.” It is Jesus who promised eternal punishment for those who harm little children (Luke 17:1-2).

We believe that this life is not the whole story – that conscious existence continues after physical death – that God can and will execute perfect justice. He will sort out the guilty and the innocent. He will render eternal punishment to those who deserve it, and provide comfort and eternal life for those who accept it from him.

Where was God during yesterday’s terrible slaughter? He was comforting terrified and dying children. He was preparing wrath against another evil rebel. God is still on the throne and God will prevail.

Those who are raging are not really offended by a lack of God’s goodness. They are offended by the repeated proofs that man is not good without God.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Good News of God's Wrath


"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness..." (Romans 1:18) 

This verse is wonderfully good news.

Yesterday I was reminded of the various attacks of atheistic cynics against the claims of Christ. In particular I heard (again) about the supposed parallels between the Egyptian mythology regarding Osiris and the biblical account of Jesus Christ. According to the cynics, the New Testament account is just a reworked version of the story of Osiris. They find this argument very satisfying since it appears to justify their rejection of the New Testament claims of Jesus Christ to be God and Savior.

In fact, however, their claims about this are just an exercise in misdirection.

You can look up the Osiris myths for yourself and I will save a more detailed analysis for another post. Both the Osiris myth(s) and the Christian gospel deal with themes of life, death and afterlife. As such, there are incidental parallels between some elements.

But to focus on that completely misses the point. All it does is makes you look in the wrong direction. You have taken your eye off the ball, sad cynic.

The real question is this, "What is the answer to the problem of evil in the world?" This is the question that both the Egyptians and the Christians and various other religious groups are addressing.

The atheistic cynics (like Sam Harris) get all excited about the presence of evil in the world. They ask, "How could there be a God who is good if He allows such evil to exist in the world?" They admit that some things are evil - but they claim that it proves there is no God.

But if there is no God who has imparted moral reality to the universe, then why do you believe some things are evil? Without God, there is no moral absolute. Nothing is really good or evil. Every action of man is equally amoral. The question "Why" has not answer.  There is no ultimate meaning or purpose to life. There is no ultimate destination. There is no judgment or justice. We are but biochemical bubbles floating along until we pop. Then there is nothing.

Why should anyone be outraged by anyone else's behavior? We are only the product of our biochemical make-up and our actions are predetermined by the meaningless operations of those chemicals in our being. One person's "goodness" is another person's "evil." It is meaningless.

But most people (including Sam Harris) find this to be a very unsatisfying perspective. We recognize some things to be genuinely evil. We know it when we see it. We feel it in our innermost being - and it upsets us. (Usually we are more upset by other people's evil than we are by our own.)

The good news in the Bible is that evil is real and that God's wrath against evil will resolve the problem of evil once and for all. Life has meaning and purpose, there are moral absolutes, justice will prevail.