November 2012


I have been asked on several occasions what my thoughts are regarding re-baptism.  I have in mind those who were previously baptized in a legitimate Biblical manner, but want to be baptized again for various reasons.  The Bible does not directly address this issue, so we cannot cite chapter and verse to settle it.  We have to think about it theologically and practically.  Here are my thoughts on the matter.

First, we have to consider what makes baptism effective.  According to Paul, it is one’s faith in what God is doing through the act of baptism:

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. (Col 2:11-12)

If one exercised genuine faith in Jesus when they were baptized, then their baptism was legitimate and spiritually efficacious, and there is no spiritual need to be rebaptized.  They already have the spiritual benefits of baptism applied to their life.  Being rebaptized will add nothing to their spiritual life that they do not possess already.  However, if one did not have faith in Jesus when they were baptized, or if they are not certain whether they had genuine faith at the time and they feel the need to be rebaptized, then by all means they should do so.

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“Apologetics” is a difficult word.  Most people have never heard of it and have no idea what it means.  It sounds like something that involves saying “I’m sorry.”  For others, it connotes something that only concerns academics.  To avoid these concerns, Brian Auten has come up with a helpful list of alternative expressions that conveys the purview and purpose of apologetics without using the word itself:

  • defending Christianity
  • the defense of the faith
  • thinking through the issues
  • being thoughtful about your convictions
  • being thoughtful about the faith
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Tom Chivers defines secularism as “the belief that the state should be neutral towards the religious beliefs of its citizens.”[1]  As I read his definition it struck me how different it is from other definitions I have read, and how one’s theological bias can affect their definition.  For example, Christians have often defined secularism along the lines of “ordering society as if God did not exist, or His existence is irrelevant.”  Tullian Tchividjian defines secularization as “the process through which God and the supernatural are relegated to the fringe of what’s important in society,” adding that “a secularized society is a society that has determined to make God and the supernatural socially irrelevant even if they remain personally engaging. It restricts the relevance of God to the private sphere only. …God may be important individually but he is rather unimportant socially and culturally. He may be alive and well privately but publicly he is dead.”[2]

So is secularism the idea that government should be religiously neutral, or is secularism little more than social atheism?  Is it just a matter of perspective?


[1]Tom Chivers, “Atheism may be lonely, but it’s honest – and the loneliness can be fixed, http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100149264/atheism-may-be-lonely-but-its-honest-and-the-loneliness-can-be-fixed/; Internet; accessed 30 October 2012.
[2]Tullian Tchividjian, “The Irrelevance of God”; available from http://theologica.blogspot.com/2007/07/irrelevance-of-god.html; Internet; accessed 30 July 2007.

If you’ve ever read the exchange between Jesus and the Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7:24-30, I’m sure you’ve asked the same question most of us have: “Did Jesus really say that?!”

What did He say?  In response to the woman’s request for Jesus to cast a demon out of her daughter, Jesus said, “Let the children be fed first, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”  How rude!  It seems out of character for Jesus to put down a woman, equating her to a dog.

Larry Hurtado has a helpful article on this passage that explains Jesus’ point in its original context.  He makes the following points:

What would you say if I told you that a politician supported a man’s legal right to physically abuse his wife under any circumstance, but is “a pro-woman hero” because his policies will help undermine the root causes of spousal abuse?  You’d say I was nuts, right?  Well, this same sort of argument is made all the time when it comes to pro-abortion politicians.

Eric C. Miller seems to have drunk this same Kool-Aid.  The title of my post is the title of his article in Religion Dispatches Magazine.  The title is as oxymoronic as “Adolph Hitler, Zionism Hero” or “Chick-fil-A, PETA hero.”  How does one come to the conclusion that the most pro-abortion president this nation has ever seen is actually a pro-life hero?  Birth control.

President Obama’s “Obamacare” will require all health insurance companies to cover contraceptives free of charge.  And according to a recent study by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, access to free birth control can reduce unintended pregnancies by up to 75%.  Miller reasons that since virtually all abortions are due to unintended pregnancies, access to free contraception will lower the number of unintended pregnancies, and thus severely lower the abortion rate.

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Science can only describe; it cannot explain.  Surely this is wrong, you say.  Science explains a lot.  Well, that depends on what you mean by “explain.”  Science can tell us why we don’t float off into space (gravity), and can even tell us what creates gravity (the warping of space-time), but these are not explanations.  They are merely descriptions of physical phenomena.  The deeper questions go unanswered.  For example, why gravity exists in the first place, and why does it assume the value it does?  Scientists can describe the history of the universe all the way back to the Planck time, but they cannot explain why the universe started the way it did, or what caused the universe to come into being.

If science can only describe physical phenomena but cannot explain it, then it is naïve to think science alone is sufficient to answer every question of human inquiry.  Science is an amazing discipline that has been wildly successful in doing what it is intended to do, but it cannot do everything.  The role of science should not be diminished below its usefulness, but neither should it be exalted above its limits.  If you want explanations, you’ll have to look beyond science.

Elections tell you a lot about the worldview of Americans.  Last night’s election is no exception.  It reveals a lot about our moral views.  This election reveals that our nation has become very accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, as well as smoking pot.

Homosexuality and Same-Sex Marriage

Wisconsin elected the first openly gay U.S. Senator.  Maine (53% vs. 47%) and Maryland (52% vs. 48%) voted to support the legalization of same-sex marriage.  Maryland voters merely confirmed their support of a law allowing same-sex marriage that was recently signed into law by the governor.  Maine chimed in on this same issue in 2009 after their legislature passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, and they rejected same-sex marriage with 53% of the vote.  Look how quickly public opinion is shifting!

The significance of what happened in Maine and Maryland cannot be underestimated.  This is the first time in history that same-sex marriage has been approved by the people of a state as opposed to the courts or legislature.

Washington also had an initiative to legalize same-sex marriage (same-sex marriage was already legal in all but name).  Only half of the votes have been counted thus far, but at present 52% have voted in favor of same-sex marriage, and thus it is likely to become legal there as well.  If so, nine states will have laws allowing same-sex marriage.

Minnesota tried to change their constitution to limit marriage to a man and a woman, but the initiative was defeated 51% to 48%.  The measure’s defeat, however, does not mean that same-sex marriage is legal.  It’s just not on the books as being illegal.

On the international front, France is now in the process of trying to legalize same-sex marriage there.  If it passes, they will become the 12th country in the world where same-sex couples can marry.  And yesterday, Spain’s high court upheld a 2005 law that legalized same-sex marriage.

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William Lane Craig once recommended physicist Nick Herbert’s book, Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics, as a great introduction to quantum theory.  I picked up a copy to tackle this strange and oft-misunderstood topic.

Quantum mechanics is not for the faint-hearted.  It is difficult to grasp.  Even after reading this book I still can’t say I understand quantum mechanics well enough to explain it with confidence, but at least now I have a better understanding of what I don’t understand.  Apparently I’m in good company.  Richard Feynman once said, “I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics.”

One thing I did glean from this book is what the debate is all about.  It’s not about the quantum facts.  We know the facts well.  And it’s not even so much over quantum theory (the mathematics used to describe the quantum facts).  Rather, the debate is about the physical interpretation of quantum theory.  What is the reality of the quantum world?

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This is crazy.  A mentally handicapped women is pregnant.  While both she and her parents want to give birth the baby and give it up for adoption (6 couples are already waiting to adopt the baby), a judge is considering forcing her to have an abortion and undergo sterilization.  Outrageous!

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the birth rate has declined to 63.2 children per 1,000 women, the lowest in national history.  Birth rates are declining for those in lower age-brackets, but not surprisingly, increasing for women aged 35-44.  Unwed mothers account for 40.7% of all births.  Not good.

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