Thursday, June 26, 2008

Christians and movies

Christian, are you sick and tired of paying to see (and then walking out of) movies that blaspheme the awesome and holy name of the God who so graciously saved you from the worst fate you could imagine? I mean, we wouldn't go watch a movie that specifically insulted our close friends and family, so why would we go watch a movie that blatantly insults the most powerful and fantastic being in the universe, right? RIGHT?

Now, I must admit lately I have drawn my own lines when it comes to movies. I didn't walk out at verbal abuse (although I used to), and made my line a little more fuzzy, so that I do not walk out of every movie. But God gave me grace in that I have probably only seen 3 or 4 movies since I made my line more fuzzy. I agree that we should flee from sin, and I admit to a personal failing in this area. But now my faith has been bolstered by good men who wish to eliminate the plague in a Christian-like manner!

Ray Comfort has on his new site, an explanation of the use of blasphemy, as well as an indicator bar of the blasphemies contained in the movies. Personally, this is great, because we can check out a movie before we watch it. Click here:
Hollywood and God

What is so great is Christians can now send the producers a friendly e-mail, saying exactly how they feel about the use of God and Christ's name being applied in a misappropriate manner. If we join together as Christians, we can have a positive influence.

Just a note to non-Christians, if you read this: We do not stop you from saying those things, but out of love we rather protect you from the wrath of God by not exposing you to sin. We (as Christians) believe it to be a sin to blaspheme God, and unrepentant sinners go to hell. You have to appreciate the fact that we are trying to help. But we are not using politics or force to do so.


Friday, June 20, 2008

Where do I start with the Bible?

One of the most important books you can ever read is the bible, and we need to make sure that God is glorified in the reading of this great book. Now, if you are a new Christian, I would not recommend a cover to cover first reading. You can do that a little later, but there are some handy tips that I could have used when I started.

Firstly, the bible wasn't written to you. It was written for you. That means when God says "I have a plan for you to prosper" in Jeremiah, He isn't talking to you. You must be aware of the grammatical historical context of what you are reading, and most bibles do help out with that. They have a small paragraph at the beginning describing the context of the book. Remember you must learn that so you can read it right. You cannot take a verse to mean what the original receivers would not have seen in the text.

With that out of the way, I would suggest you start with the gospels. Why? They tell of the hero of the story: Jesus Christ. All creation was made that He may be glorified. The old testament is about a 3000 year wait for the hero. So we start at the centre and work our way out.

But which gospel? That depends on who you are. They are historical biographies of Christ. You must understand that each gospel has a point, a meaning, that it is trying to get across. So depending on your situation, I would recommend a different gospel. Also, since the gospels have a point, that explains why they are not in linear order. Biographies were written like that in the days gone by.

So which gospel is for you? Lets go through them:
  1. Matthew:
    Written to the Jews to say that Christ is the King. The genealogies point to King David, of whom it was predicted that Christ would be an heir. [LINK] Read this book thinking "Christ is royalty" and you'll be pleasantly surprised. I would recommend this book to Jews who are seeking the Messiah. It is a lovely book to read with the old testament in mind.
  2. Mark:
    Written to the Romans, showing that Christ was the perfect servant. [LINK] The submission of Christ to the needs of others is a good concept to have when reading this book. It must be contrasted with John's gospel, but is an excellent starting place to see Christ's love and compassion for others. I would recommend it to those who professed Christianity but have recently turned to do it properly. It is also good for those who struggle with humility. I know I'm really humble, more humble than anyone I know...
  3. Luke:
    Written to the Greeks to show that Christ is the perfect man. It emphasises Christ's perfection and sinlessness, revealing Him to be the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins. [LINK] Since it is written to Gentiles, this is the most common starting point. If you are from western society, I recommend you start here, especially if you don't know where to start.
  4. John:
    John. Wow. This book was written to the world (everyone) to reveal that Jesus is God. [LINK] If you are agnostic or aware of some 'god,' then John's gospel is for you. It reveals Jesus as the only true God, and starts right at the beginning, before there was a beginning. I would recommend it to people who believe in a god, but are not sure about Christ, also to those who love Christ, and want a lot of good theology. It reveals God's sovereignty, power and majesty.

But the best advice I can give: ask God for understanding. I read this book for years and thought I had it down. I didn't. Ask God to change your heart, give you eyes to see and ears to hear. God will hear the prayer of a humbled person. Do not read this book because you can't fall asleep, read it and be interested.

I had to laugh

I am currently going crazy learning about robotics in an attempt to finish off my masters degree. I have even started a [new blog] to store all the information I get.

But in my research I came across this pearler:

"Consciousness is part of the natural world. It depends, ... , only on mathematics and logic and on the imperfectly known laws of physics, chemistry, and biology; it does not arise from some magical or otherworldly quality. That's good news, because it means there's no reason why consciousness can't be reproduced in a machine..." [Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi]

And I wonder, on whose authority do they speak? In reality they actually have no authority, since they have not actually produced conciousness.

There is no 'good news' here. All they did was take their naturalistic world view and apply it to the field of cognitive robotics. Now I do not need to be an expert in conciousness to see that they are wrong until proven right.

As I noted the other day - conciousness (or self-awareness) in computers actually gets us nowhere in intelligence. Self awareness is the pinnacle of autonomy, but it doesn't make it clever or even able to learn.

But read through the quote, and this time I'll highlight what I left out:

"Consciousness is part of the natural world. It depends, we believe, only on mathematics and logic and on the imperfectly known laws of physics, chemistry, and biology; it does not arise from some magical or otherworldly quality. That's good news, because it means there's no reason why consciousness can't be reproduced in a machine—in theory, anyway." (Emphasis mine) [Christof Koch and Giulio Tononi]

Really? You don't say! Academically, this is their 'way out' of being wrong. They'll call it a theory and continue in business as usual. So often, people (Christians and non) will read the above statement and their brain 'leaves out' the emphasized text. One party will say it is a correct statement, the other will disagree. Then we start fighting and there really is no point. Sounds a lot like another debate...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Back to the gospel

What is the gospel?

Christians really need to ask themselves that question. What is the gospel? I mean it in every form that the question may be understood:
  • How do I say the gospel in words?
  • What does the gospel mean?
  • What is special about the gospel?

Well, what is it? It is the good news right? The news that Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.

The purpose of this post is to address a common problem in Christianity: St. Fancis really didn't have our postmodern age in mind when he said

"Preach the Gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words." [Source]

Firstly, this is not scripture. Nor is it included in scripture. Now I'm not refuting good works, but they don't save, nor do they actually show salvation [CHECK ME OUT].

The gospel is the good news, which includes the bad news. People need it. Christians need it. Remember the gospel is the "power of God unto salvation". I would encourage everyone to take the command to make disciples seriously. It is not an optional extra to salvation, it is salvation.

Jesus came down and gave us an example and He spoke. So should we. God gave us creation and a spoken (and now written) word. If we use these tools then others have a right to them.

"Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that." - [C.H. Spurgeon]