Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Act of Praying Announces "Game On" (PrayerLife)

Ludington, Michigan light house
I address God for the sake of me. I need constant help. I need perpetual change. I have not yet made it my own, but I press on to do so.
“Pressing on mode” begins with praying. The act of praying announces “game on.”

  • Transform me into greater Christlikeness.
  • Assist me in the doing of your will.
  • Change my heart, O God.
  • Reduce the “me” in me.
  • Have your way in me.
  • Be gracious unto me.
  • Do not forsake me.
  • Be glorified, in me.
  • Orchestrate me.
  • Increase in me.
  • Decrease me.
  • Empower me.
  • Create in me.
  • Sanctify me.
  • Move in me.
  • Restore me.
  • Sustain me.
  • Deliver me.
  • Renew me.
  • Clean me.
  • Guide me.
  • Direct me.
  • Fill me.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014


(For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion class)

Wykstra's essay is: "Rowe's Noseeum Arguments from Evil."

Wykstra says Rowe commits the "no-seeum fallacy." Explain.

Rowe's argument is:

1. As far as I can see there is no point to the fawn's suffering.
2. Therefore, there is no point to the fawn's suffering.

This argument commits the noseeum fallacy. One can only reason from 1 to 2 if the CORNEA condition is met.

CORNEA - Condition Of ReasoNable Epistemic Access

We can argue from “We see no X” to… ”There is no X”… only when X has “reasonable seeability.”

E.g. -     

1. As far as I can see President Obama is not in the room.

      2. Therefore, President Obama is not in the room.

There is a claim of inference from 1 to 2 in this case because CORNEA has been met. That is, were Pres. Obama in the room I would be able to see him. The "reasonable seeability" condition has been met.

An example of CORNEA not being met:  

1. As far as I can see there are no germs on this hypodermic needle.

      2. Therefore there are no germs on this hypodermic needle.

Wykstra agrees with Rowe that God would only allow intense suffering if there was some point to it.

Wykstra thinks Rowe’s claim that there are instances of pointless suffering is unjustifiable. That is, Rowe cannot claim this, because of CORNEA.

*      Rowe argues:

·         1. There appears to be no point to the fawn’s suffering.

·         2. There is no point to the fawn’s suffering.

·         THIS INFERENCE, says Wykstra, fails.

Wykstra further argues that the reasonable seeability claim cannot be met in the case of God.

·         He uses the parent-infant analogy to show this.

·         Wyckstra writes: “The disparity between God’s vision and ours is comparable to the gap between the vision of a parent and her one-month-old infant. This gives reason to think that our discerning most of God’s purposes are about as likely as the infant’s discerning most of the parent’s purposes.”

Praying to Be Released From the Prison House of Perpetual Ingratitude (PrayerLife)

River Raisin walking bridge

It's hard to be thankful when you feel you are mostly in want. In American culture we are constantly alerted to how little we have. Marketing serves to create need, and need indicates barrenness, since what you don't need you don't lack. This is why Linda and I mute commercials when we are watching TV. For the most part there is nothing in them that we need.

Thankfulness concerns something you have, not something you lack and therefore need. The sense of deprivation mutes gratitude. Columbia University professor of religion and culture Mark Taylor writes: "We have been conned...  by an economic system that creates endless desire where there is no need." That is the prison house of perpetual ingratitude.

The vast, rolling  verdant pasture of gratefulness is the land of "I shall not be in want." (Ps. 23:1) I cultivate this by intentional abiding in Christ, and harvest the many fruits of a thankful heart. Out of my heart, as another facet of praying, I say "Thank you again, God!"

Study Torah With Me This Winter

Studying Torah in Jerusalem
Beginning Sunday, January 4, I will teach an 11-week class on "Torah: The First Five Books of the First Testament."

Torah, the Jewish Written Law, is also known as the "Pentateuch," meaning the first five books of the Bible.

This will be an in-depth study. Students will read, or read again, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. I will supplement this with classic and current scholarship on Torah.

If you are interested in attending please send me an email at, or contact my office at 734-242-5277.

Redeemer Basketball League Winter 2015

We plan on having registration on Dec 13th. 
The league will start on Saturday, January 10th. 
We plan on playing 10 weeks with an 11th being playoffs, and taking a week off for Pinewood Derby at the beginning of March. 
The league will be open to children from 5th through 12th grades. 
For information please call the church office at: 734-242-5277

Coming Events at Redeemer

*    JOSH LEWIS IS PREACHING THIS COMING SUNDAY MORNING, OCTOBER 26. Josh has been part of our Redeemer family since he was young, and served as a missionary in Ireland for a year.
*    REDEEMER BASKETBALL LEAGUE COMING THIS WINTER: We plan on having registration on Dec 13th. The league will start on Saturday, January 10th. We plan on playing 10 weeks with an 11th being playoffs, and taking a week off for Pinewood Derby at the beginning of March. The league will be open to children from 5th through 12th grades.  Contact persons: Chris Verhille, Karen Reaume, and Daniel Reaume.
*    TORAH – THE FIRST FIVE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE. This RMS class is open to anyone who wants to be part of an in-depth study of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Meets Sunday nights beginning January 4. 6-8 PM at the church. Teacher: Pastor John Piippo.

*    BAPTISMS – SUNDAY MORNING, November 30. If you wish to be baptized please let me know.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Rowe's Evidential Argument from Evil Against God's Existence

The Facebook-atheist argument against God's existence is:
1. Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha...
2. Therefore, God does not exist.
(For my MCCC Philosophy of Religion class, from William Rowe's "The Evidential Argument From Evil.") 

1. Rowe believes Mackie's logical argument fails, having been defeated by Plantinga's Free Will Defense. Rowe, therefore, does not believe theism is logically incoherent.

2. Instead, Rowe's presents an "evidential" argument from evil against the existence of God. His argument is based on the evidence of:

a) the kind of horrendous evils there are in the world; and

b the amount of such horrendous evils in the world (= gratuitous suffering, or pointless suffering).

3. Rowe never really defines "evil." he says "intense human and animal suffering" is "a clear case of evil." (Pojman, 201) Yet he says that even when suffering has a "point" the suffering is still, in itself, "evil." Rowe calls this "justified evil." Rowe's argument, however, depends on "unjustified evil"; i.e., "pointless evil." (Not all suffering is "pointless." E.g., it's generally wrong to come up to someone and cut them, with a knife unless you are, e.g., a surgeon who is about to prevent some greater evil overtaking you.)

4. Rowe's argument is:

P1. There exist instances of intense suffering which an omnipotent, omniscient being could have prevented without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.

P2. An omniscient, wholly good being would prevent the occurrence of any intense suffering it could, unless it could not do so without thereby losing some greater good or permitting some evil equally bad or worse.

C3. There does not exist an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good being.

5. Rowe says his argument is logically "valid." This is correct. He then asks: is it rational to believe P1 and P2 are true? He believes so,

6. P2 – "This premise is, I think, held in common by many atheists and nontheists... (and even) theists." (Pojman, 202) I think Rowe is correct on this. The controversial premise is P1.

7. P1 – Rowe uses the "Bambi example" as an illustration of the rationality of pointless, or unjustified, suffering. Rowe says we cannot "prove" P1. But he believes it is rational, or reasonable, to believe P1 is true. Even if we can't see that his Bambi example works, surely, thinks Rowe, there are instances of pointless suffering among all the suffering in the world. He says: "The idea that none of this suffering could have been prevented by an omnipotent being without thereby losing a greater good or permitting an evil at least as bad seems an extraordinary absurd idea, quite beyond our belief." (Pojman, 203)

8. It seems, therefore, "that we have rational support for atheism, that it is reasonable for us to believe that the theistic God does not exist." (Pojman, 203)

9. Rowe calls his position "friendly atheism." This kind of atheism holds that a theist can also be rational in believing in an Omni-God. (Pojman, 205-206) A friendly atheist can believe this even while thinking the theist is wrong.

Praying From My Nothingness (PrayerLife)

Linda and I in Cancun
Jesus said, "If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (John 15:5)

This morning I am praying. I have a number of requests in mind. With some of these requests, from others and for myself, I do not have a solution. I do not know what to do. On my own I can think of nothing and do nothing. I have no answer, except stay connected to God and pray.

I am connected today. I am dwelling in the house of God, whose temple is my heart. I'm reading John 15:7, where Jesus says "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."

I hear God telling me "Why not try this, John?" I am now abiding in him. His words are in me. It is appropriate to ask God for help. So I do. "God, show me what to do to help these people I am praying for. Lead me and empower me. Give me your words of wisdom for others. Help me lead and minister to my church family in these days. Amen." 

I am checking this out. 

  1. If I abide in Christ and his words abide in me, then I will know what to ask of God. 
  2. I'm abiding in Christ.
  3. Therefore my requests that arise in God's presence will be done.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Speed Worship, and the Endless Desire Where There Is No Need

Foggy morning on the River Raisin
So many books, so little time to read them. 

I just added Columbia University religion professor Mark Taylor's new book to my amazon wish list - Speed Limits: Where Time Went and Why We Have So Little Left. I was pointed to this book by Taylor's essay in The Chronicle of Higher Education - "Speed Kills: Fast Is Never Fast Enough." Taylor's essay is a nice complement to another book I'm currently reading - Slow Church: Cultivating Community In the Patient Way of Jesus

I like slow. Slow living increases productivity. Speed living kills the soul. I'm doing some "slow" today and experiencing life. All that's missing is some succulent Slow's BBQ, whose owners understand there are certain things in life that should not be microwaved. 

Our culture is obsessed with speed. The idea that speedy technology would give us more leisure time was an illusion. Many are trapped within the prisons of their quick-gadgets. Taylor writes: "Contrary to expectation, the technologies that were supposed to liberate us now enslave us, networks that were supposed to unite us now divide us, and technologies that were supposed to save time leave us no time for ourselves."

Social status used to be measured by how little a person works; now it is measured by how much a person works. "If you are not constantly connected, you are unimportant; if you willingly unplug to recuperate, play, or even do nothing, you become an expendable slacker."

The worship of fastness has created its own value system. "Good" is understood by words like individualism, utility, efficiency, productivity, competition, consumption, and speed. The Speed Regime has repressed values like sustainability, community, cooperation, generosity, patience, subtlety, deliberation, reflection, and slowness. Taylor argues that we must recover these repressed values to avoid a psychological, social, economic, and ecological meltdown.

"Speed," writes Taylor, "has limits. As acceleration accelerates, individuals, societies, economies, and even the environment approach meltdown. We have been conned into worshiping speed by an economic system that creates endless desire where there is no need."

There's a lot of helpful analysis in Taylor's essay. All who are concerned that the American Church has been seduced into the Babylonian Captivity of Speed should take note. By the rivers of this Babylon we've laid our instruments down, not because we have no songs to sing, but because we have no time to sing them.


To the Rwandan Pastor Who Contacted Me

To the pastor in Rwanda affiliated with the AME who called me yesterday: my email address is -