Friday, August 18, 2017

Insufficient Buddhism

A young Buddha leaves his wife and newborn, Battambang, Cambodia.

Buddhism is interesting in that it teaches about the suffering that most people seem to experience. With that being said, allow me to discuss the basic tenets of Buddhism.
The four noble truths are that to live is to suffer (dukkha). That is the first. The second is that suffering is caused by attachment. The third noble truth is that eliminating attachment will eliminate suffering. The forth noble truth tells us how to do that, which is by following the noble eight-fold path.
So what Buddha meant by suffering is that life is all about wanting something and basically not getting it. We as human beings are attached to things (or people), and because these things often don’t do what we want them to do (like be ours or stay alive, for instance), we are in a period of suffering.
I would like to first ask the question, why do we feel entitled to these things in the first place? To have an attachment, we must first feel entitled to them.
We compare our own lives with other people, and our coveting hearts are revealed to us. The reason we suffer from being attached is because we are idolizing. This is the real problem with Buddhism. It only goes so far. It teaches that we stop at being attached, but the real issue is that we are putting things in the place in our lives which only God deserves. Is He Lord of your life? Or is there some kind of replacement that you have? The Bible teaches us that we get our joy from Him and Him alone. Anything else is generic and not genuine. Think of sodas. If we buy Dr. Thunder or Mountain lightning or “Cola,” as much as we lie to ourselves that it tastes like the real thing, we still know that a real Coke is more satisfying. Same with chocolate. Dove, Hershey’s, German or M&M’s, anything else just doesn’t taste as good. It is because these things are designed to be replicas. They are designed to take the place of the real thing. They are not meant to be their own thing. This is what idolatry is like. When we allow these things in our lives to take over our lives, we are placing them in a status that only God deserves to have.
It is really simple: stop doing this. Get on your knees and make Jesus the Lord of your life, because there is no replica. Jesus says, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the father but through me” (John 14:6). In other words, there is no room for another replica. Why settle for something that is second best when you can have the best? Statues of Buddha will never do anything for you. Just look at the supreme lack of reasoning Isaiah gives for idolatry. He explains that with one half of the wood, a man builds a fire, and with the other half, he makes an idol and worships it:

All who make idols are nothing,
and the things they treasure are worthless.
Those who would speak up for them are blind;
they are ignorant, to their own shame.
10 Who shapes a god and casts an idol,
which can profit nothing?
11 People who do that will be put to shame;
such craftsmen are only human beings.
Let them all come together and take their stand;
they will be brought down to terror and shame.
12 The blacksmith takes a tool
and works with it in the coals;
he shapes an idol with hammers,
he forges it with the might of his arm.
He gets hungry and loses his strength;
he drinks no water and grows faint.
13 The carpenter measures with a line
and makes an outline with a marker;
he roughs it out with chisels
and marks it with compasses.
He shapes it in human form,
human form in all its glory,
that it may dwell in a shrine.
14 He cut down cedars,
or perhaps took a cypress or oak.
He let it grow among the trees of the forest,
or planted a pine, and the rain made it grow.
15 It is used as fuel for burning;
some of it he takes and warms himself,
he kindles a fire and bakes bread.
But he also fashions a god and worships it;
he makes an idol and bows down to it.
16 Half of the wood he burns in the fire;
over it he prepares his meal,
he roasts his meat and eats his fill.
He also warms himself and says,
“Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.”
17 From the rest he makes a god, his idol;
he bows down to it and worships.
He prays to it and says,
“Save me! You are my god!”
18 They know nothing, they understand nothing;
their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see,
and their minds closed so they cannot understand.
19 No one stops to think,
no one has the knowledge or understanding to say,
“Half of it I used for fuel;
I even baked bread over its coals,
I roasted meat and I ate.
Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left?
Shall I bow down to a block of wood?”
20 Such a person feeds on ashes; a deluded heart misleads him;
he cannot save himself, or say,
“Is not this thing in my right hand a lie?” –Isaiah 44:9-20

The Garden of a thousand Buddhas, Arlee, MT
Besides, all of these other replicas (gods) will do nothing but cause us suffering. They do not bring value, meaning or purpose to our lives. This is not the case with our Creator. You are loved, valued, and your life has eternal purpose because of Him. He sent His one and only Son to die in your place and on your behalf, so that you might have eternal life. Why? Because there is nothing that we can do to earn our own salvation. Not even partially. We had no way of making our moral failures disappear. We cannot erase them and they never just go away. A moral failure is what the Bible calls a sin. Sin is what separates us from God. The Bible says that all fall short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Just like if we robbed a bank and got caught, we would go before the judge and be faced with sentencing because justice must be served. The judge is not going to let us off the hook just because we promise never to do it again, but the crime requires punishment. The same goes for God. He is a just God and there are no other Gods before Him. If we worship these other things which we make our gods, He will sentence us to judgment because justice must be served. But this is not the end. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, in other words, as we have lightly discussed, that the cost for our moral failures is death. This is the Bible’s explanation of why human beings die. Because of sin. But as I was getting at, this is not the end. Romans 6:23 continues, “But the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” We have eternal life through Jesus Christ! Jesus took our place in God’s wrath. In other words, Jesus paid the penalty, the fine for which our sin deserves. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: That while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In the act of our moral failure, Christ died for us. How can we not give Him thanks and praise and worship Him forever? We are not bound by God’s wrath. The fine has been paid through Jesus if we simply place our trust in Him and make Him Lord of our life. Romans 10:9 says that “If we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, then you will be saved.” Make Him the Lord of your life today. Don’t settle for a replica.

Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Do we have clear biblical instruction to not bring Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses into our homes when they come knocking?

2 John 7-11 reads: “I say this because many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take them into your house or welcome them. Anyone who welcomes them shares in their wicked work.”

This particular passage was talking about a traveler, who brought with them a philosophy or teaching that basically opposed the Christian doctrine. To "take them into your house or welcome them" meant that you should not provide them with support and hospitality. Many travelers (including Christians) back in the day relied on the hospitality of people they were teaching, etc. In other words, these travelers could not go on unless they had food and rest. It does not mean that you can't be in the comfort of your own home and contend for the faith (Jude 3).
Does it suggest that when a J.W. or Mormon comes to your house and if you want to contend, that you should go outside? I think a study of historical background is helpful here, which suggests that we are not to support them in a manner that keeps them going. If we invite them into our house solely to plant seeds of doubt, then we are not "taking them into our house or welcoming them," but practically the opposite. Do not support them by any means. You do not want to be a part of sharing something deceiving.

Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus

Arguments for the existence of God and other apologetical resources

 The 5 most comprehensible and most powerful arguments for the existence of God in animated videos, and some other resources.

The link below answers the question of whether or not Atheists can have any type of morality:

An explanation on why the New Testament is treated as guilty:

Answering 5 questions that cause people to struggle in their faith:

Read this to learn about salvation:

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Can Atheists Claim Any Kind of Morality?

I had a conversation with an atheist the other day. He basically believes that the Moral argument for the existence of God is false, because he believes that morals have evolved, in order for survival.
The problem with this is that in order to believe morals have evolved, one has to posit that morals are evolved, but morals have never changed.
When people burned witches at the stake, they were burning them not simply because they were witches, but because people believed that these “witches” could murder other people through spells and hexes. Likely frequently and highly mistaken, the townsfolk were simply bringing judgment on a murderer. The point is, people then were trying to rid the world of murder, because they knew it was wrong. Morals do not change.
Secondly, the peacock, for example is not a moral creature, yet still survives even though it is one of the world’s most fragile creatures. It does not take morals in order to survive.
On top of all of this, the 20th century was the deadliest century in the history of humanity! If we are supposed to be getting more civilized and our morals are evolving, then why were so many people murdered in the 20th century? If everyone has their own idea of what is good, then how can we be sure what good really is? Goodness transcends time and space. I elaborate on this below.

He believes that people try to make things right by not doing wrong again.

The purpose of religion is to eradicate guilt. Let me explain. Even the atheist does it. He tries to make things right by not making the same mistake again; the mistake of committing adultery, or the mistake of lying, or the mistake of stealing, for instance. The problem is, however, he will find that if he reflects on his life, he cannot carry this out. He knows what good is, but constantly fails.
All religions seek to eradicate guilt. Even Buddhism, if one can even call that a religion. Buddhism’s four noble truths starts with the Dukkha. The dukkha is basically suffering. We suffer because we cling to things in our lives. Therefore, stop clinging to things. The way to do this according to Buddhists is to follow the eight-fold path. Once this is completed, one has reached Nirvana. When in nirvana, one is guilt free (Through suffering, we sometimes do things because we are unsatisfied. Dissatisfaction frequently motivates us to do things we know we shouldn’t. Doing things we shouldn’t do causes guilt. Therefore, not being satisfied [suffering] can ultimately cause guilt). The problem is that one must cling to the eight-fold path in order to reach nirvana and eradicate guilt! In any event, Buddhism is essentially saying, “you can be guilt free if you let go of absolutely everything impermanent, except the eight-fold path.” When in Nirvana, one does not require the eight-fold path anymore, thus making the eight-fold path itself, impermanent.
It seems that the best way to tackle this type of argument is to show the atheist that the worldview he or she has, allows him or her to do anything, without consequences. Why is rape wrong? Because someone once said it was? Who cares? If we are merely “dancing to our DNA,” as Richard Dawkins so famously put it, then it seems rape would be the natural thing to do. Why is anything wrong through the eyes of the atheist? For that matter, why is anything right?
Even if atheists say that morals are for the survival of mankind, why does this even matter? Eventually (in seven billion years) the Sun will become a red giant, leaving a scorched Earth, and nothing but debris will exist. Charred garbage and dust floating around in outer space, and eventually, even that will burn up. Therefore, who cares what happens? Who cares what we do now? Show him or her that without a transcendent Moral Law Giver, there are no set moral absolutes which will regulate humanity. Conclusively, the atheist frequently borrows the Christian worldview by claiming goodness or wrongness of any kind.

Feel free to reply or ask questions to this post, or on the ATC facebook page:

Written by Nace Howell through the grace of the Lord Jesus