Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Apostle John, A Bishop And A Renegade

One of my favorite stories is one recited by Clement of Alexandria. This narrative is rich in instruction, let me just focus your attention on some of this richness before you read it for yourself. 

  • Children need instruction, not just examples.
  • Mature believers need to disciple the younger.
  • Just because one is a Christian does not mean there should not be accountability.
  • We need to give our lives to save others.
  • One does not just rely on the Holy Spirit for conviction, we need to show other's their sin and the forgiveness that is available. 
  • There is forgiveness when one repents for sin.
  • The Apostle John, the prodigal and the bishop all assumed that the defector of Christianity was headed for hell after turning from salvation.
  • It was only John, however, who had the confidence that a repentant renegade could be forgiven by Christ.
  • Lastly, I have to say it puts a human face on the Apostle John, even in his old age he had love, ambition and fortitude. O, did I mention he rode away on a horse? At least for me I always pictured the apostles as old men with long gowns walking by rivers and standing in temples....preaching....not riding horses!  

Apostle John, A Bishop And A Renegade
And that you may be still more confident, that repenting thus truly there remains for you a sure hope of salvation, listen to a tale, which is not a tale but a narrative, handed down and committed to the custody of memory, about the Apostle John. For when, on the tyrant's death, he returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit.
Having come to one of the cities not far off (the name of which some give), and having put the brethren to rest in other matters, at last, looking to the bishop appointed, and seeing a youth, powerful in body, comely in appearance, and ardent, said, This (youth) I commit to you in all earnestness, in the presence of the Church, and with Christ as witness. And on his accepting and promising all, he gave the same injunction and testimony. And he set out for Ephesus. And the presbyter taking home the youth committed to him, reared, kept, cherished, and finally baptized him. After this he relaxed his stricter care and guardianship, under the idea that the seal of the Lord he had set on him was a complete protection to him. But on his obtaining premature freedom, some youths of his age, idle, dissolute, and adepts in evil courses, corrupt him. First they entice him by many costly entertainments; then afterwards by night issuing forth for highway robbery, they take him along with them. Then they dared to execute together something greater. And he by degrees got accustomed; and from greatness of nature, when he had gone aside from the right path, and like a hard-mouthed and powerful horse, had taken the bit between his teeth, rushed with all the more force down into the depths. And having entirely despaired of salvation in God, he no longer meditated what was insignificant, but having perpetrated some great exploit, now that he was once lost, he made up his mind to a like fate with the rest. Taking them and forming a band of robbers, he was the prompt captain of the bandits, the fiercest, the bloodiest, the cruelest.

Time passed, and some necessity having emerged, they send again for John. He, when he had settled the other matters on account of which he came, said, Come now, O bishop, restore to us the deposit which I and the Saviour committed to you in the face of the Church over which you preside, as witness. The other was at first confounded, thinking that it was a false charge about money which he did not get; and he could neither believe the allegation regarding what he had not, nor disbelieve John. But when he said I demand the young man, and the soul of the brother, the old man, groaning deeply, and bursting into tears, said, He is dead. How and what kind of death? He is dead, he said, to God. For he turned wicked and abandoned, and at last a robber; and now he has taken possession of the mountain in front of the church, along with a band like him. Rending, therefore, his clothes, and striking his head with great lamentation, the apostle said, It was a fine guard of a brother's soul I left! But let a horse be brought me, and let some one be my guide on the way. He rode away, just as he was, straight from the church. On coming to the place, he is arrested by the robbers' outpost; neither fleeing nor entreating, but crying, It was for this I came. Lead me to your captain; who meanwhile was waiting, all armed as he was. But when he recognized John as he advanced, he turned, ashamed, to flight. The other followed with all his might, forgetting his age, crying, Why, my son, do you flee from me, your father, unarmed, old? Son, pity me. Fear not; you have still hope of life. I will give account to Christ for you. If need be, I will willingly endure your death, as the Lord did death for us. For you I will surrender my life. Stand, believe; Christ has sent me.

And he, when he heard, first stood, looking down; then threw down his arms, then trembled and wept bitterly. And on the old man approaching, he embraced him, speaking for himself with lamentations as he could, and baptized a second time with tears, concealing only his right hand. The other pledging, and assuring him on oath that he would find forgiveness for himself from the Saviour, beseeching and falling on his knees, and kissing his right hand itself, as now purified by repentance, led him back to the church. Then by supplicating with copious prayers, and striving along with him in continual fastings, and subduing his mind by various utterances of words, did not depart, as they say, till he restored him to the Church, presenting in him a great example of true repentance and a great token of regeneration, a trophy of the resurrection for which we hope; when at the end of the world, the angels, radiant with joy, hymning and opening the heavens, shall receive into the celestial abodes those who truly repent; and before all, the Saviour Himself goes to meet them, welcoming them; holding forth the shadowless, ceaseless light; conducting them, to the Father's bosom, to eternal life, to the kingdom of heaven.

Let one believe these things, and the disciples of God, and God, who is surety, the Prophecies, the Gospels, the Apostolic words; living in accordance with them, and lending his ears, and practicing the deeds, he shall at his decease see the end and demonstration of the truths taught. For he who in this world welcomes the angel of penitence will not repent at the time that he leaves the body, nor be ashamed when he sees the Saviour approaching in His glory and with His army. He fears not the fire.
But if one chooses to continue and to sin perpetually in pleasures, and values indulgence here above eternal life, and turns away from the Saviour, who gives forgiveness; let him no more blame either God, or riches, or his having fallen, but his own soul, which voluntarily perishes. But to him who directs his eye to salvation and desires it, and asks with boldness and vehemence for its bestowal, the good Father who is in heaven will give the true purification and the changeless life. To whom, by His Son Jesus Christ, the Lord of the living and dead, and by the Holy Spirit, be glory, honor, power, eternal majesty, both now and ever, from generation to generation, and from eternity to eternity. Amen.
This text was taken from the following site: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0207.htm. Anyone can can find a copy of this story from any set of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Mesmerizing Molecular Machines

One of the most amazing things one can learn about in biology are molecular machines. Every time I read about them or see an animation of one, their design blows me away. In the cell there are many tasks that need to be done, molecular machines come to the rescue. These tiny machines do every thing from transport (kinesin, which actually "walk" on the cell's internal scaffolding carrying "packages") to a true turbine that pops together parts to make ATP or the "energy currency" of the cell. These are just two examples of these molecular machines, there are many many more just as cool! The design of these machines are staggering, truly one can only assign divine origins to these devices.

Ducks, Tolerance, and Persecution

In the land of the free, we have persecution. In fact it comes in multiple forms, but one main type is the putting some one down because they are intolerant. Our culture is constantly pressuring and persecuting those who do not fall in line with the status quo. It seems there is intolerance aimed at the biblical perspective.

Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson made some observations on homosexuality. While a little crude, it was true and accurate. He used two very good lines of reasoning to tell why he does not support the act. The first one was design. Those of the same sex are not designed to have intimate relationships in that way. Jesus talks about how the first couple was designed to be male and female, they were one flesh. Second is biblical reasoning calling it sin. The Bible speaks out against homosexuality as Phil says. It is true, both Moses and the apostles wrote against it. The third line of reasoning, which he did not supply, is that the heterosexual relationships, ie. biblical marriage, is designed to biologically reproduce the next generation. This can't be done naturally with same-sex couples.

But what about tolerance, when people call for tolerance because someone else opposes their views, they themselves are being just as intolerant. The cry for tolerance in this sense is self refuting. GLAAD made a statement against Phil's statement that says the following "Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.” GLAAD demands tolerance for their views, but advocates intolerance for Phil's view.

The culture is calling for tolerance, but in the process they themselves are not being tolerant of Phil's biblical truth presentation. In other worlds, we are to be tolerant of everything except for Christian truth, in which we should intolerant. Would more Christians stand out like this guy on truth!

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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Intent and Purpose of IBITE

There is one main goal with this blog, making the complex issues of our time simple by "cutting through the clutter." This main point is based on the following foundations:
  • Christian
  • Truthful and accurate
  • Elucidating
  • Deep thinking
  • Wisdom and knowledge
  • Short and concise
  • Simple
  • Science and technology
  • Philosophy and education
With this I hope to impact others, so that others can impact others.

Santa Claus Christianity

"The most wonderful time of the year" projects many kid's imaginations into the realm of fantasy with Santa and the elves. Unfortunately, many Christian adults also have the same view of the Bible, it is fantasy. Now they would never say that, but their "reasoning" affirms this view. 

Some of my past students believe the Biblical creation account. However, in the same breath they say that the Bible and science are at odds. Not only that, but science has all the facts that point to naturalist mechanism for the origin of life. But...since they are Christian, they are going believe the Bible. 

In other words, Science has the facts (truth), the Bible is not factual (not true), but they are going to believe the Bible. In other words the Bible does not paint a picture of how the world really works, it is a fable, not reality, but they are still going to believe. 

This is not noble, rather it is unwise!

This type of thinking produces a baseless faith that leads to superstition. It is like a child believing in Santa Claus, there is no such thing, it is just in one's imagination. 

The Bible presents no such faith. The Scriptures show reality. It shows humans for what they really are. 

The middle-age philosophers were mainly Christian, which birthed science. Christianity helped birth the university system. This is not chance, Biblical understanding gave many the desire to learn more about how the world works. It is the Biblical concept of uniformity, God is the same yesterday, today and forever, that catalyzed the framework to believe that we could learn more. As Christians we know that everything has been designed at one point, which means there is purpose in structure, this drives new knowledge. 

In fact reason, logic, thought, information, math and morality, to name a few items, only make total sense when viewed through the lens of the Scripture. No, this is not a fable, we have the goods. Stand strong, learn, and understand that truly "the fear of the Lord is the begin of knowledge."

Friday, December 13, 2013

Elegant Design In A Cell

In freshman year biology, students learn the amazing complexities of the cell. For example, we have been told for years of the cells amazing four letter alphabet or the genome. Of course we know that information always comes from a mind, at least that is our everyday experience (books we read, conversations we have). Just this level of biologically understanding should point one to a creator. However, this is truly just the tip of the iceberg.

Other Information

Epigenetic mechanisms: Click image for full illustration.
What most don't realize is that the DNA is not the only information carrier in the cell. RNA, a close cousin of DNA and copied from DNA, also caries information. But wait, that is not all, there are little, and not so little, tags on the genes that tell the cell to do certain things. These tags included methyl and acetyl groups among other tags.


In fact, these tags are just the small part of a
n emerging field called epigenetics, layers of information above the DNA. Even the cell structure is now being recognized to hold information. Part of the internal cell scaffolding is now thought to contain parts of this information. More we learn about this information, the more complex just one cell gets. Material does not create information randomly or systematically. Information needs a mind for causation. This translates into what many of us knew already, designs like this need a designer.

Image source: "Epigenetic mechanisms" by National Institutes of Health

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Christian's Culture Elements

What should be a Christian’s culture foundation? I think Bercot makes a great statement below and it needs to be foundational to our thinking. Let's move into a more robust form of Christianity: following the Biblical commands!

“I think the wisest course is to simply stick to the customs to which there is a reference in the New Testament. I have witnesses too many Christians go astray because they started following customs and traditions that have no clear anchor in Scripture. If a custom or practice is essential to the Christian faith, it will be mentioned in Scripture.” (Bercot, David. Common Sense. Scroll Publishing, eBook.)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

2 Things We Can Learn From a Chess Player

"I can’t count the times I have lagged seemingly hopelessly far behind, and nobody except myself thinks I can win. But I have pulled myself in from desperate [situations]. When you are behind there are two strategies – counter-attack or all men to the defenses. I’m good at finding the right balance between those." Number one ranked chess player in the world - Magnus Carlsen

What I find interesting about this quote is how well it correlates with Christianity. While we're in no game, so often it seems we lag behind, but in the end we will pull through with God's help.

We also need a balance between defense and offence. There is a need to defend truth and righteousness. However, we need to be on the offences attacking the societal norms and customs that are evil. In addition, our call is to challenge others to join the cause of Christ's kingdom.

All these tasks are not to be done with physical weapons, but rather in the battle of ideas, "...the pulling down of strong holds..." and "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God..." We do have the truth on our side, we need not fear!

Image source: Flicker/Nestor Galina

The Christian's Focus

As followers of Christ, we need a focus. That focus is sometimes diverted in topics and areas that are irrelevant. One is excessive divisions between those who are dedicated followers of Christ. We need to be tearing down artificial walls among true believers and followers of Christ, not building more. Our battle needs to be focused on following the two greatest commandments, and making disciples, bringing them into the kingdom. Right now many battles in Christianity is focused on the wrong front – each other.

  • Let's focus on truth, which is the gospel.
  • Let's focus on the furtherance of the kingdom of God, with Christ as king and we in his domain.
  • Let's focus on true biblical love, love that is patient, kind, not envious, humble, helps others, trusts, is righteous, and is obedient to Christ's commands.
What a world this would be if we would fight, fight in Christ's army, fight sin, fight evil, and immorality. Lets preserve truth, and challenge those around use to join the ultimate cause for Christ's kingdom!

Image source: "Ottavio vannini, san giovanni che indica il Cristo a Sant'Andrea" by Ottavio Vannini (1585-c. 1643) - Giovanni Piccirillo (a cura di), La chiesa dei Santi Michele e Gaetano, Becocci Editore, Firenze 2006. sailko. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Christian Unity

Unity is essential among true disciples, Jesus made this clear in John seventeen. Many people talk about unity, but rarely is it ever defined. If it is defined, sometimes it is so narrow that only a few can be “united in Christ.” If our definition of unity is so exacting on some aspects of life, we would have to say that most people, most believing and practicing Christians (people who really behave as Christ taught) are not Christians. Others define it so broad that anyone is a Christian.  Neither is correct.

Christian unity is not having the same culture traditions, customs, nor culture. If one were to peruse through the Bible and look for every place that talked about unity, oneness, one mind, like mind, etc., one would find that the context defines it quite simply. 

In a nutshell, unity is just being a Christian, walking the Christian walk.Theology is important, however, it is not part of unity except for the clear basics such as found in the Apostle's creed.

Who is a Christian?

Who is a true Christian? If we could reduce Christianity to its basic components it would look something like the following: one who has looked to Christ for salvation, turned from sin, believes and holds to Jesus' and the apostle's basic theology, and obeys and follows the teachings of Jesus and the apostles.

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