Connected Kingdom Podcast: The Exile

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This week’s episode of the Ligonier Connect – Connected Kingdom podcast considers the exile. Dr. Sproul’s lecture guided us through a complicated period of history, raising a number of questions among our students which Tim and I try to tackle, including:

1. The importance of understanding history for understanding Scripture

2. How the loss of biblical worship leads to the loss of God’s favor.

3. How is our day like Josiah’s day and why should this encourage us?

4. What does the Jewish exile represent for the Christian?

5. How do we reconcile the seeming difference between two Scriptures, one of which says the devil incited David to number the people and the other which says God incited him?

6. Why does Chronicles not mention David’s adultery?

The most hated man in science

I picked up a newspaper in my Canadian hotel last Saturday morning. Don’t think I’ve done that for a few years, but as I wrestled with the unwieldy broadsheet, the buttered pages and the inky hands brought back a lot of memories.

It was The National Post and the only reason I chose it over my iPhone was the headline “Evolution’s Revolution: How a leading atheist philosopher became an intellectual outcast for daring to question Darwinism.”

The philosopher in question is the world-renowned Thomas Nagel, philosophy professor at New York University, and his unforgivable sin is arguing in his latest book, Mind & Cosmos, that the evolutionary view of nature is false.

The article describes the “vicious reception” his book has received and how “grand forces of darkness have descended upon him…His deep skepticism about evolution’s explanatory power, illustrates the perils of raising arguments against intellectual orthodoxy.” Fellow professors have sneeringly questioned his sanity, called him “the most hated man in science,” and some in Britain have even awarded him the booby prize of “Most Despised Science Book.”

Laughable ideological theory
Nagel is not a Christian; he’s not even a theist; in fact he’s not even a supporter of intelligent design. He’s a convinced atheist, yet one with serious questions about evolutionary theory. He says it is “ripe for displacement” and represents “a heroic triumph of ideological theory over common sense,” which will be seen as “laughable” in a couple of generations.” His argument goes something like this:

1. The more we learn about life, the more central mind and consciousness become, and the less believable evolution gets.

2. Evolution’s main flaw is its failure to account for how consciousness fits into the natural order. Instead, it regards it as an unimportant afterthought, an accidental quirk, no more significant than the mutation that (allegedly) produced eyebrows.

3. The idea that life arose first from accidental chemical reactions in primordial goo and eventually self-created all the wonders of human consciousness “flies in the face of common sense.”

4. The modern evolutionary conception of nature requires about as much unscientific faith as believing Rudyard Kipling’s moralistic Just So stories from 1902.

Engage or denigrate?
It won’t surprise those of us who are creationists that, instead of engaging Nagel’s arguments, evolutionists have preferred to denigrate his intellect, associate him with religious fanatics, and impute motives of publicity seeking (and greed) to his decision to subtitle it: “Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.”

The National Post journalist who wrote the story, Joseph Brean, compares the scientific establishment’s treatment of Nagel to the way they persecute climate-change skeptics:

The impassioned shunning of Prof. Nagel parallels the experience of some climate-change skeptics. By the time it became a political mega-issue a decade ago, environmentalism had come to resemble religion, complete with myths of the Fall and the Apocalypse, pilgrimages, iconography, scripture, prophecies, tithes, and Al Gore as a secular saint.

Now evolutionary science, in its opposition to creationism, is staking out a similar position in the culture wars. Richard Dawkins is emerging as the anti-pope of a New Atheism, whose orthodoxy inspires the brutal treatment of heretics, even as it lures adherents into a simplistic, unreflective, fanciful faith in its own methods.

Courageous heretic
I greatly admire Nagel’s courage to think outside the box and challenge the scientific orthodoxy of our day. It’s very rare for someone of his stature to take such a career-damaging, reputation-trashing step. One popular magazine profile has him on the front page with “Heretic” emblazoned across it. That’s hard.

I hope and pray that God continues to direct his thoughts away from error and towards the truth. At the moment, he’s still far away from bowing his whole intellect to the Lord and Creator of Mind & Cosmos. Although he rejects many popular explanations for mind and consciousness, and he denies that consciousness is an accidental by-product of evolution, the best he can come up with is that it was somehow written into the universe from the beginning. “Each of our lives is a part of the lengthy process of the universe gradually waking up and becoming aware of itself.”

Although I’m sure he didn’t intend this, Nagel’s book encourages creationists to persevere in challenging the presuppositions, evidences, and faith of evolutionary theory. Let’s not be so quick to try and accomodate the frequent, fleeting, and faulty theories of man. It also challenges us to engage our opponents much more calmly, reasonably, and respectfully than is sometimes the case. Let’s not duplicate the shameful, shrill, reactionary, and mindless browbeating that Nagel’s opponents have dished out when we contend for the faith once delivered to the saints.

 You can read a sightly edited version of the newspaper article here

Check out

When new moms can’t stop worrying
“Considering the physically seismic and pervasively life-altering experience that is childbirth, it should be no surprise that the experience can create conditions that might foster mental and emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. And in the words of Dr. Dana Gossett, the study’s senior author, women who suffer such symptoms should be reassured “to hear that their thoughts and behaviors are very common and should pass.” But that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.”

It’s the little things; OK, it’s the big things too
One of the best ways of dealing with all the emotions surrounding bereavement is to name them, articulate them, describe them, etc. No one gives a better example of how to work this out in such a moving and edifying way that R.C. Sproul Jr. This dear brother continues to do the Christian community great service by his honest and transparent sharing of his journey through the valley of the shadow.

How busy people find time to think deeply
Ben Casnocha shares six strategies.

Illustrating Racial Insensitivity in Black & Tan
Thabiti uses Black & Tan to help us detect our often subtle racial insensitivity.

Abandonment and Abundance
Horrific then wonderful story about how a young Christian women saved the life a teenage mom’s baby from being aborted.

Why ministers need the wilderness
“As I’ve gone through seminary for a few years now I am becoming convinced that students should have to spend at least one semester in the furnace of suffering before we can graduate.”

What Yahoo can teach us about church

Working from home for large corporations has increased by 60% over the past five years or so, and at some companies, almost half the staff telecommutes. Studies have demonstrated a number of benefits:

  • A Stanford study found that Chinese call-center employees who worked from home were thirteen per cent more productive.
  • Another estimated that a ten-per-cent increase in telecommuting could save a hundred billion dollars in lost time and expenses.
  • By putting home at the center of society, it reintegrates work and family.
  • By cutting down on physical commuting it cuts emissions and saves the environment
  • Flexible work arrangements produce higher employee satisfaction, motivation and engagement as well as lower staff turnover.

But, as part of her so-far-successful efforts to turnaround and rebuild Yahoo, C.E.O. Marissa Mayer has banned all telecommuting.

So why’s a futuristic company like Yahoo rewinding the future?

It’s realized that for all the benefits of telecommuting, there were three areas where more was being lost than gained.

1. Loss of informal communication
It’s much harder for telecommuters to have the kind of informal and unplanned interaction that shares knowledge, challenges people to see things from another’s perspective, gets them out of their mental ruts, and stimulates creativity and productivity. Less communication means less collaboration.

2. Loss of trust
Telecommuting makes it harder to foster trust and solidarity. Face time is still the best way to build relationships. Studies have found that even occassional face-to-face meetings of “virtual teams” significantly increased trust and boosted performance.

3. Loss of energy
Yahoo’s office was virtually empty on a Friday, demoralizing and sucking the life out of the rare few who did turn up to the ghost town.

Telecommuting to church?
If this is true of Yahoo, how much more of your local church. You might be able to get better sermons online, or it might be just so much more “efficient” to simply listen to your pastor’s podcast. But if you regularly “telecommute” to church, you are losing more than you are gaining. You are losing valuable opportunities to learn from the “chance” meetings with other Christians in the foyer, in the corridors, and in the car park. You are undermining trust and unity between Christians. And you are sapping vital energy from the demoralized body of Christ.

So push yourself out of bed, get in the car, and get along to your local church. You’ll learn surprising lessons from the most surprising people, you’ll build valuable relationships, and you’ll get and give morale-boosting energy.

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Raising a pure son in a sex-crazed world
“Here are 10 things I’m doing as a mother to a boy to fight against the triple threat of porn, aggressive girls, and ultimately premarital sex.” 

Call your people to marketable skills and degrees
“Pastors, we need to be equipping our parents and their teenagers to make wise Kingdom advancing decisions when it comes to selecting a college major or obtaining a marketable skill.  They need to make such decisions in light of what would best position them in the global market for making disciples and planting churches across North America and the world.”

Sanctification: Take it for granted?
An ex-Muslim’s testimony about the difference between Christian and Muslim sanctification.

Powlison on whether sanctification is only by remembering our justification
David Powlison: “Those who have had their Christian life revolutionized by awakening to the significance of justification by faith dare not extrapolate that to everyone else. One pattern of Christ’s working (even a pattern common to many people) should not overshadow all the other patterns.”

The resurrection of Christ in the Old Testament
Matthew Barrett with an excellent brief survey of Old Testament teaching.

Women Under Stress
Trillia Newbell interviews Randy Alcorn and his wife Nanci about their new book.

6 Possible Responses to the Gospel Call

Yesterday we looked at the Gospel call from God’s side. Today let’s look at it from our side and consider six possible responses to God’s Gospel invitation we find in Matthew 22:

1. Apathy: Some “were not willing to come” (v. 2). No big deal, no furore, no emotion. They just simply decided not to come. It put them neither up nor down. Just, “No thanks!”

2. Amusement: Some “made light of it” (v. 5). Bit of a laugh, really. Snigger, snigger. “You’ve got to be kidding me, right?”

3. Activity: “They went their ways, one to his own farm, another to his business” (v. 5). Sloth has killed its thousands; but busyness has killed its tens of millions.

4. Aggression: “The rest seized his servants, treated them spitefully, and killed them” (v. 6). We can’t kill the message, but we can kill the messengers. And that can be done by razor-sharp tongues as well as by double-edged swords.

5. Act: One man came but rejected the wedding garment provided by the king (v. 11). He wanted to be there on his own terms, felt he was fine just as he was. But the king could see through the act, the pretended love. He unmasked him, and threw him out.

6. Acceptance: “The wedding hall was filled with guests” (v. 10). Both “good” and “bad” were there. These are relative terms for two kinds of sinners – the outwardly upright and the outwardly evil. As someone said, it reminds us “that the good still need the Gospel, and the bad can still have the Gospel.