10/13/11

Five Things I Look for in a President

Principles for Finding a Commander and Chief
By: Jonathan Harris

1. Will He/She Follow the Constitution?

This is more than asking is their character consistent and honest enough to support the law that already exists. This is a basic question about the philosophy of government the individual possesses. Do they intend to keep to the Founders biblical vision for our country, or do they want to make it something different. Will they eliminate unconstitutional bureaucracies, etc., or will they strive to eliminate them?


2. Is He/She a Christian?

While many Christians are shying away from asking this question in the light of Mitt Romey's campaign, the question still needs to be addressed. If the governmental authorities are to be "God's servants (i.e. deacons)" as Rom. 13:4 says, shouldn't they at least know who God is? How do you serve someone you don't know.?

3. Does Gender Matter?

While the Bible does not explicitly say that it is a requirement for rulers to be men (save in regards to ecclesiastical authority), women are also discouraged (i.e. through the doctrine of headship) from usurping the responsibility that ultimately belongs to a man. In the case of Deborah, it was to Barak's shame that a woman served as the judge of Israel. While William Einwechter may go a little too far in his adamant stance in "Should Christians Support a Woman for the Office of Civil Magistrate," he does make some valid points that ought to be taken into account in any discussion of the topic. Women were not meant to be civil magistrates, but it's not a sin for them to step up to the plate when a qualified man isn't willing.

4. Does He/She have a Stable Family?

While governmental authorities are to be God's "deacons" in the realm of civil magistracy, deacons are God's servants in the context of the church. Both actually possess the same office in different capacities. I do believe that Paul's use of the word "deacon" to describe civil authority beckons us to apply at least some of God's standards (that apply to both capacities) for servants to both categories. Furthermore, can someone who doesn't have their house in order really put a nation in order?

5. Is He/She Competent?

Do you want a president that knows what they're doing or doesn't? Obviously the former is the universal answer. We want someone who follows the proverbial principles in every aspect. Someone who surrounds themselves with wise counsel, understands debt, etc. All the Proverbs about "fools" should not apply to our commander and chief.

9/28/11

180 The Movie

 Great documentary by Ray Comfort. Please post this on your facebook and tell all your friends.

9/22/11

Rich Guys Rule

And That's the Way It Is
By: Jonathan Harris

If you're part of my audience you no doubt get tired of all the griping that goes on these days about the rich paying "their fair share." We conservatives don't like it when the rich are demonized simply because we know the importance of their contribution. As Sean Hannity often says, "I never got a job from a poor person." We don't see anything wrong with being rich, and yes, we all probably secretly want to be rich ourselves (and so do the liberals who speak out against it). At the same time we resent rich "elites" who try to micromanage our lives with over-regulation, etc. It's not the wealth of the controlling class that bothers us though---it's the control. So all that to say, we don't have a problem with being well-off. But how do we convey our feeling to those who do have a problem with it? How do we argue our point against the tirade of socialistic nonsense echoing from the halls of our most prestigious academic institutions? Simple!

Proverbs 22:7 says, "The rich rule over the poor, And the borrower becomes the lender's slave." In other words, as sure as it is that the borrower is slave (i.e. has his labor owned by) to the lender (the rich guy who gave him the money), the rich in a society will always rule over the poor. Proverbs, as most of you know, is a book about general truths in which there will sometimes be exceptions. In this case however, I can't think of one. In every governmental structure this world has ever known, one truth remains---the rich always rule over the poor. It's true in capitalism, it's true in communism. It's true in constitutional monarchies, it's true in oligarchies. It was just as true during the French Revolution as it was during the Bolshevik takeover. Think about it! Money may not always mean control, but control always means money. The booshwazee, when in power, always become the aristocracy! There is no such thing as a culture in which those in control are not the well-off. The question then becomes not one of, "In which culture can everyone have equal control?" but rather, "In which culture can the poor and middle classes be protected the most from tyrannical abuses from the upper class?" This form of government happens to be a republic in which there is freedom---the very system the liberals try to argue against. So the next time your liberal friend complains about the evil rich capitalists, ask him this question, "Give me an example of a society in which the rich didn't control?" The grass is always greener when it's AstroTurf in the mind of a dreamer. Let's get the dreamers to wake up!

9/15/11

Depression Recovery According to the Bible

A Review
By: Jonathan Harris

In Dr. Steven Waterhouse's booklet Depression Recovery According to the Bible, the topic of depression is approached in a nouthetic yet realistic way. I say "yet realistic" not to demean nouthetic counseling of which I am a subscriber, but to distance Waterhouse from those in the nouthetic world who down play medical problems as contributors to spiritual conditions. Waterhouse makes it clear that there are a variety of reasons for depression, and a variety of solutions. He divides the causes of depression into three separate categories which constitute 19 possibilities. The first category has to do with depression caused by sin. The second category concerns the non-sinful (circumstantial) causes. The third category is a subset of the second, but deals more with personal circumstances (medical and wrong theology) rather than social causes.

All in all I found the booklet to be helpful in diagnosing a problem---however it may not be sufficient in dealing with that problem in a meaningful way. I don't believe the work was ever intended to zone in on specific problems in a nuanced way, so I'm not complaining. What the book attempts to do it does. I would recommend it.

I think the main thing I learned from it---mainly because I tend to be a perfectionist---is learning that while it is good to aim for an impossible dream, it is not the achievement of the dream that pleases God, but rather the intention behind it. God commends David as a man after His own heart, yet David's goal to restore the temple was never met. God's response is recorded in 2 Chron. 7:8. "But the LORD said to my father David, 'Because it was in your heart to build a house for My name, you did well that it was in your heart.'" It is not the achievement of perfection that God takes pleasure in, it is the honest attempt to obey His commandments.

To view the free e-book click here.

9/13/11

Don't Let the Terrorists Win

Looking Back On 9-11's 10th Anniversary
By: Jonathan Harris

It's been 10 years since the most nation changing event in recent American history. All Americans remember where they were and what they were doing during the events of 9-11. We as a people have come far in the past 10 years---farther than the terrorists who perpetuated the events ever could have hoped. The goal of terrorism has always been to control by fear, and that's just what they've done.

We find ourselves in a timid fearful state. Don't believe me? How often do you go through checkpoints at airports and ballgames, etc. Without even thinking about it? It's considered normal now. We all get to the airport an hour early. Is this not a cultural fear? You would think that such a fear would drive a resolve against our enemies. Initially it did. Two wars were started (actually one war with two fronts), Americans displays their flags proudly, volunteerism and religious involvement rose considerably. 10 years later what's the nature of the landscape? A populace that has last sight of the purpose behind our war with orthodox Islam, a media that exalts Islam as a "peaceful religion" and Christianity as dangerous, even homeland security has stated that Tea Party members and Iraq war vets could be potential terrorists. Our culture has been intimidated and subsequently neutered.

As Christians we honor the fallen because It's our duty and our sacred pledge. Sacrifice has a special meaning to us because of the sacrifice of Christ who gave himself for our salvation. We remember because of the example he gave to us during Holy communion. We value history because of the monuments of Moses. It is our duty, even amidst a culture of fear, folly, and forgetfulness, to remain brave, strong, and always remember the warning we were given 10 years ago. We must go about our daily activities without fear. We must be controlled by our trust in God. And we must not back down from the politically correct notion that our enemies are peaceful. Only then will we honor the fallen of a decade ago.

9/9/11

Does Government Shape Morality?

A Two Lane Highway 
By: Jonathan Harris

My experience with evangelical Christianity has been wide and varied. From Jerry Falwell to John MacArthur, I've seen how each orthodox protestant group reacts to government. Not too long ago I had the privilege of attending a major conference at a premier reformed seminary. After one of the sessions on governmental power---in which the speaker assured his audience that there really was no involvement the church should have in governmental affairs---an attendee approached the speaker and assured in him in no uncertain terms that it was the influence of the pastor of the mega church at which the conference was held that had convinced him not to vote. He then went on to say how he encouraged others not to vote, and how it wasn't the Christian's responsibility to be involved in the affairs of the secular world. What was it being advocated by this flagship church that produced such a drastic reaction? Spending a little more time at the church and associated seminary I came across a professor who said very strongly that evangelical's obsession with influence was driving her to compromise, and furthermore, that her involvement in political campaigns did nothing good. Overarching the discussion was the assumed premise that the kingdom of God is really only concerned with individual salvation.

On the flip side of things, I attended another flagship church/campus of the more Arminian variety and found the exact opposite. The obsession with government affairs seemed to permeate the faculty to such an extant that I would have to say compromises were made. The acceptance of other religious groups on the grounds that they were pro-life or pro-traditional marriage was sickening. There was more concern about political institutions than there was regarding individual holiness.

So what's the deal? Is it important for Christians or the church to get involved? My answer is a simple "Yes." If "all authority has been given to Christ" it is obvious that every institution must be controlled by Him. If government has the power to "punish evil" and "promote good" then where does this standard come from if it's not Christian's providing it? But here's another question, "Is it productive to be involved in government?" This is where I want to camp.

The assertion is made by the former group in this post that "It's a waste of time to get involved in politics. It doesn't change anything anyway." They see the government as having no influence on individual morality. The latter group sees it as everything. If we just have the right president then everything will turn around. The fundamental disagreement is a simple one. One sees cultural change as coming from the bottom, the other from the top. Which one is correct?

In my estimation both are. Which is why both sides should work together and meet in the middle. Prov. 28:15 says, "Like a roaring lion and a rushing bear Is a wicked ruler over a poor people." Obviously God does have a preference in who rules, wouldn't you say? Ecclesiastes alludes to a certain order God has put in place for a government organization. "There is an evil I have seen under the sun, the sort of error that arises from a ruler: Fools are put in many high positions, while the rich occupy the low ones. I have seen slaves on horseback, while princes go on foot like slaves." A fool is someone who has "said in his heart there is no God." It is someone who does not have the "fear of the Lord." Elsewhere I have established that it is not only the atheist, but the theist who does not believe in the Christian God that gets put into this category. Therefore, logically God wants Christians in positions of power. It's only natural! But what effect does this have on the populace? The answer is in Proverbs 29. "When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan." There is an effect the government has. This is born out in the history of Israel. We see that every time a good king emerged, the people would follow his example (In fact, that's what it means to be a leader. It means you must have followers). Every time there was a bad king the inverse happened. So does this only mean that whoever is in charge will set the moral standard? No! There becomes a disconnect when those in the front have leadership positions but don't act like leaders. Sometimes there will be an elected official who does not illicit the respect of his constituents. In this case, he or she has the title of "leader" without the actual respect that ought to go with it. People will only follow those whom they respect. This is why in one sense it shouldn't matter who's ruling. If people respect the Word of God over government they will still remain moral no matter what echoes from the halls of congress. This doesn't mean we give up though. It is a both/and not an either/or. Government does shape morality, but only because people let themselves become shaped. So if our concern is individual morality we should work toward both fronts.

One final thing I'd like to get people to think about is the history of the United States. Look what's happened in the last twenty years regarding the acceptance of homosexuality. Look how it's skyrocketed in states where the government has put its stamp of approval on the practice. What we find is that a small minority is successfully persuading a larger majority to accept them through the force of government. If we go back to the 1800s we see that secession was commonly viewed as a viable option in order to secure individual liberty and local sovereignty. Through government force of arms however, most people today think its treasonous. How about social security? It use to be that people took personal responsibility for their retirement. However, now it's expected. The same thing has happened with public education. It's assumed that children deserve it. Can you now see how the government has shaped morality over time? This is why Christians must stay involved.We need to be salt and light on a global scale. One grain does as little as does one ray of light. But both are equally required to link with other grains and rays and in so doing have an effect.

9/1/11

Presuppositional Apologetics Sunday School Class

Part 1 - Introduction mp3
Part 2 - Overview of Classical and Evidential Apologetics mp3
Part 3 - Overview of Presuppositional Apologetics mp3
Part 4 - Circular Arguments and the Nonbeliever's Ultimate Authority mp3
Part 5 - Believer's Ultimate Authority and the Myth of Neutrality mp3
Part 6 - The Preconditions of Intelligibility & The Don't Answer, Answer Method mp3
Part 7 - Tactics in Apologetics & The Problem of Evil mp3
Part 8 - Review & The Problem of Evil mp3
Part 9 - Logical Fallacies mp3


Handouts

Introduction

Ultimate Authority
The Myth of Neutrality
The Preconditions of Intelligibility
The Transcendental Argument
The Problem of Evil
Logical Fallacies

A Crash Course in Presuppositional Apologetics

4/14/11

Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists

Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New AtheistsA Review
By: Jonathan Harris

Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has provided a short glimpse into the world of the new atheists through his work Atheism Remix. First, Mohler offers his readers a history of atheism up until the present, next he gives us biographical sketches of the “new” atheists including their attitudes and arguments (and how they contrast with the traditional atheists), after this we are introduced to the major contentions against the new atheists from conservative/moderate Christianity, and finally the author concludes with a comparison of liberal Christianity and atheism showing that they aren’t really that different. One of the last quotes in the book by atheist historian Eugene D. Genovese is particularly enlightening. He states, “I intend no offense, but it takes one to know one. And when I read much Protestant theology and religious history today, I have the warm feeling that I am in the company of fellow nonbelievers.” It is no wonder that the “four horsemen” of new atheism (Harris, Hitchens, Dennett) are so against religion. They have been fed an impression of Christianity and Judaism which is not entirely accurate. As Alister McGrath comments, you’re not really religious in Dawkin’s conception unless you happen to be one of those “science-hating fools who are into ‘blind faith’ and other unmentionable things in a big way.” I believe this book provides a great “first glimpse” into the world of the new atheists for those who don’t know much about them. They are hear, they aren’t going away, and they’re getting louder. At the very least we should understand who they are and what they’re saying. Al Mohler helps us do this.

Sitcoms in Society

Confusion Through Comedy
By: Jonathan Harris

For most of us who are conservative Christians we know that there’s a “culture war” afoot in our society. We also know that we’re losing it—at least most of us do. Some have even said that the war is already lost. Now I’m not one to admit defeat due to my belief in God’s sovereignty and his power to turn any culture around if and when He deems it fit, but I do admit that the pendulum isn’t swinging in our direction. I hope I don’t have to go into statistics to prove any of this to you. All you have to do is look around. In fact, the culture war is raging in my own heart so much of the time that I feel as if the deadliest struggle is an internal one. My heart is at enmity with the world yet attracted to it at times, as are all Christian hearts. Some of the undermining temptations that serve to dull my senses, lower my standards, and replace my godly affections with worldly ones are television shows—especially sitcoms. Now I’ve known this for a couple years now, but it didn’t really hit me until recently that sitcoms from different time periods tend to have different effects on my heart. I then came to the realization that the culture war itself has really been fought in the area of sitcoms. Let me show you what I mean.

Laughter Is the Opposite of Seriousness

In Genesis 18 God essentially tells Abraham that his wife Sarah will bear him a son who will be the fulfillment of the covenant. Sarah’s reaction is recorded in verses 12-15.

        And Sarah laughed to herself, saying, "After I have become old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?" And the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I indeed bear a child, when I am so old?' "Is anything too difficult for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son." Sarah denied it however, saying, "I did not laugh"; for she was afraid. And He said, "No, but you did laugh."

Now you may be wondering, “What does this have to do with the culture war and sitcoms?” It’s really very simple. Sarah was ashamed of her laughter because it was a sign of disbelief. In other words, Sarah wasn’t taking God seriously and her laughter was the outward indication. That’s what laughter is. It lightens the situations, makes it not a “big deal,” doesn’t take whatever it may be seriously, etc. You get the point. So when it comes to laughing at things like sin we have a problem don’t we—that is if through our laughter we are conveying a lack of seriousness. God takes sin seriously, so should we. Unfortunately, we’re not much like Sarah. We don’t usually hide the fact that we laugh at sin, we’ll even laugh at sin with other Christians yucking it up right beside us.

It is my contention that sitcoms have done more to change culture than any other media venue precisely for this reason. Think about it! Turn on the most popular modern sitcoms and what do you end up laughing at? For the last few weeks I’ve been off and on checking out the popular comedies on network television in order to answer this question and I have to say, I regret it. My conscience has been desensitized even when I’m trying to be critical. (Imagine what happens to those who aren’t being critical, i.e. no shield to protect them!) There exists a definite digression between say the 1950s and modern times when it comes to popular television. Let me illustrate.

The 50s and the “Ideal” Family

We’ll start with the classic sitcoms. Most all of the situation comedies during the 1950s featured a strong family engaging in the day to day antics and awkward situations that come naturally to families. There are times I’ve thought if cameras were put in my home it would often resemble this genre. The situations were out of the ordinary (I mean they have to be since the very nature of comedy demands it) yet somehow ordinary at the same time. They were “natural” so to speak. For instance, if we take Leave it to Beaver as our example, we’ll find a traditional family in which the mother never takes off her apron, the father is either at work or reading the newspaper, the older brother is busy trying to impress girls (in an innocent way), and the younger brother is busy trying to annoy them. When all these competing interests—the mother’s interest to keep the house in order, the father’s interest to have some peace and quiet, the older brother’s interest to be accepted by his peers and girlfriends, and the younger brother’s interest to be accepted by his brother and get into mischief—collide in a sticky situation, we end up laughing. Think about family interests in today’s sitcoms and then tell me if they are just as innocent? Usually I find that they portray situations in which the husband or wife is afraid that the other one will find out they’re watching pornography such as in Curb Your Enthusiasm, or that they’re romantically attracted to other men or women such as in the King of Queens—that is, in the shows that even feature a traditional couple.

Continuing on with our look at classic sitcoms: Have you ever heard the charge that the traditional families represented are just “too perfect?” Sometimes you’ll even hear someone call a perfectionist housewife a “Harriet Nelson” after the Ozzie and Harriet Show. Programs like the ones previously mentioned along with The Dyck Van Dyke Show, Father Knows Best, Family Affair, and The Donna Reed Show, etc. presented an ideal to shoot for even amidst the numerous innocent imperfections that accompanied each of them. This was a time in which the entertainment industry raised the bar for society by showing what people ought to act like. Women were treated with respect, men were portrayed as intelligent, and children weren’t rebellious. The family was, by and large, the canvass on which humor was painted.

The 60s Calm Before the Storm

According to Wikipedia, “A trend beginning in the 1960s was the expansion of the domestic comedy beyond the nuclear family or married couple. The Andy Griffith Show and My Three Sons featured widowers and their children. At the end of the decade, Sherwood Schwartz's The Brady Bunch focused on a blended family.” By and large though, the 60s largely kept the traditional family trend going with perhaps some slight alterations in thematic material. I Dream of Jeanie and Gilligan’s Island—both programs not centering on families—portrayed women in a slightly more provocative way. Less clothing was worn and innuendo was starting to become just a little more common though nothing compared to modern times. Compare the widowers Larry Hagman and Andy Griffith portrayed to the ones Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer portray in Two and Half Men and you’ll see what I mean.

Shifting Foundations in the 70s

Moving on to the 1970s, sitcoms become more and more political. Some family-centered comedies did exist such as All in the Family—which eventually turned into Archie Bunker’s Place parodying the white conservative male as a racist—but by and large the family shows were relegated to the place of rural dramas like The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie. Although this is supposed to be about sitcoms, I can’t help but notice that rural comedies (i.e. The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, etc.) and Westerns (The Rifleman, Have Gun Will Travel, Maverick, etc.) begun to really phase out giving way to a more cosmopolitan and urban style in programing. Families were not the center of laugher anymore. They were portrayed as serious mainstays of the past being outmoded just like the Western. They were rural, as if our grandparents could relate to them, but we couldn’t, except as something nostalgic. The light-hearted rural comedies gave way to Maude and the Mary Tyler Moore Show, both centering on feminists, The Odd Couple and Laverne and Shirley, both centering on friends, and Three's Company which really exemplifies the first time the mainstream has ever laughed at homosexuality (even if the main character was faking his orientation for cheaper rent). I see the 70s as the first big transition in American culture. Our societal foundation had shifted. It was individuals that we took pleasure in, not institutions. In other words, we weren’t primarily laughing at antics that took place in the context of the family anymore. We also weren’t laughing at the same type of things. Sexual promiscuity and potential perversion were themes that also happened to be humorous to us. In the 80s and 90s we’ll find that perversion was no longer potential, it was portrayed.

80s Deconstruction

The 1983 airing of Cheers featured a plot in which the main characters become worried that their bar will become a “gay bar.” The Golden Girls repeatedly featured lesbian characters in the mid-late 80s. The Love Boat did much the same thing in addition to the questionable heterosexual material that permeated the series. What we have in the 1980s is a general acceptance of mature thematic material in sitcoms. It used to be in the 50s-70s that sexual indecency was generally relegated to drama, and even then it wasn’t glorified (homosexuality was never mentioned). It was in the 80s the traditional glass ceiling was shattered. The feminist theme continued in shows like Roseanne, the “mixed family” theme found its salvation in Full House, and the traditional families finally had a show they could once again claim—The Cosby Show. One thing I’ve noticed is that family-centered programming never really dies throughout time, it simply becomes relegated to a lesser and lesser share of the market and morphs into less than what we would think of as a traditional family. We can take The Cosby Show as an example of this. The mother, in contrast to Mrs. Cleaver, is in the workforce, the children, in contrast to Wally and the Beaver, are slightly more rebellious and more likely to throw temper tantrums. This portrayal of the family becomes more and more common as time goes on eventually leading to the depiction of the father figure as an ignorant fool who can’t really do anything right. The 90s are simply chalked full with this type of portrayal.

One thing that should not be missed is the relationship between deconstructionism and postmodernism. They’re really two sides of the same coin. As the family was redefined and relegated to a place of lesser prominence in situation comedy, so was the idea of the narrative. Seinfeld really marks the beginning of postmodern comedy. Portraying life as it actually is in time, with a storyline, and people who acted within the context of an institution, albeit work, family, government, etc. began to die with this show. All the main characters were individuals having almost no relation to themselves and lacking any compelling reason to be on friendly terms. They all treat Jerry’s apartment like it’s their home—barging in whenever they want, drinking out of his cups, eating out of his fridge, plopping down on his couch, and watching his television. It’s almost “as if” they’re a family, when in reality they’re not (Happy Days may have been a slight precursor to this idea). This theme of the “peeps” being the family replacement becomes strong in the 90s up until the present. The program is also literally self-described as being “about nothing.”  What we get when we watch this show are little “slices of life” with no apparent relationship to the next slice of life.

The 90s Nontraditional Family

By the time we arrive in the 90s, sexual perversion is the laughing point in most of the programming. 3rd Rock From the Sun, The Drew Carry Show, Frasier, The Nanny, and just about half of all situation comedies were picking up on homosexual themes. Home Improvement and Everybody Loves Raymond exemplified the traditional family, this time with the father being portrayed as the bumbling selfish appendage to the one who really got things done—the mother. Even the children had more of a chance of getting things right than did the dad. All men really want is a beer, some time pursuing their favorite hobby, and a little sexual excitement. Friends signified the continuation of Seinfeld’s “peep group” mentality as a replacement for the family—even to the point that during the course of the series different characters would end up sleeping with each other and then trading partners a couple episodes down the line. The televised family was an almost completely nontraditional one.

It goes without saying that vulgarity was given a shot in the arm during the later part of this decade, though it had been slowly gaining speed from the mid-70s onward. Most of the shows on television became slightly on the deconstructionist side by incorporating scenes that had little or nothing to do with the overall theme of the episode at times. I like to call this a “cheep laugh.” You’ll find this in comedy today as well. You’ll be watching your favorite sitcom only to find an extraneous situation in which one of the characters is made fun of for no apparent reason in view of the overall plot. If I could come up with one thing to describe the comedy from the 80s through the present I might sight the frequency of these “put downs” and cutting remarks as the distinguishing feature.



2000 A.D.: The Death of the Family

In the 2000s to the present what we find is an aggressive attempt to undermine traditionalism in an overt way. No longer are sexual things alluded to. No longer are mixed families and “peep group” replacements slowly taking the place of the customary family. Instead, they are consciously letting their viewers know what’s going on. Two and Half Men centers on sex-related themes portraying as much as is legally allowed on television. The New Adventures of Old Christine and Cougar Town actively portray middle-aged women attempting to “get laid.” Scrubs, The Office, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation have made a joke out of story lines by simply not having them. That 70s Show is particularly interesting simply because it does portray families. In fact most of the episodes are almost exclusively filmed in the main characters house with his parents present in the kitchen or living room. However, the identification of the main characters is not with their families, but rather with their friends. It is a continuation of the “peep group” mentality with the added bonus of having the families present as well. Community is also interesting in that its “peep group,” which is actually called a “family” throughout the series, represents people from all ethnic and age categories. Modern Family, the most popular sitcom currently, presents multiple examples of consciously nontraditional families including a homosexual couple with children. Malcolm in the Middle and Family Guy have not only depicted the father as a bumbling fool, but for a change they’ve also depicted the children as being smarter than their own mother. Gilmore Girls (a semi-comedy) salvages the maternal figure against this reinterpretation by giving her “best friend” status with her teenage daughter. After all, if the new source of identification is not to be found in parents, why not have parents join the children?

Conclusion

Now if you think I wrote all of this to scare you you’re wrong. I’m not surprised in the least at the condition of the world. What I am a little surprised at is the reaction Christians have to it, myself included. The more I watch newer shows the more I feel my heart taking joy in perversion simply because it’s comedy. I can easily justify my reaction by saying, “Hey it’s only a joke.” When I view older sitcoms I don’t find myself laughing at the same things, and thus, while some of my time might be wasted in front of a television, at least my conscience isn’t being numbed. I do want to clarify, this isn’t an old vs. new issue. Just because something’s old doesn’t mean it’s good and just because something’s new doesn’t mean it’s bad. If our culture was going through a revival I’m sure it would be the newer stuff that would be the more wholesome. This is a right vs. wrong issue. If you feel that your conscience is being tampered with, stop being influenced by whatever it is you’re viewing. I’m not here to create any legalistic rules, or to say that the “old” shows are somehow “funnier.” In all honesty, I think a lot of newer sitcoms have writers that are geniuses, while more primitive television was a bit on the cheesy side. What I am saying is this—examine your own heart and see what direction it goes in when you watch your favorite comedies. Every time you laugh next time, ask yourself, “Would Christ laugh with me?”

A second reason I wrote this was to show how the culture war is being lost and where a huge front is that we’ve largely ignored as believers. As a result of the fundamentalist movement, Christians largely got out of the entertainment industry in the early-mid 20th century. It’s time we went back. I’m not suggesting going the Hollywood route (you can if you think you’re capable) but instead going the independent film route. I watch more television on the internet than I do on the television itself. I know I'd be willing to pay a little extra to see something that doesn't offend Christian sensibilities.Start thinking of ways you can influence film for righteous causes. I’m not saying you have to make a repeat of Leave it to Beaver. In fact, I hope you don’t! Just make sure whatever it is honors God’s standard, and is, well, actually funny (the one thing previous Christian attempts have lacked). I'm also not saying that it has to feature a family in order to be righteous. A group of friends is a fine palate on which to draw comedic material. The reason I traced the decline of family programing was for this very reason: It's a decline. We don't want this trend to continue I would hope. If it continues who knows where it will lead next? What kind of perversions will your children laugh at, and who will teach them what a true family is all about?

4/3/11

Solving Conflict Biblically

The following reviews are reports I wrote for a seminary class I've been taking called conflict resolution. I thought the books were so good that I wanted to let everyone know about them. - Jonathan Harris


The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal ConflictReview of The Peace Maker by Ken Sande

Ken Sande’s practical book, The Peacemaker, will teach the average layman all the way up to the powerful executive what it means to follow in the steps of the Prince of Peace. In a down-to-earth way, Sande explores what the Bible has to say about peacemaking, while at the same time interjecting his own powerful personal and career-related experience to demonstrate its applicability. Did you know that the central message of the Bible is that of making peace between parties adverse to each other? Is this not what the Father himself did in making those who were contrary to Him reconciled through the blood of His Son? For the Christian, being a peacemaker is a non-negotiable. As the author rightly points out, “Christians are the most forgiven therefore we should be the most forgiving.”

In the introduction to Sande’s book, he gives his reason for writing. “This book is designed to help you become this kind of peacemakeer [i.e. emulating Christ]. It provides a simple yet comprehensive approach to resolving conflict. Because this approach is based solidly on God’s Word, it is effective in every type of conflict.” Sande is correct when he characterizes his book as Word-driven. Just about every page you’ll read is chalk-filled with references demonstrating their origin in Scripture.

One of the major passages Sande uses to get his point across is James 4:1 which aks, “What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?” The author correlates this passage with Matthew 15:19 showing that conflict is ultimately produced by heart motivations. He writes, “These passages describe the root cause of conflict: unmet desires in our hearts. Wen we want something and feel that we will not be satisfied unless we get it, that desire starts to control us. If others fail to meet our desires, we sometimes condemn them in our hearts and fight harder to get our own way.” I think it is fair to say that without understanding this principle, nothing else in the book will make sense, the application will be unattainable, and ultimately God will not be in whatever remedy is chosen. The root problem in all conflict is rightly placed at the feet of a particular “idol(s)” by the author. “Conflict always begins with some kind of desire. . . Unmet desires have the potential of working themselves deeper and deeper into our hearts” eventually being justified and demanded.

So then, what is the remedy for this damning conflict ridden problem we all seem to possess? Sande proposes a replacement strategy that starts with dethroning our idol of choice. We must first “Repent before God,” cultivate a “Fear” of God, “Love God,” “Trust God”, and “Delight in God.” This may seem daunting at first but as we can observe, there is a common element to each step. The object of our action is always rooted in the Lord. I would like to suggest that Sande isn’t necessarily proposing a strict step by step process in which there are no relations to previous and later steps. He is proposing a simultaneous attitude that acknowledges God’s character and actions. Before providing a useful heart diagnostic at the end of the chapter entitled Conflict Starts in the Heart, Sande summarizes:

James 4:1-3 provides a key principle for understanding and resolving conflict. Whenever we have a serious dispute with others, we should always look carefully at our own hearts to see whether we are being controlled by unmet desires that we have turned into idols. These desires love to disguise themselves as things we need or deserve, or even as things that would advance God’s kingdom. But no matter how good or legitimate a desire may look on the surface, if we have gotten to te point where we cannot be content, fulfilled, or secure unless we have it, that desire has evolved into an idol that has diverted our love and trust from God.

Lest someone should think that the Peacemaker is all about correcting personal sin, let me affirm the fact that this work also provides a complete strategy for dealing with multiple party conflicts, even if you are not identified with one of the parties, or are involved but have not done anything necessarily wrong.

When an individual is a party to a conflict, Sande maintains that they have six possible negative responses to choose from — denial, flight, suicide, assault, litigation, or murder — and three basic obedient responses to select from — overlooking, reconciliation, or negotiation. Denial usually results in “temporary relief” making matters worse. Fleeing conflict usually postpones a solution to a given problem, suicide is “never right,” physical or emotional abuse “always makes conflict worse,” Litigation “usually damage[s] relationships and often fail[s] to achieve complete justice,” and murder is a direct violation of God’s commandments. What really needs to be done according to the author, is enact “peacemaking responses.” Overlooking an offense has direct endorsement from the Scripture itself. “A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.” Reconciliation is likewise given a biblical stamp of approval in the Sermon on the Mount. Christ instructs, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.” Negotiation or “arbitration” as its form eventually can take, is expanded on in Paul’s letter to the Philippians (2:4). When in a conflict we should look out for “the interests of others.” When mediating, or arbitrating a conflict in which other parties unrelated to us are involved (following the Matthew 18 process), we must realize our job is to “improve communication and offer biblical counsel.” Sande goes into much detail concerning what this biblical counsel entails, but it can all be summed up in the Gospel. “The key to changing the way we deal with conflict is the gospel.” We “reflect the glory of God’s reconciling love in the midst of conflict.”

All in all, this work has many strengths. It does effectively teach the Biblical principles behind biblical counseling. The only criticism I would personally harbor is very slight. I believe Sande could have done a better job at exegeting biblical texts and using better biblical translations. I do realize that he is trying to reach a broad audience however, so part of this is understandable. Even without a lot of deep exegesis, Sande does seem to “rightly interpret” all the texts he utilizes. I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with conflict.


3/26/11

The Nine Day Queen of England

The following is a review my mother wrote on Faith Cook's book The Nine Day Queen of England.

It is the year 1547 in England. A baby is born to the royal family of  King Henry VIII.  He is the long awaited Prince Edward who will one day inherit the throne. Within twelve days, his mother, Jane Seymour, third wife of the king, will be dead. By the time Edward is nine years old, he will see three step mothers come and go, lose his own father and become king of England and head of the church. At age sixteen, he will succumb to tuberculosis, leaving the English throne in question to a country bitterly torn between Catholic and Protestant.

The same year, about a hundred miles to the north, another baby is born. Jane Grey is fourth in line for the throne, being a cousin of Edward. She becomes the political and religious pawn of  English nobles in one of the greatest travesties of modern history. By the time she is sixteen, she will be forced into  marriage, crowned Queen of England, and martyred for her faith.

This book explains the history and intrigue surrounding one of the most innocent victims of the Protestant Reformation, Lady Jane Grey. Although neglected and abused as a child, Jane had been educated past her station, excelling in music, knowing seven languages and regularly corresponding with the reformers of her day in Latin and Greek.  Her marriage rights were sold by her parents and she was forced to wed the son of Edward’s Lord Protector, Guildford. When Edward died, a royal coup put her on the throne in a quick chess move, only to be trumped by (Bloody) Mary nine days later. Jane was imprisoned in the tower of London until her answer to remain faithful to her God and His Scriptures brought her to the executioner’s block. This is one of the best books I have read in a long time. Its accurate quotations and insightful history introduce you to a teenager worthy of emulating. Poised, mature and stalwartly faithful to the end, Jane is inspiring in her response to the trials God allows in her life. You will read no complaints about a dysfunctional home, unfair parents, mean peers, evil teachers or intrusive government. What you will read is how a young teenage woman deals with a set of overwhelming circumstances in a way that exposes true character, glorifies God, and with her life on the line, puts Him first when it really counts.

3/22/11

Fulfilled Prophecy

By: Seraiah Wolf

I hope I haven't lost anyone--the last post was pretty lengthy (Resurrection: HEART of Gospel). It dealed with an important topic though. Without Jesus' Resurrection, we really are a sorry bunch of fools.

So what though. Maybe Jesus did raise from the dead (maybe), but other people "rose" from the dead during that time too. How does that show he's God, like you claim? Bam, we're going to have an answer by the end of today's blog: It's all about fulfilled prophecy.

Let's set up a panel of elite futurists. Our futurists are going to be two fellow Lion's Den bloggers--The Harris': Jonathan and David.

Let's ask them two sets of questions.

1). What will the weather be like tomorrow?
Who will be the next president?
Will things get better or worse in the next 20 years?

2). Who will be elected president in 2080?
When will he be born?
What city and State?
What unusual things will accompany his life?
What unique gifts will he have?
What unique titles will he possess?
Will he die in an usual manner?
If so, how will he die?
What year will he die?

If you're a pretty regular reader of the blog, you might think that with the Harris' combined brain power, they should predict at least TWO questions from the first set correctly. How many from the second set do you think they could predict?

The first set of questions were either very general, or close enough in time for them to answer with an educated guess. The second set were a whole 'nother category. How in the world could someone predict things so specific several decades in advance? The Bible prophecies belong to this second category. These prophets predicted specific unmistakable events hundreds of years in advance, and these predictions literally came to pass.

Jesus had to fulfill about five dozen prophecies. Here are 13 of them. These were considered Massianic by the Jewish Rabbis who lived before Jesus.

Tribe of Judah Genesis 49:10
Luke 3:23,33
House of David Jeremiah 23:5
Luke 3:23,31
Enter Jerusalem on a donkey Zechariah 9:9

Matthew 21:1-8
Born at Bethlehem Micah 5:2
Matthew 2:1
Introduced by a messenger Isaiah 40:3

Matthew 3:11-3
Body pierced in crucifixion Zechariah 12:10

John 19:34
Laid to rest with the rich Isaiah 53:9

Matthew 27:57-60
Endure wounds and bruises Isaiah 53:5

Matthew 27:26
Teaching and healing ministry Isaiah 61:1,2; 32:3-4; 35:5
Matthew 9:35; Luke 4:17-21
Arrive before the Temple and Jerusalem destroyed Daniel 9:26
Temple, Jerusalem Destroyed AD 70
Labeled Lord and God Jeremiah 23:6 Isaiah 9:6
Luke 2:11 John 20:28
Killed 483 years after degree to rebuild Jerusalem Daniel 9:25-26
Gospels, History (Christ Died about AD 30)
Silent before accusers Isaiah 53:7
Matthew 27:12


Do you know anyone who belonged to the tribe of Judah, and to the house of David, entered Jerusalem on a donkey, was born at Bethlehem, was introduced by a messenger, whose body was pierced in crucifixion, was laid to rest with the rich, endured wounds and bruises?...I think you get my point.


These prophecies couldn't have been fulfilled by chance. Most of them couldn't have even been deliberately fulfilled. The predictions must have come from someone who could see into the future. Since only God knows the future, these predictions must have come from God. And whoever fulfills them must be the one that God preordained to fulfill them.

The fact that at least a dozen detailed prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled hundreds of years after the predictions demonstrates that the prophecies came from an all-knowing divine being who orchestrated the coming of Jesus and intended for Him to be considered the Jewish Messiah!

Think about that and try to share the information with an unbeliever. If the bible is a reliable historical document, we have sufficient evidence to believe that Christ rose from the dead and fulfilled dozens of messianic prophecies. ---> Next up, we'll show the divinity of Christ! =]

Adventures in Theodicy


3/12/11

Resurrection: HEART of the Gospel

By: Seraiah Wolf

Jesus' resurrection is the HEART of the gospel. Without it, our own bible scoffs at us (1 Corinthians 15). Without it dear friends, we've been deceived by the biggest hoax of time. Christianity stands or falls on the answer to the question: "Did the historical Jesus physically rise from the dead?"

Is there evidence for this event in history? Well, if we're going to argue for the Resurrection, we should first demonstrate that Jesus actually died. Then we can discuss whether or not He rose from the dead.

HEART: This is the acrostic we're going to use remember the main arguments for the Resurrection. Just remember that the Resurrection is at the heart of the gospel and the heart of Christianity.

Horrible Death:
We spent the last two weeks showing that the N.T. is historically accurate. On he basis of these historically accurate documents, we have sufficient evidence to believe that Jesus actually died. We get most of these details from the Gospels.

1) Even before Jesus was crucified, He lost a LOT of blood. The Roman floggings were terribly brutal, much worse than a modern day flogging. This is a quote from a medical doctor cited in The Case for Christ:
"Roman floggings...usually consisted of thirty-nine lashes... The soldier would use a whip of braided leather thongs with metal balls woven into them. When the whip would strike the flesh, these balls would cause deep bruises or contusions, which would break open with further blows. And the whip had pieces of sharp bone as well, which would cut the flesh severely. The back would be so shredded that part of the spine was sometimes exposed by the deep, deep cuts. The whipping would have gone all the way from the shoulders down to the back, the buttocks, and the back of the legs. It was just terrible. ...One physician who has studied Roman beatings said, "As the flogging continued, the lacerations would tear into the underlying skeletal muscle and produce quivering ribbons of bleeding flesh. A third-century historian by the name of Eusebius described a flogging by saying, 'The sufferer's veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were laid open to exposure.'"
A person going through this would experience horrible pain and lose a tremendous amount of blood. That is why Jesus collapsed on His way to the place of Crucifixion and they had to find someone else to carry his cross. Jesus was already in critical condition even before He was hung on the cross.

2) After a person had been crucified, soldiers would trust a spear into a victim's side to make sure he was dead. Physicians agree that blood and water flowing out is a sign of death. If Jesus was not dead, blood alone would have spurted out.

3) Soldiers would break the legs of the Crucifixion victims in order to speed up their deaths because it would be much harder to breath if the victim couldn't push himself up. In the case of Jesus, when they came to him to break his legs, they didn't--because they knew he was already dead. And with their experience, they would
have known whether someone was dead or not.

4) Pilate asked for assurance from the centurion that Jesus was dead.

5) He was wrapped completely in bandages and laid in a tomb.

6) Non-Christian sources confirm the Crucifixion of Jesus.

No one was in doubt that Jesus was dead. Christ's death by Crucifixion is acknowledged by Jewish and Roman historians. We mentioned this last time.


If the resurrection really did happen, then the body that was buried would vacate its tomb. Remember we're not talking about a spiritual resurrection but a bodily, physical resurrection. This is what Jesus predicted, and what the apostles later preached. Why is the bodily resurrection taught by the apostles significant to apologetics?

Hint: It has to do with proving the Resurrection.

Pause.

If the disciples had really wanted to deceive the world, they wouldn't have taught a physical resurrection! That needs proof! It would have been much easier to teach a non-literal resurrection. But they didn't teach that, instead, they taught that Jesus literally, physically rose from the grave. This mean that there would need to be REAL proof for the Resurrection. The tomb, for one thing, would need to be empty.

Empty Tomb:
1) The Jews through history have admitted that the tomb was empty. They only give reason for the tomb's vacancy--belief in the empty tomb was assumed.


Trypho, a Jew, said in the second century:
"One Jesus, a Galilean deceiver,...we crucified, but his disciples stole him by night from the tomb, where he laid when unfastened from the cross, and now deceive men by asserting that he has risen from the dead and ascended into heaven." (dialogue with Trypho, by Justin Martyr)
2) Christianity could not have originated in Jerusalem within a few weeks of the supposed Resurrection if there were no empty tomb. Why not? No one would have believed the Resurrection if there were no empty tomb, seeing the Resurrection was first preached in Jerusalem (the very city in which the body had lain) within a few weeks of the crucifixion and burial.

3)
The other explanations for the empty tomb aren't even reasonable. These are the three most popular:

A. The disciples stole the body.

The disciples would have to sneak by or overpower the Roman guard outside the tomb. If they stole the body, they died for what they KNEW was a lie. Can we trust the apostles to have told the truth? Look at this:

Peter
Andrew
Matthew
James, some of Alpheus
Philip
Simon
Thaddaeus
James, brother of Jesus
Thomas
Bartholomew
James, son of Zebedee
Crucified
Crucified
By the sword
Crucified
Crucified
Crucified
Killed by arrows
Stoned
Spear thrust
Crucified
The sword

"Nothing in law so convinces court and juries of the truthfulness of a stor as the fact that a man's life has been consistent with such story" (Henry Barnett, attorney)
The apostles' lives (and deaths!) were consistent with their testimony to the Resurrection. Myth Busted.

B. Maybe the Jewish or Roman authorities removed the body.

Wha? If they removed it, why wouldn't they have produced it for everyone to see? Remember, the Jews wanted to destroy what they thought was heresy; the Romans wanted to keep peace.

That was easy. The next is actually pretty comical.

C. It's called the swoon theory. This is basically that Jesus never really died. Look back at that evidence for his death. After all he went through, how could he still be alive. EVEN IF he hadn't died, but had instead survived in an extremely weakened state, how could this wasted leader have rolled away a huge stone and then convinced his followers (after he survived the ordeal) that he was Lord of Life and Victor over death. Can you imagine that?

Appearance after the resurrection
1) In 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul gives a list of some of those who saw Christ. This includes Peter, The Twelve, and 500 brethren at once, James, and Paul himself. Most of them were still alive when Paul wrote to Corinth. He wrote this list around AD 55, only 20-25 years after the Resurrection! You don't mention 500 ALIVE eyewitness testimonies if the resurrection hadn't happened. Seems like he was open to having his word challenged.

2) The Gospel also records the testimony of others who saw Christ after he had been crucified. Some of these were Mary Magdalene and other women. And why do we believe the testimony of these early Christians? 'Cause these Christians risked their lives form what they said they saw, and many died for this belief. If the resurrection hadn't taken place, they'd have known it and they wouldn't have died for what they knew to be a lie.

Record of Women as the First Witnesses.

This point is stronger than it might initially seem. Remember I mentioned women were included among those who saw Jesus after He rose? They're actually identified as those who every saw Jesus and the empty tomb. That's of significance. A woman's witness wasn't respected in court in those days. They were not legal witnesses. They had a lower social status. If the gospel writers were making a story up, they weren't doing to a good job. You don't just make women be the first witnesses of the empty tomb and Jesus.




Transformation of the Disciples.

Peter: He was transformed from a cowardly denier of Christ to a courageous proclaimer of the Resurrection.

Paul: The greatest antagonist of Christianity became the its greatest advocate.

James, Jesus' brother: A skeptic of his half-brother until the Resurrection; afterwords he became the leader of the Jerusalem Church.

Each of these men had nothing to gain of the Resurrection were false.
Just a quick reminder of the five points

Horrible Death
Empty Tomb
Appearances after the Death and Burial
Record of Women as the First Witnesses
Transformation of Disciples


Lets make a few inferences from this:
1) Jesus is ho he claimed to be--the Son of God, God in flesh. Only God has the power to raise the dead and I'm pretty sure He wouldn't resurrect a blasphemer of that magnitude. We'll later show that Jesus did make the claim to be God.

2)It confirms the Atonement:It gives validity to Jesus' claim that His death would "ransom many."

3)It shows He can overcome Death. It suggests he's able to give the same life to His followers like he promised.

I hope that was really cool. At school I tend to be overwhelmed from every single possible angle with secularism humanism evolution and an onslaught of every worldview except my own. It's always all around me. Being so alone, one tends to think "Am I wrong? Could I be wrong?" All I have to do is remember these apologetics and I'm reminded that God, in flesh, came upon the world and died--and came back to life. This was no hoax. We have not been fooled. I hope that's not only comforting for you too, but that you'll be able to share what you're learning here with others.

Peace in
-Seraiah


3/11/11

Is God Good?

Even When an Earthquake Hits Japan?
By: Jonathan Harris

Late last night I found out that an earthquake of the magnitude of 8.9 had hit the country of Japan. Tsunami's are expected to hit off the coast of L.A.- where I'm living - relatively soon. Information is still coming in on the death toll and those who could potentially die in what happens during the coarse of this day. The turn of events caused me to think about God's goodness. Why Japan? They're not as evil as Iran right? Why couldn't God have punished an evil nation if He was going to punish someone? Is this God's punishment? How can He be good and allow this to happen? I'm sure questions like these, and many more, are jumping to the forefront of people's minds just as they do in the event of any natural disaster. Last year I wrote a post on the problem of evil but never really went into specifics on how to apply the principles to life situations such as these. I'd like to take the opportunity now to briefly do this.

In Luke 13 we read Christ's reaction to a similar event. " . . . do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." The Bible makes it abundantly clear that all our sinners and deserving of hellfire. It is this concept that determines how we will react to natural disasters. If we really believe we are innately good and undeserving we will be in shock and horror - perhaps even moral outrage. On the other hand, if we accept the Bible's anthropology, that man is by nature a violator against the highest law of God and deserves nothing but condemnation, we will be grateful that the disaster wasn't worse and we will learn to both fear and love God. Fear Him because He judges and love Him because he withholds His judgment so frequently. James White in a radio broadcast recently made the point that if what astonishes an individual about Romans 9:13 (Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated) is the "Esau I hated," they're looking at things in immaturity blind to their own nature. What should surprise us is not "Esau I hated," that should be a given, but rather the "Jacob I loved." Many people refuse to worship "a God like that," but He is the one magnified in Scripture. Learning to love a deity that loves, is forbearing, and yet still upholds justice is our prerogative. Who are we to stand in judgment over Him?

Once biblical anthropology is understand cultivating both a healthy fear and love, we must understand the person of Jesus. He was "bruised for our iniquities." If anyone has a right to complain about a tough life it would be He, yet for the "joy set before Him He endured the cross." He is a character that relates to what's happening in Japan and all over the world. His Spirit is in the midst of it divinely sparing the life of some. Those maimed and emotionally ruined have sympathy from the one who sweat drops of blood at Gethsemane. He is a "High priest who can sympathize with our infirmities." He is not overjoyed when seeing the effects of sin (which natural disasters our a result of), He weeps over such things like He did over Jerusalem and at the death of Lazarus.


In addition to understanding the nature of man and the relatability of Christ, we must also understand the sovereign plan of God. We so often look at things from such a temporal vantage point we don't realize that life goes on forever. Think about this for a moment. No seriously, stop reading for 30 seconds and really ponder this thought. The earthquake had no affect on the death rate (stop). The people that died would have died anyway. Everyone dies eventually. Do we get outraged over this? Usually not, we in our foolishness get outraged when that time comes before we're ready for it. Yet God is the one that determines the end from the beginning. His plan is for every person to live forever either in heaven or hell. This goes back to Christ's words regarding the tower of Siloam. "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish." There is a death that lasts forever, a death everyone deserves, but in God's grace not all receive it. Christ's substitutionary death, taking our punishment for sin upon Himself, satisfies the just wrath of God. However, it does not guarantee a good life here on this earth. We are instead told that we will suffer for His namesake and take up our cross and follow Him.

In conclusion, the earthquake has and will not kill anyone who was not going to die already. The real question is, where are they going? We must have compassion in the midst of this just as Christ did weeping over Jerusalem, yet we must keep in mind that our job is not to overcompensate for our "mean" God. Marvelous stories of His goodness will come flowing through the midst of this tempest. We are called to tell others about Him, so when a disaster hits our area the people we've had the privilege of having an impact on will be thankful despite circumstance. Just as Paul was content in all circumstances, so should we. Solomon said it was "better to be in the house of mourning" because there a man "considers his end." Turn this disaster into a witnessing opportunity- a testament to our just, but magnificently good, God.
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