Tag Archives: born again

The Folly of Vanity

I know a guy who has some really wonky ideas regarding religion and the afterlife.  In comparison to every other post modern, I suppose his ideas aren’t all that wonky–in fact, they are consistent with just about every other new age seeker.  They are persistent and may be sincerely held beliefs, but they are wrong.

His early years were influence by Catholicism, but I suspect that came from his grandparents and I don’t know how devout he may have been.  By looking at his other endeavors he has encountered over the years, I have to assume that had no lasting impact, save for the fact that he partly attributes his “falling away” from these “oppressive years”.  If he would read his Bible, he would see that he never was a convert as the act of backsliding is evidence that, to quote Todd Friel and Ray Comfort, “he never slid forward in the first place.”  Nonetheless, his rejection of Christ led him to dabble in silliness such as his opinion that all religion is invalid because some practices “such as sun worship” are ridiculous.  I believe that is the Fallacy of Division.  This guy not only perpetuates fallacies, but vehemently defends his logical errors.

He props up his unbelief in the assertion that God is some big meanie because some people living in the jungle may never have the opportunity to hear the Gospel.  However, he argues from the assumption that people are innocent when that is clearly not the case.  We all sin, and those sins make us worthy of hell.  Everyone can look at the world and know that there is an eternal Creator.  Paul makes this point very clear:

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”  (Romans‬ ‭1:18-20‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

It’s easier to reject the truth rather than face it.  Submission to God requires us to deny ourselves. (Luke 9:23) That symbolic death to self runs counter to what is taught in the world.  This guy I know wants to be a big man with accolades.  He wants to be puffed up by others.  He wants people to tell him that he is brilliant when he parrots new age heresy that all religions and all manner of unbelief lead to God.  This guy is a cosmopolitan man of the world and expends great effort to fool himself with his self-styled intellectual grandiosity.  He is drunk on vanity.  Just a cursory perusal of Ecclesiastes would expose his folly.  Everything apart from Christ is meaningless and this person’s entire existence is nothing but chasing after the wind.

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Of Course There Is A God

Relationships can and do change once you repent of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ. The change is so radical that sometimes relationships die.  I know this firsthand as I have at least one friend that fell away months after my conversion.  Don’t get me wrong, this Negative Nelly was actually a drain on me spiritually for a variety of reasons, but mainly because he wanted change in his life but was essentially unwilling to leave his house.

It’s not easy finding a wife while hiding at home.  You have no right to declare unhappiness if you refuse to do anything other than play video games in the dark.  Christianity aside, you cannot expect any sort of happiness when the closest thing you have to a bride is a screenful of pixels and your narcissism keeps you from being bothered with others’ needs and fears.

I occasionally check out his musings on his YouTube account to see what new thing he is raging about.  I find it unlistenable as he peppers his tirades with profanity and he is always yelling.

James Burns, former friend and host of The James Burns Show, fancies himself a political pundit and adroit social commentator.  That’s terrific, but when he wades into the realm of religiosity, I actually have something to say when I witness so much error placed upon a mountain of fallacy and wishful thinking.

According to him and his latest jeremiad, he describes how he has been Catholic, a reincarnationist, a formerly born-again Christian, and is now something of a pantheist and panentheist with a dab of mysticism and animism.  He changes beliefs more than he changes underwear.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up deleting his philippic, and I certainly don’t recommend spending a quarter hour listening to his anemic screed, but if you want to hear what it sounds like to rail against God, be my guest.

I found this podcast troubling, but the most disconcerting allegation is that he claimed to be something that he is not, nor ever was.  He said that he used to be a born-again Christian.  If genuine, no one can undo his second birth any more than his first birth.  Clearly his theology is demented, but once false Christian claims (though unintentional) are made, it is time for somebody to set the record straight.

If someone becomes a born-again believer, it is impossible to become an unbeliever.  Jesus says, “I give [my sheep] eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”” (‭‭John‬ ‭10:28-30‬ ‭ESV‬‬)  If this is true, then no one can snatch them out of Jesus’ hand.  That includes the individual.  If I truly belong to Jesus, I cannot unclench His grasp.  If I was able to wrestle away from Jesus to become an unbeliever, God is not omnipotent and nothing is sure.  Not only would that make God puny, but it would make Him a liar as well.  If Jesus cannot keep this promise, how can we trust that there is any measure of reliability in the Bible?  You can’t.  But that doesn’t keep this man from building his house on sand.

At the 2:13 mark, Mr. Burns establishes his premise on a fallacy by asserting that the United States is predominantly a Christian nation. If we rely on the Pew Research Center, we see that 70.6% of Americans claim to be Christian, while the Barna Group determined that 38% of Americans are unchurched, or those who have no religious affilitiation.  This only records claimants, but according to his littany of belief systems over the years, one only needs to decide what flavor of belief he will hold for the day.  Now, do either of these statistics show us the percentage of real Christians (those that agree on biblical essentials)?  Certainly not.

The Barna Group conducted another study to get an idea of what Americans believe about Jesus.  The study reveals that 92% of Americans believe that Jesus was a historical person.  That is promising.  But then the study shows that only 56% of Americans believe that Jesus is God.  That one is problematic.  Worse still is the fact that 52% believe that Jesus committed sins.  According to the Bible, Jesus is God and never committed any sin.  If we narrow our scope, we can see that according to this study only 48% of Americans are potentially born again.  I’m certain the real figure is much lower.  This information shows that Mr. Burns is pulling his “facts” out of a hat because we certainly are not “predominately Christian.”  I doubt we ever were, unless only a declaration is all that is necessary.  In that case, I’m a black woman.

At the 2:42 mark, he fleshes out his false belief system.  He perpetuates the Genetic Fallacy, and adds that morality, raising a family, working hard, and being a great (yes, he said great) friend should count as something.  At 3:03, he loses his temper when he says having the wrong religion will land one in hell (I’m assuming this is according to the Bible).  At 3:15, he makes the absolute declaration, “I, for one, cannot fathom a god that would punish good people who were born in a religion that was not ‘his truth,'” which is an example of the Personal Incredulity Fallacy.  Mr. Burns tipped his hat.  He is angry at God.  He also makes the false assumption that people are good.  Jesus says, “No one is good except God alone.” (Matthew 10:18 ESV)  Romans 3:10 says, “No one is righteous.  No, not one.”

Mr. Burns relates how he tried really hard to be a Christian by reading the Bible, praying, and being good.  In essence, he thought he could do all of this work so that he could save himself.  Paul explains this in Ephesians, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV)  Paul then writes in his letter to Titus, “[Jesus] saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit…” (‭‭Titus‬ ‭3:5‬ ‭ESV‬‬)  The text is clear–we cannot save ourselves.  Any works we perform for this purpose are in vain.

As his animus escalates, he almost comes unglued at the 4:25 mark when he declares that it is possible for all views to have some truth.  So now he is an intolerant pluralist.  Which is it?  You cannot be intellectually lazy and just accept whatever enters your brain as long as it runs contrary to Jesus.  Do all roads lead to heaven?  It is self-refuting as that would include Jesus as a way to heaven.  Yet, Jesus declares that he “is the way, and the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)  Even if Jesus is mistaken, his claim refutes the assertion that “all roads lead to heaven” as both are definitive claims.  Either Jesus is telling the truth, or both claims are false.

At 5:57, Mr. Burns stands on yet another fallacy–the False Dilemma.  He states, “Either we are all god’s children…or there is no god.”  This guy just cannot make up his mind.  (If you would like to see more of his fallacy schizophrenia, click here.)  It makes just as much sense when I say, “the mail didn’t run today, therefore I’m Ringo Starr.”  It’s okay to believe intellectually feeble reasoning, it’s just reasonable to keep it to yourself.

To illustrate Mr. Burns’ confusion, he decides upon pantheism at the 7:05 mark, changes his mind to panentheism at the 7:30 mark, and at 8:00 he throws in speciesism for good measure.  At 8:12, he begins to abandon all reason as he unveils his inner mystic with his Jeff Foxworthyesque vision reminiscent of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy set in a bus station.  At this point my head explodes as I have never experienced a cacophony of fallacies before.

At 10:21, Mr. Burns explains that “God wants you to feel…blessed for not being born [disabled]”–which is the Appeal to Emotion Fallacy.  He asserts that we have heard this before–a mixed fallacy of sorts–the Bandwagon Fallacy based on something that may or not be anecdotal.  In a sense, the False Bandwagon Fallacy.  If we consult the Bible, John 9:3 says that God allows sickness and disability to glorify Himself.  The works of God are displayed in weakness and disability.  God did not cause this.  All illness and disability can be traced back to Adam.  We are broken because of sin and it is God’s desire to redeem us.

I could go on, but attributing our lives to god, aliens, and/or luck (at 10:40 and 13:22) just seems silly and contrived after running the fallacy gauntlet.  This is the house built on shifting sand instead of the Rock of Christ.

Image courtesy of Cory Doctorow.

Unborn Again

I was listening to Paul Washer today when I was reminded that Christianity isn’t about morality or being a good person.  This is oftentimes the message that unbelievers hear.  A common belief is that God is loving; therefore, He will overlook my sins because overall I’m a pretty good person.  After all, I’ve never killed anyone.  I even help old ladies across the street.  But the truth is that I’m not good.  It doesn’t matter what I do.  It is impossible for my good works to overcome my bad ones.  

In reality, I have no good in me apart from Jesus.  Yet people despise the godman and attempt to earn their own salvation.  When we get caught up in religion, we are no more saved than the unregenerate.  

Paul Washer had an analogy that clarified this.  Suppose a preacher went to visit a member of his congregation at his house because he has not been attending lately.  The man says, “Preacher, you’re right.  I need to get back in church because it is good for me.”  The preacher confronts him on his drinking.  The man retorts, “You’re right preacher.  I’ve been getting drunk a lot lately.  I like boozing but I need to quit because that’s what’s best for me.”  Now the preacher confronts the man about his infidelity.  The man says, “I know it’s not what’s best for me.  I need to quit carousing.”

The following Sunday, the man comes to church and fellow church members are amazed that the preacher was able to lead a sheep back into the fold.  The truth is that this man never was a sheep.  He’s just a goat attending church.

We shouldn’t be doing what we hate doing because it is good for us.  It’s not like force feeding yourself kale because it is heart healthy.  If we are secure in Christ, what we love should be a reflection of that.  If we love our sin we aren’t saved.

This reminds me of a former friend.  After sharing the gospel many times, he claimed that he has “accepted” Christ.  After only a few weeks, he shed his identity with Christ as easily as he allegedly identified with him.  He actually says he was born again (but no longer).  One cannot be saved only to become unsaved.  Either you are born again or you are not.  

It is clear that he doesn’t know what it means to be born again.  He never was born again.  He was blinded by his own wisdom and goodness.  He doesn’t realize that he is a bad man in need of a savior.

There are people just like him in the church.  They are caught up with religion or self righteousness.  They don’t understand that keeping law will not save them.  This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t obey God, but we don’t follow God’s laws to be saved.  We strive to keep the law because we are saved.