Offering Incense to the Emperor – Free quarterly offering.

The Supreme Court is currently getting ready to hear the case for nationalizing homosexual marriages. This is a deeply important issue, and with the specter of Judicial activism I do not expect that we will win this particular case.

While the politics of Gay Marriage are being discussed, and while many people understand something of where Christians stand (or should stand as some sadly are compromising the faith), the question of why Christians cannot accept homosexual marriage is rarely discussed. Offering Incense to the Emperor is a pamphlet that offers a thumbnail sketch of the issue from a Christian point of view. (While my discussion of the political side of the discussion is inevitably influenced by my own brand of political conservatism, even these positions are drawn from my Baptist roots in many regards).

  • This pamphlet presents a summary of the key passages in the Bible discussing homosexuality, and a summary of the “positive case for Christ.” For the believer, the question is not what does society say, but what does God’s Word say.
  • Discusses the political elements from the standpoint that this is a use of force for Christians to remake the Christian faith itself.
  • I note why this is not actually new, Christians have faced persecution before because they would not offer incense to the Emperor, and this is perhaps a step towards broader discrimination against people of faith.
  • Most importantly this presents the reasons why Christians must uphold the faith, despite what other people say.

Best of all, until Wednesday, Offering Incense to the Emperor is Free for Kindle users.

3rd Open Letter to Senator Rand Paul

I tried to send this to Senator Paul, unfortunately his site seems to be malfunctioning.

Dr. Paul,

Two years ago I wrote to you about a religious freedoms protection act due to the growing threat faced by Christian business owners accused of discrimination. At that time, you stated that this was an issue that needed to be maintained by the states on the grounds of the tenth amendment. I have a great deal of respect for the constitution, it is perhaps the wisest public document drafted since Moses was the intermediary for God in contracting the Torah with ancient Israel. Yet, the fourteenth amendment clearly gives the congress authority to protect the rights of citizens, and this must of necessity include those found in the bill of rights (including the first amendment).

I acknowledge the legal right (but not the moral authority) for an individual state to make a contract recognizing the relationship between a gay couple and the state itself, but the first amendment (as extended to the states by the fourteenth) clearly limits the right of the state to make a decision for the civil society where religious concerns are involved; the state does not have the authority to use force (even economic force) in a Soviet style attempt to “rehabilitate” Christian business owners.

Dr. Paul, you claim to be a libertarian, but what we are facing is the same use of force against Christians and other people of faith that Ayn Rand warned against in her writings. The first amendment after all is not about the freedom of religious institutions with proper 501C3 government certifications to be free to practice their faith, but for the American people to be free to live according to their own conscience, provided we do not cause harm to another. The Supreme Court appears to be picking up this issue with the same intent of judicial activism that has subverted the constitution on some many other key issues. You have the position and privileges of a United States Senator, but this means that you also bear the responsibility of your office, and will answer to God for how you fulfill those responsibilities, we will all stand before the Bema seat of Christ. I cannot state how history will judge your actions, but I think on the whole the question of how God will judge them is of greater concern. You claim to be a believer, but now is the time to prove your loyalties to Christ as above all other. Esther did not seek to be the savior of her people, but in providence she was there for such were the days she lived in.

The dangers of the actions these states are taking in persecuting Christians is a danger to the civil society itself. Adams once asked if atheists would be fit people for freedom at the outset of the French Revolution, he was soon proved prescient as their atheistic state descended into the great terrors. It is time, Senator to take a stand, I beg you then to push for a religious liberties protection act to protect Christians from being forced to either sin against conscience or be forced out of public life.

This is an open letter and will be posted on my blog,

In Him,
Rev. Kevin R Short

The Problem of Evil Part 3: Just a Piece of Fruit?

Last time, we noted that the problem with the atheists claims of suffering is that it begs the question. Christianity assumes mankind is basically evil and deserving of punishment, atheists assume that this is false. Unless they independently establish the innocence of mankind, or at least the moral neutrality, this of course would be difficult to prove to anyone with even a cursory knowledge of world history.

But, many atheists will instead argue that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime – after all, per Genesis God cursed the world and brought about death over a piece of fruit (nevermind the question of someone arguing God doesn’t exist because they question his sense of justice).

But the problem is that the world was not cursed over a piece of fruit – the account of Genesis 3 is not about a magical tree that imparts knowledge of Good and Evil, it was ultimately an act of rebellion and treason by man against his Maker.

God made man with a freewill, but freewill is only theoretical if man has no real choices or if his choices had no consequences. The tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was a test. Man, without a sin nature, in the perfect environment, was given a choice between staying in the garden, and living forever, or to rebel and forfeit those rights. Nor were the consequences of that choice hidden from man. Adam, sadly rebelled, knowing the consequences of his sin, but doing it anyway.

Treason and rebellion are serious crimes (recent American history not withstanding), and yet the truth of Christianity adds something most kings don’t allow rebels – a chance at forgiveness.

Problem of Evil part 2

When my wife and I first met, we were involved in ministry at a jail. One common themes I heard back then was the idea that the punishment didn’t fit the crime, complaints that other people had committed greater crimes, etc. In short, few people were willing to admit that they had received a just sentence, and to be fair, human justice is not infallible.

This is similar however to the complaints about suffering raised by atheists.

Atheists are regularly ready to make a similar argument, if God sends people to hell, or allows disasters, somehow that God would be unfair if he had the ability to prevent the disaster.

The problem is the same as the prisoners I noted earlier, in both cases, we have someone who is not innocent claiming that their punishment is excessive, this is precisely how the Bible presents mankind – as guilty and deserving of punishment.

Romans 5:12, among other passages, lays out the discussion, to wit, through one man, sin entered the world and all have sinned. While different Christian theologians and denominations will define how sin is passed from generation to generation differently, to be a Christian universally is to accept that sin does pass from generation. In the age-old discussion of whether man is basically evil or basically good, Christians are decidedly on the “man is basically evil side of the line.”

While atheists may reject this reasoning, the problem of evil is not a question of whether we like the answer, this would be the emotional problem of suffering we mentioned last time around, the question is if Christianity has a logically consistent answer to the problem, and if man is not innocent, then God, acting as a judge is behaving justly in allowing suffering.

For atheists then to actually have a point, they would either need to prove that mankind is not basically evil, or disprove Christianity itself, otherwise the case they raise is an instance of begging the question, because we must assume that Christianity is false to accept the Atheists point.

The problem of suffering part 1

One of the most common arguments raised by the modern atheist are variations on the problem of suffering.

In order to begin answering this question, we need to start by understanding that there are two distinct dimensions to this problem – an intellectual problem, and an emotional one.

The intellectual component of the problem of suffering is more commonly known as the problem of evil – how can God be all good and all powerful and still allow evil into the world? To answer this question, the most important point in the answer is that the Christian view must be logically consistent.

The emotional side of this question, however, is more difficult in many senses, and ironically, it is the more important question for understanding atheism. While the atheists often posture as being more intelligent and intellectual robust than Christians, it sis ironic that the problem of suffering is the question hat they focus on so often. Often their tirades on this point are extreme and irrational. Additionally, this emotional issue can’t be answered in the same sense that we can answer the question of evil.

The question of suffering is also something that the Christian understands. After all, most Christians, if they were honest with themselves would admit that they have at some point felt like shouting at God “its not fair.” For the Christian, unlike the atheist this is a point where we face the question of a dichotomy between our thinking and our feelings.

In answering this question, we have to start with the mind, for the Christian the question of the dichotomy between our feelings and our thinking is answered by submission to Christ – which perhaps sounds simpler than it is. For the atheist, the question is more difficult.

In a sense, to the atheist we will raise a presuppositionalist answer to the question, but when they balk at this, we further can demonstrate our case with an evidentialist case.

To begin, we need to start with a central premise of the atheists case, and demonstrate why it does not match Biblical Christianity.