Tough Questions Answered

A Christian Apologetics Blog
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  • Will Worship Be Boring in Heaven?

    Posted By on January 19, 2015

    If you really believe that worship could be boring in Heaven, you have no idea of who God is. Randy Alcorn slams this point home in his book Heaven.

    Some subjects become less interesting over time. Others become more fascinating. Nothing is more fascinating than God. The deeper we probe into his being, the more we want to know. One song puts it this way: “As eternity unfolds, the thrill of knowing Him will grow.”

    We’ll never lose our fascination for God as we get to know him better. The thrill of knowing him will never subside. The desire to know him better will motivate everything we do. To imagine that worshiping God could be boring is to impose on Heaven our bad experiences of so-called worship. Satan is determined to make church boring, and when it is, we assume Heaven will be also. But church can be exciting, and worship exhilarating. That’s what it will be in Heaven. We will see God and understand why the angels and other living creatures delight to worship him.

    Have you known people who couldn’t be boring if they tried? Some people are just fascinating. It seems I could listen to them forever. But not really. Eventually, I’d feel as if I’d gotten enough . But we can never get enough of God. There’s no end to what he knows, no end to what he can do, no end to who he is. He is mesmerizing to the depths of his being, and those depths will never be exhausted . No wonder those in Heaven always redirect their eyes to him— they don’t want to miss anything.

    What Will Worship Be Like in Heaven?

    Posted By on January 16, 2015

    Many a pastor and worship leader has told their congregations that they if don’t like singing and worship in church services now, they won’t enjoy Heaven, because that’s all we’ll do in Heaven. Is that literally true? Is that all we’ll do?

    Randy Alcorn tackles this question in his book Heaven. Let’s see what he has to say about it.

    Most people know that we’ll worship God in Heaven. But they don’t grasp how thrilling that will be. Multitudes of God’s people— of every nation, tribe, people, and language— will gather to sing praise to God for his greatness, wisdom, power, grace, and mighty work of redemption (Revelation 5:13-14). Overwhelmed by his magnificence, we will fall on our faces in unrestrained happiness and say, “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Revelation 7:9-12).

    Alcorn continues:

    I find it ironic that many people stereotype life in Heaven as an interminable church service. Apparently, church attendance has become synonymous with boredom. Yet meeting God— when it truly happens— will be far more exhilarating than a great meal, a poker game, hunting, gardening, mountain climbing, or watching the Super Bowl. Even if it were true (it isn’t) that church services must be dull, there will be no church services in Heaven. The church (Christ’s people) will be there. But there will be no temple, and as far as we know, no services (Revelation 21:22).

    So, will we always be engaged in worship in Heaven?

    Yes and no. If we have a narrow view of worship, the answer is no. But if we have a broad view of worship, the answer is yes. As Cornelius Venema explains, worship in Heaven will be all-encompassing: “No legitimate activity of life— whether in marriage, family, business, play, friendship, education, politics, etc.— escapes the claims of Christ’s kingship. . . . Certainly those who live and reign with Christ forever will find the diversity and complexity of their worship of God not less, but richer, in the life to come. Every legitimate activity of new creaturely life will be included within the life of worship of God’s people.”

    More specifically, will we always “be on our faces at Christ’s feet, worshiping him?”

    No, because Scripture says we’ll be doing many other things— living in dwelling places, eating and drinking, reigning with Christ, and working for him. Scripture depicts people standing, walking, traveling in and out of the city, and gathering at feasts. When doing these things, we won’t be on our faces before Christ. Nevertheless, all that we do will be an act of worship. We’ll enjoy full and unbroken fellowship with Christ. At times this will crescendo into greater heights of praise as we assemble with the multitudes who are also worshiping him.

    Alcorn explains what it means to properly worship God with every thing we do.

    Worship involves more than singing and prayer. I often worship God while reading a book, riding a bike , or taking a walk. I’m worshiping him now as I write. Yet too often I’m distracted and fail to acknowledge God along the way. In Heaven, God will always be first in my thinking. Even now, we’re told, “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). That God expects us to do many other things, such as work, rest, and be with our families, shows that we must be able to be joyful, pray, and give thanks while doing other things.

    Have you ever spent a day or several hours when you sensed the presence of God as you hiked, worked, gardened, drove, read, or did the dishes? Those are foretastes of Heaven— not because we are doing nothing but worshiping, but because we are worshiping God as we do everything else.

    In Heaven, where everyone worships Jesus, no one says, “Now we’re going to sing two hymns, followed by announcements and prayer.” The singing isn’t ritual but spontaneous praise (Revelation 5: 11-14 ). If someone rescued you and your family from terrible harm, especially at great cost to himself, no one would need to tell you, “Better say thank you.” On your own, you would shower him with praise. Even more will you sing your Savior’s praises and tell of his life-saving deeds.

    Did God Change His Mind Because of Moses’ Intercession?

    Posted By on January 14, 2015

    In verses 11-14 of Exodus 32, Moses seems to present an argument to God which changes God’s mind. Verse 14 says, “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” Is God actually changing his mind, the way human beings do, because Moses presented information to God which God did not know about?

    This cannot be the case, because we know from many other verses in the Bible that God is omniscient (all-knowing), that God knows the past, present, and future. Therefore it is impossible that Moses taught God something. Nobody can teach God anything.

    So how should we interpret God’s relenting in this passage? John Frame, in The Apologetics Study Bible explains:

    For one thing, God states as a general policy in Jeremiah 18: 5-10 that if He announces judgment and people repent, He will relent; He will do the same if He pronounces blessing and people do evil. In other words, relenting is part of God’s unchanging plan, not a change forced on Him by His ignorance.

    Further, God is not only transcendent (beyond our experience) but also immanent (involved in our experience). He has dwelled on earth in the tabernacle and temple, in Christ, and in His general omnipresence (Ps 139: 7-12). When God interacts with people in time, He does one thing, then another. He curses, then He blesses. His actions are in temporal sequence and are therefore, in one sense, changing. But these changes are the outworking of God’s eternal plan, which does not change. It is important, then, to see God as working from both above and below, in eternity and in time. (emphasis added)

    Commentary on Exodus 32 (Golden Calf)

    Posted By on January 12, 2015

    As chapter 32 begins, Moses has been up on Mount Sinai for weeks (40 days) receiving instructions from God. This is the longest period of time, so far, that Moses has been away from the camp of Israel at the base of Mount Sinai. The outcome of Moses’ communion with God will be the two tablets of the Testimony, which are engraved by God himself.

    The people of Israel, however, are anxious because Moses has been absent so long. In verse 1 of Exodus 32, some of the Israelites go to Aaron (who has been left in charge while Moses is gone) and ask him to make an idol that will represent Yahweh, the God who brought them out of Egypt.

    There is some confusion here because of translation of a Hebrew word for “god(s).” The NIV translates verse 1 to say “Come, make us gods who will go before us,” while other translations render the Hebrew word in the singular: “Come, make us a god who will go before us.” It seems that the better translation is the singular, which means that the sin of the Israelites is not polytheism (worshipping more than one god), but idolatry (worshiping an image of God).

    So, the Israelites are not looking to replace Yahweh with other gods, they are wanting to worship images of him. Remember that they had already agreed to the Ten Commandments, which includes the command to not commit idolatry, back in chapter 24. At that time, before Moses went back up the mountain to receive further instructions from God, the people had made a covenant with God, based on the Ten Commandments. Here we are just a month or so later, and they have already broken one of the most important commandments!

    Aaron, instead of refusing the request of the people, makes an idol, in the shape of a calf, out of the gold earrings that they had received from the Egyptians. In addition, Aaron builds an altar in front of the golden calf and then announces a festival will be held to make offerings to the calf.

    Why make an idol in the form of a calf? In both Egypt and Canaan, there were many gods that were worshiped in the form of a bull.  According to The Chronological Study Bible: New King James Version,

    Cattle were common images for deities in the ancient Near East. In Egypt, Hathor , a very popular goddess, was represented as a cow, as a woman with cow horns or ears or both, and as a human with a cow’s head. The usual manner of depicting a male deity in Syria-Palestine was to represent him either as a bull or with some features of a bull usually horns. In Babylon the bull images of Hadad lined the main processional street.

    The Israelites were reverting back to the pagan religious practices they learned from the Egyptians and surrounding nations.

    In verses 7-8, God tells Moses to go back down the mountain because God sees the grave sins of the people. In verses 9-10, God threatens to destroy Israel since they have already broken his covenant, offering to start over with Moses as the father of a new covenant people.

    Over the next four verses, Moses intercedes for the Israelites and begs God to relent. He reminds God about the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel), that he would make their descendants “as numerous as the stars in the sky and . . . give [their] descendants all this land [he] promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.” God does indeed relent and does not destroy the people of Israel.

    Verses 15-18 describe Moses’ journey back down to the base of the mountain with the two stone tablets of the Testimony. At some point along the way, he meets up with Joshua, who was probably waiting half way down the mountain for Moses. They hear the shouting of the Israelites at the bottom of the mountain. Joshua thinks they are at war, but Moses knows better.

    Moses throws the tablets to the ground, breaking them. This symbolizes that the covenant is broken, the covenant that the people made With God just weeks before. Douglas Stuart, in Exodus: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (The New American Commentary), explains that the

    tablets were not divided among the commandments, but each tablet contained all ten, so that one tablet represented the suzerain’s copy and one the vassal’s, in accordance with standard ancient Near Eastern document preservation practices. These two tablets were the most valuable material thing on earth at that time, as the reader is now informed clearly, so that later when Moses breaks them, the reader can appreciate the severity of the sin that would have caused him to do something so destructive to something so precious.

    Moses then destroys the calf and confronts Aaron, asking “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” Aaron’s response, in verses 22-24, is to blame the Israelites and not take responsibility for his part in the golden calf episode.

    At this point, seeing the chaos of pagan worship running rampant among the Israelites, Moses asks all those who are for the Lord to come to him. Evidently, the tribe that rallied to Moses was made up primarily of Levites (which is the tribe of Moses and Aaron). Moses, in order to stamp out the idolatry, and in order to execute divine judgment on the nation of Israel, instructs the Levites to kill those Israelites committed to idol worship, men who are their brothers, friends, and neighbors.

    In verse 30, Moses reminds the people of their great sin and he offers to go to the Lord and make atonement. When Moses speaks to God, he offers to have his name removed from the book (Book of Life) God has written, along with the rest of the Israelites, even though Moses did not sin.

    Instead, God refuses to remove Moses from the Book of Life, but promises to remove those names of the people who did sin against God. God also promises to strike Israel with a plague as punishment for their sin, and so he does.

    What more can be said about the Book of Life? Douglas Stuart provides a helpful overview:

    First, the Book of Life is a record of those going on to eternal life as opposed to those who by their own decisions have rejected God and his salvation (cf. John 3:19–20). To have one’s name in the Book of Life is to have persevered in faith and obedience to God until the final judgment of the earth. To have one’s name blotted out is to have offended God by lack of faith and, accordingly, by disobedience so that one cannot continue to live, that is, have eternal life.

    Moreover, important for understanding God’s purposes in judgment is to appreciate that everyone starts out in the Book of Life. It is a book of the living, and all who are born originally appear in it. God does not arbitrarily put some names in it and not others. All who come into the world have the potential for eternal life, according to God’s will (1 Tim 2:3–4; 2 Pet 3:9) but most ignore, reject, disdain, put off, or otherwise forfeit that potential—and so their names are eventually blotted out of the Book of Life. When they appear at the judgment and the books are opened (Dan 7:10; Rev 20:12), their names will not appear in the Lamb’s Book of Life because they chose a different direction during their lives on earth from the direction God prescribed. Their rejection of him eventually earns them rejection from being listed among the living. Their fate is then destruction, the second death (Rev 2:11; 20:6, 14; 21:18).

    How Should We Enjoy God? Part 2

    Posted By on January 9, 2015

    From part 1, we saw that we can enjoy God through the gifts he gives us. Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, explains how these gifts are secondary, or derivative ways of enjoying God.

    All secondary joys are derivative in nature. They cannot be separated from God. Flowers are beautiful for one reason—God is beautiful. Rainbows are stunning because God is stunning. Puppies are delightful because God is delightful. Sports are fun because God is fun. Study is rewarding because God is rewarding. Work is fulfilling because God is fulfilling.

    There is an important corollary to the derivative nature of these goods. I am often asked, by non-believers, why it is that people can’t lead perfectly happy and fulfilled lives without acknowledging God. They see no connection between all that is good about the world, and God. They want to set the God question to the side and go on living their lives.

    The problem with this approach is that every good thing comes from God. God is, therefore, the highest good.  To use an analogy, they are like the man who is content to stare at beautiful drawings of waterfalls cascading over moss-covered rocks, but who doesn’t want to go outside and look at the real thing.

    On the opposite pole from the unbeliever above is the person who believes it is unspiritual to enjoy the good things God has provided. Alcorn addresses this person:

    Ironically, some people who are the most determined to avoid the sacrilege of putting things before God miss a thousand daily opportunities to thank him, praise him, and draw near to him, because they imagine they shouldn’t enjoy the very things he made to help us know him and love him.

    God is a lavish giver. “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all— how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8: 32). The God who gave us his Son delights to graciously give us “all things.” These “all things ” are in addition to Christ, but they are never instead of him— they come, Scripture tells us, “along with him.” If we didn’t have Christ, we would have nothing. But because we have Christ, we have everything. Hence, we can enjoy the people and things God has made, and in the process enjoy the God who designed and provided them for his pleasure and ours.

    So, it is wrong to enjoy God’s gifts without acknowledging who gave them to us, and it is wrong to refuse to enjoy God’s gifts out of fear that we are offending God somehow. Alcorn concludes:

    God welcomes prayers of thanksgiving for meals, warm fires, games, books, relationships , and every other good thing. When we fail to acknowledge God as the source of all good things, we fail to give him the recognition and glory he deserves. We separate joy from God, which is like trying to separate heat from fire or wetness from rain.

    The movie Babette’s Feast depicts a conservative Christian sect that scrupulously avoids “worldly” distractions until a woman’s creation of a great feast opens their eyes to the richness of God’s provision. Babette’s Feast beautifully illustrates that we shouldn’t ignore or minimize God’s lavish, creative gifts, but we should enjoy them and express heartfelt gratitude to God for all of life’s joys.

    When we do this, instead of these things drawing us from God, they draw us to God. That’s precisely what all things and all beings in Heaven will do— draw us to God, never away from him. Every day we should see God in his creation: in the food we eat, the air we breathe , the friendships we enjoy, and the pleasures of family, work , and hobbies.

    Yes, we must sometimes forgo secondary pleasures, and we should never let them eclipse God. And we should avoid opulence and waste when others are needy. But we should thank God for all of life’s joys, large and small, and allow them to draw us to him. That’s exactly what we’ll do in Heaven . . . so why not start now?

    How Should We Enjoy God? Part 1

    Posted By on January 7, 2015

    The standard answer to this question, from many Christians, is that we enjoy God through prayer, worship, and Bible study. And, those things are definitely important ways to enjoy God. But there is more.

    God has given mankind numerous gifts, through his creation (the physical universe and everything in it), that we are meant to enjoy. When we enjoy the gifts God has given us, when we remember that they are his gifts, and when we thank him for those gifts, we are surely enjoying God in a way that pleases him.

    Having said that, we all know that there are millions of people who enjoy God’s gifts, but who fail to acknowledge that they are gifts at all. They are like a child who receives a new toy at Christmas, and then plays with the toy for months and never once thinks about who gave it to her.

    So what is the proper way to think about enjoying God through his gifts? How do we keep the focus on the giver without taking Him for granted? Randy Alcorn offers some helpful insights in his book Heaven

    Suppose you’re sick. Your friend brings a meal. What meets your needs— the meal or the friend? Both. Of course, without your friend, there would be no meal; but even without a meal, you would still treasure your friendship. Hence, your friend is both your higher pleasure and the source of your secondary pleasure (the meal). Likewise, God is the source of all lesser goods, so that when they satisfy us, it’s God himself who satisfies us. (In fact, it’s God who satisfies you by giving you the friend who gives you the meal.)

    Some Christians frown upon the pleasures of the physical world, but Alcorn argues this is unbiblical.

    Scripture says we are to put our hope not in material things but “in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). If he provides everything for our enjoyment, we shouldn’t feel guilty for enjoying it, should we?

    Paul says it is demons and liars who portray the physical realm as unspiritual, forbid people from the joys of marriage, including sex, and “order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:3-5).

    Alcorn continues:

    God isn’t displeased when we enjoy a good meal, marital sex, a football game, a cozy fire, or a good book. He’s not up in Heaven frowning at us and saying , “Stop it— you should only find joy in me.” This would be as foreign to God’s nature as our heavenly Father as it would be to mine as an earthly father if I gave my daughters a Christmas gift and started pouting because they enjoyed it too much. No, I gave the gift to bring joy to them and to me— if they didn’t take pleasure in it, I’d be disappointed. Their pleasure in my gift to them draws them closer to me. I am delighted that they enjoy the gift.

    Alcorn warns us:

    Because of the current darkness of our hearts, we must be careful not to make idols out of God’s provisions. . . . Of course, if children become so preoccupied with the gift that they walk away from their father and ignore him, that’s different. Though preoccupation with a God-given gift can turn into idolatry, enjoying that same gift with a grateful heart can draw us closer to God.

    In part 2, we’ll continue to look at the proper ways to enjoy God through his creation.

    What Will It Mean for the Curse to Be Lifted?

    Posted By on January 5, 2015

    In the Book of Genesis we read that after Adam and Eve sinned against God, God pronounced a curse on them and all creation. “Cursed is the ground [earth] because of you” (Genesis 3: 17). Mankind would be subject to “painful toil” among “thorns and thistles.” After a difficult life, men and women would die, returning to the ground from which they were made.

    Randy Alcorn, in his book Heaven, looks at the plan God set in motion to redeem his creation from the curse brought on by human sin. Regarding the connection between human sins and the earth, Alcorn writes,

    Our welfare is inseparable from Earth’s welfare. Our destiny is inseparable from Earth’s destiny. That’s why the curse on mankind required that the earth be cursed and why the earth will also be resurrected when we are resurrected. The Curse will be reversed.

    How did God deal with the curse? Through Christ.

    As a result of the Curse, the first Adam could no longer eat from the tree of life, which presumably would have made him live forever in his sinful state (Genesis 3:22). Death, though a curse in itself, was also the only way out from under the Curse— and that only because God had come up with a way to defeat death and restore mankind’s relationship with him.

    Christ came to remove the curse of sin and death (Romans 8:2). He is the second Adam, who will undo the damage wrought by the first Adam (1 Corinthians 15: 22, 45; Romans 5:15-19). In the Cross and the Resurrection, God made a way not only to restore his original design for mankind but also to expand it.

    What will the New Earth, with the curse removed, look like?

    In our resurrection bodies, we will again dwell on Earth— a New Earth— completely free of the Curse. Unencumbered by sin, human activity will lead naturally to a prosperous and magnificent culture. Under the Curse, human culture has not been eliminated, but it has been severely hampered by sin, death, and decay.

    Before the Fall, food was readily available with minimal labor. Time was available to pursue thoughtful aesthetic ideas, to work for the sheer pleasure of it, to please and glorify God by developing skills and abilities.

    But since the Fall, it’s been a sad tale for mankind.

    [G]enerations have lived and died after spending most of their productive years eking out an existence in the pursuit of food, shelter, and protection against theft and war. Mankind has been distracted and debilitated by sickness and sin. Our cultural development has likewise been stunted and twisted, and sometimes misdirected— though not always.

    Is everything that mankind has accomplished since the Fall sinful and evil? Has the Curse wiped out 100% of the goodness God introduced into his original creation?

    Even though our depravity means we have no virtue that makes us worthy of our standing before God, we are nevertheless “made in God’s likeness” (James 3:9). Consequently, some things we do, even in our fallenness, such as painting, building, performing beautiful music, finding cures for diseases, and other cultural, scientific , commercial, and aesthetic pursuits, are good. The removal of the Curse means that people, culture, the earth, and the universe will again be as God intended.

    Alcorn reminds us of the terrible price that Christ paid for removing the curse:

    “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3: 13, ESV). God’s law shows us how far short we fall. But Jesus took on himself the curse of sin, satisfying God’s wrath. By taking the Curse upon himself and defeating it through his resurrection, Jesus guaranteed the lifting of the Curse from mankind and from the earth.

    The removal of the Curse will be as thorough and sweeping as the redemptive work of Christ. In bringing us salvation, Christ has already undone some of the damage in our hearts, but in the end he will finally and completely restore his entire creation to what God originally intended (Romans 8:19-21). Christ will turn back the Curse and restore to humanity all that we lost in Eden, and he will give us much more besides.

    Is Heaven an Immaterial Realm?

    Posted By on January 2, 2015

    Not the eternal Heaven (New Earth) that all believers will occupy when they are resurrected. The eternal Heaven (New Earth) will be a physical world with material objects, not some ghostly place where we float on spiritual “clouds.” Randy Alcorn sets us straight about the eternal Heaven in his book called Heaven. Alcorn laments:

    Many books on Heaven say nothing about the New Earth. Sometimes a few paragraphs, vaguely worded, are tacked on at the end. Other books address the New Earth but undercut its true nature: “Is this new earth like our present earth? Probably not.” But if it isn’t, why does God call it a New Earth? One author says, “The eternal phase of Heaven will be so unlike what we are familiar with that our present language can’t even describe it.” Certainly our present language can’t fully describe it, but it does in fact describe it (e.g., Revelation 21– 22).

    Does anybody want to live forever in a disembodied state? I don’t. Does anybody want to live forever on this sin-filled mess we call planet earth? I don’t. So what is it we crave? What do we desire?

    We are homesick for Eden. We’re nostalgic for what is implanted in our hearts. It’s built into us, perhaps even at a genetic level. We long for what the first man and woman once enjoyed— a perfect and beautiful Earth with free and untainted relationships with God, each other, animals, and our environment. Every attempt at human progress has been an attempt to overcome what was lost in the Fall.

    Alcorn continues:

    Our ancestors came from Eden. We are headed toward a New Earth. Meanwhile, we live out our lives on a sin-corrupted Earth, between Eden and the New Earth, but we must never forget that this is not our natural state. Sin and death and suffering and war and poverty are not natural— they are the devastating results of our rebellion against God.

    We long for a return to Paradise—a perfect world, without the corruption of sin, where God walks with us and talks with us in the cool of the day. Because we’re human beings , we desire something tangible and physical, something that will not fade away. And that is exactly what God promises us— a home that will not be destroyed, a kingdom that will not fade, a city with unshakable foundations, an incorruptible inheritance.

    This present earth is not our true home. A disembodied state of existence is not our ultimate destiny. Instead, we are looking forward to a newly constituted Earth that is our true home. Alcorn concludes:

    Adam was formed from the dust of the earth, forever establishing our connection to the earth (Genesis 2:7). Just as we are made from the earth, so too we are made for the earth. But, you may object, Jesus said he was going to prepare a place for us and would take us there to live with him forever (John 14:2-3). Yes. But what is that place? Revelation 21 makes it clear— it’s the New Earth. That’s where the New Jerusalem will reside when it comes down out of Heaven. Only then will we be truly home.

    #1 Post of 2014 – What Role Does Polygamy Play in Islam? Part 2

    Posted By on December 31, 2014

    William Tucker, in his book Marriage and Civilization: How Monogamy Made Us Human, traces the links between Islam, polygamy, and violence. In part 2, we look at how polygamy coupled with Islam has continued to breed violence up to this very day.

    Tucker describes the Islamic Turks:

    Like Mohammed , the invading Turks, who founded the Ottoman Empire in the thirteenth century, ignored the Koranic limitation of four wives and collected palaces full of concubines. Indeed, the emblem of Ottoman rule for the European imagination was always the sultan and his harem. In order to avoid dynastic wars among the numerous potential heirs, the Sultan chose a successor, then locked all the others in a special prison on the fifth floor of the Topkapi Palace where, when the heir reached maturity, they were all strangled.

    Tucker moves from the Turks to the Wahhabi Movement.

    The Ottomans, of course, were not the only Islamic power practicing and promoting polygamy and its attendant customs. The Wahhabi Movement, born at the time of George Washington, rallied Sunni tribesmen of the Arabian desert to the banner that, once again, the Islam being practiced in Mecca was not the “true Islam.”

    They crashed into the Holy City, smashing works of art, and destroying some of Islam’s most sacred shrines, including Mohammed’s tomb. Then they established the version of Islam that still dominates life in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have spent millions of their oil wealth in spreading Wahhabism throughout the Muslim world via madrasas— schools that teach young boys the version of Islam that we see in al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Taliban.

    While the Wahhabis are strict Islamists, they are, like so many Muslims before them, liberals when it comes to the number of wives a Muslim man may take. Mohammed bin Laden, one of Arabia’s most successful businessmen and father of Osama, had fifty-four children by twenty-two wives.

    So what is it like in modern-day polygamous, Islamic countries?

    In such societies, the frustrations of lower-caste Arab-Muslim men fester. Since conquest is no longer really an option, only martyrdom remains. If they cannot practice polygamy in this life, they trust that they will enjoy the fruits of the afterlife with seventy-two virgins.

    “But,” it is often objected, “many Islamist terrorists we’ve read about were already married and even had children. What could be motivating them?” This is to judge Muslim men by Western standards. In monogamous, Western society, marriage for a man means settling down, supporting a wife and children, and taking part in family life. But in polygamous societies wives are a sign of wealth. Having only one wife can be a sign of inferiority. There is no Nash Equilibrium in Islamic or any other polygamous society. The demand for women always exceeds the supply and no one ever has enough. For men of modest means, women can seem almost unattainable.

    Tucker reports several recent stories out of the Islamic world:

    In a 2004 New York Times Magazine article, a graduate student in his twenties described what it was like growing up in Saudi Arabia. He said that he had never been alone in the company of a young woman. He and his friends refer to women as “BMOs— black moving objects,” gliding past in full burkas. Brideprices are steep and men cannot think of getting married until they are well established in a profession. All marriages are arranged and it is not uncommon for the bride and groom to meet at their wedding. Those without money are out of luck.

    During the last few years of the Hosni Mubarak administration, the Egyptian government became so worried about couples having to put off marriage that it began subsidizing bride-wealth payments and sponsored mass marriages. In reporting on the early days of the Arab Spring, the New York Times found “the long wait for marriage” to be the second most pressing grievance in Egyptian society, behind only general poverty.

    So what happens because of this shortage of women?

    Yet because of the shortage of women, young girls have value and families refuse to lower the price of their assets. For this reason, an enormous number of marriages are contracted between cousins so that wealth is kept in the family. The only other avenue, of course, is bringing younger and younger women into the marriage pool.

    Muslim countries are the world champions of child marriage. In Yemen, 52 percent of girls are married before age eighteen and 14 percent before age fifteen. Some are betrothed as young as eight. In 2008, a ten-year-old Yemenite girl named Nujood Ali made headlines when she threw herself upon the mercy of a court, asking to be released from a three-month-old marriage to her thirty-two-year-old cousin who had repeatedly beaten her since their wedding.

    Obviously there are more and more Muslims living in western countries where polygamy is illegal. We can only pray that monogamy takes hold in this, the second largest religion in the world.

    #2 Post of 2014 – What Is a Step by Step Argument Showing that Christianity is True?

    Posted By on December 29, 2014

    Post Author: Bill Pratt

    Anyone who has read my blog for the last several years knows that I am a big fan of the book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. I have quoted from the book many times and pointed my readers to it again and again.

    One thing that I haven’t done, though, is given an outline of what the book is actually trying to accomplish. What Geisler and Turek attempt to do in the book is lay out a methodical, step by step process for arguing that Christianity is true. Here is the 12-step argument:

    1. Truth about reality is knowable.
    2. The opposite of true is false.
    3. It is true that the theistic God exists.
      1. Beginning of the Universe (cosmological argument)
      2. Design of the universe (teleological argument/anthropic principle)
      3. Design of life (teleological argument)
      4. Moral law (moral argument)
    4. If God exists, then miracles are possible.
    5. Miracles can be used to confirm a message from God.
    6. The New Testament is historically reliable.
      1. Early testimony
      2. Eyewitness testimony
      3. Uninvented testimony
      4. Eyewitnesses who were not deceived
    7. The New Testament says Jesus claimed to be God.
    8. Jesus’ claim to be God was miraculously confirmed by:
      1. His fulfillment of many prophecies about Himself
      2. His sinless and miraculous life
      3. His prediction and accomplishment of His resurrection
    9. Therefore, Jesus is God.
    10. Whatever Jesus (who is God) teaches is true.
    11. Jesus taught that the Bible is the Word of God.
    12. Therefore, it is true that the Bible is the Word of God (and anything opposed to it is false).

    Notice that these 12 steps marshal evidence from philosophy, science, and history, and they all work together to build a logical argument which leads to the conclusion that the Bible is the Word of God. I am always bewildered when skeptics claim that Christian beliefs are based on nothing but wish fulfillment when books like this fill Christian bookshelves.

    I have used this basic 12-point framework for many years and it has served me well. Most everything you learn about apologetics fits into this 12-point argument. In fact, at Southern Evangelical Seminary, where I received my Master’s degree, you had to take a class on these 12 points and your final exam was to write down the 12 points and briefly defend and explain each point.

    If you have never purchased and read this book, do it today. You won’t be sorry.

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