Archive for November, 2010

Book Review: Robertson – Dawkins Letters

November 21, 2010

Dawkins Letters

David Robertson is a Scottish Presbyterian who ministers in Dundee. Having read Dawkins ‘God Delusion’ he decided to respond with a series of letters addressing the major themes of the book. These include letters addressing: the notion that atheists are the truly enlightened, intelligent ones; the impossibility of true beauty without God; the myth of atheist tolerance and rationality; the myth of a cruel Old Testament God; the false dichotomy Dawkins creates between science and religion; the “who made God?” argument; the nonsense that all religion is inherently evil; the myth of morality within an atheistic worldview; the myth of an immoral bible, and; the charge of child abuse.

Where to start? The first half of the book is definitely less persuasive than the latter. One might conjecture that Robertson’s understandable irritation with Dawkins slides off into sarcasm and thus dents the force of his presentation. Seriously critiquing Dawkins view of “multiverses” could have been achieved without mockery. Even if, especially at this point, one does think that Dawkins might deserve a dose of his own medicine. Further, the brevity he must deal with each topic to fit his chosen format (short letters), inevitably leads to some shortcuts in his arguments. For example, Robertson doesn’t really address some of the real moral problems from reading the Old Testament. This is an area he really should have spent considerably more time on, as it’s something one hears more and more often. His letter on this, frankly, comes across as assertion rather than explanation for how Christians view this problematic material. It lacks substance and wanders off into preaching/proclamation rather than tackling the difficulties. This was the most disappointing chapter in the book.

Nonetheless, things pick up considerably in the second half of the book. The tone changes, becoming less polemical, and far more compellingly argued. Indeed, the strongest letters cover the basis for morality without God and whether religion is really the source of all evil. Here Robertson takes Dawkins to task for his continual oversimplification, ad hominem polemics, failure to express what Christians actually believe rather than his straw-man caricatures, and his genuine failure to engage informed and erudite Christian tradition. To say one does not need to know about spaghetti monsters is surely effective and clever rhetoric, but is simply a strategy of evasion, an utter cop-out to avoid being challenged by the best of Christian thought. The latter half of the book also pushes Dawkins to consider the outcome of his polemics and where it might lead, especially in view of the irresponsible charge of child abuse.

Overall, Robertson’s book is well worth reading, if only for the latter half of the book, which is passionately expressed, critically on target, and better representative of the concerns about the underlying philosophy Dawkins holds. Moral relativity and the drive of the selfish gene unchecked by the good, loving, and holy God revealed in the face of Jesus, are more likely to lead to ‘might is right’ and ‘the ends justify the means’ than ‘care for the widow, the orphan, and the stranger in your midst’ and ‘love your neighbour’.

Perhaps some day, when the heat has gone out of the current polemics, Robertson will write a much more lengthy and detailed response. If he does, I’d be glad to read it.

I.C. Rating 7/10

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 21st November

November 21, 2010

The Outward, Upward Look

Look unto me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:22)

This is a promise of promises. It lies at the foundation of our spiritual life. How simple is the direction! “Look unto me.” We have looked elsewhere long enough; it is time that we look alone to Him who invites our expectation and promises to give us His salvation.

Qnly a look! Will we not look at once? We are to bring nothing in ourselves but to look outward and upward to our Lord on His throne, whither He has gone up from the cross. A look requires no preparation, no violent effort: it needs neither wit nor wisdom, wealth nor strength. All that we need is in the Lord our God, and if we look to Him for everything, that everything shall be ours, and we shall be saved.

Come, far-off ones, look hither! Ye ends of the earth, turn your eyes this way! As from the furthest regions men may see the sun and enjoy his light, so you who lie in death’s borders at the very gates of hell may by a look receive the light of God, the life of heaven, the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is God and therefore able to save.

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 20th November

November 21, 2010

Hunger Satisfied

For he satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness. (Psalm 107:9)

It is well to have longings, and the more intense they are the better. The Lord will satisfy soul-longings, however great and all-absorbing they may be. Let us greatly long, for God will greatly give. Blessed Spirit, make us sigh and cry after better things and for more of the best things!

Hunger is by no means a pleasant sensation. Yet blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness. Such persons shall not only have their hunger relieved with a little food, but they shall be filled with goodness by the LORD Himself.

Come, let us not fret because we long and hunger, but let us hear the voice of the psalmist as he also longs and hungers to see God magnified. “Oh, that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.” (Psalm 107:8)

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 19th November

November 19, 2010

From Obedience to Blessing

From this day will I bless you. (Haggai 2:19)

Future things are hidden from us. Yet here is a glass in which we may see the unborn years. The Lord says, “From this day will I bless you.”

It is worthwhile to note the day which is referred to in this promise. There had been failure of crops, blasting, and mildew, and all because of the people’s sin. Now, the Lord saw these chastened ones commencing to obey His word and build His temple, and therefore He says, “From the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid, consider. From this day will I bless you.” If we have lived in any sin, and the Spirit leads us to purge ourselves of it, we may reckon upon the blessing of the Lord. His smile, His Spirit, His grace, His fuller revelation of His truth will all prove to us an enlarged blessing.

Lord, I am resolved to be more true to Thee and more exact in my following of Thy doctrine and Thy precept; and I pray Thee, therefore, by Christ Jesus, to increase the blessedness of my daily life henceforth and forever.

Fifteen Authors Meme

November 18, 2010

In this meme, you’ve to list the fifteen authors (poets included) who’ve influenced you and that will always stick with you. List the first fifteen you can recall in no more than fifteen minutes. Don’t forget to let me know what you’ve chosen either here or on Facebook as I’d like to know!

Originally, I thought, ‘fifteen’? Actually, in less than three minutes I was up to seventeen and had to cut a couple. So here’s my list in no particular order:

  1. C.S. Lewis
  2. Tom Wright
  3. Richard Bauckham
  4. T. Desmond (Desi) Alexander
  5. Gordon Wenham
  6. Scot McKnight
  7. Marianne Meye Thompson
  8. Dallas Willard
  9. Bill Craig
  10. Keith Ward
  11. G.L. Prestige
  12. T.F. Torrance
  13. Tertullian
  14. Athanasius
  15. John Myendorff

Looking at this list with so many Anglicans probably helps explain why I’ve found myself in an Anglican church.

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 18th November

November 18, 2010

Clearly Supernatural

In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem: and he that is feeble among them on that day shall be like David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them. (Zechariah 12:8)

One of the best methods of the Lord’s defending His people is to make them strong in inward might.

The Lord can take the feeblest among us and make him like David, the champion of Israel. Lord, do this with me! Infuse Thy power into me, and fill me with sacred courage that I may face the giant with sling and stone, confident in God.

The Lord can make His greatest champions far mightier than they are: O Lord, show us what You are able to do—namely, to raise Thy faithful servants to a height of grace and holiness which shall be clearly supernatural!

Lord, dwell in Thy saints, put Thy might into them, and they shall be as the living creatures who dwell in the presence of YHWH. Fulfill this promise to Your entire church in this our day, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 17th November

November 18, 2010

God Never Forsakes

For the Lord will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance. (Psalm 94:14)

Man has his castoffs, but God has none; for His choice is unchangeable, and His love is everlasting. None can find out a single person whom God has forsaken after having revealed Himself savingly to him.

The Lord chastens His own; but He never forsakes them. The ungodly are let alone till the pit is digged into which they will fall and be taken; but the godly are sent to school to be prepared for their glorious destiny hereafter. Judgment will return and finish its work upon the rebels, but it will equally return to vindicate the sincere and godly. Hence we may bear the rod of chastisement with calm submission; it means not anger, but love.

God may chasten and correct,
But He never can neglect;
May in faithfulness reprove,
But He ne’er can cease to love.

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 16th November

November 18, 2010

Weapons Doomed To Fail

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgement you shall condemn.” (Isaiah 54:17)

There is greater clatter in the forges and smithies of the enemy. They are making weapons to smite the saints with. See how busily they labour it! It matters nothing, for on the blade of every weapon you may read this inscription: It shall not prosper.

But now listen to another noise: it is the strife of tongues. Tongues are more terrible instruments than can be made with hammers and anvils, and the evil that they inflict cuts deeper and spreads wider. What will become of us now? Slander, falsehood, insinuation, ridicule – these are poisoned arrows; how can we meet them?

The Lord God promises us that, if we cannot silence them, we shall at least escape from being ruined by them. They condemn us for the moment, but we shall condemn them at last and forever. The mouth of falsehoods shall be turned to the honour of those good men who suffered by them.

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 15th November

November 18, 2010

Limitless Riches

My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)

Paul’s God is our God, and will supply all our need. Paul felt sure of this in reference to the Philippians, and we feel sure of it as to ourselves. God will do it, for He loves us, He delights to bless us, and it will glorify Him to do so. His pity, His power, His love, His faithfulness, all work together that we be not famished.

What a measure the Lord goes by: “According to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” The riches of His grace are large, but what shall we say of the riches of His glory? Who shall form an estimate of this? According to this immeasurable measure will God fill up the immense abyss of our necessities. He makes the Lord Jesus the receptacle and the channel of His fullness, and then He imparts to us His wealth of love in its highest form. Hallelujah!

“My God shall supply all your need.” God’s supplies are surer than any bank.

Fifteen Shuffled Songs Meme

November 14, 2010

H/T Doug Chaplin

There are a few memes floating about at the moment and as I’m too busy to post anything of actual value and consequence, here is the randomly shuffled song one.

Here are the rules if you want to play.

1) Turn on your MP3 player or music player on your computer.
2) Go to SHUFFLE songs mode.
3) Write down the first 15 songs that come up–song title and artist–NO editing/cheating, please.

  1. Bruce Hornsby & The Range – The Way It Is
  2. ZZ Top – Sharp Dressed Man
  3. The Clancy Brothers – The Wild Colonial Boy
  4. Terrorvision – Superchronic
  5. Foo Fighters – Best Of You
  6. Keith Green – Until That Final Day
  7. Patti Smith Group – Because The Night
  8. Johnny Cash – Ring Of Fire
  9. Kenny Loggins – Danger Zone
  10. Crash Test Dummies – Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
  11. Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is A Place On Earth
  12. The Scaffold – Lily the Pink
  13. Fernando Ortega – Creation Song
  14. Rachmaninoff – Rhapsody on a theme of Paganini, op.43
  15. Greatest Christmas Carols – O Come All Ye Faithful

LOL I’d forgotten I even had some of this stuff on the laptop.

OK, it’s your turn. Consider yourselves tagged! Don’t forget to let me know you’re playing along.

Quote of the Day

November 14, 2010

Remove free will, and there is nothing to be saved; remove grace, and there is left no means of saving. The work of salvation cannot be accomplished without the cooperation of the two.

Bernard of Clairvaux, De gratia et libero arbitrio

Daily Devotions with Spurgeon: 14th November

November 14, 2010

The Name to Use

If you shall ask anything in my name, I will do it. (John 14:14)

Anything! Whether large or small, all my needs are covered by that word anything.

What a wise promise! We are always to ask in the name of Jesus. While this encourages us, it also honours Him. The name of Jesus is as mighty at the throne as ever, and we may plead it with full assurance.

What an instructive prayer! I may not ask for anything to which I cannot put Christ’s hand and seal. I dare not use my Lord’s name to a selfish or willful petition. I may only use my Lord’s name to prayers which He would Himself pray. It is a high privilege to be authorized to ask in the name of Jesus as if Jesus Himself asked.

Am I asking for that which Jesus approves? Dare I put His seal to my prayer? Then I have that which I seek of the Father.