Commencement Address to Brazos Valley Christian Home Educators Association May 30, 2015

The Role of Your LIfe

Introduction

Thank you. It is a special honor and privilege to address you this afternoon. Congratulations to you graduates, to you Moms and Dads and to this entire homeschool community. High school graduations are special; they mark a major transition in life as one leaves home and steps out into the world. This afternoon, let’s make a few observations about this world that you are entering into and think about the powerful impact you can have in it.

Our “Stage”

Life is like a play in which we are the actors. We control what we say and how we act; we do not, however, create the “stage” on which we act. Our success will largely be determined by how well we understand this world or “stage” which God has created for us. An excellent way to get a profound understanding of this world is to study the significance of the first three uses of the word “created” in the Bible. (Bruce Waltke, teaching tape, ~1970’s)

The word “created” is translated from the Hebrew word “bara” which means “to create out of nothing.” The first “bara” is found on Day One, verse 1; the second on Day Five, verse 21; the third on Day Six, verse 27. Thus, the questions arise, what did God create out of nothing on the first day, the fifth day, and the sixth day and what is their significance? What He created was, simply stated, “the cosmos”, “the breath of life”, and “the image of God”. Now, let’s see if we can understand their significance.

In the beginning we find God creating the cosmos—the space, mass, time universe—out of nothing. On day two, God separates the waters from the waters; on day three, He lets the dry land appear and the earth bring forth vegetation; on day four, we find God making the sun, moon and stars. On days two, three, and four, God had everything He needed—created out of nothing on the first day—to form, shape and mold what He wanted to accomplish.

On day five, God creates the first creature life—the fish and the birds. But not even God could make a living fish or bird with what He had created out of nothing on the first day; He had to create something brand new—out of nothing—the “breath of life.” Imagine a fish out of the water and flapping around on the shore. When it dies; what does it lose? It loses its “breath of life”. This is why you will never see creature life made in a lab; they can’t create the “breath of life.”

On day six, God has everything He needs from what He has already created on the first and fifth day to make the land creatures. But, to create Adam, He again has to create something else brand new out of nothing—this time—the “image of God.” Note again, God could only make an ape-like creature with what He had created on the first and fifth days. Being “created in the image of God” is what separates man from all the other creatures.

A quick check. According to the bara’s, what is the essential difference between you and a dog? You have the “image of God.” What is the essential difference between you and a tree? You have the “breath of life” and the “image of God.”

To complete our basic understanding of God’s world today, we need to take a look at Genesis 3. Here we discover that man is fallen, that man is a sinner. G. K. Chesterton wrote that this “is the only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.” (Orthodoxy, page 7) There is no way to truly understand human nature without accepting this fact. Ironically, when you understand that man is created in the image of God and fallen, you will have a deeper insight into psychology, sociology, and anthropology than some of those professors who may be teaching you next year. But don’t get too cocky; they do know a lot of fascinating information; you can learn a lot from them. Continue reading

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Response to David Ogden’s Letter

The Eagle Letters for May 5

Posted: Monday, May 4, 2015 12:00 am

Religion cannot disguise that discrimination is discrimination

Don McLeroy’s (Eagle, May 1) reasoning in arguing against granting the right of marriage to gay couples is baffling, illogical, and just plain wrong. While he concedes that racial discrimination is wrong because God created all men equal, he claims gender discrimination is not wrong because God created two genders.

Help me understand, did God not create gay people? Or, more precisely, did He not create people as gays? My guess is that He did and I would suspect He would want all his creations to be treated fairly.

McLeroy seems to worry that the husband and wife ideal will be lost if gays marry. I think he should take comfort in knowing that the institution and industry of marriage is alive and well. If fact it’s booming. Thinking that heterosexual couples will marry less often, and therefore not perpetuate the “husband-wife ideal” is worse than ludicrous because it is an intentional red herring with the purpose of inventing something else for people to fear.

McLeroy has illustrated that people who use their religious beliefs as a means to discriminate know that their position is untenable. His arguments, and others, cannot avoid the fact that discrimination is discrimination, regardless if one’s religious beliefs are used as an excuse.

The good news is that using religious beliefs to deny rights to our fellow citizens eventually will go the way of the pseudo biblical arguments that once denied interracial couples to marry. Gay marriages will become a non-event.

DAVID OGDEN

College Station

My response

My letter of May 1st was a response to Lane Fuller’s editorial that argued that same-sex marriage was inconsequential to our nation and/or our individual lives. My argument was that this is not true. I pointed out that this idea is not good for society and would lead to a morally confused world. I also noted the greatest consequence would be that of our nation abandoning its commitment to religious freedom and the separation of church and state.

David Ogden, in his thoughtful response, skips those issues and primarily deals with my claim that we would lose the “husband-wife ideal” and the statement that “Gender discrimination is not wrong.” But, if marriage is redefined, the only politically correct way—as Dennis Prager points out—to ask a kid who they want to marry is “Do you want to marry a boy or a girl?” This is moral confusion.

That “gender discrimination is not wrong” is easily shown to be true. Marriage, same-sex public restrooms, same-sex schools, same-sex camps and clubs, plus same-sex athletics are organized with gender discrimination. It is not wrong to do discriminate by gender; we do it all the time.

Ogden also raises the fairness issue, and cites the example of interracial marriage—both of which I had dealt with. I stated it was not fair and that racism is biblically wrong.

Again, the specter of losing our religious freedom by the de-facto establishment of the state as our church is a scary thought indeed. We must take a stand to defend our religious freedom.

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Letter to the editor on same-sex marriage–revised

Dear “The Eagle” Editorial Board,

Lane Filler is wrong when he states that the approval of same-sex marriage is “not my business,” and that it is “the right philosophy for our nation.” As Dennis Prager argues, while it is not fair to the same-sex couple, same-sex marriage is not good for society. The reason is because it removes the gender distinction. For example, racial discrimination is wrong—“God created man in his own image”; but, gender discrimination is not wrong—“male and female created he them.” (Genesis 2:27)

Even without a Supreme Court decision, our society’s blurring of gender distinctions has resulted in Catholic Charities, because of their refusal to place children with same-sex couples, having to stop adoption services in several states. The loss of the husband-wife ideal destroys the family unit. Woe to our society when this ideal is lost! Again Prager argues, adopting same sex marriage might make us feel good about our sense of compassion and fairness, but it will leave our children and grandchildren in a morally confused world.

All this, and the specter of religious organizations being denied tax exempt status if they take a stand on their religious convictions turns our nation’s protection of religious freedom upside down. Our nation’s philosophy of the separation of church and state is too important for us today to claim same-sex marriage is “not my business.”

Don McLeroy

Here is the link to the Letter to the Editor.
http://t.co/Nul3nQdLNS

Here is a link to a tweet.

Here is the column that was run in my local paper yesterday to which I am responding.
http://www.newsday.com/opinion/columnists/lane-filler/bruce-jenner-and-same-sex-marriage-ain-t-nobody-s-business-but-their-own-1.10344021

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Address to the Constitutional Coalition’s 26th Educational Policy Conference, St. Louis

Let us Revive America!

I.            Hook

To revive America we must revive her religious convictions. This is a worldview/culture war issue that we can win and we must win. In Texas, we have made some progress; last September a Politico headline blared “Texas textbooks tout Christian heritage.”  But, if we hope to reverse our nation’s decline into chaos and anarchy, more progress is needed. British historian Paul Johnson, in the closing paragraph of his classic history of the 20th century—Modern Times: The World from the Twenties to the Nineties, (1991), lays out the task before us. He writes that the chances for the 21st century becoming an age of hope for mankind depends on the eradication of four underlying evils that characterized the 20th century and that resulted in over 125 million citizens murdered by their own governments. He identifies these evils as “the rise of moral relativism, the decline of personal responsibility, the repudiation of Judeo-Christian values, [and] … the arrogant belief that men and women could solve all the mysteries of the universe by their own unaided intellects….”

II. Our Job
As we will see, the only way these evils can be eradicated is by proclamation of our Judeo-Christian religious convictions. In a way, our task is simple. We are advocating biblical principles—the wisdom of God himself; what does the world have to compete with this? Plus, biblical Christianity has a great historical track record; when properly understood, it sells itself. The embrace of biblical principles and convictions has produced the good life—rich and fulfilling individual lives, strong and vibrant families and some of the freest and most scientifically advanced societies in history—especially the United States. There are reasons for this and people need to know them; we have a great story to tell them.

But, “how” shall we tell them? In 1898, Abraham Kuyper in a series of talks at Princeton University—Lectures on Calvinism, stated the “holy mission” of the church was “recommending to others the superiority of its principles.” So, let us do just that; let us identify some key religious convictions and simply recommend them—first to our own children and then to others. We do not even need to claim that these biblical ideas are superior; if presented clearly, others will see it for themselves.

III. America is a Biblical Nation

Before we begin, let us first establish that America truly is a biblical nation founded on religious convictions. When you stand in the center of the Jefferson Memorial facing the White House and look up to your right, you will read these words of President Jefferson, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberty of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Our liberty, according to Jefferson, is not the result of our good nature, our intellect or our good intentions; it is the result of a religious conviction that it is a gift from God. Jefferson’s view was the consensus position of our founding fathers. Religiously, they were ethical monotheists; they believed in an omnipotent God who cared about right and wrong. Interestingly, if alive today, they would probably be labeled “religious conservatives.”

Like Jefferson, President Calvin Coolidge understood the importance of America’s religious convictions. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he reflected:
“A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features, the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration, not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man, these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.”

But even beyond the testimony of these Presidents, the best way to establish our biblical heritage is go back to July 4, 1776, to the actual words of the Declaration. Consider: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” The modern liberal believes there is no truth, there is no God and that we just evolved. Yet, the Declaration clearly states that truth exists, there is a Creator and that we are created. So, are we a Christian nation? When you define a Christian nation simply as being founded on biblical convictions then the answer is an unequivocal “Yes.” Continue reading

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The Cosmos is Yours

In the opening episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Neil deGrasse Tyson presents an incredibly clear and powerful description of the scientific process. He claims that if you “accept these terms, the Cosmos is yours.” I accept!

These terms, Tyson explains, are just a “simple set of rules.

• Test ideas by experiment and observation.
• Build on those ideas that pass the test.
• Reject the ones that fail.
• Follow the evidence wherever it leads, and
• Question everything.”

We will now test four ideas—two from the Bible and two from the materialist. All these ideas will be tested by observation as they cannot be tested by experiment. We will first test the biblical claim that man is “created in the image of God.” Man is unique, but so are other creatures. However, as G. K. Chesterton observed, “It is customary to insist that man resembles the other creatures. Yes; and that very resemblance he alone can see. The fish does not trace the fishbone pattern in the fowls of the air; or the elephant and the emu compare skeletons.” Only a strict materialist does not see the obvious—that we are of a completely different quality than all other creatures. Thus, this idea has passed the test.

Now let us test the materialist idea that human consciousness arose from purely naturalistic processes. For this idea, we find no observations. Physicist Nick Herbert stated “Science’s biggest mystery is the nature of consciousness. It is not that we possess bad or imperfect theories of human awareness; we simply have no such theories at all. About all we know about consciousness is that it has something to do with the head, rather than the foot.” This idea has failed the test.

What about the idea that our universe popped into existence out of Nothing? If we accurately define Nothing as, for instance, “what a sleeping rock dreams of,” then, we can conclude that this idea has absolutely failed the test.

What about the biblical idea that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”? When we consider that everything that had a beginning is always observed to have a cause and since we now know the universe had a beginning, simple logic tells us that the universe must have had a cause. And, since the qualities possessed by this cause describe the God of the Bible, we again find a biblical idea has passed the test.

Therefore, let us begin to build on the two scientifically strong ideas that have passed—the idea that God is the creator and that we have been created in his image. Let us further reject the materialist ideas that have failed—that a universe can come from Nothing and that materialism can account for human consciousness. Join with me and let us question more ideas from the Bible, and question more ideas of the materialist. Then, let us follow the evidence where ever it leads.

Especially, let us build on the idea that overwhelmingly has the most scientific support, with endless supporting observations, the greatest idea ever, that God created the heavens and the earth.

I believe—as already demonstrated by our first four tests—that when we accept the terms presented to us in Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, we will find, not only that science and religion are compatible, but that science actually supports what the Bible says. The Cosmos is yours!

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America is a Biblical Nation

This week as the Texas State Board of Education is adopting new history books, liberal academics and activists are claiming that portions of the textbooks overemphasize the biblical religious heritage of our country. These critics are wrong. America was founded on the biblical principles:

  • Truth exists,
  • God exists,
  • Man is created in the image of God, and
  • Man is fallen.

This is an incredibly important discussion to have. For example, read this excerpt from the essay that follows. Here we learn that our government is not broken, as so many today claim, but that it is working exactly as it was designed! And, we learn that the underlying principle that makes it work is the biblical conviction that man is fallen–that man is a sinner.

“Our founding fathers had a clear biblical understanding of the nature of man. They not only understood that man was great—having been created in the image of God, they also knew that man was bad—having a fallen nature. Having this in mind, they designed our Constitution accordingly. Clearly understanding the reality of sin, our founders made it difficult to govern—that is, they made it difficult for tyranny to succeed; they adopted the separation of powers doctrine with its numerous checks and balances. It is not surprising, therefore, that when modern men who do not understand the thinking behind our Constitution gets thwarted in their dreams, they will wrongly conclude our government is dysfunctional. But, for example, when Congress over-reached and passed an unpopular healthcare bill, the control over the House of Representatives switched parties less than one year later. Our Constitution worked flawlessly!”

Not only are these thoughts timely for the Texas textbook adoption, they are incredibly important nationally  as our president is about to take on an unprecedented step of defying our separation of powers doctrine with an executive order on granting amnesty to millions.

Please read the following analysis and see if you do not agree. Thank you.

Don McLeroy

 

America is a Biblical Nation: Let Us Renew America by Reviving her Religious Convictions

 

America is a Biblical Nation

America was founded on her biblical religious convictions; the result has been American Exceptionalism; even as early as 1862 President Lincoln recognized that we were “the last best hope of earth.”  It can be easily demonstrated that religious convictions are the lifeblood of our republic, that they gave it its birth and maintain its health. When you stand in the center of the Jefferson Memorial facing the White House and look up to your right, you will read these words of President Jefferson, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberty of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”

Our liberty, according to Jefferson, is not the result of our good nature, our intellect or our good intentions; it is the result of a religious conviction that it is a gift from God. Jefferson’s view was the consensus position of our founding fathers. Religiously speaking, they were ethical monotheists; they believed in an omnipotent God who cared about right and wrong.  Interestingly, if alive today, they would probably be labeled “religious conservatives.”

Like Jefferson, President Calvin Coolidge understood the power of religious convictions. In 1926, on the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, he reflected:

 “A spring will cease to flow if its source be dried up; a tree will wither if its roots be destroyed. In its main features, the Declaration of Independence is a great spiritual document. It is a declaration, not of material but of spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man, these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in the religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause.”

A key question is: Will a future president make a similar declaration in 2026 on our country’s 250th anniversary? Already, many secularists insist that the United States is not a Christian nation; they even claim that our nation was not even founded on biblical principles but on secular principles. Frankly, the best way to settle this dispute is to go to the very beginning, to July 4, 1776, to the founding document of our country—the Declaration of Independence. Consider: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” Secularism says there is no truth, there is no God and that we just evolved. The Declaration clearly states that truth exists, there is a Creator and that we are created. So, are we a Christian nation? When you define a Christian nation simply as being founded on biblical principles then the answer is an unequivocal “Yes.”

Biblical Convictions Produce Freedom

So why then is there such widespread disagreement about Christianity and freedom today? The fact is too many Americans have been taught a myth that the mixing of religion and politics is a threat to freedom. M. Stanton Evans, in his book The Theme is Freedom: Religion, Politics and the American Tradition (1994), calls this myth the “Liberal History Lesson.” Evans explains that from their earliest education, the lessons our children are being taught are based on the idea that “Our religion and our liberty…have always been in conflict. Freedom, democracy and intellectual inquiry allegedly flourished in the pagan era, only to be crushed to earth in the Christian Middle Ages.” And, “that freedom reappeared when ‘humanist’ scholars of the Renaissance and Enlightenment threw off the shackles of religion of the ancients…” The only problem with these statements is that they are wrong.

It is a historic fact that biblical convictions have produced freedom. Evans proves this point by connecting two obvious facts:

“That biblical teaching was the formative influence in the creation of Europe, and that Europe was the nursery of freedom as we know it, are both established facts of record. Taken separately, these are prosaic statements of common knowledge, hardly worth the trouble of assertion. Put them together, however, and the result is intensely controversial. This is not the linkage, after all, suggested by the usual story; the notion that Christianity equals Europe equals freedom is, indeed, reverse of what should be expected. If Christian doctrine is opposed to freedom, then liberty ought to flourish where Christianity has had the smallest degree of influence, and languish where that influence is the greatest.”

Now consider two more facts. When Nazi Germany rejected Christianity, they became pagan; when Communist Russia rejected Christianity they became atheist. And, both became totalitarian.

I will now take a brief look at three key biblical convictions and the role they have played in shaping history. They are actually simple and obvious truths. When clearly presented, they are acceptable to almost everyone. These convictions are not obtuse theological points but are easily grasped—even by my fourth grade Sunday school students. They are immensely practical and, as we will see, even secular critics unknowingly reason on the foundation which they provide. What we must do is simply teach them to our children—no one else will. Continue reading

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My Response to Jerry Coyne and his Readers on the Resurrection

Reply to “Why Evolution Is Not True”

 

Jerry Coyne, on his popular blog: “Why Evolution Is True” (WEIT) posted about Kenneth Miller’s theistic evolution position—”Catholic biologist Ken Miller talks about God and evolution.” In it, he commented:

Miller adds that he sees Jesus as divine and as “saviour of the world.” That being the case, Varg should immediately have asked him if he thought Jesus was resurrected from the dead. I don’t think Miller would have been on as firm a ground if he had said that that, too, might just have been just a story to underscore Jesus’s “teachings”. For if Miller really thought that, he would be flying in the face of very important Church dogma, and in fact could hardly call himself a Catholic. (If Jesus wasn’t crucified and resurrected, on what grounds do we consider him saviour of the world? And isn’t a denial of the Resurrection a heresy?)

In response to that quote, I sent in a comment that stated “Jesus did rise from the dead; there were over 500 witnesses.” Dr. Coyne then generated a new blog post “Jesus Delusion” featuring my comment. Later that day he posted my reply to “Jesus Delusion” in a new blog post entitled “McLeroy replies about the crucifixion.”

This blog post is my response to Dr. Coyne and the WEIT readers who made almost 400 comments to these two blog posts.

First, I would like to thank and complement the many who took the time to thoughtfully reply to my two comments on the 500 eyewitnesses. Daniel Dennett touts “Sturgeon’s Law” which says that 90% of all comments are rubbish, but here, this is clearly not the case. Most were very serious reflections and reasonable statements and questions.

Biblical scholars differ on the resurrection. I admit that I am only well-read among the conservative scholars and my familiarity with the liberal scholars is limited to the critiques of them by the conservatives. Definitely not the best policy. The only skeptical book I have read is Russell Shorto’s Gospel Truth: On the Trail of the Historical Jesus as he had interviewed me for a major essay in the New York Times Sunday Magazine.

Just as the scholars differ so do I and the readers. I accept a scholarship that dates the Gospels as written between 40 and 65 A.D. whereas most readers believe they were written 65 to 100 A.D. or later. These later dates allow for conspiracy theories and myths to be more easily developed. I don’t think any reader held the early dating gospel view.

But no matter which scholars are correct, we still have to account for the phenomenon of Christianity and its powerful influence over the last 2000 years and today. And, we have to account for the fact as to why my simple comment about “500 eyewitnesses” could stir up so much interest? Christianity seems to draw a lot more interest than it should. Of course, atheism and evolution do the same for me. I admit that I enjoy following many of Dr. Coyne’s blog posts. I like keeping up with the evolutionists and atheists; I want to understand how the atheist mind thinks and reasons. I believe that Jerry Coyne and Richard Dawkins are much clearer thinkers about the implications of evolution than Kenneth Miller and other theistic evolutionists. Continue reading

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