We are Christians not Gnostics

This is a revised post on Health Tips

Many people today hold to a form of the ancient teaching of Gnosticism. They believe the soul has great significance while the body is merely a useless vessel to be used or abused. But as Christians we see that there is much greater unity than this. To care for the body is to care for the soul. (Tim Challies)

https://www.challies.com/articles/guard-your-health/

Tim Challies has written a great article about the need for maintaining our health. He echos many of my long-held practices. After all, our bodies are a temple, and we have fellowship with God in a personal way (1Jn. 2.27). Living healthy will give more energy and boost immunity to environmental pathogens.

I want to give readers some tips on how to better maintain their bodies which God uses to accomplish His purposes of spreading the gospel of Christ’s love.

First, healthy eating takes priority since the body needs to be well-nourished. All functioning results from input and digestion of food. A balanced diet which is carefully planned and prepared is a solid beginning supporting all the other body processes. Physical activities are best performed when fueled adequately. Top athletes usually have a carefully designed diet as part their training. Also, the immune function which keeps infection and illness to a minimum derives directly from a sustained period of healthy eating.

Second, beware of using food as an emotional crutch (comfort food). Admittedly, eating consoles, but try not to “eat your nerves” (indulgence when uncomfortable around others).

Third, reserve going to restaurants for special occasions. Learning how to prepare foods will save money and, for the most part, will nourish you better. Think in a longer time-frame and invest in preparation utensils and your performance will increase by eating healthy foods.

Also, minimize most processed foods and start with basic or whole ingredients. Virtually all processed foods have hidden ingredients that limit performance: too much salt, refined sugar or corn syrup, and too much oil. These three ingredients are in a solution when combined with foods and not always obvious and often imbalanced. These three ingredients are all needed (salt, sweetener, and a good oil).

Use sea salt (Kosher Salt is a coarse grained sea salt and can be crushed by the fingers). Season to taste. Many processed foods are over-seasoned and will cause excessive thirst which wastes time and decreases performance.

For sweeteners, use honey or raisins (I buy raisins in bulk). Fruit, whether dried or fresh, supplies sugars also. Blackstrap molasses can be a good addition in some recipes such as homemade bread, which is very easy to make.

Extra-virgin olive oil is an inexpensive fat if bought in larger quantities. Only fats can supply certain nutrients and are necessary in regulated amounts daily. Other high quality fats can also be very nutritious but freshness and provenance need to be considered. Additionally, plastic and glass containers are usually best, but these should be stored away from light sources if the oil is not used immediately.

These ingredients and may cost more initially but they are actually much more cost effective when everything is considered such as improved health and performance. Processed foods, in the long run, are more expensive than preparing from good basic components.

Fourth, use good products. Additionally, buy spices in bulk from a health food store instead of the little jars which can degraded from light exposure. I buy spices by the pound in sealed foil pouches. Use brown rice, wheat berries, sweet and regular whole potatoes as starches for energy.

Frozen vegetables are very healthy and are washed, cut, and generally frozen right after harvest. Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually more nutritious than fresh if these fresh items have been overly handled, improperly stored, or old. Frozen foods save time and are at hand when needed.

Buy dry beans and lentils from a source with good product turnover. Dry beans should sprout as should wheat berries. If they sprout then you can be assured that all the nutrients are still present in the item. Processed foods, mostly, have added vitamins to replace what was lost. Why not have the original living food at hand and prepare closer to the time of consumption? God created seeds and grains with wonderful storage capabilities to sustain life.

This last point of sproutable grains was recommended in a book about keeping pet birds. The living whole grains, by nature, store all the original nutrients. I thought, if this is a good idea for keeping pet birds healthy, what about humans?

Fifth, reduce intake of meat, cheese, and eggs and use a freshly ground organic peanut butter and yogurt. I grind peanuts from the health food store. This is not like other peanut butter and tastes milder and is simply delicious. It will also need to be stored in the refrigerator to prevent rancidity. To make it even more palatable add your own salt to taste (or soy sauce), a little sesame oil for ease of spreading (or olive oil), and honey to taste if using as a dessert. Nuts also should be stored in the freezer or refrigerator to avoid them going rancid. You will need to find sources selling fresh nuts or a store with high turnover when buying packaged nuts. Some big box retailers actually serve very well in this regard.

Finally, manage stress levels and rest well. Maintaining good dental health  has been shown to allow better performance of the whole body. Allow adequate recovery time after workouts.  Eat slower and chew your food thoroughly. Take breaks, meditate and maintain good posture and breathe. All of these activities can be done without yoga and are just natural. Yoga is not needed and anyone can do these activities without the slightest mysticism. These activities help our emotional state and in turn our physical bodies. The end result is not ultimately about us but we are blessed in turn and glorify God who created our bodies and everything else.

First and Second Temple Destruction on Tisha B’Av

Tuesday, August 1, 2017, many of the Jewish people recently will observe Tisha B’Av. This phrase, strange to Christians, means the Fast of the Ninth. The observance “is a day of mourning to commemorate the many tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people” (Judaism 101). According to this source, five terrible events took place on […]

via What do you know about Tisha B’Av? — Ferrell’s Travel Blog

A Feature of an Unseen Enemy

Jeremiah gives us a ‘heads up’ of the self-destructive foe inside all of us whether Christian or not: 

The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it? (Jer. 17.9) NET

For Christians it is not our only foe but probably the one we are the least aware of, hence, Jeremiah’s last clause “who can know it” (as in another translation). The point is that we operate mostly by what we observe to be threats to ourselves but miss ‘the old man’ (to use Paul’s reference) who insidiously tries to outrun and beat the New Creation inside of us as The Redeemed- see 1 Cor. 9.27 for the concept as Paul describes it. Here is an article that speaks to one aspect: prosperity.

 

“Men are undoubtedly more in danger from prosperity than from adversity. For when matters go smoothly, they flatter themselves and are intoxicated by their success.” John Calvin Commentary on Isaiah 32:11

Reflections by Todd Mangum, of Biblical Theological Seminary

If there was ever a group of people in history that needed to heed this point it is Americans today: American Christians especially.

It is a point that God warned His people about early on. It is as if God knows that people will turn to Him when they are under duress.  It is “when your cities are great and splendid,” “your houses are full of all good things,” when the “cisterns are hewn” and fresh water abounds, when “the vineyards and olive trees” are plump with their produce, “and you shall eat and be satisfied” – that is when “you must beware, lest you forget the LORD who brought you from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deut. 6:10-12; cf. Deut 8:11-14).

Isaiah the prophet drives home this very point in the 8th century B.C., warning the people (my paraphrase) “YOU ARE FORGETTING! YOUR PROSPERITY IS MAKING YOU STUPID!”  This prophecy is what prompts Calvin’s observation in the 16th century (more than 2,000 years later).  And 500 years after that, here we are, forgetful and stupid once again.

Jesus states plainly, “You cannot serve both God and materialism” (Matt. 6:24). It really does seem like many American Christians believe that if you work it right, you can. How forgetful, how stupid we are.

What would Calvin say about a country so prosperous, about a people so arrogant and proud, so comfortable and complacent? What would Isaiah say? What would Moses say?  What would Jesus say?  (I’m guessing the message would be similar and would be along the lines of: “Beware!  You are forgetting, and your prosperity is making you stupid!”)

So, what do we do?

Here’s what Calvin proposes in his commentary on this prophecy: “Tremble” (v. 11),  “Mourn” (v. 12) “Till the Spirit be poured out on you” (v. 15).

love of money
Love of money

 

Christians throughout the ages have recognized the value of spiritual disciplines – particularly such disciplines as fasting. Rhythms of these disciplines facilitate regular periods of focus on our walk and relationship with God and on our need for repentance. Christians of times past, perhaps much more than Christians living today’s fast-paced life of perpetual busyness, knew the importance of setting aside times when some aspect comforts and enjoyments were foresworn in order to remember and recalibrate. The Cross must be remembered and embraced, lest the glory of resurrection be considered simply an entitlement rather than a blessing following sacrificial faith.

Don’t we need such a season of fasting, of repentance in sackcloth and ashes, today more than ever?  Is it not time that our arrogant stupidity be rebuked with remembering the Lord our God and what He rightly demands of us and give Him the glory due His name? And due His name alone?

I prefer prosperity to adversity myself. But I cannot escape the truth of Calvin’s warning, rooted in the warnings of the prophets of old.  How about you?

Todd Mangum is the Lester and Kathryn Clemens Professor of Missional Theology  at Biblical Theological Seminary in Greater Philadelphia, PA.

Science is Cool

Within proper limits Christians have always used many tools available to them since, in essence, all truth is God’s truth. Not only The Humanities but The Sciences are employed for textual analysis, archeology, and a host of other disciplines to inform us of facts. Christians have always been at the forefront of  legitimate research and were the ones who established most of the research institutions that continue to this day. enjoy this short video:

via Biologists and Bookworms — Zwinglius Redivivus

Imposter Scientific Peer Review

shows how easy it is to scam scientific journals and get garbage published.  With thanks to James Spinti for the tip.

A number of so-called scientific journals have accepted a Star Wars-themed spoof paper. The manuscript is an absurd mess of factual errors, plagiarism and movie quotes. I know because I wrote it.

Inspired by previous publishing “stings”, I wanted to test whether ‘predatory‘ journals would publish an obviously absurd paper. So I created a spoof manuscript about “midi-chlorians” – the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars. I filled it with other references to the galaxy far, far away, and submitted it to nine journals under the names of Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin.

Four journals fell for the sting. The American Journal of Medical and Biological Research (SciEP) accepted the paper, but asked for a $360 fee, which I didn’t pay. Amazingly, three other journals not only accepted but actually published the spoof. Here’s the paper from the International Journal of Molecular Biology: Open Access (MedCrave), Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (Austin) and American Research Journal of Biosciences (ARJ) I hadn’t expected this, as all those journals charge publication fees, but I never paid them a penny.

So what did they publish? A travesty, which they should have rejected within about 5 minutes – or 2 minutes if the reviewer was familiar with Star Wars. …

So does this sting prove that scientific publishing is hopelessly broken? No, not really. It’s just a reminder that at some “peer reviewed” journals, there really is no meaningful peer review at all. Which we already knew, not least from previous stings, but it bears repeating.

This matters because scientific publishers are companies selling a product, and the product is peer review. True, they also publish papers (electronically in the case of these journals), but if you just wanted to publish something electronically, you could do that yourself for free. Preprint archives, blogs, your own website – it’s easy to get something on the internet. Peer review is what supposedly justifies the price of publishing.

All of the nine publishers I stung are known to send spam to academics, urging them to submit papers to their journals. I’ve personally been spammed by almost all of them. All I did, as Lucas McGeorge, was test the quality of the products being advertised.

Peer review doesn’t equal quality any more than accreditation does.

https://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2017/07/24/some-scientific-journals-publish-absolute-garbage/

Reconstructing the Past-by Steve Hays

Miracles, induction, and retrodiction

According to the principle of induction, we can retroengineer the past from the present. There’s a chain of events leading up to the present. Antecedent states produce subsequent states. The same causes produce the same effects. Since that’s repeatable, if we’re familiar with the process, we can retrace an effect back through intervening stages to the originating cause.
For instance, when I see an adult human, I know how he got to that point. I can run it backwards from adulthood through adolescence, childhood, gestation, and conception.
All things being equal, that’s a generally reliable inference. However, miracles pose an exception to induction. A classic miracle (in contrast to a coincidence miracle) is causally discontinuous with the past. A miracle isn’t uncaused, but it’s not the result of a causal chain. Rather, a miracle results from the introduction an anomalous cause outside the ordinary chain of events. It represents a break in the causal continuum. The continuum resumes after the break, taking the miracle as a new starting-point.
For instance, suppose a person suffers from a naturally irreversible degenerative condition. Suppose he undergoes miraculous healing. That outcome can’t be retrodicted from his prior condition.
In the case of miracles, induction hits a wall. When the subsequent course of events is the result of a miracle, inductive inference can’t go further back than the miracle. It can’t reconstruct the past before the miracle occurred, because the post-miraculous state is not a product of the pre-miraculous state. Induction can only take you from the present to as far back in time as the precipitating miracle. It can’t jump over that to the other side, because the chain of events prior to the miracle is a dead-end. The prior chain of events terminated with the miracle, which represents a new beginning.
This raises a potential problem regarding past-oriented sciences (e.g. cosmology, historical geology, paleontology, evolution). If miracles occur in the past, are they even detectable? What’s the scope of any particular miracle to reset the status quo? That limits our ability to reconstruct the past.

Dawkins Deluded

I’ve been revisiting Richard Dawkins’ best-seller The God Delusion in preparation for an apologetics class I’ll be teaching next week. On opening it up, I fell upon the dedication “In Memoriam” to Douglas Adams, accompanied by the following quotation (presumably from Adams): Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to…

via On Fairies and Gardeners — Analogical Thoughts

Mustard Seeds in the Gospels

Three times Jesus uses the nature of the mustard seed to illustrate that something, though small as the mustard seed, can grow into something large. In Mt. 13.31-32 Jesus speaks of the mystery form of the Kingdom of Heaven, the church, starting small and becoming large in time.

Two other times the mustard seed is featured when Jesus teaches that faith can accomplish extraordinary deeds. Luke 17.5,6 has the disciples asking Jesus to increase their faith with His reply saying that if they had the faith of a mustard seed they could say to a tree “be uprooted and cast into the sea, and it would obey you.” A second time the same lesson of faith regarding a the mustard seed occurred after Jesus came down from the mount of transfiguration where He healed a demon possessed boy which the disciples had failed to cast out. Afterward, the disciples asked why they had failed with Jesus stating that their faith was too small. He then says that if they had mustard seed faith, they could command the mountain to remove and it would and additionally, nothing would be impossible for them.

Some commentators see the promise as rhetorical hyperbole indicating faith in God accomplishes great things. However, even if the promise of mustard seed faith is literal, not even the Christian Apostles performed the miracle. So it is safe to say that this promise is not something to be performed on a routine manner. Additionally, not even Jesus performed it, though undoubtedly, He could have. It did not figure into the signs He gave to authenticate Himself or was it a sign given during the time of great expansion of the church in the early centuries. So, Christians should strive to have the faith of a mustard seed undoubtedly but perhaps they should first aim for a lesser miracle before attempting to move mountains literally.

All the Benefits of Christ Obtain from Union with Him

Timothy Miller is an Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Maranatha Baptist Bible College. Here is a journal article published in 2013 by him tracing the order of salvation expressed in the bible. While being a Baptist myself, I recognized the position he argues for due, in part, to the usual Baptist perspective of biblical exegesis prior to doctrinal formulation. For the last ten years the debate has been raging between professors at two schools: Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) and Westminster Seminary California.

Timothy Miller’s presentation of the positions (and defense of Priority of Union) has clarified the debate. Understanding our position in Christ gives impetus to our ministry for Christ. It is one of the best theological discussions I have ever read. Enjoy!

http://archive.dbts.edu/journals/2013/2013Miller.pdf

The Best Book on Theodicy

A nod to old Tom Aquinas again featuring Thomistic Philosopher Edward Feser. According to Feser, Brian Davies’s The Reality of God and the Problem of Evil  treats this subject in a masterful way. In essence, it is the privileging of ethics from a human vantage upon God. I sort of have my own view from an ironic and rhetorical perspective which is developing but will be in a future post. I wholly agree with Davies though in his insightful analysis. Here is Edward Feser being interviewed  by Connor Grubaugh over at First Things.

This is the best book in print on the problem of evil. It develops two key Thomistic insights: First, you cannot properly understand the problem of evil without understanding the nature of God’s causal relationship to the world. Second, you cannot properly understand the problem of evil if you conceive of God in anthropomorphic terms—as something like a human agent, only bigger and stronger. If the world is like a story, God is not a character in the story alongside other characters; he is like the author of the story. And just as it makes no sense to think of an author as being unjust to his characters, neither does it make sense to think of God as being unjust to his creatures. While God is perfectly good, it is a deep mistake to think that this entails that he is a kind of cosmic Boy Scout, and that the problem of evil is a question about whether he deserves all his merit badges. Davies also shows how, from a Thomistic point of view, the approach to the problem of evil taken by contemporary philosophers of religion like Alvin Plantinga and Richard Swinburne is misguided and presupposes too anthropomorphic a conception of God.

https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2017/06/taking-aquinas-seriously