Understanding how prayer works

Trying to dissect how prayer works is like using a magnifying glass to try to figure out why a woman is beautiful. If you turn God into an object, he has a way of disappearing…

The only way to know how prayer works is to have complete knowledge and control of the past, present, and future. In other words, you can figure out how prayer works if you are God. (Miller, A Praying Life, 128)

Things on which there is overwhelming scientific consensus

  1. God did not create the world in six days.
  2. Women in the first century AD could not conceive children without sexual intercourse.
  3. People, once dead, do not come back to life.
  4. There is no personal-yet-infinite (i.e. Triune) God.

What makes us think that granting #1, and only #1, will make Christianity more palatable to “reasonable” people? Will #s 2-4 suddenly no longer be problematic?

You’re not on a slippery slope; you’ve jumped off a cliff.

Once you’ve neutered Scripture by telling it what it’s allowed to speak to us about—faith and practice, for example, but not science; sin and redemption but not history—you’re on a slippery slope.

But when a professing Christian writes

Does the saving power of Jesus vanish if sin becomes something that developed through natural history, rather than appeared all at once in the Garden of Eden?

…then he’s done. He’s not thinking Christianly in any meaningful sense. He’s no longer on a slippery slope; he’s jumped off a cliff.

If the Bible can’t tell us how sin entered the world, what can it tell us? Why must we believe in the “saving power of Jesus” if the Bible can’t be trusted to tell us what we need to be saved from?

Thoughts on the “Ground Zero mosque”

This whole controversy is by no means earth-shattering to me. Nothing wrong with building a mosque, in a public-square sense, and I don’t think if it gets built it will mean America has lost its backbone or whatever. But a couple of thoughts.

Cultural sensitivity

Campus Crusade for Christ isn’t called that everywhere. In parts of Europe it’s called Agape Europe, or Student Life. In Canada it’s called Campus for Christ.

Why is that? It’s because CCC wisely understands that the word “Crusade” carries negative connotations in some part of the world. They seek to be culturally sensitive by avoiding it if it’s likely to give offense.

The issue with a mosque and Islamic cultural center in what would have been the shadow of the Twin Towers isn’t one of legality. Of course, if the center’s financial backers can buy the land and get the permit, they have as much right to build there as anyone else. The question is one of wisdom and sensitivity.

As Charles Krauthammer has pointed out, if the mosque’s backers really wanted to build bridges of understanding between Muslims and other Americans, they would know that this is not the way to do it. Having the right to do something does not make it the right thing to do.

The First Amendment

As I said before, the legality of the mosque is not in doubt. The First Amendment guarantees the free expression of, among other things, religion. If this group obeys the law, there’s no legal reason they can’t build.

But it won’t do to accuse those who oppose the mosque of being anti-First Amendment or un-American. (Remember, oh, 2 years ago or so, when it was considered really bad to imply that someone was less than patriotic?) The First Amendment does indeed grant the right for religious groups to build houses of worship. But it also gives others the right to protest and try to change things if they don’t want a mosque– or a strip club, or a car lot, or a Wal-Mart– in a certain spot.

“If Bush Did It”, vol. 9,372

On Michelle Obama’s (in my opinion) perfectly-legit-but-kind-of-stupid Spanish holiday, the Seattle Times is quick to clarify:

Every first family takes vacations. The criticism aimed at Michelle Obama is that she chose to visit a foreign country rather than remain in the United States and support its fragile economy.

Yes yes yes. This is why, for example, no one batted an eye when a certain previous president went to his own *&^% house in the summers. (And I think they had phones and the Internet there.)

Or how to say “etymology” in Czech.

A lady at the post office gave me a hard time today picking up a letter to Jake, because my passport says James. (This in a land where “Sasha” is the nickname for “Alexandr”.)

Sadly, I didn’t know enough Czech to explain the etymological relationship of James and Jacob. She could have learned something.

Good commentaries on sale at WTSBooks.com

Westminster Books has a good sale on the New International Commentary on the Old Testament (NICOT) series, especially on the new volume on Hosea in that series.

NICOT is a great commentary series (that I wish I had), and WTS Books is a great source for dependable books. Bookmark ‘em, I say.

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