Monday, December 24, 2007

Adoption Process Complete

First let me say that my last post seems a bit more preachy than I intended it to. I was hyped up for our trip to the Ukraine!
Secondly, I have some developing ideas floating around in my head on the topic of adoption and missions which I hope to be posting in the near future. So stay tuned.
Also, I just realized that I overlooked linking up to our adoption journal. If one is not familiar with our blogs, it may have seemed as if the worldview ministries blog had been abandoned. It has not. We have primarily been posting our adoption endeavours at Sorry for any confusion.
Finally I want to say that after a year and a half we have finally completed the adoption process! Kristina Hope Landrum is formally and practically a member of our family.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Adoption as Missions

The Worldview Ministries "team" (my wife and I) are going to Ukraine for a few weeks next Sunday. I want to answer the question why? We are not going to vacation though that would be nice. We have work to do. I have only been out of the country twice and that was a country in close proximity to the US. In fact, I have only been to seven or eight states. So why would we travel five thousand miles from home? We are going because we are commanded by God to go. Jesus said "Go make disciples of all nations" (Mat. 28:19). This is a command not a suggestion!
All are called to do missions. I would not say that the bible mandates everyone in particular to leave the soil of their homeland. One can do missions by contributing financially so another can go. By the way thank you again to all that helped to support us in this endeavor whether big or--I was going to say small, but your support was no small matter. Also, one can do missions by giving prayer support for those on the mission field. If you cannot go then pray. Pray that god will send laborers into the field (Mat. 9:38). In one way or another we all should and can participate in missions both foreign and domestic.
In this particular case we are trying to adopt. I want to urge everyone to consider adoption in light of missions. What better way to do missions than to bring someone into a covenant family? I do not make mention of this to make me look good. I fall short on more accounts than I get things right. I say this to exhort those of you that may read this to consider adoption as an act of missions. Not that one must adopt as such, but to be involved in some way!
If I have missed the mark by relating adoption to missions, forgive me. I don't thing I have though. God has always had a soft spot for a few particular groups of people, the elderly, blind, stranger in the land, foreigner, and I think especially the fatherless.
Regardless the scripture is clear that pure religion consists of visiting the fatherless (James 1:26). I am convinced that this is the greatest area of concern for missions in our day. We hope to set up a continuing mission to Ukraine even after the adoption. Join Worldview ministries in making this a reality.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Element of Mystery in John Owen

"It is a basic proposition that God can only be known through God" (John Owen, Biblical Theology, Pg.8).

The monolithic principle of all true theology is that God is the source of all knowledge of himself and of his creation. This is true both immediately when God makes himself known directly to our understanding through regeneration, and mediately when we use methods of science, philosophical reasoning, natural theology, natural revelation, and apologetics as instruments of knowledge for the advancement of our own understanding, persuasion towards belief of unbelievers, and for proofs of various sorts. In all of these things it is God that appropriates knowledge of himself to the heart.
We must be cautious not to stumble at this point. Good theology and apologetics are good only insofar as they accurately reflect the true character and nature of God, as well as our nature as fallen man (It is on this subject that Calvin notes in the opening of the Institutes that "without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God."), as seen in the light of and in accordance with scripture. There is much thought that does not harmonize with the authority of scripture, and so far as this sort of knowledge is unfaithful to scripture, it is not true knowledge. There is much learning, but never the attainment of divine truth.
It is a foundational and fundamental truth that it is God who awakens us in our knowledge of him, his attributes, and what he requires of man. There is danger in taking too high of a view of man's faculties of reason. No natural man has ever attained to a true knowledge of God by mere intellectual ability, no matter how grand one's science is or how magnanimous one's quality of genius may be.
There are none that have attained to such a high level of insight that they are among a privileged esoteric and even academic priesthood of some unusual sort. Such a notion resembles that of the ancient pagan priesthoods. Arrogance has poisoned the the roots of this tree and though it seems to be alive it is in reality dead.
The origin of Christian knowledge as regards theology is mysterious, but only in that the mystery is revealed to us all by God. No element of a cultic mysticism of any fashion can be found in Christian theology. Owen says, "It is for no such reasons as this that the gospel is ever called a 'mystery,' but rather that the reality of the gospel, as revealed to us men, exceeds all our human reason (1Corinthians 2:7, 14). In order for a man to receive and understand this 'secret and hidden wisdom,' it is first necessary that he himself become a Christian initiate" (John Owen, Biblical Theology Pg. 11). We are convinced by scripture that in the final analysis it is God who gives sight to the blind. It is God that convicts the heart, awakening us to the reality of his divinity, the beauty of his goodness, and the blessings that are in store for those that know him. Unless we are born again we cannot see the kingdom of God.
The matter of a theology secular to scripture falls short and is in the final analysis inert. "This may be scholastic, but it is not founded in faith" (John Owen, Biblical Theology Pg. 12). Good theology, is summarized by Owen in these words: "All of our theology, therefore, flows from that act of divine will by which He wishes to make known this truth to us" (John Owen, Biblical Theology Pg.15). Furthermore he says, "No one can speak or feel worthily about God, or about divine matters, unless he is aided by God, and neither does anyone know God except by His own self-revelation through God the son: nor yet does God wish to be worshipped in any manner but that which He has ordained" (John Owen, Biblical Theology Pg. 16). And again I quote, "True theology is of heavenly origin, declares its own pedigree from above, and must have nothing of man admixed (Matthew 21:25)" (John Owen, Biblical Theology Pg. 16).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Evidence Truth and Persuasion

There are a few posts on my personal blog that are more appropriate for the Worldview Ministries blog now that it is up and running, and so I will be linking up to them.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Hello, Robert

Robert, thanks for inviting me to join the blog. I'm pretty busy now, but I'll drop in from time to time.

Discourse With a Pagan

This is a dialogue that I wrote as an example of how one might use apologetics in the defence of the faith.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Science, Religion, and Cosmology

This paper needs a bit of editing, especially the transition to "not a chance," however, most of my point is made and so I will let it stand as is until I can rework it some. (somewhat edited on 9/6/07

Science, Religion, and Cosmology
Philosophy of Science Paper
Robert N. Landrum
Professor C.S. MacKenzie
What do we or can we really know about the origin of the universe? The topic of the origin of the universe is usually classified in colloquial language as deep, profound, or in some way beyond our understanding, being reserved only for those with greater minds than ours. This is is really not always the case, nor should it be. Discussions of the origin of the universe are not strictly reserved for the erudite, on the contrary, this subject has become the topic at many different levels, both scientifically and theologically--elementary and complex. Sure there are experts that have taken on this topic as their professional area of expertise and indeed such experts are able to be very advanced in their fields, however, what I offer in this paper is very simple. God created the universe and would have us to know this. Though this is simply put, it is not without mystery at some points, and by no means repudiates complexities that are found in the various bailiwicks of experts. In fact, what is proposed in this paper may even be so obvious and elementary that it may insult the intelligence of some. In this paper I propose the simple cosmogony that God is the source of the origin of our world. And with this proposal I contend that the relationships that science and religion have with one another, namely in their outlook on cosmology, are or ought to be compatible and not in opposition with one another.

The Currents of Controversy

Historical Background
Ian G. Barbour, a professor of physics and religion at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota has proposed that there are four basic views on the relationship of science and religion. They are conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration. He prefaces his discussion of the four views by noting a brief history of science (modern science that is) and religion.
In the seventeenth century science and religion made a friendly encounter. In fact, most of the founders of the scientific revolution were Christians. These Christians believed that when they were at the business of science they were working with the very creation of God. During the eighteenth century, many scientists believed in a God that was the designer of the universe, however, they did not believe that this God was personal, being actively involved in the universe and the affairs of humanity. As for the nineteenth century, Scientists began to be hostile to religion in spite of the fact that Darwin himself maintained that the process of evolution, apart from the details of particular species, was the design of God. When the twentieth century rolled around, classical religious traditions were more commonly being challenged due to new discoveries in science. As a result, many adherents to religious traditions either began to defend their traditions, reformulate them in light of new scientific discoveries, or even go so far as to abandon them. Going into the new millennium, there is wide spread interest in topics such as the origin of the universe by scientists, theologians, government, the media, and even the general public (Barbour xi).

Four Perspectives on the Relationship Between Science and Religion
The first of the four views of science and religion proposed by Barbour is conflict. In this view science and religion are enemies. For example, the Biblical literalists believe that the theory of evolution is in conflict with faith. And the atheistic scientists take a similar stand. They assert that evolution is incompatible with any form of theism. The two groups agree that one cannot believe in both God and evolution. As one might expect, this view gets the most attention from the media (Barbour 2).
The independence view sees science and religion as strangers. They can coexist, but must keep at a safe distance from each other. There ought not to be any conflict because they each work in different domains of life and reality. The questions raised by science are separate and distinct from the questions raised by religion. Science wants to know how things work and deals with objective facts, whereas, religion is concerned with values and ultimate meaning. Conflict arises when the two begin to entertain questions that belong to the other field e.g., when religious people make scientific claims or vice versa. In the independence view we can accept both science and religion as long as we keep them in watertight compartments (Barbour 2).
As for dialogue, this view holds that there may be appropriate times to compare certain methods of the two fields, acknowledging similarities, but recognizing differences. For example, when conceptual models are used to imagine what cannot directly be observed like God or a subatomic particle. Also, dialogue may come into play when science acknowledges limit-questions that cannot be answered by science such as why the universe is orderly and intelligible. Or, when there is occasion to conceive of God as the determiner of the indeterminacies in quantum physics without violating the laws of physics. In such cases, scientists and theologians can be engaged in dialogue with one another, all the while, maintaining integrity in each of the fields (Barbour 2,3).
The fourth view, integration, is a partnership between science and religion. Theologians that fall into this camp seek natural proofs (via. natural theology) for the existence of God. The scientists in this camp, namely astronomers, have argued that physical constants in the early universe appear to have been fine tuned having been designed to be such. For example, the exact timing of the origin of the universe was so precise that if the expansion rate after the “big bang” would have been a slight bit smaller, the universe would have collapsed before the chemicals needed for life could form. On the other hand, if the expansion rate would have been a slight bit faster, evolution of life could not have occurred (Barbour 3).

The Error of Two Cosmogonies

The Error of Scientific Materialism and Religious Traditionalism
Science for the most part in the twenty-first century is in a state of conflict with religion. The reason for this conflict, however, is not the result any legitimate scientific evidence that calls for the rejection of any notion of God as the creator. In fact, our culture is influenced by a pseudo science known as scientific materialism.
For the materialist, all phenomena can be explained in terms of relationships of matter. Barbour describes materialism like this:
"…if the only real entities are those with which science deals, then science is the only valid path to knowledge…The materialist believes that all phenomena will eventually be explained in terms of the actions of material components, which are the only effective causes in the world…Science starts from reproducible public data. Theories are formulated as hypotheses that can be tested against experimental observations…Religious beliefs are not acceptable, in this view, because religion lacks such public data, such experimental testing, and such criteria of evaluation. Science alone is objective, open-minded, universal, cumulative, and progressive. Religious traditions, by contrast, are said to be subjective, closed-minded, parochial, uncritical, and resistant to change" (Barbour 11,12)
Scientific materialism rejects any notion of God as a presupposition, not as a consequence of evidence. Because of this error in presupposition, any evidence that is not thoroughly explained by science, but points to intelligent design, causality (as the theologians describe it), the intelligibility of the universe, or any thing relating, is all in the end written off as the result of chance. There is no place for a sovereign God. We are the product of purposeless and impersonal forces (Huxley) where matter is the only source of reality (Haeckel) (Barbour 10).
One can see why there is a conflict between science and religion if this approach to science is accepted. But the fault does not lie completely on the shoulders of scientific materialism. Religious traditionalism also enters the ring swinging with blind fists. In fact much bad science is the product of bad religion. There is nothing more destructive to good religion than bad religion with a closed mind. For instance, take the classic example of the way religion frustrated the advancements of science during the geocentric/heliocentric debate in the 1600s. Galileo argued for the Copernican theory that the earth revolved around the sun, as opposed to the Ptolemaic theory that the sun revolves around the earth. Galileo was condemned because he went against the theories that were accepted by the church. The church was weighing to heavily on the science of Aristotle and the traditional interpretations of a few selected biblical passages that imply that the earth is the center of the universe (Barbour 7).
In this case, science was trying to advance, but religious tradition caused nothing but conflict. It is no wonder that science and religion are at odds when there is a strong voice of dissension based on bad presuppositions. It is all too common for religious traditionalism to take the place of good philosophy and sound theology, which is what ought to govern the church’s practices.
Scientific materialism is against any concept of God from the outset, which eventually leads either to unanswerable questions about the universe, especially about the origin of the universe, or down right answers immersed in absurdity, such as chance. As we will see in more detail below, one problem in particular for scientific materialism is the problem of causality. Materialism is faced with the problem of a first cause, and as such the system becomes the victim of an infinite regress, while good theology and philosophy offers a logical answer to cosmology.
Instead of their being a state of conflict, there ought to be at the least an arena of dialogue, where both science and religion can discuss their views. There really ought to be a sense of integration where science and religion can be complementary, but I do not see this happening holistically and in all practicality. Caution at this point is imperative for we do not want to substitute theology for science or visa versa.
It is hard enough being an expert in one field much less two. We can, nevertheless, enter into dialogue with one another if both disciplines are more open-minded. To take either of the two extremes, materialism or religious traditionalism, stops dialogue at the door, and leads to conflict.

Not a Chance

The Discredit of Chance
We can see the weakness and desperation of science that is hostile to the notion of a creator in how it resorts to scientific models of the origin of the universe that use chance as an an operative factor of origins. What I wish to point out and make clear about the role of chance is not profound, but so simple that it may be offensive to those that put a great deal of trust in the role of chance. In fact, what I say here is nothing new and, I am fully confident that it has been said better than I say it now (See R.C. Sproul in Not a Chance) . In all truth the role of chance is no role at all. To tell the truth, chance has no role because it is not, i.e. it does not exist. Chance is a non-entity. Chance has no real ontological value because it has no being. This is one example of how an elementary Christian cosmogony shows itself superior to scientific materialism.
What is meant then when we talk about chance? At best when we use the term chance we are talking about mathematical probabilities. For example, if I flip a coin what are the chances that it comes up either heads or tails? One hundred percent! There is a one hundred percent chance that the coin will either land on heads or tails (unless of course it lands on its side or something like that, but let us keep it simple for arguments sake). There is a fifty percent chance that the coin will land on heads instead of tails or vice versa, but there is no doubt that the coin will land on one of the two sides; and chance, not being a real entity has nothing to do with it; it is without influence.
All of the small or unseen forces that affect the coin, like the angle that the coin was flipped, the amount of force that was used, and the distance traveled, etc., all affect the outcome, but chance itself is not one of them. And there certainly cannot be a radical change such as something coming out of nothing, or any type of “self-creation.” In other words, the coin will not go up a quarter and come back down a penny when it was a quarter that was flipped. There is absolutely no chance of that! Believe it or not, though, this is the way that chance is being used in very intellectual and sophisticated circles in the scientific community.
Chance is being described as having ontological value in and of itself. (It is sort of a substitute for what the theologians call God!) It has become a sort of mystical force that describes the way things are (like in the inter-workings of quantum physics) and how the world came into existence. Sound theology and good philosophy teaches that something does not, and I cannot stress enough cannot, come from nothing. Yet this is what some highly esteemed scientists believe to be the case. When denying a creator God, a being in and of itself, capable of giving us starting materials and a starting point, the secular scientist is forced to believe logical absurdities such as the world coming into being through a big bang, under the "impetus" of chance. The question arises, what caused the bang? And where did the stuff that made up the bang come from? As well as, what set it in motion?
Instead of turning to a creator, some scientists would rather turn to absurdities, go against sound reasoning and logical thinking, and wind up with nothing in the form of a valid judgment as to how the universe came into being, and why it is the way it is, by saying that everything came from nothing through chance. At best they espouse a concept of eternity, i.e. they argue that the universe is eternal. This poses problems in itself. (see my paper on cause and effect) It is amazing that such a simple and obvious mistake can be made, but it is made, and that on a macro level–almost across the board! Those scientists that see the error of something coming out of nothing, but still do not want to grant the possibility of a creator resort to a lesser absurdity, though still an absurdity; they resort to an eternal infinite regress. Knowing that something cannot come from nothing by chance they wind up chasing their tails in a vicious circle of reasoning. The problem with that is that there can never be a now because there is never a beginning. If this came from that and that from that, infinitely, then how can we ever get to a number two if there is never a number one?

Intellectual integrity, a God that is there, Faith and Reason

The Abandonment of Honesty in what is Reasonable
It is imperative that we maintain intellectual integrity in all disciplines. We should be shocked and embarrassed at how much back-bending one will go through to maintain the presupposition that there is no God. Even if the answer to the origin of the universe and the reason that things are the way they are is so simple as to be found in our creator God, and that such an answer in no way violates the laws of science, the laws of logic, or down right common sense; the rejection of any notion of God wins the day no matter what the intellectual costs may be.
As scientists, philosophers, and theologians, we must look for answers to the questions of our origins, and the nature of things, by using sound reason and judgment. We sometimes go too far in complexity, even to the point of adopting the absurd, when a simple answer (though not without mystery) will do. Let us be honest with each other. What is more reasonable? Accepting God as creator, or accepting something as coming from nothing, through self-creation (knowing that for something to create itself it has to already exist). Is it more reasonable to accept a being that has being in itself as eternal and who created a universe bound by time, or a universe that is eternal without a starting point which leads to an infinite regress and circular reasoning? The answer should be obvious.

Making a Right Categorization

In conclusion, I contend that the answers to such questions as the origin and order of the universe can simply be found in a creator. A basic knowledge of the scriptures gives one the apologetic necessary to defend this. Furthermore, a basic understanding of science is all that is necessary for dialogue on this issue. No Ph. D. in apologetics is required. Nor a Ph.D. in physics is required. Herein is found the the answer and only reasonable explanation as to where we came from and why things are the way they are. Such a view does not exclude science and religion from either a relationship of integration or dialogue.
I believe that the dialogue approach is more feasible and probably more true to scripture in that we are not really commanded to be scientists, but we should be able to entertain the issues of science to some degree though intelligent dialogue, especially issues of origins and order. However ideal an absolute form of integration may be, it is rare case for a theologian to wholly be a scientist and vice versa (I guess I am sort of Platonic when it comes to this). Dialogue then is is a more suitable classification here. The arena of conflict is inevitable, but is not supported by scripture. I think that true theologians are always ready to encourage the work of science, and also welcome science’s contributions. As for independence, I do not think that this is at all plausible when some of the same questions are being raised in both disciplines. Strict independence leads to the problems of scientific materialism and religious traditionalism. Let us then work together as theologians and scientists if it is true knowledge that we all seek!
Barbour, Ian. When Science Meets Religion. New York: Harper Collins Publishers Inc,
Sproul, R.C. Not a Chance. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 2000.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Christian Apologetics: A Definition and Exhortation for all to Make Use of Apologetics

Christian apologetics is simply a defense of the faith. We are commanded to "always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks for a reason for the hope that is in you"(Pet. 3:15).
At the outset, the notion of defending Christian theism is contrary and offensive to all secular opinion, such opinion that would have the rest of the world believe that proof cannot be given for God's existence and correspondingly, what God requires of humanity.
As for what constitutes Christian apologetics let me say this: Christian apologetics is that voice of reason that defends the faith against a world that is spinning out of control with bad philosophy and theology having an agenda to discredit our faith as being in opposition to reason and scientifically unverifiable.
A Christian apologetic answers the skeptics with mouth stopping force.
Who is qualified to do this?
Christian apologetics does not exclude anyone that is a Christian. Indeed all Christians are commanded and charged with this responsibility (1Pet. 3:15) Here is a word of encouragement for those who do not feel competent to do this.
The abilities of the common man are made uncommon in the most simplistic of God's ways. The sword of the Lord (his word) is sharper than any crafty weapon invented by man. It is true that one can become a professional at apologetics, having gone through many years of formal training. But this is not necessary to defending the faith and few make apologetics their "profession" as compared to the many that are of the more laity type. One does not have to have a string of diplomas to defend the faith. The only requirement is to know God, and to be skilled in his word.
It always amazes me how God makes foolish the wisdom of the world. All secular arguments are dashed to pieces on the hard rock of God's word when the weather gets stormy on the sea of debate. It does not take a genius, a doctor of theology or philosophy, a master of divinity, college degree, or any formal training whatsoever to turn the heavy artillery of God's word on the enemies of Christ. They don't stand a chance. The simplest of us can give a defence of what is alive in our hearts, at work in our lives, and is present in the ordering of the affairs of the world. This truth is open for all to see and know.
The simple principle of truth that the Christian apologist rests on is summarized in Psalm 36 and is the subtitle for World View Ministries. "With you is the fountain of life; In your light we see light" (Psalm 36:9). God has given us "light" which serves as the source of all revealed knowledge about him, ourselves, and the world we live in. (Psalm 36:9)
All secular opinion that tries to give an account to the origin and meaning of our existence amounts to nothing but groping around in the dark. The highest esteemed philosophers and scientist of the world, past and present, are doing nothing but fumbling around in the dark trying to describe faint images and impressions of what are really aspects of the divine by using fantastic imagination and even blasphemous license with unethical ethical systems.
It is precisely at this very point that the Christian apologist is most advantaged. The Christian worldview not only gives an answer for ethics, an account for the origin universe, and the laws of nature, but the Christian can also account for why it is that the atheist even bothers himself with such issues of life.
The impulse that gives these great thinkers the presumption and audacity to inform us in the ways of what exists and what does not, what is right and what is wrong, what is law and what is not in the universe, even what is beautiful and what is not, rests on the spark of light that yet remains in them, and by God's goodness graces them. God is the source of their feelings of oughtness, duty, love, beauty, justice, etc. Though dim and imperfect, this light is but the mere flickering of a flame. All of humanity is created in God's image. Herein is light. God's common grace respecting natural revelation also gives light. Such light is all borrowed capital from God and is imperfect (on man's part, not God's) in that they fall short in their accounting of things, and in that they would rather remain in darkness rather than turn to God and be exposed in their deeds.
The Christian world view even accounts for theories of "ethics" that are completely skeptical in denying the very concept of right and wrong. Such a love of darkness is fully explained in a Christian world view.
The Christian that understands this does not need to be fearful of defending the faith against even the "brightest" of our day.

Friday, August 3, 2007

More House Keeping

I don't want to be tedious with small announcements, and so I hope this is the last of the house keeping. The web site keeps going on and off line. This is a problem that is supposed to be solved within 48 hours. Also unless I pay to upgrade the site, there will be an advertisement banner. Again World View Ministries does not necessarily endorse these sites, though currently one of them is desiring God--a reputable ministry. The topic for the next post will be on the subject of apologetics.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Just a Note to Prevent Confusion

There is more than one "world view ministry." This ministry is the "Dot Com" not the "dot org" or "dot net." We are not affiliated with, neither do we formally endorse or necessarily object to, the content of any other "world view" ministry that may exist. I hope this note serves to clarify our distinctiveness rather than add to any confusion.

First Blog Post of World View Ministries

After owning the rights to the dot com name for about five years now, I have finally got the World View Ministries website up and running (thanks mostly to my wife). Praise God. Hallelujah! However, it is going to be in a state of continued construction for a while as I put into play some ideas. But it is in operation as of now--at least the last time I checked it was. Suggestions for improvements are welcome by the way.

What is World View Ministries? World View Ministries is a reformed ministry. The primary task of this ministry is to help put theology into practice both at home and abroad.
Our goal is to: (1) Contend for the faith through apologetics. (2) Teach sound systematic theology and good philosophy. (3) Expound on biblical principles and passages. (4) Make available relevant publications. (4) Be involved in foreign missions.

Please pray for this ministry and those it might reach.