Welcome to tomthinking.com Sunday, December 17 2017 @ 03:36 PM UTC

Paul & Fear

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Paul the powerful. Paul the Apostle. Paul the miracle worker. Paul, who faced down Romans, Greeks, Jewish authorities, and false believers. Paul, who overcame stoning, beatings, and arrest. What was Paul?

Paul was afraid.

Is There Time In Heaven?

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A few days ago I posted a question on Facebook asking people how much quality one-on-one time they could expect to get in Heaven with Jesus, considering the billions of people and angels that will be there. Several people responded with an answer I did not expect, which amounted to saying that in Heaven there is no time. Thus, we won't experience the passing of time like we do now on Earth. I'd like to make the case that, in fact, there is time in Heaven right now, there will be time when we get to Heaven, and we will always experience time, forever, in the new Heaven and Earth.

Confused by Creationism Redux

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I first wrote this article in 2013 to address the various views on creationism. I've found it necessary to update the presentation and include a sixth interpretation of Genesis known as Functional Ontology.

It may be Christianity’s most controversial subject: creationism. Forget the secular theories of the Big Bang and Evolution for a moment. Within the body of the Christian church there are at least six different views on the general subject of creationism. Each have their strengths and weaknesses and because of that many Christians have trouble deciding what they actually believe about the Bible’s accounts in Genesis 1 and 2. Advocates on particular sides of the debate haven’t always been known for treating people of the other views with respect. This turns off many nonbelievers watching from the outside.

Recognizing Assumptions

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For some time I’ve involved myself in a few creation science groups online, monitoring people’s claims and reactions about the age of the earth, biblical data on origins, and scientific influences in biblical interpretation. Of all issues that are discussed, the age of the earth and length of days God took to create are not only the most discussed, but the most controversial topics. After observing a recent discussion on the length of days defined in scripture I was reminded about a class I recently taught on inductive Bible study and the four elements necessary for a complete study. I provide four components in effective Bible study:

My Father My Regret

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Today, December 29th, is my biological father's birthday. He would have been 77. My father, Tom Olhausen, died in 2007 of emphysema. I haven't written about him since his death, but I think of him often. Knowing this day was coming, I've been thinking about him all month.

My father was a bad man. He was a criminal. He abandoned his children. He was a true narcissist. In a lawsuit he was party to in Miami the presiding judge referred to my father as, "A known miscreant." For some reason, when I read it, that description of him broke my heart. I am the son of a miscreant.

Miraculous Healing: Where Are The Former Amputees?

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In 2006, an itinerate evangelist held a series of large rallies in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia to share the Gospel. At that time, I was Managing Director of Eagle Television in Mongolia. We decided not to take part in promoting or reporting on the event because the evangelist taught elements of Prosperity doctrine. Thousands of people came to the events, and healing miracles seemed to be happening on stage.

One morning after an event one of my friends reported that her mother had been brought forward for healing. She suffered from bad eyesight and while she could see, her sight was very bad. The evangelist prayed over her and the woman proclaimed in front of the crowd that she was healed. Everyone was excited by this miracle. There was only one problem. She still couldn’t see well. Like many people who come forward for healing, when it doesn’t happen they become too embarrassed to admit that nothing has changed. This can be especially true in a country like Mongolia which is somewhat oriented as a shame-honor culture. The psychological pressure to confess a healing, despite the reality of the situation, becomes overwhelming.

The next day a video crew from the evangelist’s ministry went to her home to record the testimony about her healing for fund raising purposes. The woman was feeling embarrassed by this time because she knew she had not been healed. She admitted to the video crew that she was not healed and still had great trouble seeing. When the crew questioned her further she began to feel embarrassed again and then told them that her sight was just “a little better” in one eye. Naturally, she did not want to lose face—common in Asian cultures. Upon learning that her sight in one eye was “a little better” the producer accompanying the video crew declared that it was miracle too, so they tried convincing her to record a testimony about her healing—a healing that never took place.

Creation Wasn't A Miracle: A Perspective On The Appearance Of Age

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I recently joined a Facebook group that explores evidences for creationism. The group is composed of members with many different views on creationism, but the two most vocal are Young Earth Creationism (YEC) and Old Earth Creationism (OEC).

The debates that take place are often acrimonious and based upon simplistic understandings of science and theology. In one such thread there was a discussion of God’s creative acts which, to put it simply, states that because God does miracles that are instant (healing the deaf, blind, and lame), then the creation of the universe was also instant or did not take a long period of time, as in millions or billions of years. Advocates of this view associate the miracles in the Old and New Testaments with God’s creative acts in Genesis 1, to make the case that God didn’t create over millions or billions of years. The creation of the universe is therefore deemed a miracle because it happened quickly. It could not be a miracle if it took millions of years. YEC advocates generally agree that creation has the appearance of age, but is actually young—in the 6,000 to 10,000 year range. OEC advocates say that the universe is ancient and looks old for no other reason than it really is old.

Why Should Atheists Consider Theism?

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Why should an atheist consider theism?

In Theism there is evidence.

Christianity is not a philosophy or a belief system without historical roots. Everything that a person is asked to believe about Jesus Christ is founded upon the evidences of witnesses. The Bible never asks a person to "Just have faith" without evidence to back it up. Jesus never asked anyone to believe in him without evidence. Evidence gives belief in Jesus its strength.

In Theism there is purpose.

Why Science Can Help Us Understand The Bible

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I recently joined a group on Facebook that discusses scientific evidences for creation. While the purpose of the group is discussion about how the natural world points to a Creator for all things, very often the group is engaged in heated discussions over young-earth and old-earth creationism. The debates can be heated, and even have a lot of venom, which is tragic. But there is one argument presented against scientific influence in Bible interpretation that I’d like to address. First, let me set up the position that is often taken against allowing science to interpret biblical discovery. The position is often stated that the person who uses science to guide or influence biblical interpretation is adding to the biblical text or allowing science to interpret scripture rather than scripture interpreting scripture. I have no doubt that the person or persons who hold such an opinion desire to trust and believe the Bible as the final authority on the Christian life. I actually admire people who hold the scripture in such high regard. However, there is a problem with this rule imposed on biblical interpretation. It forgets that we use a variety of extra-biblical disciplines to arrive at theological meaning all of the time, without regarding it as improper. For instance, we use the following extra-biblical sources to help us arrive at interpretation and meaning from scripture:

Five Truths About You & Satan

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Have you ever had an encounter with Satan himself? As far as I know, I have not. This is because, to put it bluntly, I don't rate that high. The chances are, you've never encountered Satan either. I say that because of a little passage in the book of Luke. Jesus had just finished 40 days of fasting in the desert with Satan trying to tempt him. It reads, "When the devil had finished every temptation, he left Him until an opportune time" (Luke 4:13).

The phrase to notice here contains two words, "Opportune time." It implies that there were many times where opposing Jesus was not opportune. In fact, I'd like to share five important truths about Satan and your relationship to him, from this passage.