Birds in snowOne raw winter night a farmer heard an irregular thumping sound against his kitchen storm door. He went to a window and watched as tiny, shivering sparrows, attracted to the evident warmth inside, beat in vain against the glass.

Touched, the farmer bundled up and trudged through fresh snow to open the barn door for the struggling birds. He turned on the lights and tossed some hay in the corner. But the sparrows, which had scattered in all directions when he emerged from the house, hid in the darkness, afraid.

The man tried various tactics to get them into the barn. He laid down a trail of Saltine cracker crumbs to direct them. He tried circling behind the birds to drive them to the barn. Nothing worked. He, a huge, alien creature, had terrified them; the birds couldn't comprehend that he actually desired to help. The farmer withdrew to his house and watched the doomed sparrows through a window. As he stared, a thought hit him like lightning from a clear blue sky: If only I could become a bird – one of them – just for a moment. Then I wouldn't frighten them so. I could show them the way to warmth and safety.

At the same moment, another thought dawned on him. He grasped the reason Jesus was born. (As told by Paul Harvey)

As a parable (a simple story told to communicate a larger idea) this story isn't perfect; any parable breaks down if you analyze it to death. But the message behind this parable is very powerful. Could God come near? There's no reason why, if God is love, that He could not. Did He? If the Christmas claims are real, then yes, God did, and there is indeed a reasonable basis to have hope!

Further reading:

God?If God exists (here I am referring to a monotheistic God) then God would necessarily be in a wholly different category from every created, materialistic thing we see and study around us. Thus, God couldn't be studied in the same way as we study rocks, or trees, or calculus. What kind of "God" could be comprehended merely by using the same methods used to study everyday objects we can hold in our hand or under our microscope? No "God" that anyone has every believed in for very long, that's for sure. Of course, science and philosophy and critical inquiry have an important place in the discussion of religion. But perhaps in addition to those there is more to it.

Brian McLaren put it this way:

But what if … [a certain viewpoint]'s preferred type of knowledge is not the appropriate medium of experience? … What if all forms of knowledge, which are appropriate for every single other entity in the universe, are in this one case inappropriate for "knowing" God – since an uncreated God would, by definition, be in a separate category from every created thing? What if, simply because God is in a category apart from every other thing or force or entity in the universe, another medium of experience is required, and what if this medium of experience requires faith of some sort? And what if this sort of faith is not an example of "bad faith" (i.e., make-believe, self-hypnosis, and so forth) and not an unwarranted claim of certainty, but rather an honest kind of good faith, worth of the self-investment of intelligent people, an act of integrity and humility, not escape and self-deception? (McLaren, Finding Faith, p.103)

Again, this isn't to belittle at all the role of rational, philosophical, historical and scientific inquiry. Those methods are all important as far as they go. But instead I am suggesting that rigidly applying the same methodology used for studying mundane things would be in some sense deficient when considering divine things.

Further reading:

Water to wineA miracle, as defined at Wikipedia, is "a striking interposition of divine intervention by God in the universe by which the operations of the ordinary course of Nature are overruled, suspended, or modified". It is sometimes objected that miracles contradict science (or the "ordinary course of Nature") and are therefore impossible. But this merely begs the question; the definition of a miracle is that the normal "laws of Nature" are violated. Thus the objection basically becomes "miracles are impossible because they cannot naturally happen" … which is hardly persuasive. In sum, miracles are only irrational if we exclude the possibility that God exists.

I have never studied Aristotle, but apparently he "rejected the idea that God could or would intervene in the order of the natural world" (also from Wikipedia). I don't see why God (who created the universe and everything in it) couldn't intervene if He chose to do so. Why would the creator not be able to intervene in His creation? Whether God would intervene is another issue. Certainly God could, but would He? God would not be required to intervene, but if God chose to create the universe, certainly He could choose to intervene in the universe at certain times as His will dictates.

I don't see any reason why miracles would be impossible if God exists. The question is: Has a legitimate miracle ever actually occurred?

Even after becoming Christian, I was surprised at the powerful argument put forward in William Lane Craig's book The Son Rises, which details the historical evidence for Jesus' resurrection. Craig relies on four facts that both theist and secular historians can agree upon, and builds his case by searching for the best explanation for those facts. Craig has an article online called "Contemporary Scholarship and the Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ" which gives the gist of his argument, but the book is better. Even though it is relatively short (156 pages) it is packed with detail and provides a logical assessment for whether the resurrection happened. This is the most important issue for Christians, since, as Paul said, "if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith" (1 Corinthians 15:14).

» Further inquery:
Video: Dr. Habermas Debates Skeptic Tim Callahan Comparing the Resurrection to Ancient Mythology
PART I (3MB)  |  PART II (4MB)   (WMV format; Right click and "Save As…")

There are two equal and opposite errors into which [we] can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. ~ C S Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Preface

I just watched "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" so that got me thinking about demons, and I remembered the quote above. The question is: Why do we often see so little evidence of demons nowadays? Is it because they don't exist and we have outgrown old superstitions? Or is it because demons have become so caricatured by modern culture that their reality and relevance has been lost?

Just for the sake of argument, let's say demons really do exist. Now, say we're trying to think like one of these demons, intent on deceiving humankind. What better way to achieve that goal than to convince people demons don't exist? I mean doing so subtly, gradually. It has been said that this is the greatest trick demons have ever played: convincing people that they don't exist. Consider, assuming again for the sake of argument that demons exist, that I were possessed by a demon today. What would my family likely do, were I do exhibit similar symptoms to Emily Rose in the movie? Likely I would be taken to the hospital, given drugs (which wouldn't work) and eventually be hauled off to the nuthouse. Regardless of the evidence, a medical problem would be the only one considered. The demon's tactics would have worked perfectly, and only due to our society's insistence on pure scientism.

Note: It's important to keep in mind that Christianity is not at all dualistic. God and the devil are not equals. They are not at equal ends of a scale: God is the scale. Christians believe that God "will remove all of their sorrows, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain" when, at the proper time, demons and the devil are defeated. (Rev 21:4, NLT)

Back to the movie, I thought that The Exorcism of Emily Rose was pretty good overall. Although I think I could've presented a better argument than the defense lawyer did in the movie 😀 … and when the priest was on the stand, I wanted to shout "No! Don't let the prosecution lawyer get away with that! Answer him back like this!"

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