|“Faith is indeed intellectual; it involves an apprehension of certain things as facts; and vain is the modern effort to divorce faith from knowledge. But although faith is intellectual, it is not only intellectual. You cannot have faith without having knowledge; but you will not have faith if you have only knowledge.” |
― J. Gresham Machen (Professor of New Testament at Princeton Seminary between 1915 and 1929, led a conservative revolt against modernist theology at Princeton).
It causes one to consider his own Christian walk when you read early church history and see how the pagans viewed our Christian brothers and sisters. Most of the time their opinions are based on how Christians endured persecution, even unto death and remained faithful to Jesus. Eusebius of Caesarea (260-339 AD) , the first Christian historian, in his Church History relates the following incident where Emperor Marcus Aurelius (161-180 AD) wrote the Council of Asia concerning the Christians they were persecuting. Note his observations about the Christians.
“The Emperor Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antonines Augustus, Armenius, pontifex maximus, holding tribunician power for the fifteenth time, consul the third time, to the Council of Asia, greeting. I know that the gods are also concerned that such men as these should not go undetected, for they would be far more likely to punish those who will not worship them than you are. But you hound them into trouble by accusing them of atheism and thereby add to their resolve to choose apparent death rather than life for the sake of their own god. They, then, become the conquerors when they sacrifice their lives rather than obey your commands. As to the earthquakes that have happened— and are happening— you lose heart whenever they occur and provide a painful comparison between our character and theirs. They repose greater trust in their god, whereas you neglect yours and the worship of the Immortal. But when the Christians worship him, you harass and persecute them to death. On behalf of such people many of the former provincial governors wrote our divine father, and he replied that they were not to be troubled unless they appeared to be plotting against the Roman government. Many have reported about them to me also, and I have replied in accordance with my father’s opinion. But if anyone persists in taking action against one of these people [as a Christian], the accused shall be acquitted of the charge even if it is clear that he is one, and the accuser shall be liable to penalty. Published at Ephesus in the Council of Asia.” (Emphasis and footnotes added)
The Christians were called atheists by the pagans because they would not worship the pagan gods and the Roman emperors.
They were evidently living out Paul’s teaching on persecution. He encouraged the saints in Philippians 1: 28 – 29 to be “in no way alarmed by your opponents — which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too from God. For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake….” He wrote in Romans 8:37 “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”
By being willing to die instead of worship the Emperor and false gods, their great faith in God, the Father, and Jesus Christ was manifested to the pagans. The historical records contain incidences of people being converted while viewing the patience of the saints, as they were being tormented, fed to the wild animals or suffering other forms of gruesome death. Others stepped up and confessed their faith in Jesus Christ and consequently were made to join the Christians in their suffering.
Many of our Christian brothers and sisters in Communist China, Nigeria, Islamic nations and other countries are going through similar persecution TODAY. NOW. May grace be multiplied to them and the comfort of the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31) be with them. Please remember them in your prayers.
Why is it that Communist and Leftist governments persecute and hate Christianity so much?
— Read on www.christianpost.com/voices/why-communist-and-leftist-governments-hate-christianity.html
Rhys-Davis is just one of many skeptics, atheists, and secularists of late who reject the rhetoric of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and recognize the immense good the Gospel has done for the world.
— Read on www.christianpost.com/voices/atheists-who-see-christianity-as-good-for-society.html
“But God is never defeated. Though He may be opposed, attacked, resisted, still the ultimate outcome can never be in doubt. Every day we see fresh proof that indeed all things—-even evil ones—-work together for those who are called by His name.” Brother Andrew – God’s Smuggler
Brother Andrew wrote this statement in 1966 or 1967 after he and his partners had successfully smuggled tens of thousands of Bibles into the communist countries of Eastern Europe.
May his statement be an encouragement to our brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering for their faith in China, Nigeria, North Korea, the Muslim nations, Vietnam, etc.
May God’s abundant grace be upon you and the comfort of the Holy Spirit be with you.
We have not forgotten you.
Dear Reader: My sharing of this article is in no way an endorsement of evolutionary origins or fetal tissue research. But praise God, He is still in the business of answering man’s questions and revealing Himself to those who are seeking Him. If you have doubts and questions that make you reject the existence of God, I pray this article answers some of your questions. Carl
By Samuel Smith via The Christian Post
National Institutes of Health Director and world-renowned biologist Francis Collins shared the long process of how he was led to faith in Christ after an encounter with a terminally-ill patient left him pondering one of life’s great existential questions.
Collins, a 68-year-old evangelical geneticist who is credited with discovering genes associated with a number of diseases and is the founder of the Human Genome Project, took off his federal government hat this week, to take part in a conference hosted by an organization he founded over a decade ago.
Collins spoke to over 300 pastors, scientists and scholars gathered at the Hyatt Regency in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor for BioLogos 2019, a two-and-a-half day conference hosted by the BioLogos Foundation, which exists to show that faith and science are not in conflict through the advocacy of Evolutionary Creationism viewpoints on origins.
The conference celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the first BioLogos conference and the launch of the organization’s website, which has served as an online resource for many pondering questions around the intersection of faith and science.
Shortly after launching BioLogos, Collins stepped away when he was asked by former President Barack Obama to serve as the head of the U.S. agency primarily responsible for biomedical and public health research.
On Wednesday evening, Collins gave a 20-minute speech detailing how he was led from a life of atheism to a walk with Christ by confirming God’s truths in the physical and scientific realities presented throughout the world.
While many Christian scientists wrestle with how they can bridge what they have learned in their fields with their faiths, Collins says that his faith has never come into conflict.
More than ever, the world needs to hear the synthesis of science and faith is possible, not just forcing it and saying, ‘This will have to do,’” Collins explained. “It is joyful. It is an opportunity for worship. I didn’t always know that.”
Collins then told the crowd that he couldn’t believe that he was standing before them speaking at the BioLogos conference when reflecting back on who he was at the age of 21 or 22, as a graduate student in physical chemistry at Yale University.
At that point in Collins’ life, he had adopted a sense of “metaphysical naturalism,” what he called a “reductionist attitude” or the belief that “nothing really matters except what can be measured through science.”
Collins believed at the time, that faith was basically a superstition left over from an earlier age that should be shrugged off, to “move forward.”
He explained that this belief partly came from the fact that he was raised in a home where faith was not considered overly important.
It was convenient to assume there was not a God,” he said. “By the time I was a graduate student, I was an atheist. It was not a particularly well-thought through position. But it was my position and it is not so different, I suspect, than many others around me at that time or ones that we would find today in a university undergraduate dormitory or graduate classroom.”
Although he loved second-order differential equations, Collins eventually felt compelled to switch studies and apply to medical school in order to learn about the science of the human body. He was accepted at the University of North Carolina.
While at UNC, Collins said he maintained his atheism. However, he recalled that there were Christian medical students who would invite him to come sit with them at lunch. He explained that he tried to avoid them as much as he could because he thought they were “weird.”
But over the course of his time in medical school, the experiences he was having began to change. It was no longer just an intellectual exercise to think about life and death.
“Because as a third-year medical student, one is then put into the clinical experiences of sitting at the bedside of people that have terrible diseases, most of which at that point we really didn’t have answers or our answers were pretty incomplete,” Collins said. “That began to trouble me because I saw in their eyes what someday might be my circumstance.”
Collins said he would wonder how he would handle the situation if it were him in the hospital bed with an incurable, fatal disease.
“I watched how they handled it, these good North Carolina people,” he said. “Many of them seemed quite at peace. They talked about their faith. I thought, ‘Why aren’t you angry at God? Why don’t you shake your fist at what God has done to you?’ But that is not what happened. They were at peace. They felt like God had been good to them and they had been blessed and they look forward to what came after.”
At the age of 26, Collins said there was one elderly female patient he looked after who suffered awful chest pains because of severe cardiac disease. During her episodes of chest pain, he said she would pray and seem at peace. Collins said she would share her faith with him regularly and that made him uncomfortable.
But one day, she made me really uncomfortable because she told me, ‘Doctor, I have shared my faith with you and you seem to be somebody who cares for me. What do you believe doctor?’” Collins shared. “I don’t think anybody in an honest, open way had really ever asked me that question. I realized I was utterly lacking a response.”
Collins said he felt like he had neglected the most important question that any of us ever really asked: “Is there a God and does that God care about me?”
At that point, 26 years, I had managed to set that aside in the pursuit of other issues. And I was supposed to be a scientist,” he said. “It was interesting finding answers and collecting evidence to see what those answers should be. I had never spent more than five minutes thinking about this particular question or what the answer might be. That really bothered me.”
Collins tried to sure up his atheism and figured it would be good to ask believers why they believe. As it turned out, some of his co-workers were Christian. He figured that they “must have been brainwashed as children and never really quite able to get over it.”
But when Collins spoke with them, he said that they actually made a “fair amount of sense.” However, he was still not fully understanding.
Collins then met with a Methodist pastor who lived on his street. After listening to Collins’ questions, the pastor gave Collins a book by C.S. Lewis and told him that Lewis had many of the same questions that he did.
“[Lewis was an] Oxford scholar who had asked those questions, who had traveled the same path from atheism to belief, kicking and screaming the whole way,” Collins said. “As I turned the pages of that book, I realized my arguments against faith were those of a schoolboy. I realized I had a lot of work to do to try to come to grips with the answer to that question: ‘Is there a God and does He care about me?’”
It still took Collins another two years before he came to have a relationship with Christ. He stressed that it was a struggle as he tried to make sense of other world religions to see which one made the most sense.
Ultimately, he said, it was through talking with Christians with a better depth of understanding and people of other faiths that he was able to come to faith.
“But I also began to appreciate that even from the area of science that I was most comfortable in, there were a lot of pointers to God,” Collins added. “It was the fact that there is something instead of nothing. … The fact that the universe seems to be fine-tuned to make complexity possible and therefore life possible. That actually, nature follows these elegant mathematical rules of second-order differential equations that I had so loved. Why should that be? Why should nature be like this?
“It seems like there should be a mathematician and a physicist behind all this. Oh my gosh, that sounds like God.”
Collins still had questions about who the Creator was and why the Creator would have such a deep love for human beings. Collins said he referred back to Lewis’s book, Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe.
“I had never really given that serious thought and suddenly, it struck me as profound,” Collins said. “All of us inherently, down through history in every culture, have this sense that it is good and it is evil and that we should strive to be good.”
“I know as a geneticist and somebody who studies evolution that there are times where we are called to do things that aren’t really good for our reproductive fitness yet we know that they are good,” he continued. “That seems to say that there is something deeper here than some evolutionary constraint. Did I come to the point be being convinced by scientific proof that God was real and that Jesus was the son of God? No. But I did realize for me that there was an incredible hunger for not just knowing that God was there but having a relationship.”
Collins said he also knew that he couldn’t come to a relationship with God on his own power because of his own “sinfulness.”
“If there was any opportunity to have a relationship with God that had to be offered up by some kind of a bridge, and I finally understood what Jesus was all about and what the cross was all about,” he said. “It meant that I had heard those people say that Christ died for your sins. I had never gotten that and all of a sudden I did.”
According to Collins, he finally gave his life to Christ during a hike on a dewy morning in the Cascade Mountains in the Pacific Northwest over 49 years ago.
“I fell on my knees and I said, ‘I get it. I am yours. I want to be your follower from now until eternity,’” Collins told the audience. “That has never changed since that day.”
The geneticist recalled that there were some doubters who told him after his conversion that his “head is going to explode” because he won’t be able to reconcile Christian faith with science.
“In all those 41 years, I have never encountered a conflict between what I know as someone who takes Scripture with the greatest seriousness and someone who will not accept your scientific data until you show me why it is right,” Collins said. “I think God calls us to do both of those things.
“And I think it is truly tragic that in our world, in particularly this country over the last 150 years, we have set up young people to believe there is a conflict there. I do not see that. God gives us an incredible opportunity as scientists to learn about God’s creation. And that can be a wonderful form of worship. You can meet God in a laboratory.”
Collins is also the author of the 2006 book, The Language of God.
Collins came under scrutiny from Christians and pro-lifers who called for his resignation last December after he expressed support for fetal tissue research during an NIH Advisory Committee to the Director meeting. He reportedly suggested that fetal tissue research could be done “with [an] ethical framework.”
Although many Christians are grateful for BioLogos’ help in reconciling their faiths and scientific theories, BioLogos has also been criticized by conservative Christians and Young Earth Creationists as being an “attempt to persuade evangelical Christians to embrace some form of evolutionary theory.”