The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

The Thirteen Critical Problems Facing Contemporary Evangelicalism

Michael Spencer (the Internet Monk) recently posted The Thirteen Critical Problems Facing Contemporary Evangelicalism. I think I agree with him (at least to some extent) on every single point. Here they are:


  1. Vast evidence of a growing doctrinal deterioration on the essentials and implications of the Gospel.
  2. The expansion and influence of the “Prosperity Gospel” throughout evangelicalism.
  3. The loss of the concept of meaningful church membership and the rise of the “audience-only” model of church participation.
  4. The loss of the theological “center” in mainline churches at the precise time many evangelicals are open to reconsidering the mainline vision of worship, especially in Anglicanism.
  5. The triumph and glorification of unchecked pragmatic entrepreneurialism, especially in worship, but in all areas of evangelical life.
  6. The corrosive and compromised influence of Christian publishing in shaping evangelicalism, as exemplified in the rise of Joel Osteen, The Prayer of Jabez and the Prosperity Gospel.
  7. Growing chaos in the theological and practical preparation of pastors, especially in the “emerging” church.
  8. The failure of the “Seeker” model to use its vast resources and influence to produce a Christian counter-culture or challenge the “program centered/facilities centered” model of evangelicalism.
  9. The lack of rising “Billy Graham” quality new leaders for the larger evangelical movement.
  10. The failure of most evangelical denominations to broadly embrace and effectively mentor the current church planting movement.
  11. The demise of quality Biblical preaching at the hands of technology and entertainment.
  12. The apparently fatal infection of much of the emerging church movement with the failed theology of 20th century liberalism.
  13. The cannibalism of evangelicalism on issues related to theological, cultural, social and political diversity.

Grace and Peace

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Christianity | 1 Comment

Happy Reformation Day

I wish you a happy Reformation Day!

I get excited about Reformation Day because I love the gospel, which had been obscured in the 1500s by the practices and doctrines of the Roman Catholic church. Today in each of my science classes at Bucharest Christian Academy, I took a few minutes to draw out from my students what they could remember about the 95 Theses, and to tell them why I am far more excited about the gospel than I am about geology, biology, physics, and chemistry.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the doors of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The 95 Theses were Luther’s 95 arguments against the selling of indulgences, which were documents declaring forgiveness of sins granted by the church as a result of some act of the repentant sinner. Indulgences were being aggressively marketed at this time–sold for cash–as a means of paying for the construction of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, and so Luther’s opposition to the sale of indulgences not only had doctrinal implications, but also had financial repercussions.

Some Christians say that it is wrong to celebrate the Reformation. Because the Reformation led to the split of Western Christianity into Catholic and Protestant churches, to celebrate it is something like celebrating a divorce. It is indeed sad that Christianity is divided into Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant, and that the Protestant church is divided into thousands of denominations. But that does not mean that the Reformation wasn’t a good thing. What is sad isn’t that the Reformation occurred, but that it was necessary in the first place.

Here’s what Paul McCain has to say at Cyberbrethren:

Once a year I find myself feeling the need to apologize for Reformation Day messages that are not much more than apologetic hand-wringing wimpering, “Oh, we should all be so, so sad on this day that the Reformation happened. Isn’t it so sad? The church was divided.” Huh? What kind of drivel is this? If you are one who is afflicted with this kind of message on Reformation Day, I apologize for such apologies.

Let’s review:

(1) The Gospel had been obscured to the point of being lost in many ways.
(2) The Reformation had to take place.
(3) Rome could have prevented it by repenting of its damning error.
(4) Yes, it is sad that it had to happen, but not sad that it did happen.

But, don’t let me hear any of this sniveling, “Oh, boo-hoo, the Reformation happened” bunk on this day. Let me hear a glorious celebration of the great blessing and gift of the Reformation of the Church, a glorious celebration of the Gospel of Christ!

Repentance? Of course. Repent for our sin. Repent for our weak resignation. Repent of the sinful pride and arrogance that is always a present danger to a focus on Christ. But repent for the Reformation? Never. Of course not. How silly.

The latest broadcast of the White Horse Inn radio program is The 490th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, available for free as an MP3 file.

Grace and Peace

October 31, 2007 Posted by | Christianity | Leave a comment

Bar Code?

This is not a bar code. What is it?


For the answer, click here.

Grace and Peace

October 24, 2007 Posted by | Misc | 1 Comment

California Fires

These two images of the Los Angeles area were taken a little over three hours apart on October 21, 2007, showing the rapid growth of the fires that have already destroyed hundreds of structures and forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people. The fires spread rapidly due to hot, dry Santa Ana winds, which blow out of the Mojave desert to the east, as can be clearly seen by following the smoke in the images.


The images are from NASA’s Earth Observatory site, and I got the link from Geology News.

A description from the Earth Observatory:

Santa Ana winds are a California firefighter’s nightmare. These blustery, dry, and often hot winds blow out of the desert and race through canyons and passes in the mountains on their way toward the coast. The air is hot not because it is bringing heat from the desert, but because it is flowing downslope from higher elevations. As fall progresses, cold air begins to sink into the Great Basin deserts to the east of California. As the air piles up at the surface, high pressure builds, and the air begins to flow downslope toward the coast. When winds blow downslope, the air gets compressed, which causes it to warm and dry out. In fact, the air can warm at a rate of 10 degrees Celsius per kilometer of descent (29 degrees Fahrenheit per mile). Canyons and passes funnel the winds, which increases their speed. Not only do the winds spread the fire, but they also dry out vegetation, making it even more flammable.

Pray for the people affected by this natural disaster.

Grace and Peace

October 23, 2007 Posted by | Meteorology | Leave a comment

Kimberlite Pipe Animation

Diamonds are formed in the Earth’s mantle at a depth of 150 to 200 km, and brought to the surface rapidly in a volcanic vent that forms what is called a kimberlite pipe. No one has ever witnessed a kimberlite volcanic eruption, but it is believed that the magma travels at several hundred kilometers per hour as it moves through the Earth’s crust, and may be ejected at supersonic speeds. Kimberlite (named after Kimberley, South Africa, where it was first described) is a type of volcanic rock which comes directly from the Earth’s mantle.

I taught about kimberlites in my high school Earth Science class today, along with other ores formed by igneous processes. I found a good animation of a kimberlite eruption from Diamondex, a Canadian diamond mining company.


We know that the magma must come from a great depth, because diamonds form only at very high pressures. We know that the magma rises extremely rapidly because diamonds are very unstable when there is both a low pressure and high temperature. If the magma were to rise more slowly, the diamonds would recrystallize to graphite, which is what we make pencil lead out of. If this were to happen, the South Africans would mine for pencil lead instead of for diamonds, which of course is not nearly as profitable.

Grace and Peace

October 16, 2007 Posted by | Geology, Science Education | Leave a comment

First Date

On October 14, 1977, my wife and I went out on our first date. Something clicked: we had a nice date, and have had a fantastic thirty years.

Thirty years is a good start. I look forward to the next 30+ years with my wonderful wife.

Grace and Peace

October 14, 2007 Posted by | Misc | Leave a comment

2007 Ig Nobel Prizes

The 2007 Ig Nobel Prizes have been awarded (“For achievements that first make people LAUGH then make them THINK”):

MEDICINE: Brian Witcombe of Gloucester, UK, and Dan Meyer of Antioch, Tennessee, USA, for their penetrating medical report “Sword Swallowing and Its Side Effects.”

PHYSICS: L. Mahadevan of Harvard University, USA, and Enrique Cerda Villablanca of Universidad de Santiago de Chile, for studying how sheets become wrinkled.

BIOLOGY: Prof. Dr. Johanna E.M.H. van Bronswijk of Eindhoven University of Technology, The Netherlands, for doing a census of all the mites, insects, spiders, pseudoscorpions, crustaceans, bacteria, algae, ferns and fungi with whom we share our beds each night.

CHEMISTRY: Mayu Yamamoto of the International Medical Center of Japan, for developing a way to extract vanillin — vanilla fragrance and flavoring — from cow dung.

LINGUISTICS: Juan Manuel Toro, Josep B. Trobalon and Núria Sebastián-Gallés, of Universitat de Barcelona, for showing that rats sometimes cannot tell the difference between a person speaking Japanese backwards and a person speaking Dutch backwards.

Go to the link above for more, and for winners of the Ig Nobel prizes for previous years.

Grace and Peace

October 14, 2007 Posted by | Fun | Leave a comment

Dinosaur Coins

coin_parasaurolophus.jpgThe Royal Canadian Mint has released a commemorative $4 coin featuring a parasaurolophus, a Late Cretaceous dinosaur found in Alberta:

This is the first of a four-coin “Giants of Prehistory” series, with a triceratops coin scheduled for 2008, a T. rex scheduled for 2009, and a dromeasaur in 2010.

The mint has produced 20,000 of the parasaurolophus coins for sale to collectors, with a price of $39.95 each (Canadian dollars).

Grace and Peace

October 14, 2007 Posted by | Geology | 1 Comment

How would you like to have an ear on your arm?

From Scientific American’s blog Sciam Observations: Man implants “ear” in arm.

[The man] had a surgeon implant a human ear (grown from cells in a lab) into his left forearm. The next step in his living exhibit? “I hope to have a tiny microphone implanted [in]to it that will connect with a Bluetooth transmitter.”

Sounds useful.

Grace and Peace

October 13, 2007 Posted by | Health | 1 Comment

Toilet House

From Yahoo News/AFP: Clean loo campaigner to open toilet-shaped home

Seoul — Sim Jae-Duck was born in a restroom and now he plans to live and die in one — a 1.6 million dollar toilet-shaped house designed to promote his tireless campaign for cleaner loos worldwide.

Click on the link for the full story and a picture.

Grace and Peace

October 13, 2007 Posted by | Environment, Fun | Leave a comment

Al Gore — Nobel Peace Prize (part 2)

The Evangelical Ecologist (not normally a pro-Al Gore site) also approves of the choice of Al Gore and the IPCC for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. Read it here: Credit where it’s due.

Grace and Peace

October 13, 2007 Posted by | Climate Change, Environment | 1 Comment

Maybe the Sky Isn’t Falling

From Christianity Today: Maybe the Sky Isn’t Falling: New UN study says that reports of the world’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

My previous post was about Al Gore and the Nobel Peace Prize. Some environmentalists look as global warming and a dozen other ecological crises that face us and say, “The sky is falling.” This CT article points to a United Nations study that highlights what is going right in the world:

  • The U.N. study states, “People around the world are becoming healthier, wealthier, better educated, more peaceful, more connected, and they are living longer.”
  • Much of the improvement in these areas, according to the report, is due to increased freedom, capitalism, and free trade.
  • The numbers of people living in extreme poverty continues to drop at a fast rate.
  • World population should peak around mid-century, and may even start to decline.

These are all good things.

The article, however, points us to a glaring fact of human nature. We have an incredible ability to mess things up. At the beginning of the 20th century, many were making the same sorts of optimistic predictions. Then came two world wars. We could easily repeat this folly. In our sin, and with our biotechnology and weapons of mass destruction, we have the potential of making the 21st century into one of misery and suffering.

Let us pray for our world, and work for the good of our neighbors.

Grace and Peace

October 12, 2007 Posted by | Environment, Future | Leave a comment

Al Gore — Nobel Peace Prize

Unlike many in the conservative blogosphere, I am not upset that Al Gore shared in this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

  • I believe that the evidence is fairly strong that some degree of global warming is occurring, and that part of this is not natural; i.e. that it is due to human emissions of greenhouse gases.
  • By raising awareness of global warming, Gore has raised awareness about environmental issues in general. This is a good thing.
  • Gore is not a perfect spokesman for environmental issues; he makes mistakes in his presentation. Ronald Reagan got facts wrong all the time, but conservatives who criticize Gore when he mis-states facts seem to forget this.
  • Some have said that this was inappropriate because this is a “peace prize” not an “environmental prize.” I fail to see the reasoning here. Peace (or the Hebrew shalom) is more than the absence of conflict; it is an overall state of well-being. Environmental problems are a threat to the shalom of people all over the world, so it is appropriate to award the Nobel Peace Prize for work done for an environmental cause.

Gore shares the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

No, in writing this I am in no way endorsing Al Gore for President!

Grace and Peace

October 12, 2007 Posted by | Climate Change, Environment | Leave a comment

Has the U.S. already lost the new space race?

The director of NASA predicts that China will place astronauts on the moon before the U.S. can put someone on the moon for the first time since 1973.

From NASA chief: China will beat us back to the moon

The Soviets beat the United States at getting a satellite, and a man, into space. Now, the Chinese may get to the moon before the U.S. can make a return visit.

Fifty years after Sputnik became the world’s first artificial satellite, a new race is under way with the finish line on the moon. NASA, the former lunar champion, already is predicting defeat.

“I personally believe that China will be back on the moon before we are,” NASA Administrator Michael Griffin said in a low-key lecture in Washington two weeks ago, marking the space agency’s 50th anniversary, still a year away.

NASA’s goal is to return humans to the moon by 2020.

Some thoughts:

  • NASA and U.S. priorities should not be driven only by a need to be first in everything.
  • At the same time, we need to make sure we don’t fall behind in important technologies.
  • We need to have a very-long term perspective on space exploration. In fourteen hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue; but it took another 500 years to really explore the New World.

Some questions:

  • What difference would it make if the Chinese get to the moon before the U.S. returns?
  • What should America’s priorities in space be?

Grace and Peace

October 12, 2007 Posted by | Astronomy | Leave a comment


Todays Astronomy Picture of the Day is Iapetus, one of the moons of Saturn:


Each of the major moons of the solar system is unique. Iapetus is interesting for the great contrast between its brilliant white surface, which is probably composed of water ice, and the dark black area on the right, which could be covered by some form of carbon.

In the novel 2001: A Space Odyssey, Iapetus is the site of the transformation of astronaut Dave Bowman into the “star child.” In the film, this occurs in orbit around Jupiter rather than inside Iapetus.


Grace and Peace

October 10, 2007 Posted by | Astronomy, Science Fiction | 1 Comment

The Great Exchange

Consider the following quote from Martin Luther with supporting verses from the Scriptures:

Learn Christ and him crucified. Learn to sing to him and, despairing of yourself, say, “Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, just as I am your sin. You have taken upon yourself what is mine and have given me what is yours. You have taken upon yourself what you were not and have given to me what I was not.” –Martin Luther

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. — 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. — Isaiah 53:6 ESV

Grace and peace

October 8, 2007 Posted by | Christianity, Quotes | Leave a comment

Where in the World? #6

This month’s theme is coastlines. Where is this coastline, and how was it formed?


Grace and Peace

October 8, 2007 Posted by | Where in the world? | 2 Comments

Modern Reformation

I love the cover on the current issue of Modern Reformation, which is published by the same people who give us the White Horse Inn:


All of our efforts to deal with our sin are like using a band-aid to cover a rottenness that goes to the core.

Grace and peace

P.S. What is worse than finding a worm in an apple?

Finding half a worm in an apple.

October 7, 2007 Posted by | Christianity | Leave a comment

White Horse Inn

whi.jpgThe one Christian radio program that I regularly listen to from the United States is White Horse Inn. The description of the program from their web site is:

The White Horse Inn is a nationally syndicated radio talk show hosted by Michael Horton, Rod Rosenbladt, Kim Riddlebarger and Ken Jones. On the air since 1990, the show features a regular roundtable discussion of Christian theology and apologetics.

This year they are going through the five “solas” of the Protestant Reformation:

  • Sola Scriptura — Scripture alone
  • Solus Christus — Christ alone
  • Sola Gratia — Grace alone
  • Sola Fide — Justification by grace alone through faith alone
  • Soli Deo Gloria — For God’s glory alone

Here are some quotes from the September 9, 2007 program, Justification by Grace Alone Through Faith Alone:

Believing doesn’t save anybody, no matter how deeply or sincerely one does it, and no matter how positively that believing may improve one’s life. Rather, Christ saves and faith can only be said in a sort of shorthand to save because it clings to Christ as the savior. So faith, like the gospel that creates it, doesn’t well up within us, but comes to us from the outside as a gift, and it is saving only because it has Christ as its object and content.

“If only I had more faith.” How many times have we heard dear Christians, believers for so many years, say that “If only I had more faith.” For a lot of people justification by faith really means that we are saved by the amount of faith or the quality of faith, rather than by faith in its act merely of clinging to Christ. Instead of faith in Christ we end up with faith in faith.

“Get your act together” is what religion is for. Religion is there to help us pull ourselves together; and Jesus says, “Actually, I’ve come to claim the people who can’t pull themselves together; I’ve come to justify the wicked and save sinners.

We are not saved by our works, nor by our sincerity in belief. As Paul says in Romans 3:21-26:

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (ESV)

All of their programs are available as MP3 files at their web site.

Grace and Peace

P.S. Sometimes these guys (Reformed, Lutheran, Reformed Baptist) pick on my denomination, the Evangelical Free Church of America. In the program I quoted from, for example, they lump the E-Free with those who preach self-help messages rather than the Gospel. Like their respective denominations, the EFCA is a diverse body. We have churches that go with whatever the latest fad is in Evangelicalism, and others who deeply care about and proclaim justification by grace alone through faith alone on a regular basis. A few minutes after criticizing the Free Churches, they quoted approvingly from D.A. Carson, who is a professor at… the EFCA’s seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

October 7, 2007 Posted by | Christianity | Leave a comment

Musandam Peninsula

Last week’s “Where in the World” wasn’t identified until I gave a clue. It is the Musandam Peninsula in Oman, at the Strait of Hormuz, which is the narrow passageway between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. Here is a map of the area, from the 1:250,000 scale JOG NG 40-6, which I got from the University of Texas Map Library.


Grace and Peace

October 7, 2007 Posted by | Where in the world? | 1 Comment