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I suddenly became aware of the condition of my soul at twelve years old. I vividly recall lying on my back during many long nights, working my way through the sinner’s prayer that I had learned from my dad, and trying to understand its various elements. What does faith mean? What does it mean for Jesus to be a savior and lord? Thankfully, God guided me through my inner turmoils to an understanding of what salvation means.

However, there were a few unhelpful folks along the way. All you preachers who compared faith to sitting on a chair and trusting that it would hold you up–you should know that you didn’t really help me at all. I was only confused about how to put that same sort of trust in Jesus. How do I get from trusting a chair to trusting Jesus? Maybe if I concentrated really hard and somehow exercised faith in Jesus.

Oh, and all you guys who describe the sinner’s prayer in terms of accepting Jesus into your heart, please stop. Stop it right now. What the heck does that even mean? How does inviting Jesus to come live in your heart equal looking to Jesus for your forgiveness? Where in the Bible do any of the apostles invite their hearers to just ask Jesus into their hearts? You are only confusing little boys and girls by using such meaningless imagery.

I shake my head now as I remember how confused I was over something so simple. Thankfully, the Bible (of all things) cleared it up. What did the tax collector say when he was weighed down by all his sin? “God, have mercy on me, a sinner” (Luke 18:13). Seven little words, all of them easy to understand. What does Paul say? “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).  Gone are the mysteries of just how we exercise this vague thing called “sitting-on-a-chair faith” when one understands that all that it means is that you are asking for mercy.

I love the movie Luther. There is a scene at the beginning where Martin Luther is struggling with his sin before the unrelenting wrath of God. His priest and mentor hands him a cross and commands him to pray, “I’m yours. Save me.” I like that. I’m yours; save me.

…in no particular order.

1. My wife, who is my best friend, helper, confidante, and adviser

2. Coffee

3. Imported Beer

4. Inexpensive (though not cheap) wine

5. Hot showers

6. Good stories

7. My baby boy, who smiles everyday when I come home

8. Winter clothes

9. C. S. Lewis

10. The blogosphere

11. Regina Spector

12. My job as a teacher, that allows me to keep on learning

13. Netflix

14. The library

15. The power of myth

16. All the holidays that I have off as a teacher.

17. The church calendar

18. Chick-fil-a chocolate milkshakes

19. Celtic music

James 1:17:  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

YE creationist blogger Sirius Knotts has posted about a recent case of racism in my home state of Louisiana. I completely agree with him on the ugliness of this sin, but I find his concluding paragraph a bit confusing.

I think we need to toss the word “race” into the garbage can.  The idea of human races is an evolutionary by-product. The Bible teaches that there is only one human race, born of Adam and Eve.

In another post on interracial marriage, Sirius does an excellent job showing that there is no scriptural basis for racism, despite the many attempts by others to misuse various passages to justify this sin. However, he makes a similar comment about evolution in one of the comments, when he writes:

I’m not sure what we expect here. We teach evolution in our schools exclusively which teaches that there are human races and that we’re in competition with one another. All of the tolerance teaching on the planet cannot overcome what we teach them about people groups in the name of science. We lay the foundation for racism in our science classrooms.

Is this a fair criticism of evolution? Is there a necessary connection between evolution and racism? Absolutely not.

In the first place, evolution is an explanation of how the variety of life came to exist. It is not a code of morality. We do not determine what is right or wrong based on what we see in the natural world. For example, some animals kill their own young; others assert their dominance over other males by sexually forcing themselves upon them. This obviously does not have anything to say about how we ought to treat other people. To assert that these phenomena occur is to merely describe what happens in nature, not to condone the behavior. We should not treat evolution any differently.

Second, both evolutionists and young earth creationists alike believe that all human beings have a common ancestor. YECs believe in two original human beings, and evolutionists believe in an original group from which we all come. Therefore, both groups can argue against racism by asserting that all of humanity is of the same blood. It can even be asserted that there is hardly any difference in our DNA.

Though the differences among red, yellow, black and white are small, there are still differences. I would venture to say that both YECs and evolutionists explain these differences through the separation of various groups and the subsequent changes that took place over time. To say that we should throw the term “race” in the garbage can is, I think, too sweeping a statement to make. Racial distinctions are both apparent and, in the field of medicine, are helpful in understanding diseases that affect certain races but not others. If by “race,” we mean separate species, then yes, throw that understanding in the trash. But I don’t think anyone believes that.

Let’s remember that YECs (at least those who adhere to AIG) do in fact believe in survival of the fittest and in change over time, which they term microevolution. It puzzles me therefore to read Sirius’ comment faulting evolution for leading to racism because it teaches that we are “in competition with one another.”

Finally, before anyone starts giving me examples of people who used evolution to justify this monstrocity or another, let me remind him or her that just because someone uses a belief to justify his own racism does not mean that racism logically follows from that belief per se. We have had racism long before Darwin, and just as many people have used Christianity to justify this and a host of other sins.

Before this year, I have never really celebrated Halloween. In fact, I was brought up with ideas of it originating from pagan, even Satanic practices. The church I am currently a member of wastes no energy making a righteous fuss over the holiday, but they do put on a Fall  (not a Halloween) Festival for the neighborhood that includes costumes, games, and candy. A lot of churches in my denomination host Reformation Day Parties, complete with pinning the 99 Thesis on the doors of the church of Wittenburg.

After reading a few posts from the Internet Monk, however, I realized that Halloween, or more specifically, All Saints Day, is a Christian holiday that celebrates the victory of the saints through Jesus Christ. It is a day to remember the souls of believers and of those whom God used in a mighty way to further his kingdom. Why would we not want to celebrate this?

Today, the baby was a little under the weather, and my wife graciously sent me off to church while she stayed with him alone. I decided to go to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church instead of my home church because I knew that they observed the church calendar. How encouraging it was to remember the destiny of all saints! I’ll leave you with this passage from Revelation 7, part of which we read during the service.

9After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice:
   “Salvation belongs to our God,
   who sits on the throne,
   and to the Lamb.” 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying:
   “Amen!
   Praise and glory
   and wisdom and thanks and honor
   and power and strength
   be to our God for ever and ever.
   Amen!”

 13Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

 14I answered, “Sir, you know.”

   And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15Therefore,
   “they are before the throne of God
      and serve him day and night in his temple;
   and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
 16Never again will they hunger;
      never again will they thirst.
   The sun will not beat upon them,
      nor any scorching heat.
 17For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
      he will lead them to springs of living water.
   And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

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