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Published on November 13th, 2008 | by Alex and Brett Harris

Young People Must Think About Death




This is part 2 of 5 in the series Not Too Young to Die

Death is a morbid subject. Death is scary and depressing. People shouldn’t think about death. Young people definitely shouldn’t think about death. After all, we’re young, we’re invincible, and we’ve got our whole lives ahead of us. Right?

Wrong! My goal throughout this series is to show that thinking rightly about death is the key to living rightly (and fully) before God. Today I hope to demonstrate that (1) young people must think about death and (2) young people need not fear death.

Young People Must Think About Death

I believe young people must think about death for the simple reason that young people die. James 4:13-15 warns us against presuming about the future, saying, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’—yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”

When James says life is a vapor, he doesn’t just mean 70-80 years goes by quick (even though it does). He means you don’t even have tomorrow guaranteed.

I met Michael Billings when he was eighteen. A year later — on November 4th, 2007 — Michael was in a fatal accident driving home between Dallas and San Antonio.

Such a premature death, we might say. Yet two years before his death, at seventeen, Michael had delivered a sermon entitled “Life is But a Vapor” saying: “Young men, it is appointed a day for you to die, and no matter how strong and healthy you may seem now, the day of your death may be very near. ‘Boast not thyself of tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth’ (Prov. 27:1).”

Michael understood that you can forget the odds. If God has ordained for you to die at nineteen in a car accident the odds are 1 in 1 — not 1 in 84. Young people die. Young people must think about death.

Young People Need Not Fear Death

But young people need not fear death, because God has removed the eternal risk. Romans 8:1 tells us, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:38-39 says, “Neither death nor life . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus told His disciples, “Some of you they will put to death. . . . But not a hair of your head will perish” (Luke 21). In John 11:25 we read, “Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.”

This is promise of the song, In Christ Alone: “No guilt in life, no fear in death, this is the power of Christ in me. From life’s first cry to dying breath, Jesus commands my destiny. No power of Hell, no scheme of man, can ever pluck me from His hand, till He returns or calls me home, here in the love of Christ I stand.”

We don’t hold our lives. We can’t avoid death. For a non-believer that is terrifying. For us, there is nothing more comforting than knowing Jesus commands our destiny. We need to change our thinking from “I’m invincible because I’m young” to “I’m invincible until God calls me home.” We are saved from foolish confidence and needless fear — God’s timing is perfect.

Jim Elliot wrote, “I know that my hopes and plans for myself could not be any better than He has arranged and fulfilled them. Thus may we all find it, and know the truth of the Word which says, ‘He will be our Guide even until death.’”

Some questions for discussion:

  • Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear?
  • What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor?
  • What does it look like to live unafraid of death?
  • Bonus: What is the difference between foolhardiness and fearlessness?







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About the Author

are the co-founders of TheRebelution.com and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.



  • Charity J.

    Thankyou for doing this series! It is a great topic that doesn’t get discussed enough. I’m looking forward to the next parts :)

    Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear?
    I don’t think I fall into the category of foolish confidence but maybe needless fear. By God’s grace it doesn’t predominate my life, but my life is definitely marked by it. When I am struggling with fear, making myself rest assured in the Awesome fact that God is completely Sovereign over me and all of the predicaments surrounding me, calms my fears.

    What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor?
    Make every moment count for Christ. Honestly, I definitely need to work on this one. Although I do believe that I need to live for Him 100%, I find myself sidetracked with other things like bad school teachers or too much work to do etc. Again, remembering that God is completely in control of my life and that I don’t need to worry helps me to live for Him. If I obey Him and follow Him, then He will work everything out for His glory, which of course means perfectly! :)

    What does it look like to live unafraid of death?
    First, being unafraid of death does not necessarily categorize the foolish person who wants to throw their life away or someone who doesn’t stop long enough to think about what death really is, but someone who really truly knows what death is and is not afraid of it. They know that death means they will go to live with Him, which is really exciting, and they know that living on this earth means to serve Him, which is really exciting. I think Paul states it the best though when he says, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” This is the perfect picture of what it looks like for someone to not be afraid of death. He knows that living on this earth, in God’s will, is good, because when a Christian is in God’s will they cannot be happier. However, he also wants to be with his Master whom he has served and loves, so dying would be a wonderful thing. Fear is completely absent from His mindset.

    What is the difference between foolhardiness and fearlessness?
    Foolhardiness is when someone does things, very likely dangerous, for dumb reasons that don’t mean anything ultimately. For example, they might do something dangerous like robbing a gas station to get laughs or to make their friends regard them highly etc. Fearlessness is courage. It is not doing something dumb for no good reason, but it is standing up for something good and not being afraid of what people will think or do to you. William Tyndale helped to translate the bible into English. He knew that he would be persecuted and hunted down and hated. Did that stop him? No. Was it a dumb thing for him to do? No. Should he have done it? Yes! He was fearless, trusting God with his life, and serving God while he lived. He knew that God had his life in His hands.

    ~Charity

  • I’m kinda enjoying and learning from this series. =)

    * Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear?

    Yes. So much (that’s if the fear you’re talking about is not death)! I happened to fear our church conductor so much when he makes us sing our parts in solo. It made me breakdown and cry so much. The last cry was a year ago. This year I’m braver in choir–though I choke at times when I’m asked to sing solo in practices. It’s really a needless fear because no one in the choirs hopes I would go off-key, it’s only me who keeps on thinking, “Oh, I’ll sing off-key.” I think it now kinda preposterous!

    * What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor?

    We must grab every opportunity–I mean make most of our life because a second can’t even be retrieved, how much more the hours of our lives spent in nothing? Since life is just a vapor, ought not we treasure and live it to the fullest?

    * What does it look like to live unafraid of death?

    It’s a life of peace–not the peace the world means but the peace we can find in Christ Jesus. To trust Him is not to be afraid of death. He has conquered death, so what have we to fear?

    * Bonus: What is the difference between foolhardiness and fearlessness?

    Foolhardiness is like being so brave without thinking. In short, it’s being rash. The results of a foolhardiness more often than not is stupid. Fearlessness on the other hand is the opposite of foolhardiness. You have fear but it’s under control. You don’t let fear take over your feelings. Fear governed by the mind results to fearlessness.

  • Rebecca Turner

    1. I tend to err more on the fear side than the confidence side, but I don’t think there’s really a lot of either in my life

    2. Living every moment as if it was your last, and living in the moment, thinking about right now, rather than the past or the future. I know it’s not easy, because I don’t have these things down, but I think that’s what living life as if it was a vapor looks like.

    3. Hard for me to explain…kind of you aren’t constantly worrying about when or how you’re going to die, and that when you think about dying you aren’t scared but know you’re going to be with Jesus forever

    4. Fearlessness still involves wisdom; you can be fearless but still use common sense. Foolhardiness tends to be the opposite, taking risks just because you can.

    Thanks so much for this series! It’s something I need to hear and think about

  • Campbell Sproul

    dear Alex and Brett I just started reading do hard things and am ccompletely loving it and it is truly a great testimony to what a person can do if they decide to do the things they believe that they can’t. But one thing bothered me. In the chapter the myth of adolescence: when yall were writing about the work laws for children. I don’t know if yall are as conservative as I am but I believe the God given job of the governent is to punish evil doers domestic and foreign. These laws put the government once again out of its God given authority as well as breaching the constitution. I look forward to reading more of your book, Campbell Sproul 12 but soon a “teenager”

  • GraceEC

    # Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear?
    Needless fear. In truth I’m a worrier. In the nitty gritty of my life I usually do not trust God in the moment. For the future yes for the present not as I ought.

    # What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor?
    You see things for what they are and do not waste the precious time on things that serve no purpose. For myself, (no implications for anyone else this is just me), I’ve found that when I’m conscious of the limited time I have I stop reading novels and playing computer games. Basically, I use the time I have for the work required rather than my own (selfish) enjoyment.

    # What does it look like to live unafraid of death?
    You are willing to take risks for God. Big risks or little risks, doesn’t matter. When you know what God is asking of you, you do it without hesitation.

    # Bonus: What is the difference between foolhardiness and fearlessness
    Foolhardiness is taking risks to bring glory to yourself. Fearlessness is taking the necessary risks to bring glory to God. (Probably oversimplified but I’ve found it helpful. I’m a bit of a chicken so being reminded that some risks do bring glory to God is good.)

    Alex & Brett–thanks for doing this series. It is helping me hash out my thoughts and get Biblically grounded again.

  • Dear Alex and Brett:

    Thanks for the great post! Even as uncomfortable as it may be, we young people do need to think about death every so often, because it will change your way of living. We do not know when God might call us home, therefore we are in the race of our lives to “Do Hard Things” and accomplish things for God’s Kingdom. Part of me is scared about death, but on the other hand I can’t wait to be in heaven and experienced God’s awesome glory!

  • Becca Whitpan

    1. I guess I would lean more towards foolish confidence. I have thought about death but I’ve never really lingered on the subject. Whenever I am confronted with a future worry I always shrug it off before it can really start to get me nervous. I tend to let the future worry about itself.

    2. Life is short and doesn’t last, I always need to hear that. I’m a procrastinator, I always leave things to the last minute. I always figure that if I don’t work up the courage to do something now I’ll do it later in life. I suppose what I need is a real ‘carpe diem’ mindset. Seize the day, and live your life to it’s fullest God given potential. We’re never guaranteed that we’ll have tomorrow to do what we could do today.

    3. Being unafraid of death means that we won’t be afraid to take risks for God. I can think of no more glorious death than standing firm for God even when those around me have given in because they’re afraid they’ll die. Being unafraid of death can also mean that our thoughts won’t be consumed with death, we won’t linger on it and try to avoid it as long as possible. Whatever God has ordained for us will happen despite our efforts to avoid it.

    4. Foolhardiness is more like taking a risk for the fun of it, for the thrill of the ride. Fearlessness is taking a risk because you have to and not being afraid of doing so because God is always with us.

    Thanks so much for your hard work going into this series guys! It’s really helpful and it’s getting us all thinking deeply about things worth thinking about. =)

    In Christ Alone,
    Rebecca Whitpan

  • Jessica M.

    Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear? For a while, I did have a struggle with fear, but God has graciously allowed me to overcome it.

    What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor? I think it would look wonderful. We Christians would be doing all we could for the Lord and not worry about if others will think we’re strange.
    That is what life is, and we should always be like that. :)

    What does it look like to live unafraid of death? Similar to the above question, being unafraid of death wouldn’t mean we take foolish risks but instead don’t spend time worrying over our lives.

    Bonus: What is the difference between foolhardiness and fearlessness? Foolhardiness is taking foolish risks like stepping in front of a truck and saying, “I’ll survive if God wants me to.” Fearlessness is not being afraid to risk our lives for the Gospel because God’s in control.

  • Amen! I really enjoyed that. Thanks for sharing.

    God bless
    Hannah

  • Myrto

    Thanks a lot, guys!

    I do admit that I have many times feared death needlessly….I really need to learn to trust God. When I die, it will be only because the Lord ordained it. Your post helped a lot. I’m praying for you.

    God bless you richly

  • Ella

    I will confess that I struggle with fear sometimes. Yet while My Father is slowly removing that in me (and teaching me more and more to cling/turn to Him with my fears) I still have my moments. When God has appointed a time for you to die, you’re right–the odds are 1 in 1.

  • #1 I have never been afraid of death, but the types of death and pain experienced before death. Often, it has kept me from doing things that are risky but not fool-hardy. After all, life is a risk because to live, you must die.
    #2 To look at life as a vapor is not to dispair when things go wrong. Bad things will happen, but often they do not affect your after-life in heaven which is real priority.
    #3 It must look like a person who takes every chance to talk about thier faith, and real faith, not just pretend. Faith like a child who believes they can do anything through Christ who strengthens me.
    #4 Fearlessness is to do things that are fun, yet high on risks, things that further the kingdom of God no matter the chance of death. Foolhardiness is to do things that are dangerous, not to prove a point, but to get attention or have a high. I always try to be fearless by “living”, not just being “alive”. Living is being glad just because you can breathe and experience all the beauty of God in nature, his word, and prayer. Being “alive” is just breathing and heart pumping and eating because it keeps your vital signs working.

  • Lauren B.

    Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear?

    No foolish confidence for me. I tend to err on the side of needless fear.

    What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor?

    For me it means that you can’t live your life dedicated to foolish things. There is always a time for relaxation, but I think that we need to get down more to the things we tend to put off, the things that continue to effect others past our deaths.

    What does it look like to live unafraid of death?

    It means that the thought of death does not control your every move. Not that you do stupid dangerous things, but that you don’t let a fear of death stop you from things you should do.

    Bonus: What is the difference between foolhardiness and fearlessness?

    foolhardiness is doing stupid things without concern for your life. Fearlessness is not letting death stop you from what you need to do, it is rising above your concern for self to fulfill a need. It’s rather like the difference between false bravado and true courage. Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather rising above that fear and doing what needs doing anyway.

  • I’m glad y’all have started a conversation on this, it’s a topic that we all need to think about, and that I need to hear.
    1. My problem tends to be needless fear.
    2. Mama tells us constantly to “live today as if it was your last” and that is a really good mindset to have when thinking about how short life really is.
    3. I think Lauren B. hit the nail on the head for this one. My dad has told us the same thing.

  • Catherine Hayes

    1. I wouldn’t say that my life has been marked by either foolish confidence or needless fear. Because of the death of loved ones, I am a bit nervous around two times of the year, but I’m mostly afraid for my friends and family.

    2. I think there are two ways to live life as a vapor. The first is to live recklessly and selfishly and do foolish things without thought, such as getting drunk late at night too many times, coming to work late, and losing your job. The second is to live as if every second counts, to do worthwhile things in a selfless manner.

    3. If you live life unafraid of death, you don’t live in constant fear for the safety of yourself and others. You live as an example and tell others why you aren’t afraid of death.

    4. Foolhardiness is doing dangerous things because you want to have fun or show off. Fearlessness is doing dangerous things for a purpose, such as being a missionary in a hostile country. Foolhardiness is selfish and self-centered, while fearlessness is selfless and sacrificial.

  • Thank you so much for starting this series! It is an echo of what I’ve felt for a long time. Death is unavoidable, and really isn’t that bad if you’re saved.
    But people freak out anytime I mention it. For example, when someone invites me to something, I often say that I’ll come ‘Lord willing’ (or Deo Volente if I have time to explain what that means). Usually people then ask if I have something planned or if there’s a specific reason I wouldn’t be able to make it. To which I usually shrug and say “no”, or “not that I know of”, and at times “well I’m not guaranteed to be here.” At that point everyone either thinks I have cancer or something, but when I assure them that I don’t, and that I’m just comfortable with the fact that I could drop dead in the next five minutes, they usually think I’m extremely morbid and ask me to stop talking about it.

  • Daniel Hayes

    1. I don’t think my life has been riddled with fear, but I kind of do have a bit of confidence that I’m not going to die anytime real soon. I mean, I’m not always like, “Is this going to kill me? Is that going to kill me? Is there a remote chance of dying if I do this?” or, “Ha! I surely won’t die if I do that! There’s no chance!” I’m not a guy who stays inside becasue outside there are cars which can hurt him, and I’m not a guy who goes over Niagra Falls because he’s got a barrel to protect him. I’m a guy who doesn’t expect to die soon.

    2. Like my sister said, there are two ways to live life as a vapor: you can either do all the “fun” stuff before you die, or you can do worthwile things and make the most of your life.

    3. I think living unafraid of death means not being afraid to stand up for God and do things for Him, because in some places, standing up for God is a death sentence.

    4.Fearlessness is not letting fear get in the way of furthering God’s Kingdom. Foolhardiness is not letting fear get in the way of things that are absolutely stupid.

  • 1. Foolish confidence–not really; needless fear–definitely! I worry about the stupidest things sometimes and I often have to tell myself to just let it go.

    2. One of my favorite songs is from Echoing Angels and it goes “Let go, live for the moment / Reach out, that’s how you show it / Live because you can be an answered prayer tonight.” In other words, do as much as you can for God today because you might not have tomorrow in which to do it. Don’t worry about how you’ll sound or look–just do it! You could be an answered prayer.

    3. Good question…well, I think that because we know where we’re going when we die, we should be willing to put ourselves in danger to protect non-Christians who would go to hell if they died. Like the Jewish Christian who barricaded the classroom door with his body during the Virginia Tech shootings a year or two ago.

    4. Well, I looked them both up on dictionary.com, and I found it very interesting that they both had pretty much the same definition except for one thing. The definition of foolhardy included words like “rash,” “foolish,” and “reckless,” while the definition of fearless did not contain any of those words. I agree with Lauren B.

  • Hannah D.

    wow. I rarely get those things that all I can say is ‘wow’ and this is one of them. you left me scared at the first part, talking about how we should think about it. :O 😉 but after the part about how we need not fear it. It was such an amazing blessing and reminder. especially in that song.

    I think I mentioned this in my last comment on the last post, but it’s been so inspiring to me, I’ll say it again 😉

    I recently read the Voice of the Martyrs magazine – it was so eye-opening. these Christians are persecuted for their faith, but they continue strong in the Lord and don’t fear the pain and death that comes as a result of it. A lot of times Christians in the US forget that and as a result, we get all scared about dying. but we have to remember that because of Christ we need not fear death

    thanks so much for your encouraging topic – and I look forward to the posts to come 😀

  • many people know in their heads “I don’t need to fear death because Jesus Christ is my savior and I’m going to heaven” but what a large difference about 12 inches can make- between your head and your heart! it’s often hard for me to put into practice what I believe. To truly trust my Heavenly Father and His perfect best and will for my life. Matthew 6:24-34 has been a great encouragement to me in this area: “Take no thought to your life…”
    thank y’all so much for your encouragement! :)

  • Darshaun D.

    I just finished reading “Do Hard Things”, and it was a very inspiring book. Thanks so much for “doing the hard thing” and following God’s leading to write it!

    This topic about death is very interesting. I have read J.C. Ryle’s “Thoughts for Young Men”, and this is his main topic. We need to remember that we are a vapor in God’s control, going when He wills.

    A good example of a life where the person is unafraid of death is the life of one of our country’s greatest Christian men: Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson!

    He trusted God in everything. He was never afraid of fighting in a battle, even when the odds were against him, so he was a deadly enemy to the Federals. This is not foolhardiness. He knew what he was doing. It’s not like Jessica said, about stepping in front of a truck and surviving if God wants me to. Jackson understood the dangers, and cared for his men. I suggest that every rebelutionary should read a biography of Jackson.

    Casting Crowns has a song called “Who Am I” that talks about us being a flower quickly fading, and a vapor in the wind, and who are we that God notices us, let alone loves and cares for us. The answer is that we are His.

    I like the thing you said about “I am invincible until God calls me home.” I will always remember that.I think Stonewall Jackson said something like, “I’m as safe in bed as on the battlefield”.

    Thanks for doing this.

    For His kingdom,

    Darshaun

  • I’m somewhat cautious, but wouldn’t say I have a problem with either needless fear or foolish confidence. Living life as if it were a vapor, reminds me of the children’s prayer “and if I die before I wake I pray the Lord my soul to take” Amen! Otherwise I would say it means that you never procrastinate about the important things. life every minute as if it is your last and savor every breath the Father gives you. What does it look like to live unafraid of death? Read “Through the Gates of Splendor.” foolhardiness is being reckless and rash, fearlessness is more like not having any worries because it is all in God’s hands.
    God Bless,
    Tiffany

  • Hannah Peck

    Dear Alex and Brett,
    Thanks so much for this post, it was such an encouragement and a much needed reminder.

    1. No I don’t believe that I’ve ever been too confident about how long I will live or when I will die and I have not needlessly feared. I know the Lord’s plan is perfect.

    2. With the knowledge that life is a vapor and that their is nothing I can do to keep it should drive me to live every moment to the fullest as though it will be my last. I confess that I don’t. It is so easy to take life for advantage and fail to grasp every
    precious moment that God has gifted me with.

    3. I think that without fear of death there are many more open doors. By worrying about dieing or getting hurt I’m not adding a moment onto my life, so what’s the point? Easier said than done of course. :) I’m not an incredibly brave person, but God is mighty and I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

    Bonus: Foolhardiness vs. fearlesness? Foolhardiness is doing pointless, stupid, worthless things with no purpose that delibritely endanger our lives with the ussumption that “oh surely God will protect me”. Fearlessness is knowing that you are in step with God’s will, that He has you at that point in time for His purposes, and that every step you take is for HIS GLORY.

    Also, I loved the quote from “In Christ Alone”. It’s one of my favorite songs.
    For His glory,
    Hannah

  • Amber Lynn

    wow. reading this new series is kinda unreal. in October, a girl who was very close to very many people in my school was taken in a car accident. for half a day, no one went to class, i missed lunch that day, and most people went home. we lost a sister. but now i read this, and it’s unreal how i think now, it could have been me, it could have me and my brother and mother taken on that day instead. i could’ve been the one called home. It’s strange because not even half a year before the day that girl died, my best friend was taken one night as well. and my father taken, thirteen years before that.
    but, i’m just rambling. your new series is great Alex and Brett. Keep on keepin’ on!

    ~Amber Lynn

  • 1)Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear?
    I would say that yes, I’ve had my share needless fear. Not so much now, but in the past, yes.

    2)What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor?
    We need to take every chance we can to show people the love of God.

    3)What does it look like to live unafraid of death?
    I think it means that we can live without useless fear. We can have courage to stand up for our faith in dangerous situations.

  • Q : Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear?
    A : Honestly, too much. But I can’t even put all that fears away.

    Q : What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor?
    A : It vanished so quickly, and we got to do what we got to do. p.s. this question sounds one type with ‘what would you do if God tell you you’re gonna die tomorrow?’

    Q : What does it look like to live unafraid of death?
    A : Well, no fear of heights, I’m sure. And maybe there’s some negative effects there. People will do crazy things all around the world. There’s a chance that they may leave God for life on earth! Oh but I’m sure if teenagers like us already know about the purpose of life is God, we would be the army that will try to change the world ^^

  • kelsey

    I am an agnostic, but I also think about death all the time. It isn’t THAT strange for a teenager. :) When I first realized that I was a “being-unto-death” (as Heidegger put it), I felt tremendous anxiety and extreme nausea. It was truly terrifying to think of losing all my memories, wonderful experiences, and knowledge forever. I also hated to think that the same fate awaited my family and friends, who I love dearly. In a strange way, I still hope that somehow they could live forever even if I couldn’t. Irrational, for sure. :)

    However, the realization of my impending doom has driven me to contemplate what is truly meaningful in life. I strive to live a life of moral excellence, with love and compassion for my fellow homo sapiens. I feel that my life has authenticity now, that I have taken responsibility for my life and that I truly make genuine choices. Life has meaning in the here and now, and I am grateful for every day that I have life. When I am grateful for my life, I no longer feel the ache of despair that I am a being without a soul, born into a world without a God. How I mourn the death of God! Knowledge is not always bliss. I look up at the beautiful night sky, and how I wish there was a Being Who created it and all that is under it!
    Anyway, death is not always terrifying for me, the “infidel.” 😉 Epicurus, the great Greek philosopher said, ” Death does not concern us, because as long as we exist, death is not here. And when it does come, we no longer exist.” He is much less depressing than most existentialists. :) (Although Kierkegaard is not depressing at all, in my opinion. I would recommend his works highly, for he is a wonderful writer.)

  • Kelsey: Thanks for being willing to share. You seem like a very thoughtful and well-read individual. I’m genuinely curious to know why you consider your doubts more real than your ache for God. :) If you have time to respond I’d love to discuss this with you. I’m a busy college student (among other things), but I’ll read whatever you have to say. :)

  • God used a couple things to get me over my main fears. I had a fear of death when I was younger. I knew where I was going, but I feared dying… or at least the pain of it. I always thought the worst way to die would be drowning. One day, I was swimming at the local pool and I decided to try to break my record of how many somersaults I could do while holding my breath. My previous record was something like eight in a row (I don’t remember the exact details). I got to eight and felt like I was going to die, but I was determined to keep going. I got to about ten and I started feeling okay again. I was passing out and didn’t know it. I thought I was at like twelve or thirteen and then God literally woke me up to the fact that I was sideways on the bottom of the pool. I jumped up and was completely fine, but God used that to conquer my worst fear. The second worst fear was almost dying and being stuck in a hospital with tubes in me and stuff. This last summer, I had a pretty major jaw surgery and God took care of that fear as well. Let me tell you from experience… God provides enough grace and help to get through any of these things… even the things that we fear the most.

    I often think about death because I don’t think I will necessarily live a long life, but I want to think of the things that really matter. My life needs to count now. By thinking about death, I am encouraged to really focus on what He wants me to do now. I may not have another hour of life. He knows!

  • AAHHH! I was going to type the lyrics to “In Christ Alone,” until I actually READ your whole post! There is so much truth in that verse: “Till He returns or calls me home, here in the pow’r of Christ I LIVE.”
    Because Christ paid the price for our sin, we can live without fearing death.

    Kelsey, your comment was really thought provoking. As a believer, doubt is a powerful tool Satan uses to pull me away from my Savior. So many times, thoughts have popped into my mind such as “Is God real?” and “Why do I need him?”
    But not only is there evidence for the existence of God (such as the fossil record, golden spiral, etc. Please visit http://www.irc.org for more information!), but we humans are natural worshippers. Everyone worships something, whether it’s God, themselves, money, another person, or an object.
    We also have a BIG problem: sin. When I was dead in sin, Christ died. He paid the ultimate price on my behalf because of His infinite grace, mercy, and love. And I did absolutely nothing to deserve His favor. My short life on Earth is merely an entrance point to eternal life and my days are lived for His glory. I would much rather dwell on this promise of eternal life than live my days “contemplating an impending doom.”

    Sorry if I sounded at all preachy; I just wanted to state my beliefs.

    I’ll now close my little “sermon” with this verse from “It is Well with My Soul”:
    “My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought! My sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul!”

  • OOPS! That link was supposed to be http://www.icr.org, the Institute for Creation Research website.

  • Mrs. Koller

    We here in the Koller household took some time to remember young Micheal Billings, he was an remarkable young man and we miss him very much. He was and still is a great example of a young person living for the Lord and not fearing man or death. He was an still is a great example to us all on how we should live our life for the Lord.

    I will not go without mentioning that you too are setting a good example as well. You keep up your work (and you studies) and continue to run the race. God Bless you both and we all here will be reading your series in hopes to learn something.

    God Bless!

  • Katelyn

    Great article!

    Death is definetely a subject we are encouraged to ignore. But, like the article says, we do need to think about it. Our mindset should be one of “I could die tomorrow; what can I do to change the world TODAY?”

  • “Men have been helped to live by remembering that they must die.” (Charles Spurgeon)

  • kelsey

    Why do I lack belief in God? I have spent long hours reading books and contemplating whether God exists. I have read both popular works, such as Lee Strobel, Tim Keller, and Dinesh D’Souza and books of a more scholarly, philosophical nature (Paul Copan and William Lane Craig especially). I have also read books by the New Atheists (Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Christopher Hitchens), as well as more sophisticated atheists such as Bertrand Russell, Michael Martin, and George Smith. It is not for a lack of research that I have come to be an agnostic. :)

    Though the New Atheists’ criticisms betray a lack of theological literacy (particularly Dawkins), I find many of their ideas thought provoking. To me, if evolution is true (and I have spent hours reading creationism vs. evolution), theism is almost certainly false. Humans are ultimately like other animals, doomed to non-existence. We do not possess immaterial souls, and we were not created for a divine purpose. Absurd as it seems, we are ultimately cosmic accidents, small specks in a large, lonely universe.

    That being said, I do not call myself an atheist because I have questions that are difficult to answer with philosophical materialism.Why does something exist rather than nothing at all? How did the universe come into being? Why do I feel as if I have free will? I find it difficult to understand how a “robot made out of meat” (me) would have such complexity, such depth, if I was ultimately an automaton created by natural selection.

    I am a being who in my being has being at issue for myself(as Heidegger pointed out in his ontology). It is hard to account for this in a world of mere matter.

    However, having taken physical anthropology classes, I find that many of the claims/criticisms of creationists are ignorant and/or false. I consider Christian theism (at least fundamentalist Christianity) untenable if evolution is true. Additionally, when I read the Bible, I find it difficult to believe that an omniscient, perfect deity inspired it. Furthermore, I find that Christian apologetics does an inadequate job of adequately explaining away the perceived discrepancies and “moral horrors” found within the Bible. That being said, the Bible has much that is profound and morally uplifting. (I especially love Ecclesiastes, Jesus’ teachings, and Paul’s exhortations to fellow believers. Beautiful!) :) I especially love the verse, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” Now THAT is a life of purpose and higher meaning. I can only envy such faith, hope, and dedication.

    I would like to add that I am aware that science is practiced by fallible human beings who operate under methodological naturalism, which could potentially color their interpretation of the evidence. I am intrigued by ID to an extent (yes, wishful thinking). 😉 Who knows? Perhaps science will discover evidence that indicates that we were designed after all. That would be awesome! :)

    I am afraid that I have many, many more reasons that have caused me to doubt the existence of a Creator. I could probably write a book. 😉 Anyway, I would love to know what convinces you that there is a God. Is it the argument from design? The Kalam cosmological argument? Fulfilled biblical prophecy? The resurrection? The transcendental argument? Personal experience? Are there any books that you would recommend? (BTW, I HAVE read “The Case for A Creator” and have watched “Expelled.”) 😉 Thanks very much.

  • This is a great post guys! It’s so true that we can not be afraid of death, because as Christians we wont truly start living until we die. I love C.S. Lewis’ example of it in The Last Battle. “All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one of earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
    I also love the quote from John Bunyan on death: ““I saw myself within the arms of grace and mercy; and though I was before afraid of a dying hour, yet, now I cried, ‘Let me die’; now death was lovely and beautiful in my sight, for I saw we shall never live indeed until we be gone to the other world… God himself is the portion of the saints.”

    I wrote a post on my blog about the joys of heaven and having no fear in death. (http://nobody416.wordpress.com/2008/09/18/heaven-no-fear-of-death/) But now in answer to the questions…

    1. Sometimes it has. I think we have all had times when we have acted too confident or too fearful. It’s a balance to learn how cautious and how confident we need to be. We need to take risks for the rights things. Not taking foolish risks, but take risks for things that matter to Christ instead of things that have no eternal significance.

    2. Living life as a vapor is not taking anything for granted but using every single moment to serve God and make an impact of the world around us. Everything we have been given has been given to us by God and he can take it all away in a moment. We need to live like we are dying, because in essence we are all dying. This is a saying I have, “Live everyday like it’s your last, with meaning and purpose and joy.” To live like life is a vapor is to live like it’s our very last day on earth.

    3. When I think of people that are unafraid of death I think of all the Christians in the persecuted church that are holding to Christ even with the threat of death always close to them. They are willing to do anything to glorify their Savior and they view death as finally being gone from this world and being with Christ. To not fear death is to be willing to take risks for the sake of the gospel and other things that have importance. It is boldness and courage and an amount of supernatural strength. When we have our hope in Christ we know that life on this earth isn’t as glorious as life with Him. Heaven will be far past all that we can dream or long for.

    Soli Deo Gloria
    ~Olivia~

  • I heard that message at austin. What a blessing it was to my life.

    Thanks brett.

    Gian

  • Bethany

    Thanks, Alex and Brett, great series,
    In our small corner of the nation a group of close-knit friends has recently lost our favorite member. One month ago, fourteen year old Sam joined the Lord, after a car accident early one morning. I was going to send you her story earlier, but now I see that this is the time.
    Though we miss our sister, and cherish her spirit more now than ever, we rejoice that she is now facing God. Never have I seen God glorified so much in a death. Her prayers were constantly: “I want to know You better.” Well, God has now answered her prayer in full, and we couldn’t be happier for her.
    Many prayer journals have been found, one in particular had only a drawing(she was a fantastic artist) and a single entry, penned the night before the accident, this is the prayer:
    “Dear Heavenly Father,
    Lord, i thank you for sending your Son to die for all of my sins.
    I ask Lord, that you please be with them. Please take care of them and show them the way, because i’m more than sure that they’re just a bit lost. Please help them see what they can become, and what they can do.
    I pray for the bible study, they’ve decided to continue it, but i’m not sure if thats such a good idea. It seems to me that its run its course, and needs to call itself what it is, which is a fellowship.
    I pray for America. Please, please, do whats best for us. Don’t let Obama get into office. I don’t think he has a clue. Please do whats best for us, and help me to accept it, whatever it may be.
    Lord, I also pray for myself. I’m having trouble dedicating myself to studying your Word. Please give me that extra push of motivation-to really get into your word. Lord i ask that you will help me get through this next year and a half. the freedom calls to me. its taunting me. well, maybe not quite that dramatic, but i do crave to be on the same level as my friends. this is a life-long test, i know. please help me to pass, and mature. I really want to be spiritually, as well as humanly mature. please help me acheive this.
    in Jesus’ name,
    amen”
    Oh that more young people would live with the passion and humility and abandon that Sam did! Her fourteen years counted for much more than many long and wasted lives! Words are empty if you do not live your faith while God has placed you on this earth.
    So, who is “them” that she refers to at the beginning of this prayer? Her mother asks that you search your own heart for the answer to that. Speaking at her funeral, a dear friend of Sam’s said to the crowd numbering more that 1,000:”Sam lived her life full because she lived for Christ. She knew where she was going. but the question is this: How much time do you think you have left?”
    You cannot have hope if you do not know Christ. It is black and white. I earnestly hope that each and every one of you reading this would be sure of your salvation. And live, not enslaved by death, but above it. Because Jesus Christ is everything. Sam desired to be more mature, like her older friends, little did she know that we would one day be left amazed at the beautiful heart unveiled by the grace of God. He is revealing to us the humility of His servants heart. Sam’s favorite verse was Phillipians 1:20-21. And we continue to pray that her story will touch more and more lives. I haven’t shared this to garner comments or sympathy but to honor my sweet friends memory, may you take it into your heart and may God teach you what He desires through it.
    Solo Deo Gloria,
    Bethany

  • Teresa

    As a Christian, I can say I’m not scared of death in and of itself. It’s the process of dying that has been making my heart pound recently! I’ve been thinking lately about what my friends have gone through for their faith – often ending in death.
    What if it’s God plan for me to die in a prison camp? The torture, the cruel agonizing pain that man can do, … as I was thinking about it, all fears were squashed when God reminded me of the comfort of the Holy Spirit and presence of the Lord.

    He is in us, He is WITH us, to the end. What can man do to us!?! The Spirit of God – what God puts in us – no man can take away! Amen!

    If you have the presence of God, there’s no fear in how God will call you home. There is no fear in dying.

  • Kaytlynn

    Hey Guys
    I’m really loving the series. About a year ago we had to go on lock-down at school. I was in the gym, and we had no idea what was going on, all we knew that this time it wasn’t a drill. It ended up that there was someone in the building, but they got in under control. This post reminded me of that. I knew that, no matter what happened, I would be okay. I didn’t have to fear the unknown because I knew if I did die I would enter through the gates of Heaven. Thanks for sharing ya’lls heart with us, I always love reading the blog

  • Leandrie

    “Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear?”

    Yes. I believe I have missed out on many great opportunities because of needless fear. I will never forget the time I was asked to play a piano solo in church and I refused the request. I was so nervous that I might forget how to read the sheet music, or that I might strike the wrong chord. It didn’t occur to me until later that God could have used my music as a blessing to others. I can’t really think of any foolish confidence moments, I am a cautious person.

    “What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor? “

    Live each moment of your life as if it were your last.

    “What does it look like to live unafraid of death? “

    I think living life like the apostle Paul is a perfect example of living life unafraid of death. He lived life joyously and in obedience to God, fully knowing that he could be beheaded or stoned at any moment. In some ways I also think living life unafraid of death means taking chances. As heretical as this statement may seem, being a *dare devil every once in a while is a good chance to exercise your faith.

    *By dare devil, I don’t mean doing dumb pointless things, more like a dare devil in the sense of trying something new and going out of your comfort zone.

    “Bonus: What is the difference between foolhardiness and fearlessness?”

    Foolhardiness is like going down the Niagara Falls in a Barrel. The person attempting this feat may be fearless, but the person is also an idiot. Fearlessness is like rushing into a burning building to save someone. The person doing this is fearless, selfless, and brave. One act is committed out of stupidity, the other out of nobleness. One uses discernment the other does not.

    Thank you for taking the time to write on this topic. I always look forward to a post from the Harris Twins!

    Leandrie.

  • Gift of God

    Hi Guys!
    I read about Michael Billings several months ago because of his sister Jamie’s testimony. It was a sweet and powerful message emphasizing the importance of a sister’s role in her brother’s life. It made me stop and reconsider my relationship with my brother- how am i influencing him?
    Read Jamie’s testimony at http://www.visionarydaughters.com under archives “November 2007”

  • Death… is most definately considered a morbid subject by most people and even most Christians. When the subject is mentioned in church you usually just here a couple of nervous laughs or awkward silence and then move on. But as the apostle Paul said, “…for me to live is Christ and to die is gain…” we need to think about death, not as the end, but as the beginning!! Live our lives to the utmost, every day as if it were the last! What kind of church would there be if every Christian lived out their lives as if every day was the last. Wow!! We would take the world BY FORCE if that was our attitude!

    God tells us throughout the Bible (365 times, or close to that) to live our lives without fear. But that lack of fear shouldn’t just be “a lack of fear” so to say. That space that fear would normally occupy should instead be occupied by an absolute and complete trust in God, our Creator. I ask God every day for the strength to trust Him more; The strength to seek His face with dillegence “…Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you…” If we can fully rely on God for everything then we wouldn’t need to fear or doubt. If that is the main thing that we apply ourselves to (mind you, not just sitting back and letting God do everything, but moving forward and trusting that God will make all things work together for good) in this life, God would bless us beyond what we could even imagine! Sure, death comes and it doesn’t always make sense (hardly ever) but we don’t need it to make sense, we just need to trust that God knows what He’s doing.

    Thank you for this post!! I’m sorry if my comment might have strayed a little off topic (I hope not).
    If anyone wants to read my thoughts on the subject of death, you can read it at this address: http://lightingthedarkenedworld.blogspot.com/2008/10/goodbye-great-grandma-coult.html

    I really appreciate someone taking the time to tackle such a “delicately” handled subject. It is something that all Christians should understand.
    If only death had never entered the world. Sigh. Thank God that He sent his son to die for us and cover our sin in order to give us a reason to live!!!!!
    In Jesus Christ our Savior~

  • Joshua Davis

    I just thought of a rhyme

    Don’t waste your life,
    Do hard things for Christ.

    A little bit of J.P. and Harris mixed together.

  • Joshua Davis

    “It is better to go to a house of mourning Than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.” Ecc 7:2

    That which creates the most fear in us, death, Christ used to give us hope. In Christ’s weakest moment, he used satan’s own weapon to defeat death, satan, and sin. And, with Christ’s resurrection we have an eternal living hope.

  • Amber C

    im so incredibly glad that you guys brought this up. it really made me wonder what would happen if my friends died. sure im saved but what about them? i told some of my friends to come check out this blog entry and my friend Nick did. it reall made him wonder whether just being a good kid and being a catholic/christian would keep him safe. we had a really long and intenxe discussion about it and at the end he ended up giving his life to God. im so glad God used you guys to help me save a life. Thanks

  • Kelsey: You should be commended for your thoroughness. I highly doubt I’m a fraction as knowledgeable as you. 😉 Here’s a quick attempt to answer your question and return serve. :)

    I believe in God because I’m convinced He provides a better explanation for the world around me than any competing account. I can’t say I’ve ever proven God’s existence — anymore than you might say you’ve proven His non-existence. For me the breakthrough came when I realized the goal was not 100% proof or blind faith, but something in between.

    If I could re-ask my initial question: “When faced with less than full certainty from both sides, why are your doubts more real to you than your ache for God?”

    I’d also love your thoughts the following statement: When face with less than full assurance, you trusted your doubts and I trusted my need for God — but both decisions required faith.

    Again, thank you for being willing to share so honestly and openly. May God bless you. :)

  • Awesome blog guys. I totally agree and I love the idea of living today with all that you can get out of it!

  • I just wanted to say thank you so much for doing a series on Death. I am only 17, and not too long ago I preached a sermon on Death. There was a member of my congregation that laughed, pretty much the whole way through my sermon. Death is serious and we should all give it some serious thought.

  • Grace C.

    Kelsey: I second Brett, You’ve definitely done some serious research! Congratulations for your persistence.
    I admire your dedication to surety in your beliefs. However, when looking at your reading list (which is impressive) I’m inclined to believe (although I could be biased; ) that your lists are a trifle unbalanced in favor of the atheistic point of view. I have some books I’ve found helpful in my studies of christianity as compared to atheism and evolution, I’d be happy to recommend them if you are interested. Otherwise, keep up the good search!
    Oh, Thanks for your comments they’re well thought out and very thought provoking.

  • kelsey

    Since I am an agnostic, I have no need to even attempt to prove that God does not exist. (That is clearly impossible anyway-one can not really prove a negative.) An agnostic simply does not know whether or not God exists.

    What I do need is to have sufficient reasons to believe that God does indeed exist. I agree with you that belief in God’s existence or belief in God’s non-existence (hard atheism) are equally based on faith. However, lacking belief (soft atheism or agnosticism) seems to be the intellectually honest position when one is genuinely uncertain. To assert God’s existence requires proof (unless, of course, one is a presuppositionalist). :) All the intellectual reasons for God’s existence can be countered convincingly. Therefore, if I were to believe in God, it would be a leap of faith.

    I used to believe in God when I thought that “the evidence” overwhelmingly pointed to God’s existence and the inerrancy of the Bible. Faith was not a leap into the dark, but a logical and natural step. For me, it was similar to believing that the Battle of Trenton was a historical event. I was not there, but I would still be silly to believe that it had not happened. I would need to have a good reason to doubt its occurence. I now have good reasons to doubt God’s existence.

    Furthermore, even if a deity existed, which one is the correct God? I must confess that as an American, Christianity seems the most plausible “religion.” (I have a very simplistic and limited knowledge of both Islam and Judaism). I do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, so I could only be a heretical, liberal Christian. :) I could also be a deist, but it does not make sense to me why God would abandon His creation. What is then left to believe?

    I desire a JUSTIFIED, true belief. All I know for sure is the starry sky above and the moral law within (as Kant said). Beyond that, I am uncertain. For me, the only faith I could ever possess would be the faith of Kierkegaard.

    One more point. :) Just because I wish that there was a God does not mean One actually exists. I have lots of desires that have no basis whatsoever in reality. :) Basically, my doubts about God’s existence are greater than my doubts about atheism. To move out of my current agnostic position would require more evidence than I currently possess. How could I believe in something that I truly believe is only wishful thinking and nothing more? That is literally impossible, as far as I can tell. I don’t “trust my doubts,” I just can’t get rid of them! It would be nice to be certain one way or the other.

    Anyway, why do you think it matters whether or not I believe in God? I thought you were a Calvinist, but I could be wrong. 😉 Perhaps I was made so that I could not believe.

  • Ethan

    Amen
    Last year one of the families in our church lost their only daughter in single-car accident. She was 17, and yet the mother and father showed great faith, I only saw the father cry once. He was constantly telling our youth group that he had no doubt that his daughter was with Christ. Some kids who went to the same high school as she did wanted to come give their respects to her family, but their parents wouldn’t let them because they said the daughter’s parents were not handling her death correctly. The world expected them to grieve and sorrow for weeks. Yet, they showed that death has no sting. At the funeral the father gave a short speech before the eulogy. Although he was close to tears he did not break down, and reflected God’s glory by preaching of Jesus’ defeat over death. He later told me personally that his daughter’s death was for God’s glory and that others might come to Christ through her death. I truly believe that because there isn’t a day that goes by without them thinking of their daughter and yet God’s strength is so visible in them.

  • Pingback: Good Article and Questions on “Wasting Your Life” « Veritas 6.0()

  • kelsey

    Grace C: Thanks very much! :)You are correct that I have been probably been reading more skeptical books than Christian books lately. I suppose it is due in part to the fact that I have found most Christian apologetics lacking, whereas I identify more with atheists, agnostics, and deists. I also started out my “quest for truth” with a Reformed Christian worldview (limited atonement, salvation by grace, Bible as God’s Word, etc.) If you have read Wayne Grudem, that was pretty much my theology. I was already quite familiar with Christianity, having read a bit of theology (although not nearly as much as I would like to).

    What are some books (on both sides) that you have read?What Christian books would you recommend/did you find helpful? I am indeed very interested and will read what you suggest if I can locate copies of the books. If God exists, I definitely want to know Him! Thanks and have a great day! :)

  • kelsey

    BTW, I am very sorry for all the grammatical/spelling errors! I hope you can understand what I wrote. Yikes! :)

  • Kyrstin

    Kelsey,
    Try Finney’s Systematic Theology by Charles Finney. It is very thorough, being written by an attorney. I hope this helps.

  • kelsey

    Kyrstin: Thanks very much! I’ll check it out! :)

  • David

    Hey, I am in the process of reading your guy’s book, and it has brought up many good discussions in my family. On the subject of death I can really relate, I should have died more times then I wish to count, and I am only fifteen. I have also been to two relative’s funnerals (that I was close with) and talked with people about their wishes once they die. The way that I have handled it all is by simply saying that If God is all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere all at once, then I will die when he wishes for me to die. And a half joke half serious line that I often use, “It is not wise to argue with an omnicient, omnipotent being. . . . because no matter how good you are, you will always lose.”
    So yeah, just my imput. (P.S. I might not come back so if you want to talk, you will have e-mail.)

  • Bethany

    kelsey,
    may i also suggest the evolution of a creationist my jobe martin. he was an evolution scientist who now, after many years of research teaches creationism. his book is a concise summary of what and why he believes this now. just a thought since you mentioned evolution a few times. and its a fairly quick read. also, sermons by such men as jonathan edwards and john piper have helped me much on other issues. although i must say nothing entirely worked until i got into the Bible for myself. it sounded like you have read it but i’d like to encourage you to again. you seem to sincerely want to learn and the bible teaches that if you seek God He will make Himself available to be found. not that it is easy, but worth it.
    it is refreshing to hear someone putting so much thought and passion into their beliefs. or lack thereof ; ) thanks for posting, you seem like a great person. may i offer love and encouragement as you search everything out, i sincerely hope you find faith in God. and that you keep coming back to this site, i’m with brett, very interested in what you have to say. :)
    bethany

  • Dear: Kelsey

    After reading your post my heart went out to your situation and so I wanted to help you. I (Oshea Davis) myself am a Christian author and writer myself, and although I am not an expert in apologetics I have studied it deeply and want to help

    First I would highly recommend an author Vincent Cheung at (www.vincentcheung.com) and his book “Ultimate Questions.”

    First I would like to address your position as a agnostic, which is nothing more than skepticism. I address is only because you seem to value rationalism, logic and being intelligent, therefore I want you show you why skepticism is the farthest thing away from intelligent to move you from it.

    Because all non-Christian worldviews are without any ultimate justification, there is really nothing to prevent them from collapsing into total skepticism, but one cannot remain a skeptic becauseskepticism self-destructs – it is self-contradictory to affirm that we “know” that we cannot know. Only Christianity rescues the intellect from complete skepticism; therefore, rather than depending on a non-Christian foundation to construct a case for the biblical worldview, the Christian adopts the revelational epistemology of biblical infallibility.

    Kelsey you said this: “An agnostic simply does not know whether or not God exists.” But this is self-contradictory. You claim that you can be justified by saying you “know” that you don’t know.

    I would encourage you to run from such thinking in to the arms of Jesus, Who has provided the world with the only intelligent foundation for the mind to rest. Jesus Christ even rescues the mind and through the bible and gives us a true epistemology that can be proven to be both self-justified and that covers truths for all of life.

    Secondly, about the existence of God:

    “Non-Christian epistemology is fatally flawed in the first place; they must justify their epistemology before saying that God is hidden to them. Some of them may claim that they will come to believe in God if they see him as a great ball of light. But since the God that we affirm is invisible, he is not a ball of light. Therefore, if he manifests a ball of light in front of an individual, he is not in fact revealing his own person to him, but only doing something for him to see. That is, if the unbeliever holds a false epistemology, then any evidence that will satisfy him will not be evidence that reveals the truth.

    If the individual nevertheless accepts this as evidence, then he has made an irrational leap of logic from the ball of light to the existence of God. And does this “evidence” compel him to conclude that the Christian God exists? Similar problems exist with “evidences” such as miracles or apparitions. The problem is that empiricism itself cannot justify any belief, regardless of what it admits as evidence. And since no necessarily implication follows from observation, one who relies on empiricism can always avoid the conclusion he dislikes. But then the person is to blame, and not the evidence.” Vincent Cheung

    Kelsey, The world empirical means you rely on proving things by means of observation or experiment. This is where we get the word empiricism: meaning you believe that only by the use of the senses, through which you observe, can you discover knowledge.

    An Epistemology that is based on observation as its lowest and most fundament point of proof, can therefore, only prove their observation with more observations. But the question is how do we know, as absolute fact, these other observations are infallible? Well, it would be by more observation. And so on, so that I would have to use more observation to prove the other observations. Yet, how do I really know these observations are absolute fact, more observations? This is why this epistemology is a circular argument that is not capable of finding and knowing absolute or infallible provable fact! How do you prove the senses are in fact able to know truth? By the use of more senses? But how do we know these other senses are absolutely reliable, by more senses? The Christian, or biblical worldview’s epistemology is not based on this foolish and flimsy foundation.

    Scripture is necessarily true in itself, like how the law of noncontradiction is necessarily true. For example, you need to assume the law of noncontradiction to deny it or argue against it. The fact that the bible is necessarily true is the main reason why the bible is not a circular first principle, separating itself from almost all other worldviews. Then when you add to this truth that the bible has enough universal propositions for all of life, and therefore, true rationalism or deduction is used without induction then the bible becomes different from all other worldviews because is proves itself to be true and all others false.

    being necessarily true means in essence that something is “self-justified.” When something is self-justified you do not need something else to justify or add more proof to support it, it is already self-supported and self-proved, if you would. This is why the bible is a true epistemology that needs nothing else to support it. Unlike observations that need more observations and the senses that need more senses to back them up (being circular), the bible needs nothing to support it. The bible proves itself by the fact that one must affirm the bible’s presuppositions as they try to deny it. Now unlike the law of noncontradiction the Scriptures show that it is necessarily true by its contents. In other words you must assume the universal truths within scripture to even deny it.

    See if scientists admit the laws of nature are not constant, then they vividly show they cannot prove anything; since science is built on the fact you must observe and then test over and over too find something reliable. But if the laws of nature are not reliable then none of their experiments are reliable ether (which is what they really are anyway). But, by their own worldview, unless they can observe and test the laws of nature for all times, then they cannot “prove” they are constant by their own worldview. But the bible does in fact say the laws of nature are constant. Therefore, if scientist rely on the constancy and reliability of nature’s laws to produce tests that say the bible is not true, then they self defeat themselves for they are affirming the bible to deny it!

    Atheism and Mormonism have no basis from which to declare murder as morally reprehensible. On their presuppositions, they cannot even make the word wrong universally applicable. They cannot authoritatively define murder, nor can they authoritatively enforce any rules against the practice.

    “Murder is wrong” finds rational justification only within the Christian worldview.

    Although many non-Christians also think that murder is wrong, if their non-Christian worldviews cannot lead to the conclusion that murder is wrong, and if only Christianity can produce such a conclusion, it can only mean that these non-Christians have presupposed Christianity in arriving at their conclusion.

    Kelsey, I hope this has been helpful and loving to you. You had very partilcular and hard question and I tried to answer them as best I can with what little time I had.

    “Our lord Jesus Christ is a Complete Savior.” He cancels our sin as He died in our place, He heals the brokenness and Yes, even rescues the mind from illogical nonsense.

    The bible is (1) necessarily true and, therefore, our (2) epistemology is Divine Revelation, and our method is (3) rationalism or deduction. The biblical worldview is the only worldview that satisfies these demands for a true(1) first principle that is both (a)self-justifying and (b)encompasses universal truths for all of life and (2) use a true method that is not inductive and nonsense but rational and that is true logic. It is not by mistake that the biblical worldview in the realm of logic and philosophy is undefeatable, s

    Sincerely: Oshea Davis (www.osheadavis.com) (http://www.osheadavis.com/content/view/119/31/)

  • Ana

    I didn’t read through all 60 comments, so I may be repeating something all ready said.

    Thank you so much for bringing up this topic. You talked about how God has taken away the “eternal risk” of death. Our hope goes beyond heaven. Christ didn’t simply promise that our spirits will go to a good place called heaven. If that’s all there is, then the Christian after life is no better than Ancient Greek’s belief that good people’s afterlife consisting being flittering ghosts walking around beautiful meadows called the Elysian fields. This is why Paul talked about the resurrection of the body so much, the Greeks couldn’t wrap their minds around it.

    Christ’s resurrection set a pattern for us. Our real hope is the resurrection of the body. Death has been totally conquered for mankind. One day we won’t simply be happy spirits in paradise, but blessed human beings praising our Lord forever.

    “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church,
    the communion of saints,
    the forgiveness of sins,
    the resurrection of the body,
    and life everlasting.
    Amen.”
    -The Apostles Creed

  • Kara

    Kelsey,

    If I were you, I would be extremely turned off by now by people telling me to just believe in Jesus and then beating me over the head with “facts” (which are actually circular reasonings because all they do is restate their previous affirmations) to prove their point of view. I seriously don’t blame you if you never read this comment because you’re so sick of it. Your convictions are no less strong or influential that anyone else’s. Your convictions are based on your doubts about God, and the others’ appear to be based on their belief in the infallibility of the evidence surrounding God.

    You appear to take issue with the infallibility of the Bible: or more correctly, divine inspiration. The Bible itself is full of incidences of God’s appearances and influence. I will not attempt to list them here, as I wish to keep this short. However, you are correct in stating that the Bible is full of awful, horrible, unmoral events, too. There is no evidence that these were God-inspired. In fact, Genesis states very clearly that the evil in the world was the result of the fall of man. (See Genesis 3, especially verses 14-24.) The Bible is a very realistic book, and it seeks to show the evil that is present due to forces other than God in the world, and how God offers help to humans who want for His power to fill them in counteraction. I agree with you that most apologetics in general rely on the expression of a statement rather than any fact it might contain as truth. People in general do this and I have nearly been driven to screaming.

    So, I really would prefer discussion than to preaching, if that’s alright with you. I am truthfully interested in what you have to say. What books do you consider the best defense of your viewpoint? A last question:

    You appear to believe that God cannot be concretely real based on your doubts. However, since your doubts are yours and yours only, how can you say this concretely disproves knowledge for his existence for other people. Thoughts can’t be proven, by nature, to really exist. Doubts are thoughts, so how can you say this is more evidence for the “unknowingness” of God if you doubt him?

    I sincerely appreciate the research you have done. If you are willing, I would just as sincerely appreciate discussion. A fellow lover of concrete research, Kara

  • If anyone wants to listen to Michael Billings’ powerful eleven minute message “Life Is A Vapor”, you can find it here:

    http://www.visionforum.com/hottopics/blogs/dwp/2007/11/3118.aspx

    Or if for some reason the above link is ever down, I have an archive of it on my website:
    http://www.jordancronin.com/2007/11/13/life-is-but-a-vapor/
    http://www.jordancronin.com/blog-hosted-files/life-is-but-a-vapor_Michael-Billings.mp3

  • Mayra

    Ecclesiastes 6:12
    For who knows what is good for a man in life, during the few and meaningless days he passes through like a shadow? Who can tell him what will happen under the sun after he is gone?

    Have you had any near death experiences? Yes, I remember when I was 12 years old, I went on a road trip in Ecuador and I closed my eyes and stuck my head out the window. Something happened that I suddenly pulled myself back inside the bus. No more than 2 seconds passed by when I saw a huge school bus speeding so close to our bus that had I stuck my hand out the window I could have touched it. It was God’s grace that kept me, keeps me and will continue to keep me.

    When was the last time you really thought about death? 2 weeks ago, my dad is ill and I was sad to think that his time is coming near, but I turned on the tv and was watching one of Greg Laurie’s Crusades and he shared how he got through the loss of his son. A video was played that had one closing remark “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. -Matthew 10:39″

    Would you describe yourself as afraid of death? Be honest. At first glance I very much feared death, but as I began to study God’s Word I was no longer afraid. See, we (as humans) think too much and in so doing, complicate everything. The world views death as the end of our story but God views it as just the beginning of our eternal lives. This is why we must be so very precautious with what we do here on Earth, we must be sure that we are saved and that if at this very moment the trumpet sounds, or something happens… we will return to our Creator.

    Death is generally considered a morbid subject. As Christians, should we think about death? If so, how should we think about death? If not, why shouldn’t we think about death? As Christians, we need to know Luke 9:23 [Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.] We should die on a daily basis to our flesh. This is what the Bible defines as death: Romans 8:6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. 8 So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. 10 And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” When we, as Christians think of death, we should think of LIFE! Life to our spirit.

    We must never forget Mark 12:30 And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. [Notice it does not say to love the LORD with all your carnal thinking or flesh. Why? because our flesh does not want to seek God]. John 6:63 “The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing…”

    In closing, since life is like a passing shadow, we should live our lives so pleasing to God and to the fullest!

    2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

    Let us be the best we can be for our Lord’s sake! To the best of our potential!

    To Him be all the honor and glory forever and ever. Amen!

  • Lindsey

    Hi Kelsey,

    Like Kara, I’ll preface this by saying that I wouldn’t blame you if you don’t want to see any more posts addressed to you! Also, since so many people have already recommended so many books to you, it’s probably not fair of me to recommend another one. But since most people are recommending apologetics/theology books, I thought I’d recommend a science book you might find interesting. It’s titled “God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?”. The author is John Lennox, a fellow professor at Oxford with Richard Dawkins. The two men have recently debated each other on creation/evolution. Thus Dr. Lennox’s book addresses many of the issues raised by Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and the other modern atheist/evolutionists, besides going back to historical representatives. The point of the book is not to ‘prove’ either literal-day creation or theistic evolution or simply disprove evolution; rather, it demonstrates some mathematical and scientific fallacies of the materialistic worldview.

    Thanks for your patience!

    ~Lindsey

  • Sarah Harr

    What does it look like to live unafraid of death?

    0ne of the best examples I can think of comes from the life of Stonewall Jackson.

    Lt. General Thomas Jackson speaking to then Captain John D. Imboden:

    “General” I remarked, “How is it that you can keep so cool and appear so utterly insensible to danger in such a storm of shell and bullets as rained about you when your hand was hit?” He [Jackson] instantly became grave and reverential in his manner, and answered, in a low tone of great earnestness: “Captain, my religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me.” He added, after a pause, looking me full in the face: “That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave”

    (Stonewall Jackson and the American Civil War,
    G.F.R Henderson, Vol. 1, p. 163.”)

    I also love the quote by Jim Elliot, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

    And the Apostle Paul, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”

  • kelsey

    Bethany, Oshea, Kara, and Lindsey: I am sorry for not responding to your comments sooner. I had (still have) :) a lot of homework to do. I sincerely appreciate your comments. I’ll now try to address your comments/thoughts.

    Bethany: Thank you for your thoughts. I have to say, however, that creationism is not really a tenable position, from my knowledge of physical anthropology and biological evolution. (I am much more knowledgeable about physical anthropology.) I regularly read Answers in Genesis ( a prominent creationist website), and I regularly find many major flaws in their articles. They both misrepresent evolutionary theory (factual errors/misunderstanding) and lack understanding of the scientific method.

    I have to mention that John Piper, more than any other prominent theist, caused me to embrace atheism. The doctrine of double predestination, is beyond horrific and evil (in my opinion). Listening to one of his sermons on hell so disturbed me that I knew that I could not be a Christian (Calvinist anyway). I could not and could NEVER call predetermined eternal hell justice.

    I would recommend the following article (from the Christian apologetics website Be Thinking) on why evolution is correct and theists should embrace the truth.
    http://www.bethinking.org/science-christianity/advanced/creation-and-evolution.htm
    Have a great day! :)

  • kelsey

    At Oshea: Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate what you wrote. Nevertheless, I take issue with just about everything you wrote. :)

    First of all, I am not a philosophical skeptic. I made no such claims (intentionally at least). I never claimed that the existence of God is unknowable in principle. (How would I know that? :)). I said I do not know whether or not God exists because (to me) the evidence is inconclusive. To be perfectly honest, I am more of an atheist questioning my atheism than a theist doubting theism. I suppose agnostic atheism would better describe my position. If I were forced to choose one way or the other, I would lean towards atheism.

    You made several claims that you failed to justify whatsoever. I am somewhat familiar with presuppositionalism (Greg Bahnsen, Cornelius Van Til are/were major proponents of this school of apologetics.) To be polite, I am utterly unconvinced. :) There are several problems with their views. One of their major arguments, the transcendental argument, at best argues for a deity of some sort or a Platonic world of forms, not specifically the Christian God. To go from “something out there” to the God of the Bible is quite a leap, you see. It is like attempting to get to the moon by jumping off a trampoline. You’ll never get there. 😉

    You also seemed to say that empiricism is the only way to obtain knowledge. (Rather you think that I think this way.) You would be incorrect in this supposition. I would consider myself both a rationalist and an empiricist, as the two are not mutually exclusive.

    You ask me to justify reason by reason. I believe reason is actually self-justified and needs no defense. Furthermore, the belief that God is somehow the source of morality and logic is problematic. You may be familiar with the Euthyphro dilemma. (I will not spell it out for you, you can look it up if your memory fails you.)Even if you respond by saying logic and morality come from God’s character rather than commands, the argument can be applied to God’s character as well. Therefore, the theist and atheist are on equal grounds in attempting to build a metaphysical basis for morality and logic.

    I am a believer in objective morality, as the atheist philosopher Michael Martin has developed many philosophical arguments for moral objectivity apart from a deity.
    Your paragraph concerning Scripture as necessarily true similar to the law of non-contradiction was rather nonsensical, I am afraid. For some odd reason, you think that by saying your beliefs need no justification, the issue is settled. It really doesn’t make any sense. William Lane Craig, an absolutely brilliant Christian apologist has this to say about your position: “Presuppositionalism commits the informal fallacy of begging the question, for it advocates presupposing the truth of Christian theism in order to prove Christian theism. It is difficult to imagine how anyone could with a straight face think to show theism to be true by reasoning, ‘God exists, therefore God exists.’ A Christian theist himself will deny that question-begging arguments prove anything.” Five Views on Apologetics (p. 233).

    Here’s another good quote from another apologist (commenting on presuppositionalist John Frame): Gary R. Habermas: “Van Tillians seem to have a notion that all presuppositions except the most circular ones are on the same level. Since no one can be neutral, we must all begin with some sort of prior notions. Given such a stance, they can basically begin with the truth of Christian theism in at least some form. But somehow Frame proceeds from here to Scripture, as if this entire body of truth is justified by the need for a starting point.”

    “Here Frame commits the informal logical fallacy of false analogy. He argues that rationalists must accept reason as an ultimate starting point, just as empiricists assume sense experience, and so on. So the Christian may begin with Scripture as a legitimate starting point. But these are not analogous bases. While the rationalist uses reason and the empiricist uses sense experience as tools from which to construct their systems, Frame assumes both the tool of special revelation and the system of Scripture, from which he develops his Christian theism. In other words, he assumes the reality of God’s existence, his personal interaction with humans, plus a specific product: Scripture. Does Frame not realize that, in the name of everyone needing a presupposition, he has imported an entire worldview when others have only asked for tools?”

    “But these presuppositions are not all created equal! Frame allows rationalists and empiricists their methodological hook, while he demands the hook, line, and sinker for Christianity!” Five Views on Apologetics (p. 242).

    Those are the major things I took issue with in your comment. I have some more issues with what you wrote, but I am not interested in writing a book. :)

  • kelsey

    Kara: Thanks so much for your comment! I have to admit that the presuppositionalist position irritates me to no end! I absolutely agree that it proves nothing.

    I do have a question for you: Are you Arminian, by any chance? Your theological views seem to deny God’s responsibility for evil. Isaiah 45:7 says, “”I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.” This would not disturb a Calvinist (since God is sovereign over everything), but it would probably trouble other Christians.

    God’s sanctioning of genocide (including “older” women and boys, particularly in Numbers 31) is problematic. The misogyny rampant in the Old Testament laws is also disturbing. Those are two examples of the moral horror to which I refer. There was a reason the heretic Marcion believed Jesus saved us from the Old Testament deity.

    I have read so many books that it is difficult to say which best describe my views! :) I agreed with much of Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not A Christian. (I have much more conservative views on human sexuality, however.)

    Atheism, Meaning, and Morality by Michael Martin is also book that I really enjoyed. I am not a nihilist, and he defends objective morality without a transcendent source.

    Other books that best summarize my atheistic tendencies:
    -God’s Problem by Bart Ehrman, Sense and Goodness Without God by Richard Carrier, The Reason Driven Life by Robert Price, Why I Became An Atheist by John Loftus, Atheism: The Case Against God by George Smith, The Age of Reason by Thomas Paine (I know he was a deist), Darwin’s Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett, Evolution vs. Creationism: An Introduction by Eugenie Scott

    I have read literally dozens more books. I could recommend many,many more, but that list should suffice. I hadn’t realized how many books I have read on the subject until now. Wow! Perhaps I possess an obsessive tendency? 😉 Seriously, I need help. :)

    I don’t believe that God isn’t concretely real because of my doubts. There is an objective reality beyond my thoughts, for sure. I’ll give you an example. My doubts about the existence of leprechauns do not make leprechauns non-existent. However, my rational faculties , along with empirical evidence, make me pretty certain that none exist. It is the same with God. The evidence, accompanied by reason, indicates that there is no God (as far as I can deduce anyway). I can’t believe in God just because I think it would be nice if He existed.

    I would appreciate any thoughts/comments you might have. :)

  • kelsey

    Lindsey: Thanks for the recommendation. I am somewhat skeptical of philosophical materialism as well. I agree that evolution does not necessarily prove materialism.

    I like John Lennox, but he is more liberal theologically. I believe evolution clearly disproves the best interpretation of the Bible (fundamentalist and literal). I can not really hold to liberal theology, at least not right now. I don’t see it. :)

    However, I am intrigued by deism, like Antony Flew (atheist turned deist). Who can say for sure that a deist God didn’t create the world? It’s a real possibility.

  • Marci

    Kelsey, i know from debating that, if you argue enough about an issue, it is REALLY HARD to make a decision with either side based on logic, because you know of so many logical and illogical arguments from both sides. Ancient greeks outlined three argumental appeals: logos (logic), ethos (ethics), and pathos (emotion). Many people disregard the last two appeals, but there are many arguments for which a decision cannot be made without some element of either.

    Thank you for taking the time to really search for truth. Just remember that truth is not always wholly based on logic. Sometimes it is more than that. Therefore, I will pray for you, that God will make himself known to you in a way both powerful and personal – not an argument, but an act of love.

  • Kelsey: Well, I was going to apologize for the delay in getting back to you — but I see you’ve been well-occupied. 😉 I appreciate that the tone has stayed so friendly among all involved. This is a discussion, after all, not a debate. :)

    I’m under an crush of paper deadlines right now, but I’ll be adding my thoughts sometime soon. In the meantime, I’m interested to know whether you’ve read any Francis Schaeffer — and if so, what you thought. :) I’d also like to hear your opinion of “The Reason for God” by Tim Keller and “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis, since (1) I’m assuming you’ve read both, and (2) many Christians consider the latter a classic and the former a modern classic.

    Thanks for enduring my questions. It’s great hearing such friendly and thoughtful arguments from the “other side.” I really wish we were just sitting at a coffee shop having a conversation. :)

  • kelsey

    Marci: Thank you very much. Your comment was very helpful and encouraging. :)

    Brett: I haven’t read Francis Schaeffer, but I intend to eventually. Right now, I really want to understand liberal theology. As a former Calvinist, more liberal views are SO foreign to my mind. :) I also want to read more William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, Alister McGrath, and John Lennox. They are philosophically trained, which I appreciate.

    I thought “The Reason for God” wasn’t very good actually. I can’t believe that it could be considered a classic. :) It seems to be a book for skeptics who have not thought through the issues at all. For example, I would never claim that there can’t be one true religion or that religion only harms humanity.

    I thought his chapter on hell was both unbiblical and unconvincing. He says people put themselves into hell. Romans 9 clearly contradicts this view, as it teaches double predestination. (God prepares vessels of wrath and vessels of mercy for His own glory.)

    I also thought his chapter on suffering was shallow as well. He didn’t really take this issue seriously. There could be a reason for all the suffering in the world that our puny human minds can not conceive, but that seems unlikely. God allowed Jews in the Holocaust to suffer and most of them are now burning in hell, according to Christianity. How is that suffering ultimately for a good purpose? I can not believe that this is the best of all possible worlds, which it would be if there was a good, sovereign God.

    C.S. Lewis is better, as he was a very thoughtful man. However, he mostly argues for a God, not specifically the Christian God. His argument for natural moral law is thought provoking, but ultimately fails. If God created moral law, it is arbitrary and relativistic ultimately. I think murder, theft, etc. would be wrong regardless of what anyone decreed. All we need is rational thought and concern for our fellow humans to solve most moral issues.

    Acording to scientists, morality in Homo sapiens is a result of “moral modules” in the brain. Research has indicated that moral emotions activate both the higher-level cognitive processes and emotional processes in the brain. Therefore, we are “hard wired” by nature to be moral. (The fact that we are a social species and the theory of “group selection” amply explain the selective pressures that would have caused us to evolve those “moral modules.”)

    His “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic” argument to establish Christianity is not very convincing. It assumes that the Gospels are accurate historical accounts. That is quite an assumption. I have read books calling that belief into serious question.

    I also enjoy this dialogue immensely. It is really important to understand the “other side.” I hate how this issue causes people on both sides to demonize those with different conclusions. We are all just humans, not evil personified. :) I take issue with how aggressive the New Atheists are towards people of faith. It is not helpful. Honest, respectful dialogue is key. If we can’t agree, at least we can understand where the other person is coming from. Religion is not the root of all evil, nor is secularism the root of all evil. Both have made many positive contributions to society.

    I appreciate that many Christians care about the deeper issues of life. Most people seem to live shallow, hedonistic lives without regard for greater purpose. This is especially prevalent in American culture.:)

    BTW, I have your book and it was a very thought provoking and inspirational read. Nice job! Have a great day and work hard on those papers! 😉

  • Kara

    Again in response to Kelsey:

    I am not an Arminian, at least not that I know of. 😉 If I discover that I am, I will have my people contact your people. I am not a Calvinist, either. In fact, I do not belong to any school of theology at this point. I actually like to read the Bible for myself and see what it really says, rather than another human’s interpretation of it. Tricky, huh? Most of the problems you have explained as being your major issues with Christianity and God come from theology, and someone’s interpretation of the Bible. What a “great” theological leader says about a verse is not necessarily what a particular verse says in actuality.

    On Isaiah 45:7:
    I looked up the word evil as used in this context in Strong’s Exhaustive concordance. There was an interesting note under the heading, “God’s actions of judgment are disagreeable to the wicked (Eze 14:21) but are not ethically evil”. From the same source on the use of the word create: “Can refer to creating form nothing as well as to reforming existing materials”. The last part of the definition (which would be in italics if I knew how to do it) fits right in with Numbers 31! God is using death in the hands of the Israelites in order to bring judgment on an evil nation. The backstory to the death of the “older” women is that the most beautiful young women created a plot to entice the young men of Israel away from God by capturing them with their beauty, then entering into marriage under the condition that they forsake God and serve the regional deities. Their death was God’s judgment on them at the hands of the God-fearing Israelites. Notice the young women who had not participated were spared. The boys were the children who would pass on the hate of their oppressors if allowed to live. (See also Josephus’s account of this story, Book 4 of the Antiquities of the Jews, chapter 6.) Why did pharaoh decree for all the boys to be killed? (See Exodus 1:16.) On misogyny, notice that God Himself gives very little rules from His mouth as to how women are to be treated. The Hebrews added much to His original decrees, as seen with their elaborate feasts today. His instructions were very pared down, and He never sought to abuse or belittle women, from my readings (and I have read a ton of the Bible). Some laws may also have a cultural context.

    Earlier you said that the existence of God could not be known, but in your reply to my first comment you seemed to equate God with leprechauns, i.e. something that does not exist. I am curious as to what caused your shift. Also curious if any personal event set you towards questioning you own Reformed theology. More questions: If God “died”, then how could He not have existed at some point? What is your definition of a soul? What would a “justified” faith look like to you? If it is a concrete truth that we as humans and our abstract psyche that invariably comes with that exist, why can we not prove other abstracts? What do you consider the best evidence for evolution? What are the best and worst defenses you have read of Christianity? How many books have you read “for” it?

    Sorry, that was a lot of questions, but I am curious! My last suggestion is read the Bible, not theological books of man, since you are so well-read in those already. See what God directly says and what others have added. This may help a lot. Approaching the Bible like this has cleared up various issues of confusion for me, at least on how the principles of a “biblical” movement began. Kara

    P. S. On my dictionary definition-level knowledge of presuppositional theology, it is not rational to argue on an assumed base to a skeptic! It’s just not logical, or commonsensical! 😉

  • Halcie

    ~Kelsey,
    On the evolution/creation topic, I thought I would reccommend the website http://www.drdino.com and their downloads page. (Its “drdino” because he deals with issues such as dinosaurs and the Bible, as well as evoltion and such). He has many controverisal issues (and he’s also very forward and blunt) but I feel he has a unique prospective and deals with a BUNCH of the creation/evolution debate questions, and defends his positions well. If your interested, I have found it very interesting. (the questions and answers is good)
    Also, I must admit I nearly read and studied to the extent you have, but I would recommend “Why Faith Makes Sense” by Dr. Will Davis Jr and “I Don’t HAve Enough Faith to be an Atheist”.
    P.T.L.

  • Moriah

    I don t how many of ya ll have a friend your age die. I have, and I know. It is so scary.I am thirteen and Curtis was fifteen.He was the life of the party,the friend at all times,and a amazing young man. (ladies he was the man of our dreams) Anyway Alex and Brett you are saying is echoing my thoughts.

  • Kara

    It’s been almost two days since I posted my comment. I know that everyone involved in this site is busy, but if my comment could be posted soon, I’d be very grateful!

  • kelsey

    Halcie: Thanks for the recommendation. I have to say, however, that creationism (young earth, world wide flood, humans created 6,000 years ago) is not considered a legitimate scientific theory for many good reasons. Creationism is not just an attack on evolution. It is an attack on science itself. Multiple fields of science attest to the fact that the earth is VERY old and that animals (including humans) have evolved from simpler life forms. If they are all wrong, there is no good reason to trust science as a fairly reliable way of obtaining knowledge about the natural world.

    Creationism is not a “cutting edge theory.” It was the reigning paradigm for hundreds of years in the scientific community. It has been thoroughly falsified.

    You mentioned that you have done lots of research. What books on evolution have you read (from an evolutionary perspective)? It is important to research both sides of an issue.

  • Adam I

    Well, as a mtn biker i have encountered death too many times, but the adrenaline rush keeps me going. I think personally im not afraid of dying-i know its going to happen, but im afraid of the legacy i will leave. We, as Christians touch people everyday with the way we live. Sometimes our flesh gets the better of us and we touch those people in the wrong way, but we should always leave no doubt in that persons mind that there is definitely something different about us. The way we carry ourselves, the way we talk, respond to situations, etc. The way my dad has always put it when he has preached funerals is, “we should view death as a celebration” now as cliche this might be for other believers, its radical to non-believers. We should miss that loved one that has passed but be glad (if a believer) that they will no longer endure this earth for it is in turmoil. The scriptures say “the earth groans in anticipation of the return of its savior” and we can see this in earthquakes, hurricanes, political situations etc. So i do not fear death. Or at least let the grim side of it not catch me when im down.

  • David

    Science and Religion can work together. I am a pastor’s kid so I listen to how he explains that he is a scientist and a religious leader. He explains that the bible asks two questions, who and why, where science ask how and when. Now the two can co-exist because as long as you do not read into the bible (reading more then what the bible is actually saying, for instance when god created the animals in the sea, most think fish, where I think micro-organisms ect), but when you read out of the bible you are read just what is there are trying to figure out what it means to you. The reason the co-existing cannot work with reading into the bible is because everyone assumes it took God six twenty-four hour days to create the world, where as God actually exist out of time space and therefore we can have no concept of how long it actually took. Now if I look at genesis I look at it and think it is there just to give some small means of explaining how powerful God is and how we must live by grace (that and explain the whole creation of the tribes of Israel)
    So yeah, both can work together, you just need to be open minded. (Which unfortunately most are not
    .)

  • Marci

    Look, I am a creationist, but I have to agree with you, Kelsey, on the point that the earth appears VERY OLD scientifically. There are two explanations that I think fit with the Bible and the scientific evidence:

    1. Adam and Eve could have been in the garden of Eden for millions of years. We really have no way of knowing that they didn’t (the Bible doesn’t say).
    2. According to Genesis, God created a man and a woman originally, not 2 babies. he also created the TREE of the knowledge of good and evil, not the SEED. So it would be reasonable to assume that he created an earth that already appeared mature.

    Without going into the specifics, the scientific principle that causes me to believe in God is a very simple one. I don’t remember the exact wording, but in physics last year I learned a law that says that any movement or change of state, etc. in matter has to be caused by a force. One of the laws of Thermodynamics also states that MORE matter cannot exist, it can only change the way in which it exists. So where did the matter come from? How did it form orbits (around the earth, sun, galaxy, etc.)? I’m not sure if you believe in the big bang or not, but if you do, where did the bang come from? What caused the explosion? Could it be that God said, “let there be light?” and that HE was the force behind it? Even if he wasn’t, where did the mass of gases come from? Where did SPACE itself come from?

    If every force is the result of a previous force, there had to be, according to laws of physics, a force at some point that was not the result of something else. but since our universe doesn’t work that way, this original force had to be outside of the laws of science – outside our universe.

    I know that my point doesn’t explain specifically the God of the Bible, but it does support intelligent design/creation. And btw, I didn’t read that argument in a book or anything, i just arrived at that conclusion while studying for a physics test, lol. So I’m curious what all of you guys think of it. :)

  • Ashlee

    That sounds like something 1 of my brothers would do, and there’s 4 of them! =] The only near death experience that i can remember is once when i was like 4 i fell into a pond that had a net over it. i coud’ve gotten caught in the net and drowned but i didn’t.
    Guess God wanted me here on earth.
    In august, my 2 year old brother died from a heart defect that we didn’t know about.
    You really never are 2 young 2 die.
    I am not afraid of death. I just hope i can get everything done that i want 2 by the time i do.
    your sister in Christ,
    Ashlee

  • Halcie

    Kelsey~
    Creationism is not the only alternative to evolution. It is fairly easy to deflect criticism of Darwinism by drawing a false dichotomy – science v. young earth creationism. In fact, young earth creationism is a very narrow segment of those that find evolution unconvincing. Many people agree that the evolutionary mechanism is valid – natural selection working on genetic mutations. However, it is quite another thing to extrapolate from that mechanism to all life on earth evolving from the first living cell. That idea goes far, far beyond what the evidence warrants, and requires a large degree of faith in philosophical materialism.
    The fact is that most of the evidence for evolution (macoevolution that is) is theoretical.
    One example, is that if all living things evolved from lesser life forms than there should be abundant tranistional forms found as fossils.
    “As by this theory innumerable forms must have existed, why do we not find them embedded in countless numbers in the crusts of the earth? The number of intermediate links between all living and extinct species must have been inconceivable great!” -Charles Darwin
    However, not one unequivocal transitional form has been found. This is just one example of the lack of essential evolutionary evidence.
    O and I have read quite a bit about evolution in science textbooks and watched debates on the subject and such. (spent hours today on it actually).

    In Him,
    -Halcie ptl

  • David

    Kelsie, Halcie,

    Did either of you read the message I left? 11/15/08?

    ~ David

    P.S. Sorry for your loss Ashlee.

  • Ashlee

    Thank you David. =}

  • I want to jump into the Kelsey discussion so much hahaha but I know there’s a lot there already and it must be ridiculous to have to write such in depth responses to all these people. I want to commend Kelsey on being informed! I grow so frustrated with ignorance. I encourage you to continue reading, I know several good books have been suggested, but I think it best to supplement it all with the Bible. And in everything, seek God. He wants you to know Him and to make Himself known to you, but He can’t force you to accept Him or to acknowledge Him. Your heart has to be open and willing.

    * Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear?
    I seem to think I’m invincible when I’m driving. I’m the biggest supporter of God working miracles in modern day simply because I’ve seen so many work in my favor!

    * What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor?
    Living life as a vapor requires attentiveness. You don’t ignore things and you notice things that no one else does. All of a sudden, you enjoy simple things much more like 5 minutes to be able to sit still or some pretty flowers in a window. You live more in the here and now, but not in a whimsical or reckless fashion. Instead, you are utterly aware of here and now and are careful in your actions because it might be the last thing you ever do, and to leave this world with a misplaced word or a slap to someone’s face would be catastrophic. You listen to people when they talk to you and you savor each bite you take and you give a smile when others give you angry words. Pet peeves are no more, anxiety and stress have expired, and setbacks are simply setbacks. Our relationships with God are more intimate and meaningful. Changing the world becomes an immediate possibility.

    * What does it look like to live unafraid of death?
    Being unafraid of death allows you to hear God tell you things you couldn’t hear before. When you fear death, anything that might cause death is not allowed into your though processes. Once that fear is gone, God can call you to change the world in ways you would never imagine. A generation without fear of death is a generation of Jim Elliots.

    * Bonus: What is the difference between foolhardiness and fearlessness?
    Hahaha, there’s a bonus question like this is a quiz.

    Foolhardiness is when you act in ways that endanger yourself with no thought for anyone else. This can be thrill-seeking behavior such as bungee jumping, cliff diving, swimming with sharks, etc. Or it can be things such as drinking, drugs, lots of random sex, etc. Fearlessness is courage and bravery and chivalry. Fearlessness is when the thought of your own safety never even enters your mind. Fearlessness is a fighter pilot flying right over enemy territory. Fearlessness is throwing your body over a grenade. Fearlessness is entering a hostile tribe to preach the gospel. Fearlessness is standing up for the rights of those who can’t.

  • followeratheart

    Once you are unafraid of death you become free. You are able to let Him work through you more than ever.

    He came and conquered death and in Him we can do all things.

  • Jonasz Skrzypkowski

    hmmm…

    I asked my school mate about death. ‘ Do you afraid a death?’ He says: ‘ Of course I do…’

    I’m from Poland, Europe… In my 40 mln people country are only about 200 000 people who knows Christ as his Saviour. Here be obedient [for] God is really hard but not impossible.
    I don’t afraid death, but thousand of thousand of thousand people around me afraid, because they don’t know what will be after life.
    I know – heaven, for me….
    But what with all these people? – my family, school mates, students, teachers, politicians, clerks, workmen… Hell and eternal damnation….

    Pray for Poland…

  • Brianna

    My impression of death is that is one which we must not fear, it is one which will lead us to God’s holy and divine presence.

    But… it is the one thing that causes millions to tremble at. If God is not a part of your life and you and spiritually unprepared for death, then fear comes into play.

    Life is for preparation, to complete the work God calls us to.

  • Lindsey

    Omg yes! we shouldn’t live our life in fear of death but live a full life in Gods Glory

  • Abby

    I love “In Christ Alone”! That’s probably the best verae of that song. But they’re all great.

  • Savana

    Those are some great scriptures in there. Also, I like how you wrote the lyrics to “In Christ Alone”. This is going to be a good series.

  • “In Christ Alone” has got to be one of my favs: no fear in death!

    Death is a gateway to another classroom: its graduation that draws us closer to God and also closer to becoming like Jesus Christ!!!

  • Jimmmahhh

    Those who reject the doctrine of God’s eternal wrath upon the wicked do not love the God of the Bible, but a false god, an idol of their own vain imaginations. Of them it is written, they “will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1)

  • This is an awesome topic. I love reading what God has promised us when it comes to dying. It’s also so interesting how the world twists almost everything God says. Good job guys.

  • Tabitha

    I love “In Christ Alone”!!
    I recently used it on my blog!

    Kelsey~
    Have you tried praying? You say you want to believe that God exists, pray to Him, ask him to reveal Himself to you. God loves you and He wants you to come to Him. Believing that God does not exist is not going to change the fact that He does! Nobody can prove that God does or does not exist.
    Whatever decision a person makes is made on the basis of faith. You cannot just choose the most logical point of view or the one with the most evidence, it does not work that way! The Bible says draw near to God and He will draw near to you. God is always there, He will always love you, but it is up to you to seek Him with all your heart. You are seeking, you are searching, but have you spoken to Him have you poured out your heart to Him, have you drawn near to Him? If you have not please try! I will be praying for you. =)

  • Josh

    Has your life been marked by foolish confidence or needless fear?
    Yes, it still is. I have this idea that I’m not gonna die soon, when in truth I know I might, and so I don’t change my life to get ready for death.
    What does it look like to live as if life is a vapor?
    To life for eternity, not for now, and focus on love, friends, happiness, joy, peace, contentment–little things like chocolate and a sunny day. To make a difference now and change the world.
    What does it look like to live unafraid of death?
    To not care when you’re going to die, and to be ready to die, and to be ready to meet God in Heaven, and to know where you’re going.

  • Elizabeth

    Young people die all the time. Whether in car accidents or because of some disease or cancer. I know a girl of ten who came very close to dying because of a brain tumor. Teenagers are in a lot of danger. I have been in a couple of close to drowning situations, I was only five and eight. We need to take death more seriously and htink more about it. I love that last verse in ‘In Christ Alone’! I and my sister translated it into sign language and every time I sign it, I think about the words. ‘No fear in death.’ I have witnessed a Christian lady on her death bed, she was not afraid of death. Christ is always with us. I’m sure when you’re dying Christ gives you a peace unexplainable. In my two near death experiences, I could feel Christ holding me and telling me not to be afraid. Obviously it had an impact on me, becuase I still remember both those times ten years later from five years old. He saved me from those, but a time could come when He decides it’s time for me to go home. I have embraced that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suicidal or anything. I just know that when God calls me home, I will be there quickly. We need to be witnessing, who knows who’s going to die today. I have read that about 500,000 people die every day. That’s a lot. I encourage you to be a light to the world around you.
    ~Elizabeth~

    P.S. ‘In Christ Alone’ is by Keith and Kristyn Getty. The whole song is a great song. Beautiful.

  • Chris

    Thank you for discussing this topic. If I were to talk about death in my school, people would tell me to seek psychiatric help, yet alot of the kids there choose to do drugs and do ungodly things without even thinking of the eternal consequences of their decisions. This reading is actually influencing me to speak more of the good news in my school, so that more young men and women will come to know God before they die.

  • Rob

    Jesus is amazing his peace is the peace that no man can understand
    it is so powerfull that you love to die now before tommowo

    http://www.youtube.com/seekjesus1

  • Awesome column , I am going to spend more time learning about this topic

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  • Amber

    I have not thought about death in a while, but it is a very important subject. Like you said, we are all going to die, when and how is the question. Nowadays we often here the phrase YOLO, which mean “You Only Live Once.” This is the truth, but it is often meant that you should fill your days with partying and all the fun you can have. You only live once, but if you do it right in preparing for the coming of Christ, once is enough. Jesus Christ suffered and died for us, and all he asks is that we prepare our souls for the fearful day of judgement. Thank you guys for posting a series about, well, death.

    • mimeforJESUS

      I saw a video which talks about YOLO, and they put a twist on it: really it means YODO (You Only Die Once).

      • Amanda T.

        BlimeyCow? :)

        • mimeforJesus

          Yes!! You watch them too?

          • Amanda T.

            :) Yeah! I honestly haven’t followed them closely for a few months – been really busy! But those guys are great!

          • Riley H.

            Ooooohhh, BlimeyCow!! Those videos are hilarious! Especially the “You Might Be a Homeschooler If…” series. I just watched a few videos, it made my day :).

  • Amanda T.

    Wow. I know this is an ancient post, but I just wanted to say thank you; this really helped me. I know the intent of this article is to get us to think about the fact that we could die any time, but a couple days ago a 10 year old boy in our church suddenly died. I am going to the funeral today. Reading this brought a peace over me that I have needed.

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