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HOMEWORK CLUB-ENGLISH FOR ADULTS

In 2006 the Winnipeg congregation held a round-table discussion where we discussed how we could make use of our gifts in outreach to the community. My wife Kerry suggested we start a Library Resource Centre with a Homework Club for the children who live around our church. Pastor Alan Redmond also suggested we add a component called "English for Adults". In October of that year, we opened the doors of our building and hoped for the best. We were targeting elementary students and new Canadians. We found that Mathematics and Language Arts were the primary need. Some people attended regularly while others came whenever they needed help. We have helped a total of 39 children from that beginning to May 2009. We have also helped some High School students with Algebra, Trigonometry, Pre-Calculus, Physics and Chemistry. It has been a great benefit that some of our volunteers happen to be university graduates in those areas. Our adult students have come from Africa, China, Korea, El Salvador, Ukraine, Iran, India, Holland, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Guatemala and Russia. Some have only been in Canada for a few months while others have been here longer. Some of the female students also bring their children for Homework Club. We cover basic grammar and conversation, and are continuing to concentrate on these areas this year. To date we have helped 66 adults. Classes are held every Wednesday evening from 7-9 PM. We try to stick to one hour shifts but most of our students like to stay for the full evening. The program runs from September to May and on an average night we have 15 to 20 people (including volunteers) attending. It is our philosophy that we don’t do any direct evangelizing of students. We want them to be able to attend without feeling pressured in any way. As a result Buddhists, Muslims, as well as Christians from other denominations attend our classes. Still a few of our students have started to attend our church services. Nestor Guspodarchuk


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Creation And Evolution: How Did God Bring About The Rich Variety Of Species On Earth?

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The New Atheism

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Almost 150 years ago Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species. The debate between science and religion has been fast and furious ever since.

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imagine that a number of our readers had to do a double take when they saw the cover photo for this issue. If a picture is truly worth a thousand words, then for me, this photo is probably worth two thousand.

This issue is all about the new champions of atheism. While many of the “old school” proponents of atheism treated those who would disagree with them with respect, the new atheists seem to take an “in your face” approach. One famous proponent of Atheism is Richard Dawkins, the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. His books such as The Blind Watchmaker and The God Delusion, have reinvigorated the Atheist vs. Religion debate in the Western World.

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Il y a près de 150 ans, Charles Darwin a publié son livre L’origine des espèces. Depuis lors, un vif débat entre la science et la religion fait rage.

From Denial To Reality – Darkness To Light

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Denial of reality is a fairly common human condition. Sometimes there is a fear of facing the truth, and sometimes there is so much pain involved people simply shut things out. There may be a number of other factors involved in living in such denial.

From Christian Odyssey Director’s Desk Theme Articles Director’s Annual Letter Faith Profiles Bible Study The Last Word

In addition to his books, he is a well-known spokesperson for Atheism on many television programs, lectures, and print articles on the subject. He was a supporter in Britain of the “Atheist bus campaign” which ran ads on the sides of buses reading, “There is probably no God, now stop worrying and enjoy life.” According to the wikipedia article on the bus campaign, he is quoted as saying he would have p r e f e r r e d the slogan: "There is almost certainly no God..." (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheist_Bus_Campaign).

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FRONT COVER: Is there anything ” new” in the belief in Atheism? Cover Photo: © iStockphoto-Stefanie Timmermann Back Cover: © Designpics Additional photos and illustrations: © Designpics unless otherwise noted.

In this issue, we look at what the new atheists are saying and how Christians are addressing their challenge. I can’t help but wonder if we have been here before, especially after reading Paul’s words: ”But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can't see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse. What happened was this: People knew God perfectly well, but when they didn't treat him like God, refusing to worship him, they trivialized themselves into silliness and confusion so that there was neither sense nor direction left in their lives. They pretended to know it all, but were illiterate regarding life. They traded the glory of God who holds the whole world in his hands for cheap figurines you can buy at any roadside stand” (Romans 1:1923, The Message). NL

Bill Hall

Northern Light magazine is the official magazine of the Worldwide Church of God, Canada. It exists to share the stories of our members and congregations on their Christian journey. Northern Light does this by featuring articles that encourage, nurture and inform. Le magazine Northern Light est le magazine officiel de l’Église universelle de Dieu, au Canada. Il sert à raconter les histoires de nos membres et de nos assemblées tout le long de leur voyage chrétien, au moyen d’articles qui encouragent, nourrissent et informent.

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Creation And Evolution : How Did God Bring About The Rich Variety Of Species On Earth?

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lmost 150 years ago Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species. The debate between science and religion has been fast and furious ever since. Darwin proposed that life on earth began hundreds of millions of years ago and developed by evolution through natural selection—a stark contradiction of the Christian fundamentalist view that God created everything in six literal 24-hour days. Theologians had been arguing since the days of Augustine about how to rightly interpret the Creation account in the first chapter of Genesis, but Darwin’s revolutionary ideas gave the debate a new face. “If you don’t believe Genesis 1 is literally true, then you are questioning the whole Bible,” evolution’s opponents declared. “Reject evolution and you lock yourself into an anti-scientific worldview that blocks progress,” its supporters argued. Have you ever wanted simply to talk about the issue in a calm and reasonable way, without being made to look foolish, ignorant or hostile either to the Bible or to scientific discovery? Perhaps such a conversation would go something like this: I’m confused. I’m not a theologian and I’m not a scientist. But I know what the Bible says about how life began, and I also know basically how the theory of evolution explains it. They can’t both be right, can they? So who do I believe—God or the scientists? That’s a good question, but it isn’t quite as easy as that. This is not a straightforward “either/or” issue. There are many sides to it with a lot of misunderstanding thrown in, and it is quite understandable that you are confused, so let’s look at this broad question in some detail. I have heard that some Christian denominations have dropped their opposition to the evolutionary theory

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and now accept evolution by natural selection as a valid explanation of the development of life. It’s true that many major denominations have come to terms with Charles Darwin’s theory, in one way or another. The Church of England has officially apologized to him for the decades of misrepresentation. However, millions of Christians still firmly reject evolution in favor of an explanation based on a more or less literal interpretation of the Genesis 1 account of Creation. This is particularly true in the United States, where some surveys show that more than half the population claims not to believe in evolution.

There are two major schools of thought on how to resolve the conflict. Really? What are they? One is Creationism and the other is Intelligent Design. Creationism is a term to describe the belief that the Genesis 1 account of Creation should be understood in strictly literal terms. Creationists typically believe that the seven days in Genesis 1 were 24 hours in length, and they are adamant that anything short of this literalist interpretation necessarily leads to undermining the rest of the Bible.

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The problem is that such an interpretation flies in the face of scientific research, and, for many, it defies common sense. Creationism is not allowed to be taught in public schools as an alternative to evolution, because it is considered a religious idea, not a scientific one. If we’re realistic, we have to admit that this is true. Creationism does not offer a proven, rigorous and valid scientific alternative to evolution, but is based on a single narrow interpretation of the first chapter of the Bible. Many Christians prefer an alternative explanation, known as “Intelligent Design” (ID). Proponents of ID accept the findings of science, but argue that evolution cannot explain certain features

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in the development of life. These unexplained features, or “gaps,” are evidence of an “intelligent Designer,” they claim. In an effort to skirt the ban on teaching religion as science in public schools, they do not insist that the Designer be called God. They thus hoped that ID could be taught in schools as an alternative to Darwinian evolution. But this was challenged in a historic case in the USA in York County, Pennsylvania, where it was ruled that Intelligent Design could not be classified as science, because it incorporated a supernatural element. Even though it did not specify the identity of the Designer, it was, in the court’s opinion, another form of creationism.

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However, it isn’t just the courts who have a problem with ID. Many scientists who are also committed Christians (and there are many) point out that although ID may at first seem to be a plausible approach, it is dependent on an unstable “God of the Gaps” theoretical foundation. A what? Opponents of Darwin’s theory have always pointed out that there are inconsistencies and gaps that evolution by natural selection cannot explain. For example, they point out the lack of fossils of transition species. They also make the point that when you consider the mathematical odds against even one living cell being formed by a chance combination of non-living components, there has not been enough time for evolution to have taken place. In fact, they say, the odds are so great as to be impossible, no matter how much time elapses. These are reasonable objections—there do appear to be “gaps” in the theory of evolution by natural selection. Opponents of evolution then seize on those “gaps” as evidence of the supernatural action of the Creator, who becomes “the God of the Gaps.” The trouble is that any time further research fills in a particular gap, the “God of the Gaps” idea loses some of its force. Breakthroughs in scientific disciplines such as molecular biology have refined the theory of evolution by natural selection and have steadily eroded what once looked like irrefutable arguments against evolution. The “God of the Gaps” domain is steadily shrinking. Not all the gaps have closed yet, and there are still some important unanswered questions. But as new research continues to uncover answers, the traditional challenges to evolution are losing ground. A growing number of believing scientists are recognizing that to fight a rearguard action for the “God of the Gaps” is not

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the right approach. A fact is a fact, even if it is an inconvenient one. And if the facts show that evolution is the most likely explanation for the development of species, they must come to terms with it. They call themselves Theistic Evolutionists.

Why not? You could equally well ask, “Why did Creation take him six days? Couldn’t he have done it all in one instant?” But leaving the question of life for a moment, let’s take a look at the way God may have brought the universe into existence.

“Theistic Evolution”! Sounds like a contradiction in terms.

Most scientists believe that our vast universe came into being in one “big bang” some 15 billion years ago. Not all believe this, but let’s say for argument’s sake that this is when and how the universe got started. At the moment of the big bang and for some considerable time afterwards, galaxies, stars and planets did not exist. The universe evolved over billions of years to a kind of soup of hydrogen atoms, and then expanded over more billions of years during which galaxies, stars, planets and other elements of the universe came into existence. Thus the universe became what it is today through gradual development,

Maybe, but it isn’t. Theistic evolutionists accept the findings of science, and see no contradiction between the theory of evolution and a proper understanding of the biblical account in Genesis 1. But surely there is a contradiction. Evolution claims that species have evolved over hundreds of millions of years. Doesn’t this contradict what the Bible says—that God directly created each and every life form? Not necessarily. The Bible only tells us that God is Creator; it says nothing about how he created. The scientific evidence does indicate that the various species of life have evolved over a very long period of time. But how can we be so sure about that? We can’t be 100 percent sure, of course. All science can do is study the evidence that has been left behind in fossil form and apply current knowledge and techniques, such as genetic science and the various radiometric dating methods, in order to form conclusions that seem in keeping with the evidence. What theistic evolutionists are saying is that the revelation of the Bible in no way rules out the possibility of life forms evolving through time. Although the number of theistic evolutionists is still small, they have introduced some ideas that are worth considering. But why would God have used a process like evolution?

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The first problem with accepting a sixday creation is that it flies in the face of common logic and everything that has been discovered about how the universe came into existence and developed. (As you say, a few Creationists have stepped back from a literal interpretation of Genesis 1 and have assigned a life to the universe in the tens of thousands of years. Their reasoning not only ignores science, but manufactures a new interpretation of Genesis 1 based on their own imagination.) All theories of a “young universe” are contradicted by the evidence of astrophysics about the age of the universe and from geology and paleontology about the age of the earth. On the other hand, accepting an age of the universe in the billions of years does not contradict either science or the biblical witness. The Bible only says that God created all things that exist; it does not speak to the

The Bible only says that God created all things that exist; it does not speak to the question of the manner of the creative process or how long the creative process took—or whether it is continuing even today. the natural consequences of God’s original creative act. Perhaps God also did something like that with life on earth. The point is that a process like evolution need not contradict the reality that God is Creator. But if you accept that the universe is 15 billion years old and that life on earth is billions of years old, doesn’t that contradict the biblical revelation in Genesis 1 that God created everything in six literal days or, as a few Creationists suggest, several thousand years? It contradicts only if you insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. And if you insist on a literal interpretation of this skeletal framework of days, this could only be six 24-hour periods.

question of the manner of the creative process or how long the creative process took—or whether it is continuing even today. Are you saying that a literal interpretation of the Bible is wrong? It depends on the passage. Parts of the Bible that are intended to be understood literally should be understood literally, and parts that are intended to be understood figuratively should be taken figuratively. For example, some 40 percent of the Bible consists of poetry and metaphors. It is a misinterpretation of the Bible to interpret poetic statements literally. For example, God is not a literal hen, rock, tower, or shepherd, even though the NORTHERN LIGHT


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Bible describes him in such terms. Likewise, when Jesus said the Pharisees were blind guides and that they swallow camels, he did not intend for anyone to interpret his statements literally; he intended that they be interpreted figuratively. Nor did Jesus intend that people interpret his parables as literal stories of literal people; he intended them to be understood as parables— made-up stories that illustrate a point. It is not watering down the Bible to read it the way it is intended. Poetry should be understood as poetry, metaphors as metaphors, similes as similes, and parables as parables. “Literal” and “true” are not the same thing, and the truth is, to interpret things literally that are not intended to be interpreted literally is to miss the truth completely. I hadn’t thought about it that way. So give me an example of how Genesis 1 can be interpreted in a poetic or metaphorical way. Think of the writer of Genesis 1 as living at a time when common oral (and eventually written) traditions included creation epics that presented visible phenomena, such as the stars, the planets, the sun, moon, land, sea and animals, as gods. Some of these creation epics began with a preexistent primordial mound out of which the first god springs, who then in one way or another produces the other gods. Another variation has the sea as the first god. Such epics were the standard approach to explaining the origin of the universe. Contrast that with the Creation story in Genesis 1. It uses the standard style and genre of creation epics at the time. But using that standard style, it makes the radical declaration that the God of Israel, completely unlike all the gods of the nations, did not emerge from anything, nor was he ever part of the universe. Quite the contrary, this God created everything out of nothing simply by the power of his word. Each of the things thought of by the nations as being gods

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is systematically presented as having been created by this God and being declared “good” by this God, demonstrating his utter power over them. Genesis 1 is about the Who of Creation, not the how. We should let the writer of Genesis 1 make his theological statement to us about who God is as Creator in contrast to the gods of the nations and not try to interpret him as providing us some kind of scientific police blotter of literal events and dates. So should we be distinguishing between the fact that God created all things on one hand and how he might have caused it all to come about on the other? Yes. There is a needless conflict between science and religion on the matter of the Creation. The biblical revelation tells us that the God who revealed himself to Israel and who has revealed himself to humanity in Jesus Christ is the Creator of all that exists. This revelation is not interested in detailing the physical processes he might have used to bring about this universe that humanity is part of and has, as God’s gift, both the capacity and the joy of studying and learning about. This means that nothing factual that science can say about how the universe came into being or how the process of creation has unfolded throughout the history of the earth can contradict the biblical revelation—as long as the scientific speculation doesn’t conclude that God is not the Creator of all that exists. But doesn’t evolutionary theory insist that everything came into existence without a Creator? No. It’s true that some scientists claim that everything came into being naturally, spontaneously—without God’s original creative act. But that is a philosophical statement, not a scientific one.

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On the other hand, many scientists do believe in God, and they do not discount the biblical revelation that God is Creator. They do their scientific work by studying the physical phenomena in the universe that are the result of God’s creative act. They accept that Genesis 1 tells us that God has created all things, but recognize that Genesis 1 does not tell us how the creation process has unfolded or how long it has taken to unfold. Scientists, using whatever evidence is available, seek to better understand the wonders of the amazing universe God has brought into being. So where does that leave me—the average person? What is the proper approach for a Christian? We suggest curiosity mixed with humility. There are strident and often angry voices raised on both sides of this question. They only make the argument increasingly bitter and the divide wider. The fact that many scientists can accept the findings of science that point to evolutionary changes in the forms of life, while remaining committed to their Christian faith, should be encouraging to the rest of us. It does not have to be an either/or argument. In fact, it does not have to be an argument at all. Realistic scientists know that they might never uncover all the mysteries of creation. “Take a long, hard look. See how great he is—infinite, greater than anything you could ever imagine or figure out!” (Job 36:26, Message Bible) But as the Proverbs remind us: “God delights in concealing things; scientists delight in discovering things” (Proverbs 25:2, Message Bible). We may never fully resolve these questions in this life, but it is a legitimate and exciting quest, and we are discovering wonderful things along the way.NL

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Création et évolution :

Comment Dieu a-t-il provoqué la riche diversité des espèces sur terre?

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l y a près de 150 ans, Charles Darwin a publié son livre L’origine des espèces. Depuis lors, un vif débat entre la science et la religion fait rage. Darwin a suggéré que la vie sur terre a commence il y des millions d’années et qu’elle s’est développée par l’évolution selon un processus de sélection naturelle — ce qui constitue une contradiction frappante avec le point de vue chrétien fondamentaliste selon lequel Dieu a littéralement créé le monde en 6 jours de 24 heures. Depuis l’époque d’Augustin, les théologiens débattent au sujet de l’interprétation juste de la création décrite dans le premier chapitre de la Genèse, mais les idées révolutionnaires de Darwin ont conféré un nouveau visage au débat. « Si vous ne croyez pas que le premier chapitre de la Genèse est littéralement vrai, vous remettez toute la Bible en question », déclarent les uns. « Si vous rejetez l’évolution, vous vous limitez à un point de vue non scientifique qui empêche le progrès », affirment leurs opposants. Avez-vous déjà voulu aborder cette question de manière calme et raisonnable, sans sembler trop fou, ignorant ou hostile à la Bible ou aux découvertes scientifiques? Une telle conversation aurait probablement ressemblée à ce qui suit : Je suis perplexe. Je ne suis ni théologien ni homme de science; mais je sais ce que la Bible enseigne sur l’origine de la vie, et je connais aussi les rudiments de l’explication qu’en donne la théorie de l’évolution. Ces positions ne peuvent pas toutes les deux êtres justes, le peuvent-elles? Qui croire, Dieu ou les scientifiques? C’est une bonne question, mais elle n’est pas si simple. Elle ne se règle pas en choisissant une ou l’autre option. En effet, elle comporte plusieurs aspects mêlés à de l’incompréhension, il est très compréhensible que vous soyez perplexe. Examinons, donc la question en détails.

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J’ai appris que certaines dénominations chrétiennes ne s’opposent plus à la théorie de l’évolution et que pour elles l’évolution par la sélection naturelle est maintenant une explication valable de l’origine de la vie. Il est vrai que bon nombre de dénominations majeures ont cessé, d’une manière ou d’une autre, de combattre la théorie de Charles Darwin. L’Église d’Angleterre lui a officiellement présenté des excuses pour des décennies de fausse représentation. Cependant, des millions de chrétiens rejettent toujours l’évolution et optent plutôt pour une explication basée sur le récit de la création de Genèse 1 plus ou moins littérale. On retrouve cette position aux États-Unis particulièrement, où plus de la moitié de la population déclare ne pas croire en l’évolution. Il existe deux écoles de pensée majeures qui proposent une solution à ce conflit. Vraiment? Quelles sont-elles? La première est le créationnisme et la seconde la théorie de la création intelligente. Le créationnisme est la croyance selon laquelle nous devrions interpréter le récit de Genèse 1 de manière stricte-

ment littérale. De façon générale, les créationnistes croient que les sept jours de la création cités en Genèse 1 étaient d’une durée de 24 heures. Ils maintiennent que toute interprétation moins littérale provoque nécessairement le discrédit du reste de la Bible. Le problème est que cette interprétation défie la recherche scientifique et pour beaucoup, le bon sens. Il n’est pas permis d’enseigner le créationnisme dans les écoles publiques parce qu’il est considéré comme une position religieuse et non scientifique. Si nous sommes réalistes, nous devons admettre que c’est vrai. Le créationnisme ne fournit pas une option prouvée, rigoureuse et scientifique à opposer l’évolution. Il est plutôt basé sur une interprétation étroite du premier chapitre de la Bible. Bon nombre de chrétiens y préfèrent une autre explication appelée théorie de la création intelligente. Ses défenseurs acceptent les découvertes scientifiques, mais affirment que l’évolution ne peut expliquer certains aspects du développement de la vie. Selon eux, ces aspects inexpliqués ou « chaînons manquants » prouvent l’existence d’un « créateur intelligent ». NORTHERN LIGHT


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Pour contourner l’interdiction d’enseigner la religion comme si elle était une science dans les écoles publiques, les tenants de cette théorie n’insistent pas pour que le Créateur soit appelé Dieu. En revanche, ils espèrent que l’alternative entre la théorie de l’évolution intelligente et l’évolution darwinienne soit présentée aux étudiants. Leur souhait a été mis à l’épreuve lors d’un cas historique dans le comté de York, en Pennsylvanie, aux États-Unis. Il a été établi que la théorie de la création intelligente ne pouvait être considérée comme scientifique parce qu’elle comporte un élément surnaturel. Même s’il ne précise pas l’identité du Créateur, selon la court, la théorie de la création intelligente est une autre forme de créationnisme.

à cette théorie voient en eux la preuve de l’action d’un Créateur, le « Dieu des chaînons manquants ».

Cependant, la court n’est pas la seule à qui la théorie de la création intelligente pose un problème. Beaucoup de scientifiques qui sont aussi des chrétiens engagés (ils sont nombreux) relèvent le fait qu’au premier abord cette théorie semble plausible, mais qu’elle repose sur un fondement théorique instable à savoir le « Dieu des chaînons manquants ».

naturelle et ont régulièrement étiolé les arguments contre l’évolution qui un jour semblaient irréfutables. Le champ d’action du « Dieu des chaînons manquants » se réduit constamment. Ils ne sont pas tous disparus, il reste encore d’importantes questions sans réponse. Mais au fur et à mesure que la recherche découvre des réponses, les traditionnelles oppositions à l’évolution perdent du terrain.

Quoi? Les opposants à la théorie de Darwin ont toujours soulevé des contradictions et des chaînons manquants que l’évolution par sélection naturelle ne peut expliquer. Par exemple, ils font remarquer qu’il n’existe aucun fossile de transition entre les espèces. Ils soulignent aussi le fait que sur le plan mathématique les chances pour qu’une seule cellule vivante soit formée au hasard, par la combinaison de composants non vivants, ne laisse pas assez de temps à l’évolution de se produire. En fait, ils disent que les chances sont si faibles qu’elles sont presque nulles, peu importe le temps qui s’écoule. Ces objections sont raisonnables il semble y avoir des « chaînons manquants » dans la théorie de l’évolution par la sélection naturelle. Les opposants

Le problème est que chaque fois que la recherche trouve un chaînon qui manquait, le concept du « Dieu des chaînons manquants » s’affaiblit. Les progrès scientifiques dans des disciplines telles la biologie moléculaire ont raffiné la théorie de l’évolution par la sélection

Mais il y a une contradiction. La théorie de l’évolution affirme que les espèces ont évolué sur une période de millions d’années. N’est-ce pas contradictoire avec les déclarations bibliques selon lesquelles Dieu a créé chaque forme de vie? Pas nécessairement. La Bible nous enseigne seulement que Dieu est créateur; elle ne précise pas la manière dont

La Bible nous enseigne seulement que Dieu est créateur; elle ne précise pas la manière dont il a créé. Les preuves scientifiques indiquent que les espèces ont évolué sur une très longue période de temps.

Un nombre grandissant de scientifiques croyants reconnaissent le fait que mener un combat d’arrière-garde pour défendre le « Dieu des chaînons manquants » n’est pas la bonne stratégie à adopter. Un fait est un fait, même s’il les gêne. Et comme les faits démontrent que l’évolution est l’explication de l’origine des espèces la plus plausible, ces scientifiques doivent l’admettre. Ils se sont donné le nom d’évolutionnistes théistes. « Évolutionnisme théiste »! Les termes semblent contradictoires. Ils semblent l’être, mais il n’en est rien. Les évolutionnistes théistes acceptent les découvertes scientifiques et ne voient aucune contradiction entre le récit biblique de Genèse 1 et la théorie de l’évolution.

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il a créé. Les preuves scientifiques indiquent que les espèces ont évolué sur une très longue période de temps. Comment pouvez-vous en être certain? Bien entendu, nous ne pouvons être certains à 100 pour cent. La science ne peut qu’étudier les preuves laissées sous forme de fossiles et appliquer les connaissances et les techniques actuelles, dont la génétique et les diverses méthodes de datation radiométrique pour tirer des conclusions alignées sur les preuves. Les évolutionnistes théistes affirment que la révélation biblique n’écarte pas du tout la possibilité de l’évolution des diverses formes de vie. Bien qu’ils soient peu nombreux, ils ont émis des idées qui méritent d’être considérées. Pourquoi Dieu aurait-il employé un processus d’évolution? Pourquoi pas? Nous pourrions aussi nous demander « Pourquoi Dieu a-t-il créé en six jours? N’aurait-il pas pu tout créer en un instant? » Laissons la question de la vie de côté pour un instant, examinons la façon dont Dieu a pu créer l’univers.

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Accepter que la création a eu lieu en six jours pose un problème : cela défie le bon sens et toutes les découvertes à propos de l’origine et du développement de l’univers. (Comme vous l’avez mentionné, quelques créationnistes se sont écartés de l’interprétation littérale de Genèse 1 et fixent le début de l’univers il y a quelques dizaines d’années. Leur raisonnement fait non seulement fi de la science, mais il invente une nouvelle interprétation du premier chapitre de la Bible basé sur leur propre imagination.) D’une part, les preuves astrophysiques sur l’âge de l’univers et les preuves géologiques et paléontologiques sur l’âge de la terre contredisent toutes les théories prônant un « univers jeune ». D’autre part, accepter que l’univers existe depuis des milliards d’années ne s’oppose ni à la science ni au témoignage biblique. Celui-ci affirme uniquement que Dieu a créé tout ce qui existe; il ne parle pas de la façon dont le processus créateur s’est effectué ni de sa durée — il n’indique pas non plus s’il continue encore de nos jours ou non. Dites-vous qu’il n’est pas bon d’interpréter la Bible littéralement? La plupart des scientifiques croient qu’un « big bang », survenu il y a 15 milliards d’années, est à l’origine de notre vaste univers. Tous ne sont pas d’accord sur ce fait, mais pour les besoins de l’argumentation, considérons que c’est à ce moment et de cette manière que l’univers s’est formé. À ce moment-là, et pendant une longue période de temps après, les galaxies, les étoiles et les planètes n’existaient pas. L’univers a évolué pendant des milliards d’années et s’est transformé en une sorte de soupe d’atomes d’hydrogène. Cette soupe a pris de l’expansion pendant des milliards d’années au cours desquelles les galaxies, les étoiles, les planètes et les autres éléments de l’univers se sont formées. Ainsi l’univers est devenu ce qu’il est aujourd’hui par un développement naturel, conséquemment à l’acte créateur originel de Dieu. Il est possible

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que Dieu ait utilisé un processus semblable en ce qui concerne la vie sur terre. Le fait est qu’un processus comme l’évolution n’est pas en contradiction avec le fait que Dieu est Créateur. Si vous acceptez le fait que l’univers existe depuis 15 milliards d’années et qu’il y a de la vie sur terre depuis des milliards d’années, ne contredisez-vous pas la révélation biblique de Genèse 1 qui décrit que Dieu a littéralement créé le monde en six jours, ou comme certains créationnistes le suggèrent, en quelques milliers d’années? Ces faits ne sont contradictoires que si vous insistez pour interpréter littéralement Genèse 1 et pour que sa structure soit basée sur des jours. Car dans ce cas, il ne peut s’agir que de période de 24 heures.

Cela dépend du passage. Certains passages bibliques sont destinés à être interprétés littéralement et doivent l’être, tandis que d’autres sont destinés à être compris de manière figurative et il doit en être ainsi. Par exemple, environ 40 % des textes bibliques sont constitués de poésie et de métaphores. Interpréter les déclarations poétiques de manière littérale équivaut à faire un contresens. Par exemple, Dieu n’est pas une maman oiseau, une tour, un roc ou un berger, même si la Bible le décrit par ces termes. De la même manière, lorsque Jésus déclare que les pharisiens étaient des conducteurs aveugles et qu’ils avalaient des chameaux, il ne veut pas que qui que ce soit interprète sa déclaration littéralement, mais il veut que nous la comprenions de manière figurée. Les paraboles de Jésus, non NORTHERN LIGHT


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plus, n’étaient pas destinées à être interprétées comme la vie de véritables personnes, mais comme des paraboles : des histoires créées pour illustrer un point. Lire la Bible de la façon dont elle doit l’être ne la banalise pas. La poésie doit être lue comme de la poésie, les métaphores, comme des métaphores, les comparaisons, comme des comparaisons et les paraboles, comme des paraboles. « Littéral » ne veut pas dire « vrai », et si on interprète littéralement ce qui ne doit pas l’être on passe complètement à côté de la vérité. Je n’avais jamais vu les choses sous cet angle. Donnez-moi un exemple de la manière dont on pourrait interpréter Genèse 1 de façon poétique ou métaphorique. Rappelez-vous que l’auteur de Genèse 1 vivait à une époque où la tradition orale (écrite ultérieurement) comprenant des épopées sur la création qui présentaient les phénomènes visibles dont les étoiles, les planètes, le soleil, la lune la mer et les animaux comme des dieux. Une autre version présente la mer comme le premier Dieu. C’était généralement de cette façon qu’on expliquait l’origine de l’univers. Comparez ces histoires au récit de la création de Genèse 1. Ce dernier utilise le style et le genre de l’époque. Tout en faisant cela, il fait une déclaration radicale à l’effet que le Dieu d’Israël, qui est totalement différent des dieux des nations, ne sort de nulle part et ne fait pas partie de l’univers. Au contraire, Dieu a tout créé à partir de rien, simplement par la puissance de sa parole. Le récit de la création, présente tout ce que les autres nations considéraient comme des dieux comme un élément que Dieu a créé et qu’il a déclaré « bon »; cela démontre sa toute-puissance sur eux. Le premier chapitre de la Bible répond à la question qui et non comment. Nous devrions laisser son auteur faire une

déclaration théologique à propos de Dieu le créateur en comparaison avec les dieux des nations et ne pas tenter de l’interpréter comme une sorte de registre d’événements et de dates litérals ou à celui des arrestations scientifiques. Nous devrions donc faire une distinction entre le fait que Dieu est le créateur de toutes choses et la manière dont il s’y est pris pour qu’elles soient? Oui. Un conflit inutile entre la science et la religion au sujet de la création fait rage. La révélation biblique nous enseigne que le Dieu qui s’est révélé à Israël et à l’humanité, en Jésus-Christ, est le créateur de tout ce qui existe. Cette révélation ne s’intéresse pas aux détails des processus physiques que Dieu peut avoir employés pour que l’univers dont l’humanité fait partie soit formé.Toutefois, Dieu nous a donné la capacité et la joie d’étudier et d’apprendre des choses au sujet de sa création. Ainsi, aucun fait scientifique à propos de la façon dont l’univers a été formé et de celle dont la création s’est opérée dans l’histoire de la terre n’est en contradiction avec la révélation biblique, tant et aussi longtemps que les spéculations scientifiques ne concluent pas que Dieu n’est pas le créateur de tout ce qui existe. La théorie de l’évolution ne met-elle pas l’accent sur le fait que tout est venu à l’existence sans créateur? Non. Il est vrai que certains hommes de science prétendent que tout s’est opéré naturellement, spontanément, sans l’acte créateur originel de Dieu. Mais il s’agit là d’une déclaration philosophique et non scientifique. D’autre part, beaucoup de scientifiques croient en Dieu, et il ne rejettent pas la révélation biblique qui affirme que Dieu est le créateur. Lorsqu’ils effectuent leurs travaux scientifiques, ils étudient les phénomènes physiques qui décou-

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lent de l’acte créateur de Dieu. Ils ne reconnaissent le fait que Genèse 1 révèle que Dieu est le créateur de toutes choses, mais admettent que ce chapitre n’explique pas comment le processus de la création s’est déroulé ni pendant combien de temps. Ils se servent de toutes les preuves dont ils disposent, car ils cherchent à mieux comprendre les merveilles de l’extraordinaire univers que Dieu a fait. Où en suis-je, moi, un chrétien type? Quelle est la meilleure approche pour un chrétien? Nous vous suggérons la curiosité mêlée à l’humilité. Il y a des voix stridentes, et souvent en colère, qui défendent les deux côtés de cette question. Elles ne font que rendre le débat plus amer et elles divisent encore plus les deux camps. Le fait que de nombreux scientifiques acceptent les preuves scientifiques qui soulignent des changements évolutionnistes, tout en étant des chrétiens engagés, devrait nous encourager. Ce débat ne doit pas absolument se terminer par un choix au détriment de l’autre. En réalité, il ne doit pas du tout y avoir de conflit à ce sujet. Des scientifiques réalistes savent qu’ils ne découvriront peut-être jamais tous les mystères de la création. « Vois combien Dieu est grand, sa grandeurs nous échappe. Nul ne peut calculer le nombre de ses ans. » (Job 36:26, la Bible du Semeur) Comme les proverbes nous le rappellent « La gloire de Dieu, c’est de tenir certaines choses cachées, la gloire du roi, c’est de s’enquérir soigneusement des choses » (Proverbes 25:2, la Bible du Semeur). Nous ne résoudrons peut-être jamais les questions de la vie, mais elles constituent une quête excitante et légitime, qui nous permet de découvrir des choses merveilleuses sur notre route. NL

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D I R E C T O R ’ S

D E S K

By Gary Moore National Director

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enial of reality is a fairly common human condition. Sometimes there is a fear of facing the truth, and sometimes there is so much pain involved people simply shut things out. There may be a number of other factors involved in living in such denial. For me, the existence of God is part of reality. I have lived in relationship with him for a long time now, and have experienced the reality of a God who is interested in my life. I have always enjoyed discussing proofs for God’s existence— and no doubt one of the biggest proofs of all has to be the very existence of the world and the wider universe (Romans 1:20). The matter that makes up the universe had to have a cause. Science debates that cause, but it had to come from somewhere, and be caused by something. So a creation is evidence of a creator. Yet, for me, the strongest proof for God’s existence is my own experience of him. I find this experience has been guided and defined by the Bible. The God it portrays is the same one I experience. For me, to deny God would be to deny reality. To live in a state of denial is to be mentally and emotionally unhealthy. There is no way we can deal with life constructively if we are not prepared to admit to the realities this life involves. For someone to deny God’s existence is to deny what I am firmly convinced is reality. Though we are all free to live in such a state, it is not a state that allows us to come to terms with the biggest issues of life—what purpose is there for our existence, and what is the goal or outcome for which our lives were designed? How were we meant to live, and how can we know right from wrong, good from evil?

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From Denial To Reality – Darkness To Light These are the questions that coming to terms with the reality of God has answered. I have been touched by his merciful hand, and he has led me to understand that he wants me to live life both now and on out into eternity as his

The way to move out of denial and spiritual blindness into the reality of the light of God is by faith. Once our relationship with God beings to grow over time, the doubts subside, and we come to experience him as reality. But where do we get the faith to move from denial or doubt to faith? The Bible teaches us that God loves all people, and wants to enter into a relationship with each one of us. He will give us the faith we need to take those first steps— and to continue into a rich and full relationship with him (Ephesians 2:8). This is what the Bible calls salvation— which can be described as a journey from darkness to light. Another way of putting it would be to say it is God’s mercy at work in drawing us from living in denial, toward living in the true reality.

adopted child (1John 3:1-3). Further, his nature is one of love, and he desires that the loving service he bestows on us define how we should treat one another. He provides a way—and through the work of the Holy Spirit, the capacity to be different. We are strongly curved inwardly as human beings. We have powerful tendencies turning us inward— and only God can overcome that inherent selfishness. Only he can shed light on the dark corners of our own hearts, with their propensity to selfishness, hypocrisy, judgmentalism and posturing.

Once we experience God, doubts about his existence or even about his nature dissipate. We begin to see clearly that he is there, and is really the foundation and sustainer of all reality. Denial and doubt will evaporate, displaced by knowing God, who is the ultimate reality.NL

The Bible uses the metaphor of light to describe the work of Jesus in our world (John 1:4,5). We human beings sometimes resist the light because it reveals reality—and we struggle within ourselves because sometimes we honestly prefer to live in denial (John 3:19). Yet, being in a state of denial is a destructive way to live. We cannot address the realities we face—and the truth about ourselves—living in the blindness of denial (John 12:35). NORTHERN LIGHT


CHRONIQUE

Du déni à la réalité, des ténèbres à la lumière

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e déni de la réalité est assez courant chez les humains. Parfois, nous avons peur de voir la vérité en face, d’autres fois, le sujet en question nous cause tellement de douleur que nous préfèrons l’éliminer tout simplement. Le déni peut être causé par de nombreux autres facteurs. Pour moi, l’existence de Dieu est réelle. Je suis en relation avec lui depuis longtemps maintenant, et j’ai expérimenté la présence d’un Dieu que ma vie intéresse. J’ai toujours aimé participer à des débats sur les preuves de l’existence de Dieu. La meilleure preuve de toutes est sans nul doute l’existence même du monde et de l’univers (Romains 1:20). La matière avec laquelle ce denier a été fait doit avoir une orgine. Les scientifiques se demandent quelle est cette origine. Peu importe la réponse, l’univers doit venir de quelque part et quelque chose doit être la source de sa création. Ainsi, la création prouve l’existence du créateur. Pourtant, pour moi, la meilleure preuve de l’existence de Dieu est ma relation avec lui, que la Bible définit et conduit. Le Dieu que la Parole présente est celui que je connais. Chez moi, nier l’existence de Dieu sera un déni de la réalité. Vivre dans le déni n’est pas sain sur les plans mental et émotionnel. Nous ne pouvons bien gérer notre vie, si nous ne sommes pas prêts à admettre les réalités qui en font partie. Si quelqu’un nie l’existence de Dieu, il dénie une réalité dont je suis fermement convaincu. Bien que nous soyons tous libres de vivre dans cet état, ce dernier ne nous permet pas de répondre définitivement aux grandes questions de la

vie – par exemple : Quel est le but de notre existence, et pour quoi sommesnous conçus? Comment devrions-nous vivre? Comment pouvons-nous distinguer le bien du mal, ce qui juste et ce qui ne l’est pas?

de Gary Moore directeur national

l’hypocrisie, le cabotinage et les jugements tout faits. La Bible emploie une métaphore sur la lumière pour décrire l’œuvre de Jésus dans notre monde (Jean 1:4, 5). Nous, êtres humains, résistons parfois à la lumière parce qu’elle révèle la réalité. Une lutte fait rage en nous parce qu’il nous arrive de préférer vivre dans le déni (Jean 3:19). Cependant, ce mode de vie est destructeur. Nous ne pouvons faire face aux réalités de notre vie ni à la vérité à notre sujet tout en vivant dans l’aveuglement que provoque le déni (Jean 12:35). La foi est le moyen de se sortir du déni et de l’aveuglement spirituels pour vivre la dans réalité de la lumière de Dieu. Avec le temps, notre relation avec Dieu croît, le doute s‘efface et le Seigneur devient une réalité pour nous.

On trouve une réponse à ces interrogations lorsque la question de l’existence de Dieu est réglée. J’ai été touché par sa main miséricordieuse, il a fait en sorte que je comprenne qu’il veut que je vive, ici-bas et dans l’éternité, comme son enfant d’adoption. (1Jean 3:1-3). En outre, il est amour par nature. Il désire donc que le service d’amour qu’il nous confit définisse la façon dont nous nous traitons les uns les autres. Il nous donne le moyen, et grâce à l’œuvre du Saint-Esprit, la capacité d’être différent. Étant humains, nous sommes profondément repliés sur nousmêmes. Nous sommes fortement enclins à nous tourner vers nousmêmes. Seul Dieu peut vaincre cet égoïsme inhérent. Lui seul met en lumière les recoins sombres de notre coeur, qui a un penchant pour l’égoïsme,

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Mais d’où vient la foi qui fait disparaître le déni et le doute? La Bible enseigne que Dieu aime tous les humains et qu’il veut être en relation avec chacun d’entre eux. Il nous donnera la foi dont nous avons besoin pour faire les premiers pas et pour poursuivre cette relation riche et remplie avec lui (Éphésiens 2:8). C’est ce que l’Écriture appelle le salut. On peut le décrire comme un périple qui passe des ténèbres à la lumière. On peut aussi dire que la miséricorde de Dieu nous attire hors du déni vers la vraie réalité. Une fois que nous avons connu Dieu, les doutes à propos de son existence et même de sa nature se dissipent. Nous commençons à voir clairement qu’il est présent et qu’il est véritablement le fondement et le soutien de toute réalité. Le déni et le doute vont s’évaporer pour faire place à la connaissance de Dieu, qui est l’ultime réalité.NL

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T H E M E By Neil Earle Pastor, Glendora, California congregation

Atheism On Steroids... And Some Antidotes

onsider this statement: “If you live in [North] America the chances are good that your next door neighbors believe the following: The Inventor of the laws of physics and the Programmer of the DNA code decided to enter the uterus of a Jewish virgin, got himself born, then deliberately had himself tortured and executed because he couldn’t think of a better way to forgive the theft of an apple, committed at the instigation of a talking snake.”

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Now there’s a mouthful. This overt attack on core Christian beliefs was made by scientist Richard Dawkins and was passed busily around the Internet recently. Dawkins is the celebrated author of a 1985 work called The Blind Watchmaker which gave people pause about what Christians and others call the Argument from Design, the theory that the apparent harmony in the universe demands an intelligent, allencompassing Mind behind it. Irrational Religion? In his early work Dawkins made a stimulating “dialogue partner” for wellequipped Christian thinkers. Now, however, he has moved things up a notch. “As Creator of the majestically expanding universe, he [God] not only understands relativistic gravity and quantum mechanics,” write Dawkins, “but actually designed them. Yet what he really cares about are sin, abortion, how often you go to church and whether gay people should marry.” Richard Dawkins has evolved (excuse the pun) into one of a breed of scholars and journalists now lumped under the rubric “the new atheists.” Along with journalist Christopher Hitchens and neuroscientist Sam Harris (labeled by The Globe and Mail a “brainy bookworm”), he is part of a potent new trinity. In 2004 Harris issued The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason which pulled few punches. All religion, claims

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Rethink: Darwin’s attitude toward religion was more complex than simple rejection. Harris, represents irrationality and madness. It has to go. Says Harris: “Most of the people in this world believe that the Creator of the universe has written a book. We have the misfortune of having many such books on hand, each making an exclusive claim as to its infallibility…All are in perverse agreement on one point of fundamental agreement, however: respect for other faiths, or for the views of unbelievers, is not an attitude that God endorses.” Harris’ attacks gained ground after the events of 9/11 when radical Islam

emerged as a malevolent force. For Harris, radical Islam is only the supreme example of religion’s “toxic intolerance.” Thus, any such dogmatic ideas about God and religion are best expunged if civilization is to survive. Harris is so convinced of this that he even advocates a nuclear pre-emptive strike on Shiite Iran. Ideas, we like to say, have consequences and recent have gained a wide hearing. The philosopher Voltaire (16941778)—not an atheist—stated that if God did not exist it would be necessary to invent him. Dawkins and Harris and their colleagues offer no such left-handNORTHERN LIGHT


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ed compliments. Harris is emphatic: “Intolerance is intrinsic to every creed.” Religion and God must go if the planet is to survive. This is atheism on steroids. In general, there are three overall concerns of the new irreligious fraternity. These can be listed as questions relating to creation and origins; harsh Old Testament laws and examples; then behavioral issues, i.e., the way Christians and the organized church have failed to live the Christ-like life. Geology or Theology? Leslie Newbiggin, a successful theologian from the mission field of India, cautions Christians that true dialogue means the ability to learn from one’s dialogue partner. That is, a basic humility is required. This applies even in debating the fierce new atheists. Why is this important? Simply because, sad to say, too many of Christianity’s alleged defenders have hardly distinguished themselves on the question of origins. In 1925, during the famous “Monkey Trial” in Dayton, Tennessee, the Bible’s selfstyled allies dismissed the findings of geology with the line: “I am more interested in the Rock of Ages than the age of rocks.” This did not work then. It will by no means work today. This writer remembers attending a lecture in 1994 by Henry Morris, the father of what used to be called the creation-science movement. Morris’ sincere and strenuous attempts to seek an alternative explanation for the Darwinist hypothesis of random chance producing coherent order and design across time led him down many paths that today’s Intelligent Designers have followed. Cardinal points here include the Young Earth hypothesis—an attempt to make the evolutionary time scheme fit into the four thousand or so years seemingly postulated by the Book of Genesis. For Morris this meant that geological features today stem from Noah’s Flood, the dinosaurs died in the Flood, and that all species we

see today derive from the “kinds” mentioned in Genesis One. Yet, almost unknown to too many Christians, devout thinkers and careful Bible students since the time of Augustine (354-430) and John Calvin (1509-1564) chose to focus on the theology not the geology of Genesis One. Even before the apparent challenges to Genesis posed by the lengthy Darwinian time scheme with The Origin of Species in 1859, leading Christian lights had pushed beyond “strict literalism.” They argued that the early chapters of Genesis, though reflecting surprisingly realistic history and geography, were more concerned with attacking pagan idolatry than Charles Darwin. (See Ronald Numbers, The Creationists and David N. Livingstone, Darwin’s Forgotten Defenders.) The skilful repetition, the cadences, the word patterns [“tohu wabohu” for formless and empty in Genesis 1:2], the measured flow of Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:4 read to these Bible lovers as more like an artistic Call to Worship than a scientific proposition. Not What or When but “Who” Whereas the gods of the pagans were portrayed as fighting among themselves and disrupting cosmic harmony, Israel’s God was superbly and serenely in control. He spoke and worlds came into existence. He gave decrees and cosmic order reigned supreme, water receded, earth and continents rose majestically. God even took delight in creating—it is all “very good.” Instead of a “battle of the gods” there is a never-ending rest and stability—thus Day Seven has no evening and morning. Here is the majestic and worshipful introduction to the God of the Bible! Just what we should expect. The theme here is not pre-Adamic wars, Charles Darwin or even Darwin’s many scientific critics today. The subject is God Himself. The God of Genesis is worthy of worship

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C O N T I N U E D

because he not only gave life, he blessed it. The language used is earthcentered and human-centered. The exact mechanism is not revealed. The emphasis is not on science or technology or hydraulics, but a divine purpose behind the order and patterning we see about us. James Houston of Vancouver’s Regent College said of Genesis 1: “It is not a primitive account of how the universe began, but about who brought all things into being.” As David O’Brian has written so eloquently: “If he (God) had chosen to inspire a scientific treatise I have no doubt that he would have given us one that battalions of Einsteins would need millennia to unravel…He carefully chose not to burden his revelation with scientific language that would rapidly find itself outdated” (Today’s Handbook For Solving Bible Difficulties, pages 168169). The payoff here is that once we discern the real purpose and intent of the early chapters of Genesis we find that about 80-90% of the so-called conflicts between Science and Religion recede to the background. This means that we can almost let the new atheists sound off on what are for more and more thoughtful Christians, essentially dead issues. Let others in the scholarly community take on Darwin. (See, for example, Anthony Latham’s The Naked Emperor.) Leviticus…or Jesus? Dawkins and Co. are not prepared to let Christians off the hook, so easily, of course. If outmoded attacks on Genesis fail to dent Christian armor, they move into more complicated territory. They ask: What about the blatant sexism inherent in such passages as the laws relating to the Jealousy Offering in Numbers 5? Or the command to indulge in Holy War when Yahweh seemed in the mood (1 Samuel 15:1-3)? Or of all the things that are categorized as “abominations” in

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Leviticus 18? Or Yahweh’s seeming to uphold slavery in Exodus 21:1-11?

tions, to educate, stimulate and inspire.”

Nothing new here, either. Alert Christians will already have answers for this. Dawkins’ brilliant sparring partner and former molecular biophysicist, former atheist and renowned Christian champion, Alister McGrath, is one such thinker. He has shown that most of these questions have been answered already within Scripture. “Dawkins rightly demands that there should be an external criterion for dealing with the interpretation of these texts,” says McGrath, “there indeed exists such a criterion—the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth” (The Dawkins Delusion, page 90).

Of course he has in mind here the great reform movements across the centuries, the most notable and successful, perhaps, being the Christian crusade against slavery. Johnson then writes forcefully that “the record of mankind with Christianity is daunting enough; mankind without Christianity conjures up a dismal prospect. …Christianity supplies a hope. It is a civilizing agent. It helps to cage the beast. It offers…intimations of a calm and reasonable existence.”

Jesus, says McGrath, transformed the water of the Old Testament law into the wine of the Gospel message. Jesus explained that many of the harsh strictures enjoined in the Law given to Israel were a matter of the people’s own hardness and carnality (Matthew 19:8). “I also gave them over to statutes that were not good and laws they could not live by,” states Ezekiel 20:25. In Numbers 5, for example, a jealous husband could not be appeased except by a special public ceremony. This being the Iron Age, the bias was definitely against the woman. But Jesus Christ’s treatment of women in his ministry was truly revolutionary. The Gospel brings freedom. Nor is this merely a debating point. Today, in the United States, a group of Christians called “dominion theologians” argue that the laws of Leviticus should be the law of the land. Strange, but, Christians may paradoxically owe the new atheists a debt by forcing mainstream teachers to oppose such ideas. It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow some good. The last point almost epitomizes what the new atheists consider the nub of the matter: the poor record of the Christian church to abide by Jesus’ law of love.

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Finally this: “In the last generation, with public Christianity in headlong retreat, we have caught our first view of

Jesus, says McGrath, transformed the water of the Old Testament law into the wine of the Gospel message A Sense of Balance

a de-Christianized world, and it is not encouraging.”

The Inquisition. The Crusades. The Salem witch trials. Imperialism in the name of Jesus. The long lamentable list of Christian mistakes and crimes makes a sorry tale indeed. One cannot skate over these failures. Still, in his conclusion to his History of Christianity (1976), the British journalist-historian Paul Johnson reasserted what often gets lost. “As an exercise in perfectionism, Christianity cannot succeed, even by its internal definitions,” Johnson wrote. Its greatest contribution, he argues, is to “set targets and standards, raise aspira-

This is an eloquent truth. Victims of state persecution and radical violence stretching from Sudanese despots to the merciless Taliban might well agree. It is no surprise that Paul Johnson is a vociferous public foe of what he calls “Darwinian fundamentalism,” the recycled call to construct a better world on the basis of no faith in God whatsoever. Informed Christians know this: they have been here before. They are not about to let these arguments go unanswered.NL NORTHERN LIGHT


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Listening To Atheists

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theists, on the whole, are a misunderstood lot. Maybe that’s why they have cranked things up a notch and become a little more noisy lately. The question then arises...what should Christians do in response? Well, the best way to end a shouting match is certainly not to shout back louder. Maybe what Christians need to do is simply listen for a while. I started to listen to atheists about two years ago and I discovered something interesting. Atheists actually share one very important thing in common with the average Christian: they care about the truth. Contrary to what many Christians might think, most hard core atheists didn’t end up that way because they wanted to live a life of sin or because they thought going to church was uncool. Most ended up embracing a worldview without God because they personally felt that that sort of worldview was most likely to be true. In their 1997 book Amazing Conversions: Why some turn to faith and other abandon religion, Canadian psychologists Bob Altemeyer and Bruce Hunsberger suggest that many young people end up quitting church, not because they didn’t take what they learned there seriously, but rather, because they did take it seriously. One of the things that fundamentalist churches often stress (and this is certainly true of the old WCG) is that a person should test religious claims carefully and “prove all things”. While this process can lead many to accept Christianity, it can also lead others to reject it. So here’s my point. Atheists are not stupid. In fact many of them know the Bible as well as, if not more than, the average believer does. Therefore, any Christian wishing to have a fruitful dialogue with an atheist needs to be prepared. Very prepared. They need to be familiar with which arguments atheists find very weak and which arguments are perhaps a bit stronger. But most of all, they need to be

C O N T I N U E D

By Matt Baker Member, Harvest Christian Fellowship, Abbotsford, BC

willing to listen and to take the time to try and understand where the other is coming from. Let me share with you two key things that atheists want you to know. First of all, they want you to know that they are not bad people. Atheists believe quite strongly that it is possible to have morals without God and they’ll be happy to explain to you how. In fact, their notions of right and wrong are generally quite similar to that of the average Christian so whatever you do, don’t go down the “you just want to be able to do whatever you want” road. In reality, atheists want to do good things just as much as Christians do. Sure, sometimes they mess up but then again, so do Christians. Secondly, atheists want you to know that what they are looking for is evidence. Don’t bother quoting scripture to them. That’s like a Mormon expecting you to accept their religion simply based on what the Book of Mormon says. You must first establish why you think the Bible is authoritative before using it as an authority. Also, personal anecdotes usually don’t go over well. After all, they are hard to confirm and are usually only meaningful to the persons involved. And whatever you do, don’t try to shift the burden of proof by saying things like, “Well, prove to me that God doesn’t exist.“ If you make the claim that you believe in God, it’s up to you to provide the evidence for that claim. Now, there’s no way that you are going to be able to provide indisputable evidence for the existence of God. But what you can do is compare the evidence for a theistic worldview with the evidence for an atheistic one. You can talk about where the universe came from (the cosmological argument) and how it appears to be perfectly designed for life (the teleological argument). You can point out the fact that all worldviews have their starting assumptions and that all contain certain gaps. On the other hand, you also need to be ready to tackle tough

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issues such as the problem of evil and to admit that churches don’t always practice what they preach. But most of all, you need to be ready to listen. Atheists generally have already heard most of what Christians have to say but few Christians have taken the time to hear what atheists have to say. At the end of the day, the new atheists are not as scary as you might think. They’re not baby snatchers out to prey on the minds of unsuspecting young Christians (very few people become atheists overnight). I’d say they’re more likely a thoughtful group of folks who are tired of being ignored. Sure, on some issues they undoubtedly go too far. But on other issues, they make some very valid points. Now that they have our attention, let’s listen to what they have to say.NL Matt is currently working on a graduate thesis entitled, “Personality and worldview: A study of young adult church leavers in North America”.

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T H E M E

C O N T I N U E D

By Gordon Telford Member, Bridge City Community Church, Saskatoon, SK

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Do I Want To Believe In God?

n the beginning there was nothing. Then, bang, there was something. Matter, space and time magically emerged from a single point that had no dimensions.

Why is the universe the way it is? Why does it exist at all? What is space expanding into? For me, there is a profound elegance built into the universe. Looking up into the night sky, it is hard not to feel its beauty and majesty. According to world renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, “If the rate of expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed before it even reached its present size” (A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, Bantam Books, New York, 1988, p. 126). Put another way, the odds of getting it just right are the same as if you are blindfolded and must hit a target one centimetre square on the other side of the universe. Impossible odds. The initial rate of expansion would have had to be chosen very precisely in order for the universe to evolve to the point where it could eventually support life on earth. I am convinced it would be very difficult to explain this whole process as “blind chance.” Natural forces could not have been the cause because natural forces did not exist prior to the Big Bang. There had to be a cause. For me, it seems reasonable to believe that some sort of intelligent God was the first cause. Although I look at science for clues about the existence of a creator, I have to be truthful to admit that science is unable to confirm the existence of God, because science is limited to the physical things.

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This makes sense to me because the Scriptures tell me that God is non-physical and therefore non-testable (the basis of the scientific method is testability). But still, I believe that God does give physical clues to his existence. To the disinterested and hostile those clues are not compelling enough. Perhaps this is because if the evidence for God’s existence was overwhelming and obvious freedom of choice would be compromised. If freedom of choice were compromised, then love is compromised. God will not allow this to happen for he is love (1 John 4). God’s existence can neither be 100% proven nor 100% disproven. Evidence does support God’s existence but evidence cannot cause belief. Ultimately it comes down to faith. An atheist’s belief that there is no God is as much an act of faith as a Christian’s belief that there is a God.

Faith is both a gift from God and a willing acceptance on a person’s part. God offers a personal relationship to everyone because of Jesus’ sacrifice, but not everyone will accept this offer. Faith demands freedom of choice. If someone is convinced one is an independent “god” unto oneself, then it is understandable why someone would not want to explore the possibility of a higher power. It’s not a question of, “Why I can’t believe in God”, but, “Do I want to believe in God?” If a person genuinely desires to know if God exists, God will reveal himself to them. Does God exist? It’s a matter of faith. After we die, and atheism happens to be proven right, Christian’s have lost nothing, since atheists believe all consciousness and memory is gone at death. But if Christianity happens to be proven right, atheists have lost everything.NL

NORTHERN LIGHT


WORLDWIDE CHURCH OF GOD CANADA JOSEPH TKACH

GARY MOORE

PASTOR GENERAL

NATIONAL DIRECTOR

Dear Members, You may remember I wrote you a letter last year about this time. I wanted to do the same thing this year to thank you once again for your ongoing support for the work of Jesus Christ being carried out by the Worldwide Church of God Canada. There have been some very exciting and encouraging developments that I wanted to report to you. As most of you know, our church embarked on a period of doctrinal reassessment and change over 15 years ago. Our denominational leadership looked carefully at our theological teachings, and found there were rather significant areas in which we needed to change. This has taken time and has been challenging. Nevertheless, it has been most rewarding as we have come to more clearly understand both the gospel message and the doctrines of the Bible more accurately. Much prayer for God’s guidance has gone into this process. We have sought the direction of the Holy Spirit – called “the Spirit of truth” by Jesus Christ (John 15:26). It has been a long journey, but we are now settling into what I believe to be a very sound and Biblical understanding of God and his purposes. This theology is often referred to as Trinitarian theology, as it is begins with the central question of who Jesus really was. The Bible clearly tells us that Jesus was God in the flesh. As the Son of God he was the member of the Godhead (John 1:1-3) who became fully human (though still fully God) and died for our sins (John 1:14). He introduced humanity to the Father and at the end of his ministry, the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to reveal the Father (Matthew 11:27), and to send the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). At the end of his ministry on earth, Jesus commissioned his disciples to bear witness of the gospel and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”(Matthew 28:19). The Father, the Son and the Spirit are revealed in scriptures to be the one, true God who created us, and who loves us and has redeemed us – if we will but receive it. This theology is also referred to as Adoption theology, because our destiny as humans is to enter into relationship with God as his redeemed children – adopted by him into the family he is building (Romans 8:15-17). It is also called, at times, Incarnational theology because of the emphasis placed on the fact that Jesus was both fully man and yet fully God. When he walked the earth he lived a real human life – not some sort of pseudo or fake life. The book of Hebrews makes this very clear (Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 2:17-18). The booklet providing an overview of this teaching, and giving numerous scriptural references showing where this teaching is made plain in the Bible will be printed serially in the next two issues of Northern Light. The booklet was produced by Grace Communion International the new name for our parent denomination, headquartered in Glendora, California. This has also been a very productive year in terms of ministry involvement both here in Canada and in O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R

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terms of the mission work we support abroad. Our church in Canada has supported a radio broadcast and follow up seminars in support of marriage in Colombia, South America; summer youth camps in the Philippines; and support for the training of medical personnel for community service in the very poor villages in Bangladesh.

The New Tent Home

Congregation greeting Canada

Further, we have continued to work with the special relationship our church here in Canada has with our denomination in Africa. This year, we have supported summer camps, pastoral training conferences, a women’s retreat, poverty alleviation projects and even purchased a tent as a meeting space for a brand new church plant in rural South Africa. My wife Wendy and I were in Southern Africa doing mission work during August, and were able be present at the first service under the new tent, and make the official presentation on behalf of the church here in Canada. Needless to say, there was a great amount of gratitude and appreciation expressed for this gift. Of course, all these projects are done in Christ’s name, and are meant to be expressions of his love for all human beings. This is very much also true here in Canada in the many ways our congregations and membership express the love of God to people in both word and deed. I should also make special note of the fact that our eastern and western youth summer camps here in Canada saw rising attendances, and wonderful fruit borne this past July. I don’t want to make this letter too long, but wanted to let you know some of the things God is accomplishing as we learn to more fully yield ourselves to him. Truly it is his work, but what a matchless opportunity he gives us to allow us to participate with him in this great plan of salvation he is working out for all mankind. Thank you so much for your generous support as coworkers with us in this great cause! In Christian service,

Gary Moore National Director Worldwide Church of God Canada 18

NORTHERN LIGHT


ÉGLISE UNIVERSELLE DE DIEU JOSEPH TKACH

GARY MOORE

PASTEUR GÉNÉRAL

DIRECTEUR NATIONAL

Chers membres, Vous vous souvenez peut-être que je vous ai écrit à peu près à la même époque l’an dernier. Je voulais le refaire cette année pour vous remercier une fois encore pour votre soutien de l’œuvre de Jésus-Christ qui est réalisée par l’Église universelle de Dieu du Canada. Je voulais en outre vous faire part de développements très excitants et encourageants. Comme la plupart d’entre vous le savez, il y a plus de 15 ans, notre église s’est lancée dans une période de révision doctrinale et de changements. Les dirigeants de notre dénomination ont examiné attentivement nos enseignements théologiques et ils ont découvert que des changements s’imposaient dans des domaines assez importants. Cet exercice a été long et rempli de défis. Quoi qu’il en soit, il n’en a pas été moins gratifiant parce qu’il nous a permis de comprendre le message de l’Évangile et les doctrines de la Bible de façon plus claire et plus exacte. Nous avons beaucoup prié pour que Dieu nous guide au cours de ce processus. Nous avons cherché la direction du Saint-Esprit, que Jésus appelle « l’Esprit de vérité » (Jean 15:26). Ce fut un long périple, mais je crois qu’aujourd’hui nous nous établissons sur une compréhension de Dieu et de son plan que je crois très saine et biblique. On la nomme souvent la théologie trinitaire, car elle débute par une question centrale : qui Jésus est-il réellement? La Bible enseigne clairement que Jésus était Dieu fait chair. Étant fils de Dieu, il faisait partie de la Trinité (Jean 1:1-3). Il est devenu pleinement humain (tout en étant toujours pleinement Dieu) et il est mort pour nos péchés (Jean 1:14). Il a présenté l’humanité au Père et, à la fin de son ministère, au Saint-Esprit. Il est venu pour révéler le Père (Matthieu 11:27) et pour envoyer le Saint-Esprit (Jean 16:7). À la fin de son ministère sur terre, Jésus a confié à ses disciples le mandat d’être témoins de l’évangile, de faire de toutes les nations des disciples, de les baptiser « au nom du Père, du Fils et du Saint-Esprit » (Matthieu 28:19). Les Écritures révèlent que le Père, le Fils et de Saint-Esprit sont le Dieu vrai et unique qui nous a créés, qui nous aime et qui nous a racheté si nous le recevons. On nomme aussi cette doctrine, la théologie de l’adoption parce que en tant qu’être humain notre destin est de devenir un enfant racheté par Dieu – d’être adopté par lui et d’ainsi faire partie de la famille qu’il est en train de former (Romains 8:15-17) – et d’entrer en relation avec lui sur cette base. On appelle également cet enseignement la théologie de l’incarnation, car elle met l’accent sur le fait que Jésus était à la fois pleinement homme et pleinement Dieu. Lorsqu’il a marché sur terre, il a vécu une vraie vie humaine, il ne l’a pas simulée ou feinte. L’épître aux Hébreux l’explique clairement (Hébreux 4:14-16; Hébreux 2:17-18). Une brochure qui donne un aperçu général de cet enseignement et qui fournit de nombreuses références qui démontrent que la Bible l’enseigne clairement sera publiée dans les deux prochaines parutions de Northern Light. Cette brochure a été produite par Grace Communion International, le nouveau nom de notre dénomination mère, qui est basée à Glendora, en Californie. O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R

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Par ailleurs, la dernière année a été productive sur le plan de l’implication ministérielle, ici au Canada, et de l’œuvre missionnaire, à l’étranger. Notre église au Canada a soutenu une émission de radio et des séminaires de suivi ayant pour but de fortifier le mariage en Colombie et en Amérique du Sud; des colonies de vacances pour les jeunes aux Philippines; un programme de formation de personnel médical qui rend des services communautaires dans les villages très pauvres du Bangladesh.

La nouvelle tente qui sert de foyer.

La congrégation remercie le Canada.

En outre, nous avons poursuivi notre travail grâce à la relation spéciale que notre église canadienne entretien avec notre dénomination en Afrique. Cette année, nous avons soutenu des colonies de vacances, des conférences de formation pastorale, une retraite pour femmes, des projets pour soulager la pauvreté et nous avons fait l’acquisition d’une tente pour qu’une nouvelle église rurale d’Afrique du Sud puisse se réunir. Mon épouse Wendy et moi sommes allées en mission dans ce pays en août dernier, et nous avons pu assister au premier service tenu dans la tente et en effectuer la présentation officielle au nom de l’église du Canada. Bien entendu, les frères nous ont exprimé une immense gratitude et une appréciation pour ce don. Bien sûr, tous ces projets sont réalisés au nom de Christ pour exprimer son amour envers tous les êtres humains. Cette réalité est aussi vraie dans les expressions nombreuses et variées de l’amour de Dieu, en paroles et en actions, que nos congrégations et nos membres réalisent au Canada. Je dois aussi vous informer spécialement qu’en juillet la participation à nos colonies de vacances, à l’est et à l’ouest, a augmenté et qu’un fruit extraordinaire en est sorti. Je ne veux pas que ma lettre soit trop longue, mais je veux vous partager ce que Dieu accomplit lorsque nous apprenons à nous soumettre davantage à lui. C’est vraiment son œuvre! Mais quelle occasion incomparable il nous donne de participer avec lui au merveilleux plan de salut qu’il met en œuvre pour l’humanité. Chers coouvriers dans sa grande cause, je vous remercie pour votre soutien généreux! En Christ,

Gary Moore Directeur national Église universelle de Dieu du Canada 20

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T H E M E

Kids Who Reject God

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remember the girl who left her Christian home for university and in only a few weeks had her entire Christian upbringing and beliefs turned upside down, and that was the last I heard from her. I also remember the steady stream of teenagers who drained the church for all it had to offer as far as youth activities and then left the church and turned their backs on God. All those years of careful nurturing in Christian belief, growing up in a Christian home and attending a Christian church, and these kids, just like that, turned atheist. And now with atheism on a roll and really getting aggressive in its attack against the ills of Christianity, these young atheists have all kinds of ammunition to support their rejection of God. So where does that leave them? Kids who grew up in a Christian atmosphere have, by choice, rejected God and now want nothing to do with him. Does that mean they’re headed for Hell?

Well, what does one say after reading John 3:18? “Whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” This is the verdict (verse 19): “Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light.” That sounds like game over for our kids. If they’ve rejected God or Jesus Christ, they’ve had it, right? But how was the Light presented? Was it really Light at all? Did our kids grow up with the Light as John described it in verse 17, that “God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him”? It suddenly dawned on me one day, after reading that verse, that I hadn’t presented God in his true Light to my own children. In my actions and teaching as a parent, I’d mostly presented God as the Great Condemner. Any bad behaviour from my children had been dealt with swiftly. If my kids wanted a relationship

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By Jonathan Buck Pastor, Barrie, Huntsville, North Bay, Peterborough, and Sudbury congregations with me, they’d better meet my expectations. When their school reports arrived, they’d better be good. Mistakes weren’t easily forgiven. Seeing God in that light I can understand why kids become atheists. I’d be an atheist too. But Jesus told us God’s not into condemning, he’s into saving. He’s into restoring our relationship with him, not finding reason to make it difficult. And when I realized that, what a difference it made when my third child’s next school report came home. It was the usual mix of good and bad, but it wasn’t what he had or hadn’t done that mattered to me anymore, it was our relationship. That’s what counted most from now on. But how could I keep our relationship intact when his report card wasn’t that great? This was new territory for me. Well, God sent Jesus to save, not condemn. How? By putting grace ahead of our behaviour. So instead of castigating the poor lad for not coming up to expectations, I found myself asking him if he was happy with his report. Not was I happy, but was he? I’d never done that before, but I hadn’t put our relationship ahead of his behaviour before, either. So, was he happy? Yes, he was. For his first year in high school he was jolly pleased with how he’d done, so I suggested we buy a Black Forest cake to celebrate him being happy. I’d never done that before, either. But as I watched him happily munching away on his third piece, I wondered if I’d hit onto something wonderful. And so it was for the rest of his years in high school: I never once made him think our relationship depended on him doing well, and if he was happy, we celebrated. We got through a lot of cakes, but for both of us, his high school years were the best years of our lives. We have nothing but happy memories. I see now the importance of presenting God in his true Light. He’s into whatever it takes to keep relationships intact and

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T H E M E

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flourishing, which he does purely by grace. So when my granddaughter broke one of our dishes and she was crying her eyes out on the kitchen floor, I gave her 2 Corinthians 5:19 with both barrels. I grabbed her by the shoulders and yelled at her, “You’re forgiven, you’re forgiven!” It had an amazing effect. She stopped crying, looked up at me and said “OK,” and off she scuttled as free as a bird, our relationship intact despite what she’d done. It was a wonderful chance to show God in his true Light to her. But what if it’s too late and our kids have grown up, fled the nest and they’re out there in the secular world living secular lives, and there’s little chance now as parents to show God in his true Light anymore? Has our kids’ rejection of God sealed their fate forever? It didn’t for Israel. They rejected God in the Old Testament and rejected Jesus in the New, but God hasn’t ended his relationship with them (Romans 11:1-2). He

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How brilliant God is. When his kids, the children of Israel, rejected him and went atheist, he turns their rejection into a demonstration of his mercy and obvious proof of his love for them, and when they see God in that Light it changes them forever. allowed his kids to rebel against him (verse 32), but only as a preliminary to showing them his mercy later on. Rejecting God doesn’t mean game over. Why? Because God isn’t into rejecting anyone. He came to save, not condemn. He’s into restoring relationships and giving second chances. And when Israel eventually sees that, Paul says they’ll all be saved (verse 26). How brilliant God is. When his kids, the children of Israel, rejected him and went atheist, he turns their rejection into a demonstration of his mercy and obvious proof of his love for them, and when they see God in that Light it changes them forever.

But isn’t that God’s plan for everyone? Yes, it is. He “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He wants everybody, eventually, to see him in his true Light because that’s what turns us to him, just as it turns Israel to him one day, too. So, if we did it wrong as parents and our kids rejected God, their rejection is only temporary because one day they’ll see God as he really is, and even for hardened atheists like those Israelites he’ll be very difficult to resist!NL

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T H E M E

Dear Atheist...

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hope you don’t mind my presuming to write to you, since I know very little about science and the workings of the universe. Neither do I have your education and knowledge. I don’t know how many solar systems there are, or about tracking the air currents. I cannot explain how the sound barrier was broken, and I know nothing about nuclear fission. I’m not interested in debate, and I don’t intend this as a challenge. But we do have something in common: although we have made different conclusions about the origin of life, we each have a deeply entrenched faith.

why. Do you feel threatened in some way? Or, are you simply taking a page out of “our” book (a book I’m not sure “we” meant to “write”)?

You seem to believe God does not exist, every bit as strongly as I believe he does. My faith isn’t new, neither is yours. And both are rooted in faiths—in something neither of us can ultimately “prove”.

There was a time when you basically went about your business of living your faith, pretty much leaving us to live ours. Now you dismiss those who disagree with you as being dishonest, and just a hair off stupid. I really wonder what changed that. Could it be, you are so tired of being preached at by extreme name-calling judgmental fundamentalists (so have I, by the way) that you are becoming one, yourself? You’re judgment is, that one cannot believe in God and be intelligent. And you don’t “do” cop-outs? Just as Christians preached to attract converts, now, you are doing the same. Intolerance for intolerance— or, forgive me, “an eye for an eye”?

So it may seem a bit strange, my writing to you, yet there are a few things I’d like to know. You seem to be much more vocal than you once were—and much more angry. Even bitter. I’m not sure

And for us, instead of letting our lights “shine”, some have turned up their “halogen brights” in your eyes and tried to take away what I believe is your god given right to make up your own mind.

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By Camay Achtemichuk Member, Yorkton SK congregation

Granted, we have not always been “pretty” examples. Actually, I haven’t quite figured out how a people who say they believe in a God who is love and somehow manages to alienate about half of the world by their behavior. Except for one thing you may call an excuse—but I call a reason. I make mistakes. I hope you are honest enough to accept you’ve made a few in your life. We are still human. Here we may differ also, I think you believe we will never be anything else. I believe we will. I know you cannot convince me differently and I don’t think I can convince you. Thing is, in the “final analysis” it doesn’t matter. If you will insist on remaining unconvinced that the Eternal, Creator loving God simply is not, it isn’t worth the debate—the challenges, the time, and trouble of beating my head against a stone wall for nothing. Because, if you are correct, it doesn’t matter. If you are wrong—you will find out.” NL

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F A I T H

P R O F I L E S

By Gladys Whyte Member, Pathway Community Church, Regina

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euben Ross grew up in a small town in Saskatchewan (Pilot Butte), the youngest of 5 children. His parents, Nat and Mary Ross, 3 siblings and Grandmother, Gladys Whyte are members of Pathway Community Church in Regina. Reuben is an Olympic Athlete. He represented Canada in diving at the Beijing Olympics in August 2008. His Grandma, Gladys Whyte of Regina interviewed him in November 2008 about his experiences as a high performance athlete. When I first saw you 23 years ago, I thought to myself, “what is in store for this little one”. Later I had a photo

Reuben Ross of you, with your chin on your hand and I called it “the thinker”. At what age did you develop an interest in diving? Around the age of 9 or 10. I remember watching it on TV, Commonwealth Games. That was the first spark. What was it about diving that caught your interest and attention? I’ve always been a bit of a fish, loved water and like the thrill, the rush. Diving is a good sport for both of those.

What made you decide it was worthwhile to put in so much time and energy? It wasn’t easy at times. You question your commitment, “is it worth it”. Especially at the age of 13-14, you see all the other kids having free time. I had to go to the pool every day, but I did have success at what I did. I realized I had talent. Your coaches told you you had talent? Yes, I didn’t always realize. My coaches had more faith in my talent than I did.

Rueben (left) with his brother Elliot, in China. 24

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F A I T H

P R O F I L E S

C O N T I N U E D

How and when did your dream of going to the Olympics develop? I started dreaming about it when I was very young. I remember before the 2000 games I was upset that I was too young. It’s always been the dream, the passion, the pinnacle to reach for. And now you’ve realized that dream. I have. What was it like walking into that huge arena in Beijing with the Canadian Team? That was probably one of the most incredible experiences of my life, walking into the stadium and realizing that it was real. It was all so surreal before that, even though you were in Beijing, it’s hard to realize you are actually at the Olympics and that you are going to be competing, representing your country among the best of the best of the world. It was that moment that it really became real. It was such a rush, such extreme emotion.

Participating in charity dive show after 2009 World Aquatic Championships in Rome

And the thrill of having so many people there watching you dive? That was really special. It was incredible to have so many family there. How many were there? Thirteen, “crazy” members of the family coming to watch and support. I was very glad that they could come and that they could share that with me. They were thrilled too. I’m sure. You left home at the age of 16 and went o Edmonton to train. What led you to that decision and what was that like for you? It was weird, it wasn’t really much of a decision. When I heard the coaches

weren’t going to be in Regina any more, I thought I need to go to Edmonton. I got 2 suitcases, I don’t know where I’m living or what school I’m going to. It was pretty all up in the air, but it all worked out. I never regretted that decision. Where did you live? For the first month I lived with one of the other divers. Then after that I lived with Elliot, my brother, who was living there. Now what are you studying and where are you presently living, and training? I’m at the University of Miami, studying civil engineering. It’s my 3rd year. It’s been good so far, busy, but for the most

O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R

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part I’m enjoying what I’m doing, which makes it a lot easier. I’m living on campus above a Baptist Church in an apartment with 6 guys. It’s been a very good place to live. What are your goals for diving and your academic life for the upcoming year? I would like to win NCAA finals again, improve my scores internationally and win a medal at world championships, in synchro in Rome in July While diving has been a large part of your life for the past 12 years, I know that you have grown up with a Christian faith and have spent some of your summers at Church camp.

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F A I T H

P R O F I L E S

C O N T I N U E D

both of those authors. They look at things differently, not your typical opinion. They analyze things and look at them from different angles. Do you have a hero and why is that person your hero? I don’t have a specific hero. There are many influential people throughout my life who I try to learn from. Your life is very busy. What do you enjoy doing in your “free” time? You always have to have some free time. It is just as important part of life as working or school. I usually spend free time interacting with friends, watching TV or playing games or spending time with family.

Rueben with his mother Mary and father Nat after winning bronze in the syncro event at the World Aquatic Championships in Rome. How does your Christian faith impact your diving career and your studying? It’s another important aspect of your life and something that can’t be neglected. As life gets busy it’s easy to push it aside, but it is important to keep. How do you balance and incorporate your Christian life into your diving and university career? The most important thing I try to do is to live my life as a Christ follower and to love and respect others and to try to make a difference with my actions rather than so much with my words. I try to live as a Christian. How do the demands of training and studying impact your life as a Christian? It’s a busy schedule and you have to learn to balance the three important

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areas of life, they are not entirely separate, so I have to learn to incorporate. For example when I’m diving, I’m a diver but I also try to make a difference in the people around me, to be there for them and to respect them. What has been important in your personal journey of faith in being a follower of Christ? As with anything in life, there are always struggles. That is the same with being a Christ follower, there are not always easy times. With diving there are good times and hard times. There are so many facets of a Christian life. You have to work through the struggles like you do with any other sort of thing. I know you don’t have much spare time for reading, but how is your favourite Christian author? I haven’t read too many Christian authors. I like Phillip Yancy and C.S. Lewis. His books are so . . . I enjoy the way he looks at things. That’s why I like

What is the most important life-lesson you have learned? There are so many life lessons, its’ hard to pick a specific one. Perseverance is an important thing that I’ve learned and had to deal with in difficult situations. You are better for it and for getting through it. You have had some wonderful opportunities in learning, travel and seeing other cultures. What advice and encouragement would you like to pass on to other young people? Keep an open mind, observe and absorb as much as you can. Think, see the world and observe it. Don’t close your mind to one way of thinking. This is an important thing to learn.NL Footnote: Rebuen did realize several of his goals in 2009. He won 1st place on the 3 Meter Board at Canada Cup, international diving meet. In the US international meet, he won 2nd place. At the World Aquatic Championships in Rome, he placed 3rd on the 3 Meter synchro event, with Alex Despatie. Reuben placed 11th on the 3 Meter individual event and 7th on the 10 Meter synchro event with Riley McCormick. NORTHERN LIGHT


B I B L E

Do Good To All

S T U D Y

By Michael Morrison

A Study Of Galatians 6

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n many of his letters, Paul concludes with a list of commands. In Galatians, he gives a series of proverbs. He wants his readers to be guided by the Spirit, not a list of laws, so he gives them principles that require some thought. Restore a sinner gently (verses 1-5) The Galatian Christians were probably concerned about sin—they were attracted to the law of Moses because it seemed to address the problem of misbehavior. But Paul is more concerned about the person than he is the sin: If someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. What kind of sin is Paul talking about—a moment of weakness, or a persistent problem? It’s not clear, but it alienated the person from the community, and restoration was needed. This must be done gently by Spirit-led people, who know their own tendency to sin in other, perhaps less public ways. We should treat others the way that we want to be treated, with compassion and patience. As brothers and sisters in the faith, we are to help one another: Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If you want a law, he seems to say, start with the law of helping others. Jesus served others rather than himself, and so should we. When someone is caught in a sin, we need to help the person—not make the burden heavier. This is love, which fulfills the purpose of God’s law (5:14). Paul’s next proverb is a truism: If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. This seems to be a warning for people who think they are spiritual giants and never likely to be caught in a sin. If you think you can stand on your own, he says elsewhere, watch out, for you could fall, too (1 Cor. 10:12).

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else. We are not the judge of how well other people are doing in the faith—but we should be attentive to whether we are doing what we ought. We can celebrate that we have grown, but we should not take pride in being better than others. Each person has his or her own journey in life. As Paul says, each one should carry his own load. On the surface, this appears to contradict what Paul said in verse 2. Are we to help one another, or to be self-reliant? Well, both. We should be attentive to our own life, but we should also help others—and we should recognize that we will sometimes fall short in our responsibilities, and will then need the help of others. Spiritual growth is a matter of cooperation, not competition. Supporting teachers, doing good (verses 6-10) Paul’s next proverb concerns financial support for the leaders of the church: Anyone who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with his instructor. When the people were spiritually immature, Paul was willing to support himself by making tents, but he also taught that believers should support those who labor in the gospel. If we want teachers to help us with their abilities, then we must help them according to our ability. Paul says, Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. This principle could be applied in many settings; here, it seems to refer to financial support for teachers in the church. No matter how diligent our teachers are, if they have to support themselves financially, they will inevitably have less time to help others. When we give more, we receive more.

reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. A self-centered life produces only material things that eventually waste away. A life curved in on itself doesn’t even want the kind of life that God offers. But if we are attentive to spiritual priorities, the result will be more blessings from the Spirit. This is not a matter of earning eternal life through good works—it is simply an acknowledgment that spiritual choices have results. If we focus on ourselves, our life will produce nothing of value. But if we make decisions in life following the Spirit, we will be participating in the kind of life we will enjoy forever. The Spirit leads us and empowers us, but we still have the choice of how to live, and our decisions do have consequences. Paul makes it clear that the works of the law cannot save us, but he has nothing against good works: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Why do we get tired of doing good? Because it doesn’t always have immediate rewards. But it will eventually have good results. Paul concludes: Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Since doing good is the right way to live, we should do good not just to our friends, but to all people—and yet Paul notes that we have a special responsibility to others in the church. In Paul’s day, wealthy citizens often financed public banquets and new civic buildings: they were “doing good to all.” Be a public benefactor, Paul is saying, especially within the church. If you sow generously, you will reap abundantly (2 Cor. 9:6).

Paul applies the proverb to spiritual matters: The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will

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B I B L E

S T U D Y

C O N T I N U E D

The Greeks had a Word for it Καταρτιζω When Paul exhorted believers to “restore” a person who had sinned (Gal. 6:1), he used the Greek word katartizō. This comes from the Greek word artizō (related to the English words artistry and artisan), and the prefix kata (which can have a variety of meanings, but in this word conveys a sense of completeness). This is the word that Mark uses to say that the disciples were mending or preparing their nets (Mark 1:19), and Jesus uses it for a fully trained student (Luke 6:40). In secular Greek, it was used for a doctor setting a broken bone so that it could heal. In general, it means to make something suited for its purpose. By using this word, Paul is putting emphasis on the solution, not the problem. “The whole atmosphere of the word lays the stress not on punishment but on cure” (William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, 53). “The goal here is not punishment or expulsion of the transgressor but restoration to the person’s former state” (Ben Witherington, Grace in Galatia, 422). Boasting in the cross (verses 11-18) Paul now takes the quill and writes the closing words himself, as Greek authors often did. He writes in large letters either for emphasis, or simply because he was not as skilled as the secretary in writing on porous papyrus. See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! He adds a few thoughts about circumcision: Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Basically, the false teachers wanted Christianity to be a sect within Judaism, and for all Gentile believers to become proselytes. They may have

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offered various religious reasons, but Paul says that what they really wanted was to be accepted by unbelieving Jews. But there is an irony here: Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. As a former Pharisee, Paul knew the rigor involved in keeping all the laws—and these people don’t have that kind of zeal, he says. They just want to brag about bringing proselytes into the Jewish fold. Boasting about achievements is hazardous to our spiritual health. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I

to the world. When we boast in the cross, we are “boasting” in our weakness, admitting that human effort ends only in death. We are proclaiming the gospel of what Christ has done. Because of the cross, our old self is irrelevant. The new spiritual reality is that it doesn’t matter whether a person is Jewish or Gentile. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. In the cross, we died, and in the resurrection, we were made new. Our relationship with God is based on our connection with Christ, not on our flesh. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God. The “rule” is that circumcision doesn’t matter. Paul is ending with a benediction on those who accept his teaching. They are “the Israel of God.” If people want to be part of Israel according to God’s definition, they should ignore the flesh and trust in their new status in Christ. Finally, he says, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. Paul has been persecuted for Christ, and he points to his scars. If you want to look at the flesh, look at these scars as evidence that I’m trying to please God, not anyone else.NL The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. Questions for discussion 1. Based on Paul’s letter, how could believers in Galatia know whether they were “spiritual”? (v. 1) 2. If I am dealing with a person caught in sin, what kind of words would help the person carry the burden? (v. 2) 3. In the support I give my pastor, am I trying to please the Spirit, or have I grown weary? (vv. 8-9) 4. How do I boast in the cross of Christ? (v. 14) NORTHERN LIGHT


Étude biblique

Faisons du bien à tout le monde

de Michael Morrison

Une étude de Galates 6

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aul conclut bon nombre des ses épîtres par une liste de commandements. Dans celle qu’il adresse aux Galates, il termine plutôt par une série de proverbes. Il désire que ses lecteurs soient dirigés par l’Esprit et non par une liste de lois. C’est pourquoi il leur écrit des principes qui exigent de la réflexion. Restaurer un pécheur avec douceur (versets 1 à 5) Le péché préoccupait probablement les chrétiens de Galatie; ils étaient attirés par la loi de Moïse, car elle semble régler le problème du mauvais comportement. Mais Paul se soucie plus de la personne que du péché : Si quelqu’un s’est laissé surprendre par quelque faute, vous qui vous laissez conduire par l’Esprit, ramenez-le dans le droit chemin avec un esprit de douceur. Et toi qui interviens, fais attention de ne pas te laisser toimême tenter.

De quel type de péché Paul parle-t-il, un moment de faiblesse, un problème récurant? Ce n’est pas clair, mais il est certain que ce péché excluait le pécheur de la communauté et qu’une restauration était nécessaire. Celle-ci doit s’effectuer par une personne guidée par l’Esprit, qui sait qu’elle est sujette au péché sous des formes probablement plus privées que celles qui concernent le pécheur à ramener sur le droit chemin. Nous devrions traiter les autres comme nous voudrions l’être, c’est-à-dire faire preuve de compassion et de patience. Apparement, le proverbe suivant est une évidence : Si quelqu’un s’imagine être une personne d’exception – alors qu’en fait il n’est rien – il s’abuse luimême. Paul semble s’adresser aux gens qui croient être des géants spirituels qui ne pourraient jamais être surpris en train de pécher. Que celui qui croit être debout, dit-il ailleurs, prenne garde de tomber (1 Corinthiens 10:12). Que chacun examine son propre comportement. S’il découvre quelque

aspect louable, alors il pourra en éprouver de la fierté par rapport à luimême et non par comparaison avec les autres. Nous n’avons pas à juger les progrès des autres dans la foi, mais nous devrions nous examiner attentivement pour savoir si nous agissons comme nous le devrions. Nous pouvons éprouver de la fierté à propos de notre propre croissance, mais nous ne devons pas être fiers d’être meilleurs que les autres. Dans la vie, chacun effectue son propre périple. Comme Paul le dit, chacun aura à répondre pour lui-même de ses actions. À première vue, cela semble contradictoire avec ce que l’apôtre à déclaré au verset deux. Devons-nous nous aider les uns les autres ou compter sur nousmêmes uniquement? Eh bien, les deux. Nous devons examiner attentivement notre propre vie, mais nous devons aussi venir en aide aux autres. Nous devrions en outre reconnaître que parfois nous n’arriverons pas à assumer nos responsabilités et que nous avons besoin des autres. La croissance spirituelle est propice à la coopération et non à la compétition. Soutenir les enseignants, faire le bien (versets 6-10) Le proverbe suivant concerne le soutien financier des dirigeants de l’église : Que celui à qui l’on enseigne la Parole donne une part de tous ses biens à celui qui l’enseigne. Lorsque les croyants n’étaient pas mûrs sur le plan spirituel, Paul voulait pourvoir à ses propres besoins en fabriquant des tentes, mais il a aussi enseigné que les croyants devraient soutenir financièrement ceux qui prêchet l’évangile. Si nous voulons bénéficier des capacités de nos enseignants, nous devons les aider selon les nôtres.

Faisons le bien sans nous laisser gagner par le découragement. Car si nous ne relâchons pas nos efforts, nous récolterons au bon moment. O C T O B E R / N O V E M B E R / D E C E M B E R

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Paul déclare : Ne vous faites pas d’illusions : Dieu ne se laisse pas traiter avec mépris. On récolte ce que l’on a semé. Ce principe s’applique à de nombreuses situations;

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Étude biblique

ici, il semble faire référence au soutien financier des dirigeants de l’église. Peu importe l’assiduité de nos enseignants, s’ils doivent pourvoir à leurs propres besoins financiers, ils auront inévitablement moins de temps pour aider les autres. Lorsque nous donnons beaucoup, nous recevons en abondance. L’apôtre a appliqué le proverbe précèdent à la vie spirituelle. Celui qui sème pour satisfaire ses propres désirs d’homme livré à lui-même récoltera ce que produit cet homme, c’est-àdire la corruption. Mais celui qui sème selon l’Esprit : la vie éternelle. Une vie centrée sur elle-même ne produit que des choses matérielles qui ultérieurement seront détruites. Celui dont la vie est repliée sur elle-même ne désire même pas le type de vie que Dieu offre. Cependant, si nous nous fixons des priorités spirituelles, nous récolterons plus de bénédictions spirituelles. Il ne s’agit pas de gagner la vie éternelle par de bonnes œuvres, mais simplement la reconnaissance du fait que les choix spirituels produisent des résultats. Si nous nous concentrons sur nous-mêmes, notre vie ne produira aucun fruit de valeur. Mais si nous prenons des décisions en nous laissant diriger par l’Esprit, nous participerons à un type de vie dont nous jouirons pour toujours. L’Esprit nous guide et nous donne la capacité d’agir selon lui, mais nous devons toujours choisir comment nous allons vivre, et nos décisions auront toujours des conséquences. Paul affirme clairement que les œuvres de la loi ne peuvent pas nous sauver, mais il n’a rien contre les bonnes œuvres. Faisons le bien sans nous laisser gagner par le découragement. Car si nous ne relâchons pas nos efforts, nous récolterons au bon moment. Pourquoi nous lassons-nous de faire le bien? Parce que nous n’en sommes pas toujours récompensés immédiatement; mais nous obtiendrons de bons résultats ultérieurement.

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Les Grecs avaient un mot pour le dire Καταρτιζω Lorsque Paul a exhorté les croyants à « ramener dans le droit chemin » quelqu’un qui a péché (Gal. 6:1), il a employé le terme grec katartizō.Celui-ci provient du mot grec artizō (auquel sont relié les termes artiste et artisan), et du préfixe kata (qui a plusieurs significations, mais dans ce terme-ci il fait référence à la complétude). Marc a employé le terme katartizō pour dire que les disciples réparaient ou préparaient leurs filets (Marc 1:19), et Jésus l’a utilisé pour parler d’un étudiant complètement formé (Luc 6:40). Dans la langue grecque séculière, ce terme était utilisé lorsqu’un médecin replaçait un os afin qu’il guérisse. De façon générale, il signifie rendre quelque chose pertinent à son but. En employant ce terme, Paul met l’accent sur la solution et non sur le problème. « L’atmosphère même du mot souligne le remède et non sur la punition » (traduction libre, William Barclay, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, 53). «transgresseur, mais de restaurer la personne pour qu’elle retrouve son état premier » (Ben Witherington, Grace in Galatia, 422). L’apôtre conclut : Ainsi donc, tant que nous en avons l’occasion faisons du bien à tout le monde, et en premier lieu à ceux qui appartiennent à la famille des croyants. Puisque faire le bien est la bonne manière de vivre, nous ne nous devrions pas la réserver uniquement pour nos amis, mais plutôt l’exercer envers tous. D’ailleurs, Paul précise que nous avons une responsabilité spéciale envers les membres de l’église. À l’époque de Paul, il arrivait souvent que des citoyens bien nantis soutiennent financièrement des banquets publics ou la construction de nouveaux bâtiments municipaux. Ils faisaient ainsi du « bien à tous ». Paul nous exhorte à

être des bienfaiteurs publics surtout envers l’église. Si vous semez généreusement, vous récolterez abondamment (2 Cor. 9:6). Placez votre fierté dans la croix (versets 11-18) Paul prend maintenant la plume pour rédiger lui-même la conclusion de l’épître, comme le faisaient souvent les auteurs grecs. Il a écrit ces paroles en grandes lettres pour mettre l’accent sur elles ou tout simplement parce qu’il n’était aussi doué que les scribes pour écrire sur le papyrus poreux. Vous remarquez ces grandes lettres; c’est bien de ma propre main que je vous écris! NORTHERN LIGHT


Étude biblique

Il ajoute quelques réflexions au sujet de la circoncision : Ceux qui vous imposent la circoncision sont des gens qui veulent faire bonne figure devant les hommes. Ils n’ont qu’un seul but : éviter d’être persécutés à cause de la mort du Christ sur la croix. Essentiellement, les faux enseignants voulaient que le christianisme soit une secte du judaïsme et que tous les croyants gentils deviennent prosélytes. Ils ont fourni beaucoup de raisons religieuses, mais Paul explique qu’au fond ils voulaient être acceptés par les Juifs non-croyants. Mais voici l’ironie : ceux qui pratiquent la circoncision n’observent pas la Loi, eux non plus. S’ils veulent vous faire circoncire, c’est pour pouvoir se vanter de vous avoir imposé cette marque dans votre corps. Comme il avait déjà été pharisien, Paul connaissait la rigueur avec laquelle les lois devaient être appliquées et il savait que ces gens ne faisaient pas preuve de ce type de zèle. Ils ne voulaient que se vanter d’avoir emmené des prosélytes au judaïsme. Se vanter de nos réalisations met en péril notre santé spirituelle. En ce qui me concerne, je ne veux à aucun prix placer ma fierté ailleurs que dans la mort de notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ sur la croix. Par elle, en effet, le monde du péché a été crucifié pour moi, de même que moi je l’ai été pour ce monde. Lorsque nous nous glorifions dans la croix, nous nous « vantons » de notre faiblesse, nous admettons que nous efforts humains ne mènent qu’à la mort. Nous proclamons l’évangile de l’œuvre accomplie de Christ. À cause de la croix, notre vieil homme n’est plus pertinent. Le fait qu’une personne soit juive ou gentille n’est plus d’importance; c’est la nouvelle réalité qui compte. Peu importe d’être circoncis ou non. Ce qui compte, c’est d’être une nouvelle créature. À la croix, nous sommes morts et par la résurrection nous sommes devenus de nouvelles

créations. Notre relation avec Dieu est basée sur notre lien avec Christ et non sur notre chair. Que la paix et la grâce de Dieu soient accordées à tous ceux qui suivent cette règle de vie, ainsi qu’à l’Israël de Dieu. Cette règle c’est que la circoncision n’importe plus. Paul termine son épître par une bénédiction pour ceux qui acceptent son enseignement. Ce sont eux qui constituent l’Israël de Dieu. Si les croyants veulent faire parte d’Israël selon la définition que Dieu en donne, ils doivent être indifférents à leur chair, et vivre par la foi selon leur nouveau statut en Christ. Désormais, dit-il, que personne ne me cause plus de peine, car je porte sur mon corps les cicatrices des blessures que j’ai reçues pour la cause de Jésus. Paul a été persécuté pour Christ et il montre les cicatrices que cela lui a occasionnées. Si vous voulez considérer la chair, considérez ces cicatrices comme une preuve que je cherche à plaire à Dieu et à personne d’autre. Chers frères, que la grâce de notre Seigneur Jésus-Christ soit avec vous tous. Amen.NL

Questions pour la discussion 1. Selon l’épître de Paul, comment les croyants de Galatie pouvaient-ils savoir s’ils étaient « spirituels »? (v. 1) 2. Si je dois intervenir auprès d’une personne prise en flagrant délit de péché, quel genre de paroles l’aideraient à porter son fardeau? (v. 2) 3. En ce qui concerne le soutien que j’accorde à mon pasteur, est-ce que j’essaie de plaire à l’Esprit ou suis-je devenu las? (vv. 8-9) 4. Comment est-ce que je place ma fierté dans la croix de Christ? (v. 14)

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T H E

Atheism In Decline?

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iving in what a friend of mine calls the “God bubble” I often go through life ignorant of some of the latest trends in society. This was made quite clear to me in 2007 while attending the Canadian Church Press conference in Toronto. On the last day of the conference there was a panel discussion on the upcoming trends that would confront Christianity in Canada and the impact they could have on Christian communicators. In addition to the usual trends of the general secularization of our society, one speaker alerted us to what he thought was the most alarming trend— the rise in the popularity of books promoting an atheistic world view. In particular, he mentioned Letter To A Christian Nation, by Sam Harris. In his book Harris “takes on” Christianity showing why it is not to be believed and followed. In the opening pages of he writes: “You believe that the Bible is the word of God, that Jesus is the Son of God and that only those who place their faith in Jesus will find salvation after death. As a Christian, you believe these propositions not because they make you feel good, but because you think they are true. Before I point out some problems with these beliefs, I would like to acknowledge that there are many points on which you and I agree. We agree, for instance, that if one of us is right, the other is wrong. The Bible is either the word of God, or it isn’t. Either Jesus offers humanity the one, true path to salvation (John 14:6), or he does not. We agree that to be a true Christian is to believe that all other faiths are mistaken, and profoundly so. If Christianity is correct, and I persist in my unbelief, I should expect to suffer the torments of hell. Worse still, I have persuaded others, and many close to me, to reject the very idea of God. They too will languish in “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41). If the basis doctrine of Christianity is correct, I

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have misused my life in the worst conceivable way. I admit this without a single caveat. The fact that my continuous and public rejection of Christianity does not worry me in the least should suggest just how inadequate I think your reasons for being a Christian are.” (pp. 3-4, Letter To A Christian Nation) These opening statements set the tone for the rest of the book. The fact a book about atheism made the New York Times best seller list at number 7 in October 2006, one month after being released, made Christians stand up and take notice. As a result of that panelist’s comments, I read Sam Harris’ book with interest and too had to wonder if such books could cause many to reject Christianity—especially the younger generation. That is, until I brought this book up during a meeting with fellow pastors of this denomination. After I gave a short report on the book, one of our pastors said, “Bill, those ideas are from modernity, and don’t fit with the post-modern mindset of the majority of younger people.” I had to agree with him.

L A S T

W O R D By Bill Hall

Editor, Northern Light Magazine

fatefully flawed as a worldview?” (pp. 9596, The Dawkins Delusion?). This very point was affirmed in a recent article in the October 3rd National Post by Graeme Hamilton. In discussing the illiteracy about religion in our society, he explains steps to reverse this trend by offering courses on religion are meeting with great interest. Quoting Spencer Boudreau, a professor of education at McGill University, he writes, “Boudreau is optimistic the emerging generation is more open to studying religion. Strident secularism in Quebec was a product of the Quiet Revolution, when the province emerged from a period of church domination referred to by some as the great darkness. “The kids aren’t there anymore. They’re very curious, they’re very open,” he said. “The religion classes at McGill are full. The students want to know more.” (“Young People’s Ignorance Of Religion Worries Experts,” by Graeme Hamilton, National Post, October 3, 2009). Perhaps, it is atheism, not Christianity that is in decline.NL

So it was with interest I read Alister McGrath’s comments in his book, The Dawkins Delusion?. In it McGrath addresses Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion, and what he sees as the state of atheism in our world today: “Until recently, western atheism has waited patiently that belief in God would simply die out. But now, a whiff of panic is evident. Far from dying out, belief in God has rebounded and seems set to exercise still greater influence in both the public and private spheres. The God Delusion, expresses this deep anxiety, partly reflecting an intense distaste for religion. Yet there is something deeper here, often overlooked in the heat of the debate. The anxiety is that the coherence of atheism is itself at stake. Might the unexpected resurgence of religion persuade many that atheism itself is NORTHERN LIGHT


DENOMINATION NAME CHANGE SURVEY

NORTHERN LIGHT

Vol.12, No.4 October-December 2009

Bill Hall Editor Layout and Design

Gary Moore Editorial Advisor

David Bacon Doug Collie

We have now received the results of a survey from all our Canadian congregations regarding our proposed name change to Grace Communion International-Canada.

Copy Editors

Colin Wallace Online Edition Editor

Pascale Monosiet French Translator

Here are the results: Want to change to Grace Communion International: Are neutral concerning a name change: Keep the name Worldwide Church of God:

Feature Editors

59.5% 20.7% 19.8%

Clearly, with a majority in favour, and just over 80% either in favour or not opposed, we have a mandate from the membership to pursue this name change. I believe for most, there will be joy, and a sense that another page has been turned on our journey. Though we have roots to our past that we will never deny, and have learned greatly from, we are a very different church now than we were in the past. As it will take some time to institute a name change to Grace Communion International-Canada, please continue to use our current name Worldwide Church of God-Canada for donation cheques made out to the church. Once all the legal, and other paperwork is in place for our name change, we will make an official announcement of the change. Thank you for participating in the survey and for your patience in this matter. Gary Moore-Canadian Director

Dorothy Nordstrom Jonathan Buck David Sheridan Neil Earle Northern Light is published 4 times annually for members of the Worldwide Church of God in Canada. Editorial contributions and comments on any issue raised in Northern Light are welcome although unsolicited materials may not be returned. Please address all correspondence to: The Editor, Northern Light 101 - 5668 192 Street, Surrey, BC V3S 2V7 or email us at: northernlight@wcg.ca The new online edition of Northern Light is available at www.wcg.ca. Portions of Northern Light are generously provided compliments of Christian Odyssey, published bi-monthly by the Worldwide Church of God. Unless noted otherwise, scriptures are quoted from the Holy Bible, New International Version, © Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. À moins d'indication contraire, les versets cités sont tirés de la Bible Le Semeur. Publications Agreement Number 40063058 If undeliverable return to: Northern Light 101 - 5668 192 St. Surrey, BC V3S 2V7 email: northernlight@wcg.ca



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