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November 18, 2020 7:00 pm
BJU Science Professor Dr. Bill Lovegrove teaches in chapel about a Christian perspective of COVID-19.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina today will hear a special chapel message from Dr. Bill Lovegrove, a professor in the division of natural science at Bob Jones University. His topic today is God and cope with 19.
This is a controversial topic, and I'm not sure that any of us are really eager to get up here and talk to about it, but I am the essential science teacher.
If there was ever a topic that could be called essential that every BJ's student ought to be thinking about. This is probably it. So here I am, and why is this so controversial. One the one hand there are people who are seemingly would rather die than wear a mask. These extreme restrictions they say are part of a Marxist takeover of our country. This is an attack on our freedoms and on the other hand, other people are saying yeah but this is a deadly disease were approaching a million deaths around the world and don't you know that you by your ignorance and your selfishness, your contributing to people's death. So a filing one way people were in a tweet this afternoon and call me Marxist in filing the other way people in a tweet this afternoon. Call me a murderer. If I try to stay in the middle probably get called both, but I do want to be helpful and not controversial so I want to focus more on the God side of this topic and not so much on the coded side. However, some of you are really interested in the pandemic and I expect there are some heated discussions going on in the dorms or will be going on in the dorms, so I want to give us all three practical suggestions for profitable coded conversations.
And here's the first one.
If you want to talk science. If that's the part of this topic that's most interesting to you then can we talk original sources. I'm not really interested in what you heard on twitter.
What you saw on YouTube.
What you read on somebody's blog. If you're going around telling people, science has proved whatever then can you show me the actual science.
Can you find a science journal that says it me. That would cut down on a lot of the confusion and misunderstanding.
Suggestion number two.
Maybe you think things are being driven by politics and economics more than science, and that might be true. So you want to talk politics and economics. While I have a suggestion were to talk about the world not just about America because this is a worldwide problem, we are reporting about a thousand deaths a day. The world is reporting about 5000 deaths a day.
So whatever your political and economic explanations are. Do they make sense when applied to Brazil or Venezuela or Vietnam because honestly, most people in those countries couldn't care less that we have an election in a couple of months, or how much Medicare pays for coded and suggestion number three.
Remember what the Bible says about Christian conversation. You probably know several Bible principles and now is a good time to work on applying them. For example, Proverbs 15 one. A soft answer turns away wrath but a grievous answer stirs up anger. Can you see that on the nightly news where this one.
Ephesians 429 let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth but that which is good to the use of edifying does that describe your conversations and there are many Bible principles like this of course there's some words I'm starting to see on the Internet.
A lot of places where people have discussion forums. For example, this is Newsweek.com. They say start a discussion, not a fire post with kindness. That's not just good advice that's actually Bible advice so those are my three rules and that's all I'm gonna say about COBIT right now, but instead I want to talk about God because the science and the politics and the economics are pretty complicated and are often confusing, but the Bible is supposed to be timeless. The Bible is supposed to give us principles that apply in any kind of crisis so I have two questions that I want to address today.
Question number one. How do we think about suffering because a lot of people are suffering because of coded and I don't mean just medically.
I mean emotionally. I mean economically there's a lot of suffering in question two how should Christians think about science because this is a science topic by said those are simple questions but they don't have simple answers. We will barely get started this morning trying to answer these questions, but I do hope that I will get you started thinking because the coded 19 pandemic has brought these two questions to the forefront of everybody's minds.
So would start with one of the biggest and hardest questions in all of life when bad things happen. Where is God. This is a question on people's minds whenever there is a tragedy when the Holocaust was going on in Germany where was God and why didn't he stop it when 9/11 happened. Where was God and why didn't he stop it. Those were both human caused tragedies in a sense, there is somebody to blame but what about this back in 2004, when most of you were just kids. There was a giant tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and it killed 200,000 people in one day and that was a natural disaster. There's nobody to blame people called it an act of God.
So where was God and why didn't he stop that, or did he actually causes as we approach a million COBIT deaths around the world. Where is God and why is he letting so many people suffer one of the roots. I think of the current controversy is that we all desperately want somebody to blame for this crisis. Theologians call this the problem of evil.
The theological term is theodicy a vindication of God, why does a good God permit evil.
This is not a question I can answer in 15 minutes. This is been debated for centuries. In fact, God gave us a whole book of our Bible just on the subject. It's the book of Job and its 42 chapters long so there's just not a short simple answer, but I think we can frame the question and we can start an answer by looking at a famous childhood prayer during this prayer as a child. God is great God is good. Let us thank him for food.
Do you believe the God is great. Do you believe that God is good, then, is easy to thank him for good things like our daily food, but try that Scott is great God is good. Let us thank him for coded 19 something about that is a little bit jarring. It's a little bit unsettling maybe you could make a case that we could thank God, in COBIT 19 but would anybody actually say you can thank God for coded 19 does that even make sense.
One of the most famous explorations of this topic is a book by a Jewish rabbi named Harold Kushner by the way no relationship to Jared Kushner Harold Kushner son tragically died of an incurable disease when he was only 14 years old and Harold struggled like we all would to try to figure out why did God let this happen, and in 1981 he wrote his famous book titled when bad things happen to good people, and he frames his answer in terms of that childhood prayer. He argues that the first two lines of the poem can't both be true if God was both great and good he would stop evil. He doesn't so either he is not great or he is not good. Maybe he loves us and really wants to stop the evil but is just not powerful enough to do it.
Or maybe he doesn't really love us. He has the power but he doesn't really care. Will Kushner comes to the conclusion that God is indeed good but he's not great he's not omnipotent. The evil in the world is simply too strong and even God himself can't stop it. Kushner wrote quote given the unfairness could strike so many people in life. I would rather believe in a God of limited power and unlimited love and justice rather than the other way around. Why want to tell you that is not the conclusion of the book of Job. That book in our whole Bible goes to great lengths to emphasize the awesome power of the Almighty God. Job 42 to I know that thou canst do everything from his creation of the whole world. In Genesis 12 is judging of the whole world in the book of Revelation God is powerful. God is in control. He can turn the heart of pagan kings. He can quiet the storm with the word he can do everything now. Kushner is wrong. God is but who can question the love of God, either in light of so many statements in the Bible. For example, John 316 God so loved the world that he did want he gave what he gave his son for this one.
John 1315. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Of course, God loves us some of you know the song settled at the cross, the last one of that song says any doubt that you love was settled at the cross, by the way, if you search YouTube were spot. If I get to the top recording is Steve Pettit evangelistic team but are you thinking I can't really understand that that really doesn't answer it for me.
How can God be both great and good and he still allows evil well the bottles question is not can you explain that the Bible's question for you is can you believe it was in Hebrews 11 one faith is the evidence of things not seen. We can't see we don't understand all of God's plans and purposes, but the Bible asserts that God is great and God is good and the Bible calls us to have the faith to believe it. That's actually what Job said Job 1315 though he slay me, yet will I trust him. Job said I don't care how bad this gets.
I don't care how hard this is to understand the bottom line is I am going to trust God to go back to Hebrews 11.
That's the faith chapter and look later in the chapter and verse 33 we have the stories of people who subdued kingdoms who wrought righteousness to obtain promises who stopped the malice of lions there is. God is great God is good for you stop the mouths of lions, to spare Daniel's life but keep reading and verse 35 takes your breath away because there were women who received their dead raised to life again that there were others there were others who were tortured, not accepting deliverance. Others had trials of markings and score genes bonds and imprisonment. Where was God for them. Where's the good in that to me. It's no surprise that the faith chapter ends. That way, because that's the reality of life. If God delivered every Christian in every immediate problem of life. We always got miraculous deliverance. The Christian life wouldn't take any faith at all.
It's precisely when life goes wrong, it's when life doesn't make sense that you get a chance to show that you have faith. Look at verse 39. These are all the ones delivered and the martyrs they received not the promise they were not fixated on this life. Anyway, verse 13 these all died in faith, not having received the promises, the promise was never about a good life to begin with the promises about the next life. Some things are never going to make sense until we get to heaven but think with me about those first three words. These all died. Let that sink in for a minute. They all die. Daniel was delivered from the lions den and later he died know I made it miraculously through the flood, and later he died they all die.
Some of them martyrs at the hands of persecutors, some of them maybe just from old age, but they all died and so will you. And so will I maybe somebody in this room has a relative that seriously sick with coated have you been praying for their healing you can and you should pray that way I'm not minimizing or discouraging that all. It's fine to tell God that you want him to do that. But what he really asking God for is your prayer that every time anybody gets sick God will always heal them. And if we pray that way, doesn't that amount to essentially dear God, please let my grandpa with forever is that we are praying healing every time he gets sick.
I don't think we can pray. That way we know that's not God's will or maybe you're thinking.
Don't and I have coded a quantum die of something else, like cancer or heart attack, stroke is a better way to die is if we get to choose how people were gonna die. That doesn't seem like what we should pray either. When I think about it.
I think when we pray for somebody to be healed.
What we often mean is God don't let him die. I know my grandfather is going to die someday but I'm not really ready for him to die now and I think that's an okay thing to talk to God about people in the Bible do that but really we don't know when it's someone's time to die doing we'll get to choose how many years is enough. We have to say if it's God's will, God chooses to take some people at a very young age and I don't know why we call this the sovereignty of God, and it's the ultimate answer to the mysteries of life. I may not know why but I can have faith that God is great and God is good and he has good reasons for what he's doing. Look at this verse again.
They all died but they all died in faith, we have barely scratched the surface of this topic and we don't have more time, but I want to suggest if you want to dive into this issue more deeply that our seminary teacher Layton Talbert has written two very helpful books beyond suffering is about the book of Job, not by chance is about God's sovereignty in those books would help you. And there's this to Rabbi Kushner who wrote that famous book. He had a televised debate back in the 80s with a leading conservative theologian by the name of Norman Geisler. You can find a whole debate on YouTube if you watch that debate yielded a pretty deep exploration of this topic, and by the way, if you watch that debate. You can learn something else useful as well. These two men strongly disagree on their theology, but they are very respectful of each other. There is no sarcasm, no insults, no mocking, no misrepresenting is the kind of Christian conversation. We were talking about a few minutes ago so that's my first question, how do we think about suffering what I think in terms of God's great God is good and I need to trust him, but in a few minutes that we have left. I want to talk about my second question, how should Christians think about science, not just coded but any science. I think two extreme views are widespread in our culture. In my lifetime I watch the growth of these two extreme views, even within the church. The first of these we call scientism. This is the view that science is the one true path to truth Richard Dawkins said bluntly that science is better than religion because science works and apparently religion doesn't the Effexor scientism show up in the church when people want to reinterpret the Bible in the light of science whenever the Bible and science disagree science must be right because it is the one true dependable authoritative source of church truth, and the result is things like theistic evolution, but as we come into the 21st century.
There is a strong backlash to scientism and not just among religious people are scientific advances have not produced the utopia culture that we hope for, and scientists have biases. Scientists make mistakes. Scientists are influenced by the culture around them. Science, it turns out, makes a disappointing religion.
And don't we all know in our hearts that we are more than just a body we are soul you can explain love and consciousness. Many aspects of the human experience just by science and so scientism is being quickly replaced with postmodernism, a postmodernism is tricky to define even its proponents disagree about what exactly that means, but to me the core idea is the suspicion that there is no absolute truth. Science is not a pathway to truth and neither is religion or philosophy or anything else. Everything you believe they say is a product of your culture and your background and your experience, it's often expressed as what's true for you may not be true for me.
We all have our own truth. I want to show you an example of these two ways of thinking about science, but this is a complicated example and I need you to listen carefully and think carefully or you will completely miss the point. So don't go away confused today. Listen very carefully as I show you a video from YouTube. That's been watch over a million times.
The place is Cape Town South Africa. The year is 2016, a student movement called the Follis is pushing to D colonize Africa and what they mean is to remove all Western influence and re-create a purely African culture and some students in that movement are meeting with the science faculty and they are discussing how to D colonize science, listen carefully, I will did you get that the way to D colonize science is to scratch it all to start over from an African perspective. Now she goes on to give a really interesting example and listen carefully as she gives this example, somebody in the audience shouts out, it's not true and what's your reaction and black magic.
It's not true, it doesn't happen, but she's good to insist on her point and she's getting use Newton's law of gravity. As an example, listen not lose any money is full. So how do you react to that. The world has reacted to this video with scorn and derision. They laugh at this young lady and her ideas, but that is not why I show you the video I think you would be wrong to laugh at this young lady for two reasons.
Number one is really wrong to mock anybody even if you strongly disagree with, but number two. I don't think she deserves to be laughed at.
I don't think she's dumb. I think she's fairly intelligent I think she's fairly articulate. I think she has the wrong worldview, but she is taken that worldview to its logical conclusion, I think she's wrong, but she might hold her worldview more consistently than you hold yours.
That's the sign of a thoughtful person so I think you would be wrong.
If you're inclined to mock her instead. I want you to think with me about what she's saying. Do you believe in black magic in which doctors were are you with the guy in the audience who said she is not true.
Black magic is unscientific.
It contradicts the known laws of science. It's impossible. People who believe in a supernatural world where miraculous things happen that violate the laws of physics. Those people are crazy right when you say that again people who believe in a supernatural world where miraculous things happen that violate the laws of physics are they crazy or is that actually what you believe.
I do believe in a supernatural world where miraculous things happen that violate the laws of physics. I don't get switch doctors signing God and his power. But I also know from the Bible that the devil and his demons have some power. Are you sure that which doctors controlled by demons might not have done some in explainable things I do know for sure, but I'm not gonna laugh about it. To me that's a sobering thought. Not a funny thought. And what if it's America, not South Africa.
And it's you in the chair, not her and you are explaining to a room full of scientists that you actually believe that Elijah call down fire from heaven on his enemies, and Jesus walked on water and Jonah was swallowed by a fish and someone in the audience shouts out, it's not true and then they mock you in whose side are you on here anyway, I'm not on the side of the scientists whose mocking any kind of religion, but I'm not actually on her side, either because she wants to throw away science completely.
She things every culture can have its own science. She thinks there's room and science were black magic, that's not right. See the guy in the audience has been influenced by scientism and he thinks if it's unscientific, it's false, and the young lady has been influenced by postmodernism and she thinks it's all personal opinion, they're both wrong. I think it's possible both to respect science and to believe in miracles. This is the way we do it in essential science Genesis 8 while the earth remains seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night shall not cease. That's divine law that science Joshua 1013 the sun stood still. That's a miracle that's divine intervention. God is miracles. But in between the miracles we do science so apply this decoding if you get coveted you can pray to God for a miracle of healing and he can and he might do that, but he might not. And if God doesn't heal you. The virus is going to take its natural scientific course in various preventative measures. Various treatments are going to work or not work according to God's laws for biology your opinions in your personal truth are not going to change anything so I could just summarize. As Christians we don't worship science we don't look to it for all of our answers, but we don't mock it either because that's the way God made the world to work. We believe that God is great. He has unlimited power. We believe that God is good, even when we don't understand, and so we trust him and we use our knowledge of science to act wisely in the face of what is actually a deadly disease. God is great God is good. Let us trust him and wash your hands, that's not very good poetry, but it is good advice with prayer father, thank you that you revealed in your word how great you are.
Thank you that you revealed in your word how good and we express today our confidence in those two truths.
We believe that you can do anything and that we believe that you are working all things for good. Even the trials that come in. We know that you created a world that follows the laws of science that you yourself have design. We know that you intended us to study your world and learn from it and live in this world wise, help us to be people of faith. Help us to be people that are wise in Jesus name, amen. You been listening to a special chapel message from Dr. Bill Lovegrove, a professor in the division of natural science at Bob Jones University.
Join us again tomorrow on The Daily Platform