The Burning Rubber Duck of Sin

Your Rent a Friend is Listening to Stunt by BNL

His mood is: It must be summer because I can’t remember what day it is.

Welcome back to the GOSPEL! To refresh your memory, here’s the hot rockin’ acronym that’s been lighting up the top of the Pop Metaphysical Charts:

G– God made you to have a personal relationship with Him.
O– Our sins separate us from God.
S– Sin cannot be removed with good works.
P– Paying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again.
E– Everyone who trusts in Him alone has eternal life.
L– Life with Jesus starts now and lasts forever.

So far we’ve taken a good look at the person we call “God.” He made you to have a personal relationship with him. In a previous episode I unpacked some of his defining traits, so you can check that out. But of course, I’m only scratching the surface. Summing up the eternal God in a two page semi-weekly blog is like drawing New York City on a Napkin.


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G, Davey, Who IS Mr. God Person?

Your Rent a Friend has it on “Shuffle.” Right now it’s Weird Al with ‘Grapefruit diet.’ If I know my Ipod, the next song will be a rousing march by Souza.

His mood is: …Oh, you don’t want to know. Let’s just say he’s waiting for the day old coffee to kick in.

To the casual observer, theology can seem like a dense underbrush of spiky vines, meshed grasses, towering trees, stinging insects, and near lethal allergens. This is how the rain forest in the Amazon Rain Basin appears to me. I’ve not been there, but I spoke to a friend about it. She went to the Amazon to work on a medical boat, providing assistance to the poor villagers who live on the river. Apparently I was absolutely correct. It’s a miracle that anyone survives living there. Their average stinging insect is the size of a single engine plane. To be fair, the Chicago Suburbs has all the allergens, stinging insects and humidity of the Amazon, but far more traffic due to construction, and where they have trees, we have political corruption. But I digress.

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Give me a G! (The Amazing Gospel!)

Your Rent a Friend is listening to Come Away by Jesus Culture

He is sick of being on antibiotics, but his job brings him in contact with middle school kids.

OK, let’s see here: We’ve taken Pascal’s wager, met an elephant, we’ve thought (And therefore we are), we’ve had dinner with Hitler, and seen how nature and the universe at large prove the existence of God. Whew! I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’ve hiked all across the existential map. Or at least the Metaphysical Map. I wonder how Dora the Explorer does it every day? That kid must be slamming cappuccino like there’s no tomorrow. I’ll bet that backpack of hers contains nothing but RedBull.

Now that we’ve seen why it makes sense to believe in God, the next logical question is “WHICH God?” The Hindus alone have 330 million of them (Which gives you a possible 900,000 holidays per DAY. The Hindu greeting card industry should be the wealthiest and most powerful in the universe!) Why should we take Pascal’s God along with his wager? I think the path we’ve already trod can tell us part of that already. Take the Kalam Cosmological argument for instance. It showed us how the universe is finite- meaning it doesn’t have an eternal past. So, right away we can discount those faiths that require an infinite past, like Mormonism. Also, the creator of the universe is non-material. That counts out the Flying Spaghetti Monster (AKA Bruce). I think it also counts out Mormonism again. Those guys don’t get a lot of breaks.

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Don’t Touch That Dial! (Or we’ll all die!)

Your Rent a Friend is waking to the sounds of Billie Holiday and Louis Armstrong. Is he on heaven’s doorstep? After the explosion, everything went dark, and now he’s hearing the voices of dead musicians…

Our intrepid hero, Rent a Friend 2000, finds himself waking on the polished white floor of a strange place. After the explosion on the Space Station, he was sure he would wake up in heaven, but it seems he has survived! Miracle of Miracles! After a quick look around, he finds that the sinister Dr. Materialist and the ponderous Dr. Pensive have also both survived, as has humorous and expendable junior cadet, Billy, who they all call “Skippy” because they are all too polite to call him “idiot.”


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Taking a Closer Look at Nature

Your Rent a Friend is listening to a lecture on DNA. No, really.

His mood is optimistic.

I believe this is a true story: There was once a group of philosophers having dinner together, one of which was a Christian. The others asked him, “If someone were to ask you for proof that God exists, what would you say?”

He considered it for a moment, and then said, “I would take him into my garden, and I should show him the flowers, and trees, and insects, and the fish in my pond.” And then he went back to eating.

“That’s it?” his friends asked. “That’s all you would say? What if he looked around at your garden and said he still did not believe that there was a God?”

“I would tell him,” he replied, “to look closer.”


So get on your boots and grab some bug repellent, because today we’re venturing out into NATURE to take a look around! If you see a bear, STAY IN THE CAR.
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The Blind Men and the Elephant (and Zoo Keeper Adventure Steve)

Your Rent A Friend is listening to the score from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
His mood is pretty good, though his contacts are pretty dry .

Whenever people talk about the differing religions of the world, someone will come up with the following analogy, or some variation thereof. In fact, mine is a variation thereof. So there. Of.

There is a zoo where works zoo keeper Adventure Steve. He takes care of all of the animals, including an elephant named Zito. The elephant in turn takes care of his rubber duck. The rubber duck doesn’t take care of anyone. She just floats around in Zito’s water dish.

One day, a bus full of philosophers came to the zoo on a field trip. They were the Society of Smarty Pants Philosophers (the S.S.P.P.), and their field trip was also a contest (As everything is for the Society of Smarty Pants Philosophers). When they got off the bus, they were all blind folded and lead to the elephant to see who had the smartest pants (metaphorically speaking).
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Text Without Context is Pretext for Proof Text (And a Person’s a Person no matter how Small)

Hold onto your hats! I, your Rent a Friend, have just made an amazing discovery which will shift the balance of religious debates forever! I was considering the declaration of such people as Richard Dawkins (author of The God Delusion) of there being NO God. As a Christian I know the Bible is completely true and free of errors, so I did a quick search on Biblegateway.com to see what the Bible says about that. And you know what I found? The Bible says “There is no God!” It says it fifteen times!

You think I’m lying. Well, let me quote you few verses:

Deuteronomy 32:39 “There is no god…”

2Samuel 7:22 “…there is no God…”

Psalm 14:1 “…there is no God.”

Over and Over! You think I’m messing with you? You think I made these up? On the contrary. These verses are in no way altered from the original! I looked it up, and then I coped and pasted it here! Have I just BLOWN YOUR MIND?!?!?!

Some of you are probably asking what I’ve left out. And that is an excellent question which brings us to my topic for the day: CONTEXT. When searching for truth in words or the universe around you, the CONTEXT is an important starting point. The Context is, in short, the big picture- the when, where, why, and who which will make clear sense out of the ideas, facts, or events being investigated. In my quotes above, for instance, I’ve left out a little context. When you put it back in, you find the first verse is God saying “There is no god BESIDES ME,” and the next is someone saying to God, “There is no God BUT YOU.” The best one here is Psalm 14:1 “The FOOL says in his heart, “There is no God.”” A little bit of context changes things a bit, wouldn’t you say?

Sorry Richard Dawkins. I guess I can’t help you after all.

Let us now consider the Metaphysical Duck. Our ducky is a small yellow rubber ducky. Suppose I am holding him as I’m typing and I write, “I am holding the ducky right now.” However, you don’t get around to reading this for weeks later. By then, not only am I NOT holding the ducky, but I can’t even find him since having done laundry. He’s lost under the pile of clean clothes that I am lax in putting away. So, is the statement TRUE or FALSE? In order to decide, you must consider the CONTEXT. The context of the statement was the time at which the statement was written. It does not say I am ALWAYS holding the ducky, it only says I am holding him “right now” with the understood context to imply that “right now” tells us that, at the time of the writing of that sentence, I was holding the ducky. It does not say anything about the time AFTER the writing of that sentence.

Similarly, if I were to say “Ronald Regan is the president of the United States,” this would be false because I am saying it NOW, in 2010. If I found that exact same statement having been said or written in 1983, it would be true because the statement IMPLIES the time. The time at which something was said or written, and the person who said or wrote it is its context. Without the context, there is no way to determine if the statement is true of false.

Another piece of CONTEXT is Prior Knowledge- the things you have already learned. Consider this statement: “MY rubber duck is exceptionally large!” IS this true or false? If you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know the ducky of which I speak to be around 4 inches tall. This doesn’t answer the question, but it helps. If you also know how big an average rubber ducky is (between 3-5 inches tall), you will know that, in the context of typical rubber ducks, my statement is false. If aliens somehow have transformed him into an 80 foot tall mecha-ducky, we could all agree in THAT context that he was exceptionally large, and fairly likely at some point to wind up fighting with the Power Rangers.

Here is the trouble with some words. How big is “Large”? Is it 200 pounds? Is it six miles? Is it twenty five liters? $4,000? There is no answer to that, because it is a term relative to the context. Compared to the starting lineup for the Miami Dolphins, my ducky is VERY SMALL. Compared to a dust mite, he is HUGE. Thus it is the responsibility of both the speaker/writer to convey the context clearly and the listener/reader to discover the context. Without an understanding of CONTEXT there is much which cannot be determined to be true or false. I think you’ll find that lots of arguments are really based on this misunderstanding. Just listen to anyone arguing about which of two movies is BETTER. Do they mean, “Better at showing alien heads exploding?” or “Better at not whipping the camera around until I want to hurl,” or “Better at making me laugh with inappropriate sound effects,” or “Better at bringing in ridiculous amounts of money at the box office,”? Most of the time people will rant and rave at each other about which is BETTER without ever defining the context of BETTER AT WHAT?

I think we could avoid a lot of angry cafeteria fights (And probably most of those Political News shows) if everyone spent more time defining their context and less time assuming what it might be. One thing which is true no matter who you are or when it happens is this: If you spend an hour fighting with someone, using all of your reasoning skills and college style vocabulary words to demolish their position, but then you both find that you actually agree but simply had no idea what the other person was talking about, you are going to feel REALLY stupid. In this context, I’d like to suggest that maybe listening is better.

Oh, and in case you were wondering what the title of this post means (Text without Context is Pretext for Prooftext), it simply means this: Scripture without context will be used by people to try and get the Bible to say whatever they want it to say, instead of (With context) what it actually says. But as Dr Seuss taught us, everything is more fun to learn when it rhymes.

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