March 18th 2018

Come Let us Reason – Correlation vs. Causation

Used with permission from

Understanding Correlation and Causation can help straighten out thousands of errors in thinking. And, I might add…in thinking about spiritual things especially. Let’s give a few examples.

  • 1 – When Shirley walks in the door I always get a cold feeling. She must have a spirit. 
  • 2 – Every time I clap my hands Jessica jumps up and down.
  • 3 – When I saw the visiting minister, he had a scowl on his face. Maybe the enemy is after him today or he is unhappy with me.  
  • 4 – That town has a lot of cancer cases. Moreover, there was a period of years where the water was not that good. That is why they are getting cancer.
  • 5 – When the dominoes started going down so did my computer malfunction.

The main point of causation and correlation, is that there can be events taking place simultaneously but not be caused by each other. Let’s take a look at the first example.

Every time that Shirley walks in the door you get a cold feeling. Does that mean that Shirley has brought the cold? Does that mean there might be something spiritually awry with Shirley? Likely not. However, perhaps in this case there is a good and easy explanation. If this is Wisconsin in the middle of Winter, anyone who opens any outside door is going to let a lot of heat out and the people in the house will feel less heat. In this case, the causation exists, but it does not correlate to attitude or spirituality in any way.

Jessica and the clapping hands give us a sense of what is going on with correlation and causation as well. The difficulty for us is that we only have so many claps and jumps to go off of. In other words we only have so much information. Instead of saying that the clapping hands are causing Jessica to jump, perhaps there is the sheer coincidence of hands clapping at the same pace of a workout song that Jessica is working out to. Moreover, the moment that you walked in, just happed to be the jumping exercises. Thus, the two correlate, but there is no causation.

The Visiting Minister’s scowl. Here there is a scowl to someone in the congregation. They left with the distinct feeling that something is wrong. But, the difficulty with thinking that the enemy is after him could be easily resolved by understanding more about the situation. The scowl at you is just a correlation, but you did not cause the scowl, nor has the enemy caused the scowl. The best way of knowing why the minister scowled, would be to ask him. The likely answer would be, “Hmmm…I was scowling????” Thus, the person that perceived a scowl is often wrong. However, the minister might say that his/her back was hurting her/him at that exact moment. Or, they might say they ate too much pizza the night before and they have an upset stomach because of their poor decision. The timing of the scowl, merely correlates to your passing by. There is no cause from the enemy or from yourself.

The town with the cancer cases is an interesting example. It would be easy to pin the number of cancer cases on a given water issue. Moreover, it is  possible for something like this to be a contributing cause of poor health. A while back in a small town in Wisconsin researchers were actually asked to come and check the water cause of the number of cancer cases. The tests came back fine and similar to the surrounding towns that were not having more cases of cancer.  Correlation is sometimes at work in these cases, which can give the initial observer the felt effect of causation, but in reality there was not cause whatsoever. The cancers will have to be pinned on something other than the water. 

Dominoes. This one is plain for the eye to see. Just because the dominoes were falling at the same time as the computer malfunctioned, there is no causation. A little virus or bump in the electrical grid or hard-drive issue are possible causes of the computer malfunctioning. Dominoes however are not.

As human beings, we must be careful to separate causation from correlation. If we do this we can be better able to trace the facts and not apply unnecessary meaning to mere happenstance.

Pastor Isaac 

March 18th 2018

Come Let Us Reason – LAWS of THOUGHT – Part 4

I am walking through the book “Come Let us Reason”  by Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks. Enjoy!

Person A may say, “We do not need logic,” and they can list their many reasons why. But as soon as they do, they are trying to logically convince you against the need for logic. We call this a contradiction. Thus, their position cannot be true.

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Person B might say, “Stop judging people, because that is bad.” But, the person who does this has made a judgment about your judgment. They are now judging when they said that judging is bad. They are contradicting themselves.

Person C may assert, “There is no truth.” But, as soon as they asserted such a statement they proved themselves wrong. For, they are asserting a truth. Namely, that there is no truth. This statement proves itself wrong. It is a contradiction.

All three of these statements are made regularly by people in the church and by people in the world. If everyone builds on the four “undeniable laws” of logic, they would protect themselves from these incorrect viewpoints.

LAW #1 – The Law of Non-Contradiction (A is not non-A) – This law says “that no two contradictory statements can both be true at the same time and in the same sense” (p. 16). The examples above prove this point.

There are others laws which we will state here, but I will not go into detail till later articles.

LAW #2 – The Law of Identity (A is A)

LAW #3 – The Law of the Excluded Middle (Either A or non-A)

LAW #4 – The Law of Rational Inference

Before worrying too much about these laws…take the rest of your day and evaluate the statements that people are making. Are any of them contradictory? For Example: I was chatting with a high schooler one time who after a lot of debate, I backed up and said we must start with truth. If truth does not exist, then why are we having this conversation? I asked him if truth existed and he said, “NO, it does not!” I then asked him back, “Are you telling the truth right now?” All of his friends who had gathered around began laughing, because they realized he contradicted himself by denying truth. He was not so sure, and we kept at it a while. Search out falsehood by using the laws of logic today!

Pastor Isaac




March 18th 2018

Come Let Us Reason – Objections to Logic – Part 3

Used with permission from

I am walking through the book “Come Let us Reason”  by Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks. Enjoy!

“Simply put, you can’t avoid studying logic, so you might as well know what you’re doing. It is the basis for all other studies” (p. 13). As the authors point out, “The only way to avoid logic is to quit thinking, because logic is the basis for all thought.”

Objections to Logic:

  1. There are many kinds of logic? This is true in the sense that there are many forms such as Aristotelian or Boolean etc. But, the laws of logic are the same across those fields. The great thinkers of the past did not invent logic, they merely discovered how correct thought worked (p. 13). Once you know the laws, they apply to all thinking.
  2. People are not logical. Why bother? C.S. Lewis once wrote that good philosophy must exist if for no other reason than bad philosophy does. Thus, good thought is necessary, even more so in a world where bad thought is so easy and practiced. The authors also make a parallel point that often people are not moral, but that has not stopped Christians from working hard for morality (p. 14). We should be logical so we can discover the truth.
  3. Logic doesn’t work. People do not respond to it. The authors who are writing this book clearly do not believe this. In fact, Brooks even came to Christ shortly after reading Aristotle. Christianity seemed all the more accurate after his studies of the great logician. I myself have been deeply impacted by books on reasoning and philosophy (Check out William Lane Craig from ).  In reality, most Christians have been affected by these works. Anyone who has confessed or adhered to the great Creeds has been borrowing from the correct thought of the first few centuries of Christianity. If it worked for the early Christians, we are not in a place to avoid it now.
  4. Not everything is subject to Logic. This objection is easily agreeable, as expressions of emotion or aesthetics are not subject to logic (p. 14). But, that misses the point of logic, logic is about evaluating concepts and ideas. Therefore, one cannot run away from it.
  5. Logic is contrary to human intuitions. This is not totally true. Intuition is still evaluated by logic if it has made a public claim (p. 15).

The biggest objection: Logic does not apply to God or the mysteries of the Christian faith.

This is actually false. I have heard it time and time again as a Pastor and a layman. First, logic is being used in objecting (p. 15). A person is trying to logically make clear that there are some things about God that cannot be logically discussed. I think they fail in this respect, but we should not let the covers be pulled over our eyes. Just like any study or “ology,” theology is the “logic of God” (p. 15). When we talk about theology or we try to bring various verses together that weigh into the same subject, we are participating in logic.

The whole history of Theology (from Theos-God and Logos – Logic/study) assumes the presence of logic. All of the great councils and debates had the presence of logic. If the leaders of the church were going to lead well, they were going to have to offer correct teaching about God. That is why the very concepts such as God being a Trinity or Jesus being truly God and truly Man, were largely done wrestling with the data of Scripture but with the tools of correct thought (logic). 

Objections are overcome. 🙂 

Pastor Isaac

March 18th 2018

Come Let us Reason – Part 2 – What is Logic?

Used with permission from

I am walking through the book “Come Let us Reason”  by Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks. We all can use these lessons.

“It is the function of the wise man to know order.” – Aristotle  (As quoted on page 11).

The opening quote above should help us to think about Logic. Logic is the way of orderly and correct thought. Wise people take the time to wrestle through their thinking and correct the junk. Geisler and Brooks point out that most people get scared by the very word “Logic.” Yet, logic is used (knowingly or unknowingly) every day.

We order our thoughts about regular activities such as purchases and we order our thoughts and actions regarding various beliefs about the world that we live in or the movies that we watch. Many Christians I have run into have often made the point, whether clearly or clouded, that we do not need to think about our faith. What happens next is comical to me. They begin to share their beliefs with me about any given topic of doctrine (teaching) and think that they must be right.

What they have done is actively engaged their reasoning and tried to put forth a logical position. The only question is if they have done well. Numerous times a simple question or a counter-point can fold the house of cards regarding some beliefs that individuals hold. Our job as Christians is to take the time being honest with our beliefs. We should not take them because some slick preacher on television said so or because of some feeling. 

Geisler and Brooks give this helpful definition of logic on page 12.  “Logic is the study of right reason or valid inference” Or they simplify it and say, “Logic is a way to think so that we come to correct conclusions.” Moreover, logic helps us to figure out when one idea implies another idea. Very often Christians jump to unnecessary conclusion from the data that they have.

One of the nice things about studying logic is that there are helpful rules for thinking correctly as well as there are these things called fallacies. A fallacy is “a mistake in the way that we set up our thinking” (p. 12) Thus, if you know a number of the mistakes that others make, you can spend time vetting yours and others thoughts to see if they are true. 

The final and simple definition finally given is, “Logic is the way to think so that we can come to correct conclusions by understanding implications and the mistakes people often make in thinking” (p. 13).  All of us need logic!

Pastor Isaac

March 18th 2018

“Come let us reason” Part 1

Used with Permission from

Blogging on the book “Come, let us Reason: An introduction to logical thinking” by Norman Geisler and Ronald Brooks.

“God is rational, and he has created us as rational beings” (Page. 7). This basic statement needs to be reaffirmed by countless Christians. As Christians we get so enamored with the power of God and the supposed simplicity of faith that we forget that God gave us minds to use. One of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Peter 3:15 which commands us to give reasons for the hope that we have…not feelings. 

Many Christians do not even see the connection between the mind and the heart. Yet Jesus clearly saw this connection when he gave us the greatest command which includes both heart and mind (Matthew 22:37). There are some who go around feeling to see where God is, but forgetting that we have God at his word in Scripture. Experience drives so many in the Christian church, but we must not forget that it has been considered the least authoritative in the life of the church.

Not all thinking is correct thinking. And as Geisler and Brooks point out, logic is the discipline that corrects false or incorrect thinking (page 7). If someone tells you that your beliefs are illogical, you cannot turn around and say, “Just have faith.” Their point is that your beliefs are false. You must do a better job than a “knee jerk” ‘faith’ reaction. Can you show someone else that their beliefs are illogical?

At this point some may say that we are not supposed to be ‘argumentative.’  And, if by getting blue in the face and yelling at one another is what argumentative means, then I agree. But, argumentative may also mean the exchanging of ideas to see who is correct. Geisler and Brooks accurately point out that if something is unreasonable or illogical, it cannot be true and therefore is not from the God of truth (p. 7).

The authors also point out that there is a clear emphasis on feeling over thinking in our day. Although there are no direct statistics pointed out in this book, there is plenty of evidence for this in other evaluations similar to Allen Blooms, “The Closing of the American Mind.” As Christians we are not just feeling and sensing beings, we are thinking beings, which is part of the image of God. Moreover, clear thoughts should guide wiggly emotions. This is why we so desperately need good logic in the body of Christ.

Now…to close Part 1, let’s say that you are challenged by a person who says, “Don’t think, feel.” What are you going to say? Well, you could point out that their statement requires some thought and thus the person does not really mean what they are saying. 😊 Anyway…think logically and keep watch for more posts!

Pastor Isaac

March 18th 2018

Spiritual Warfare – 2

I am not one of those people who thinks that everything takes place is something spiritual. In fact, I often like to balance certain people out with numerous Bible verses which speak about natural causes and human actions and ideas. Still, there are times through discernment, prayer, and community that we can come to valid conclusions to be working harder for the truth and praying against ‘forces’ of evil. So, Christians…do not immediately jump to “spiritual” conclusions about everything, but at the same time do not unnecessarily avoid them either (something C.S. Lewis made very clear in his famous work called “The Screwtape Letters”).  

It does seem that as people draw nearer to Christ, there is some sort of opposition against them. I remember as our family started going to church with a passion and extra Christian meetings and praying more significantly, that all kinds of ‘crazy’ took place, and that for no apparent reason. Moreover, as we have invited people to church or Christian meetings, it seems like there is always something that comes up. This even takes place after promises, set up rides, or even hanging out together prior to the meeting. Not to mention all the strange things that take place when writing on the topic. Seems to be par for the course. 

Paul is one of the generals of the faith, and the people he is writing to are the individual soldiers. N.T. Wright makes the point that the soldiers may not always know what is going on regarding the ‘whole war’ but their battle line is just as important to the cause. Therefore, Paul gives them a clear overview of their individual weapons.

 Ephesians 6, which talks about our battle being not against flesh and blood but against powers of darkness. The concept of “powers” and “principalities” in Ephesians 6 does have spiritual forces in mind. We all must pray against darkness, but the darkness is woven through various systems and forces.

The New Testament Scholar N.T. Wright translates vs. 12 as “The warfare we’re engaged in, you see, isn’t against flesh and blood. It’s against the leaders, against the authorities, against the powers that rule the world in this dark time, against the wicked spiritual elements in the heavenly places.”

The rule for us is to take up the various elements of our warfare, which Paul is trying to convey by the analogy of the “armor.” What are our elements of warfare? In vs. 14 onward, it lists the elements.

Truth, justice, good news of peace, faith, salvation, and the word of God. Again, Christians often make so much of the armor that they forget the basic tools we have before us to “war” with. The point Paul is making is that as we root ourselves in Jesus and live out faithfully His truth, the realms of darkness are pushed back even further.  

So, the next time you have a struggle, ‘pressure,’ or force against you, you need to get in the truth, work for justice, spread the good news, trust deeply in God, and pray. In fact, Ephesians 6:18 says, “Pray on every occasion in the spirit, with every type of prayer and intercession. You’ll need to keep awake and alert for this, with all perseverance and intercession for all God’s holy ones – and also for me!”

Pastor Isaac


March 18th 2018

Spiritual Warfare – 1

Isaiah 61:3 looks forward to a time where the offerings God makes to humanity will be an exchange for the spirit of heaviness for the garment of praise. There is a new song called “Surrounded” or “Fight my Battles.” Which makes the point that our praise is how we are supposed to fight battles. Check out the Michael W. Smith version. 

Perhaps this is a great reminder for us as we sense the tension from the work of sin and evil. If you feel something coming against you, our fight is not against flesh and blood, but with praise, prayer, community, and love. If you think there are things coming against you, then put this and other songs on or find a quiet place and go to pray. Take your task of prayer seriously, for it is often the mode which God uses to advance you and bring his order into chaotic portions of your life. 

March 18th 2018

Skeptical Christmas Overview and Thanks

Personally, I could not have asked for a better Christmas here at church. Our three services were in numerous ways, full of meaning. Moreover, we were able to celebrate Christmas as one big family. Even more, since we titled this a Skeptical Christmas, I was happy to meet and hear of skeptics joining our ranks through the Christmas weekend. Finally, we were able to serve nearly 400 people in our three services this weekend. As a point of comparison, this is a lot more than last year. We can be grateful to God.

Church needs to be a place of growth. John Wesley once said “The world is my parish.”  His point was that the world is who he is called to serve. Therefore, having a “skeptical Christmas” can be seen as part of a larger evangelization project. It can also be seen as a larger project to challenge our thinking and develop our faith. Giving non-believers a chance to come and chat after the service or doing question and answer days, or even having messages tailored to get the mind thinking, are all beneficial for humanity in general.

Now…on to two quick corrections and then a word of thanks.

My morning message I did what is all too common among preachers, and that is a little ‘over reach.’ Many preachers over reach in their positions to make their case seem stronger. Frankly I do not like this, but for my more ‘point by point’ messages, rather than word for word, it can happen.

And, even though I try to avoid this, I made two missteps in my morning Christmas message. At one point I implied, although it was not my intent, that the Virgin Birth had documentation in all four Gospels. My point was a generic one about Gospel consistency in general, but since I was talking about the Virgin Birth, it seems like I was saying that all four Gospels are accurate on the Virgin Birth. This is clearly false. Matthew and Luke have the focus on the virginal conception, but Mark and John do not.  

The second point that I should have been clear on, was when I was weighing in to Joseph being Jesus’ dad. At one point I used the word “never” to say that never was Joseph referred to as his father. My larger point was that sometimes Jesus is referred to as the child of Mary and not Joseph, which was an insult in those days. I never should have used the word “never” because clearly there are instances where Joseph is referred to as Jesus’ earthly father in the narratives. Albeit, in the context that he took Jesus as his son, not that this was his son by biology.

At some level, especially on a relaxed and enjoyable Christmas morning, these things are certainly not large matters, because my points, or where I was going with the message stays the same. If someone leaves with the point, which is likely the case, then communication was clear enough. However, my reason for writing about these two missteps, is that the Church needs to always be cautious on stating their case in too certain terms.

I have never had an issue with the slight differences in the Gospels, because I have understood the kinds of early documentation methods and rhetorical differences between the authors. But sometimes, people build their faith on the supposedly “absolute” certain pronouncements of a given preacher. Then, as someone gets older or they learn more and realize that there is some “give room” on interpretation, their faith ends up hurt at some level.

It is important for our churches to be places of intellectual honesty. Honesty matters both for the believer who is building their faith, but also for the non-believer who is examining the faith.

Now, let me take the time to thank everyone who was able to help out throughout the Christmas season. This includes those who were just able to come to the services or bring family and friends. This includes ushering, prepping and passing out candles. This includes all the wonderful music from our worship teams and instrumentalists and sound and video. Let’s not forget about all of the cleaning, decorating, drama writing and practicing, and office volunteering that went into this special weekend. We should not forget all of the set up and take down of chairs and more.

In a real way, this service has been being mentally planned for the last 12 months. In a practical way this service has been in the works the last two or so months. I just want to say thank you to everyone for being there, serving, and worshiping our great God on the day of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas and thanks for making this year’s services meaningful!

Pastor Isaac



March 18th 2018

Catholics and Protestants on Authority – Book Review continued

If we had to boil down the difference between Catholicism and Protestantism, a lot boils down to authority. Personally, I think the issues are much bigger than just this one issue, but I will say that a lot typically hangs on it.

The authors of the book did a creative job of pointing out a serious flaw in the Catholic armor. Perhaps however it is a flaw that Catholics are willing to accept. Catholic apologists typically challenge Protestants by saying that their ultimate authority structure is individualistic. Namely, each individual reader of the Bible gets to decide for themselves what to think about a given doctrine. Therefore, the Catholics main point is to say that Protestantism has millions of Popes. Each decides for themselves what is right.

The answer that should be given from Protestants, should examine the tools in the tool box that they have. The first thing to remember is the tools of learning and knowledge are much more expansive than just oneself. Namely, there are commentaries, church fathers and mothers, creeds, Pastors, lectionaries, and much more. Therefore, the enterprise is certainly more communal than “me my Bible and no one else.”

The second answer that can be given to this is that each individual Catholic who has decided that Rome should decide for them, had to come to that conclusion by the same process that that any Protestant comes to their conclusions about any topic of theology. In other words, they had to reasonable look at the evidence. They had to listen to the voices of the past. They had to pray. They had to study all the relevant arguments.

There are few, if any, Catholic Converts that have converted merely on the argument from authority. Namely, “Rome said it, and that settles it.” Converts that I know have done so because they have internally struggled with where to stand on any given issue. When they came to see that they agreed with Rome, they then converted to Rome. Epistemology (how we know what we know), cannot (except perhaps in certain mystical experiences) bypass one’s reasoning.

The challenge to the Catholic with this second argument is, “Why a given Protestants processing about theological subjects is not good or allowed, when the Protestant who converted to Catholicism processed the issues in the same way.” In other words, if we follow the Catholic charge of individualism that is leveled at the Protestant, we can ask why was their own individualism of coming to Catholicism allowed? Why is reasoning for the Protestant to Protestantism bad, when the reasoning from the Protestant to Catholicism good, when both are using their individual reasoning processes?

At the end of the day, we are all in the same boat. We have to make decisions based upon desires, arguments, and evidence. Thus, I think the charge is defeated.

Pastor Isaac

March 18th 2018

Catholic – Protestant – Scripture Interpretation Part 2

Catholic Apologists and faithful point out that they have a hierarchy that helps decide which interpretation is correct. And, given the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, they further point out that their interpretations on certain passages and doctrines are the right ones. Moreover, that somehow this then protects them from grave error. How should Protestants think along with our Catholic brothers and sisters on this one?

First, I think we should acknowledge that in and of itself there is nothing wrong with a body of Christians deciding what a given passage means. In other words, we should not fault them for making decisions on such matters. Protestant churches often do this as well. They get together, weigh the evidence, and make clear decisions for their churches as to where they stand on certain subject.

Second, we should also point out that the Roman Catholic Church has not really made all that many official ex-cathedra pronouncements. Therefore, even if Catholics can feel settled on some issues, they are not settled on all issues. Take for instance the subject of Evolution. The Catholic Church’s main point is that Christians are free to believe in it or not believe in it. Rather, they are to hold that God did it, whichever means he chose to use. Now, this is something I certainly agree with. However, it does not settle the issue whatsoever, and therefore Catholic faithful are still going to have to wrestle through all the evidence.

Third, I think we point out, once again, that there is much diversity of interpretation among Catholic leaders where the Pope has not spoken Ex Cathedra. Since there is much diversity on numerous issues, we should remember that Catholics still have to do the heavy lifting of Scripture interpretation, without the deciding vote of their Pope. For instance, in Romans 7 and who the “I” is. On Relevant Radio (Catholic Radio), I heard a Catholic Priest expound this passage as if we are all currently the “I” in Romans 7. Namely, that we are the one’s always tempted and always sinning and always regretting our sin. The problem is, historically in the church fathers (and in the Methodist Tradition), as well as with the understanding of ancient Rhetoric, this passage is talking not about the believer, but the unregenerate man, just prior to believing. Therefore, a Priest got this passage incorrect. How had being Catholic protected him from a slightly incorrect reading? To be sure, the Great Augustine as well as many Protestants like Luther, got this passage wrong as well. 😊

Fourth, each Protestant needs to be careful not to bias themselves automatically against something Rome says, just because it came from Rome. And Catholics need not bias themselves against Protestants just because it came from a Protestant.  This is a fallacy, and there is much we can learn from our Catholic/Protestant brothers and sisters and their studies of Scripture. Much of the time in Catholic – Protestant discussions, we get so uptight that we just want to win. How about instead, we recognize the limits of each of our groups, and love each other while discussing the differences. Each of our groups, as persons, needs to be open to what Scripture says, not just any one of our positions on Scripture. 

Pastor Isaac