No Maverick Molecules – Death and Taxes

Second in a series about my journey back to life after brain cancer surgery in 2004 and the depression that followed.

The cliché is true, although there may be more than two things that are certain in life. Few today escape paying taxes, and only two people in recorded history escaped death: Enoch and Elijah.

Our government argues about who pays how much instead of working on the real problems the country faces, as Congress gets approval ratings below 30% regardless of which party is in charge. Meanwhile the debt we are passing on to the next generation piles up.

The end of life is very certain. We don’t know how or when and feel robbed if it happens earlier than we think it should. Americans spend untold billions trying to look younger and delay the inevitable while not taking care of our bodies. In my earlier post I began telling the story of my brain tumor and the depression which followed it. 

News Travels Fast

Word traveled quickly about my condition and people were concerned. I appreciated everyone’s thoughts and prayers for me and my family. We received support from so many people, including a second tier of prayer warriors we didn’t even know. Nowadays it travels even faster with the advent of blogs and CarePages, where families in crisis can keep people updated.

Life Threatening Illness with Time to Think

One of the silver linings in the dark cloud of a cancer diagnosis is that it causes you to examine your life and your standing with God. You come face to face with your own mortality and suddenly other things pale in significance. You also have a chance to say the things that should be said to your family and friends.

With a heart attack or fatal car crash there is no warning, for you and the loved ones who must now face life without you. If you haven’t done your homework on beliefs and speaking to loved ones, you may come up short.

A Faulty Understanding of Providence

Other cultures and time periods had a better understanding of providence than ours does. Perhaps our technology has insulated us from death. Even agriculture seems easier, as less than 3% of the U.S. population grows the food the rest of us buy at the supermarket.

We focus on secondary scientific causes as a third of news reports are dedicated to weather forecasts; we think about whether our lawns need watering rather than whether someone else’s crops will fail.

Providence is God working all things out in the world for the good of those who love Him.  He makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust. He is not the passive watch-maker of Deism who created the world, then leaves us to our own devices.

Providence is God’s active overseeing of all that happens on this good earth He has made, fallen from its original intent (Paradise Lost).

A Simple Meal-time Prayer

The child’s prayer, “God is great, God is good, let us thank Him for this food. Amen.” displays a simple faith and deep truths that adults have a hard time coming to grips with.

Is God both great and good? The Bible says yes; our world says no.

Yes or No Questions

Some of life’s most important questions can be answered yes or no. Any parent has had to answer some of these questions. There is no in between or “it depends.”

Is there a God? Are people more important than animals? Is there an objective right or wrong? Are there some things we can know for certain? Is the Bible true? Was it inspired by God? Is it without error?

Is there life after death? If the answer is no, then nothing we do really matters in the end. What we believe about it does not alter the answer. We should always ask, “What are the consequences if I’m wrong?”

Atheists in Eternal Peril

If an atheist like Christopher Hitchens died shaking his first at a “non-existent” God and is wrong, he will spend eternity separated from that God unless God is a cosmic Santa Claus and forgives everyone, regardless of what he has done (universalism).

In that case Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and many other unrepentant mass murderers will be in heaven. But God would not be fair to let people like that into His heaven.

If a mass murderer like Ted Bundy truly repented and trusted Christ to forgive him of his sins, the Bible teaches he is in heaven along with Mother Teresa.

As offensive as that may be to some who want to earn their way to heaven, it is what the Bible teaches. It also teaches that no one is good enough to earn their way to heaven, that God is so holy that no one can enter His presence without an advocate who says, “It’s OK, I paid the price for his/her sin myself.”

Bad News, then Good News: Do, do, do vs. Done

Christianity is unique among the major world religions, which all have good principles that inspire people to lead better lives. The Bible teaches that Jesus the Messiah was the sinless sacrifice for our cosmic treason against our Creator, and the only work He requires of us is to believe in Him and trust Him to bridge the chasm between us and a holy God.

All the good works we do added together are not nearly enough points to get us into heaven (let’s say 1,000,000 are needed, although the real number is infinity since the standard is God’s perfection). Some of us earn 100, some 200, some only 10, but let’s be honest and admit that none of us gets anywhere close to a sinless life.

The Bible teaches that those who break even one command of God have broken the whole Law. That’s bad news.

Trying to earn our way is pretty ridiculous knowing that the entrance price is so high. We can’t possibly afford it. The good news is Jesus the God-man came to earth, lived a perfect life, took on the sin of the whole world, then paid the fine on the cross for all who would place their faith in Him. This is a really good deal for those who are humble enough to take it.

The finished work of Jesus on the cross: done, not do, do, do…

Historic Christianity vs. Liberalism/Humanism

Assuming for the moment that there is a real heaven and a real hell, this one question can identify believers in two of the great religions in our world.

  1. If you died tonight, do you know for sure where you will spend eternity?


Historic Christianity answers yes to this question and can show you where in the Bible (instruction manual from our Creator) it is answered.

Theological Liberalism or Humanism puts man in God’s place and will either not answer it directly or say it is arrogant to be sure of one’s destiny. The Bible is viewed as a collection of important religious writings, mere words of men.

Naturalism is a subset of liberalism; it focuses on secondary causes, denying the supernatural and yet requires faith in the supernatural, making it the most illogical of all belief systems. Time and chance are the reason for the complex world we see around us, from the glory of a sunrise arriving on time every day to the intricacies of DNA. The second law of thermodynamics (things get less complex, not more complex without an outside force acting on them) is ignored, as the universe was created from nothing by a Big Bang. A supernatural event?

In future blog articles, we’ll explore and contrast these two great religions: theological liberalism and the historic Christian faith. There is also a wide spectrum of beliefs in between among people who identify as Christians.

Common Values and Different Worldviews

Many values are common ground between non-Christians and historic Christianity; liberalism in its extreme form is a completely different worldview and has little in common with historic Christianity. Even though theological liberalism may use the same words in Christian creeds, they mean completely different things.

I hope Christians will be encouraged to think in a new way about Christ and the Bible, non-Christians will consider Christ as Redeemer of their souls, and that everyone will have a better understanding of each other.

Good Books by Human Authors

For basic apologetics I recommend Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, the well-known author of many works including the Narnia children’s stories. Compiled from a series of radio broadcasts during World War 2, the first half presents the case for theism vs. atheism, and the second half deals with basic Christian ethics and beliefs common to all denominations.

For those skeptical of the authenticity of the Bible, Josh McDowell wrote Evidence that Demands a Verdict. This covers the oral tradition in the Hebrew culture and the numerous manuscripts dating from soon after events like Jesus’ miracles and bodily resurrection took place.

The early New Testament books were written while skeptical eye-witnesses were still alive to dispute them. Secular and Jewish historians like Josephus confirm that Jesus lived and died in Palestine.

The Book of Books by a Divine Author

Historic Christianity and the Bible itself teach that the best selling and least read book in human history was inspired directly by God, written by several human authors with their own personalities.

Before asking the question “What Would Jesus Do?” one must first understand what he actually did and taught. The best place to start is by reading the New Testament, rather than what people say about it.

The Roman Catholic monk Martin Luther was upset at the corruption he saw in the church of his day, posting a list of issues for discussion on the church door in Wittenberg, Germany in 1517.

Later Luther translated the Bible directly from the original Greek New Testament and Hebrew Old Testament into the common German of his day, so that the Bible would be accessible to everyday Germans.  In the process he unified the German language much as Shakespeare did for the English language.

Having recently started a word-by-word translation of Martin Luther’s Bible from German to English, I’ll be publishing the book of Matthew a chapter at a time on the Patch, with commentary to follow a week or so later. Hopefully people will contribute to a discussion on what the text says and debate my opinions on it.

No Maverick Molecules

Having faced death twice and been spared by a gracious God, I find the Providence model a more satisfying explanation for the way the world operates than any other. He has called others home: by our thinking early, but not by His.

We can’t see the whole tapestry He is weaving in history. His story. We see only the tangled threads on one side of it. Sometimes they make no sense. Without question, they are excruciatingly painful at times for some.

The longer I live, the more I’m convinced that the Bible is true. It and its Author can be trusted.

As the first question of the 1563 Heidelberg Catechism puts it:

"Q. What is your only comfort in life and in death?

A. That I am not my own, but belong  - body and soul, in life and in death -  to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the devil. He also watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven: in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him."


Suffering is part of life; no one escapes it. Had God not spared my life, living with suffering in a fallen world with a great and loving God still makes more sense than the popular thinking that Satan is somehow on an equal footing with God in this war between good and evil.

The Bible teaches that he is a fallen angel. Martin Luther put it well: “The devil is God’s devil.” God wins in the end.

God is great and God is good. The child’s prayer is true.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Daffy Noodnicks January 25, 2013 at 11:58 PM
BTW, the Big Bang model wasn't widely accepted until 1964 when scientists at Bell Labs measured the cosmic microwave background radiation. Until that time there was not overwhelming evidence for the theory. You see, that's how science works. When the Steady State model (a competing theory) was shown to not be correct it was discarded. By 1964, the idea of evolution of life by natural selection had been long accepted. Science has not discarded the theory of evolution because there is no contradictory evidence. In fact, there is an enormous amount of corroborating evidence, that continues to accrue as time goes on. Lots of people of many fiaths don't find scientific evidence threatening to their faith. I am confused by those that do.
Wiley Coyote January 27, 2013 at 01:11 AM
Hey, I spoke to God in a dream last night, and he told me that gay people have a right to marry and love who they want and that governments had no right to pass laws that prevent them from doing so. Prove me wrong. Or tell me why some guy living 2,000 years ago is believable having had similar conversations and I'm not.
John January 27, 2013 at 03:04 AM
Dale, I want to say this as clearly as I can: You have no authority to summarily conclude that I have "misinterpreted" Matthew. At minimum, Protestantism stands for the proposition that men need no ecclesiastical authority between man and God. Yet you have the temerity to summarily dismiss my opinion without rhyme or reason. You are not qualified to pass judgement upon my opinions. It's insulting that you believe you do.
Dale Murrish January 28, 2013 at 12:17 PM
Scripture interprets Scripture is one of the main principles of Bible interpretation. I could quote John Wesley, Martin Luther, numerous other Reformers, early church fathers and the Apostles Paul, James, Peter etc. who would disagree with your interpretation. You also have to understand what else Jesus taught in context before you can apply that passage. As the incarnate Son of God, He knew that was the stumbling block to faith for that particular man. Applying that to everyone is false teaching. You're right that Protestantism requires no mediator between God and man (the Bible teaches that Jesus is the only mediator - Prophet, Priest and King), but have stretched that beyond the original principle to mean that you can go off with your Bible and misinterpret it as you choose. We need the help of faithful teachers who understand things better than we do. So yes, I disagree with your opinion, but agree that you are entitled to it.
Dale Murrish January 29, 2013 at 09:57 PM
One of the four statements in your first paragraph is true: gay people have a right to love whomever they want. The first is doubtful but irrelevant on a horizontal level. On a vertical level it’s pretty serious, though. A “private conversation” with the Creator of the universe that didn’t really happen mocks Him and breaks one of His commandments. The other two are false and can be proven from the American Declaration of Independence, natural law and the Bible. To do the latter I need to know who “some guy living 2000 years ago” was: Jesus, the apostle Paul, or someone else? Also mocking, but maybe you don’t really understand why, so I’ll explain it if you’d like. If you ignore this question, we’ll just assume you realize that both the incarnate Son of God who proved it with dozens of miracles and someone who planted dozens of churches that transformed the world 2000 years ago have more credibility than someone who uses a cartoon character pseudonym on the Internet. A better question to ask would be what right do gays have to redefine the institution of marriage? Traditional marriage and gay sex have both been around as long as civilization has been. Gay sex has never been accepted as normal behavior until the recent effort of the last few years. Gay “marriage” is not and never will be true marriage, whether our government legalizes it or not. We as creatures do not have the right to redefine something instituted by our Creator.
Lianne Mathie January 30, 2013 at 12:07 AM
Dale, where did Jesus condemn gays? What gospel should I turn to for reference? Please point that out to everyone, because I've never found it.
Aviva January 30, 2013 at 12:07 AM
I don't understand. G-d created everything, right? So if He created heterosexual marriage, He also created homosexual marriage, didn't He? It seems sinful to me to be against something G-d created.
John January 30, 2013 at 03:45 AM
Dale, Once again, you assert that I have misinterpreted a passage from Matthew, yet your only support for your opinion is to claim that Wesley et al., would disagree with me. I find that extremely condescending. First, you do not have access to the minds of the Apostles or reformers to determine if they would or would not agree with me. Plus, by pointing to the authority of reformers, you're placing a mediator between humans and God. You're violating your own stated tenets. Second, sola scriptura is not an idea found in the bible. It's a concept you bring to the text as an interpreter. It's also a concept rejected by the Catholic church. Are you so bold to claim the Catholic Church is interpreting the bible incorrectly? If I seem irritated, I am. I hold a degree in religious studies and philosophy, and am familiar with hermeneutics and and exegetical methodologies. If you're implying that I do not know what the bible contains, you're in error.
Daffy Noodnicks January 30, 2013 at 01:34 PM
A better question is why society must accept Dale Murrish's definition of 'traditional' marriage based on what he thinks the Creator would like? There is the separation of church and state in our wonderful country which means government should not be beholden to such justification. Why the fixation on sex? Who cares what adults who love each other do behind closed doors. It's none of my business (or Dale's although he does seem fascinated). There is an enormous amount of discrimination against gay families and if civil marriage can remove some of it at law, then I'm all for it. All sorts of injustices that had been previously accepted have been removed as society becomes more just. I for one find this a good thing. Btw gay sex and gay marriage is as perfectly normal for gay people as my relationship is with my wife. This statement of Dales' (about gay not being 'normal') is one of his most antigay and offensive. How awful.
John David January 30, 2013 at 02:14 PM
Interracial marriage was illegal not that long ago in many if not all states, and some justified that law based on religious beliefs. Some still believe it is wrong, but the law does not. We are a nation of laws, not a theocracy. Marriage is governed by state laws, and some individual states have provided for gay marriage. If laws against gay marriage are found unconstitutional, all states will need to allow gay marriage. Religions do not have to perform gay marriages, but since marriage is a legal institution in the US I don 't see why if the people and our laws recognize the right of gays to marry, any religion should stand in the government's way. Devoted gay partners are denied many rights and protections that are provided by law to heterosexual couples, which many of us see as unjust under the law. Despite any religious beliefs, this should be only a matter of civil law.
Dale Murrish January 30, 2013 at 10:40 PM
John, knowing the Bible’s contents and believing it are two different things. Many unbelieving theologians familiar with hermeneutic principles have tried to deconstruct the Bible, but the Word of God stands despite those attempts. I mentioned several believing apostles and theologians and could quote many more; no doubt you could quote some unbelieving ones who agree with you, but you’d rather cast doubt than be specific. I can easily defend the Bible and the historic Christian faith; apparently you have a different belief system. We can agree to disagree; I’m tired of arguing.
Dale Murrish February 01, 2013 at 01:46 AM
If a majority of Americans and/or their representatives vote for it, gay "marriage" will become the law of the land. I oppose this for many reasons, and if it happens I'll accept it as a civil arrangement. I'll then defend the right of the minority to practice their religious beliefs in continuing to speak against it, which causes no actual harm to anyone. Watch for a blog post which will elaborate on this further before wasting ink and your stomach lining attacking me, since I haven't expressed my views fully on this yet. Fully expressed, you might not find my position so unreasonable.
Lianne Mathie February 01, 2013 at 07:07 PM
Dale, Take a peek at this. http://sdrc.lib.uiowa.edu/traveling-culture/chau1/pdf/donaldwc/3/brochure.pdf This is my Grandfather. A well known Pastor, Doctor and Theologian.So, I will ask once again. What Gospel did you read that Jesus hates and condemns gay people? Why do you hate them? Further, have you ever been physically attached for being straight? Spit on? Kicked? Chastised in social media?,well , yes on that one. Denied visitation to your lifes partner? I will stick with a well known theologian that made the Bible and mental wellness his job over a lay person with defined prejudice not supported by the Gosples.
Daffy Noodnicks February 01, 2013 at 07:59 PM
If you aren't going to fully express something then you shouldn't say offensive unreasonable things like gay people aren't normal and putting "marriage" in quotes because you don't like it. People aren't going to let that sort of garbage slide, and they shouldn't. It is intolerant and obnoxious. The equal protection for gay families under the law that marriage equality would provide has nothing to do with religion. Nobody has ever suggested forcing a house of worship to conduct gay marriages. It has never occured in any of the increasing number of places where marriage equality is the law of the land. If your motivation for denying equal protection under the law for an oppressed minority is religion, then save it. You attempting to force your religious views on society by withholding legal protections from other citizens has no place in this country. My stomach lining is fine, thanks for your concern
Dale Murrish February 01, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Lianne, Jesus did not hate gay people nor adulterers or other sinners. He pardons sin for those who repent but did not condone continued habitual sin. To the woman caught in adultery He wrote in the sand (some think it was “where’s the man?”) while her accusers left one by one, and said “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” When questioned about divorce He referred back to the original creation mandate and God’s design for a man and a woman to be united to each other in marriage. By referring back to creation He showed God’s intent. Anything else falls short – premarital and extramarital sex. Homosexual sex is by definition extramarital sex. I follow His example as best I can – He’s my King. I realize people have different opinions about this. You’re free to follow someone you trust on the subject – different seminaries teach differently. Many others with good training disagree with you, though. I’ll post my church background and theological training soon so others will know where I’m coming from.
Dale Murrish February 01, 2013 at 10:46 PM
I do not hate gay people, just think society should not condone their sexual behavior by granting them marriage licenses. What they do in private is no business of mine, but between them and God. They should not be spit on, physically attacked or kicked and should be allowed to visit their partners in hospitals, pass property on, etc. Physical violence is covered under existing laws; the latter items can all be done without marriage licenses. As far as expressing opinions more mildly as Daffy Noodnicks requests (“marriage equality” is itself a sharp opinion that I disagree with), apparently I should change them or submit them to Daffy, Wiley Coyote, Zoltan Zizzo or others for editing. Or be quiet.
Lianne Mathie February 01, 2013 at 11:15 PM
In you very first sentence you contradicted yourself, I don't hate gay people, they just suck, right? Like I said, you have not been attacked because of who you are, so your idea that laws protect these people is laughable and ignorant as well. I will stick with experts who actually study the Bible and make it their lifes work. You still have not told me where Jesus says gays are less then human, as you view them.
Daffy Noodnicks February 02, 2013 at 03:39 AM
Save the sad violin. It's never civil to refer to group of people who are socially marginalized as not normal. That's what you did. It was pretty lousy of you. The kind of attitudes you help propagate encourage gay bashing. So you say, gay sex is bad because its extramarital, but you would deny these people the right to be married. That is completely unreasonable and illogical.
Wiley Coyote February 02, 2013 at 01:27 PM
As usual, Dale totally missed the point. He's willing to accept the words of the bible about visitations and instructions by deities from thousands of years ago as fact, yet there's no way he will believe it could happen again...especially if what might be said conflicts with his narrow world view. Dale is a classic example of someone who selectively uses the bible as a shield to cover his own prejudices, a sick situation that's gone on far too long in human history. Also, Dale, to refer to gay people as sinners is one of the most revolting, demeaning things you can say. You are heaping guilt on people who simply don't deserve it. Attitudes like that make it possible for hatred, insult and injury to exist. For god's sake, grow up. You're the one who needs to repent.
Dale Murrish February 02, 2013 at 03:13 PM
If the Bible was true, it is still true. Christians who believe in the Bible follow its principles, all of them. The Bible's teaching on this subject is clear.
Wiley Coyote February 02, 2013 at 04:25 PM
So you follow all of Leviticus for example to the letter...will you be at the Superbowl tomorrow stoning the football players who are wearing cotton and rayon and touching the skin of a pig? Can't wait to see that!
Dale Murrish February 02, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Parts of the Mosaic ceremonial Law were abrogated. Read the book of Hebrews.
Daffy Noodnicks February 02, 2013 at 06:32 PM
I could not possibly care less what you think the Bibles teaching on gay marriage is. If that is how you choose to live your life that is your business. You have no right to impose what you think the Bible means upon civil law. If you think the Bible tells you not to do something go ahead and don't do it. Don't have it your church. That would be another reason I would never show up there. You have no right impose your religious views on anyone else.
Lianne Mathie February 02, 2013 at 07:11 PM
Hey Daffy, no worries, Dale has no intention of finding the meaning of the Bible. He's one of the people that uses the Bible for convenience sake, to support hate and in the process pushes people away from Christ. It's sad, really.
Daffy Noodnicks February 02, 2013 at 08:00 PM
Llane: I am not worried. We are all protected by the constitutuion. My only concern is that people may think antigay nonsense, or antiscience nonsense is representative of Troy, where I choose to raise my children and have a substantial investment.
Daffy Noodnicks February 02, 2013 at 08:01 PM
"I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do, becasue I notice it always coincides with their own desires." Susan B. Anthony, 1896
Dale Murrish February 02, 2013 at 11:40 PM
So you vote for pro-life people on the Susan B. Anthony List? I feel certain you have quoted her out of context, if a "paternalistic" female Notre Dame law professor thinks she would be rolling over in her grave. Abraham Lincoln said we need to make sure we are on God's side; that's likely what Susan B. Anthony meant. I base my views on the Bible - God's instruction book for life.
Daffy Noodnicks February 03, 2013 at 12:56 AM
I don't vote for anyone on any list but my own. If you are so certain I misquoted, show me where. You base your life on your interpretation of the Bible, it doesn't make you right about anything. President Lincoln was not particularly devout, by the way. That's kind of how people spoke back then.
Daffy Noodnicks February 03, 2013 at 01:06 AM
She said that at the 28th annual convention of the National Womans Suffrage Association January 23-28 1896 in Washington D.C. Check HIstory of Woman Suffrage, Volume 4, Chapter 16. Ms. Anthony, by the way, was a well known agnostic.
THEODORE GIBSON February 03, 2013 at 03:15 AM
Wiley - very well said.


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