Skip to main content


Showing posts from June, 2007

ESL, email, & misc.

Most of my ESL files didn't get uploaded correctly, but I've fixed most of it. The course handouts and stuff should be there on my ESL site. I'm still working on the links to old course pages and resource pages.

Two cute online videos I found recently: "Baby got Bible" song, and "Puppy vs. stairs".

BTW, folks, if you need to email me, it's best to use my Gmail account. The UI mail system, I've found, is unreliable. I've found that from time to time, emails to me or sent by me have simply been lost. I even emailed myself once, and it never arrived in my inbox! I'm afraid that someone may have tried to email me in the past, maybe even something important, and I never received it. If so, please email me via Gmail.

Salvation is...

Salvation is like this: You're caught up in a fast moving river, in the process of drowning, as the river is hurling you toward a steep waterfall, where you will plummet to your final death, drown, or be dashed against the rocks. Jesus stands on the shore, shouting your name. He extends his arm out to you to grab you. He's the only one who can save you. You are helpless. All you can do is respond, and let him grab you, let him rescue you. He is your hero. Your only hope.

Or you can refuse his help. Try to save your own life from the predicament that awaits you - though you cannot. Ignore his outstretched hand, and decide to go it alone, be your own boss, the king of what's left of your life, the master of nothing but your own destruction.

Or call out for help, let him grab you and save you, let him pull you out, revive you, dry you off, give you new clothes and a new existence. Notice that you contribute absolutely nothing here. He does all the work. All you did was not to r…

Bible studies & ESL materials

I let my old web domain [] expire last year, as I was too busy to maintain it. I've wanted to repost some materials, but had trouble finding the files, and was too busy to do so. But now I've finally found them and made them available. [Update: New link for Bible study materials as of Sept. 2011.]

1) Bible studies I used to do at the Illini Chinese Christian Fellowship, 1997-2005.

2) ESL materials. My old ESL materials from my old ESL days - materials I made for teaching ESL at UIUC and Korea University [composition / writing, grammar, pronunciation, listening-speaking...].

3. [Update, Sept. 2011] New website for academic materials - writing, EAP, pedagogy at <a href="></a>.<br /><br />Hopefully most of the links work, but please report any broken links you see. And this is still only a temporary site for a year. When I leave this place and get a real job, I'l…

What predestination is really about

Now it's time to talk about what predestination is, not just what it isn't. But I'll start with the isn't on my way to the is.

One problem with Calvinsim is that its supporters refer to a few biblical passages that mention predestination – especially Rom. 8 and Eph. 1 – and take them out of context. They ignore the fact that the Bible never really explains what it is, and that Paul’s purposes in those contexts are not to expound a new doctrine of predestination, but he mentions it to make more important points in these passages. In Romans, he mentions it to make a point that salvation is entirely an act of God, to which none of us contribute anything or earn anything. In Ephesians, he mentions it to emphasize God’s purpose in saving us. So Scripture never really explains it, because predestination itself is not the main point, but God's purposes and sovereignty in salvation. Thus, it is misguided to build major theological constructs, make a big deal over it, and cr…

Dr Who

Lately, the 3rd season of the new Dr Who [with David Tennant as the Doctor and Freema Agyeman as Martha, his assistant] has been especially good, in a show that's been great overall. I don't wait for a U.S. outlet to pick the episodes later. I download them as soon as they air on BBC1 and some kind soul makes them available on the torrent network.

A few weeks ago, I saw "Blink", which was probably the freakiest and scariest episodes of Dr Who ever. The villians were stone statues who were actually psychopathic aliens, and the story [by Dr Who writer Steven Moffat] was very clever, and plays with your mind. Kids who see it will be afraid of statues, no doubt. Then came Utopia, where the Doctor is reunited with Capt. Jack as they are propelled to "the end of the universe" and meet the Master, reincarnated, so to speak. In tonight's episode, "The Sound of Drums", the Master comes back to present day earth as a maniacal British Prime Minister, Mr S…

Predesintation and its implications

In spiritual matters, Jesus said that a tree is known by its fruits. Likewise in science and research, a good theory or hypothesis is evaluated according to how well it works, including how well research findings generalize to other areas, other testable hypotheses, and practical applications that it makes possible. A good scientific theory generates more hypotheses that can be tested, and leads to applications in the applied sciences or applied fields. Analogously, in theology, a good theological view or framework should have practical spiritual, theological, and ecclesial benefits. Calvinism and Arminianism generally fail in these respects.

Calvinism has led many to complacency about evangelism and missions, thinking that it doesn't matter if all are predestined, they'll get saved anyway. This is a logical implication of Calvinism, but to be fair, there are a good number of more balanced Calvinists who at least understand that we can't know or guess who is predestined, s…

Predestination, continued

A problem with the Calvinistic points of unconditional election and irrestible grace is the concept of regeneration of the believer. A common argument by some Calvinists goes like this: A person cannot choose to accept Christ, as s/he is spiritually dead (see previous post about this). Therefore, God must choose that person, and then somehow make the person alive, or otherwise change the person's nature somehow, in order for the person to choose Christ, or God must first change this person first before s/he can choose Christ. However, Calvinists who argue this do not explain very clear how this happens, but simply use this as an argument for the necessity of predestination.

But this leads to God arbitrarily giving some people the ability to be saved and not others. Calvinists would say that God is just, though not necessarily fair from our point of view, in doing so, simply because he is God and can do what he wants. But this is merely a semantic game, making an artificial distinct…

The God-image & predestination

All are created in God's image, and all people still have the God-image [imago Dei], which of course is also corrupted by the fall and sin, but not destroyed. Thus, Christ did not die arbitrarily for only "the elect" but for all humankind. This is clear in several passages in the NT about the universality of Christ's death, which Calvinists will argue apply in the given context only to believers or the elect. But Scripture is clear that Christ died for all, and the best passage is 1 John 1.2:

"He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

This is unequivocal. He did for everyone. There's no contextual factor that would argue against that here. And this contradicts the Calvinist doctrine of the limited atonement, the claim that Christ died only for the elect.

God does not arbitrarily select some for atonement and the call to salvation (I'm sure it's not hard to find passages indicating that God…

Predestination, pt. 2

The first point of Calvinism is that humanity is utterly depraved, and take the concepts of human depravity and original sin to an extreme, and essentially forget about the counterbalancing truth of human dignity and the imago Dei (being made in the image of God).

In the Calvinist sense, utter depravity means that humanity is so fallen and under the power of sin, that people don't have the free will to choose to believe in Christ on their own. The free will for salvation was destroyed by the fall. And so while people may have some free will in other areas, in salvation they say we aren't really free to chose. One common argument goes like this: How could a dead person choose to come alive, if s/he is already dead? How then can a spiritually dead person choose salvation, if s/he's dead and thus unable to make a choice? In trying to argue against the error of decisional regeneration of Arminianism, Calvinists err on the other extreme.

This is true only in the sense that a pers…

Need experimental subjects

The following is a shameless advertisement for my experiments. I'm looking for Chinese native speakers to participate in my experiments who meet the following requirements:

* Native Mandarin speakers from Taiwan.
* Living in the Banana-Shampoo (Urbana-Champaign) IL area
* Lived in Taiwan until at least middle school before leaving Taiwan.
* No reading impairments or other handicaps / impairments.
* Adult residents or students in their 20's or 30's with valid student ID or other ID.

I'm currently running some Chinese language surveys, which involve providing your iimpressions about Chinese characters. There are multiple versions of the survey forms with different contents, so you can take up to five of them. Each pays $4 and takes about 20 minutes. You can come pick them, fill them out on your own, and return them later at my lab. I'm looking for a few more participants.

Soon I'll be starting some laboratory experiments, and I need about 60-80 participants who meet the…


Sorry for being away for so long; been insanely busy with my experiments. So what shall we talk about today? Well, how about getting back to predestination...

In my senior year of high school, I became quite enamored of reformed theology, as a more satisfying alternative to the fundamentalist stuff that I grew up with. I also became a calvinist, since it was part of the package (but now I realize one needn't buy into calvinism in order to hold to reformed views), and because it was an intellectually seductive theology. It's a very logical, rationalistic system that appeals to intelligent Christians - those who don't properly introspect about the dangers of religious rationalism. So things like the limited atonement follow logically from the idea of limited election, as does the calvinistic view of regeneration. Let it be said that while I think the calvinistic view of regeneration isn't quite biblical, an even worse idea is the decisional regeneration of arminianism.