This is why I led off with the John Adams quote. ‘Moral and religious people’ will continue to be ‘moral and religious’ whatever freedoms or restrictions are placed on them by the government. I might say: “Libertarianism was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the [government] of any other.” There are any number of forms of government that can work with a ‘moral and religious people.’ For an amoral or immoral or anti-moral or non-religious or anti-religious people, no kind of government is going to work for the long haul.
Category: End Times
If you were looking for a thread that ties all five of these challenges together, it is this: the general view, even among Christians, that there is no objective reality to the areas under dispute. That is, we are all arguing about our own opinions, nothing more. It’s like sitting around having an argument about one’s favorite flavor of ice cream. As such an argument is roundly seen as absurd (and I would agree). Thus- even within the Church- the highest transgression is presenting your favorite ice cream flavor as the absolute best. Now this, paradoxically, I have said is something that apologetics can treat (after saying in 3 parts that it can’t. 😉 ), but read carefully on how precisely.
This is attitude that everything is just subjective is manifested most clearly and dramatically in regards to the marriage and the family. To help understand why, let me provide some anecdotal illustrations.
For example, no doubt many of my readers will be aware of the argument against those who oppose gay marriage that if these people really cherished marriage, they wouldn’t themselves support divorce or have the same level of divorces as those outside that community. I am not here highlighting the apparent hypocrisy involved. I’m talking about something else. Another illustration will perhaps help: “Why won’t God heal Amputees?” You see the argument now: if there is a God, surely he would want to heal people, including amputees. The same reasoning undergirds the absurd but common perception among atheists that a praying people will be healthier, or that in an experiment where one group is prayed for but the other group that isn’t, the group prayed for should show better health. (C. S. Lewis exposed this type of experiment as deeply flawed- who in good conscience, if they cared for the sick people would abstain from praying for one group just to prove a point?!?!?)
I have been involved in apologetics for more than fifteen years, coming in almost literally the moment after Al Gore invented the Internet. The following represents some conclusions I’ve drawn during this time. To be clear, when I say the ‘Five Greatest Challenges to Christianity’ I do not mean it as, ‘here are five great challenges among others.’ What I mean is, THESE. ARE. THE. FIVE. GREATEST. CHALLENGES. I do not suggest that they are all that new. I do propose, however, that apologetics has no answer to them. Is that a surrender by a Christian apologist? Let’s find out.
Richard Dawkins, among many others, have contended that ‘faith’ is believing what you know isn’t true. Less severe, but equally inaccurate, is the view that faith is a thing completely apart from evidence, or even in spite of the evidence. This view isn’t restricted to atheists. Unfortunately, many Christians themselves take that view. It is unfortunate because it is not true, it is not how the Scriptures actually present it, and it takes Christians out of discussions they should be involved in.
The simplest way to put it that would be accurate would be to understand ‘faith’ as including, front and center, the idea of ‘trust.’
Christian faith is not merely the confident belief that certain propositions are true. It isn’t even the confident belief that a God exists. The Scriptures forbid such a narrow understanding: “So you believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.” James 2:19
Another passage puts it in better context: “…without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he awards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6
Real Christian faith includes and transcends beliefs in propositions and speaks to the trust that we have in God and our reliance on his nature (ie, most prominently, his goodness).
Warning: Rant ahead.
Haiti made a deal with the devil and it is reaping the consequences? Ok, while I’d like a little more information about this so called ‘deal’ made 200 years ago, I’ve got to say that this isn’t the kind of thing you just randomly say. You’re not helping anything and I doubt you helped anyone. Indeed, there is no doubt in my mind that you just made evangelism and apologetics much more difficult. Thanks for that. Really appreciate it.
The beginning of the episode starts off with a Catholic priest taking confession from one person after another that has been knocked around a bit by the implications of the arrival of Visitors from space. Their faith has been rattled, for example. Or, they are impressed by the ‘miracle cures’ that the Visitors are able to perform. I have already touched on this in my two previous posts but I’d like to approach it again from a different angle.
Is it really the case that space Visitors will serve as a stumbling block to faith in God? I contend that we cannot actually know that until they arrive (if they exist and if they come) and that our speculations in the meantime are inferences from what we already believe about reality.
In light of the Visitor’s ability to perform miracle cures, I would like to reflect on a quote common in atheistic thought (If I recall correctly, even Dawkins cites it in his Delusion). Arthur Clark said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
This sort of feeds into chronological snobbery of our modern age (and perhaps some past ages) which tries to dismiss the views and experiences of those in the past as being from an “ignorant gaggle of Bronze age fishermen and peripatetic, militant, marauding, murdering, genocidal goat-herders.”
The number one thing killing Christianity in America today:
All the rest of the things on the list tie back to this. The Christian Church exhibits constant lovelessness in much of what it does. Many readers will jump to the idea that Christians are very loving, and to an extent, I agree. Many readers will find the assertion nauseous because they think of ‘love’ as some wishy washy sentiment. Both sets of readers misunderstand me. One of my contentions is that Love itself is misunderstood, because unlike other doctrines, this one has not been systematically explored from the Scriptures. We all act as though we intuitively know what ‘love’ is. In fact, we have culturally driven notions that are derived from hundreds of years of romanticism. The Bible- the New Testament in particular- portrays a love that is much different. It is earth shattering, and embodied in the activities of the early Christian Church.
None of this should be construed (though it will be, to my chagrin) as a repudiation of all the things we currently do to ‘show’ we love God. It isn’t. If we were doing those things AND loving our fellow Christians… to the death… there would be no problem.
But, I contend, we aren’t doing that. God tells us that if we love him, we’ll love the brothers. We have it stuck in our head that if we love him, we’ll love him.
But that’s not what he said, and that is why outsiders, ultimately, do not find Christianity credible. Indeed, it is why Christians themselves are dubious, and in fact, sometimes falling away altogether.
Today Worldnetdaily.com published a second column of mine. Title: Christians Beware the Malthusian Mind!
Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Thomas Robert Malthus would have disagreed. The philosophical forerunner to Darwin, Malthus argued that there are limited resources, and competition for them is intense. When there are too many people competing for those resources, you have war, famine and a continual threat to civilization itself.
For Malthus, the pie is only so big: We must reduce the number of people who want a share of it.
Christianity embodies another solution: Make a bigger pie.
In Christianity, God takes a few loaves and feeds thousands with them. Entrance to heaven is not contingent on space available. Jesus came that we would have life, and life to the fullest. Not just for some, but all.
None of what follows is an argument for Christian indifference to the plight of other people. However, Christians should not advocate “solutions” that repress human liberty, dignity and freedom. For some reason, all of the Malthusian’s solutions do just that.
Read the whole column on Malthus and Malthusians.
In my blog entry yesterday I indicated that the reason why proportion and a sense of perspective were necessary regarding the Tiller killing was because in the liberal mind, referring to abortion as murder, etc, is inflammatory language that really is ‘hate speech.’
The current hate speech legislation coming through Congress (Matthew Shepherd Act) aims to draw exactly this kind of connection, though of course this legislation is related more to homosexuality. The idea is the same, though: if anyone person commits a crime and it can be tracked back to someone who can be perceived to have ‘instigated it’ the person who did the ‘instigation’ is equally guilty and consequently should be punished under the law.
In today’s perusal of the web I found more evidence of this attempt to condemn the entire pro-life movement because of this single event. The irony is that the day after Tiller was killed, an American soldier was gunned down at a recruitment center by someone we now know was acting on Islamicist principles.
Having issued a series of posts trying to establish some sense of proportion and perspective about the Tiller murder, the question has been raised as to why the emphasis.
I have my reasons.
We can go back to a post that I made not too long ago that suggested that a ‘right-wing extremist’ attack was not merely inevitable, but something that the current administration actually wants to happen.
Here is a little quote:
Here is what I think. I think that the recently admitted NSA over-collection of American domestic communications revealed that people- even decent people- are really, really, really, really, really, POed about the way things are and the way they are going. I think that material helped drive the DHS report, but I think the DHS was just looking for an excuse.
This report is likely to produce the very thing it is warning about. With this report, every conservative American became subject to the Thought Police and a target of scrutiny by the Federal government. I believe it will put some people over the edge. I believe the intent was to put them over the edge.
It has been noted that Dr. Tiller was gunned down in his church. It is a wonder that no one has proposed the obvious: more gun control is necessary. Allow me to be the first to call for it publicly.
The first thing we need to do is make it illegal to have guns in churches in Kansas.
Then we need to make it into a crime to single out abortionists for murder. We should tack it onto the Hate Crimes legislation coming down the pike. There is nothing worse than hate inspired murder.
After that, I think we should take the National Organization of Women’s statement today and run with it. They said: “Bringing the killers to justice is not enough – the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security must root out and prosecute as domestic terrorists and violent racketeers the criminal enterprise that has organized and funded criminal acts for decades.”
Yes, let’s root them out.