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Nov 17

Praestet fides supplementum sensuum defectui …

You may have arrived here searching out this Latin phrase from my book, Fidelis, the first in my Birth Pangs series.  If not, you might want to consider picking up said books!

“Praestet fides supplementum sensuum defectui…”Or, in some translations I’ve seen, “Faith supplies what the senses cannot…” But I am no Latin scholar. We get the idea easily enough, though. In the first place, this little sentence implies that there are things that are real that our senses themselves are inadequate to detect. In the second place, the ‘organ’ for making the detection is ‘faith.’

Faith has gotten a bad rap. In part, this is because notions of faith being a belief based without evidence or even in spite of the evidence. This is a pretty distorted view of ‘faith,’ and at least it can be said it is not the Biblical view on faith. God was well aware of our need for evidence- Jesus told his disciples that if they doubted him, they could take into consideration his miracles. The resurrection is a specifically concrete demonstration. God does not request or require faith in him apart from evidence- in fact, he provides it. This particular event, the resurrection, also tells us something of WHY we ought to have faith in God… WHY should we trust him… ?

Simply put, the resurrection was not merely explicit evidence of God’s existence (the resurrection validates Jesus’ claim to be God), but also for his concern about issues that trouble the human race. The problem of pain, the problem of suffering, God’s apparent distancing from the human predicament… reasonable people have struggled with these issues, but the resurrection is evidence that God is not in fact indifferent and even if we don’t know the solutions to them, he has acted. He has taken on death and suffering… and when he says he’ll come again to really finish up the problem, we have reason to believe it.

In this context, then, ‘faith’ can provide answers and understanding that raw sensory data cannot provide. ‘Faith’ is the trust context which helps us decide what kinds of relationships are sound and which are not. For example, I have faith that my chair will not disappear from underneath me. This faith, this trust, is based on the fact that chairs haven’t let me down yet- or at least, not very often- we have a good relationship! Similarly, if I understand that God is aware of the human predicament and has taken at least one concrete step to deal with it, I am able to view the world through that lens- and I may begin to come to understandings and truths that were unknowable while I remained a skeptic, cynical, or unfaithful.

Praestet fides supplementum sensuum defectui
Let faith supply what the senses cannot.

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Nov 08

Book review: “Why Men Hate Going to Church”

Well, not a full review.

I just finished this book and thought it was spot on in a number of areas.  For quite a long time I was a man more or less indifferent to ‘going to church.’  I didn’t have objections to it, but on the other hand I never detected many tangible benefits to it, either, though I believed that others must be getting something out of it.  In the last few years, my attitude has changed.  Now, not only do I pretty much detest ‘church,’ I find it to be destructive in the ways that matter.  I didn’t quite understand why I thought that.  In the last year or so I’ve understood it better, but no sooner have I figured it out, I have learned how many others had already put their finger on it.

David Murrow’s “Why Men Hate Going to Church” does not describe me personally in every respect, but it does in a great many ways.  The argument:  the church has been feminized.  I am inclined to agree.  As Mr. Murrow points out, women can do ‘man’ things comfortably, but it doesn’t work the other way around. A girl can be a ‘tomboy’ and be well thought of.  There is no comparable for boys.  This does not reflect culturalization, it reflects the real nature of men.  Thus, if ‘church’ is girly, most men aren’t going to willing to suck it up and ‘attend.’  They just won’t even go.

I consider myself unique.  Most of the men in Mr. Murrow’s book have no real interest in theology, and philosophy, doctrine, etc.  When confronted with things in ‘church’ that they don’t like they are at a loss to describe it, and since they lack the tools to do so, they are unable to see the distinction between ‘Christianity’ and ‘church.’  Thus, they reject Christianity on the basis of ‘church’ structures.  For my own part, I see that the two can and should be separated.  Thus, I am as disgusted by ‘church’ as many men are, but not with Christianity… and not with Christ.  Still, I think that if men understood their responsibilities under God, they’d see that theology and such really captivated them and moves them.

Mr. Murrow does not draw this distinction as neatly as I would like, but I can see the argument for it.  I agreed with most of what was in this book and found it to be insightful.  Now, if only the mainstream clergy and laity (mostly women in the latter case, and quickly becoming mostly women in the former) will consider it.

Murrow’s site:  www.churchformen.com

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Nov 08

Defining ‘Christian’ Propositionally

Under discussion here:  http://www.sntjohnny.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2223

Two quotes to start this off with.  First, from atheist Bertrand Russell, answering a question in an essay by the same title, “Why I am not a Christian”:  “I think that you must have a certain amount of definite belief before you have a right to call yourself a Christian.  The word does not have quite such a full-blooded meaning now as it had in the times of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas.  In those days, if a man said that he was a Christian it was known what he meant.  You accepted a whole collection of creeds which were set out with great precision, and every single syllable of those creeds you believed with the whole strength of your convictions.  Nowadays it is not quite like that.”

Mr. Russell is about right about this.  It’s sad and a little indicative of things that he chose not to use this definition in his assault, but rather the watered down versions circulating around him.  Worse, he, being an atheist, didn’t have a problem deciding for himself which definition of ‘Christianity’ he was going to shoot down.  In logic circles, we call that setting up a strawman.  Still, he is dead center right on in this quote.  Here comes the next quote. Continue reading

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Oct 30

Extreme Make-Over for Christians

Last night I was watching Extreme Make-Over “Home Edition”, the show where they take a needy family and basically give them a new house and sometimes throw in extras.  I was struck (for about the billionth time, I’m afraid) with the failure of the Christian church to handle the needy families in their own neighborhoods.  Here we have a case where an out of town television program comes in and helps people- where were the churches?

Now, it is true that organizations like Habitat for Humanity is strongly supported by churches and Christian organizations.   There certainly are many other examples, too.  I’m the first to point out to my secularist friends that the number of Christian universities, schools, hospitals, and charities, are off the charts (how many “Secular Humanist’s Charitable Hospitals” are you personally aware of?).  The problem with this is a matter of delegation among the church.  Christians, like everyone else, I suppose, delegates to others duties that belong to them personally, or to their own group in particular.

But I think the other part of this particular illustration is that it would be pointed out that “Home Edition” is almost certainly making a big bundle of cash in advertising and sponsorships in order to be able to afford what they do.  And that’s true- but I’m not proposing that we build new houses for needy people, either.  What “Home Edition” does is extreme, but it is not out of the realm of possibility.  There are degrees of ‘help’ less than a new home that are still substantial and the Christian Church has plenty of resources enough to pull them off in a sustainable fashion.
I have a lot I could say about all this, but after all, I have this blog and the one over at www.nakedapologetics.com to talk about it.  For example, this entry here.  So, for now let me submit a passage that for years I struggled with but now understand.  Something for ya’ll to think about:

“I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.”  Luke 16:9.  [Context]

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Oct 22

The Amish and Original Sin

I suppose now that a few news cycles have past, most Americans have already forgotten about the school house shooting at an Amish school in Pennsylvania. That’s too bad, because it is specifically this short attention span that continues to shipwreck humans in general and Americans in particular. The Amish Incident, as I shall call it, illustrates a few points I have always maintained, but is filled with its own ironic emphases at the same time.

Let’s start with the irony. Here you have a group of people that have gone out of their way to isolate themselves from outside civilization, and yet despite this deliberate barrier, find that the outside civilization breaks in and kills their children, anyway. So, despite the best efforts of the Amish to protect themselves from the wicked evils of the world at large, they found themselves experiencing those evils first hand, anyway. Continue reading

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Oct 18

Online Radio Station Nearly Live

http://www.sntjohnny.com/radioportal.html

I had a weekly radio show for awhile which was broadcast online, and then in the course of things I had to let it go.  I have been ramping up for a renewed effort to make sntjohnny.com something special, with a target date of January of 2007.  Bringing back the radio show is a part of that.  More than that, the show is now on a streaming radio station, which even now, as we speak, is broadcasting some music and some other stuff- including the new sntjohnny theme song. 

The radio show I envision beginning will be an hour long panel discussion, recorded before a live audience, and then made available as a podcast as well as on the streaming audio for later listening.

Feel free to try it out right now by going to the portal page, http://www.sntjohnny.com/radioportal.html and clicking on ‘tune in.’

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Oct 12

Sntjohnny’s Online Radio Station is online…

Go ahead, feel free to…

Tune in…

(its always possible its down for testing, or what not, but I leave it up.)

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Oct 08

Politics and Christianity

A discussion thread commenting on similar themes is here:

http://www.sntjohnny.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2200

Today I attended a study at church on ‘Politics and Christianity.’ I don’t think many people who consider this question understand that the American situation is extremely unique in that our system explicitly allows Christians to express themselves, just as it does anyone else. For example, by contrast, in Romans 13 the context is such where the average person on the street, and Christians especially, are just outsiders. This complicates things a great deal for the Christian trying to make heads or tails on how or what our government should be doing.

I find that both politically liberal and politically conservative Christians miss the boat completely. They take opposite sides, but the result is the same thing. For example, I have a friend who is politically liberal but theologically conservative (not exactly common). This person supports all sorts of government programs for the poor, the helpless, the needy, etc. None of these are functions of the government as illustrated in Romans 13, though. See Romans 13:4 for the highlighted function. My accusation against Christians on this side of things is that Continue reading

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Oct 08

Why Christianity is Different

There are a lot of people out there that think that religions are all the same, and a large number of those people are Christians themselves.  The idea is that there really isn’t any true explanation out there, and anyway, it would be rude, or arrogant, to say that you’ve got it, even if you think you do.  This pretty well numbs the Christians who hold such a view from doing any evangelism… it would be rude… but these folks forget that their Scriptures do not define ‘religion’ the way it has been used all over the place for centuries.  You find it in James as “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

This is a great chasm away from notions that a religion (or the Christian ‘religion,’ at least) is a set of beliefs, typically subjective beliefs that cannot be proved or disproved.  What James says ought to cut to the heart of most of the Christian church which seems to have thought that acceptable religion in God’s eyes centers around building massive church buildings and singing hymns in line with those ‘subjective beliefs.’

But Christianity, unlike nearly every belief system out there Continue reading

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Oct 05

Omnipotence, Omniscience, Etc.

I’m always amazed at how the same things come up over and over again from atheists. The funny thing is that they always think they’re bringing some new revelation, as though Christians and theists in general haven’t been hearing- and answering- these things for thousands of years.  Sparking this blog is this thread and the two threads it references: http://www.sntjohnny.com/phpbb/viewtopic.php?t=2199.

A robust understanding of the ‘omnis’ of Christian theism… omnipotent, omniscient, etc… is easily gained by anyone spending time engaging solid Christian material rather than taking cues from skeptic’s ‘objections’ so I’m not going to expound on that too much here. Continue reading

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Sep 24

Per fidem enim ambulamus et non per speciem…

That’s out of Jerome’s Latin translation of the New Testament. The translation is called the ‘Vulgate.’ It means, as near as I can tell, “We walk by faith, not by sight,” and comes out of 2 Corinthians 5:7 of the Christian Scriptures.

What is it about ‘faith’ that sets people’s teeth on edge? Some people will fight to the bitter end to insist that they do not operate on faith at all. (For a discussion between atheists, skeptics, and Christians, see HERE) Others cling to it in all of the worst ways. Like everything in life, there is danger at the extremes, and the healthy point of view and mindset is right down the middle. Continue reading

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Aug 20

Some introductory Remarks

Welcome to my Christian Apologetics page. This site is a long time in coming and is born of many debates- both online and off. I personally nearly abandoned the Christian faith in college. For all I know, I did. God only knows. I did this deliberately. That is, disillusioned by my unanswered questions, I decided to forget all that I thought I knew and rebuild.

The process of that rebuilding has made me what I am today, for better or for worse. Many skeptics have decided to challenge the authenticity of my experience. I’m not entirely sure why that is. I suspect it may be that, in their opinion, anyone who was ‘truly’ a skeptic would never have returned to Christianity. But a skeptic I was, and to Christianity I did return. This has given me a unique perspective on both Christianity as well as its defense and presentation.

At anyrate, since I rebuilt my faith from scratch, I can truly say that I have no belief that exists unexamined. I have no belief without some reason for that belief. I believe those reasons are good reasons, and this site is devoted to explaining why I think they are good.

Welcome to my site and the home of my ministry on the web!

More….

In my early days as a nothing-believer, I was frightened. After all, I had been a Christian (as far as I knew) for my entire life. Setting that aside was very uncomfortable but as I began my ‘rebuilding effort’ I grew more and more comfortable following truth whereever it went. Not long into the process, as I slowly returned to theism and Christ reclaimed me to Christianity, I realized that true seekers of truth have nothing to fear from such inquiries.

In fact, I found that most of the arguments against theism and Christianity were highly irrational. Often, they were based on inaccurate conceptions about Christianity. Sadly, this was the fault of the Christian church as much as anything else. At anyrate, I have sinced realized that there is no credible intellectual threat posed by atheism.

However, you couldn’t tell this from a casual look at the intellectual climate in the world today. Most of the time, it looks as though Christianity is on the run. ‘Religion’ is not far behind it. It is my job as an apologist to show that Christianity can hold its own, and when its all said and done, the objective person will turn to it, rather than something else.

There are some obvious challenges to being successful in that capacity, but a big part of it consists not in arguing with atheists and skeptics, but rather in providing Christians with accurate information in the first place to prevent them from leaving the faith in the first place.

Paul said that some plant, some water, and others reap the increase. My job is to go out into the land and move rocks- or break them if necessary- till the land, and struggle through knee deep fertilizer… all in the effort to allow those who come later to plant, water, and reap the harvest.

I look forward to the prospects of either serving you as someone who needs to haul rocks out of the field, or as someone who can look at the field, detect problems, and help farmers more effectively plant, water, and reap.

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