Monday, June 30, 2008

A Heart Cry To Christians

G.K. Chesterton wrote that “Christianity has never been tried and found wanting, but found difficult and untried.” However, I am increasingly encountering people who have tried Christianity in the manner it was offered to them and found it wanting for all it contained was empty religion and not authentic transforming power of life with Christ. Christians make grandiose claims about what the Christian life is supposed to look like and then we don’t deliver.

Unbelievers are asking good questions that deserve respectful reasonable answers and many Christians get defensive instead of helpful in this process of inquiry. Many Christians have not examined their own belief system to an extent where they are capable of reasonably answering questions about the faith they live. This is a sad reality.

Skeptics claim the burden of proof lies with the Christian. To a great extent, I agree. As a Christian, I owe people an encounter with God. Not only should I be prepared to give reasonable answers for the hope that I have in Christ Jesus, I should be a living testimony of that answer for He who is the Answer lives in me. If my claims are true, there should be apparent evidence of this reality in my life. If this evidence is non-existent, then people have a good reason to doubt my words.

We take our commission to be His witnesses for granted. We carry the hope of the world inside us and yet are practical atheist ourselves. We live as if God doesn’t exist much of the time. If we can live the life we are living without God’s help we are not living the way we were created to live. People are looking for truth and we throw them pat answers about how Jesus is the only way to God, but we fail to live supernatural lives that transcend man-made religion and truly exemplify the call of Christ.

Why should an unbeliever take any of our claims to heart when they look at Christianity and only see religion? This isn’t their fault. It’s ours! They ought to demand authenticity. They ought to demand real answers. They ought to compare the Christian claims to that of the rest of the world. And we ought to be living lives that are supernaturally empowered, full of love, and rooted in truth that we can clearly communicate to those who ask for the reason for the hope we have in Jesus.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Reality of Goodness

God is good. For God, to be God, He has to be eternally good. He can’t change back and forth from bad to good because that would make Him less than perfect. And if He is not eternally perfect, He is less than God, and not God at all.

All of humanity, granting a few exceptions, despite our failures, adheres to a standard of goodness versus badness. No one, in his right mind, sets up evil as the preferable standard of living.

Some are of the opinion that the dichotomy of valuing good over evil is a product of evolution and not of God’s design. It must be one or the other, for most people will attest to the existence of good and bad with the understanding of good being the standard by which we must live.

Atheist argue that being good of their own accord and not because God is going to punish them for being otherwise or reward them for their goodness is more admirable than one who desires to be good because God decrees it. However, there in lies a faulty view of God which is not based on real Christianity. Jesus did not come to make mankind more moral, but to transform mankind to a supernatural way of living empowered by Jesus which enables us to live as we were created to live which is not a life bond by sin. It is much more than freedom from bondage to sin, but to focus on the morality issue, we become free from sin, not out of religious compulsion to be good, but out of a changed nature that has been delivered from living in the bondage of sin.

Goodness, thus, is a byproduct of a relationship with Jesus, and not the result of religious compulsion. Thus, we love, not because we “ought to” but because tangible love bubbles up from within us out of our relationship with Christ and it becomes a natural expression by which we live and not something we work at to please a vindictive God. More accurately, it is a supernatural express for it comes not from our heart alone, but from God’s heart through us.

In fact, I think that this argument of the atheist lends itself more to religion than the authentic Christianity I am explaining. Let me expound on this idea. For the atheist to adhere to being good because they are evolved to prefer a standard of good over evil, they are still following rules of goodness. The atheist either follows society’s rules of goodness or their own rules of goodness or some combination of the two. The Christian, on the other hand, does not follow rules of goodness, but is transformed to do what is good as a byproduct of their relationship with Jesus. So “goodness” comes from being connected to God who is good and who transforms our nature versus “goodness” coming from a mere adherence to rules and law. Morality, then, is authentic of who we are in God and who God is in us.

People have a desire to live good lives, while, at the same time, often failing to keep our own standards of goodness, because we were created in God’s image and His stamp of the way things ought to be is ingrained in our very DNA. However, because we have the freedom to choice to follow God’s way of living or our way of living we also have the stamp of a fallen human nature produced when the first man chose his way instead of God’s way. We, thus, struggle between the two natures and when we come to Christ, our fallen nature is replaced by our redeemed nature and through this real tangible relationship with Jesus we become more and more like Him.

This is authentic Christianity. No one by their own efforts can ever perfectly live up to even their own standard of goodness, much less the perfect goodness of God. We all fail. However, God in His perfect goodness and love provided a way to redeem us, making us holy by fellowship with His holiness through the finished work of the cross of Jesus Christ.

Now, of course, if God doesn’t exist and this worldview is merely the creative imagination of a bunch of first century fisherman who miraculously created the best selling book of all time and died torturous deaths for their belief in this reality, then this is all rubbish. Christians are, therefore, mistaking God for what is really the work of an evolutionary process which amazingly created in all mankind a desire to do good even if it is self-sacrificing to do so. Moreover, even though evil still exist in this world, it’s merely a product of evolution as well and yet the entire history of humanity judges evil actions as bad. It’s all a matter of chance as to whether our DNA leads us to good or evil. Or maybe evil is what Christianity claims, a product of man living apart from the way God designed life and man left to his own nature produces evil in some form or another because it is impossible to live up to even our own standards without being connected and redeemed by God.

Life as a Christian is exciting. Real Christianity doesn’t look like religion. It has a taste of heaven, a substance of glory, a freedom of Christ. It is a wondrous reality. The Gospel of Christ is good news about a good God. G.K. Chesterton famously wrote that “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and untried.”

Empty Tomb of Christ

Historians are in consensus that Jesus died by crucifixion. The great debate surrounds his resurrection from the dead. Christianity hinges on this great truth for if Christ did not rise from the dead, all of Christianity is in vain. But if it is true that He did indeed rise from the dead all of the amazing claims of Christianity must be true, and, if true, we must examine what that means for our lives.

It is not difficult to find conclusive evidence that Jesus did rise from the dead.

Empty Tomb: The tomb was indeed empty. If the body was still in the tomb the Roman Soldiers would simply have produced the body and all the disciples claims would have ceased right there on the spot. Instead, the Romans accused the disciples of stealing the body. Just think, if the tomb had not been empty there would have been no way for the church to start in Jerusalem where it would have been easily verifiable if the claims of Christians were accurate or not.

Torture/Death: We can be certain the disciples did not steal the body for they endured torture for the message they proclaimed and eventually gruesome death. It can therefore be determined that the disciples believed Jesus had risen and had not stolen the body.

Embarrassing Testimony: When someone is fabricating a story they always make it sound as good as possible. First century women were not seen as credible sources. They could not even testify in court. However, the Gospels recount that it was women who first brought back the news of the empty tomb and that Christ had risen. Only a true recounting of an event would include embarrassing information that could harm the story rather than help it.

Eyewitness: There are early oral creeds that date back to within three years of the Resurrection that tell of Christ being raised from the dead. Also all the disciples were eyewitnesses to this truth.

The evidence for the Resurrection of Christ is far more extensive than the basic overview above, but it is easy to see that it demands thought and if believed it demands that one really think about the ramifications of such a belief.

C.S. Lewis wrote: "I am trying here to prevent anyone from saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept his claim to be God." That is one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."

Therefore, Jesus is either a Liar, a Lunatic, or He is Lord. There are no other options. If he did rise from the dead as the evidence suggests He didn't lie, nor was He a lunatic. That only leaves one option. He is Lord.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Faith and Reason

A long time ago a philosopher named Soren Kierkegaard separated faith and reason into two separate entities. He taught that you could have faith in something even if there was no reason for it because faith did not depend on reason.

Faith cannot exist apart from reason. Blind faith is no faith at all. Faith and reason have a coexistent relationship. Faith is based on reason. For example, one can say that Abraham sacrificed Isaac by faith. But the faith was based on the reason that he had experience with God. God had spoken to Him before. God's words had proven themselves true before. This was not an isolated incident where Abraham for the first time heard a voice from the sky call out and tell him to sacrifice his son and Abraham blindly obeyed this voice. No. He had walked with God already. He knew and trusted God. Yet it is still by faith because he had to trust that God was in control in order to obey and offer his son as a burnt offering. His faith was rewarded as God provided a lamb in the place of his son for the sacrifice.

Peter did not walk on water out of blind faith either. He had seen the miracles of Christ. He knew Jesus and had spent much time with him. He had reason to believe that he could do as Jesus asked and walk out on the water. He had never walked on the water before, but he took the step in faith based on prior experience that he could trust Jesus.

I think often times that people think that Christians want them to check their brains at the door to accept biblical Christianity. Some who do believe in the Bible think they do so purely on a blind faith and do not understand the evidence that exist for which their faith can be firmly anchored in reason backed up by history and empirical evidence. Yes faith is still required, but not as some would think; not as some baseless hope, but a faith rooted in truth.

God has given us so many evidences of His existence and of His love for us. The evidence for Jesus life, death, and resurrection is very strong. Even excluding the accounts of the Gospels, one can still conclude from the strong evidence that Jesus lived, preformed many miracles, died by crucifixion, and was resurrected leaving an empty tomb that cannot be explained any other way. Moreover, eyewitnesses who died for their belief in his resurrection testified to his resurrection. No one would die for a lie.

Explore the facts. Dig in. Ask questions. What have you got to lose? Seek the truth.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Moral Framework Continued

I will now transition from the existence of a common moral framework in humanity to how God sees humans living in that framework. To answer this contention about the nature of the Christian God, I must for the sake of illustration, answer from the Christian worldview that you do not yet accept as valid. Please read this as an answer from Christianity and allow me to establish the foundation for the legitimacy of Christianity in other blogs.

God created a moral framework not as a system of rules by which to bind us, but as a protection against living outside of how we were designed to live. It’s like the warning label on an electronic device that cautions the user not to use near water to avoid electrocution. There is a moral framework written into the fabric of our DNA, but because of our sinful nature we often ignore that framework and do things our own way because we live separated from God. The evil in the world is because of that separation. God provides restoration to the way we were born to live as beings connected with the eternal God.

Jesus was never about imposing laws and rules. He came to fulfill the requirements of the written laws given to Moses by God to enable man to gain redemption and righteousness, not by adhering to laws and rules, but by relationship with Jesus for Jesus came to restore man to God. God’s justice isn’t punitive in nature. He loves mankind. Jesus said that sin entangles us and creates bondage over our lives to sin and death. That is the nature of what sin does. In contrast, God is in the business of freeing people from that sin and death and giving them life, eternal life. That relationship is not merely a matter of eternal destiny, but of present day living on earth. He takes away the weight of guilt from sin. He removes the entanglements and replaces our bondage with His freedom and life.

Thus, Christians don’t practice morality to please God. Their morality is an overflow of the change Christ has made in their life. Because He is love we love. It is out of our fellowship with Him that we live the way we do. Not because we think about if we will make him mad at us or not by our actions. Granted, as you will see in my prior blog entitled “Common Ground” sometimes Christians get into religion and start to become about laws and such, but this is not the standard. Jesus is the standard and He wasn’t about religion.

I believe I have responded to each of your objections or questions in your blog Unmuddling Morality

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Moral Framework

A response to

I will now respond to your second objection on the topic of morality. I asserted that there is a moral law at work in humanity and that for there to be such a construct there must be a moral law giver, God.

To set it up as a syllogism it would look like this:

  • If there is a moral law, then there is a Moral Law Giver.
  • There is a moral law
  • Therefore there is a Moral Law Giver

Let’s unpack the idea of the existence of a common moral framework in all of mankind. In use of the term “moral law” I am merely claiming there to be a moral framework at work in mankind.

There is a difference between agreement on specifics of right and wrong and a basic understanding that there is right and wrong. The specifics can be subjective at times; however, the framework is objective. For instance, you give the example of slavery.

Throughout history slavery was not always seen as wrong by all people. Even today, slavery continues in parts of the world such as in Sudan. If morality was subjective to a culture or a person, one could say that the English slave trade or the American slavery was not wrong to those who didn’t believe it to be wrong. However, I think the reality is that it was always wrong even when people justified it to be right. Also, just because a community justifies something to be right, doesn’t mean deep in their souls they know it to be right.

When someone is on trial for murder, they can submit a plea of insanity if they have no understanding between right and wrong. One of the key things the prosecutor must prove is that the Defendant not only committed the act, but that the Defendant was cognizant the act was wrong. For if the defense attorney proves through a physiologist that the Defendant has no moral understanding he is able to present the defense of insanity. So even if someone does something wrong and is convinced that it is not wrong, even in a court of law, it is still wrong and the person is seen as insane.

If morality is subjective then we have no right to judge another culture or community for doing atrocities to people such as the holocaust. However, if it is objective and all people really do know right from wrong somehow then the Nuremburg Trials were warranted. However, if moral truth is merely what a community agrees upon there could never be any justice for the millions of Jews exterminated in the concentration camps. Was this historical event evil? Or was it merely Hitler, to quote Richard Dawkins, “dancing to his DNA.”

[Regarding the Bible condoning slavery, it does not. Jesus didn’t come to force political change; that was not His mission. He knew that the heart change that happens from knowing Him would change the world and force would never produce love which was what was needed to treat people the way He designed them to be treated]

The second part of the syllogism proclaims God must exist because there is a moral framework. How else could a standard of morality exist in humanity if it were not for a conscious designer placing it there? The objective nature of a moral standard that man kind experiences guilt when he breaks it and demands justice when it is broken against him is not explained by evolution. Again that is why I maintain that non-Christians must borrow from the Christian worldview regarding these things to even posit questions about good and evil and how to differentiate between the two. It’s the only worldview that gives a good explanation about how this all works and is the most viable in corresponding to reality.

To Be Continued: Last Response Blog will address the matter of how God sees mankind in light of moral failures

Unpacking Truth Claims

A response to

I realize I have not established that Christianity is the only worldview that corresponds accurately with reality; what is. You will see in my blogs different focuses on various aspects of the Christian claims and a defense, if you will, of those aspects. My blog, “Who is God” is only a part of the whole. By no means is it a complete discourse on the nature of God, truth, et al.

Just the same, your response blog ask great foundational questions that require and deserve a good response.

Let me start where you start with the assertion that my reasoning was flawed by positing a singular foundational worldview of Christianity. You compare this with the fictitious Flying Spaghetti Monster to assert an analogous lack of reasonable evidentiary support for my claims. And you ask on what basis can I make a claim to truth that excludes your or others claims to truth. With this blog, I will focus on this question and I will answer your subsequent questions in subsequent blogs.

What is truth? Can we agree that truth is what corresponds to reality? I’ll proceed on this definition as being accurate. If truth is what corresponds to reality, how can two or more contradicting truth claims co-exist with equally validity? In other words, if I say the world is round and a tribesman in Africa says it’s a square box shaped planet we cannot both be right. The truth would be that the earth is round even though the African tribesman believes it to be otherwise. It would be illogical to argue that both truth claims are factual and equally true for one corresponds to reality and one does not. Truth, by its very nature is exclusive of non-truth. That’s the way logic works.

Likewise when I put forth that Christianity lines up with reality and explains it better than other truth claims, I then have to provide a framework to show the reasonability and probability that it does indeed correspond to reality. I don’t think, just because it’s my belief system it is any truer than anyone else’s belief system. I think it is true because it corresponds with what is real.

As stated above, I am attempting to write on the many reasons why I make this claim in the many blogs I am writing. Each one is designed to fit into the whole framework to create the big picture and provide reasonable and clear arguments to support the claims.

I understand that there are a plethora of different belief systems out there. And I believe that there is truth in every one of them, because we all live in the real world and anything we develop in our worldview in some way will correspond to what is, because we can’t get away from what is. However, that worldview that is developed can be a distortion or counterfeit of the real. I value people and I respect their various worldviews. However, because I value people I want to see people strive to align themselves with what really is versus living in some man made construct of what they think life to be about, that isn’t fully accurate. Thus, I write to encourage people to examine their belief system and really get to the heart of what they believe and why to see if it lines up with reality or not.

I don’t expect anyone to take an unsupported statement from me and blindly agree to accept such a statement. I might throw things out there from time to time that I haven’t yet established a framework for, but know that it is coming. However, if you see anything like that that just doesn’t make sense. I really want to hear from my readers so that I can take another go at it to make it clearer.

To Be Continued

Monday, June 16, 2008

Who is Jesus?

I have often marveled at the voweless pronunciation by the Jewish people of God’s revealed name given to Moses. This name of God is termed the Tetragrammaton and was known as YHVH in Hebrew which literally means “I AM”. The difference between this name and the multiplicity of names given to God based on His attributes is that this one is the name God gave himself and all other names are names man gave to God. However, this is not why it could not be uttered in its full pronunciation. I thought it was because of respect or fear of God in regard to His holiness that this name could not be used, but there is a greater reason. No one could utter it because by doing so they claim to be God. It was, thus, blasphemous to utter the full name: the common rendition as Yahweh or Jehovah (YHVH) is not the original pronunciation.

For example, using English, if someone asked who God is, and you reply “I AM”. You are claiming something outrageous. Everyone knows if you say that you are either insane, or lying. This is the linguistic equivalent of what it would have been like in the Hebrew to make this statement.

What’s most exciting is that when Jesus authority was questioned he said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” What a shock this statement was to the Pharisees! They picked up stones to stone him! Why? Because He just uttered the name above all names as His own! He just claimed to be God for all Jews knew they were not worthy to even fully say or write this name. This was blasphemy at its highest level, unless it was true and Jesus’ authority rest in the fact that He is God.

John 8:58-59 "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.”

To borrow from C.S. Lewis, either Jesus is a Liar, a Lunatic, or Lord. He can never be simply a good man for good men aren’t lunatics or liars. One day a rich young ruler called Jesus good, and Jesus responded, “Why do you call me good? There is none good, but God alone” (Mark 10:18). Jesus didn’t say this to discount His goodness. He said it to affirm to this man that he was indeed identifying Him as God. No one could make the claims Jesus made, without being God. Logic dictates three choices: liar, lunatic, or Lord.

Who is God?

Who is God? How would you introduce Him to someone who has never met Him? You need to know. There are many who say they don’t believe in God or in the Christian God, but the God they don’t believe in isn’t God at all. It’s this idea of God they think Christians believe in that they are wholeheartedly against, and for good reason. Some Christians even have an idea of God that is less than God. First of all our very lives should be a living testimony of who God is. We should be expressing the heart of the Father to our fellow Christians and to unbelievers with how we live our lives and how we love people.

However, we must also be prepared to tell people who God really is for we claim to know Him, thus making it our responsibility to illustrate Him to the world as best as our finiteness can permit. Alister McGrath a renowned Oxford theologian was once an atheist. He says that in his atheism he was against this idea of God that wasn’t truly God at all. It wasn’t until he met some real Christians and he listened to their caricature of the living God that he saw that his worldview didn’t work like he thought it did. He saw that the Christian worldview had merit and through that understanding his heart was opened to accept Christ as his Savior.

Jesus asked his disciples who do you say that I am? His disciples said some say you are a prophet and some say . . . Jesus inquired further, “but who do YOU say I am?” What a loaded question using the words “I am.” When Moses was sent forth to Pharaoh, God told him to say he was being sent by “I AM”. Jesus wanted to know that they knew in their heart who He was for it is out of that knowing that they can share the truth of the kingdom of God.

God is. He is infinite, boundless, and limitless. He is immeasurable. All things are in Him. There is no reality outside of Him. That is why a skeptic or an atheist has to borrow from the Christian worldview in order to substantiate their questions for there is no other reality.

God never changes. A.W. Tozer writes, “What God was, God is. What God is and was, God will be. There will never be any change in God.” Moreover, “what God is, He is perfectly.” He can never be any less than what He is. Nor can He be any more than what He is because He is immeasurable. I love it when Tozer writes, “God acts justly from within, not in obedience to some imaginary law; He is the Author of all laws, and acts like Himself all of the time.”

God is Just and He is Merciful. His Mercy does not battle His Justice.

To quote Tozer again because he says it so beautifully, “When God looks at a sinner who still loves his sin and rejects the mystery of the atonement, justice condemns him to die. When God looks at a sinner who has accepted the blood of the everlasting covenant, justice sentences him to live. And God is just in doing both things.”

He goes on to say, “It was the mercy of God that gave us Calvary, not Calvary that gave us mercy.”

God is so amazing. When you think on the awesomeness of God we have no other option but to rejoice. It just wells up within us to know God is awesome. God is good. God is love. He is merciful. He is just. He is Holy. And He is infinitely, equally, and perfectly all of these attributes.

We must not only think on these things, but we must discover them in our relationship with Him. We must know them in our hearts to be so because we know God. It’s like you can see all the actions of your spouse’s love, but there is more than knowing those actions equate to love. You know your spouse’s love because you know it within your heart and it is sure, steadfast and known despite any actions or lack of action. We need to know God’s love in such a way as this and from that knowing we must share it to the watching world.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Common Ground

Atheists and Christians have a commonality in that neither likes religion. Religion is seen by both as a man made construct consisting of moral laws and spiritual rituals in attempt to earn acceptance by a deity. Atheists rightly deconstruct religion to reveal hypocritical adherence to laws, absurd religious practices, and no evidence of any connection to the divine. Moreover, this often appears to be all there is to Christianity as well because for many American Christians all they know is Christianity as a religion in the aforementioned definition.

Looking at or experience religion can understandably lead one to doubt the very existence of God. It is a reasonable test to watch those who claim to know Him to see if there is anything at all in their life to warrant further investigation into their claims about God.

Real Christianity is not about religion at all as Jesus was never about religion and often rebuked those who were religious. Did you know that the word Christian was bestowed upon followers of Christ in a derogatory manner? It literally means “little Christ”. However, the name stuck because it aptly describes who we are to be. A real Christian is one whose life is in a process of transformation of becoming like Jesus, in that we love like He loves and we learn to reflect His nature in our lives. This is not accomplished by working hard to keep a system of rules and traditions. It’s actually not about rules at all.

Jesus said He fulfilled all of the law. He also said that all of the law rest on two commandments: to love God and to love people. Because all laws and commandments are fulfilled in Christ, Christians don’t guide their lives by any law, but by Christ alone. Therefore, we don’t love God and people because that makes us righteous, but we love God and people because we are made righteous through Christ and the finished work of the cross. We are changed by Him and for Him into a new creation. We are restored to life with God as He intended it to be. Thus our lives ought to be a visible living testimony of the reality of the Gospel and the love of God.

I appreciate atheist for demanding authenticity of our claims to God’s existence. However, I ask that you always seek the truth even if the reality you find to be authentic is different than what you thought it would be. I also ask that when you find authentic truth you will let it touch your life.

I firmly believe that all the answers you seek are found in the person of Jesus Christ. I hope you will return to this blog to read more in your quest for truth.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Worldview Building Blocks

The basic building blocks of our way of looking at life make a world of difference in every area of our lives. Everybody has a worldview. Not everyone can define theirs, but we all utilize it everyday.

A worldview in its most foundational level answers the following questions:

  • What is really real?
  • Who is man?
  • What is man’s problem?
  • What is the solution?

The Christian answers these as follows.

  • God is really real. He is the foundation for all knowledge and truth.
  • Man is made in God’s image, yet is finite and created.
  • Man chose to do things his way and became separated from God
  • God provided His own Son to pay the price for mans sins and to restore man to a rightful relationship with God.

Out of a worldview come many subcategories and networks of thinking. Due to a person maintaining the validity of one foundational principal a whole series of mini-principals follow creating a complex worldview. It’s analogous to a pyramid; it starts narrow from the top and broadens as it nears the bottom. For the Christian the foundation starts at the top with God and broadens from that point downward. For the secular humanist one would need a circle for illustration purposes as reality starts and ends with man.

The subcategories affected by the building blocks of a worldview consist of history, politics, education, family, philosophy, morality, life, death, afterlife, and all the intricacies therein.

If our view of reality isn’t true then all areas of our life will be off kilter. We must examine our thinking to ensure that it lines up with reality. It is imperative to have the right blocks in place on which to build every other area of thought. The whole web of belief will blow away if it is not firmly rooted in truth.

Discussion for comments: What is your worldview and how did you arrive at it?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Triune God

“In the beginning, God . . .” The first four words of the Bible commence thusly. When Moses asked God who he should say sent him to Pharaoh, God said, “I AM”. Unquestionably contained in those two words is the transcendence of the living God. In all times God is I AM. He has always been and always will be. He is complete in and of Himself. The infinite cannot gain identity in reference to the finite, but only within the infinite. Therefore, the triune God (The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) finds identity self referentially. To put it another way, The Father can only be the Father because of His Son and the Son can only be the Son because of His relationship with the Father. For instance, I cannot be a Wife without my Husband. I cannot be a Daughter without a Mother. In contrast, Islam never refers to God as a Father and cannot do so because Jesus is seen as simply another prophet in a long list of prophets, and not God. The only way God can be our Father is because He first gains that identity with reference to God the Son (Jesus). Therefore it is essential theology for the Son (Jesus) to be God.

Other religions often speak of a god that has no such ability to exist because they merge their idea of the gods (pantheism) with nature instead of God being a complete being apart from nature. If God needs finite nature to find identity, He is not God.

To proceed to add the fifth word of the Bible to our discussion “In the beginning, God created. . .” For God to be God He must be uncreated. Jesus said, “before Moses was, I am.” The Jews picked up stones to stone Him for such blasphemy because they knew that statement contained His claim to be uncreated while at the same time referring to Himself as I AM.

If God is uncreated then “the beginning” is the beginning of creation—this is our beginning. God lovingly created mankind in His image. He impressed His likeness into mankind. It would follow that we would need to know God to know ourselves and our purpose in this world. Humans have so many great questions regarding our existence and we try so many different ways to find the answers when the only answer for created beings is found by knowing the Creator. The Creator is the Answer. Only He can give meaning to the question and at the same time be its Answer.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

God's Justice & Love

God’s justice does not conflict with his love or his goodness. He does not love less because He is just. He is perfectly just and loving at the same time. It is the human view of love that is distorted. We think of acts of love as always being blissful when in reality the same love employed by a parent that bestows a child with good gifts is also employed when spanking the child when he misbehaves. The parents love is not diminished by spanking the child, but affirmed by the discipline. The Bible says that if you spare a child from a spanking you do not love the child. So if God put forth this standard for parents and if He is the ultimate Father, why then do we judge God as being unloving when His justice brings about unpleasant consequences?

From the time of Adam our very nature has been fallen and separated from God because of our unrighteousness. A chasm of division separates man from God. Yet God sent His own begotten son to live as one of us surrendering his divine rights to even die a tortuous death on a cross for the payment of the sins of all mankind. Christ who never sinned substituted himself to pay our price for reconciliation back to God. He sits with God, one with God, being God himself, as our mediator. Due to His redemptive sacrifice, man kind can be restored to relationship with God. Now if man refuses this restoration which only comes by the finished work of the cross, he remains separated from God and life on earth and after is completely severed from relationship with God. Not because God cast him out, but because man refused life with God. So why now does modern man sit in the judgment seat and judge God for being unloving because of the existence of eternal separation from God which is a very real place called hell? Man would judge God all the more if God forced himself upon man and effectuated a relationship that man did not want or if man had no choice in the matter.

Could it be that man has misplaced his blame and only shakes a finger at God to avoid facing his own need for God?

“The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge. For the modern man the roles are reversed. He is the judge; and God is in the dock.” C.S. Lewis – God in the Dock

“. . . as the real meaning of the Christian claim becomes apparent, its demand for total surrender, the sheer chasm between Nature and Supernature, men are increasingly ‘offended.’ Dislike, terror, and finally hatred succeed: none who will not give it what it asks (and it asks all) can endure it: all who are not with it are against it.” C. S. Lewis – God in the Dock

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Worldview Thinking

I have been on a journey into the world of presuppositional apologetics. This field of philosophy/theology is about examining our basic foundational assumptions about life. Everyone has them whether they have ever thought about them or not. I have participated in discourse with atheists who claim that their belief system has been proven, and thus they made no assumptions or steps of faith in solidifying their worldview. No one can honestly make this claim. Not even the Christian. Somewhere the buck stops. Somewhere truth has to be self evidencing. Meaning if I am trying to prove a matter I have to prove the matter before that and before that and on into infinity. Somewhere truth, in order to be truth, has to stop at something that just is—something that gains its truthfulness not from another presupposition, but from the thing itself. Therefore, the discipline of presuppositional apologetics is about looking at worldviews from the top down instead of from the bottom up.

We ask questions to get people thinking about how they think. We point out that the very reason we can reason is that God is. We start at the place of God’s existence and illustrate how all else makes sense through that paradigm or worldview. In this way it is shown that other worldviews fail to make sense of the world, and how they all borrow from the Christian worldview to bring a semblance of validity to their belief system. This is usually unintentional, but happens just the same. If Christianity is the worldview that gives the most adequate foundation for life then it follows that any other worldview has some of its truth contained within or else it wouldn’t be plausible enough for anyone to believe it.

Apologist, Joe Boot puts it this way, “We must be willing to get to the foundations of our experience. If we remain content to decorate the interior of the house of knowledge and pay no attention to the structure and foundation stones of that house, we will find that the dry rot of absurdity and the rising damp of unexamined assumptions are fatal to the structure.”

Many people assume worldviews that are not livable. Postmodernist philosopher Jacques Derrida wrote an entire book about how language had no meaning as it could not point to anything beyond itself to gain its meaning. He used language to communicate how language cannot communicate. How absurd is that? The same philosopher says that any reader can interpret what is written according to their own worldview. He goes on to say that one should consider the author dead and not worry about what the author may have meant when writing the book. However, Derrida wrote another whole book explaining his previous book when people misinterpreted his arguments in the prior book. Apparently he expected people to have interpreted his book in the way he meant it and not in the way they chose to interpret it.

C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity that a man can say he disbelieves in morality until someone steals from him and then he is the first to cry that an injustice has occurred, thus appealing to the moral law he previously denied.

Albert Einstein wrote that he was a moral relativist, but could not live like one if he wanted to get along in the world.

There are so many examples of contradictions between worldviews and practical living. These same people would have their practical lives come crashing down if they actually lived out their foundational presuppositions about life. If Derrida truly wanted to maintain his foundational beliefs he would have never been able to share them with anyone because they could never be communicated. In contrast, Renee Descartes, who is famous for his conclusion “I think therefore I am” remained in bed until he had resolved himself to the fact of his existence by acknowledgment of his own thoughts. He understood there was no point in going through the actions of life if he wasn’t yet sure of his existence.

There are certainly some foundational beliefs we are grateful people don’t actually try and live out for this benefits the rest of society. I have read of people who believe that there is no moral law and no difference between stepping on a beetle and killing a person. I would not advocate that they try and live this practically, but that they realize the impossibility of that belief system.

To borrow from Joe Boot, ones worldview must be able to give an adequate explanation for science, logic, morality and language. It must answer questions of origin, purpose, morality, and final destiny.

Apologist Ravi Zacharias rightly advocates that ones worldview must be logical, livable, and transferable. In other words, it must make sense philosophically, work practically, and have the ability to be communicated to another.

We must learn to think about our worldviews and not simply continue plunging blindly into life with no consideration for our basic foundational beliefs. We must not live lives in a place of complacent contradiction. It’s time to examine our foundational principles and confirm them or change them to line up with truth. Socrates always lamented that “the unexamined life was not worth living.” I believe that he realized that how we live is directly related to how we think.

Conversely, when Jesus called for man’s repentance he was speaking not only about a heart change, but a mind change, for the word literally means “to change the way you think.” Our thinking must line up with reality. That reality has been revealed through the person of Jesus for He said of himself that He is the Truth. Truth is personified in the person of Jesus. Hence, it can be personally known and experienced. Truly, when we examine our way of thinking we must do so in light of truth. We must compare our way of thinking to the Truth and alter ours to His when we find a discrepancy in the way we think. The way we live will follow when our thoughts follow His.

Monday, June 2, 2008

I Don't Believe in the Existence of Atheists

I don't believe atheists exist. I am seeing many books hit the best seller by prominent atheists such as Richard Dawkins or Sam Harris denouncing all people of faith no matter the faith. Although they tend to target Christianity above the rest, they also lump Christianity in with all other faiths as equally invalid. The truth they claim is that there is no God, no spirituality, and no reason for existence. They debunk all people of faith and purport that humanity would have less violence and hate if people left faith behind and moved into the new era of atheism. They imagine a world with no belief in God as the ideal world for humanity.

These atheists try to circumvent the logical fallacy of atheism. For one to prove a negative, one must be omniscient. Thus, atheists can never know there is no God for they cannot know all things without being gods themselves. So at best, they are agnostics – people who don't know if God exists or not. Therefore, they cannot base a philosophy on his non-existence for they cannot prove their supporting foundation of their belief system. Notwithstanding, they continue to base their philosophy on this unstable foundation in which they must employ faith in order to believe there is no God. So now the atheists who are decrying faith are in fact using faith themselves to support their hypothesis, yet they continue to believe themselves to be more scientific and intellectual than people of faith.

I say that I do not believe in atheist, because if a person claiming to be an atheist truly examines his worldview he must logically conclude that it cannot exist in reality. Atheism simply does not line up with reality. Atheism is self-defeating and thus cannot exist as a viable philosophy. [Thus it is really the philsophical construct of atheism that I don't think anyone can fully align theirselves with, rather than that the person who espouses atheism doesn't exist. They most certainly do exist. And their worldview is important in the market place of ideas, which is why I'm hoping to promote inerchange between worldviews by pointing out some logical fallacies.]

Moreover, if there is no God, there is no way to judge wars and violence as injustice. Atheist cannot justify their blaming people of faith, for if there was no god there would be no grounds to blame anyone for any supposed injustice. Atheists borrow from the worldview of faith in order to substantiate their own anti-faith worldview. Without the former, they would not have a leg to stand on to support the latter. Justice does not and cannot exist apart from God. There is no framework for it to be founded upon in atheism.

The atheist looks at the turmoil in the Middle East and sees one religious group fighting the other for religious reasons and concludes that a world without belief in any religion would bring about peace. This seems to be a logical conclusion, but it is in error. In part, they have the right idea for religion devoid of knowing God can cause problems on an individual and international scale. However, it is not evidence against God's existence, but against man trying to find security in rules and tradition without surrendering themselves to God and having a real relationship with the living God.

This distinction may seem like mere semantics and word play, but it makes all the difference in the world. The Answer to the world's problems is not found in religion nor in atheism, but in knowing the One True God. The hope for humanity will not be found in irradiating belief in God, but in cultivating belief in the God who is known through Jesus Christ. This cannot be accomplished by force, or manipulation, thus no wars or violence are encouraged by Jesus. Jesus lived love and those who are truly known by Him are to be examples of His love to the world.

Atheism replaces one's desire for a spiritual life with a gaping void of nothingness, whereas Jesus fills the void that was designed to be filled by Him like nothing or no one can. Only living the life you were made for can satisfy.

Relevant Magazine published this for me on their on-line magazine last year. You can follow the link to that article below.

Resurging Disbelief: Relevant Magazine