narrow door, or wider hope

marmsky-devotions-pics-april-2017-21

devotional post #1,994

Luke 13:22-24

Luk 13: 22 Then Jesus travelled throughout towns and villages, all the while teaching and making his way toward Jerusalem.
Luk 13: 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” So he said to them,
Luk 13: 24 “You should make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

narrow door, or wider hope?

Struggling with the reality that so many remain unevangelised, some theologians have suggested that there is a wider hope — that is, that Jesus will accept some by his grace in spite of the fact that they never heard the gospel. It is hard to reconcile the wider hope theory with passages like this. In fact, Jesus seems to be saying that there will be a lot of people who want to enter the kingdom through the door (which is Christ himself) but who will be unable to.

I know a lot of “good people” who know everything about the gospel but live their entire lives just on the outside of it. Will Jesus save these “good people” anyway? I want the answer to be “yes” but it is not. Faith in Jesus is the only way to eternal life.

LORD, show us how to show others the door, because they need to enter it before it is too late.

0 comments

Greenies Don’t Do Science

Only Gullible Fools Believe that the Great Barrier Reef Is Dying

James Delingpole
BreitbartLondon

The Great Barrier Reef is dead. It has ceased to be, expired and gone to meet its maker, kicked the bucket, shuffled off its mortal coil, run down the curtain and gone to join the bleedin’ choir invisible. It is an Ex Great Barrier Reef.  Well, at least it is if you believe the left-wing media such as the Guardian, which claims today that the reef is at “terminal stage” because of damage allegedly caused by “climate change”.

Lots of eco loons have been rending their garments and throwing their (recyclable, organic, gluten-free) toys out of the pram in horror at this hideous disaster.

But it’s OK. As I keep trying to explain here to anyone who’ll listen – and obviously, also, to annoy the greenies – is that the Great Barrier Reef isn’t in the remotest danger.
Yes, it has experienced bleaching, but this is normal – especially in dramatic El Ninos like the one we’ve just had – and there is no reason to suspect that the GBR won’t recover. Nor is there any particular reason to blame man’s-selfishness-and-greed-and-refusal-to-amend-his-lifestyle for the temporary damage the reef has suffered. Even if we’d done as the greenies want and bombed our economies into the dark ages, replaced all cars with bicycles and retired to caves illuminated by tallow candles – even then, the GBR would be in exactly the same condition as it is now because El Ninos are a natural phenomenon not a man-made one.

For chapter and verse on this I recommend this most excellent essay by ecologist Jim Steele, who puts the scaremongering in its proper scientific context.

The problem is that the main man behind the scare – Professor Terry Hughes of an impressive-sounding organisation called the National Coral Bleaching Task Force – appears to have been more interested in generating headlines than pursuing the scientific method.  His scary aerial shots of bleached Great Barrier Reef may look like damning evidence of the effects of climate change on the reef. But here’s the rub:

Aerial surveys, on which Hughes 2017 based their analyses, cannot discriminate between the various causes of bleaching. To determine the cause of coral mortality, careful examination of bleached coral by divers is required to distinguish whether bleached coral were the result of storms, crown-of-thorns attacks, disease, aerial exposure during low tides, or anomalously warmer ocean waters. Crown-of-thorns leave diagnostic gnawing marks, while storms produce anomalous rubble. Furthermore aerial surveys only measure the areal extent of bleaching, but cannot determine the depth to which most bleaching was restricted due to sea level fall. To distinguish bleaching and mortality caused by low tide exposure, divers must measure the extent of tissue mortality and compare it with changes in sea level. For example, the Indonesian researchers found the extent of dead coral tissue was mostly relegated to the upper 15 cm of coral, which correlated with the degree of increased aerial exposure by recent low tides. Unfortunately Hughes et al never carried out, or never reported, such critical measurements.

And no, bleaching isn’t the same as dying. Not in the slightest.

Hughes reported the various proportions of areal bleaching as degrees of severity. But that frightened many in the public who confused bleaching with mortality, leading some misguided souls to blog the GBR was dead.  However bleaching without mortality is not a worrisome event no matter how extensive. Rates of mortality and recovery are more important indices of reef health. As discussed in the article “The Coral Bleaching Debate: Is Bleaching the Legacy of a Marvelous Adaptation Mechanism or A Prelude to Extirpation?“, all coral retain greater densities of symbiotic algae (symbionts) in the winter but reduce that density in the summer, which often leads to minor seasonal bleaching episodes that are usually temporary. Under those circumstances coral typically return to normal within weeks or months. Furthermore by ejecting their current symbionts, coral can acquire new symbionts that can promote greater resilience to changing environmental conditions. Although symbiont shifting and shuffling promotes adaptation to shifting ocean temperatures, symbiont shuffling cannot protect against extreme low tide desiccation, and dead desiccated coral can no longer adapt. Humans have little control over El Niños or low tides.

Why does anyone seriously imagine the Great Barrier Reef is dying? For the same reason some idiots seriously imagine that the polar bear is an endangered species. For the same reason these same pillocks think that there’s a man-made climate change problem.

Because Greenies don’t do science. They do propaganda.
Go to Source to Comment

0 comments

Thoughts on Charity and Argumentation

Argumentation is an unavoidable part of apologetics, and, when doing apologetics, it’s crucial to note the difference between an argument in the everyday sense and an argument in the philosophical sense. While the former is a heated and aggressive clash of opinions, the latter is simply a set of statements that lead to a conclusion. Nonetheless, sometimes arguments of the first sort occur over arguments of the second sort. There are a number of reasons why these clashes take place, one of which is this: often apologists and sceptics alike fail to treat their interlocuter’s arguments, ideas, and opinions with charity. Conflict may be avoided if each party is guided by the “principle of charity”.

What is the principle of charity?

In a nutshell, the principle of charity is a principle that (ideally) guides philosophical dialogue, and, by extension, apologetic endeavours. It states that, when representing an argument or idea that you don’t agree with and are evaluating, you should represent that it in (i) the strongest form possible, and (ii) a way that is faithful to the argument/idea as originally presented. Here’s an everyday example of an uncharitable representation:

Sam: “Mum, I feel sick and I don’t like to eat junk food when I’m sick, so I think we should eat at home tonight” (said no child ever).

Sally: “Mum, Sam always feels sick, and besides, he won’t die from having KFC this once. I’ve been wanting it for weeks, so let’s eat out”.

Notice how Sally misrepresented Sam’s argument, then countered that misrepresentation with her own reason for the opposite course of action. Sam never said he’d die if he ate out—that’s an unfair caricature of his statement. Unfortunately, this sort of distortion occurs in serious dialogue as well, but more on that later. A more charitable conversation might run like this:

Sam: “Mum, I feel sick and I don’t like to eat junk food when I’m sick, so I think we should eat at home tonight”.

Sally: “Mum, it’s true that Sam is feeling sick and that he doesn’t like junk food when he’s ill. But he’s feeling sick because he hasn’t eaten all day, and since we’re out already, he’ll feel better sooner if we get some sushi before going home”.

In which of these examples is Sally’s case strongest? Granted, these examples are somewhat corny, but they illustrate well the difference between charitable and uncharitable representations of arguments.

Why be charitable?

Now, one might ask, why be charitable? Well, there are a number of reasons to do so. Firstly, as we noted earlier, treating peoples’ ideas and arguments charitably helps to avoid unnecessary conflict. No one likes to be misrepresented!  Secondly, as apologists, 1 Peter 3:15 instructs us to be respectful in our interactions with non-believers. Peter writes “in your hearts honour Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defence to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience” (ESV, emphasis added). Respecting non-believers entails representing their views accurately and charitably. Remember, as apologists we’re not dealing solely with ideas and concepts—our goal is to win people to Christ, and uncharitable refutations are unlikely to direct people to Him. By being respectful and charitable with people’s arguments and opinions, we better represent God’s character and His work in our lives.

A third reason to treat others’ arguments charitably is this: if you represent the strongest form of an opponent’s argument, and then refute that, your own case is strengthened. Think about it for a moment; suppose you’re in conversation with someone who raises a number of arguments against God’s existence. In response, you misrepresent his or her arguments and refute them. When responding, your interlocuter can simply reply “that’s not actually what I think, so my arguments still stand”. As such, their case remains untouched, while yours struggles under the weight of their objections. In contrast, if, when they present their arguments, you take the time to properly understand what they’re stating and to present those arguments in their strongest form, your refutation will strengthen your case, while simultaneously weakening your opponent’s.

Attacking a Straw Man

The principle of charity is closely tied to a logical misstep known as the “strawman” fallacy. The strawman fallacy occurs when someone intentionally or unintentionally misrepresents an argument, refutes the misrepresentation, then proceeds as though the original argument has been dealt with. When people do this, they can be said to have “attacked a straw man”. Sadly, this fallacy crops up (pun intended) all the time in news reports, blogs, books, opinion pieces, and the like. One example I recently stumbled across can be found in Peter Boghossian’s book A Manual for Creating Atheists.

The prominent sceptic Michael Shermer introduces Boghossian’s book with a fleeting but fiery foreword. In assessing the claims of Christianity, Shermer describes the Trinity as follows:

God could just forgive the sin we never committed, but instead he sacrificed his son Jesus, who is actually just himself in the flesh because Christians believe in only one god—that’s what monotheism means—of which Jesus and the Holy Spirit are just different manifestations. Three in One and One in Three[i].

If you’ve done any study on the doctrine of the Trinity, you’ll see the problems immediately. Shermer has uncharitably misstated the doctrine, thereby making it seem absurd. This leads him to conclude that the doctrine is “barking mad!”[ii]. For the sake of brevity I won’t outline Trinitarian doctrine here, but if you’re baffled and can’t spot Shermer’s error, I’ll leave links to helpful resources in the endnotes[iii].

In response to Shermer’s attack, the Christian can respond “wait a second—that’s not what I believe!”. Shermer has attacked a straw man, and has failed to truly show that the Trinity is absurd. If, on the other hand, he had charitably represented the doctrine and responsibly responded to that, then he and his conversant could have a productive discussion, and perhaps one or both of the parties would adjust their view accordingly.

The Importance of Charity

Hopefully you can now see how important it is to be charitable in representing other peoples’ arguments, opinions, and ideas. Next time you’re interacting with non-believers, keep in mind the benefits of being guided by the principle of charity:

  1. The principle of charity helps avoid unnecessary conflict.
  2. 1 Peter 3:15 instructs us to be respectful when doing apologetics. This entails being charitable.
  3. Your own case will be strengthened if you refute a charitable representation of your opponent’s argument.
  4. If you treat others’ ideas and arguments charitably, you’ll avoid committing the strawman fallacy.

Remember, apologetics is about winning people to Christ, not just scoring debate points or winning arguments. This task is best carried out gently, respectfully, and charitably.


Endnotes

[i] Boghossian, P. (2013). A manual for creating atheists, p. 12. Durham, NC: Pitchstone Publishing.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] For information on the doctrine of the Trinity, I recommend Greg Koukl’s two part series “The Trinity: A Solution, Not a Problem” which can be found here (pt. 1) and here (pt. 2). For a more in-depth study, try William Lane Craig’s Defenders podcasts, available here.

Go to Source to Comment

0 comments

Daily Meditation

The Great King’s Wine

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)

John Piper

I have never heard anyone say, “The really deep lessons of my life have come through times of ease and comfort.” But I have heard strong saints say, “Every significant advance I have ever made in grasping the depths of God’s love and growing deep with him, has come through suffering.”

This is a sobering biblical truth. For example: “For Christ’s sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ” (Philippians 3:8). Paraphrase: No pain, no gain. Or:  Now let it all be sacrificed, if it will get me more of Christ.

Here’s another example: “Although he was a Son, Jesus learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8). The same book said he never sinned (Hebrews 4:15).

So learning obedience does not mean switching from disobedience to obedience. It means growing deeper and deeper with God in the experience of obedience. It means experiencing depths of yieldedness to God that would not have been otherwise demanded. This is what came through suffering. No pain, no gain.

Samuel Rutherford said that when he was cast into the cellars of affliction, he remembered that the great King always kept his wine there. Charles Spurgeon said, “They who dive in the sea of affliction bring up rare pearls.”

Do you not love your beloved more when you feel some strange pain that makes you think you have cancer? We are strange creatures indeed. If we have health and peace and time to love, it is a thin and hasty thing. But if we are dying, love is a deep, slow river of inexpressible joy, and we can scarcely endure to give it up.

Therefore brothers and sisters, “Count it all joy when you meet various trials” (James 1:2).
Go to Source to Comment

0 comments

How Smart We Are

Beware People in Black Robes
The aged care industry in New Zealand had laboured under government price controls for many years.  Our “socialism without doctrines” has led us down the track of the government funding rest home care for the elderly.  Once upon a time it was incumbent upon each family to ensure reasonable care could be afforded for aging parents and grandparents.  But gradually the state has subsidised and paid more and more of the care of the elderly.  Smug New Zealanders patted themselves on the back and said to one another, “What a wonderful system we have here in ‘godz own’.”  

Baby boomers are now entering the demographic cohort of the “aged”.  Large numbers are needing care.  There is a burgeoning aged care industry, with large corporates building swanky retirement and rest-care facilities.  But the industry has been effectively price controlled.  The presence of a state subsidy for rest home care functions as a price control in the market.  Therefore, the market is inefficient.  Price signals are grossly distorted.

Recently the government was (indirectly) hit with a court case.  A rest-home carer took her employer (and implicitly, the state) to court on the grounds of pay equity.
 The argument was entirely specious, but the courts looked with favour upon the plaintiff.  It ran like this: rest home care is an industry dominated by a female work force.  While, to be sure, this work force was getting paid higher than the minimum wage, it would be paid substantially more if males were being employed as carers, and it was a male dominated career.  In other words, the work force in the rest home industry was suffering under sexism.

August judges took it upon themselves to determine what wages these women should be paid.  They found for the plaintiff.  Now the government was between a rock and a hard place.  Either it had to increase the level of state funding for rest home care, or it could do nothing, and let the industry hit the wall.  With great political sagacity, the government decided it had to pay more in rest-home care subsidies.

Care workers in women-dominated industries will get pay rises worth up to a $5000 a year after a historic settlement with the Government.  In all, the package will cost more than $2 billion and could require a lift in ACC levies or higher fees for aged care residents.  It will cover 55,000 care workers, mostly women, in the aged residential care, home support and disability service sectors.

The settlement comes after a pay equity claim brought by E Tu (previously the Service and Food Workers Union) on behalf of care worker Kristine Bartlett against her employer TerraNova.  It is the first legal settlement in New Zealand which recognises that some jobs pay less because they are done mainly by women. [NZ Herald.  Emphasis, ours.]

Behold the implicit socialism of the court.  The taxpayer will pick up the bill.  No other option.  If rest-home providers end up going bust as a result, have no fear: the government will pick up the tab by paying higher rest home subsidies.

As one blogger put it:

 A 49% pay increase for no productivity gain. If this was a private sector employer they’d go bust. Instead we’ll just pay more in taxes and ACC levies.

There are lots of occupations in New Zealand where the labour force is predominantly made up of Pacific Islanders and Maori.  We are now awaiting the next iteration from our self-aggrandizing courts: pay in such positions and labouring occupations is self-evidently and clearly less because the jobs are being done by people of colour.

Yet another iteration will undoubtedly follow.  It is self-evident that young people get paid less than older people.  Hah, our socialist courts will doubtless say, youth are getting paid less than older people because they are young.  Ageism is a violation of human rights.

There will be no end to it.  Social justice activists ruling though the courts.  A new elite from Mars has just taken over.  What a dumb, dumb government with which we are afflicted.  What a wonderful system we have here in “godz own”.
Go to Source to Comment

0 comments

not a club

marmsky-devotions-pics-april-2017-20

devotional post # 1,993

Luke 13:18-21

Luk 13: 18 So Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? To what should I compare it?
Luk 13: 19 It is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the wild birds nested in its branches.”
Luk 13: 20 Again he said, “To what should I compare the kingdom of God?
Luk 13: 21 It is like yeast that a woman took and mixed with three measures of flour until all the dough had risen.”

not a club

Jesus had just encountered the opposition of those who thought of the kingdom of God as a religious club, which you had to be initiated into, and obey strict rules of membership, like Sabbath keeping. Jesus responded by these two parables, which portray the kingdom not as a club you join, but as something that gets inside and changes you. The mustard seed slowly and permanently changes the shape of the entire garden. The yeast slowly and permanently changes the loaves of bread.

The kingdom of God can be joined, but once that happens, it changes the members. Once the gospel of grace sets you free, you are free to become the amazing person God wants you to be.

LORD, we accept the freedom you offer. Here we are, Change us into who we were meant to be.

0 comments

Irresponsible Parents

Your Kids Aren’t Equipped to be Public School Missionaries

Matt Walsh
TheBlaze

A concerned parent sent me this. It’s the school newspaper for Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church, Virginia. Among the other hard hitting pieces of journalism targeted at children, ages 11-13, is an article on “transgender rights.”

The article explains how Obama “improved the lives of transgender people by fighting the discrimination against them,” but all of that is now in jeopardy because of President Trump. The next article delves into the intricacies and wonders of various forms of gender identity, including “transgenderism,” “non-binary,” “bigender,” “agender,” “demigender,” “genderfluid,” and “genderflux.” I’m obviously more innocent and naive than the typical middle schooler these days, so I’d never even heard of some of these. For anyone else who may be curious, here’s how the last three types of genders are explained to an audience of pre-pubscent kids:

Demigender: Demigender refers to people who partially identify as one gender. Demigender people may also identify as partially a different gender. Examples include demigirl, or someone who partially identifies as a girl; demiboy, or someone who partially identifies as a boy; demiagender, meaning someone who identifies as partially agender; and more broadly, deminonbinary, or someone who just partially identifies as nonbinary.

Genderfluid and Genderflux: Genderfluid refers to someone whose gender changes between any of the above categories. For example, someone may feel female one day, male another day, and agender the next day. Similarly, genderflux refers to someone whose gender changes in intensity. This typically means that someone’s gender will fluctuate between agender and a different gender, which could be binary or nonbinary. For example, someone might sometimes feel completely female, sometimes demigender, and sometimes agender.

Did you get all that?

Someone can partially not have a gender, while the other part of them has three genders, and the third part is a futon. These are the notions being implanted in our kids’ heads in their public schools.
The average 7th grader in America may not be able do basic arithmetic without a calculator or name the Allied Powers during WW2 or understand the difference between “there” and “their,” but you can bet he’ll be able to identify 112 different genders and explain them in terms explicit enough to make a grown man blush.

If we have not yet reached a point where a mass exodus from the public schools is warranted, when will that point arrive? Are we waiting until they start bringing in nude hermaphrodites to teach sex ed? I suppose even that wouldn’t be enough incentive for some of us. “I can’t shield my kid from what’s going on out there!” “Be in the world, not of the world!” “Naked she-males are a part of life! I can’t keep him in a bubble forever! He’s 9 years old, for goodness sake!”

Look, I know that public school may really be the only option for some people. There are single parents of little economic means who find themselves backed into a corner where government education appears to be the only choice. And if a parent can’t or won’t homeschool, a private Christian education can be prohibitively expensive. Not only that, but some Christians schools are as bad as, or worse than, the average public school. Abandoning the public school system is not an easy thing, and it presents many hurdles that, right now, may be impossible for some people to get over. The collapse of the family unit, not to mention our recent economic woes, have contributed to creating a dependence on public education. Not everyone can break free all at once, I realize.

But we should certainly all agree, at this point, that public school is not an option for those of us who have another feasible option. We should agree that public school is a matter of last resort and necessity. We should agree that public education is inherently hostile to true Christian values, and for that reason it is not anywhere close to the ideal environment for our kids. We should agree on these points. But we still don’t, incredibly.

I had this discussion on Twitter recently, and it prompted several emails from Christian parents who appear to believe that kids should still be sent to public school, even if there are other valid options available. They suggested that, somehow, the sort of madness outlined above could present faith-affirming opportunities for our children, and we would actually be depriving them of something if we did not give them access to those opportunities. They claimed that public school is a “mission field” where our kids can be “salt and light” to their friends. They said that it’s not fair to our kids or our communities if we “shelter” them. They suggested that somehow it’s our children’s duty to minister to the pagan hordes. They said that “the system” needs our kids.

A few responses to this rather confused point of view:

First of all, “the system needs our kids” is just a weird and creepy statement. It reminds me of something someone would say on Black Mirror or the Twilight Zone. Here’s the truth about “the system”: It’s not my job to give it what it needs. Even less is it my kid’s job. There’s nothing in the Bible that says we must dedicate ourselves to maintaining a government-run education system at any cost. My first responsibility is to my family, not to the community or the school system or my kid’s classmates. I will never put the interests of “the system” above that of my own children. Whether “the system” lives or dies is not my concern. My family is my concern. I have an obligation to them, not to the local superintendent.

Second, anyway, if I did put my kids in “the system” for the sake of “the system,” I’m not the one making the sacrifice. I’m forcing my kids to make it. At least face what you’re doing. When it comes down to it, the burden of public schooling is something your child will have to shoulder, not you.

Third, yes, my kids will eventually be exposed to all kinds of strange and terrible things. As much as I’d like to keep them shielded from the evils of the world forever, I know that I can do no such thing. The question is not whether our kids will be exposed to this or that depravity, but when and how and in what context? Are you prepared to trust the school’s judgment on when Junior is ready to learn about concepts like “transgenderism”? Do you trust their judgment on how he learns about it, and what he’s told about it? If you do, I suppose you aren’t even reading this post right now because you’ve been in a vegetative state for the past 30 years.

Fourth, when a kid is sent to public school, he’s expected to navigate and survive and thrive in a hostile, confusing, amoral environment, basically untethered from his parents, 6–8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months a year, for 12 years. Is a child ready for that challenge by the time he’s 5 years old? Is he ready at 8? At 10? No. Our job as parents is to “train them up in the way they should go,” equip them with the armor of God, fortify them in the truth, and then release them into the world. That process has not been completed in conjunction with them first learning how to tie their shoes. I mean, for goodness’ sake, most adults can’t even manage to withstand the hostilities and pressures of our fallen world for that amount of time. And we expect little kids to do it? That’s not fair to them. It’s too much to ask. Way too much. They aren’t equipped, they aren’t ready, they aren’t strong enough, and they will get eaten alive.

Let’s take just this one example of the gender insanity. Our kids, in public school, will be in a world where concepts like “transgenderism” and “demigenderism” are normal, healthy, cool, and rational. They’ll be in a world where even recognizing basic biological realities is considered bigoted and oppressive. They will be in this environment literally from their first day in kindergarten. Can a child spend his entire young life in such an atmosphere and emerge on the other end with his head still on straight? It’s possible, I suppose, but you’ve never had to do that. I didn’t have to do that. I went to public school, but it wasn’t as bad as it is now. So I would be asking my kids to live up to a spiritual and mental and moral challenge that I myself have never endured, and I’ll be asking them to do it every day for 12 years, starting sometime around their 5th birthday.

Not fair. Just not fair.

Fifth, related to the last point, your child is not ready to be a missionary. He cannot be a “witness” to others until he himself has been properly formed in the faith. It’s no surprise that most of the young “missionaries” we commission and send forth to minister to the lost souls in public schools quickly become one of the lost souls. We don’t need to sit around theorizing about whether the missionary approach to education is wise or effective. We already know that it isn’t. The vast majority of the parents who think their kids are being “salt and light” to their peers in school are simply oblivious to the fact that their little Bible warriors have long since defected and joined the heathens. You can hardly blame the kids for this. They’re just kids, after all. They aren’t warriors. Warriors are trained and disciplined. Children are neither of those things. I imagine this is why St. Paul didn’t travel to Athens and Corinth recruiting toddlers to help him carry the Gospel into pagan lands.

Education is supposed to prepare a child to carry the torch of truth.  That is, he’s supposed to be ready to carry it once his education has been completed. This should not be a “throw them into the deep end to see if they can swim” strategy. They can’t swim. You and I can barely swim, morally and spiritually speaking, and we’re adults. Do you expect your child to be more spiritually mature and morally courageous than you?

Now, I do fully believe, ultimately, that our job is to be lights in the darkness. I make that very argument in the last chapter of my book:

All I know is that God put us here to be lights in the darkness, and however dark it gets, our mission does not change. Dostoevsky wrote that stars grow brighter as the night grows darker. So the good news is that we have the opportunity to be the brightest stars for Christ that the world has ever seen, because we may well live through its darkest night.

But a flame must first be lit, stoked, and protected before it is the bright, raging fire that we all must be if we expect to survive in this culture. Our children’s education is supposed to facilitate that process, not interfere with it. Our children should be fires for Christ because of their education, not in spite of it. We can’t compartmentalize the “spiritual” part of their upbringing, reserve it for evenings and weekends, and allow the lion’s share of their educational experience to be dominated by humanism, hedonism, and godlessness. Education is not supposed to work that way. And it doesn’t really work at all that way, as we’ve seen. Or, if it does work, it is only in cases where the child possesses an almost superhuman level of maturity, intelligence, and moral courage. And maybe some children really are almost superhuman in that way. But most of them aren’t, yours probably aren’t, and you probably aren’t. That’s just the reality of the situation, and we have to deal with it. I find it ironic that so many parents who expect their children to “face the realities of the world” have not faced it themselves.
Go to Source to Comment

0 comments

Does the principle of determination show that the universe had a personal cause?

The universe has a personal cause, since God created the universe and God is personal. But does the “principle of determination” demonstrate that the cause of the big bang must be personal, or must we rely on other reasons for maintaining this? I’m currently (although tentatively) inclined towards the latter. One of the striking things about […]
Go to Source to Comment

0 comments

The gospel is inherently political

Although I understand theologians reacting negatively to the political abuses of Christianity in the past, I am puzzled by the vehemence of the common evangelical claim that Christianity has nothing to do with statecraft, since God’s kingdom is “not of this world” (John 18:36). The context of this saying is Pilate’s interrogation of Jesus with respect to the charges brought against him. Jesus is emphasizing that he is not the kind of king Pilate is expecting; that he is not a king of a nation within the world; that his power is not derived from the world—recognizing that kosmos in John frequently refers to the fallen kingdom of Adam established in Genesis 1:26–28 (cf. John 3:16).

But what Jesus cannot be saying is that his kingdom either does not exist on earth, or that it has nothing to do with rulership of the earth. Neither of these would make any sense whatsoever. The telos of the gospel is to fully establish God’s kingdom on earth to the exclusion of all others (cf. Matthew 6:10); and a kingdom by definition has not only a ruler, but a hierarchy of rule. The reason God’s kingdom is not of this world is not because it has nothing to do with the earth at all. It is because it does not derive its power from the existing fallen human dominion, instead imposing divine dominion onto the world through a perfect human ruler—Jesus. Indeed, God’s kingdom ultimately replaces the world, the fallen human dominion, by transforming it (Revelation 11:15)—and this is inherently earth-bound.

But if the aim is for the gospel to transform the world so that Christians ultimately rule it with Jesus (cf. 2 Timothy 2:12 etc), then divorcing this from statecraft is incoherent. The telos of the gospel is inherently political in this respect, and a primary demand of the gospel is to bring us to competence for rulership in the eschaton. Regardless of how you think that cashes out in terms of millennialism, you can’t simply divorce this key element of the gospel from the art of government, since it ultimately is the art of government.

Certainly, how you connect the gospel to statecraft will differ depending on your millennial view: for instance, if you’re premillennial you may think statecraft is only directly relevant to Christians in the millennium; whereas if you’re a- or post-millennial you’ll probably think we should be making an effort to get it right in the here-and-now. My purpose is not to stake out my view on how Christians should navigate politics, either individually or as assemblies; it is simply to point out that we must navigate politics, because a key element of the gospel is rulership of the world, and rulership of the world just is political.

Go to Source to Comment

0 comments

Daily Meditation

On Forgiveness

C. S. Lewis

I find that when I think I am asking God to forgive me I am often in reality (unless I watch myself very carefully) asking Him to do something quite different. I am asking Him not to forgive me but to excuse me. But there is all the difference in the world between forgiving and excusing. Forgiveness says “Yes, you have done this thing, but I accept your apology, I will never hold it against you and everything between us two will be exactly as it was before.” But excusing says “I see that you couldn’t help it or didn’t mean it, you weren’t really to blame.”. . .

Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it.

From The Weight of Glory
Compiled in Words to Live ByThe Weight of Glory: And Other Addresses. Copyright © 1949, C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. Copyright renewed © 1976, revised 1980 C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers. Words to Live By: A Guide for the Merely Christian. Copyright © 2007 by C. S. Lewis Pte. Ltd. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
Go to Source to Comment

0 comments