Thursday, July 10, 2008

On ad hominem

There is something peculiar about truth... it is true no matter what. Truth from any source is still true.

In this, the election year, you will probably hear many attacks against the candidates character. Although these kind of things can help to establish patterns (like honesty, or overall laziness), they cannot however speak to the truth the candidates might be speaking.

For example, assuming base 10, 2 + 2 = 4 all the time. Not just some of the time; not most of the time, but all the time. If we speak to someone from my church and they say the answer is 4, this is correct the same way if we speak to someone from a mental asylum or a math genius and they say it is 4. Who the person is has no bearing on the truthfulness of the answer.

This can mean a lot to Christians. We need to evaluate things for the truth they correspond to. To attack some one's character instead of the merits of their argument is called the ad hominem attack.

Christians love to make ad hominem attacks because, I believe, it helps us to quickly resolve what we think about an issue. In this way we do not need to do the hard work of evaluating truth, instead we will measure character.

As Christ said he is the truth, we also should be striving to seek truth, and stand for truth. John 18:37 states Jesus came to "testify to the truth." This should be the goal of our lives. A Christian has no real room for the ad hominem.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Gospel without the Kingdom of God

I sat in a lecture hall tonight while one of my theological/philosophical heroes lectured to my apologetics program. I have to say J.P. Moreland has always astounded me, but tonight he was phenomenal.

The nature of the lecture focused on the Kingdom of God.

Moreland started by asserting that the Kingdom of God might be the central theme of the scriptures. The OT was the unfolding of the Kingdom; the NT exhibits the Kingdom clearly. Jesus' central message was the Kingdom, the book of acts is about the expanding of the Kingdom.

Unfortunately, Moreland says, we as a church have largely ignored the Kingdom of God until recently.

Moreland went on to define the Kingdom of God as "the realm in which the will of God is carried out." This exhibits itself in two ways: in the laws of nature, and the hearts and mind of those who are actively placing themselves under Jesus' leadership.

God wants to extend his role, by assimilating more and more Christians who choose to be "co-laborers" with God to produce Goodness, Truth and Beauty. This is who we are as Christians, we are constantly aligning ourselves with his will.

The nature of this Kingdom can be described in 4 basic ways:
1. Now, but not yet: It is here now, it is actually here, but it is not as much as it will be
2. Signs and Wonders: specifically healings. Moreland cites 3 verses here (Matthew 4:23; 9:35; and 11:4-5) and examples from around the world happening today.
3. The Kingdom is subversive and counter-cultural: we should be radical; this is best explained by the inversions of Christianity: We find well being not in circumstances, but living a Kingdom life; The greatest in the Kingdom are the humblest; A pure heart is more important than a great intellect; etc. Another example Moreland gave of the Kingdom being subversive is that Jesus was often not nice! He asks us to consider Matthew 22 (specifically verses 23- 33).
4. Lastly, the Kingdom was taught by Jesus. He also proclaimed it, and demonstrated it. If we look at the sermon on the mount with fresh eyes we will see Jesus is telling us how to live the good life, and how to be a good man.

There are three huge implications of this Kingdom principle, but I want to focus on only one right now.

Moreland stated we should preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. He says the model of we have fallen and Jesus is the only way to be saved is true, but it does not give us any real reason for continued discipleship after conversion. This is something I have been thinking about recently a lot. Why don't Christians want to live the "abundant life?" If Moreland is right it might be because of our evangelistic tactics. We do not stress the abundant life in our evangelism. So we are justified by faith (1 Cor 15:3-8), but then we need to preach the continuation. We were meant (telos) to live the abundant life, we were meant to flourish.

We must have discipleship with Jesus; we must live in the Kingdom; experience intimacy with the Triune God; and this will have continuity into the next life.

Wow! The implications of this talk are staggering to me. I will probably be reflecting on this for a long time. Maybe it will require further posting.

For now, I will pray to live in the Kingdom more.

Friday, July 4, 2008

On this the 4th

If you haven't read the Declaration of Independence you should. Pay special attention to the reasons given for leaving the crown. Notice its mentions of God.

One of my greatest ongoing frustrations is the misinformation given to students regarding the reasons we seceded from the English. It all sounds well and good. If you ask anyone who paid any kind of attention in 11 grade US History, they will tell you: "We left the crown because of economic reasons."

They even have a catchy little jingle, "Taxation without representation."

Although, this did play a small part in the reasons for revolution, there were more pressing reasons given by our founders. (Who, contrary to education again, were exceedingly religious, by the way. Twenty-four of them had seminary degrees!)

In the Declaration of Independence, Taxation without Representation is mentioned only once, while other issues, such as abolishment of slavery, religious liberty, and King George's abuse of Judges are mentioned more.

The founding fathers based most of the Declaration of Independence on the book the Two Treatises of Government which references the Bible over 1700 times.

Even the idea of our 3 branches of government (Executive, Judicial, and Legislative) comes from Isaiah 33:22. This verse describes God as King, Lawgiver, and Judge.

I am not sure if I would have been for the war against Britain. I have a feeling I would have been a loyalist, but the government the founders established was new and unique. It was a government designed to let a nation thrive in its Christian roots, and give glory to God, while also being amazingly practical to solving the problems of people by governing.

As we move further and further away from this foundation, we will see more and more breakdown of our society.

On this the 4th of July, let us celebrate our beginnings as truly as we can. We need to go back to our religious (Christian) roots.

An amazing post on a letter from John Adams to his wife on July 3rd, 1776 can be found at under the title Happy Birthday

*Much of the information in this post was from a talk given for Worldview Weekend by David Barton.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Psalm 100: A praiseworthy praise

Sorry I have been out, but I am back. My adventure into God's holy word brings me to my favorite chapter in all the Bible: Psalm 100. I am not kidding, this is the first chapter of the Bible my dad had me memorize. It has stuck with me all these years. It has a special place in my heart.

The psalmist begins by urging us to praise God, and he continues this beautifully through all 5 verses. The prose used is undeniably beautiful. I happen to think the psalms can rival any other writings in terms of beauty.

I especially enjoy the crux of this chapter, the beginning of verse three: Know that the Lord is God!

There is so much packed into that statement! Know that the Lord is God!

If I can live my life following this verse, I will serve Him undeniably. Over the years I have found amazing depths to this chapter of scripture. (As we can find with most all of scripture) I urge you to meditate on these words. Its very short, read it 20-30 times. Let it sink in. Let it permeate you. In other words:

"Know that the Lord is God!"