Tuesday, April 18, 2017

When the Holiness of God Seems Unappealing

“Holiness is a most beautiful and lovely thing. We drink in strange notions of holiness from our childhood, as if it were a melancholy, morose, sour and unpleasant thing; but there is nothing in it but what is sweet and ravishingly lovely. ‘Tis the highest beauty and amiableness, vastly above all other beauties." - Jonathan Edwards

"What is holiness then? The words used for holiness mean "set apart." But there our troubles begin, because naturally I think I'm lovely. So if God is "set apart" from me, I assume the problem is with him. His holiness looks like a prissy rejection of my happy, healthy loveliness.

Dare I burst my own bubble? I must. For the reality is that I am the cold, selfish, vicious one, full of darkness and dirtiness. And God is holy- "set apart" from me- precisely in that he is not like that.He is not set apart from us in priggishness, but by the fact that there are no such ugly traits in him as there are in us." - Michael Reeves from "Delighting in the Trinity"

Monday, April 17, 2017

What if Jesus Had Never Been Born by D. James Kennedy (Part 3)

Women - As I've already mentioned, female babies were either abandoned or killed at much greater rates. They were considered by Aristotle to be "somewhere between a free man and a slave." Rome, Greece, China, and India all were similar in this respect. Prior to Christian influence in India, widows were either voluntarily or involuntarily burned on their husband's funeral pyres. Much of Africa had this same practice for the wives of chieftains.

The Gospel has penetrated all of these places and infanticide of girls(not abortion) has been nearly wiped off the face of the earth. The life of Christ shows Him continually lifting up women from their social status. The first to see Jesus risen from the dead were women! Their testimony was not counted as valuable in the courts at that time, but the wisdom of God had women vindicated by this story throughout the centuries. I could also mention the scripture stating that there is "no man or woman, but we are all one in Christ." That was a radical statement of the equal value as Christians. Of course, men and women have different roles but that is not the purpose of this post to explain.

 In the Middle East, we fight a battle for the elevation of women from what Islam teaches, which is that a woman's testimony is worth half of a man's. The Quran teaches that a man can beat his wife if she is disobedient. In the West, women know they are equal to men, and I praise God for that. That finds its origins in the Bible where roles are different, but value is the same. Today in America, women go too far when they say that their equality gives them the right over the life or death of babies. God help us all to continue elevating women in society as being equal to men based on the teachings of the Bible.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

What if Jesus Had Never Been Born by D. James Kennedy (Part 2)

The Elevation of Human Dignity 

Children - We forget that in the ancient world, child sacrifice was fairly commonplace. Rome is held up as the great place of learning, but it was also a place of rampant infanticide. Some children were offered up to gods, some children were killed because they were deformed and/or female. I won't get into the various methods of child abandonment and killing here.

When Jesus came he elevated the value of children, teaching that the kingdom of God belongs to such as them. His Gospel led to James saying that "pure and faultless religion is to take care of widows and orphans." Foundling homes, orphanages, and nursery homes were started in this time. Abortion, abandonment, and infanticide began to disappear in the time of the early church. These practices helped create a foundation in Western civilization for an ethic of human life. Even today, the front lines of the pro-life fight for valuing babies is full of Christians.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What if Jesus Had Never Been Born by D. James Kennedy (Part 1)

The first chapter summarizes the contributions of Christianity to the world, which will be proven in the rest of the book. The list that D. James Kennedy compiled speaks for itself so here is most of that list:

  • Hospitals, which essentially began in the Middle Ages.
  • Universities.
  • Literacy and education for the masses.
  • Capitalism.
  • Representative government.
  • The separation of political powers.
  • Civil liberties.
  • The abolition of slavery, both in antiquity and in modern times.
  • Modern science.
  • The discovery of the New World by Columbus.
  • The elevation of women.
  • Benevolence and charity; the Good Samaritan ethic.
  • Higher standards of justice.
  • The elevation of the common man.
  • The condemnation of adultery and other sexual perversion.
  • High regard for human life.
  • The codifying and setting to writing of many of the world's languages.
  • The civilizing of many barbarian cultures.
  • Greater development of art and music.
  • The countless changed lives transformed from liabilities into assets to society because of the gospel.
  • The eternal salvation of countless souls.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Simplifying the Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis (Part 9: The Final Part)

"We are told that Christ was killed for us, that His death has washed out our sins, and that by dying He disabled death itself. That is the formula. That is Christianity. That is what has to be believed.

If you think of a debt, there is plenty of point in a person who has some assets paying it on behalf of someone who has not. Or if you take "paying the penalty," not in the sense of being punished, but in the more general sense of "standing the racket" or "footing the bill," then, of course, it is a matter of common experience that, when one person has got himself into a hole, the trouble of getting him out usually falls on a kind friend." -C.S. Lewis

This will conclude the series, because this is the culmination of his reasoning. It left him believing in the work of Jesus Christ as the Son of God. It left him as not an atheist, not a deist, but a Christian. I have left out his downplaying of the mechanism of the atonement as not being very important. I think him being a part of the Church of England had a negative impact on his understanding here. What I put up above is true, and I think shows that Lewis had it right, but he just didn't understand how important it was to have that right. So we conclude without forgetting that the best men are men at best.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Simplifying the Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis (Part 8)

"I am trying here to prevent anyone 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 the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things 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 make your 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 patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to." -C.S. Lewis

There is more good material in the latest chapter in his book, but this quote is well known, and if you hadn't heard it, I wanted you to. I've heard this misinterpreted by atheists before saying, "what about if he just didn't exist?" That is not the point of the quote. We can discuss historical reliability all day and you will find that the Christian has an embarrassment of riches in manuscript evidence. The point is that, from what we have about Him recorded, you must decide which of these He is. What will you decide about this man who claimed to be God Himself?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Simplifying the Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis (Part 7)

"People put up a version of Christianity suitable for a child of six and make that the object of their attack. When you try to explain the Christian doctrine as it is really held by an instructed adult, they then complain that you are making their heads turn round and that it is all too complicated and that if there really were a God they are sure He would have made "religion" simple, because simplicity is so beautiful, etc. You must be on your guard against these people for they will change their ground every minute and only waste your tune. Notice, too, their idea of God "making religion simple": as if "religion" were something God invented, and not His statement to us of certain quite unalterable facts about His own nature." -C.S. Lewis

As the band Caedmon's Call put it, "most things true are simple and complex." There may be simple things to grasp about God, but underneath there is always an ocean of complexity about Him. I often see atheists putting up straw man arguments of various watered down versions of Christianity. Many of them are eager to put forth apologists that say nonsensical things and call it Christian. Let us not do the same to them, but let us tackle the problems head on. The chief complaint of serious atheists is that there is not enough evidence. I understand that predicament and I don't think it's because they are mentally lacking as the above-mentioned nonsensical Christians will put it. I think the Bible speaks of an inner desire to run from God. Yet, for evidence, we can point to their conscience, the testimony of all creation's cohesion and complexity, the work of the Spirit in our lives, and most importantly the reliability of the New Testament's account of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They might have their own criteria and will attack every one, but let those realities be the center of our conversation with the nonreligious.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Simplifying the Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis (Part 6)

"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust? If the whole show was bad and senseless from A to Z, so to speak, why did I, who was supposed to be part of the show, find myself in such violent reaction against it? A man feels wet when he falls into water, because man is not a water animal: a fish would not feel wet." -C.S. Lewis

Back when I was not a Christian, I often used the Bible to argue against God. How can you challenge the internal consistency of justice in the Bible, if you yourself have no grounds to claim that justice is an objective value at all?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Simplifying the Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis (Part 5)

We Have Cause To Be Uneasy

"That is the terrible fix we are in. If the universe is not governed by an absolute goodness, then all our efforts are in the long run hopeless. But if it is, then we are making ourselves enemies to that goodness every day, and are not in the least likely to do any better tomorrow, and so our case is hopeless again. We cannot do without it. and we cannot do with it. God is the only comfort, He is also the supreme terror: the thing we most need and the thing we most want to hide from. He is our only possible-ally, and we have made ourselves His enemies. Some people talk as if meeting the gaze of absolute goodness would be fun. They need to think again.

It is after you have realized that there is a real Moral Law, and a Power behind the law, and that you have broken that law and put yourself wrong with that Power—it is after all this, and not a moment sooner, that Christianity begins to talk. When you know you are sick, you will listen, to. the doctor. " -C.S. Lewis

If God is perfectly good and He has placed a Law inside of us, then who can say they are good? Have we not all broken it a thousand times?! This is truly the beginning of an understanding of real Christianity.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Simplifying the Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis (Part 4)

"The only packet I am allowed to open is Man. When I do, especially when I open that particular man called Myself, I find that I do not exist on my own, that I am under a law; that somebody or something wants me to behave in a certain way. I do not, of course, think that if I could get inside a stone or a tree I should find exactly the same thing."  -C.S. Lewis

Even the most atheistic scientists admit things "appear to be designed, but aren't." I'm okay with that being as far as they are willing to go on the subject. Science can never prove God nor was it meant to be a proof in the logical or mathematical sense. Rather, the universe gives the appearance of design and my conscience is the guide that speaks to me and tells me of a Law that must be given by a Lawgiver.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Simplifying the Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis (Part 3)

The Reality of the Law of Morality

"We ask: "Why ought I to be unselfish?" and you reply "Because it is good for society," we may then ask, "Why should I care what's good for society except when it happens to pay me personally?" and then you will have to say, "Because you ought to be unselfish"—which simply brings us back to where we started." -C.S. Lewis

Why is it that those who claim that there is no objective morality are oftentimes so angry at injustice in the world? Why do they still claim that men ought to treat others with fairness and kindness? I agree with Lewis' conclusion (which has much more to it in the book) that it is because there is a real Law placed inside of them that tells the mind what is good and what is evil.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Simplifying the Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis (Part 2)


"Isn't what you call the Moral Law simply our herd instinct and hasn't it been developed just like all our other instincts? Of course, we sometimes do feel just that sort of desire to help another person: and no doubt that desire is due to the herd instinct. But feeling a desire to help is quite different from feeling that you ought to help whether you want to or not. Supposing you hear a cry for help from a man in danger.

You will probably feel two desires—one a desire to give help (due to your herd instinct), the other a desire to keep out of danger (due to the instinct for self-preservation). But you will find inside you, in addition to these two impulses, a third thing which tells you that you ought to follow the impulse to help, and suppress the impulse to run away. Now this thing that judges between two instincts, that decides which should be encouraged, cannot itself be either of them." -C.S. Lewis

This thing that judges between the two instincts is our conscience. Our conscience appeals to a a higher standard; a moral law. Where did that come from?

Simplifying the Mere Christianity of C.S. Lewis (Part 1)

The Law of Nature

"These, then, are the two points I wanted to make. First, that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot really get rid of it. Secondly, that they do not in fact behave in that way. They know the Law of Nature; they break it. These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking about ourselves and the universe we live in." -C.S. Lewis

Naturally, humans have a code of conduct that seems to be similar throughout various cultures and religions. We ought to recognize this fact. You find some version of the golden rule in most religions and even most atheistic systems of morality. There is a way we ought to behave. Next, we find that everyone falls short of their own standards. I can at least admit that I certainly have in many ways. How about yourself?