Thursday, July 31
Several decades later, God might very well reply, "Where is the Soviet Union?" That nation, once referred to as the "evil empire" because of the threat it posed to human freedom, has become a shadow of its former self. This former superpower decayed from its own internal rot resulting primarily from the regime's rejection of the Judeo-Christian worldview as epitomized by that state's promulgation of revolutionary Communism.
Had Colonel Gagarin and his Soviet comrades been more willing to approach the issues in a more objective manner without the rose colored glasses of their Marxist ideology (perhaps "red" would have been a more fitting characterization) and without suppressing the conclusions that such evidence leads to, the world might have been sparred a Cold War costly in terms of both dollars and human lives. Even now nearly two decades later, the world still struggles to forge a global order and stands ready to fall into international chaos at any possible moment.
Despite what some political conservatives and Pentagon officials might think, the mentioned illustration should not be construed as arguing that the former Soviet Union was the sole source of evil operating in the world throughout the era of its infamous existence. Rather, that one nation merely came to symbolize what happens when man tries to expunge the evidence and knowledge of God from the society and its way of life through the use of violence and intimidation of its citizens. For while the Soviet Union and its kin in the Communist orbit may have perfected the outwardly horrific and bloodthirsty ways of suppressing eternal truths, the democratic West was itself busy finding ways to live as if God did not exist.
It could be argued that the methods used throughout Western society to suppress knowledge of God's existence are in one manner more sophisticated than those employed by the secularist's counterparts behind the Iron and Bamboo Curtains. For where the totalitarian Marxist utilized torture in the form of physical violence and coercive psychological manipulation, his Western counterpart simply made God irrelevant by declaring that, while belief in God was acceptable for those too weak to live without Him, this character flaw was to remain a private issue and not to impact the public marketplace.
Phillip Johnson in "Reason In The Balance" characterized this as a primary tenet of naturalism, the belief that the physical world is all that exists in the closed system of the universe and that man can only look to himself for any kind of values (8). Applying the Protagorean ethic of man as the measure of all things with the satisfaction of natural desires as the highest objective, contemporary man has lived up to this lofty goal with all the zeal, fortitude, and ingenuity over which the secular humanists deified the species in the first place --- with a trail of corpses and chaos laying in the social wake.
No sphere of human endeavor has remained untouched from this effort to remove God and His standards from civilized life. These trends illustrated themselves no better than in the field of sexual morality.
According to Cal Thomas in “The Death Of Ethics In America”, the metaphorical death of God and the abolition of His standards causes those adhering to a naturalistic outlook to see the divinely sanctioned rules governing this sphere of existence as an illusion to be ignored by the liberated individual. Yet in a surprising twist, those same individuals holding to a do-your-own-thing kind of ethic change their tune when it comes to doing one’s own thing when it comes to religion, especially if the belief under consideration is traditional Christianity. According to a New York Times poll, a significant number of young adults believe that belief in God is a personality disorder and that theists cannot cope with reality (Thomas, 93).
However, the rules governing these intimate behavioral matters and their Creator are not illusions to solidify the power of an authoritarian priesthood or to comfort the psychologically imbalanced. These precepts were in fact promulgated with the goal of protecting the ultimate happiness and welfare of the beings made in the image of their loving Creator. Mankind ignores these standards at his own peril --- with abortion, venereal disease, and broken hearts the rewards of such folly.
Thomas points out that sexually transmitted diseases now rank as the primary form of communicable disease (93). However, even these kinds of terrifying consequences barely phase the calloused anymore. One student matriculated in a school near Thomas remarked, “We’re not going to get pregnant....If we slip up, we’ll get an abortion (105).”
To fall into sin is tragic and lamentable. To do so with such a callous attitude surely invites judgment. And when that day arrives, the God dispensing it will not be so easily dismissed.
Despite humanity’s attempts to stifle knowledge of its infinite Creator through the calculated disbelief of the atheistic philosopher or the wanton apathy of the hedonist drunken on assorted carnal pleasures, there is little that can be done to totally obliterate the knowledge of God’s existence since this truth is written across the very fabric of the universe and abides in the hearts of men if only they would open themselves to it. Despite this centuries-old effort at suppressing this knowledge, untold masses are seeking after a higher power in record number.
Unfortunately, the same effort once aimed at dethroning the God of the universe has now turned on the rational thought process created by this very same God. The postmodernist movement argues that, at best, objective reasoning does not exist and, at worst, it is a White male imposition designed to foster the dominance of the patriarchy.
This detachment from reality and commonsense often ends in disaster as those with enfeebled mental powers regularly fall for spiritual counterfeits offering their own false answers. An example of this occurred when Marshall Applewhite convinced his followers to commit suicide so that they might find salvation with extraterrestrials circumnavigating the galaxy.
In many instances, the so-called “Christian church” is not much better. Some branches have veered off into a liberalism bordering on agnosticism and atheism. And even some claiming to adhere to a more literalistic form of worship have fallen for dangerous heresies resulting in aberrant beliefs regarding God.
In “Christianity In Crisis”, Christian Research Institute President Hank Hanegraaff warns that one’s conception of God is just as important as having one in the first place. Hanegraaff shows the destruction that can result from thinking not tethered to God’s revelation in Scripture.
One typical example of this faulty theological thinking can be found in television minister Kenneth Copeland who said God “....stands somewhere around 6 feet 2 inches, in the neighborhood of a couple of hundred pounds and has a hand span of nine inches across (Hanegraaff, 121).” Copeland, however, was not preaching on God's incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ. He was, in fact, making these statements regarding God the Father, who according to John 4:24 is a spirit who must be worshipped in spirit and in truth.
These faulty theological formulations do not confine themselves to the seminary classroom. Rather, they filter down to impact man's view of himself and his relation to the divine Creator. For example, many of these prosperity teachers have demoted the sovereign God into a cosmic department store manager by promoting the doctrine that God is to grant the Christian's every earthly desire whether or not that is in the best interest of the individual making the request or in accordance with God's ultimate will. In so doing, they create an undo emphasis on material wealth when in fact Proverbs 30:8 says, "Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread."
So what is a soul searching for the truth of God or someone seeking to lead someone to the realization of these profound realities to do as they navigate between the gulfs of outright unbelief and warped forms of theism? If the person needing to be convinced is not at the point of accepting Scripture, one can start with a set of arguments seeking to establish an intellectual basis for God's existence through common reason. These arguments are referred to as the "classic theistic proofs" as a number of prominent intellectuals have appealed to them over the centuries in order to establish a rational basis for theistic belief, their most famous proponent being Thomas Aquinas. These classic proofs touch on the areas of ontology, cosmology, and teleology.
The ontological proof derives its name from the word ontology, the branch of metaphysics pertaining to existence or being. This proof seeks to prove God on the grounds that, since God is the embodiment of perfection, God must exist since existence is better than nonexistence.
Striving to clarify the confusion, in "Apologetics To The Glory Of God", theologian John Frame frames the argument in the following manner. "Premise 1: God has all perfections. Premise 2: Existence is a perfection. Conclusion: Therefore, God exists (115)."
This proof has enjoyed a lengthy and controversial existence throughout the history of Western thought, stretching back to Plato and still captivating the imaginations of intellectuals both pro and con from this era such as Alvin Plantinga and Jean-Paul Sartre. The crux of this debate centers around the dispute of whether or not the forms produced by human thought correspond to an objective reality existing apart from the mind.
For example, some conjecture, because someone can think of a perfect God who must exist since existence a perfection, does that mean such a God really exists? Theologian John Frame believes so, arguing that mental forms do correspond to objective realities.
Frame writes, "Our idea of a perfect triangle is not derived from a specific object of the senses, but it must correspond to something real; else it would not be useful as a criterion (116)." Put another way, the ontological argument bears a resemblance to the innate knowledge possessed by each person regarding God's existence mentioned in Romans 1:19-21.
But while this proof may have entertained the Western world's most formidable minds, it has been pointed out that few have been brought to faith through it. At best, it can clarify one's thinking and re-enforce one's position once they have made a decision for theism in regards to these matters.
Perhaps the best known of these theistic proofs is the cosmological argument. In essence, the cosmological argument holds that every affect has a cause which itself is the affect of a previous cause. Yet this chain cannot go on forever therefore, this chain of causality must have a mover complete in itself, an unmoved mover who is God.
This argument has gained added weight in recent times with the advents of the fields of thermodynamics and quantum mechanics. The first points to the need for a Creator and the second establishes the need for His preservative influence.
Thermodynamics argues that a closed system will move towards maximum entropy (a scholarly euphemism for disorder and energy loss) in a finite amount of time. This really socks it to the litany harped by metaphysical naturalists such as Carl Sagan (who claimed that the cosmos is all that was, is or ever will be) that the universe is of an infinite age.
Had the paradigm employed by these weighty academics been true, the reader would not have been able to read this sentence nor the writer able to compose it. The universe would have ground to a halt sometime in the infinitely distant past since, by definition, the amount of time needed for an infinitely old universe to have run down would have elapsed infinite ages ago.
This reality points to a startup point --- a moment of creation if you will --- be it the Big Bang or God speaking the ornaments of the cosmos into existence where they now sit on the celestial sphere. Surprisingly, many Evangelical Christians are now coming to grips with some kind of interpretation regarding the Big Bang theory which they once viewed as suspicious and scientists who once looked to it with cyclical modifications to fit their notions of naturalistic universal renewal are fleeing from it with the speed once reserved for seven-day Creationists discussing the matter.
Related to the revelation of thermodynamics in that sense that it is a scientific theory with divine implications is the esoteric field of quantum mechanics, which warns that there is more to the seemingly deterministic clockwork nature of the universe than meets the eye. According to quantum mechanics, the substance of the universe does not operate in compliance with the Newtonian certainty perceived by the senses but is rather a realm where on the subatomic level a wide range of possibilities exist.
George Bernard Shaw remarked, "Everything happened because it must." Quantum mechanics responds that a particle event is as likely not to happen as happen.
Yet, if such an absolute haphazardness were the case, would not the nightly news be filled with stories of individuals discombobulating into non-existence from the loss of their very molecular cohesion? This gulf between absolute determinism and particle anarchy allows for a creator who holds the cosmos together at all times. Colossians 1:17 says, "...and by him all things consist." This is a reference to the role played by God in the maintenance of creation.
Taken together, the ideas of thermodynamics and quantum mechanics point to the fact that all individuals and structures standing as part of the created order exist as contingent units. Quantum mechanics disproves the deist notion that God left the universe to run its course.
In fact, God plays a pivotal role in keeping the universe together. Mortimer Adler clarifies the notion of contingency by writing in How To Think About God, "A contingent being is one needing a cause of its continuing existence at every moment of its endurance in existence (117)."
Closely related to and amplifying the cosmological proof is the teleological proof for God's existence. The teleological proof argues for the existence of God from the apparent purpose and design of the universe. This theistic proof, with its emphasis upon intelligent design, has taken on added relevance in the early 21st century in light of Darwinism's pervasiveness and the increased levels of knowledge scientists have garnered regarding the intricacies of the universe.
One could argue that these two developments have become one of the primary issues demarcating believers and those unwilling to alter their fundamental assumptions despite the compelling nature of the evidence. Even the most diehard skeptics admits that this argument has brought more unbelievers to God than any other.
And the more mankind learns about the universe, the stronger the argument becomes. For example, pseudo-scientists are at a loss to explain how random chance could bring about complex organic life as it now walks the earth into existence when the chances randomly aligning the twenty amino acids properly in order to form one cell of hemoglobin is reported to be 1 in 10 to the 603 power. And mind you, this is for only an organism as complicated as a single cell.
How then, without reference to a Creator is the rest of the complexity accounted for? Did the viceroy butterflies convene a conference to decide that they would mimic the coloring of the monarch butterflies in order to be avoided by dimwitted predators because the monarch is toxic?
Phillip Johnson points out in works such as "Darwin On Trial" and "Reason In The Balance" that evolution takes as much faith to believe in (if not more so in the light of the evidence) as some form of creation theory. And despite their academic hegemony, the proof evolutionists point to supporting blind chance, unlike the God being argued for in this discourse, does not exist.
The beginning of this paper elaborated in some detail how the world flounders across the stage of contemporary history without the illuminating insight of divine guidance. Related to this is what is known as the moral argument for the existence of God.
Throughout the past two centuries, mankind has striven to retain some sense of morality without reference to the Divine Legislator. And the results have been disastrous.
The role of morality in light of atheistic assumptions was set down by Marquis De Sade who had the “foresight” to realize that, without God acting as a cosmic policemen, all acts that were natural in that they could be carried out by an individual being permissible. The new golden rule became do it to others before they could do it to you.
Anarchy, though, is not the only social threat in an atheistic system. In a situation where God and His precepts are not seen as absolutes binding upon conduct, dictatorship becomes an even greater likelihood as those with a lust for power are no longer burdened by ethical restraints and the people willingly hand their inalienable liberties over to such despots in an attempt to regain some kind of social order, Draconian though it may be.
Even if the sociological climate is not as repressive as Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia (regimes epitomizing the brutalities resulting from political systems inherently hostile to God), what right does anybody have to tell anybody anything if God does not exist? If the Black man is not made in the image of God, what’s so wrong with slavery as it obviously results from his own innate inferiority in the Darwinian survival of the fittest.
Francis Schaeffer once remarked that, if God does not exist, it does not matter whether one helps an elderly lady across the street or pushes her into oncoming traffic. Yet this moral chaos is clearly not the intended moral order. Even those not enrolled in an Evangelical seminary realize that genocide of noncombatants is wrong. No one but the most rabid Skinhead or fanatical Palestinian supports Hitler’s pograms against the Jews.
In "The Abolition Of Man", C.S. Lewis refers to this universal morality as "the Tao" or "the Way" (12). Even though the way the Way is implemented changes as man's understanding of it grows, the Tao itself represents God's universal standards and any reform of the Way as understood by finite human beings must come from within by its loyal adherents. To do so from without amounts to tyranny because those crafting the moral ethos in such an environment will only end up codifying their own arbitrary inclinations as law. With society increasingly marked by crime and arbitrary rule, the moral argument for God's existence will grow in poignancy as millions will grow weary of liberty degenerating into license and justice perverted into political expediency.
While the classic theistic proofs and other arguments such as that for moral values are intellectually formidable, they are merely a starting point as their conclusion could eventually lead to a deity wearing any number of sectarian hats ranging from historic Christianity to deism to Islam depending on the spin put on the proofs. Furthermore, most of the proofs fail to comment on whether or not the deity arrived at intimately cares for the human creation apart from setting up some kind of legal framework, making Him more akin to some kind of metaphysical traffic cop holding the universe together like some kind of subatomic Elmer's glue.
While quite persuasive, these arguments are just that, arguments, not unlike those bandied about night after night on Fox News debate programs where issues are never resolved and the highest goal being to get a rouse out of the opposition. The theistic proofs also bring to mind the Wisdom/Flew parable mentioned by John Warwick Montgomery in "The Suicide Of Christian Theology" where the theist argues that, while God’s handiwork can be deduced through the magnificence of creation there is no concrete way to point out God to those that doubt (89).
It is because that these arguments present a somewhat distant God that there must be a source to bridge the gap. For man steeped in sin to care about God, he must know that God care for him because before such an awakening man is so full of sinful pride to concern himself with his relation to the Creator. The proof of that love and the reality of God’s existence was made certain in the incarnation and redeeming work of Jesus Christ.
Despite the power of the theistic proofs, one cannot come to a knowledge of salvation through them alone. In order to give this intellectual starting point a solid foundation, one must turn to this God’s personal revelation, the Bible.
Wheaton Professor of Biblical Studies Gilbert Bilezikian in "Christianity 101" points out that the Bible never tries to prove the existence of God but assumes it as a given (25). However, Scripture does contain internal indicators as to why it can be trusted. For starters, the Bible is historically accurate.
Paul Little of Intervarsity Fellowship in "How To Give Away Your Faith" quotes archaeologist Nelson Gluek as saying, "No archaeological discovery has ever contraverted a Biblical reference (Little, 77).” In fact, the Bible had the historical record straight long before modern historians as evidenced by the controversy surrounding the Hittites, an ancient people once thought mythological but eventually proven an historical reality. Since the Bible has proven itself historically accurate and capable of providing a code of conduct cognizant of human nature, there is little reason to doubt the existence of a God who reveals Himself in its pages and preserved them so that man might come to know Him through this special book.
But perhaps the greatest proof of all regarding the existence of God is His earthly manifestation in the person of His only begotten Son Jesus Christ, an act proclaimed in Scripture and making that book the compelling work that it is. While not accepting His claims of deity, most religions and philosophies look to Jesus (or rather a warped version of Jesus) as an exemplary figure above the remainder of the human fray in terms of example.
Yet one cannot have it both ways. C.S. Lewis said that either one accepts Christ’s claims to His own deity or one must think him to be a raving lunatic. There can be none of this “Jesus was a good teacher but...” nonsense.
Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by me.” He reveals that He is God as only God has the power to tell God who is to have access to God. In John 8:58, Jesus says, “Before Abraham was, I am,” revealing that Jesus shares the same sacred name of “I am” telling the world that God is the pinnacle of existence.
To further authenticate His claims, Scripture records the accounts of hundreds witnessing Him after the Resurrection. Surely, that many people over a series of different occasions could not all have been hallucinating and, from the persecution they faced, it seems these loyal disciples had little to gain from lying about the issue.
From the arguments presented, it can be concluded that God does exist and that He has placed a sufficient number of indicators to this reality throughout the layers of creation so that man might come to this knowledge. It has been seen that some of this knowledge can be arrived at through common logic.
For example, through the theistic proofs man can conclude that a God exists through an analysis of the creation. The fact that man can engage in this intellectual quest at all points to a rational Creator seeking to imbue His most cherished creations with a finite portion of His own rationality. The scientific understanding of the cosmos also points to God's existence. Even the most simple components of the universe testify to a complexity beyond human comprehension. This is even the case with the so called "simple" organisms such as bacteria and viruses.
Even more importantly, this complexity testifies that God is not beyond the pale of legitimate conceptual discussion. Mortimer Adler argues that, if man can expound on theoretical constructs such as black holes and subatomic particles without having directly experienced them, then God is therefore not necessarily off limits conceptually.
The contemporary social climate testifies to God's existence as civilization becomes more chaotic with anarchy and tyranny gaining ground simultaneously. Without Scriptural principles under-girding the nation's laws, one can kill their child through abortion but can be sent to jail for disciplining the child should the child be privileged to see the world outside of the birth canal.
Despite the power of these proofs to any unprejudiced individual with any degree of mental acuity, the best proof for God's existence is His revelation to man in the form of Jesus Christ as detailed in Scripture. The only begotten Son of God, whose claims cannot be legitimately dismissed by His enemies, predicted His own resurrection in Matthew 12:39. And unlike the false prophets, hucksters, and shysters who refuse to subject their claims to verification, the risen Christ was authenticated by over 500 witnesses. One of these witnesses was so skeptical that he insisted on sticking his hands into the Lord's wounds in order to be convinced otherwise.
One's alignment in the debate of whether or not God exists is the most important position one will ever take as it will ultimately impact every facet of one's existence. And while this decision is ultimately up to the individual in consultation with the Holy Spirit and cannot be made for them by longwinded apologists attempting to persuade them, they should know that their final decision in these matters will dramatically impact their eternal destinies. There is much more at stake in this conflict than where one will be spending Sunday morning.
By Frederick Meekins
Wednesday, July 30
With the technical complexity inherent to many of the latest developments in the fields of biology and medicine, it is easy to fall for the assumption that ethics and morality in these disciplines would better be left to the highly educated such as scientists or philosophy professors. The field of bioethics is a relatively new area of study in comparison to the totality of human knowledge. Because of its frontier nature as ethically uncharted territory, it is a discipline in desperate need of a solid Christian presence as it is pretty much a wide open field in which the ambitious and enthusiastic can plant their flag in the hopes of persuading the masses as to the propriety of a respective position.
As Christians, it is the fundamental assumption of the believer that all truth is derived from God as revealed to us either directly from His word (the Bible), deduced from reflection upon His word, or discernable from His creation construed in the light of His word. II Timothy 3:16-17 says, "All scripture is given inspired of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works." Likewise, Psalm 19:1 says, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the works of his hands (NIV)."
Since this is the case, God's law is written across the whole of creation. Try as men might to ignore or escape these binding commandments, they ultimately cannot and are seared by their own consciences as evidenced by the responses that often border on violence as typified by homosexual militants reacting whenever someone responds with anything less than a standing ovation or lavish government subsidies for this particular lifestyle. Romans 2:14-15 says, "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.”
Though the Bible might not address specific bioethical issues directly by name such as stem cells and cloning, a number of the Good Book's foremost passages and doctrines serve as the foundation to a Christian response to these kinds of challenges arising in the world today. As the basis to all divine law contained within both the Old and New Testaments, the Ten Commandments serve as the guiding principles for all healthy relationships with both God and man. Prominent among these is the injunction "Thou shalt not murder."
This admonition was not handed down arbitrarily just so God could laud his authority and power over us. Rather, this commandment was set in place as recognition of man's unique status as a creature made in the image of God. Genesis 1:26-27 says, "Then God said, 'Let us make man in our image'...So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them." This image of God in each individual is so sacred that no individual should be able to take the life of another without serious consequences. Genesis 9:6 warns, "Whoever sheds the blood of man; by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."
Thus, the fundamental consideration in regards to these complex issues arising as a result of advances in biotechnology is that of personhood. As these scientific developments promise more and more of the things we as human beings crave the most in our earthly lives such as freedom from disease, prolonged life, or even enhanced abilities and children designed to our specifications, it becomes easier and easier to view other human beings as a means to achieve these goals for ourselves rather than as those whose lives we would like to see improved.
For while all of the issues raised in a cursory bioethics survey start off with noble-sounding justifications, when we look behind the lofty pronouncements, many of us would be shocked by the staggering numbers of bodies concealed behind the curtain. Perhaps one of the first bioethics debates to grip the public consciousness was no doubt abortion.
Those opposed to the practice argued that the procedure so dehumanized the unborn that the utilitarian allure of convenience would prove so seductive that the value would be invoked to justify the disposal of other members of the human family not measuring up to some arbitrary standard of productivity or quality of life. Since the time of its legalization, abortion has continued to divide the American electorate. This barbaric practice has been joined by a plethora of additional bioethical conundrums and outrages.
If anything, the potential of human cloning and the use of stem cells harvested from either fetuses falling victim to the abortionists knife or embryos purposefully formed in a laboratory to destroy in order to collect these genetic components garner even more headlines. At the other end of the spectrum of life, physicians are intervening to end the lives of those deemed a waste of recourses such as in the case of Terri Schiavo. This woman would have undoubtedly remained alive if she had not been denied basic nutrition and hydration, actions that could cause considerable legal trouble with the likes of PETA or the Humane Society should you decide to inflict such appalling mistreatment upon the family dog.
Even though the strongest and most direct moral case is the one that boldly stands upon the Word of God as its ultimate foundation, Western culture has become so "de-theized" (the very thing that causes human life to be devalued in the first place) that if one does not introduce these theories and concepts surreptitiously at first, one may find oneself excluded from the public policy debates where these kinds of decisions are made. In “Moral Choices: An Introduction To Ethics”, Scott Rae provides a framework through which the believer can introduce Biblical principles into these debates without initially coming across like some kind of “religious lunatic”. In today’s philosophical climate, all it takes to get that slur hurled at you is to question the prudence or propriety of the increasingly popular urge to copulate with anything that moves (or even with that which doesn’t according to the necrophiliacs who, if you search hard enough, probably endow a professorship at some prestigious university or a public interest lobbying group at some swanky office building not far from Capitol Hill).
A professor of Biblical Studies and Christian Ethics at the Talbot School of Theology, Rae shows that all truth is God’s truth and how the best philosophical thinking reflects this foundation. These seemingly disparate approaches to knowledge (faith and reason) find a connection through natural law. This approach to jurisprudence and ethics holds that there are certain principles binding upon all people with slight variations that produce the kinds of circumstances under which human beings thrive. These include the universality of heterosexual marriage, respect for private property, and prohibitions against murder.
“Moral Choices: An Introduction To Ethics” equips the reader to ferret out the hidden moral assumptions of those opposed to the Judeo-Christian approach to these issues. A number of the alternative ethical systems explored include utilitarianism (the right option is that producing the greatest good for the greatest number), ethical egoism (the morality of an act is determined by one’s self-interest), emotivism (morality is merely an enunciation of the inner feelings of an individual making an ethical pronouncement), and relativism (right and wrong change depending upon the context of a particular situation with there being no eternal absolute). It is emphasized that the advocates of these positions cannot accuse the Christian believer of bias and not being objective unless nontheists want to shoot themselves in the foot as well.
“Moral Choices: An Introduction To Ethics” provides the student with a multi-step framework of analysis that will assist the individual in weeding through complex issues that they may initially find intimidating and beyond their expertise but which can be more easily comprehended once boiled down to their constituent parts (105-107). These steps are listed as follows: (1) Gather the facts (one should obtain as much information about a specific case as possible). (2) Determine the ethical issues (these can be stated in the form of the conflicting claims at stake). (3) What principles have a bearing on the case (these are the principles at the heart of each competing position)? (4) List the alternatives (these consist of possible solutions to the moral dilemma). (5) Compare the alternatives with the principles (in this step one eliminates the possible solutions by determining their moral superiority or propriety). (6) Consider the consequences (in this step, one contemplates the implications of the alternatives). (7) Make a decision after analyzing and contemplating the information.
While this is important information, none of it will do any good unless Christians and those troubled by the disregard for human life sweeping across the culture get their message out to the wider public. Most will assume that as common everyday people not holding positions of influence in either academia, the medical profession, or within the formal ecclesiastical structure of the organized church that there is little that they can do to assist in this daunting struggle. However, with the advent of certain technologies as revolutionary to the realm of communications as the breakthroughs in genetic manipulation are to the field of biology, their voices can reach farther than they might initially imagine.
With technologies such as blogging and social media, independent voices laboring on their own (often derided by critics as geeks in pajamas) have coalesced into a source of opinion and information that in certain respects is coming to challenge the predominance of the mainstream media. Therefore, Christians can very easily use the new media to get their position out to the public regarding a wide range of bioethical issues.
Fundamental to the Christian understanding of the discipline is the pivotal role personhood plays regarding many of the issues at the forefront of bioethics. However, a number of voices within the Transhumanist movement (the ideology that humans should incorporate into their bodies mechanical or genetic enhancements so that the species might move beyond the the limitations inherent to our own nature) believe the definition of personhood should move beyond run of the mill human beings to include cyborgs, androids, and genetically engineered human/animal hybrids.
One doesn't have to be an expert in robotics or genetics to warn of the human rights horrors that would likely result should such a line of research be allowed to advance too far beyond the stages of theoretical speculation. One merely need to have seen a few of the Borg episodes of Star Trek and point out what this kind of tinkering backed by a communistic outlook leads to.
The future is there for those that want it the most. It will either go to those that believe that the masses exist for the benefit of the elite as the push onward towards their New World Order. Or, it will go towards those that view each individual as being created in the image of God, existing within a framework of divine laws that allow the individual to live life to its fullest while protecting each of us from the dangers on the prowl in a fallen world.
by Frederick Meekins
Tuesday, July 29
It is further cautioned “County fairs have proved good places for creationists to reach captive audiences”.
But aren't these venues less captive than those in which evolutionists purvey their own propaganda?
For example, no one is forced to attend the county fair.
However, unless a child's parents are able to scrimp together the tuition necessary to finance private education or are talented enough to educate their own children through homeschool, the vast majority of students will be bombarded by public school indoctrination where the science curriculum exudes doctrinaire Darwinism.
Secondly, if you attend the county fair and an offensive both grabs your attention, you are free to speed by.
However, if a child wants to successfully complete school, he must remain subjected to this teaching no matter how much it might ridicule the child's most deeply held beliefs.
Thirdly, organizations must pay for the use of county fair booths.
However, educators are paid from public funds to ply the naturalistic perspective. County fairs are held in part in celebration of rural culture and values.
As such, as areas characterized by deep religious faith, creation science ministries and organizations should be encouraged to highlight this particular aspect of the American philosophical landscape.
By Frederick Meekins
Numerous sermons are preached on how the congregation is to obey the rulers over them in such a way as to make the task a joy. How come very few admonitions about the rulers leading in such a way as to make obeying them in THOSE LIMITED AREAS OVER WHICH THEY HOLD AUTHORITY a joy?
It was claimed in a sermon that there was a day when ministers were held in higher esteem. There might have also been a day when they were less likely to keep their hands out of the collection plate and off the underaged in the congregation as well. But then again, folks might have just been more brainwashed not to say anything about it as well.
By saying that when voting someone into ecclesiastical office one is obligated to set aside one’s opinions about an individual, aren’t you close to creating an atmosphere where one is saying you are obligated to potentially vote “yes” in regards to an individual that you have an inclination (perhaps even a longing in the spirit to put the matter in parlance the overtly pious will find it difficult to dismiss) is going to possible treat you life digestive effluent and possibly even ruin the lives of your family for years to come?
So frankly, what one is really saying is that if one feels a call to a certain office, occupation, or work and one does not exhibit a sign of an objective disqualifying factor but an external authority refuses to confirm that call, thus prohibiting one from pursuing what it is one has a desire to do, is that God gets a kick out of yanking people’s chains.
Pastor Corey Dykstra of Hope Reformed Church in Brampton Ontario in a sermon on the responsibilities of church office insisted that one is not called to preach until that is confirmed by an established ecclesiastical body. So what is to prevent you from engaging in the homiletical act anyway. Furthermore, on what grounds does he then hold to the likes of Calvin being a valid minister he the duly constituted organizational authorities of that day viewed the reformer as has having apostatized from his office?
One might have to be a member of THE CHURCH to enjoy salvation. However, that doesn’t mean one must belong to a particular organized church. Contrary to many, there is nothing in Scripture forbidding the Christian from going around to different churches. If preachers often claim that the Spirit is leading them elsewhere to different ministries every few years, why do many of these same preachers sermonize as if the average believer’s backside must be superglued to the pew.
Monday, July 28
Would Black Jesus Producers Hiding Behind Race Card To Blaspheme Christ Do The Same Thing To Muhammad?
The minister did a superb job in pointing out that not as many lost their lives in this tragedy as is commonly believed and the role played by Christians such as Cotton Mather in actually bringing this outrage to an end.
Somewhat disturbing was his contention that the civil magistrate should not allow those of that deviant creed to meet publicly as they do here in America.
It is correct that in the Old Testament that the theonomic covenant commanded that Israel was to drive practitioners of these beliefs from the land to the point of execution if need be.
However, we do not see that approach being taken in the New Testament.
For example, instead of physical force being used to repel these abominations, what we see transpiring in the more Gentile context in which the Apostles operated was apologetic confrontation where the errant beliefs were exposed and the alternative of the Gospel offered.
Furthermore, if the Christian magistrate suppresses conscience in this area deemed offensive, on what grounds do they protest when they find their beliefs being persecuted and oppressed?
by Frederick Meekins
Futurists have estimated that nearly 90% of the knowledge today has been discovered within the past decade. This is especially true of scientifically complex fields such as biology and medicine.
Ethics is the branch of philosophy concerned with determining what is right and wrong. Bioethics attempts to apply these principles to issues relating to matters of life, its quality, and preservation. As such, it is a relatively new field of inquiry coming to prominence since the 1980’s.
As a new discipline, overall bioethics is underdeveloped with Christian involvement scantier than it ought to be. With its frontier flavor however, bioethics is not confined solely to those with doctorates in esoteric subjects. Rather it is a field needing input from a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives if mankind is to chart a balanced course into what was before now unexplored territory.
For example, many couples unable to have children on their own have turned to a number of fertilization techniques where egg and sperm are brought together outside the body for implantation inside the womb. While the practice has become quite commonplace, it is in fact fraught with a number of ethical dilemmas that need to be addressed by the church.
For starters, the reader will note that nowhere above is it spelled out that the sperm and the egg belong to the husband and the wife of the couple seeking to have a child. Sometimes these are donated --- often bought and sold like farm produce --- from total strangers, undermining the sanctity of the marriage covenant and no doubt unsettling the identity of the child should the offspring ever learn of his true parentage.
Yet of even greater concern in these procedures is when more eggs are fertilized than are needed. Since it can be concluded from Matthew 1:20 that fertilized eggs posses life, quite a dilemma develops over what to do with the leftover embryos.
If these individuals are disposed of, it becomes an act of murder. They can be placed into storage for up to seven years if the couple would like to have an additional baby in the future; but what happens if the couple divorces?
These conundrums and many others just like it are the result of the underlying worldview upon which much of contemporary culture rests. For since the days of the Renaissance, up through the Enlightenment and French Revolution and no doubt accelerated by Darwinism, no longer is God and His Word seen as the ultimate source of moral authority. Rather, the moral focus has switched to human autonomy in either the form of the individual or the state.
In the Book of Genesis, the student of Scripture learns that man is created in the image of God. As such, upholding this ideal preempts individual happiness when personal satisfaction comes into conflict with innocent human life.
Unfortunately, in this day the preservation of innocent human life often takes a backseat to “I want” and “me, me, me”. Such anxiety can drive the longing soul inward to concentrate on one’s own existential despair rather than outward towards those with even greater needs.
For example, a couple unable to have children on their own biologically wanting to have one --- often pressured into it by members of the congregation and clergy thinking they know more about the will of God for other people than the people themselves --- often turn to artificial fertilization these days rather than other ways to satisfy an otherwise humanitarian impulse such as adoption or other charitable pursuits.
Likewise, at the other end of the continuum of selfishness are those that, rather than coveting life so much that they would dishonor it by an illegitimate attempt to grasp at and possess it on their own terms rather than through God’s providence, that view life needing care beyond the ordinary in order to be maintained such as that at the beginning or end of temporal existence as an inconvenience to be done away with as soon as possible.
Those holding to the Biblical position of respecting the image of God within each individual irrespective of the physical frame’s condition would do what was within their power to defend the young under their responsibility and lend comfort to those passing out of this life on God’s timetable rather than according to some arbitrary definition of quality.
Furthermore, if those in their declining years were treated as human beings created in the image of God rather than as beasts of burden that have outlived their usefulness, senior saints might enjoy a better quality of life irrespective of their bodily circumstances.
By Frederick Meekins
Friday, July 25
Thursday, July 24
This is being proposed in the name of obesity prevention.
So what happens when the human beings disobey the robot?
If these robots are government owned and subsidized, what is to prevent the robot from cataloging for your intelligence agency file everything you say and do.
What if in in a fit of anger you say something uncouth about protected government minorities?
What if the little woman is aroused to carnal relations in a politically incorrect manner?
Click ON The Headline
Wednesday, July 23
In defense of a strident understanding of predestinarian soteriology, a meme has been posted on social media pointing out that a sheep cannot become a goat and a goat cannot become a sheep because they are born that way. If this holds true, what is the point of discussing religion whatsoever other than to preen about like a peacock strutting one’s theological erudition and ecclesiastical finery? For with the exception of the Transhumanists, no one goes around advocating why one ought to alter one’s inherent ontology. Of course, you will find those mesmerized by their own doctrinal navals that parrot that God predestinates the means as well as the ends. Those holding that one is bestowed a degree of choice in determining one eternal destiny are often accused of idolatry. However, if the Calvinist hegemony holds true, isn’t the retort against free will itself an even greater act of idolatry? For its basic assumption, if clerics holding to it are going to continue to berate their co-religionists on the grounds of insufficient evangelistic zeal, that God’s sovereign choice can somehow be thwarted by His minions failing or refusing to implement it.
Tuesday, July 22
Monday, July 21
Friday, July 18
Scripture says that greater love hath no man than to lay down his life for his brother or friend. So will the pro-gay crowd denouncing Biblical morality condemn Archie for not keeping his morality to himself in taking a bullet for a friend practicing that particular alternative lifestyle?
It is Chesterton’s contention that, rather than stifling the individual, it is through orthodoxy that man is liberated to both accept and embrace the contradictions of this life for what they really are in all their wonder and horror. It is the heretic that is unable to rise to a level that would give him a perspective that would enable him to appreciate things as they actually are since the heretic is ultimately beholden unto these very forces of life. Chesterton muses, “Thoroughly worldly people never understand even the world; they rely altogether on a few cynical maxims which are not true (22).”
Often, believers are accused of being close minded. However, Chesterton contends that Christians are no more close minded than the adherents of any other outlook. Chesterton writes, “For we must remember that the materialist philosophy...is certainly much more limiting than any religion...The Christian is quite free to believe that there is a considerable amount of settled order and inevitable development in the universe. But the materialist is not allowed to admit into his spotless machine the slightest speck of spiritualism or miracle (41).”
As a result, the heterodox mind must increasingly withdrawal from a world that declares the glory of God in order to maintain the consistency of the fiction it has constructed. For example, in illustrating views regarding the existence of sin, Chesterton offers the following humorous illustration, “If it be true...that a man can feel exquisite happiness in skinning a cat, then the religious philosopher can only draw one of two deductions. He must either deny the existence of God, as all atheists do; or he must deny the present union between God and man, as all Christians do. The new theologians seem to think it a highly rationalistic solution to deny the cat (24).”
Those adverse to traditional religious notions have constructed elaborate epistemological systems in an attempt to justify their unbelief. However, Chesterton assures, such intellects (though formidable by human standards in terms of the facts such minds have accumulated) actually bear a startling resemblance to the insane.
Like the insane, rationalists view themselves as the source of all meaning. In the struggle and strain to understand everything, Chesterton notes, the consistent rationalist is actually driven mad as they end up losing everything but their reason. Chesterton observes, “The man who begins to think without the proper first principles goes mad; he begins to think at the wrong end...But we may ask in conclusion, if this be what drives men mad, what is it that keeps them sane (48)?”
The answer provided by Chesterton is none other than the mystical imagination found in religious orthodoxy. The thing about the cosmos human beings occupy is that is both physically and epistemologically too complex for the finite mind to fully comprehend. The only thing we can do is appreciate what we can and to accept that there is a power beyond us. Chesterton notes, “The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, nor even that it is a reasonable one. The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable but not quite (148).”
Chesterton further likens the spiritual realm to two wild horses threatening to bolt off into the extremities of either direction with only the church adhering to orthodoxy capable of reining in these powerful tendencies that are good and pure when kept together as a team but result in heartache and ruin if not kept working together in tandem. Ironically, Chesterton claims, though often depicted as scatterbrained the best poets (actually quite sensible and businesslike) are often the ones embodying the spirit necessary for handling this awesome responsibility. For what the average person desires above all else is a life of practical romance defined by Chesterton as “the combination of something that is strange with something that is secure (16).” And what is any more mysterious and secure at the same time than God Himself?
Written in the early years of the twentieth century, some of the authors mentioned by Chesterton might seem obscure to readers not that familiar with general literary history. However, the fact that they have been forgotten while Chesterton is still embraced as a foremost defender of the faith is a positive testament to the relevance of Chesterton’s ruminations that, though written nearly a century ago, ring with a truth that sounds as if they just rolled off the presses.
by Frederick Meekins
Thursday, July 17
The Pope has admonished that nations should be more welcoming of the immigrants flooding over their borders. So does that mean tourists should be allowed to storm the papal apartments and gorge themselves upon whatever treats might be in the private papal pantry? Can whoever wants to without prior approval take a leak in the Vatican bathroom with the nudie paintings on the wall?
In discussing how he would have ended the “Life With Archie” series in which the eponymous protagonist is murdered, home school activist Kevin Swanson announced he would have instead had Archie arrest the gay character and banish the reprobate from the town. So if this is the idealized jurisprudence of the Christian Reconstructionist, what is to prevent rumors of carnal transgression from being concocted in the attempt to seize the property of business rivals or from those that simply have a nicer place than yours?
It has been announced that Archie will lose his life in defense of a homosexual acquaintance. Not getting as nearly as much press is that the gay character is a senator campaigning for increased gun control. So if Archie had been allowed to retain and exercise his Second Amendment rights, this comic hero might have been able to foil the assassination attempt without having to sacrifice his own life. Hopefully, conservatives will make as much fuss over how such narratives paint as an ideal the willingly giving up our own lives for elites thinking that they know how to run our lives better than we do.
Wednesday, July 16
One of the principles of the Slow Church Movement holds that the individual should remain in the same church. So will ministry positions and opportunities go to the people that have remained at a church for ages? Or will this be more like the typical workplace where the gloryhounds swoop in when something opens up with the old timers overlooked because they aren’t the right demographic (meaning they are the wrong color or the plumbing hooked up incorrectly) with the excuse being that those at the bottom need to remain where they are (meaning there needs to be somebody to be stepped on).
According to the 7/23/14 Christian Century review of the book “Slow Church: Cultivating Community In The Patient Way Of Jesus”, these authors contend that the individual should stay in only one church.
This is because, “Every time we move from one church to another, we lose a little bit of our patience for all things religious.”
But what if the church is so small that the less desirable regions of the Afterlife will cover over with glaciers before the average person will be able to participate through means of other emptying pockets into the collection plate?
But more importantly, this perspective could easily lead to the fostering of an atmosphere where the victims (oh, I mean members and attenders of the congregation) will put up with increasingly shocking forms of abuse and levels of generalized mistreatment for fear of endangering their immortal souls.
Even if that is not what the authors originally intended, that is most likely what will result in a world characterized by Jonestown, Waco, and the epidemic of sex scandals blackening the eyes of both the Roman Catholic and Protestant branches of Christendom.
According to the authors of a manifesto on the Slow Church Movement, one is to remain in the same church more or less no matter what.
The authors clearly look like Emergent Church beatniks.
One of them is even a Quaker.
That means he does not view doctrine formulated upon the foundation of His unchanging word as the primary way that God conveys His intentions to mankind.
Rather, we are to fumble about being leading by what is assumed to be the Holy Spirit.
But with that given a higher status than the Bible, we don’t really have any proof that the message we are receiving is from the indwelling presence of the Triune Godhead or rather from demonic entities kicked out of the gates of Heaven.
In the end, this Slow Church mindset will no doubt be used to denigrate the character of those that get up and walk out once the gay weddings or the wife swappings commence and be used to applaud as spiritually awakened those willing to go along with such abhorrent practices.
by Frederick Meekins
Tuesday, July 15
In addressing the theology of hunting in “Rise, Kill & Eat” by Doug Giles, too bad theologian and apologist Kevin Boling did not ask the author why it is necessary for Americans to travel to Africa to kill animals. If you are rich enough to travel to Africa, you have more than enough money to procure food and clothing from other sources.
Monday, July 14
Friday, July 11
In a Dallas Theological Seminary podcast regarding the phenomena of Emerging Adulthood and Extended Adolescence, it was remarked that, in 1960, 70% of the population had achieved what are considered milestones of adulthood such as marriage and procreation by the age of 30. Today, however, only about 40% of the population achieved these by the age of 30. Given the epidemic of divorce, the unhappy marriages that lead to the dissolving of what ought to be a lifelong bond, and the resultant social upheaval that has transpired since 1960, that isn’t exactly a good track record of why it is advisable to push the young into situations they might be entering more out of social pressure and conformity rather than as something they actually sincerely desire.
It use to be that the name “Dallas Theological Seminary” was akin to a Good Housekeeping Seal Of Approval” in conservative Evangelical Protestant circles.
Upon hearing that name, it was pretty safe to assume that what you were subjecting yourself to was sound theological teaching.
However, as in the case of the Good Housekeeping Seal Of Approval, it seems this once great name in theological erudition and learning can also be bought for a price in an era of declining standards and quality.
One comment in a podcast about the phenomena of Emerging Adulthood produced by that particular institution ought to send chills down the spines of the discerning.
One of the speakers in the discussion remarked that parents ARE NOT to think of themselves as the primary disciplers of their children regarding the Christian faith.
Instead, that is an area over which the parents are to yield to the authority of the Church.
Frankly, I doubt that is a concession even the most sincerely devout of Roman Catholics are willing to make to Vatican hierarchs.
So just how much control over what is taught in the home in regards to doctrine and practice in regards to secondary issues are the parents suppose to surrender to the pastor and his underlings?
Ideally, the parents are to be the primary teachers of the faith to their offspring.
The church is there as a source a general teaching and consultation should the family face an issue over which they do not feel equipped to address.
This mindset where the parents are looked to as glorified innkeepers and hotel bellhops with the real task of character formation left to credential and positioned experts has worked out splendidly in terms of the public education system.
Why should we assume it will work out any better in the confines of the Church.
By Frederick Meekins
A Dallas Theological Seminary podcast tackled the issue of Emerging Adulthood.
That is the phenomena where many youth do not assume all of the responsibilities of adulthood all at once but rather over a span of time that can extend into the 30’s.
In reflecting, one of the seminarians remarked how in his own life as soon as graduating from Biola he set out straight to Texas to embark on his ministry.
Essential to his own success were regular checks from his church COMMUNITY.
Instead of simply offering a statement of gratitude, the seminarian went on to lament how this practice was no longer usually the case.
Why should it be?
Most people are struggling financially on their own to keep their heads above water.
On what grounds are those that are in jobs or occupations that they might not care for obligated to turn hard-earned money over to an Evangelical Christian equivalent of a shiftless beatnik meandering about trying to “find themselves” or are unwilling to lift a finger on their own until landing in their dream job?
Shouldn’t church money or money from church people instead go to those enduring ACTUAL hardships?
By Frederick Meekins
Thursday, July 10
Such humor is an attempt to ridicule the practice where pastors and evangelists encourage those under conviction to come forward so that they might invite Jesus into their hearts for forgiveness and salvation if they are not exactly how to commence this journey towards a beatific eternity.
Granted, such tactics might prompt an insincere or misunderstanding person to rush forward thinking the profundities being approached are formulaic.
However, what those spreading this missiological propaganda fail to reveal is that they don't really want you making a decision irrespective of the venue.
If they had their way and preached sermons consistent with their soteriology, you'd remain neutral with your fingers crossed (unless they make a fuss about that gesture also somehow being pagan in origin) with the mystery resolved of whether you'll awaken after death in Heaven or Hell only after you arrive in one of these two regions of the Afterlife.
It is claimed that this ritual urging the penitent to march forward to receive Christ is not in the Bible.
But neither are many other traditions that these hardline Biblicists of a Calvinistic persuasion insist upon retaining.
For example, it should be pointed out to those holding to this variety of predestinarianism from a Presbyterian or Anglican perspective that there is nothing about infant baptism providing salvatory protection for a baby.
It might be a beautiful symbol of welcoming a child into the covenant community.
But if you, dear Christian, are relying on that liturgical act to protect your precious little one from the fires of Hell throughout a lifetime and do nothing more to introduce that child to Christ as the Savior they must claim for themselves, spiritually you have doused your child in gasoline and edged them to the brink of those unquenchable flames.
Next, there is really not a thing in the Bible about formalized membership in one particular church organization.
At most, the Scripture speaks of one church in a particular town.
So if we are going to be such a stickler on detail, if your church is not the oldest congregation in town, are you guilty of being a schismatic?
Interestingly, those looking down their noses at those congregations that make use of altar calls as part of their order of service certainly don't mind going out of their way to whack me over the head about not “belonging” to a particular congregation even though I go to church most weeks out of the year, listen to sermons and conservative talk radio at least four hours per day, and nearly every day post conservative and/or Christian content to the Internet.
The Bible provides the basic rules by which the Creator expects us to abide if we are to please Him and for us to receive His blessing even if that reward is not granted this side of eternity.
However, one truth that each of us often struggles with is that the specifics in which those absolutes are implemented on the practical level might not be as clearly spelled out.
By Frederick Meekins
Wednesday, July 9
Tuesday, July 8
Monday, July 7
Most Evangelicals would agree that few twentieth century writers was as successful in getting the reading public to consider the relevance of religious ideas to the complexities of modern life as C.S. Lewis. Yet it may come as a surprise, many of his most vociferous critics happen to be fellow Christians.
Writing in response to a recent Christianity Today article examining Lewis' use of the literary approach in presenting Christian truth to the modern mind, David Cloud of the Fundamental Baptist Information Service elucidates why Christians adhering to more strident varieties of Fundamentalism ought to avoid this acclaimed author's brand of apologetics.
To Cloud's benefit, he does point out areas in which Lewis thought may have veered from Biblical standards. Cloud sites as evidence a number of sources detailing where Lewis questioned traditional orthodox understandings of doctrines such as the bodily resurrection of believers, the inerrancy of the Scriptures, and the existence of Hell as a physical place rather than simply a state of mind.
Christians ought to be cautioned where the writings of Lewis stray from the narrow path. However, that does not mean there is not insight to be gained from Lewis or that his collected works should be consigned to the garbage to prevent weak minds from falling prey to their questionable aspects.
Particularly annoying to Cloud's brand of Fundamentalism is Lewis' use and defense of myth as a tool whereby skeptical minds might be introduced to the truth.
Of The Chronicles of Narnia and Christianity Today's endorsement of the series, David Cloud writes, "I don't know what to say to this except that it is complete nonsense. In his Chronicles, Lewis depicts Jesus Christ as a lion named Aslan who is slain on a stone table. Christianity Today says, 'In Aslan, Christ is made tangible, knowable, real.' As if we can know Jesus Christ best through a fable that is vaguely based on Biblical themes."
Such a conclusion fails to understand the reasons why and with what techniques C.S. Lewis wrote. For even though the Bible is the most detailed and forthright account attesting to the truth of Christ, many hardened hearts are not always open to such an outright presentation of the facts. Some minds may need to take a more circuitous route.
Lewis did not initially embark to compose an outright Christian allegory, and neither did his associate J.R.R. Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings saga for that matter. Rather these scholars endeavored to craft tales utilizing the classic motifs with which they had considerable expertise as professors of historical literature. Lewis was himself inspired to write The Chronicles of Narnia from the image of a faun, a half human/half goat creature from classical mythology. Tolkien wanted to establish a fantasy world for the language of elves.
Lewis stated in a BBC interview when asked if his Space Trilogy had been written for evangelistic purposes, "...everyone thinks that. They are quite wrong. I've never started from a message or a moral, have you. The story itself should force its moral upon you. You find out what the moral is by writing the story."
It is only natural then that authors with an abiding respect for the truth will end up addressing eternal realities and principles. Romans 2: 14-15 says, "Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law, since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts...(NIV)."
This means that all truth --- despite man's intentions to distort it for his own diabolical purposes --- is ultimately God's truth. Not all ancient myths revel in Bacchanalian debauchery. For example, some explore the dangers of humans possessing a godlike pride called "hubris". The skilled apologist can use these chunks of truth adrift upon the seas of falsehood as a lifeline to those drowning in a deluge of deception.
This is not unlike what the Apostle Paul did in Acts 17 when he addressed the philosophers gathered on the Areopagus.
Paul did not begin outright by berating them for their pagan belief. In verses 22 and 23 he extols, "Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious. For while I was passing and examining your objects of worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, 'To an Unknown God'. What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. (NASB)."
From this point, Paul goes on to explain how the message of Jesus Christ fulfilled and surpassed the best in Greek thought. Therefore, those who have a problem with C.S. Lewis' use of literature may also have a problem with the technique employed by the Apostle Paul.
While these rigorous Fundamentalists are to be commended for their eagerness to expound the plain Gospel message, many of them --- especially a number of the preachers --- fail in realizing that a fully-orbed expression of Christian thought requires more than preaching. It requires the translation of these eternal verities into other artistic and literary forms that prepare the heart and mind for a more direct assault upon fallen sensibilities.
By composing a narrative utilizing universal archetypes, Lewis hoped that his saga of these British children encountering a mystical lion in an enchanted land would spark readers into realizing they could have their own encounter with another cosmic cat, namely the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ.
Certain Fundamentalists have done their share of criticism. When are these preachers going to start producing stories of their own or encourage members of their congregations to contribute their talents in forms other than that which goes into the collection plate? At least C.S. Lewis attempted to make an effort in this regard.
David Cloud writes, "...a Christian is what he hears and reads ... it should come as no surprise ... they are seeking to continue the legacy of C.S. Lewis ... it should come as no surprise ... if we find them working towards a common mission with the enemies of the gospel. The young Christian should be very careful what he reads."
In the days before most Christians yielded their paradoctrinal thinking to the control of their pastors or stopped thinking about these cultural issues outside the immediate confines of the church all together, individuals would employ a kind of intellectual selectivity known as discernment. This meant they were capable of sifting through the good and bad ideas in a given work on their own without a critical clergyman standing over their shoulder chastising them for daring to make a literary selection with ecclesiastical consultation.
Lewis may have propagated questionable ideas in the course of his life's work. But so do a number of Fundamentalists for that matter as some believe one is not really saved unless introduced to Jesus through the King James version of the Bible, that being innocently infatuated with a member of the opposite sex is the moral equivalent of promiscuity or prostitution, and that women ought never get their hair cut or wear trousers.
Unfortunately, faulty ideas are often a symptom of living in a fallen world. But so long as we put our faith in what Lewis referred to as "mere Christianity", one day those of us who do so will have the blessed opportunity of having our thoughts put straight in the presence of none other than the Creator Himself.
by Frederick Meekins