"As she stood looking at it, wondering why there was a lamp-post in the middle of a wood and wondering what to do next, she heard a pitter patter of feet coming toward her..." (C S Lewis, The Chronicles of Narnia)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The 'Greatest' Theologian/Preacher/Christian Philosopher

Here's a fun little discussion for us. Who is the greatest theologian since the apostle Paul? Sounds too subjective, but here are some criteria to evaluate by:

1) Personal life - Did this person's personal character reflect his convictions effectively?

2) Breadth of Influence - How wide and long has this person's influence effected the church and the world?

3) Depth of thought - How careful, biblical, and articulate were this persons's works?

My vote to come...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Total Depravity and the Imago Dei

While I would agree that the doctrines of grace are axiomatic to biblical interpretation, I am curious as to the best articulation of Total Depravity. Total Depravity expresses the reality that all areas of life are tainted by sin. Since the Fall of Adam, natural man is entirely influenced by sin. This depravity is expressed in different degrees for different individuals. Thus the murderer and the mystic are both totally depraved, yet their depravity may exist in varying degrees of depth.

The question is, Does total depravity posit that no unbeliever will demonstrate a 'seeking' of God? (though never to find him outside of Christ). Does it argue that the works, thoughts, and art of the natural man are worthless in aiding us to know God? For example, can a pagan paint a picture that is 'God-reflecting'? Can an agnostic express philosophical truth clearly enough that it actually helps Christians to better understand God? Can a musician who knows nothing of Christ's atonement produce music that is valuable to the pursuit of knowing God?

Now, of course the typical cautions need to be explicit. The pervasiveness of sin is not the issue. Naturally man is sinful, rebellious, and treacherous towards God. To study any area of human existence without God is to study the ruin of the image of God, and I certainly wouldn't advise a Christian to delve deep into the teachings of Buddha or Bertrand Russell to know God more. That is not the issue. The issue is does this ruin mean 'worthlessness' or 'unworthiness'?

The apostle Paul can quote the OT "There is no one...who seeks God" (Ro 3)and he can say to the pagan Athenians "Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you." (Acts 17) Explain the paradox...

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Thought about Thinking, a little tribute to Chesterton

I have to offer another quote. Sorry, I've been reading GK Chesterton and I just love this guy. I'll try to supply the context after,

"...the modern man fancies he has reached supreme culture because he opens his intellect...There is one odd aspect of the man with this sort of open mind...it is that being thus gaping and helpless, he is really brutal and oppressive. he tyrannises; he forces on all other men his own insolent indecision. He forbids his followers to come to any conclusion till he has done so. He will allow no one else to find the truth...He is the worst tyrant that the world has seen; he is the persecuting sceptic. He is the man who has held up the whole world now for over a hudred years." (London Times Oct 16, 1909)

His point is very simple. One who tries to forever remain an 'open mind' is one who can never actually come to a decision. For example to be open-minded when it comes to say abortion, or euthenasia, or Reformed theology really means to never actually believe anything definitive about it. Once you do you become 'closed-minded.' And the one who demands others maintain an open mind really demands indecisiveness upon others. To maintain an open mind is to never close down on an idea, or theology, or viewpoint. It really is to detach yourself from the world of thought. Isn't it interesting that the ebbing flow of culture has taken something so compassionate sounding 'open mindedness' to mask something so bland and boring and dangerous as detachment?

As a side note --read GK Chesterton, you'll love him (probably)!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Abandon hope all who enter here?




CS Lewis described hell, "I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful, rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside. I do not mean that the ghosts may not wish to come out of hell, in the vague fashion wherein an envious man ‘wishes’ to be happy: but they certainly do not will even the first preliminary stages of that self-abandonment through which alone the soul can reach any good. They enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded, and are therefore self-enslaved” (C S Lewis, The Problem of Pain). In other words, those in Hell would rather be there then in glory. I like the concept, but I'm not sure about it. Is hell a place where people are running further and further into God-forsakenness, or is hell a place where people are beating on the door of Heaven agonizing over their God-forsakenness? It's not a moot question: Do we present the gospel as a 'last chance' before eternal regret? Or is an unbeliever's rejection of the gospel a magnifying glass on the state of damnation of a soul which desires nothing else?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Romney

Looking for some pros and cons of Mitt Romney for president. Maybe you don't like his politics, maybe you don't like his mormonism. As 'evangelicals' should we be responsible to put the first Mormon president in the White house? Do we have the option of being 'religiously prejudiced'?

An Ode to time

Time

Time is elusive, how would you define
That which is intangible, unheard, unsigned
It cannot be stopped, it will not be slowed down
Measure it we may, but heedless to bound

Time crashes on, like a raging tide
Undiminished by man along for the ride

Some try to waste it, others to kill it
Wise men redeem it, fools try to still it
The Old recognize Time’s fearful rage
Young wish to contain it with porous cage

Time marches on, like a soldier brave
Unwounded by men who eternity crave

Time turns an infant into a child
A child becomes a boy, reckless and wild
Boy will be man and man will be old
Then comes the death-dew merciless cold

Time races on like an athlete in field
Unfettered by man who to it must yield

Birth, life, death, sorrow, Time sees them all
‘You can not stop me!’ its harrowing call
Chase it you may, but soon you will fail
Vanishing, nimble, it hides in its veil

Time soars intently, like an eagle with prey
Unchallenged by men, by night or by day

Then comes a man, appears on the stage
Of history’s scene, humble and brave
‘Time, you will yield, but not by my might,
By the cross I’ll appease Time’s vicious bite’

Time slows down gently to see who does yell
‘My Creator, I hear you, and thus will dispel’

‘Man shall be free, from the anguish of time
Time will give way to grace so sublime
Eternity with Him, free from their hearts
For there I have set it, it never departs’

Time bows with submission content with a smile
Thank you my Master, might I rest for awhile?

Return to Rome?

All right. Here is my first question to throw around to everyone: "Why am I not Roman Catholic?" (of course, if you are, help us understand why you are and why we should be(?)) Sounds like an easy question, but not so easy. Let me ask a few penetrating questions to get us going. These are all questions I've heard in different forms...

Does Christ not have only one church?
Does Rome not have the only consistent historical connection to the early church?
Did not Rome determine the new Testament cannon of Scriptures?
Does not Rome have what so many evangelicals lack: mystery, awe, contemplation, etc.?
One more, does our theology go asunder so irreparably?

Consider these Evangelical favorites: J RR Tolkien, G K Chesterton, and Mother Theresa. Are they not a sterling model of Christian imagination, thinking and service?

Hope this gets some discussion going.